Bridging Courses: Bridging the Gap from High School to Varsity

So your school uniform days are coming to an end and tertiary education is on the horizon; not meeting the minimum requirements for a specific course or university can blur this vision out of focus. Emmeline explains why these scenarios DONT spell “game over” and how bridging courses can be your saving grace.

Life after high school promises unlimited freedom.  No more abiding by school rules, listening to teachers drone on or having your life dictated by the school bell.  This is when life begins and parental guidance becomes more relaxed.  One of the best ways to embrace this new chapter is heading off to study.  If you play your cards right, you can study the course of your dreams AND move away from home.  Welcome to killing-two-birds-with-one-stone 101.  Having an institution and course of study in mind is a solid starting point for getting your future off to a good start.

If you’re uncertain about which courses you can apply for with the subjects you have in your bag then visit our EduMatch page.

Excitement aside, scoring an entrance into the institution of your choice can be stressful. Especially if your matric marks don’t meet the minimum requirements. This can really put a spanner in the works.  It’s not ideal but there’s no need to panic.  Spanners are not dream-crushing tools.  They are used for character building; spanners simply create a challenge that needs to be overcome.

Bridging Course versus an Extended Degree Programme

Let’s picture the situation:  matric marks are out and you are chomping at the bit to feast your eyes on your matric results.  When you do, there is no denying you’re bleak.  Perhaps the marks aren’t what you were hoping for and your heart sinks with disappointment.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow and you decide there’s no way of getting into the institution you were so keen on.

Granted, it is not how you saw the scenario playing out.  Yet, all hope is not lost.  Before you start putting your dreams of studying to bed, keep in mind that second chances do exist.

Past matriculants have overcome this challenge and gone on to qualify as professionals in their chosen fields.  There is no shame in redoing matric subjects that caused disappointment. So how can you improve specific matric marks?  Simple answer: through a bridging course.

This is the crossover to the future of your choice.

  • A bridging course is a short course that allows a matriculant to redo matric subjects and get a solid pre-degree/diploma foundation. It’s designed to upgrade certain matric marks.

A bridging course can easily be confused with an extended degree programme.

So bridging courses focus on giving your marks a facelift while extended degree programmes involve taking an extra year to complete your degree.

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Do you need some clarity on the difference between a bridging course and an extended degree programme?  We have the complete lowdown on extended degree programmes 🙂

Where are the Bridging Courses at?

Your life can be heading for a turning point simply by upgrading your matric marks.

So, where can you make this happen?

Well, there’s no threat of going on a wild goose chase to find the place for you. There are many external institutions that provide bridging courses so you’re spoilt for choice.  Lucky you 🙂

Let’s take a look at the pick of study spots:

1. Intec College

Intec College is a Cape Town-based institution that focuses on providing a solid platform for distance learning.  This is top-notch education.  The way their grade 12 mark upgrade works is simple and you get to bypass the Continuous Assessment (CASS) component.  Cue the high fives!

Remember that CASS will give you a School-Based Assessment (SBA) mark.  This makes up a quarter of your final mark at the end of the year.  The mark comes from the assessments you complete in class throughout the year.  This mark is valid for 3 to 5 years. 

What is the Process at Intec?

You can redo any subject if you have completed that subject in high school

  • An SBA mark for each subject you want to redo
  • Your official grade 12 statement of results (To show the subject was written in the final National Senior Certificate exam),

The course will take between 12 and 24 months. This depends on how many subjects you would like to redo.

Double check your registration! If your matric exams were administered by the Department of Education (DBE) then you need to register for the subject exams you’ll write during this course.

Where do you register?

Good question!  Your former high school is the best place to go.  The registration has to be completed by the 16th of February 2018.

Once that’s done, all Intec requires is that you ensure the prescribed textbooks are in your possession.

The course fee will depend on the number of subjects you wish to upgrade.  Once the course is complete, you will be issued with a new and improved National Senior Certificate, accredited by Umalusi.

Find out more about Intec here.

2. Oxbridge Academy

Oxbridge Academy is as refined as its name suggests.  This institution is also a huge supporter of students studying from homeNo complaints there.  Oxbridge has a different approach when it comes to bridging courses.  Their aim is to assist those who have not completed matric.  So this won’t allow you to upgrade your matric marks.  That being said, it does prepare you for what’s to come in higher education.  This could be an option for you.

The most notable bridging certificate up for grabs is the N3 Technical Matric.

What is an N3 Technical Matric?

This is equivalent to a National Senior Certificate. It’ll allow you to study any engineering course at a tertiary level. The subjects completed for a technical matric are practical and technically-based. Such as mathematics, electronics, engineering science and electrical trade theory.

If you’re keen to head into the engineering arena but are not so stoked with your marks, this could be your ticket.  This type of engineering foundation is also offered by the College of Cape Town and Taal-NetHaving a technical matric is totally legit and can open many doors to further study at a TVET college, University or University of Technology.

All courses need 12 months of your time and Umalusi will do the honours of issuing you with a National Senior Certificate that’s sure to boast some impressive marks.

3. Taal-Net Training Institute

Taal-Net training institute is another place you can upgrade those matric marks.

What’s the Process at Taal-Net?

Redoing subjects can be done on a full-time or part-time basis. If you matriculated before 2007, you qualify to register for the new CAPS syllabus. Registration needs to be completed before 31 March 2017 for both exams and classes. The exams are available to write in October/November. These new subject marks will be accredited by Umalusi.

The how-to-go-about-this is fairly straight forward.

You just need to:

Complete a form provided by Taal-Net. Have a copy of your matric certificate at the ready. Pay the initial deposit, exam and registration fee. The initial deposit is dependent on the number of subjects you decide to redo.  If it’s one or two, the lump sum at the outset is R1300 whereas more than two subjects require a deposit of R1650.  The registration fee is R350 with an exam centre fee of R500 (for external students).

And just like that, you’re good to go.

4. Damelin Correspondence

Damelin is well known for providing quality education.  The good news is that Damelin correspondence college is all about providing options for matriculants who are looking to bump up their marks. Convenient. Especially, since this is our current topic of discussion.

You can upgrade your subject marks with or without the CASS component.  The choice is yours.  Remember, if you have matriculated in the last two years, your CASS mark is valid.  There is no need to slog away at completing assessments.  You have done your fair share of that in school.

How it Works?

Select the number of subjects you would like to improve. Have your official grade 12 statement of results on hand. You can then enroll online.

From there, a consultant will contact you.  Sorted, easy-peasy.

Find out more about Damelin Correspondence here.

This may or may not be the first place you thought of. Going back to where the unsatisfying results were achieved might not be your scene.  On the flip side of the coin, the environment is familiar and the teachers know your capabilities straight off the bat.  Not every school offers this so check with your high school before considering this option.

5. Stellenbosch University
Stellenbosch University runs a University Preparation Programme called SciMathUS.  This programme will allow learners, who matriculated with an average of 60%, to improve certain subject marks.  The focus of the programme is on Maths and Physical Science so it is mainly aimed at students who would like to go into science-related fields of study. 
Applications close on 26 JANUARY 2018.  You may apply online here. [/dt_list_item][/dt_list]

Missing a Subject

It’s one thing to improve on subjects that you’ve completed in school.  It’s a completely different ball game when you don’t even have a required subject on your matric certificate.

Have you missed the boat here? Being one subject short of an entry is not the end of the world. There will always be another boat to catch so fear not.

The subjects that are usually tossed on the back burner by your grade 9 self are Physical Science and Pure Mathematics.  Understandable; diving into a life of numbers and formulas can drive a person mad.

This choice to leave Science and Maths behind is often made in the hopes these subjects will never be seen again.  Sometimes, your grade 12 self has different aspirations and decides those subjects are actually needed.

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The choice between Maths and Maths Lit is not an easy one to make.  Whatever decision you make, you’ll have options.  There is no such thing as a wrong decision – find out all you need to know about the different opportunities with either one of these subjects.

Playing Catchup

The catchup game isn’t as complicated as you may think.  There are several places where you can get three years’ worth of subject work done and dusted within a few months.  How awesome is that?

1. Abbotts College

If you live in Gauteng or the Western Cape, Abbots College is a prime choice.  The institution has a stellar reputation with great student feedback.

Although the fees seem steep at first glance, they include all material required for the course as well as additional assistance if need be.

Let’s say you are interested in picking up core mathematics, for example, here’s how the process would go down:

  • The administration fee of R2 000 needs to be paid at the get-go.  This fee is non-refundable.
  • An academic fee of R4 989 can be paid over 10 months. This fee applies if you are taking 1 – 3 subjects. 
  • This fee is payable in advance from January to October or on the first day of every month. 

2. Brainline (Correspondence)

Brainline is another avenue that offers the study of a specific subject you didn’t take in matric.  This institution works via correspondence so there’s no need to attend classes; learning is at a distanceThis makes life easier since it doesn’t matter where you are in the country; this is a valid option for you.

What’s the Process at Brainline?

The course will take a full year to complete. Registration opens in September for students wanting to complete a single subject. Since Brainline is passionate about the use of modern technology, registration is done online. After registering, you will be contacted about specific subject fees. You’ll be approved as Brainline client and be given a username and password. This is if you are happy with the payment agreement discussed. When all is said and done, your National Senior Certificate will be accredited with this subject.

3. Mid-Year Adult Matric Exam (also known as Senior Certificate (Amended))

Who Qualifies to Write the Senior Certificate (Amended) Exams?

You may qualify to write the mid-year Senior Certificate (amended) exams if you are an adult learner (over the age of 21) who has:

  • a General Education and Training Certificate (GETC); OR
  • a Grade 9 school report (or the old standard seven), stating that they have passed Grade 9 or Standard 7; OR
  • a recognised equivalent qualification obtained at NQF 3 Level which requires two official languages; OR
  • an incomplete Senior Certificate qualification; OR
  • an incomplete National Senior Certificate and whose School-Based Assessment (SBA) validity has expired

In certain cases, at the discretion of the Head of Department in the Provincial Education Department, candidates between the ages of 18 and 21 may apply. Appeals can be made on the basis of circumstances beyond the learners’ control that resulted in them being unable to finish their school education. 

It is important to note that, in most cases, a Senior Certificate (Amended) does not allow for access to university. If you do wish to apply for university with a Senior Certificate (Amended) then you must apply for an age exemption through USAF.

Marks Required to pass the Senior Certificate (Amended) 

  1. Pass three subjects at 40%, one of which must be an official language at Home Language level.
  2. Pass two subjects at 30%, one of which must be an official language at First Additional or Home Language level.
  3. Obtain a subminimum of 20% in the sixth subject.

Read more about the Senior Certificate (Amended) here.

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The home stretch of your high school career is full of highs and lows.  Don’t be too hard on yourself. Completing matric is an achievement in itself. A bridging course is not a setback, it’s a stepping stone to the place you want to be. Having the tenacity to complete a subject that you haven’t done in school is something to be proud of.  Relatively, it’s a short-term pain in exchange for a long-term gain.  Making tough academic decisions now may feel like a drag but the reward of studying what you want, where you want will make it worthwhile in the end.