A letter to the grade 12s

2014-10-03 08:35

What a year it has been! I am sure the thought of quitting crossed your mind more often this year than it has ever before. You have come to the end of the journey that started 12 years ago (presumably) when the idea of school was still as abstract as getting your first kiss. At the beginning, the idea of seating for your final matric paper seemed too far, when pressure from your, teachers, friends, family, neighbours, pastors, onlookers and even that boy or girl you first had a crush on when you were in grade R mounts by the second, but it has come. The purpose of this article is to give you, the university and college aspirant, a few tips that I have found helpful during my first two years at varsity.

Before I jump to the crux of this piece, I would like to draw your attention to the following:

  • “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. At the back of this make sure you have all that you need for your paper. I am always puzzled by learners who only realise 30 minutes before the exam that they do not have a calculator or sharpener. That my friend is the worst thing you could do during the examinations.
  • Remember that 30 percent pass mark will never earn you admission into any world-class university.
  • The other important thing to remember is that the examiners never set anything that was not addressed during the year, thus you are almost sure of what will be asked; the only difficult thing is to figure out how it will be asked.
  • You have only this opportunity to make your loved ones proud and contribute something positive for South Africa and the world.
  • There is this dangerous tendency by some of the learners to play during the year and when they fail their grade 12 they are only left with the supplementary exams. The odds of passing those exams are as slim as Arsenal ever winning the English Premier League, my friend.

Remember, anything that happens to you is not by chance or luck—it is all that you have been preparing for throughout the years leading up to your matric. By now you should know more or less to which higher learning institution you will be admitted. The question, then, is: “how do I survive my first and second years at varsity? The following are some of the general tips that will make your stay at varsity memorable:

  • Coming to a university with the high school mentality will never serve you well. I know in most of our schools teachers are not afraid to extend due dates for assignments upon realising that you have not done yours in time, leave this culture behind, because it is only going to send you home quicker than you think.
  • Under no circumstances should you aim to be a boring nerd who knows nothing about her or his university. Be part of student associations for it is there that you meet future business partners.
  • Academic excellence at varsity depends heavily on your ability to consult with your lecturers when you are met with uncertainty while you are preparing for a class or doing your home works. This will also help you when you apply for posts as a tutor or research assistant later on in your academic life, because lecturers turn to students they know best when such opportunities are available.
  • I agree with my friend Ace Moloi when he said: “you have a problem if the referee on your C.V is still your Life-Orientation teacher”. Make sure key people like your vice-chancellor, lectures or dean know you so that when you need referees you do not struggle.
  • Know your student-leaders, because these are the people who will offer you incredible support when the going gets tough, I use “when” not “if” purposefully here because you are assured of serious thoughts of quitting during this time.
  • Surround yourself with students who are positive about life for moral support.
  • Never skip classes without legit reasons.
  • Know your dean of students, ours here at Kovsies gave us wings to fly.
  • Identify a few dedicated senior students to mentor you. These are the people who will expose you to opportunities that are hard to spot.
  • You are at an academic environment that has almost everything you ever wanted in life, from world-class sporting facilities, millions of books, the world’s great minds, connect with these people and resources for the development of your mind.
  • Take every available opportunity to call home just so that the horrible thought of missing home never gets to your nerves.

I am the person that I am today, because I did these things. I hope they serve you well. Remember, Africa is awaiting your brilliance!

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