You can read more about my post-qualification journey and challenges here

Why am I sharing this?

I’m sharing my Chartered Accountant qualification journey for accounting students who need to know that their journey doesn’t need to be ideal in order to be successful. Students studying towards a professional qualification face a lot of challenges. Passing exams make up some of these challenges, but the mental challenges, self-doubt that creeps in, the long road ahead of them and the enormity of the task they’re set themselves add to this stress.

Quick overview:

  • It took me 11 years to qualify as a Chartered Accountant instead of the 7 years it should take. (I never failed a subject, I just had to fight the system and my circumstances).
  • I didn’t have university entrance after school. I had to study other courses for two years before UNISA ‘allowed’ me to register for my degree.
  • I studied under- and post-grad, distance-learning (correspondence), part-time, working full-time through all of it
  • I had incredible marks at school. I was a perfectionist, terrified of failure, and doubted myself through the entire journey
  • I started lecturing Auditing the year I started my Articles, so I worked two jobs through my Articles, while studying for my Board exams
cta This photo was taken as I got my second Board exam result. My very last exam. Even as I look at it now, I can feel the strength of that moment. All those years, that work, finally came to an end!

What did I struggle with?

Bad, or no, advice from people I trusted

No one in my family has a degree, or were professionals, so I had no source of information, references (and no internet back then!!!) to guide me. I wanted to be a CA(SA) from the age of 7, so I had direction, and knew what I wanted to do, all I needed was help in getting there. I got really bad advice from my guidance teacher at school… and so I finished my ‘high school’ at a Technical College instead. I left with a 90% average, and was then hit with the news that no University would touch me. People at UNISA kept ‘telling’ me what courses to study to meet their entrance criteria… I’d do it, then they’d deny they’d said it, and tell me to do something else. I did this for TWO YEARS before they agreed to register me for their ‘bridging course’ to start my degree. No-one told me that an older CTA-graduate (I was 25 when I passed CTA) with 8 years working experience was a FAR more valuable article clerk to a firm, so I didn’t think I was ‘good enough’ to apply at the Big Four. There was no guidance, or information about my journey, so I struggled through it alone. I felt like I learnt everything the hard way, and had to fight the whole way.

I was a part-time, UNISA (distance-learning) student

We had no money for me to study full-time, so I started working as soon as I left College. My nights and weekends were spent studying. I discovered private tuition providers in my 3rd year… but that meant sitting in classes after work, until 10PM every weeknight, and a lot of weekends… and then still studying after that. (There was a LOT of caffeine involved in those years!) I felt like a ‘second-rate’ candidate. As a part-time option, a lot of the perception out there is that you “couldn’t get into the right universities”. (Pre-social media, there was no community to draw encouragement or information from, so there weren’t many places to correct mis-perceptions like this). The ‘proper’ universities are the ones that the Big Four recruit from… so a lot of UNISA students have never really felt like they’re ‘good enough’, or will get the same quality articles, career and opportunities as others. (I still see and hear these fears ALL the time from my students.)

I worked two jobs during my Articles

I started lecturing Auditing in my first year of my training contract. I need the money, and I did like the opportunity. I lectured part-time students, so I’d rush to class after work and lecture from 18:00 – 22:00, sometimes three nights a week, and often for 8 hours on a Saturday and / Sunday. I still needed to study for my Board exams through this, so I struggled to squeeze everything in.


I wasn’t very positive through a lot of my journey! Although I never let go of the goal of qualifying, a large part of me didn’t believe I’d actually make it. This is something I pick up from a lot of my students as well. You’re hanging on, but you’re also doubtful. It’s long, it’s hard, and it seems to be designed for full-time students only… and even they aren’t guaranteed a pass! (CTA has a 10% pass rate… how on EARTH could I get there studying part-time!) I kept being told to “BE POSITIVE”, but I had no idea HOW to do this, which made me feel worse… I couldn’t even get THAT right… nevermind the studies!

My thoughts and feelings

While I watched people I went to school with qualify, I was still stuck in this never-ending journey, feeling like I was stagnating. I couldn’t get a ‘better’ job, because I knew that I’d have to leave it in order to go serve articles for a lower salary.

My great marks disappeared

Very quickly, my distinctions disappeared. As someone who took great pride in my academic results, this disturbed me and I had to re-prioritise a lot. The objective was to pass. Not to get distinctions. I had to believe that I could achieve the same goals by merely passing as opposed to getting distinctions. This was extremely tough for me. I was working harder than I’d ever done in my life, and was doing progressively worse.  My anxieties over all my ‘performance’ stuff was like a 5th major subject for me (“FinAcc”, “ManAcc”, “Tax”, “Auditing”, and “How stupid I felt”). It took up THAT much mental and emotional space and time, but there was no textbook, no help, and all I felt was shame and a deepening sense of failure and despair. I discovered “Mindset” (A life-changing concept and book for me, written by Carol Dweck) in 2016. I desperately wish I’d have come across this when I was studying. It was so relevant and enlightening for me, explained almost every anxiety I’d had, and WHY I struggled with all this. The things I’ve learnt from this, I now pass onto students I talk to, and it influences the way I teach… so hopefully… other students don’t have to struggle with this as much as I did! I really battled with Management Accounting / Financial Management (as MOST of my CTA students over the years have done!). You can read some more about my Man Acc journey here.

I never failed anything until the CTA Tests (Postgrad)

I passed CTA and both Board exams first time. It was the bad advice, financial challenges and needing to fit studies into a full-time job and looking after my mom that added the extra four years to my journey. The first thing I failed was Test 1 in CTA (Post-grad). It nearly paralysed me. I felt useless, stupid, and believed that I’d never pass anything ever again. It was very difficult to get back up after that, and it’s for this reason I tell students that it would be better for them to experience failure before you get to CTA! It teaches you to accept that you can’t necessarily do everything the first time you try it, and that it’s ok. It doesn’t mean you never will. (SO much easier said than done!).

Life passed me by, and I felt alone

Friends, patient as they were, got annoyed and tired of always hearing “No, I can’t make it”, to every invite they extended. I lost myself in a world of studies, work and feeling like I was behind from the moment I woke up. There was always a sense of guilt that I wasn’t studying enough and no matter how much I did, this never went away. The people at work didn’t understand the stress that I was under, since none of them were studying, and so I got no study leave, and not much support. They couldn’t understand why I was wasting so much of my life sitting in front of a pile of books, when I could be doing other things. The amount of times I heard the saying “It’s just a piece of paper, you don’t need a piece of paper to be successful!” are too many to mention. I eventually learnt to just nod and smile, because they clearly didn’t understand the drive that I felt, and the goal that I was working towards. I’m pretty sure they saw the terror in my eyes though. They thought I was mad. My chief concern was, how was I supposed to pass this with the limited time I could spend on studies when the full-time students, who had so much more time, couldn’t make it?!

My ‘messy’ journey is good for my students

Once I started lecturing, I also realised that the challenges I faced in my journey helped me to reach students in a way that I couldn’t have if everything had’ve gone according to plan. Student could hear my challenges, realise that I had still successfully reached my goal, and this motivated them to realise that this meant that they could also be successful, even though they too faced all kinds of challenges. Sometimes we need to hear the stories of other peoples’ challenges in order to recognize that persistence and dedication can pay off, even if it seems impossible at the time, and we can’t quite see how it will all work out. This makes all my challenges seem worthwhile.

Your professional qualification journey?

On a journey like this, or any other professional journey, you constantly need to reassess your goals, your chances of success, your direction and the challenges you face, and how to overcome them. You realise that life very seldom works out according to plan. What matters is who we are, and the decisions we make when we can’t quite see the sun, and the rain and clouds seem like they’ll never go away. Even if your plans change, even if you decide not to pursue the same goals, take lessons from your journey. Help others to reach their goals. Realise that the challenges you face now may have a greater purpose than you can see right now. I wrote two articles to help CTA students, their family and friends to understand their journeys, and challenges… Part 1 | Part 2 Most of all, don’t give up on yourself. Find help, support, remain positive and reach out.

What do I do now?

I offer study coaching for Accounting students at all levels. I’ve lectured Accounting and Auditing for over a decade, and one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that it’s not the subject contents that hold students back. Study habits, mindset and accountability are the biggest challenges for them. I work with them to help improve their study habits, work on their mindset and provide accountabiity for their studies. You can read more here

If you can relate, or have a query...


  1. Thank you for continuously reminding us that we’re not in this alone, reaching out and sharing your journey . I hope my journey can touch a life as yours did mine ♥

  2. Very motivating as i failed aue2601 twice now have no idea wat 2do ςά̲̣йτ̲̅ start 3rd year auditing modules yet had a tereble timetable rote 5exams in 4days in 1week i was exhuasted!!! i w0nder if w0rking will help ♏έ? ɪ̣̝̇♏ on a bursary 4this year come from a poor background as u my family have ♏έ to depend on as my bro just rec0vering from drugs which cuasd ♏έ to drop grades from grade 11 &matric maybe cause i never archive all A’s in matric y i ςά̲̣йτ̲̅ get a job in a accounting firm?? ɪ̣̝̇♏ also disabled and last year 10/12 i br0ke my ankle yesterday was 1year and ɪ̣̝̇♏ still suffering ςά̲̣йτ̲̅ walk ά̲̣ LΘŦ untill it starts 2hurt n i ςά̲̣йτ̲̅ move i w0nder at times wat badluck came my way t0 try and paralyse ♏έ fr0m g0ing 0n in life!!! Iv never w0rked b4 if u can help ♏έ 0ut with more advice pls email ♏έ thank u 🙂 i want to succeed in this field now on my 3rd year ɪ̣̝̇♏ thinking of taking all 4fac modules but every1 says no d0nt!

  3. Wow Yvonne thank you so much for the encouragement to be honest I felt bad that I did my bcompt for 5 year part time,because I started with diploma and in order to do CTA I needed to do bcompt and was only credited 8 module from my diploma.5 years trying to finish bcompt was really not easy but when I look back now im just greatful and looking forward to CTA level 1 this year and I know that with God on my side I will make it.

    Thank you so much backwards never forward ever.

  4. Hi Yvonne, i think you have achieved what you set out to do, I am totally inspired by this story. I have very similar circumstances and knowing that someone has triumphed has given me so much hope!! Thank you for taking the time to tell your story!!

  5. Lord bless this soul, it was truly heaven sent.. You just inspired me that through thick and thin we must soldier regardless of what other people say to us we must soldier on with purpose of we are getting there. Oh thank you lord for this insiparational soul. Oh lord jesus oh lord .

  6. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
    Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare
    to see a great blog like this one today.

  7. Wow that was beautifully written, i’m quit going through the same challenge, not exactly the same but along those lines. Reading this gave me hope. i’m almost there just can’t wait when i’m completely there. Hope all this challenges will be worth while. Its draining at times but i’m holding on tightly and firmly.

  8. I feel like you have just put my story on paper , I thought I was the only one who went through Technical College and realised later that I have been short changed , and the Technical route was not going to take me to University 🙁 at that time I was 20 years old when I realised this, my family could not help me out in anyway , so I chose to do a traineeship program in the Hospitality industry hoping for a better future that would compensate for my big dreams “Thinking I would live in hotels and travel the world” NOT!!! at the end of the traineeship I was disappointed in what has happened to me! I knew was academically ok, but now I would have to be subjected to a life that will never fulfil me !!!!!!!!!! or I must marry a rich man ! at that point I was 23years and confused as to what to do next , so I came to JHB still seeking a way out! I worked in commerce as admin assistant then when I was 25years in 2009 I registered with Unisa for Access. Due to financial difficulty I had to stop the course and at the time I was involved in a very emotionally abusive relationship , where the guy I was dating was a CA(SA) (who by the way I met in church) He always discouraged me to pursue this path for unknown reasons , he would go as far as saying I am intellectually impaired:-( and that by me being fluent in English does not equal intellect, but this did not put out the fire inside of me (it just deferred my dream) . Our relationship ended in July 2010 and I was released from Hell  to be able to pursue my dream :-). So in 2011 I commenced my access course once again and passed in semester1 and Unisa allowed me to start my degree :-)!!! I had struggling on my own for all modules including FAC3703 which everyone says is hard , but I did it on my own and passed first time . I am now on my last few modules and I feel empowered , I have been talking to my bosses to help me go to University full time next year for CTA/PGDA at NMMU , they are keen and I have already been accepted for articles with my company , I will be doing TOPP. so all in all it is sometimes hard to face reality but it humbles you and the importance of proper guidance is pivotal, hence I have taken it upon myself to guide my younger sisters who are now at Wits to go through the right route the first time . Thank-you once again I really feel better after reading this , as I thought I was alone in this unfair system of life . I am now 31years old but still hopeful 🙂 I went to edge last week-end and I regret never joining them at the beginning of the semester , They are brilliant , an Investment Banking Executive here at work saw me sitting in the evening with my standards studying , and told me about them , and how they helped him qualify , best advice ever . TO GOD BE THE GLORY

    • Thank you Zet

      What an intresting story. I want to share mine but its very long and very bumpy. All i can say is that reading such intresting stories motivates us. It shows that its never late to study. Its ok to be a 1st year student at the age of 29. Am ready to start my new qualification. And with God by my side am going to complete this. I owe myself this. Be blessed guys

      Kind regards

  9. After reading this i’m so inspired beyond measure.i’m 31yrs old in my second year studying towards a Bcom.I was orphaned at an early age and i almost didn’t finish my O levels(i’m from Zimbabwe by the way).I was only 17 when i came to SA as a border jumper ie illegal immigrant.I never got the chance to pursue my education untill i got fed up in 2013 and decided to go back to Zim to try and do a diploma in primary school education, that is when my boss proffered to sponsor my education on the condition that i studied in SA and continue working as a gardener for him untill i get an articleship.I know i don’t fit the mold of a CA but nomatter what may, i will succeed.I will continue to study hard and achieve good results waiting for the day i will be called a former gardener.

  10. I certainly needed to see this; especially now that I didn’t make it to Honors for the second time. Thank you so much Ms Venter for sharing your experience and insight. In fact you’ve made me realize that I don’t need to sulk much, even to complain; because I am very much privileged – I have all the support I need to repeat my final year for the third time. I know there’s always a lesson to learn from hardships – which is also what you’ve hinted above; so thank you so much. I shall share this with my blog- followers; too. 🙂

  11. Yvonne. I don`t even know why I`m seeing this only now because I literally live on the internet looking for motivating things like this. I`ve been on your site on Friday and Saturday reading all your articles. Before that I just thought you were just advertising your tutoring on these sites and never paid much attention. I needed this at the beginning of this year because I have my own very long story. I hope that one day soon I will also find the meaning of what I have gone through in my very bumpy journey and I make a quote of you below.

    “At this time of year, as you reassess your goals, your chances of success, your direction and the challenges you face, and how to overcome them… realise that life very seldom works out according to plan. What matters is who we are, and the decisions we make when we can’t quite see the sun, and the rain and clouds seem like they’ll never go away. Even if your plans change, even if you decide not to pursue the same goals, take lessons from your journey. Help others to reach their goals. Realise that the challenges you face now may have a greater purpose than you can see right now.”

    • 😉 I saw your comments on my other posts, thank you. I’m really glad you’ve gotten value from them! It’s amazing how we sometimes find the stuff when we need it the most!
      What are you studying this year?

  12. Hi there. Im doing cta L2 this year at Unisa. Am currently temporary registered just need 2make payment

  13. When a person is on the verge of giving up this CA career that has been his song since high school days, and then you come across such an aspiring story. After reading this I just felt like the only thing to come between my dream and I is death and nothing else. truly touched by your story Yvonne!!!! We ALL can’t have it the easy way in this CA route. Others have full financial support from parents, while others have to hit two birds with one stone to pursue their career path.

    #From Girl Friday to CA (SA)

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this… this is almost identical to my journey so far. Now I know there is hope. Thank you for the encouragement and all the advice. I have registered for CTA Level 2 this year and will hopefully start my articles once I pass. You are officially my role model.

  15. As i was reading this i knew there is still hope for me to, am only studying Bcom in Accounting Sciences and its tough already, how i wish to have a mentor who will help and understand the challenges i face. thank you for a beautiful story

    • Thank you 🙂
      I understand… having someone who is there for us when we need, and understands our situation and can give us support and advice. I’m sorry I can’t be there in that capacity for all my students. This is why I love this blog, because it does allow me to reach out to more than just the students that I lecture 🙂

      Social media has made great progress in terms of connecting students who are facing similar challenges, and the people who can advise or support them. The more students who experience this and reach out to others as well… the more connected and supported everyone will be. Don’t underestimate the value of your own experiences, challenges and your story to other students 🙂

  16. This is amazing Yvonne.. what l just needed to keep me going . You are truely Godsent. Now l have renewed strength..

  17. I’m reading this with tears in my eyes, For me passing my modules at Unisa wasn’t a problem, finance was my biggest issue where at times I’d go through a module without textbooks,It k took me 5 yrs to do my Bcompt degree but only graduated 2 yrs afterwards bcz I was still owing school fees..I got a job to be able to pay for school and also support at home as a debt collector..Due to my accounting background and hhardwork I found myself excelling at work, I was gpromoted to team leader within 2 yrs, I was one a step towards being manager when I decided to resign and find my way towards the dream I’ve always had to b a CA….The market hasn’t been nice to me at all…In the hype of it all I’m looking for is to work in finance just to learn the basics. Iv bn turned down by 3 companies for internship all stating I’m too accomplished and HV lots of work experience including a position in management….It’s difficult to manage some1 whose been a manager before.they went on to say I should apply for a management position instead of entry level..Which doesn’t make sense to me .I only have textbook knowledge .. In the field how am I to become a manager in the field? .. Iv lost hope my family says I should study teaching bcz I’m good at it and this Accounting is hopeless and useless to me and to them…So I just took on a debt collection job in the meantime as I don’t know what to do now. I was intending to do CTA this year but did not pay for registration bcz I was so demotivated…

    • Oh wow… your story really touched me. I am really sorry that you’ve experienced this. It’s a really tragic indication of how tough it is to find your way to a ‘set’ path if you haven’t followed the ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ route.
      I respect your determination, I really don’t want to see you lose that in the face of your experiences.
      So… prepare for a fairly long response
      I am truly saddened by your and your family’s feeling that “Accounting is hopeless to you and to them”. I feel this is far from true, but I totally understand how your situation and challenges have led to this conclusion.
      Teaching is extremely rewarding, and adds so much value to both you and those you come in contact with. I do, however, pick up a sense that this is advice based on the idea that nothing else is really working, so you should try teach, because that’s all that’s really left, and that you should ‘settle’ for that. There are a few reasons that I would be reluctant to encourage that at this point.
      First… you will probably always regret that you couldn’t have gone further. If the CA route is your absolute dream, there’s a real risk that you may resent both the profession and the career that you had to ‘settle for’. That’s dangerous for both you, as well as the students you teach!
      Second… as a lecturer, and employer who recruits and ‘teaches’ lecturers… I wouldn’t put someone in front of my class who was ‘settling’ for teaching as a last-chance option. It’s still a bit of a cliché that “those who can, do… and those who can’t, teach”. I seriously dislike that quote, and since my lecturers are responsible for the future careers of all their students… I want only the best, passionate people in front of my students.
      That being said, I don’t discourage teaching as a career choice. I LOVE it, and I think your experiences would add huge value to your students and the challenges they face. I’ve seen that with my experiences, and it’s truly humbling.
      What I do recommend though, is that you ‘make peace’ with whatever you decide. Being ‘forced’ or ‘pushed’ away from something is very different from walking away voluntarily. You’re unlikely to get closure for a long time if you’re ‘forced’ to give this up. Once you’re ‘happy’ with your decision, you’re free to then make positive decisions for your future.

      Your current situation…
      If your goal is to get CTA… then your current ‘job’ isn’t your final goal. Your eyes need to be on that studying. Am I right in saying that you haven’t done articles yet? If so… why look for a ‘career’-type job now, when you know that you’ll be leaving as soon as your CTA is done? That’s not fair to you or the company who invests in you!
      Sure, your current position isn’t what you want, nor is it at the level that you’re experienced for. If CTA is your goal, then this is one of those sacrifices that you need to make peace with. Quite frankly… when you’re studying CTA, you want as little challenge in the workplace as possible! If you’re earning a salary for work you’re comfortable doing, you’re in a routine, you can get study leave (hopefully), and there’s less stress… then you can focus far more mental energy on CTA… and for anyone who’s done CTA… they’ll tell you to count your blessings! If you got the type of job you want… your mental energy would be focused on working your way up in the company, and there would constantly be challenges… trust me… you will face PLENTY career-stretching situations and positions in the future… be careful what you wish for! Until you pass CTA… you really only have one thing you have to focus on… and that’s passing CTA… and trust me… that is ENOUGH to keep you PLENTY challenged!
      You’ve read my journey… I did the same thing. It was a little humiliating for me to stay in the same bookkeeping job for five years, and during my CTA. I watched others around me progress, get ‘better’ jobs, earning more. Then of course, going from there to being a first-year article clerk was even worse… starting from the bottom… again. Looking back… the jobs I had during my studies added value to my experience and understanding of how business works, dealing with people and situations, getting to grips with my own humility and not getting too hung up on ‘status’. I had a wealth of experience when I started articles, which was really beneficial to myself and the firm, and I don’t regret that.
      When I look back… I’m happy about my journey (sure, it took me quite some time to get to that point!), but I can see how my journey played out to build who I am now, and what I can do. I really hope that you have the same experience one day.

      I want you to take a deep breath and look at your situation from a different perspective. You know that saying “You can’t see the woods for the trees”? At the moment, you’re looking at the trees… you’re really lost in looking at how many of them there are in front of you, how high up they are, how crowded and big it all is. Now take a whole bunch of steps back and look at your bigger picture. Let me help
      • You’ve graduated. You CAN do CTA. So, you’re not ‘cut off’ from your CA goal. You’re the one who’s put that obstacle in front of you. Do you know how many students out there who would give their right arm to HAVE that option?
      • Your work experience now doesn’t ‘count’ towards your CA qual. It won’t be taken into account for you to be signed off for your articles. The only work experience that ‘counts’ towards those four letters is your articles… so why are you letting what you’re doing NOW stop you from doing something that’s still open to you?
      • You have both work experience, and the experience of being disappointed and facing difficult situations. This is really valuable to your career, well beyond that qualification! That’s what life looks like, right! Even once you’ve qualified, (in fact, ESPECIALLY once you’ve qualified), you will always be facing challenges and disappointments. Learning how to deal with them and face them down adds hugely to your professionalism, which will take you through the rest of your life… not to mention the lives of those you touch (whether they’re future students of yours, or not!) 😉
      • It’s FAR easier to get articles once you’ve got CTA. Firms are notoriously reluctant to hire clerks who don’t have CTA because the failure rate is so high, and they’re basically investing in students who are unlikely to qualify. (I wrote an article on a similar topic… might help you to read it). The way you position yourself and your ‘management’ experience is also really important. Understand that they’re only really interested in what they need YOU to do for them. They need to know that you’ll do what they need, at the level they need, until they feel that you’re ready for more. Sure, it’s frustrating… but I’m sure you can understand the amount of arrogant students and clerks they’ve come across who feel that because they have a degree or CTA or previous work experience, they deserve more money, higher positions and more respect… the more you understand their thoughts and concerns… the easier it is to deal with those conversations.
      • There are seriously few people out there who’s life and career worked out as planned. Almost every CA I talk to has their own story, and their own challenges that seemed to stand in the way of their goal. (I have a few interviews with CA’s on this blog… if you haven’t read them yet… go take a look… each one of them have different types of challenges… and each of them say that although it didn’t LOOK like they were going to be successful… they carried on anyway! They laugh when we talk about the CA qualification route, and what it’s ‘supposed’ to look like… very few people I’ve spoken to can tick that plan off and say that it’s how their journey looked. Think about that. Your current situation doesn’t have to dictate your future. You have no idea what the future holds for you… but if you place your own obstacles in the way… you’ll never know what that could be!
      • Your career will span your life until retirement. I don’t know how old you are, but if the average retirement age is 65 or so… how many years does that leave of your work life? When you’re 55, will you look back on the three or four years you went ‘off-track’ and say that it was worth giving up on because wasting three years was far too much of your life? It sure is now… I totally get that… but at 55, you might laugh and say you’d have been happy to ‘mess it up’ for five years to get where you really wanted to go! I qualified at 28. It felt like FOREVER! When I look at it now… it would totally have been worth it if it took two or three more years.
      (On a slightly lighter note… I often tell my students to be careful of their choices, because they don’t want to one day be the grandparent who’s grandchildren don’t want to visit because they don’t want to hear “Granny complain about how she could’ve been a CA if only things worked out better…”)

      So… where does that leave you? You’re not registered for CTA this year. If you graduated 3 years before doing CTA, you’ll have to do 3rd year again, if that’s the case, then you need to consider when you’d start with that, and what their rules are about how long you have to do 3rd year in order to go straight into CTA level 2, rather than having to do CTA Level 1, and then Level 2.
      Since you’ve left quite some time between your third year and starting CTA… you’re going to need some serious revision and ‘catch-up’! Students who start CTA straight from 3rd year feel overwhelmed and way behind within the first few weeks of CTA… so you have a lot of work to do to get yourself ‘ready’ for CTA!
      Your job… again… consider what your most important goal is, and make decisions accordingly. Don’t split your attention between trying to work on a career that you’re going to leave anyway, and CTA.
      For your family. Discuss your plans, timelines and challenges. Remember that when they see you disheartened, it breaks their heart too. They don’t want to see you unhappy, and they certainly don’t want to see you bring unhappiness to your own door! You need to get your decisions, attitudes and perspectives in place (whatever those decisions are!) and discuss it all with them. If you’re positive and believe in your future, don’t you think they’ll feel more hopeful with you? If they understand what that path looks like, the challenges and the types of things ahead of you, they can get comfort from knowing that you’re making these decisions from a position of strength and that you’re prepared (as much as you can be!) for the challenges that lie ahead. I’ve written two articles on this subject. Open letters to friends and family in which I explain to them what your path looks like (without all the terminology and acronyms that confuse people!), and the types of challenges you’ll face. Could be a really good read for them as well.

      You have a lot of thinking to do. Whatever you decide, whether it’s CA or not… only you can dictate your success. You can definitely be just as successful without being a CA, it’s just less structured, and thus, less comfortable!

      The choice is yours… the blessing you have is that those choices ARE in your control.

  18. Wow, I am at a loss for words. I found this article just in time cause I am going through some really hectic stuff and I am questioning myself so much it is not funny. Will I make it, Am I good enough, Am I wasting my time, Am I smart enough, Will I ever qualify and finally realise my teenage dream etc etc? I so wish that the people in my circle really understood what I am going through with this qualification like you do. Thank you for such a positive and reassuring post. Wow wow wow, that is all I am gonna say again……

  19. Wow I feel like I can conquer the world after reading this article. Exactly what I needed as I’m going though a rough patch. Thanks so much Yvonne. I’m truly inspired.

  20. It’s amazing how I came across your story when I found out this afternoon that my application at Unisa has been denied for Bcom financial Science. I really want to become a CA but this has put some doubt in me on if I will reach that goal. Although I immediately started looking for another way I found that colleges are not registered at SAICA.
    I know there must be a way of doing short courses and building up enough credits so Unisa would accept me I am just a bit lost on where to start, what courses to do, how to move forward from here. I have been thrown enough rejections and curve balls in life and I am not the type of person to give. I just don’t know where to go from here so I started losing hope today. After reading this I feel hopeful that somehow I can still reach my goal I just have to keep on fighting and I will get the answers as to where to go from here.
    Thank you for being an inspiration.

  21. Hi Yvonne , im currently 20 and my dream has always been to become a CA . I have gotten in to every university in SA that i wanted to but being accepted into many places has made me wonder as to wish course will not only aid me in the road towards becoming a CA but will give me an edge for getting a better job opportunities. Having researched about the Bbusc( finance in accounting )-4 years , BCom ( financail accounting: CA option) -3 years at UCT and the BACC – 3 yearsat stellenboch , im still not sure which will give me a better chance in this competitive market. I grew up in an environment where money was tight and we faced many hardships. If i choose one Course i have to stick with it as we cant afford for me to choose differently. if u could kindly guide me so that i can make an informed decision . any assistance would be much appreciated

    • Hi Sam 🙂
      It’s great to have options. You need to remember that SAICA accredits each of those universities to offer those degrees for students who want to be CA(SA)’s, and they are all designed to prepare you for the SAME Board exam (ITC). So, although they all have different names, make sure that they’re the ones that are SAICA-accredited for the CA-path. Thus, the content, work, levels etc are all pretty much the same. Also, they all take the same amount of time. It’s a 3 year degree, and 1 year postgrad (PGDA). Some universities add the PGDA into their discussion, hence the 4 years. At all universities, the degree is 3 years (or longer if you take longer to do it!), and the postgrad is 1 year. (If you don’t quite get entrance criteria for postgrad, or you didn’t do the right degree, then there are ‘bridging’ options, which is why some people will talk about a 2 year postgrad. This will not apply to you.). So you have 4 years of varsity ahead of you.

      The difference will be the support and lecturers you will have exposure to. Your success, however, is going to depend on how you use those resources. There are amazing lecturers at all those places, but I know that 90% of students have never approached their lecturers to get help 🙂 They can’t help you if you don’t step forward 😉
      Personally, I’d have LOVED to study at UCT. Their programme is known to be really high-quality and it’s a great university.

      Your success is going to depend on you. I know students who’ve failed at the most awesome universities, and students who’ve passed without much help at all, while studying correspondence. This is good.. because it means that you have control of your journey. It WILL be tough, no matter where you go. There will be challenges, times you feel like you’ve done the wrong thing. You’ll suck at stuff, you’ll feel stupid, you’ll get some stuff right, you’ll struggle, you’ll love it and hate it 🙂 It’s a proper rollercoaster 🙂 These are all part of the journey. Your commitment will be the dealbreaker.
      And keep in touch… you know I can give you advice as you move on 🙂

  22. Hi Yvonne,

    Thank you for your article

    I have a conundrum here… In 2017 I was forced leave my studies due to financial reasons….. Fast foward to today I was able to land myself a decent job, hence I am now able to fund my studies..

    I have applied both to ukzn(where I did my first year) and unisa

    The issue is that ukzn offers a full time program which will cause a problem regarding work school balance… Hence unisa is the preferred option yet uncertain if it’s saica accredited.

    And I have bit of anxiety regarding continuing my studies and working as we know accounting does not care only about how smart you are but about how hard you work also

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Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

I coach accounting students who are struggling with their study habits and mindset, and want their studies to be as effective as they used to be. See more on my about page

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