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New book helps first years find their way

Venicia McGhie and Madge du Preez are two formidable women with a long relationship with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) who both want to see first-year students adjust to university life easier. They wrote a book that imparts crucial knowledge every parent and prospecting student should read to help them make the transition from school to university or college less challenging.

Dr Venicia McGhie, senior lecturer and head of the Department of Academic Development in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, and Madge du Preez, retired senior faculty officer and coordinator of the EMS Student Support and Research Unit (ESSRU), combined their expertise to create a book that could be the saving grace for many prospective first-years at university (or any other tertiary institution).

The first part of the book speaks to the power of education and what learners and their parents can do while they are still at school. The second part covers what learners should know and prepare for once they arrive at university or college. And the last part provides information and advice regarding courses one should study, application procedures, contact details of most of the post-school institutions in South Africa, and a GPS checklist amongst others.

Dr McGhie conducted the research on which the book, Accessing Post-School Studies: A Student’s GPS to Successful Learning, is based; while Ms Du Preez, a keen creative writer, provided creative and stylistic input.

The two authors share a deep concern and love for struggling students, especially those from rural communities, and are both passionate about the book and the contribution it could make to successful student learning.

Dr McGhie (who was in the news recently for working her way from domestic worker to lecturer and obtaining a PhD) explains that she wrote the book because she wanted to empower prospective students with knowledge and information that could assist them to make informed decisions about further studies after Grade 12.

Dr McGhie says: “We’re excited about the book and hope to receive buy-in from the national department of education, so that it could be used as part of the life orientation curriculum in high schools.”

Ms Du Preez was motivated to do something when she encountered students with very little self-confidence in her tenure as faculty officer and coordinator of ESSRU.

Prof Christopher Tapscott, recently-retired founding director of UWC’s School of Government and current Board Member of the Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management, notes that the book entices readers to study further, and reassures them that studying will be beneficial and that education will further their careers and selves.

Accessing Post-School Studies is currently sold at R330 (hard copy) and R260 (ebook). The book can be purchased from African Sun Media via email at or via their e-shop at


Eloise Pretorius – Weekdays 9am – 12pm Anchor, Smile 90.4FM