Pupils get chance to sample varsity life

Grade 11 pupils, from left, Thuraya Pillay, 17, Amy Bricknell, 17, both from Pearson, Carla Michaels, 17, and, back, Mihle Lloyd, 16, both from Linkside High School, get a taste of student life at Nelson Mandela University
Grade 11 pupils, from left, Thuraya Pillay, 17, Amy Bricknell, 17, both from Pearson, Carla Michaels, 17, and, back, Mihle Lloyd, 16, both from Linkside High School, get a taste of student life at Nelson Mandela University
Image: Roeline Redelinghuys

A group of 21 pupils had a peek into their possible careers in an innovative accounting school project at Nelson Mandela University on Monday.

The university’s department of accounting sciences invited Bay schools to send two grade 11 top achievers who were keen to study this subject to get a taste of campus life.

The department then assigned a first- or second-year student “buddy” to each pair to give them an informal inside track on an average varsity day.

This included taking a lecture or tutorial, tucking into lunch from one of the on-campus food trucks and navigating the library on the other side of the south campus.

Pearson High School pupil Thuraya Pillay, 17, enjoyed the experience, saying it was very informative to see the different faculties.

Her Pearson classmate Amy Bricknell, 17, said: “There is more freedom than at school, and it was very nice to get a feel for the campus.”

Amy and Thuraya’s student “buddy” Sevara Naidoo, 20, is a past Pearson pupil who showed them shortcuts around the sprawling Summerstrand campus.

Alexander Road, Collegiate Girls, Riebeeck, Grey, DF Malherbe, Linkside and Victoria Park high schools and Muir College also sent pupils, making up a total of seven boys and 14 girls.

The school of accounting started the Student for a Day project in 2014 and repeated it in 2015.

“We decided to revive it from this year as it proved very successful,” school of accounting staff member Suzette Snyders said.

“An open day or a school talk can explain what to expect of the student experience but that is not the same as being there and seeing it for yourself.

“The teens are allocated to student volunteers who attended the same school so they share common ground.

“We include coffee vouchers from the coffee shop and food truck vouchers for lunch, so they get to enjoy all aspects of student life,” Snyders said.

During this informal time, the pupils can ask their student as many questions as they like.

Linkside pupils Carla Michaels, 17, and Mihle Lloyd, 16, discovered the difference between a lecture and a tutorial on their day.

“It clarified a lot and I enjoyed the tut because I understood some of the work,” Carla said.

Mihle, who is looking at a career in computational mathematics or accounting science, felt the same.

“I was surprised that I understood a second-year tutorial on auditing and the inventory cycle,” Mihle said.

For Carla, the best part of being an undercover student rather than a school kid was blending in.

“The cool part for me was seeing the hustle and bustle and getting around campus.”

The day ended with a presentation by international auditing firm PwC and a question-and-answer session.

PwC Port Elizabeth partner Ash Rathan joined the teenagers to share from his experience.

Snyders said they hoped to make the Student for a Day project an annual event.

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