Matric exams are fast approaching, and for thousands of young South Africans, the burning question upon receiving their results will be “what now?”
Life after matric is a time of great uncertainty and change, says Kentse Radebe, Sociologist and former Research and Development Manager at SACAP. Here, she provides three useful tips for school leavers who might be uncertain about the all-important decisions they face, plus some good advice for parents:
1. Do a personal audit
As daunting as it seems, the decisions you make now have the potential to affect the rest of your life. You’re going to want to take a holistic approach when it comes to choosing direction, one that considers everything you know about yourself, your personal circumstances as well your future ambitions. Start your fact-finding mission by gathering together all your defining personal attributes: your skills, values, passions, talents and abilities. Consult with people who know you well to get feedback on their perceptions of your personality. This exercise will help you identify career paths that are well aligned to your strengths.
Once you’ve earmarked these fields, narrow down your choices further by researching the career opportunities available to you in each. This can also include widening the scope of what you consider to be a gap year. For example, if you do not have sufficient financial resources you can explore internships or job shadowing opportunities that can concurrently act as CV builders but also give you exposure into career fields you may want to explore through further studies. Employing the services of a psychologist or registered counsellor can be a great help in the career-deciding process. Such counselling may include psychometric testing, which can reveal further valuable insights when it comes to choosing a career.
2. Learn from failure
Remember that even a “wrong” decision can result in invaluable learning. While a mistake may not yield your hoped-for outcomes, it will nevertheless present an opportunity to gain experience and personal growth. Keeping this in mind gives the decision-making process perspective, making it a less intimidating experience. It also helps you keep a positive attitude and an open mind, encouraging you to more readily explore your options and to more willingly change course should you realise the need to.
3. Take a break
There are many benefits to taking a gap year, including giving yourself time to gain maturity and self-growth, not to mention life experience. In turn, all of these advantages can greatly enhance the outcomes of your decision-making process. The important consideration, however, is how to use your “time out”. A gap year will only be of value to you if you define the outcomes you want upfront and then plan how you are going to achieve them. Travelling the world is not the only productive way to spend a gap year. Instead, you could use the time to take short courses or to gain work experience.
Finally, a word of advice for parents…
All too often, parents forget the considerable impact their opinions have on their children. Allowing one’s own personal experience, wishes or fears, without thought for the individuality and future desires of your child can have extremely negative outcomes. At this time more than ever, parents need to be open-minded and collaborative, exchanging the authoritarian role for that of fellow explorer. Show interest and offer practical support by assisting with research or even calling on your own personal and professional networks. Keep the focus squarely on your child’s life satisfaction and future happiness. And don’t be blind to the fact that times are changing faster than ever before – the careers available to your child today look nothing like those that were once available to you. Therefore, investing in research of potential career options or even calling on your own personal and professional networks can be a great indicator of support
If you are wondering what to do after matric and are considering studying psychology or counselling, SACAP offers a wide range of qualifications including a Higher Certificate, Diploma, BAppSocSci, BPsych and BSocSci Honours. Graduating confident “work ready” practitioners is key, which is why SACAP combines an academically rigorous curriculum with a strong emphasis on the ability to apply knowledge through the training of relevant skills. For more information, enquire now.