Around 200 000 Grade 12 pupils across the country have earnestly begun their National Certificate (NSC) exams, but the time will come to prepare for life after matric. The transition to life after matric may defy certain expectations, which is why preparation is important.
According to life coach Zaid Ismail, many pupils may have expected that getting a matric certificate would set them up for life. However, he said the reality is much different than that.
“The education system, as well intentioned and comprehensive as it is, doesn’t prepare you for the real world,” he said. “More often than not, the matriculants struggle with the reality that they’re facing after they’ve gone through this academic process.”
Navigating through the matric finals, as it were, is intrinsically a difficult period for many. Similarly, it is important to prepare for life after matric – the next stage that comes after NSC exams.
Life after matric finals
Many past matriculants have spoken of feeling a sense of redundancy. This often occurs while waiting to get started at university, or any direction they wish to pursue which may take a while.
“The most difficult [decision] of all is to connect with why they want to do what they think they need to do after they’re done with matric,” said Ismail.
He said this was important especially since many may have anticipated that having a matric certificate automatically gave one a start in life. He added that managing the disillusionment that sets in was also critical.
“Managing that expectation is critical. It’s the disillusionment that sets in after that because of how much more effort and striving is needed to be able to do something with that matric certificate; to do something meaningful with your life,” he said.
In terms of career choices, Ismail stressed the need for strong deliberation before diving into anything. He cautioned against making choices based upon expectations of others, such as peers and family members. He also stated there should be room for experimentation to identify the right course.
“Don’t go in there trying to find this fulfilment of life in what you’re doing [while] your reasons for doing it was not based on fulfilment – it was based on achieving certain material or emotional goals,” said Ismail
“Understanding why you’re doing something is critically important because if you don’t understand why you’re doing it, you make the assumption that this is your life and you just have to make the best of it,” he said.
What are the parents’ roles?
Parents play an important role in their children’s education journey as well as life after matric. Ismail said it was crucial that parents paid attention to their children’s emotional health instead of career choices.
“Parents are generally well-intentioned, but it’s that good intention that is driven by fear of what it is that the children might experience after school that drives them towards losing sight [of] the human they’re actually dealing with through matric. I would plead with them absolutely that, more than anything else, don’t focus on the career choice – first focus on your child’s emotional state,” he said.
Ismail advised parents to understand that pupils would be emerging from the protected school environment into the real world. This, he said, exposed them to a barrage of realities that could take a toll on their emotional health if not managed appropriately.