In 2011 Tania* received her matric results and found she had not made it into any of the universities she had applied to because she received a Diploma pass. But her perceived failure turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She shares her story to motivate pupils going through a similar experience not to give up:
“On the day I received my matric results my family was beside themselves with joy – they hugged me and celebrated me and all I could do was cry my eyes out because I knew that even though I had three distinctions, I wasn’t going to get into any of the universities I had applied to.
On the eve of the release of my Matric results I was a ball of nerves.
My family and I had stayed up the whole night and, to be honest, the thing that was making me the most nervous was the possibility of letting my family down if my name didn’t appear in the newspaper.
My personal fear was that I would not get a Bachelor’s certificate pass that would allow me access into the universities I applied to.
My parents had dreams of me becoming an industrial psychologist or a lawyer – whichever of these two courses I was accepted for would make them happy.
Because of this, during my application process I only applied to traditional universities like the University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg and University of Zululand. My parents always wanted me to attend one of these.
At 5am of the day the results were posted in 2011, a message came through to my phone: “You passed Tania! Three distinctions and a D pass”.
The message came from a friend of mine and I thought she was playing a joke on me. I didn’t say anything to my family at the time because I couldn’t believe it.
We eventually got the paper and I saw for myself that it was true.
I had gotten three distinctions and a Diploma pass.
I knew what this meant because it had been explained extensively to us at school. A Bachelor’s certificate pass meant you could go to university as long as your marks could get you in, a Diploma pass meant you could get into a technical university and study towards a diploma and a higher certificate pass meant you could only study at an FET college towards a higher certificate.
My worst nightmare was getting a D or an H pass – and it had come true.
I had gotten below 40% for two of my subjects and higher than 60 for five others – my friends said it was the weirdest result ever.
The subjects I did badly in were mathematics and physics – my mother had forced me to do these subjects in Grade 10.
By the time the next day came, I knew I hadn’t been accepted into any university and that it was too late to apply for another course.
My parents began to panic and made me join queues at technical universities and I went. I begged faculties to register me for courses I knew nothing about because my parent’s wanted me in university.
Long story short, I didn’t get into any university and I had to take a gap year.
My parent’s tried to force me to upgrade my maths so that I could apply to do an engineering course at Durban University of Technology. I refused.
I decided to take a gap year to discover myself. I registered for a short course in the meantime and found that I wanted to be a writer. I then registered to do a diploma in journalism in 2013 without my parents’ knowledge and was immediately accepted.
After the gap year from hell I eventually began my studies even though my parents were not happy about the course I decided to take.
I excelled and eventually graduated cum laude and I have now been working for a well-known media company for two years and I love my job.
To all pupils who didn’t get into the courses they applied for and who are feeling hopeless right now: Your life is not over. Use this year to reflect, use it to find your strengths and to grow. You are not a failure.
Sometimes the journey is longer for some than for others and that is perfectly fine. You will be fine.”
*Not her real name.