How To Ensure A Smooth Transition From Private School To Public University

Transitioning From Private School To Public University

With private schooling becoming more common in South Africa, and home-schooling becoming more prevalent, especially during the pandemic with parents un-enrolling their students from school, guidance with regards to the transition from a more isolated High School experience to a public university experience has become more essential.



The private high schooling system has been on the rise in South Africa and many students have been in the position of having gone to private school for the majority of their teenage years, before transitioning out of high school and into the public education sphere for tertiary studies. 

Data presented by the Department of Basic Education revealed that in 2019, there were almost 2000 Independent Schools, whilst 2021 statistics revealed that there are just over 35 Private Universities. Based on this ratio, it is natural to assume that a number of students coming from private high schools would complete their tertiary studies at public universities.

In addition, South Africa has a great selection of public universities which many private high schoolers may be drawn to, further emphasising the fact that many students coming out of independent high schools would likely end up in public universities.

The experience of transitioning out of private school to a public university can be jarring at first, but knowing what to expect can be incredibly beneficial to the process. According to a study released in early January 2019, independent schools had about 11.8 learners per educator compared to public schools’ 31.3 learners per educator.

As the data shows, the private school experience, with its smaller classes and greater access to learning resources, makes for a learning programme that allows students to attain individual attention from dedicated teachers. The public university system, however, varies greatly from this, being that lecture rooms can hold hundreds of students per sitting and information intake is fast-paced, making individual attention quite difficult to obtain.

However, in many cases, public universities offer required tutorial programmes for courses, which are much smaller groups of about 15-25 students, for the necessary individual attention from tutors and deeper analysis of content that may be lacking in lecture rooms.

These tutorials, however, are not the exact same experience that one would get in independent schooling, but they do help to ease the overwhelming nature of large, overpopulated lecture rooms.

The large student populations at public universities can also be relatively intimidating, however, there are a lot of smaller communities within student societies, faculties, tutorial groups, and so on that can provide support both academically and emotionally. 

Finding your community may take some time, but the large student population makes for an array of people to interact with until one finds their crowd. Transitioning into university can be hard for everyone, and it is helpful to understand that everyone starts off more-or-less in the same boat.


Article Category

Other Articles

NSFAS has opened its application season for learners and out-of-school youth who will be studying at public universities and TVET colleges in 2022. However, some applicants have had trouble finding their courses listed on the NSFAS website. 

The end of the 2021 school year is now in sight. There are always many smiling faces during the last week of school. Remember to take this time to make memories and be proud of what you've accomplished this year.