A day in the life...

18 February 2008

Hard at work: Katherine Thomson and Amy Rooks play a key role in the registration of students in the Faculty of Science.

What is student registration?

The words speak for themselves, getting students registered to pursue their studies in science - but it is more than that. It is a year-long journey that leaves officials both happy or sad, involving recruitment, admission and orientation. Katherine Thomson, marketing and communications manager, and Amy Rooks, the acting schools liaison and recruitment officer, play key roles in these functions.

How are the students recruited?

The recruitment process begins as early as February, immediately after first-years have been placed. The faculty not only targets matriculants, but also meets with Grade 10 and 11 pupils.

Thomson, Rooks and colleagues visit about 20 schools in the Western Cape to demonstrate why the faculty is the best. They also host various other promotional exercises, like the Science Day, jammed with science exhibitions. This year the faculty intends to take it's marketing to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The admission process

The Faculty works hand in hand with the Admissions Office in this regard. When the applications have been received and captured, faculty staff identify those who meet the admission criteria. Provisional offers are made to these students, on condition that they still meet the criteria when the matric results are released. The faculty maintains communication with them via SMS, email and telephone, while waiting for the Department of Education to send the final matric results. Those who have passed are encouraged to take up the offers, and staff help out with things like course structures and accommodation. Sometimes the staff go above and beyond their duty and accommodate the stranded students at their homes until accommodation has been sorted out.


At first the officials recruit and train between 20 and 30 orientation leaders from the second- and third-year students. Their task is to mentor and guide the new students when they arrive. The leaders need strong interpersonal skills, among other things, to communicate with the students.

One of the main tools developed by the faculty is the Orientation Booklet, which contains all the information about, well, orientation.

Orientation includes academic advice about courses and programmes, assessment tests and questionnaires, computer training, campus and library tours, as well as introductions to student services like the Careers Office, the Counselling Service and Students' HIV and AIDS Resistance Programme.

The highs and lows of the job

Rooks said the best moments of her job are when calling students to inform them that they have been accepted at UCT. "You can hear them jumping and shouting on the phone." The worst are when she has to tell them they haven't made it. Sometimes students don't check whether they have been accepted or not, and just turn up at the university during the admission period with their bags.

"That is sad and it is important for us to encourage them that it is not the end of the world."

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