Interested in studying Chartered Accountancy but didn’t take Pure Maths in high school? Boipelo shares her experience of pursuing her dreams with Maths Lit.
I matriculated at R.W Fick in 2009, with two distinctions, one for Mathematical Literacy and the other for Business Studies. I chose to do commercial subjects because of my interests in our country’s economic and political environment, as well as my love for organizing. The subjects I chose in high school were Economics, Accounting, Business Studies and Mathematical Literacy. I have always enjoyed these subjects and they fell perfectly into my plans. Physical Sciences did not appeal to me at all and I always thought I wasn’t smart enough.
My university education went something like this. I studied and obtained my Extended BCom in Chartered Accountancy and Honours in BCom Chartered Accountancy (also known as CTA) at North West University, Vaal-triangle campus. Upon applying for the CTA degree I was told that I would need to complete my degree in 4 years instead of 3, which I had no problem with.
My Problem with Maths Lit
Despite my decision to choose Maths Lit, I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue a career in Accounting. My mission was to prove, that through hard work and determination, there are opportunities for a student with Maths Lit. The career had an immense shortage, and I knew that pursuing a career in the Accounting field would secure me a job and help our country fill a gap. At this point, the only problem I had was the fact that I took Maths Lit instead of Pure Maths. To apply for an Accounting degree you generally need Pure Maths.
My family have always encouraged me to make my own decisions, so even when I told them I chose Math Lit, they did not advise me otherwise. The only concern my family had was that I pass matric, and it somehow ended up being my main concern too. Sometimes it may feel as though our parents don’t realise how their perceptions and reverse psychology actually affects us.
Why did I decide to take Maths Lit?
- The pass rate at my school for Pure Maths was not really good.
- I really wanted to pass matric in record time and at the time it seemed as though choosing Pure Maths would mean shooting myself in the foot.
- My confidence issues and constant need to find approval really played a big role in my choice between Pure Maths and Maths Lit. I really did not think I was smart enough to handle it.
Only once I was in matric did I realise how well I was doing in my academics and how my decision to do Maths Lit would impact me in pursuing a career in Accounting. This realization, late as it was, pushed me to work even harder and improve my grades.
The Extended BCom degree in Chartered Accountancy
To get into the Chartered Accountancy programme, one needs to have English and Mathematics. As already established, I did not have Pure Maths so technically I did not qualify to take part in the course. However, because the university had the Extended Programme, this allowed me to pursue my dreams and finally get to the point where I am right now.
The CA program has a built in honours which one needs to qualify for. It varies per university, but at NWU an average of 57% per core module is required in your final year.
Going forward, my life mission was to prove that a student with Maths Lit could excel just the same as any other student who took Pure Maths in high school. Absolutely nothing should stop anyone from pursuing their dreams (not even Maths Lit). I appreciate that as students doing the extended degree, we were nurtured into the course, with modules such as critical and analytical thinking, as well as foundation Mathematics.
I did not fail any subjects, and the only way students can make sure that they do not fail is if they can balance their social life and academics, always bearing in mind that academics should come first. First year at varsity is always the hardest to get through because ones priorities becomes easily influenced. The environment is still new and the freedom is absolutely overwhelming. The fact of the matter is that the fun will always be there, which means you need to prioritise.
What to expect?
The degree itself requires a lot of hard work, more especially if you’re looking to qualify for the honours degree. It is very challenging, however it builds character and enables you to take a leadership role in almost every situation in your life. You get to create life long memories and build contacts with people who are almost guaranteed to be on your level in about a few years’ time, as is true with any other degree. It is possible to do your undergraduate studies part-time and still qualify for honours, however it does become very demanding once postgraduate studies is underway.
Upon choosing the CA stream I took three factors into consideration: Job security, the shortage in the field and the challenges that come with the job itself, basically knowing that there will never be a dull day at work.
During my undergraduate studies I went for vacation work at one of the big four audit firms (PWC) and it broadened my perceptions of Chartered Accountants and helped me make a choice as to which division I would eventually like to work in.
I was in varsity a total of five years, and of those five years, I travelled from home to campus for three years. This was very difficult because I lived quite far from campus. Furthermore, I felt like I wasn’t enjoying campus life to its fullest. For the last two years I lived at residence and this was the best decision I ever made. It was much easier to do group assignments, because everyone was about 5 minutes away, and it was easier to participate in sport activities.
During our studies we are required to complete three years of training in order to qualify as CA’s. The audit firms provide such training in my field, which makes it is easier to find a job. One can sign a training contract from first year onwards and study knowing that you have a job secured once you have graduated.
For scholars in grade 9 who need to choose their subjects for high school, don’t let lack of confidence predict your future. If you aren’t sure what to study, what you want to become or lack confidence in doing Pure Maths, just remember you are not limited. On the one hand it is beneficial to do Pure Maths in high school, but it doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your dreams if you don’t choose it. If you do decide to choose Maths Lit, it doesn’t mean your future is crushed. When choosing between Pure Maths and Maths Lit you need to change your perception and attitude towards the subject. Always remember, in the end it’s mind over matter.
If you are a scholar in grade 10 or 11 and you have already chosen your subjects, do not fret. For my decision to do Maths Lit is one I regret. It’s a decision you are expected to make when you are only 14 years old, and it’s one that is quite important. So it’s very essential that you make the right decision.
Freedom is something you need to take seriously. You can party till you drop, but your academics will suffer if you don’t concentrate. It’s better to get the academics part over and done with, and then you can party for the rest of your life (if that’s what you desire). Keep a balanced life, academics alone is not fulfilling. Have a social life, but try to do things that are beneficial and stimulating for you. Secondly, lecturers do not bite, and you do not necessarily have to know everything to go for consultation. Consultation sessions are for students who need help, so make sure you use your lecturers to your best advantage.
The best experience I had during university was passing my CTA. This is something I will treasure for the rest of my life, and I will also reap the benefits forever. Whereas my worst experience was definitely registration. Every year it was the same problem of not securing funding in time for registration. I literally cried every year. But now that I look back, it was all worth it, because my tears at the start of the year pushed me to work even harder for the rest of the year.
Reap the benefits
My lecturers have been the most important tool in my academic career. The dedication that they have towards their students is absolutely overwhelming and I can never thank them enough. I had group studies during my undergraduate years and that also really got me through hard times. The study material is also very “user friendly”. My mother’s passion for education also made me work harder because I never wanted to disappoint her.
Moving along to the famous aptitude tests…turns out they didn’t really help me as much as I thought it would. The results “informed” me that I needed to follow a career in Engineering, and honestly that would not have worked out very well for me. I chose to do something that was beneficial for me and most importantly something that I was passionate about.
How lucky are we to hear about this Extended Accountancy programme?! Sometimes it’s difficult to choose the right subjects or even worse to find out you’ve chosen the wrong subjects. Here’s the catch though, in the end you are the master of your own fate! If you don’t look out for your future, who will? Don’t be scared to search for other opportunities to pursue your dreams. If you have chosen the wrong subjects, don’t worry, instead ask for help. Hard work and determination pays off if you are motivated.
Requirements for Studies in Chartered Accountancy at North-West University
- High School Subjects: Pure Maths, English
- Entry Requirements at North-West: English (L5), Pure Maths (L5), APS test