The secret to career success: A letter to all matriculants

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
To the Class of 2020: congratulations on your well-deserved success. Photo: Getty Images
To the Class of 2020: congratulations on your well-deserved success. Photo: Getty Images

I know you have just received your results and, some of you are so much delighted with your achievements and the thought of going to your dream institution of higher learning.

Congratulations on your well-deserved success.

I am tempted to say you have finished the easiest part of your life, but the truth is you have earned a piece of paper that will allow you to earn other pieces of paper that also have the value of which we assign them.

Thanks to your tireless effort and dedication Matric may have felt like the hardest mountain to climb, but don't worry, real life is harder.

First, to the learners who completely did not make it, if you had to study the lives of people who have made the greatest impact you will find one thing in common, they have all experienced failure at some point in life. So this is your own experience, learn from it and use it to better yourself so that you can also be an example to others in future.

My advice to you is that go back and finish your matric. Upgrade your marks or return to class fully - if possible. Even if you believe that maybe education is not a key to success, maybe you're an athlete or musician, but at least have a matric certificate, believe me, it can serve as a stepping stone to something bigger.

Also see: One step forward, one step back: Covid-19 threatens an already fragile education system 

Now to learners who have passed but not acquired the desired results, to even meet their career of choice. You can also take two options, either go back to matric and upgrade your marks if there is a specific field that you want to study and nothing else.

Or you can take another career path.

To be honest majority of primary and higher school learners ideally see themselves studying these 'big' courses, like your Medicine, CA, Engineering Courses and others. But the reality is that not all of them will even qualify for those.

But does it mean they would have failed? Not at all.

History stands witness to the fact that many below-average students have gone on to take up leadership roles in their chosen fields and made a mark for themselves.

Not qualifying for your first choice does not make you a dumb person, there are many choices you're still left with. There are IT specialists out there who wanted to be doctors, but guess what? They are now successful IT specialists, and have forgotten about Life Sciences.

There are successful HR graduates, Marketing, Nurses, Actors, who probably wanted to be engineers. And believe me, those people today thank themselves for the career turn they've taken, which is to focus on other choices when the first choice failed.

So you can still take other career paths and be successful.

Your success is not only attached to your first choice. Stretch. Expand your interests and follow the attitude of inquiry that will serve as the signal for your success.

To the learners who have passed very well and will probably be accepted in varsities, well done. You have earned it, no one should take that away from you!

Also read: Top achieving IEB matriculants share their secrets to success 

Varsity is a different sphere from secondary. You are coming from being a senior in high school to being a new-comer or a first-year... So your attitude should probably be that of a newcomer.

I know you have already heard this before, that students who were bright in high school tend to be underperformers at varsity. Well, that depends on a person. It is not a doctrine or law.

The same attitude that made you a top learner in secondary can make you one in university. The only difference is that in varsity the syllabus changes very quickly and you are constantly fed with new information.

Unlike high school, where you do English and HL from grade 8-12, Physics, Accounting, Tourism is the same from grade 10 to 12, In varsity, a subject comes with mostly content that you have never seen in your life before. So you will need the same dedication and focus that a learner that was average in high school has since you will also be sharing classes.

Career success cannot be achieved solely through individual brilliance or talent. There are many other factors at play. Hard work, focus, discipline, consultation...

The lifestyle in varsities and college presents the very same things your parents and teachers were warning you about. So it is a must to focus and get what you are there for, lest you be counted among the returnees.

I wish you all the best.


Share your stories and questions with us via email at Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Don't miss a story!

For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Friday Parent24 newsletter.

Follow us, and chat, on Facebook and Twitter.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24