The Mother City wore her finest on Saturday 13 April to welcome hundreds of prospective UCT students to Open Day.
Learners from schools as far afield as Grahamstown, Johannesburg and Oudtshoorn jostled for information, particularly in the Jameson Hall where the Faculty of Science's hands-on exhibitions drew scores of interested viewers. Many seemed agog by the array of possibilities for study.
In the Leslie Social Sciences Building there were on-screen guides showing learners how to apply online. Formal lectures included those on the National Benchmark Tests by the Alternative Admissions Research Project and by the Careers Office on study choices, as well as slots by each of the six academic faculties.
On the Jameson Plaza staff carrying 'lollipops' advertising library and residence tours set off at half-hour intervals, with lines of parents and students following in their wake.
There was little doubt of the power of media in study choices; many learners interviewed said programmes like Medical Detectives and CSI and Suits and Boston Legal had influenced their choices.
One trio of grade 11 pupils from South Peninsula High bucked the trend and were set on careers in commerce. Andrea Arendse Nadine Adams and Roxanne Coraizin were eyeing management, business studies and accounting. All agreed they had started planning for the important last stretch at school.
"Everyone is working hard already," said Arendse.
"Our teachers are motivating us to think ahead about what we want to do," added Coraizin.
Particularly visible were scores of learners participating in UCT's 100UP programme, one group posing for photos in their 100UP T-shirts at a Faculty of Science poster outside Jameson Hall. Some 20 schools in Khayelitsha participate in UCT's Schools Improvement Initiative's 100Up project, designed to help prepare 100 learners from the area for possible admission to UCT from 2014.
UCT has recruited five Grade 10 learners in each of the schools into a three-year programme that focuses on enhancing their academic and life skills to better prepare them to compete for places at UCT.
A group of five grade 11 pupils from Kwamfundo Senior Secondary School were quite at home on campus, thanks to the 100UP Saturday programmes they attend here. Like her classmates, Abongwe Poswa is the first in her family with an eye on a place at university - and her dreams are not small: she's juggling medicine, pharmacology and biomedical engineering as her careers of choice.
Tandakari Tshingana of Masiyile Senior Secondary School in Khayelitsha reflected the general consensus on the day, responding enthusiastically to the Open Day: "Wow, it's big. There are lots of quality students here."
Masiyile is one of the province's most improved schools, reportedly lifting their matric pass rate from 34% in 2010 to 86.8% in 2011.
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