The provision of school equivalency programme through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) has gained momentum in the 21st century through the establishment of open schools. Open schools has now become a model of choice for many young people and adults who do not want to pursue their secondary education journey through the conventional delivery system. Additionally, shrinking financial resources have made it impossible for governments especially in the developing world to expand education through the conventional system. Pityana (2007) claims that ODL is key in advancing the development agenda of many nations through programmes that accommodate the less privileged members of the society such as women, the unemployed, repeaters, out-of-school youth, disadvantaged and the displaced. Although open schools have made progress in increasing access, low throughput rates and high dropout rates remain the key challenges. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore the experiences and perceptions of learners when migrating from the conventional school system to the open and distance learning in general, and to Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) in particular. This study was driven by the assumption that change in the learning environment might be the most influential factor on learners’ ability to integrate into the new distance learning environment. The study mainly focused on the senior secondary (Grade 12) learners who transferred from the formal schools to NAMCOL to upgrade their grades. Moore’s (1883) theory of transactional distance and Tinto’s (1997a) theory of academic and social integration were used as the reference theoretical framework. The applicability of the two theories was assessed and compared with the findings of the study. A multi method research design was applied in data collection. The results of the study identified a gap between the learners’ expectations and the high ODL expectations and its demands. The learners in the study displayed a marginal understanding of the ODL mode of delivery. The study established certain factors that impede or accelerate the integration process and also identified technology mediated services as well as capacity building for staff as measures to facilitate learner integration in the ODL mode of delivery. The study reaffirms that meeting learners’ academic, social and psychological needs are important for successful learner integration. The findings have implications for policy makers, ODL practitioners and learners on the development of the most effective measures of increasing learner integration into open schools.