As Grade 11s head into the final quarter of the year after the holidays, they are advised to use the coming months before they start their final year of school to implement a strategy that will smooth their Matric journey and ensure maximum success, an education expert says.
"There are some sure-fire ways you can ensure you finish your school career successfully, and set yourself up for entering higher education on the path towards a fulfilling career," says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
"It is important to seize the day, however, and make optimal use of the weeks and months ahead, as time is now on your side," he says.
Ntshinga says it is to be expected that there will remain some challenges associated with this period in history in the year to come, and some new challenges may arise.
"The only certain thing at this stage is uncertainty. So it is crucial to use times of relative calm to fortify yourself and your academic career by paying attention to those matters within your control. The last quarter and the December holidays provide you with this opportunity to get in the right frame of mind by finishing the year strong and considering your future path without the pressure next year will bring," he says.
Wonga advises Grade 11s to invest in their future now by taking the following steps:
1) SHOOT FOR THE STARS WHEN SITTING FOR YOUR GRADE 11 FINALS
"Grade 11 is an opportunity to hedge your bets against any potential problems that may arise in Grade 12, whether academically or personally," says Ntshinga.
He says many higher education institutions will make a provisional offer based on a learner's Grade 11 performance, which means that learners can get time-consuming higher education applications out of the way early in the year. Additionally, if they don't perform optimally in Matric, good results in Grade 11 provide them something to fall back on.
"So as you head back to school for the fourth term, resolve to do everything in your power to finish the year as strong as possible and to perform to the best of your ability in the exams," Ntshinga says.
2) TAKE SOME TIME DURING THE HOLIDAYS TO WORK ON SUBJECTS REQUIRING ATTENTION
After the exams, make sure you get some well-deserved rest following a tough year. And then, when you have relaxed sufficiently, invest a small amount of time working on concepts or subjects you found tricky during the year or which showed up as areas for improvement during the exams, Ntshinga advises.
"By investing a few days during the holidays, you can significantly strengthen your foundations going into Matric. Working on just a handful of core concepts or challenges while you have free time will let you enter the new year with a stronger foundation and momentum, allowing you to spend more time on the new subject matter in Matric," he says.
3) PLAN YOUR YEAR AHEAD
"During the holidays, draw a calendar outline of next year and note down important dates," says Ntshinga.
He says the calendar overview should denote the start and end of school terms and when exams and significant events are likely to happen – even if those dates have not been fixed yet.
"By conducting this exercise, you will create a deep understanding of how much time you'll have available to study and revise next year – spoiler alert, it is less than you think - and by when certain actions need to happen. This will allow you to calmly, and timeously master work, rather than having to anxiously cram as the finals and other deadlines creep up on you."
4) TAKE TIME TO THINK OF YOUR FUTURE PLANS
By now, most Grade 11s should have a good idea of what they want to do after Matric.
"If you do not yet know, or are undecided about your plans going into 2023, now is the ideal time to consider the matter – before you go to Matric," says Ntshinga.
"The reason for this, is because you will have very little uninterrupted time to consider your future plans during your Matric year, and leaving it so late means that there will be many other things competing for your attention. So in order not to have to make a decision under pressure and without clarity of thought by the time application due dates roll around, start considering and cementing your future path as soon as possible."
For those learners who don't yet know what they want to do after Matric, the December holidays provide the perfect opportunity to consider their plans, Ntshinga says.
"During your downtime, spend some time looking at the websites of respected higher education institutions, public and private, and reach out to current and former students to hear about their experiences studying there – particularly during lockdowns. Speak to a student advisor, determine which qualifications match your aspirations, and find out what application requirements apply for different qualifications. Having this information before you head into Matric will help focus your attention on what you need to achieve and how you need to perform to make your career dreams come true."
5) GET SOME GOOD HABITS GOING
The past two years have been extremely stressful, and next year seems likely to continue in a similar fashion, at least for a while.
"Even if the world returns completely to pre-Covid times, what the pandemic experience has shown us is that we need to work on building good and healthy habits and work on maintaining mental, physical and emotional wellbeing," says Ntshinga.
"So starting right away, if you have not yet done so, start introducing small, positive new habits into your daily life, and work on leaving behind those habits and behaviours that no longer serve you. In these uncertain times, sometimes the only thing we can control is ourselves and how we respond to external challenges. By building your mental, physical and emotional resilience little by little each day, you will be rewarding yourself with the best possible chance of attaining future success."