My 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.
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*
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.
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.
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!