WITH the holidays almost over and preliminary exams on the horizon, Grade 12s are on the cusp of entering one of the most stressful periods in their school careers. The relatively calm few weeks they still have ahead of them should therefore be used to plan their post-school options, which will free up their physical and emotional energy so that they can wholly focus on doing their best in their final exams.“Deciding what to study and where to study can be hugely stressful, particularly when you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do with your life, which is the case for many thousands of pupils,” said Natasha Madhav from the Independent Institute of Education. “It is therefore important that pupils don’t add to this burden of anxiety when trying to prepare for exams. She said the most important advice she has for prospective students, given the difficult economic climate and associated challenges of finding suitable employment after graduation, is to look at qualifications and institutions that will prepare them for a specific career and the world of work. They should also line up two additional options, as they may find their circumstances and preferences having changed by the end of the year.Madhav said pupils who don’t know what to study, should consider what kind of work they would find interesting, and then work backwards to determine a suitable qualification. She pointed out new fields and careers open up every year.“So don’t settle on a university and then only investigate what it offers in terms of qualifications. Do it the other way around — determine what you would like to do, determine what qualification would enable you to do that, and then find out which institutions offer that.”If, for instance, a pupil is interested in game design, it makes sense to find an institution that offers that qualification rather than doing a generic three-year degree and then attempting to break into the industry thereafter. The same principle goes for a host of other career-focused fields.“The world of work is rapidly evolving, and to be competitive in the job market, candidates must try to match their qualification as closely as possible to the work they would want to do one day,” said Madhav. — Supplied.