Matrics: How to lay the foundation for academic success

University choices may feel like a distant priority for this year’s Matrics who are currently settling into the rhythm of their final year at school. But now is in fact the optimal time to be investigating what they want to study and where, because making the right choice takes time, and will ultimately impact on study success and employability 4 years from now, an expert says.

“Prospective students will start applying from around the April holidays onwards, whereafter the applications will start coming in thick and fast, and the rush to secure a place will intensify. Once your fellow learners start applying, you will really start to feel the pressure to do so as well, which could lead to you settling for a generic qualification or taking the traditional route that others in the same boat as you are following just to make sure you don’t miss your chance,” says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education institution.

The gravity of the choice you need to make about your future in coming weeks can’t be overstated. The right study choice at the right institution is a solid foundation for future success, but the wrong choice can exact a costly financial and emotional toll for a long time. It therefore makes sense to use the relative calm of the coming weeks – a calm that will not again be repeated in your Matric year – to make absolutely sure about what you want to do next year,” says Payne.

She says there are two main questions around which Matrics should focus their investigations: 1) What should I study and 2) Where should I study.


“If you have more or less of an idea of your strengths and ideal work, that’s a great start,” notes Payne.

“However may people have no idea of what they want to do with their life after school.

These learners should start by investigating potential careers that interest them, and importantly, investigate the demand for suitably qualified professionals in these fields.”

Payne advises Matrics to scour job advertisements, see which positions excite them, and devour any media they can lay their hands on to get an idea of the kinds of careers that are out there.

“Remember that new careers exist today that are vastly different to the careers of the past, and you may even land upon something you’ve never heard of before. Once you’ve identified your ideal career, you should then investigate what you would need to study to do the kind of work that excites you.”

A major consideration is whether to opt for a traditional academic degree, or a work-focused one, says Payne.