unisaMy brother has recently decided he wants to study a degree through UNISA.  He applied for admission and obtained his student number.  Now all he really needed to decide was the nitty gritty’s – i.e.  How many modules should you take in your first semester?  How will you juggle study and work?   Will studying come naturally to you?  Does open and distance learning work?  Will it work for you? And how do you go about it all?

As I started giving my brother a couple of tips, I thought I would jot them down here.  Just maybe someone else can benefit from them?

How many UNISA subjects should you enrol for in your first semester?

When I started my degree I was a single mom to a toddler and my work wasn’t too stressful.  I didn’t want to put myself up for failure, so I decided on 3 subjects.  Honestly, most of the time I had the capacity to do more.  My recommendation 3, not more than 4.  If you are worried about juggling all things life and work, 3.  Otherwise, take 4 subjects.

Unisa tips

My Top Tips

1.  Select the courier option when ordering your textbooks.  No-one needs the hassles of standing in a post office queue.  Courier study material to your work.

2.  If you work in an office environment, you are in luck.  On the day you receive your study material be sure to punch holes with your employers industrial, oversized punch.  Punch holes in all tutorial letters/exam pads etc before taking it home.  And be sure to file all additional tutorial letters as you receive them in the post.

3.  Get organised.  Make sure you have a lever arch file for your course material.  I make use of one lever arch file per semester and simply add file dividers to differentiate between modules.

4.  My Unisa.  Register for my.unisa – it makes life so much easier.*

5.  Buy your textbooks as quickly as possible.  You cannot do much without them – my recommendation is – buy second hand if you can.  Lots of students resell their textbooks once they’ve passed the module.  An e-Bookshop is available on my.unisa, alternatively, try and search on gumtree.  Kalahari/Takealot.com some times have excellent specials on new textbooks.  I’ve even bought textbooks from the bookshop of a local hospice shop in Pretoria.  If all else fails – second-hand books are available from the Protea Boekhuis at a slightly discounted rate.

*When buying second-hand textbooks, be sure to buy the correct edition of the book*

6.  If you plan on submitting.  You will submit assignments on my.unisa.  No point wasting time and resources printing and posting.  If you can use a keyboard and mouse, Google UNISA for beginners and read this blog – you can submit an assignment on myunisa.

7.  Use the paper supplied by UNISA to summarising content or create mind-maps.  Create a mind-map per chapter with key wwords/sections  I find using the middle page of the paper-booklet supplied by UNISA gives me an A3 page (instead of an A4 page) that works beautifully for mind-maps.

mind maps

8.  Submit assignments.  Sometimes assignments are a pain in the bum!  Trust me – submit them.  All of them, compulsory assignments, assignments for exam submission; optional assignments etc.  They pace you through the work and forces you to read through the course material.  The nerd in me would even go as far as recommending that you try and work through the course work while working on assignments.

* When registering for my.unisa you might as well register for your my.life unique email address.  I recommend setting up an email rule forwarding all emails to an email address that you check regularly.

Tips & Tricks for UNISA BCom Students.

Here’s a couple of bonus tricks for BCom students.  (I write from experience and thus I can only speak for BCom students)

1.   Accounting isn’t as bad as it seems, but it is hard work and lots of practice.  Work through every exercise.  Physically write out and do the calculations of every example; exercise and as many previous exams as possible.  Accounting consists of 2 first year modules that you will need to pass.  After that it is your own stupidity that will determine whether you do additional accounting subjects or not.

2.   Psychology is a lot of work.  Start your own glossary of terms in your first year.  Psychology concepts are repeated with more information and greater depth every year.  Be kind to yourself, otherwise you’ll end up working your backside off in your 3rd year.

Still learning

One last tip:   Learning is good, open distance learning seems much scarier than it really is.  Just do a module or two, just begin!  If you aren’t sure about your major, it really isn’t a major problem.  It can be changed with very little hassles.

To my fellow students – what have I missed?  Tell us your secrets!

Image Sources: Unisa, Mind-map, Still Learning

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57 thoughts on “UNISA for Beginners | Tips and Tricks for Studying Part-time”

  1. IOP 1501 assignment 3 I am trying to get online to submit my assignment and having problen to get on line pls help

  2. Is it true that a 1 year qualification at UNISA is done over a course of 3 years? I ask this because I want to do my first year (2017) at UNISA then apply for my second (in 2018) to third year at Wits, UCT, UP, UJ and Stellenbosch, and have courses I did in Bachelor of Social Sciences: International Relations at UNISA credited by these universities, any word of advice.

    Thank you?

    1. Hi Lynette,

      UNISA gives you the opportunity to study a 3-year degree over the course of a minimum of 3 years – the same time it would take you if you were a full-time student. (You can’t do it fast than the 3-year period.) Most students do a little less than a full year’s study per year to accommodate work, kids, etc.

      As for the subjects/modules you have completed at other institutions, you will need to go to one of the regional centers. You will need to take proof of the complete course, year completed and marks. They will give you a form to complete to request credits for certain modules, depending on the course you are enrolling for.

      Good luck with your studies!

  3. Hie I’m first year student 2017.I don’t know how the modules work.it says first level group A compousry and groub B choose any 2 and so on so I went to unisa self help and selected the 2subjects omy choosend on the other I selected one it added to 3subjects and 36,units..so wat I want to know is was I suppose to also added all of the compouslry modules on my list cause I didn’t do that I thought they will appear automaticlly…or do I also choose one of the compulsory subject each year??please help me so I can go change the modules

    1. Hi Mellisa,

      You need to select the subject you are registering for – both compulsory and choice subjects. It doesn’t matter which subjects you start with for, there will, however, be some subjects that have a prerequisite. (A subject that you will need to pass before being allowed to register for a second subject.)

      Hope that makes sense?

  4. Hi there.
    Why does Unisa gives me a Unisa e-mail address on “My Life Unisa” ?
    It says “Your current email adress is *mystudentno*@mylife.unisa.ac.za”
    What should I do with the address?

  5. When do I receive the password for my unisa I’ve registers but haven’t paid the fee today is the second day but no passwrd

    1. Have you finalized your registration and made payment? You’ll only be able to create a mylife account once these are in place.

  6. Hie I have paid my registration fee and they received now I’m sound bachelor’s of education inter and senior phase I’m trying my unisa registration inoredr to go on mylife for mnotes it says my surname does not corresponds info on database unjust don’t understand hownunisa work and when do ibrecive study materials

  7. Hi. I’m studying first year BA environmental management at unisa. I’m a little confused on how my specific module structure would work. All my subjects are semester modules. Does this mean that studying 4 subjects per semester , repeating your second semester the same way by completing the remaining 4 subjects , it would then only count as a full year ? Thanks in regard

  8. Hi
    we missed the application date for first semester 2017.
    Is there anyway I can get help with this?

  9. hi I am a honours student at unisa and this is my first time studying at this institution. I was wondering what is the process I need to take to study full time (for a year )and because I haven’t registered yet. This is because I am waiting for a bursary to respond and pay for my fees.. does this mean I will be behind with my classes and assignment because of registration late?.. and is there anything I can do not to fall behind.

    1. You won’t be able to start late for the first semester, you should however be able to do the full honours from May 2017 for a year.

    1. You can change your major, however you may only receive credits for some of the completed modules. I visited a UNISA campus for assistance and it was pretty quick and easy.

  10. Hello I am interested in stuyding Teaching at Unisa and will only start on the second semester in April. So what I want to know is it possible for me to choose all the modules for first year because next year I want to do my second year. Thank you

    1. You can’t do a full years modules in 6 months, best case scenario would be to enroll for half the first year module for 2017 second semester and the other half for first semester 2018.

    1. You need to create a myunisa account, this is where you will be able to upload assign, receive feedback and assignment results.

  11. Hi Alet

    I am a first time student and have to study my B com in order to hold onto my career my fustration is that I have been trying for months to complete my online application at Unisa without any luck…..I have phoned all their centers and no luck wither and now I missed the first…..any advise
    H

  12. I realised after that the subjects I chose were for second year and I’m first year student.so what will happen to me

    1. Certain second-year modules have a first-year module as a prerequisite, but if there is no prerequisite for the subject / you’ve done the pre-requested module already you won’t have any problems.

  13. Hi
    I have done and passed all my modules for Btech Chem Eng except for the optional module. My academic record status says I am a final year student. what does that mean is it not suppose to be qualification completed?
    thank you!!

    1. Hi Katu,

      Congratulations on the completion of your degree!

      Have you received all results for the modules completed? Were there not certain optional modules that needed to be selected – like a choose 1 out of the below optional modules? These are really the only two reasons I can think of why you would still be viewed as a final year student.

      It may be worth it to go to one of the student centres and asked them to verify if any modules are still outstanding.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Hi

    I’m currently doing my 3rd year BCom Financial management at Varsity college (with a few repeat modules, so my studies will continue through to next year). I’ve been thinking about transferring to Unisa to finish off my degree as I’ll be working full time as well this year (self employed, with one or two other projects on the side) and I wanted to find out how best I should go about doing so (ito making the transfer & applying for credits). I’ve sent quite a few emails to the varsity but have yet to receive a response.

  15. Hello
    If I apply for one semester (LLB) at Unisa, will I be credited for those modules I did at another University when applying there?

  16. Hi Alet.

    Ok so I am a tad confused. I’m busy with my first year psychology. The decision to study psychology was well thought through but I didn’t do much planning on when I was starting so I jumped in. I chose my 5 compulsory modules and even though I work full time 6 days a week I’m surviving. Anyway the question is, I noticed that my modules are “Non degree purposes ” so did i make a mistake somewhere or will i choose this at a later point during my BA or even after that? Also when choosing my modules for second semester will I choose 5 completely new modules or will I do a second semester of lets say Basic psychology or something? O and one more thing…. my credits? will certain modules have less credit than others or do i just stick to taking any 5 per semester for the 3 year BA duration.. thanks

    1. Hi Larozelle,

      Well done for jumping in and getting started – I think this is the best way to go about it.

      First question – did you apply and register for the BA psych degree? If so, the modules you should ideally have selected would have been modules for the specific degree you are studying for. It isn’t a train smash if you haven’t registered for the qualification, you could still use those (if applicable for the degree) as credits towards your qualification. Best thing to do is to visit a student centre close to you and clarify the details with them.

      Generally, when you registered new modules for the semester, you will state your information, specify your qualification and select modules from a drop-down menu. Each module carries the same weight, sometimes one textbook is two modules, the first and second module on the same topic (Psychology 101 and Psychology 102). You’ll also need to study the compulsory modules specified for the degree as well as certain modules you specified list of modules you can choose from.

      Hope that gives some clarity!

  17. Hi i just need to know, I will enroll for my HC in June 2017 2nd semester ….so when will my first exams be? And will it be on 6 modules first? And can I do it in 12months..meaning 6 modules per semester?

    1. Hi Cecile,

      I am not familiar with the HC, I am afraid, you will need to verify the info with UNISA. Good luck with your studies. :)

  18. Hi Alet

    I got married at the beginning of the year and decided to rather start studying in the second semester so that we can adjust to married life first. I also work full time and we are quite involved in a few side projects, I am not sure how hectic UNISA can get? I am studying Applied Psychology. I was thinking of starting of with 3 or 4 modules, I am not sure how much time it takes?

    Hope you can give me some advice :)

    1. Hi Odette,

      Congratulations with married life and deciding to study.

      I would always recommend starting off slowly, I started with 3 subjects and could have managed more in my first semester. But I would rather do fewer subjects and really ace it than feel overwhelmed and give up.

      Hope that gives some guidance on the matter. Let me know what you decide?

  19. i would really like to start studying for my degree. I am a full time educator already. Which degree is suitable : B Ed or BA or even psychology ?

    1. Hi Aziza,

      My advice is two-fold – on the one side I’d encourage you to study anything because even if you aren’t 100% sure, you could always change your major at a later stage. But on the other hand, if you have an idea what you would like to do, dig a bit deeper?

      I wrote this post a while ago, relating to that exact question, have a read and let me know what you think? http://alet.co.za/choosing-degree-major/

  20. Hi, I got my results back and failed most of it. I took 5 modules and it felt like I had everything under control, my assignment marks were good and so I had a good year mark on each module. Even the exams didn’t feel like I would fail. But then the results came…

    Do you think it is worth paying for a remark/recheck? Or should I just redo the modules, but take less per semester?

    1. Generally, the year mark for undergraduate only count 10% of the final result. If you’re confident you should have passed, I would get it remarked.

      Was it a multiple choice exam or written exam? Could be that you completed the form incorrectly?

      Good luck for next semester.

  21. Hi,
    I am currently registered for Bcom industrial and organizational psychology. I started this year and I took 5 modules which I thought I could handle as I am working shifts and get a lot of days off. I passed all 5 modules but I am not happy with some of the modules marks and wanted to apply for a remark but that will cost me extra money which I do not have. Can you please advise if I did the right by registering for 3 modules for the 2nd semester. I feel I can manage 5 modules but because I do not think my results were what I was expecting I decided to reduce my modules but now am feeling as if I am being lazy and trying to justify my action

    1. Pamela, I think taking 3 subjects was the best thing to do. At the end of the day, your aim is to obtain your degree – if it takes 6 months or a year longer, what is the difference? Either way, you are getting your degree. Also, think about it this way, perhaps giving yourself a little breather this semester, may mean that you are rested and able to take 4 or 5 subjects next semester.

      Keep going, you are doing great!

  22. Hi alet
    I want to apply for admission for next year, I did not qualify to register for bcom financial management so i was advised to study first at an fet college well i did, doing higher certificates in financial management (N4,N5 and N6)..now that im done with that and i acquired good marks when i apply for admission at unisa do i use my matric, and all my financial management certificates(N4-N6) or matric and statements of results for financial management or academic record??

    Thanks in advance..

    1. Hi Keabetswe,

      If the higher certificate was a prerequisite, you would need to include it in your application. But I think they will still require your matric results. You will really need to check with UNISA on this one! Good luck and all the best for your application.

  23. Hi,
    I registered for Bcom Markering management in june 2017 (semester 2), but I’m struggling with accounting as ive chosen it as one of my modules, will I still have to do accounting in my next semester? or will I be able to choose another subject?

    1. Hi Ahmed, You’ll be able to take other subjects next semester, but eventually you will need to complete the accounting modules in order to complete the degree. Hope that answers your question?

  24. Hey,

    Am left with six semester modules and twelve year modules which I can do next year,some of the year modules are practical,so I want to know if it is possible for me to do them all next year

    1. Hi there, you will need to confirm with the university, but according to my knowledge, you can only complete 5-semester modules in a semester and 5-year modules in a year. Please confirm and advise? It will be very interesting to have the facts.

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