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Accessing Post-School Studies Book Guides First Years

Accessing Post-School Studies: Book to help first years find their way 

Dr Venicia McGhie and Madge du Preez: two formidable women with a long relationship with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) who see supporting students as a passion, and enabling them to succeed as a personal mission. So they wrote a book that imparts crucial knowledge every parent and prospective (and current) student should read to help them make their time at university or college less challenging.

Accessing Post-School Education: A Student’s GPS to Successful Learning acts as a helpful resource for South African learners, students and life orientation teachers, as well as parents of prospective college and university students. It will especially assist students to adapt to the new learning environments.
“With this book, we are attempting to provide solutions to the multitude of challenges that, especially Black students, face in the higher education sector in South Africa,” the authors say in the book’s preface. “We want readers of this book to know and understand that anything is possible – if one is willing, able and has a strong will to learn. That is the first and most important step in the learning process.”

Dr McGhie, senior lecturer and head of the Department of Academic Development in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, conducted the research on which the book is based; while Ms Du Preez, retired senior faculty officer and coordinator of the EMS Student Support and Research Unit (ESSRU), and a keen creative writer, provided creative and stylistic input. The result is a book that could be the saving grace for many prospective first-years at university (or any other tertiary institution). The first part of the book speaks to the power of education and what learners and their parents can do while they are still at school: exploring their ambitions and motivations, keeping up their studies, learning to ask when they need help.

The second part covers what learners should know and prepare for once they arrive at university or college: how to find an effective study group, how to manage their finances, make supportive friendships; and how to become self-regulating students, who can take responsibility for their own learning.

And the last part provides information and advice regarding courses one should study, application procedures, contact details of most of the post-school institutions in South Africa, and a GPS checklist amongst others.
Plans are underway for the book’s ten chapters to be summarised into two-page versions in all 11 official South African languages - written in non-academic language; making it easier to read and readily available to high school learners all over the country.

Towards An Educated And Empowered South Africa

>The two authors share a deep concern and love for struggling students, especially those from rural communities, and are both passionate about the book and the contribution it could make to successful student learning.

Dr McGhie explains that she wrote the book because she wanted to empower prospective students with knowledge and information that could assist them to make informed decisions about further studies after Grade 12.

Dr McGhie says: “We’re excited about the book and hope to receive buy-in from the national department of education, so that it could be used as part of the life orientation curriculum in high schools.” Ms Du Preez was motivated to do something when she encountered students with very little self-confidence in her tenure as faculty officer and coordinator of ESSRU.

“Students need to hear that they will eventually master the processes that will enable them to make a success at university level,” she says.Prof Christopher Tapscott, recently-retired founding director of UWC’s School of Government and current Board Member of the Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management, notes that the book entices readers to study further, and reassures them that studying will be beneficial and that education will further their careers and selves. Prof Tyrone Pretorius, UWC’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, believes the book is a reminder of the transformative power of education.

“The book is a product of years of accumulated experience,” he notes. “It reminds you that one’s beginning should not determine where you end up in life. Your past never has to determine your future.”

Want to know more about Accessing Post-School Studies? Try this tasty excerpt.

Accessing Post-School Studies is currently sold at R330 (hard copy) and R260 (ebook). The book can be purchased from African Sun Media via email at or via their e-shop at