Planning your study path at UP for first year students

December 15, 2021

All of life’s phases interconnect and play a big role in the decisions and consequences they bring.

You’ve chosen, now it’s time to prepare.

First let us congratulate you for being admitted to the University of Pretoria (UP) or, as it’s known to its students and alumni “TUKS”. Getting into a university ranked 5th in the country and in the top 3% globally requires dedication and hard work. Pat yourself on your back and say well done, don’t linger, though.

We won’t sugarcoat this. The work you put in to reach varsity is teeny compared to what’s ahead. So it’s time to prepare. If you’ve read some of our previous posts, you’ll know we often share a crucial piece of wisdom: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Apply this philosophy and you’ll ace life.

For this one, you’re the master of your own destiny. You get handed the reins and, typically, someone else’s money to take the trip. Therefore, it’s vital you succeed. For most, there won’t be a second chance to study without work or family presenting a challenge to your time. Excuse our use of clichés, in this case, their message leaves no doubt.

Picking your courses

The reason you go to varsity is to prepare for a career in an industry that appeals to you. By this stage, you have a pretty good idea what career path you want to pursue. Hopefully, they have accepted your application. Unfortunately, the demand for some faculties exceeds the amount of space. Instead, you chose a faculty that is a conduit to your first choice.

The bigger and more diverse the offerings in a faculty, the more likely you were to be accepted. Faculties at UP have selection and non-selection courses. Selection courses have less space and students chosen based on specific criteria and achievements in Grade 12. Space in non-selection courses are more plentiful and the criteria for admission less rigid. If you applied for a selection course but are not selected, you can start with a non-selection course and you may still want to apply for the selection course when applications re-open.

If you’re intent on the field of study of a specific selection course then we suggest that you get hold of the faculty staff member who runs the course and seek their advice on what course you can do in the interim that will enhance your chances of being selected.


All university faculties have comprehensive brochures that tell you about all available courses, subjects and contact information. Before selecting your elective subjects, it’s important to contact the people that run the courses. They will provide sound advice on which subjects to pick in order to achieve your career goal. To locate the details for your faculty, use the following search term in Google: ‘faculty name’ under graduate brochure university of Pretoria 2022.

You can and should also reach out to faculty student advisors. They are senior students in each of the university’s faculties that volunteer their own time to assist. As people who have progressed from where you are now and have the same or similar goals for their time in university, they offer a unique perspective. They know what’s required to achieve the goals you’re pursuing. Besides academics, they also offer advice and guidance on subjects that confront first-year students. Their services are free and it gives them pleasure to help. So make use of this resource and reach out ASAP, even if your planning is on cue. There is little doubt that their help and advice will come in handy during your first year.

Choosing the subjects for your course

The variety and breadth of courses prevent us from making suggestions on which are the most pertinent elective subjects to take for your course. For guidance and help, you can and should consult several sources before deciding. It’s worth doing your homework on this. It’ll pay massive short- and long-term dividends.

When speaking to advisors, remember to write things down and then compare the answers and reasons they gave you for their advice. Write questions you want to ask them and ask each person the same questions.

These are the people we suggest you reach out to:

  • Person responsible for your course at the faculty.
  • Faculty student advisors.
  • Junior and senior people already in the profession. It’s rare that professional people are not willing to help. Don’t be shy. Call their places of work, connect on LinkedIn or go to a company or institution’s office and ask who can assist.
  • Many industries have associations that have dedicated people to assist students. Examples include: The Health Professions Council of South Africa and Law Society of South Africa.

Second on the list – accommodation

While selecting the course and subjects ranks number 1 in your preparation, number 2 has to be accommodation. Besides the obvious of needing somewhere to live with amenities but choosing the right place will have a large impact on your first year. You’re in luck. You’re currently on the website of The Fields where we offer excellent security, and very affordable private student accommodation in the capital city. Get in touch with us today – we’re here to help and we have the options for all needs for university living including an on-site laundry.

We look forward to helping you and wish you all the best for your first year at one of the top universities in SA and in this beautiful city. The Fields, Pretoria.

Back to articles