Presented by UCT Online High School

If you’re applying to high school for your child – this downloadable guide will help you with everything

An informative guide to the 2024 high school application process with step-by-step instructions, tips and explanations.


Parents are constantly on the go, juggling competing responsibilities, and needing to make tough decisions – even at the best of times, parenthood isn’t for the faint of heart.

It’s a constant balancing act with a lot of responsibility and the pressure to make the right choices for their child and family.

Across the country, parents are no doubt already in the thick of the high school applications process. And with an already busy schedule and the high stakes of the school selection process, they’ll more than likely need some guidance.

The high school application process is tricky, tangled and inconsistent. Between different procedures among public, private and online high schools, application processes can vary widely.

A number of institutions require them to apply way in advance; as much as 18 months before the school year.

Others ask for application fees, and high deposits that will need to be budgeted for upfront. Others call for entrance tests and interviews that need to be factored into these busy and often rushed timelines. All require supporting documentation, but this can differ for each school. And the process isn’t even the same between provinces.

Applications can also differ between brick-and-mortar and online high school programmes.

Applications for brick-and-mortar public schools are in full swing across South Africa, with different application windows per province, generally running between the months of April and August, and those in the Western Cape region have until Saturday, April 15 to make the provincial deadline for public schools.

High School application processes are overwhelming. Where do parents start, what can they expect, and how do they ensure they make the right call for their child, and family?

To help parents during this process, UCT Online High School searched out the available resources from public and private institutions across the country.

They used these to put together a downloadable, and comprehensive guide on the ins and outs of the private, public, online and homeschooling high school application processes for the 2024 school year.

Their hope is that this resource will demystify the application process, ease parent’s anxieties, and be a guide during this process.

From annual application timelines, to criteria that’ll help parents select the right high school for their child, and information on where to get in-person assistance in each province.

Parents or guardians can download the free guide here.

In this guide, parents will find:

  1. an outline of what to consider when selecting a high school
  2. general timelines for the applications and appeals process
  3. the differences between applications in different provinces
  4. directions on what to do if your child doesn’t receive a place in a school.‍

Across South Africa, parents are currently in the high school application window for the 2024 school year. There are over 6,000 brick-and-mortar high schools across the country, not to mention private schools (which include international schools), and online high schools.

These schools range in size and offering, school fees, curriculum, pass rates, sports and other extracurricular offerings. There are plenty of options to choose from.

Choosing the right high school for a child is a huge step, and can feel overwhelming for parents and caregivers

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to schooling. While there are national and international benchmarks for excellence in learning, when it comes to choosing a high school that’s best

for a child, parents need to consider their child’s individual needs. This ranges from the level of support they require to their learning style, and the kinds of activities that suit them best.

For example, if a child has barriers to learning, or struggles with more technical subjects like mathematics, parents might look for a school with smaller class sizes or school tutoring programmes that can give them the support they need.

If parents are concerned that their child won’t excel in a brick-and-mortar school, they could also consider homeschooling, or an online high school like UCT Online High School, which also has accommodations for learners with barriers to learning.

Included in more detail in the guide and at a high level, parents should consider the following:

  1. What can I afford to spend on education and am I getting value for money?
  2. How will schooling fit in with my family life?
  3. Does the school prepare my child for a digitised education environment, and the future of work?
  4. Does the school match my child’s personality?
  5. What curriculum does the school offer?
  6. What subjects does the school offer?
  7. What extramurals are offered?
  8. What level of educational support does my child need?

With competitive fees, complete flexibility and innovative use of educational technologies, more and more families are opting for online high school over brick-and-mortar-schooling.

It’s also a preferred option for parents and guardians of children who excel when given the room to work more flexibly, who need to fit their schooling around an active schedule of extra-curricular activities, or who need additional support in overcoming various barriers to learning.

Schools like UCT Online High School offer a range of curriculums, including Cambridge International and the South African National Senior Certificate (NSC).

Online high schools are also designed to prepare a child for the changing world of work, and the requirements of a digital future.

And since online schools don’t have the same physical barriers and hidden costs (through travel, uniforms, or costs for school clubs), it’s a way for families to access quality education and learner enrichment no matter where they live.

While online high schools may have fewer physical barriers when it comes to class size and infrastructure, parents still need to apply in advance, and in the case of UCT Online High School, pay a nominal application fee of R350.

‍If you know of other parents or guardians who are struggling through the application process, feel free to share this guide with them.

UCT Online High School seeks to level the playing field by offering affordable, high-quality education that learners can access no matter where they live.

For more information on the school, visit www.uctonlinehighschool.com/fees.

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If you’re applying to high school for your child – this downloadable guide will help you with everything