Advice Column, Education, Tween & Teen


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As the Department of Basic Education prepares to release the Matric results of 2020 next week, many young people are nervously awaiting results, either knowing that they didn’t perform to the best of their ability, or with no idea of what to expect and what they would do if they didn’t do well. It is however important to know that there are various options available if things didn’t go as planned, and not worry about what came before, but rather focus on what actions can be taken going forward, an education expert says.

“At the beginning of each year, we set ourselves goals and enthusiastically make New Year’s resolutions. For a significant number of young people, this also means embarking on a new adventure, transitioning from the structured life of school to the exciting world of adulthood,” says Dr Jacques Mostert, Academic Manager for ADvTECH’s Abbotts College.

“This rite of passage usually goes along with making plans for further education and training. But what happens if things don’t go according to plan, and instead of going on to further study, you are faced with the reality that your Matric results were not good enough to start out on this new journey just yet?”

Mostert says the enthusiasm of looking towards a future filled with potential and promise can sometimes be dampened by Grade 12 results that are not as good as what were expected. 

“Usually this results in a reshuffling of plans, a rush to come up with Plan B, or desperate calls to schools to enquire about re-marks or a second attempt to writing the exam. But these aren’t always the best approaches available and settling for second best need not be the way forward.”

Before making instant decisions about what to do if things didn’t go as planned, there are a few things that parents and young adults must consider, says Mostert: Embracing the power of “yet”; making a mind-set change from feeling helpless towards taking control, and embracing a growth mindset geared towards the future. 

Embrace the power of “yet”

Dwelling on the past, and constantly going over the ‘what ifs’, can be debilitating, says Mostert.

“Notwithstanding the cliché of letting the past remain in the past, for a young adult with high expectations experiencing disappointment, letting bygones be bygones isn’t that easy. Accepting that a goal may not have been reached yet, and embracing the power of possibility, young people can develop a resilience that will inevitably become paramount in their personal and professional development.” 

From hopeless to taking back control

The anxiety that goes hand in hand with making life-altering decisions without considering all the options is a considerable contributing factor of a sense of helplessness both parents and young adults experience, notes Mostert. 

“Deciding to change course and settle for less should not be an option. We tend to believe that in the modern world of the fourth industrial revolution and omnipresent social media, there exists a set timeline to reach arbitrary milestones. The reality is that there is no set end date for reaching any goal. Young people should look past peer pressure, and take action to get back on track towards fulfilling their goals.” 

Developing a growth mindset

Mostert says that no matter how attractive moving out of the house, embracing independence and forging a new future may seem, there are two inevitabilities of life, other than paying tax, every young adult must face. 

The first is that change is ubiquitous and the second is that getting better never stops. Learning, especially in an ever-shrinking global market, never stops. 

“Disruption isn’t always as negative as we may think at first. Taking a moment to consider all the options available and considering an alternative that at first did not look like an option often allows a person to embark on a pathway towards success.”

Mostert says apart from the usual avenues of rewrites and remarks young people might consider when receiving less than stellar results, they also have the option of redoing Matric or even just improving their subjects, to ensure they can still pursue their dreams, albeit a little bit later than initially planned.

“At Abbotts College High School, students can enrol part-time to upgrade their subjects, for instance. This approach provides students the chance to increase their marks and that enables them to meet their tertiary Admission Point Score (APS) in order to be accepted to study in the field of their dreams.”

He says while many students may not be keen to return to a school setting, institutions such as Abbotts College provide a different kind of environment which is more in line with a college campus, because the focus is on academic improvement, not rules and uniforms. 

“We believe that every student is able to develop and achieve academic success, wherever it is that they start from. Improving subjects or redoing Matric in an environment that treats you like a young adult while still following a structured and organised routine, enables students to put the disappointment behind them and become increasingly independent as they manage themselves and their learning. 

“Last year was an exceptionally difficult one for the Class of 2020, and for those whose results are not yet in a space which allows them to pursue their vision, our message is clear. If you take a little extra time now to invest in starting from a solid foundation, this temporary hurdle will soon be forgotten, as you embark on the path that you intended a few months down the line.”’

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