Congratulations! You've made it to UCT – a position you've been working incredibly hard for. Now the next leg of your journey – which culminates on your graduation day – begins in earnest. Your path may not always be smooth. You might find you have chosen the wrong course or fall seriously ill the night before an exam. Knowing what to do and who to speak to for support will help you get back on track.
The first week of the semester is critical for those who change their mind about the courses they're taking: it's in this week that you can drop or add a course without academic or fee implications.
Deputy Registrar Dr Karen van Heerden's main advice to first-year students is to choose a field of study of interest to them, and not their parents. "One of the biggest reasons for students leaving university without completing their degree is the wrong choice of study field."
Curriculum advisors in every faculty are there to advise you regarding academic matters. If you're considering a change to your curriculum, these advisors should be your first port of call. The Student Wellness Service and most faculties have psychologists who are there to help you adjust to campus life – whether with study techniques or coping mechanisms when dealing with high volumes of work.
In the second and third weeks of semester, you can still drop courses and receive a 50% refund of your course fee, but you can no longer add courses. From week four until the end of week six, you can still drop a course and have it removed from your academic record. However, you are still liable for the full course fee.
If you don't deregister formally from a course by week six of the semester, the course will reflect as a 'fail' on your academic record.
Leave of absence
If you fall seriously ill or cannot cope due to a diagnosed psychological condition, you can approach your faculty manager to apply for a leave of absence. This means you don't have to continue your course, and there is no academic penalty. You can resume the course in the next semester that it is offered.
A deferred exam can be granted on medical, compassionate or religious grounds. Applications are made to the Student Records Office and are considered by Senate's deferred examination committee. Deferred examinations normally take place in January.
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