Setting up Your Future for Success
Coasting through high school and waking up just before your Matric finals to put forth massive effort may seem appealing, but it is short-sighted and unwise! Unless you (or your family) is abundantly wealthy, and you believe that you’ll never need to be concerned with earning a sustainable income, you need to be aware of the importance of the impact of your Grade 11 year on your future success.
Grade 11 forms the platform for much of what you need to learn for Grade 12. It builds the knowledge you need to base your Matric material on. If you don’t pay attention throughout your Grade 11 year, you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot later.
If you intend to study at university, your Grade 11 marks are vitally important. You could possibly use these marks initially when applying for your degree or diploma of choice.
Granted, your Grade 11 marks can only give you provisional acceptance and you would still need to excel in your Matric finals, but it gives you a bit of breathing room in Grade 12 if you have a solid Grade 11 foundation – like a free headstart. You’d have to perform quite badly in Grade 12 to lose your provisional acceptance.
There is a critical shortage of places available at South African universities. For example, for the 2017 academic year, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) had a total of only 10 500 places to offer to more than 135 500 first year applicants, and the University of the Witwatersrand had only 6 200 first year places and around 69 000 applications!
Looking at these figures, it’s clear how foolish it would be to mess around during your Grade 11 year while others are working hard and gaining provisional acceptance at the sought after universities? Waiting for your Matric year to deliver the goods puts you on the back foot and makes your life unnecessarily difficult.
Does that mean that if you do badly in Grade 11 and extremely well in Matric, that you won’t get an opportunity to attend university? Not exactly, but you’ll have to wait in line. You may have to defer your studies for a year due to those with early acceptance getting preference, and improve on your marks even more.
If you are struggling to get the marks you need to do well in Grade 11, consider getting help sooner rather than later. Brightsparkz Tutors can help you to achieve the results you need with a hand-picked tutor especially for you. Your tutor may also be able to guide and advise you about university life as they may be studying themselves, or be a graduate who has been through it all.
Another bonus! Early application with Grade 11 results will give you the option to apply for bursaries, as well as one of the limited spaces in a university residence of your choice.
Taking your grade 11 year seriously and putting in your best effort serves as a “practice run” for your Matric year, and will make your life a lot easier in Matric too. It will help you prepare, and identify gaps in your knowledge. It also instils self-discipline which is needed not only for Grade 12, but also for study at university of college.
Use your Grade 11 year to put some serious thought into your future – what are you planning to study? Where would you like to study if you’re accepted? Are your marks good enough in the correct subjects to study what you’d like to do? (By now, you should’ve chosen the subjects you need, but if you need to make a change – the beginning of Grade 11 is the latest we’d advise this).
Now that you realize the importance of your Grade 11 year, what can you do to improve your chances of success for the future you want?
• Develop a plan to put yourself ahead of the other approximately 800 000 of your peers who will compete with you for university places and jobs after school. Even if you do not intend to study further after school, you will still need to compete for employment, both in South Africa and abroad.
• Start building a CV (curriculum vitae) for yourself. School leavers and even new graduates often struggle to obtain employment as they have no work experience. It’s difficult to get relevant work experience when you are still at school, but it can be done. Here’s how:
– If your school promotes a “Grade 11 Job Shadowing” project, participate wholeheartedly. If you don’t know what this is, it’s an opportunity for Grade 11 learners to spend a week (often during the school holidays), job shadowing the type of work they’d like to do (preferably) in an organisation which is willing to engage with school learners in this manner.
– If your school does not promote this initiative, be pro-active and approach some companies yourself to organise it. The experience will be invaluable in providing you with insight into working life, and whether you’re suited to a certain type of work. Bear in mind that some companies might not agree to your request, but keep trying.
– You can ask your family, your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends or your Life Orientation teacher for companies they may know who may be willing to give you an opportunity for job shadowing. Once you know who you’d like to approach, do it personally, either via email, phone call or visit. Do not let your parents ask for you – you are the one who needs to do the work, and it demonstrates maturity and pro-activeness.
– When you get the opportunity, treat it as a proper job. If everyone starts work at 8am sharp, make sure that you are ready to start work at that time. Do what you are told to do as well as you can. Do not walk around with your cell phone hanging from your hand. Be observant, and help wherever you can.
– At the end of the week, ask for a reference. Hopefully it will be a good one. Perhaps it will even open the door for you once you finish school for a job opportunity, or even a bursary. Add the reference to your CV.
– Don’t expect payment. You’re getting something better than payment – free experience (although they may pay, it’s unlikely).
– Accumulate other valuable references from doing weekends work or part time jobs. Anything that sets you apart from the masses will be to your benefit. Even working as a waitron and being on time and diligent can earn you a good reference as someone who is reliable and learns fast.
– Volunteering at an animal shelter or a weekend job at the local vet for example, can improve your chances of being accepted into veterinary studies (a very specialised field). You will have relevant experience and be showing a keen interest when selections for places are made, provided you also have the necessary grades.
– Volunteering for community service work, or helping at church (holiday club or youth work), or helping at an orphanage may also lead to some great references for you. Most of your peers will not do this and it will set you apart.
Putting some thought into your future after school can go a long way in determining your success, and you are encouraged to start as early as Grade 11!