Phemelo Lekale failed at her first attempt doing the postgraduate diploma in accounting at Milpark Education. When she enrolled again, she did things differently and made use of the support structures available to students – this changed everything.

When Phemelo Lekale looks back at the first time she studied the postgraduate diploma in accounting (PGDA) at Milpark Education, she sees now that it was her own thinking about studying and working hard that handicapped her most. Although there was support available, she did not make use of it.

“This was a mistake,” acknowledges Phemelo. “I would sit with a problem and think I could figure it out alone.” She remembers how long it took to realise that there were so many people at Milpark ready to help. Eventually, she logged onto the school’s online platform Yammer, which opened her mind to another world of support and connection.

She couldn’t believe how much fun it was. “You can post anything here, from issues about content to general questions about motivation.” It wasn’t a big deal to ask questions, to book consultations with lecturers and support staff – people were eager to help, responding quickly to requests and emails. “I saved so much time this way!” she says.

Phemelo saw that Milpark structured the whole academic programme around the student experience and that if the only time you could talk to a lecturer was at 21:00 at night, they would accommodate you.

Upon reflection, she sees that her main issue was adjusting to the online learning environment. She had previously studied a B.Comm in Accounting at the University of the Free State and had also done a bridging programme in Theory of Accounting at the University of Johannesburg. Accustomed to studying at traditional universities, she suddenly found that her old study methods didn’t work in the virtual study space of Milpark Education. “The standard was higher and the environment was different. I realised that I would have to push myself a bit more.”

When she started her second attempt at the PGDA in 2022, Phemelo struggled with confidence. “I can see now I was in the wrong head space,” she admits, recalling the mindset she had going into writing the first test of the year. “I couldn’t believe that I was finding myself in the same situation as the year before when I failed. I really thought I was going to fail again.”

Ready to give up, Phemelo surprised herself and passed the test, which gave her just enough motivation to continue. She kept with it and at the end of 2022, her hard work was rewarded when she passed the course, preparing her for the next step in her journey to becoming a chartered accountant (CA).

Phemelo knows that many students just like her judge themselves harshly when they fail or do poorly on a test. This is why she signed up to be a mentor – to help share what she has learned and inspire other students to keep going.

If she had known about it sooner, Phemelo says she might have done her BCom degree through Milpark as well. “I didn’t know it was possible to learn this way. The new BCom at Milpark is a wonderful opportunity for students to walk their whole academic journey with Milpark.”

To any student still in doubt about studying with Milpark, Phemelo emphatically says, “It really is worth it because of all the opportunities that come directly afterwards – not six months later, but the moment you have that PGDA certificate – you are guaranteed great career opportunities.”