With the first big challenge of Matric – the mid-year exams – behind them, Grade 12s can look forward to a few weeks of downtime during the upcoming holidays. This is a great time for rest and recuperation, but also an opportunity to enter the last stretch of the last year of school stronger, more positive and empowered to perform optimally during final exams, an expert says.
“It’s important to take a breather after the stress of the exams, but demands are high this year, and the holidays provide the perfect opportunity to tackle one or two areas of your life which will enable you to show more for your break than just good memories and an impressive knowledge of the latest developments in your favourite TV series,” says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education institution.
Noting that competition for coveted higher education space and limited work opportunities are fiercer than ever before, Dr Mooney says Matrics should leverage the one irreplaceable resource they now have to their advantage – time.
“Commit to using 10 to 15 percent of your time these next few weeks to do one thing that is going to propel you towards the end of the year from a position of strength and determination. Doing so will ultimately not only help you perform better, by virtue of the confidence built from doing more than is expected of you, but also help you gain the skills or experience that will set you apart in future,” she says.
Mooney advises Grades 12s to consider the following options, and then select one or two areas on which to focus in coming weeks:
GET A STRATEGY
Now is the time to get your head and environment primed for the challenging few months that lie ahead, says Mooney.
“Reflect on your mid-term exam experience, and strategise your approach for the months leading up to the final exams.”
Mooney says when considering the plan for coming months, it is helpful to look at process goals, not only outcome goals.
“So if the goal is to get an A-Aggregate at the end of Matric, work it backwards and figure out what you need to do every day to reach that goal. What is the thing or things that you need to do every day, in terms of process, to get to your outcome? It could be doing an extra Maths problem every day on top of your actual homework, or it could be to watch an additional YouTube tutorial daily, which focuses on your most challenging subjects. Whatever it is, make the goal the thing you can do to get what you want, rather than making the goal the thing that you want.”
GET AHEAD WITH YOUR ACADEMIC WORK
A really cool hack for entering your last few months of school in prime position, is to start reading up on the new work you will be covering in the final two terms.
“By doing this, you will already be familiar with the new work when it gets presented next term, so you’ll effectively be starting your revision earlier, which leaves you with more time to consolidate all you have learnt well ahead of you being tested on it at the end of the year,” says Mooney.
Another way to get to grips with academics, is by researching and finding one new study method that you haven’t tried before.
“The tools of learning are always expanding, and learning how to learn will help you throughout your life. Finding additional methods of consolidating your work while doing revision will also help you get to grips with your academics more holistically. In addition to researching study methods, also look for great YouTube channels where your work is covered in a fun and accessible way,” Mooney says.
GET HIGHER EDUCATION APPLICATIONS OUT OF THE WAY
If you know what you want to do, investigate institutions offering your qualification and apply to as many as possible as soon as possible, Mooney advises.
“Be sure to investigate related qualifications in the same field, because there might be something more niche, or differently named, that will be more suited to you and your vision for your future. Also ensure that you are clear on your options. Don’t just settle for those institutions and qualifications you know, but also see whether you may have missed opportunities at a registered and accredited institution you may not even yet be aware of,” she says.
Of utmost importance, is that you ask lots of questions, particularly about the level of real-life work experience you can expect to be integrated into the curriculum, says Mooney.
“In the current economic climate in which South Africa and the world finds itself, employers can’t afford to hire people anymore simply because they have a degree behind their name. They are actively looking for graduates who can prove that they are able to handle the complexity of the work and the world of work. So the curriculum offered by your chosen institution – whether public university or private – must help you develop a portfolio of evidence upon graduation. If not, keep searching,” Mooney says.
GET WORK EXPERIENCE
Job-shadowing, interning or volunteering for a few days will give you valuable insight into the career you would like to pursue as well as exposure to the realities of the working world, says Mooney.
“And in addition to the insights and experience, you’ll get something concrete to add to your CV that will set you apart later, as you’ll be able to demonstrate work ethic, commitment to growth and personal development, as well as initiative.”
If nothing else, use the next few weeks to get your physical house in order. Start walking or running, or find workout videos on YouTube that will let you get fit without expensive equipment or gym memberships.
“Exercise will help you gain the physical and mental stamina which will see you through some of the most challenging few months of your life to date,” says Mooney.
“As a Grade 12, you are on the cusp of entering one of the most stressful periods in your school career, so take the opportunity to use the relative calm you have available in the coming weeks of holiday to your full advantage. Taking a little bit of time now to objectively evaluate where you are, how your studies are going, and where you possibly need to make changes to keep the momentum going will pay off handsomely. Equally, if you have things sorted on that front, take the time to stretch your vision of your future, and remove any administrative tasks which will slow you down in the final stretch.”