The period between the last exam paper and the release of Matric results are some of the most anxiety-inducing, nail-biting weeks of school-leavers’ lives.
What should be a period of rest and relaxation as young people make the transition between school and further studies, is often marred by questions about “what if”.
“It’s important to be able to use this time to reflect and look forward to future plans, but because there are so many possible scenarios that may arise from one’s Matric results, this time is too often spent stressing – both on the part of learners and their parents or guardians,” says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education institution.
“Instead of stressing, now is the time to consider what you can control and to let go of what you cannot control. For example, the exams are over - you cannot change the outcome, or the exam results. What you can control is how you react to this outcome, and you can start to plan for a range of possible outcomes,” she says.
Mooney says that there are established potential scenarios for which Matriculants can and should plan after writing their last paper.
“If you know what to do after receiving your results, regardless of what the outcome may be, you’ll be able to relax and regroup so that you enter the new year refreshed and ready to take on the next phase of your life,” she says.
She adds that parents and guardians in particular need to get in the right frame of mind ahead of the release of the results, so that whatever happens, they are well-positioned to either help their child make a successful transition, or deal constructively with any challenges that may arise.
“Parents who are concerned that their child may not have performed as well as hoped, need to be particularly cognisant of how their reaction to results may impact on the ability of their child to bounce back should results be disappointing,” she says.
“For these parents and learners, it will be particularly helpful to discuss potential scenarios in coming weeks, and be ready with a plan of action on how to manage the situation if indeed the learner’s results were below par. In addition, parents must manage their own emotions while remembering an over-the-top reaction may make an unnecessary but long-term impact.”
So at this stage, it is helpful to stand back and objectively consider what options are open to both successful and not-so-successful Matriculants, Mooney says.
“Always keep in mind that there are indeed options, no matter what your results.”
SCENARIO 1: OPTIONS IF YOU RECEIVE A FAIL MARK
Sit for the supplementary examinations.
Send papers for either a re-mark or re-check.
Return to school and re-register for matric.
Register at another school to complete matric.
Complete matric via distance learning.
SCENARIO 2: OPTIONS IF YOU PASS, BUT NOT WELL ENOUGH FOR DEGREE STUDY
Send papers for either a re-mark or re-check.
Enrol for a Higher Certificate at a higher education institution, which can give access to degree study.
Enrol for a Diploma which can give access to degree study.
SCENARIO 3: OPTIONS IF YOU PASS, BUT NOT WELL ENOUGH TO ACCESS YOUR FIRST CHOICE OF DEGREE OR INSTITUTION
Re-do the relevant subjects to attain the required marks.
Investigate other options – look at different public universities or private higher education institutions. Whether public or private, all institutions set their own minimum criteria. An institution where the demand outweighs the availability of space as often occurs in the public sector, may set this bar quite high regardless of the objective quality of the education and qualification at that institution.
Look at different qualifications within your field of interest, as there may be countless exciting offerings at institutions you may not have considered before. Other institutions may also have made provision for students who require more support, and will therefore have more accommodating admission requirements.
SCENARIO 4: BETTER THAN EXPECTED RESULTS
Great results mean greater options, so use the opportunity to review whether you are really on board with your chosen qualification and institution, before spending precious time and money pursuing a path that isn’t perfect for you.
Investigate further than the road everyone is travelling, by researching niche offerings that may be a better fit and provide greater access to high-growth, high-demand career paths.
“No matter what happens in January when results are announced, knowing now how you will handle any eventuality will make for a more peaceful, less stressful December, and will go a long way towards averting unhelpful tension within families and for young adults as the moment of truth nears,” says Mooney.