You’ve failed matric, so now what?

Lou-anne Daniels

You’ve failed matric, so now what?

After all the sacrifice and studying, the unthinkable has happened. Where do you go from here?

Firstly, don’t beat yourself up about this. While you may feel devastated right now, it really is not the end of the world. Thousands of other matrics have been in your shoes, and have gone on to craft successful lives.

Speak openly to your parents about your feelings and ask them to help you get any professional support that you may need. Remember that they have also invested emotionally in your school career and are probably just as floored as you are. Instead of bickering, you need to support each other.

Take a deep breath and let the reality sink in before rushing into a decision you may regret.If you feel unable to cope, please ask for help. REach out to a friend, a family member or anyone else you trust. Don't try to go it alone.

These five steps will help you make a decision about your immediate future:

Assess your situation

Which subjects did you fail? Do you qualify for the supplementary examination? If you do, then make sure you apply as soon as possible and put in the extra effort required to pass.

If you do not qualify for the supplementary exams, all is still not lost. Hopefully you will have a Plan B ready and can rejig your plans accordingly.

No Plan B? Then use the next few weeks to figure out what you really want to do. You may find that going back to school, maybe a different one, to repeat Grade 12 is not such a terrible idea.

Why did this happen to me?

Be honest about the reason you failed. Everyone hits an obstacle in their life at some point. The trick is to get up, dust yourself off and learn from your mistakes. If you can fix it, do so.
Maybe your academic preparation wasn't good enough, or the stress just became too much to bear and you hit a blank in the exam room.
If you haven’t actually worked as hard as you should have, ask yourself why. Perhaps you’re not academically inclined, or maybe you chose the wrong subjects.
Whatever the reason, acknowledging it is the first step to righting the situation.

Should I repeat my matric year?

This is a tough one. If your future career requires tertiary study, then this may be your only alternative.
Everybody is different, and not everyone can go back to the same school and face all the teachers and pupils who know you failed. If you fall into this category then please tell your parents that you would like to repeat your Grade 12 at a different school. It could make the difference between being miserable for a whole year and using your prior knowledge to ace your second chance.

Do I still qualify for tertiary studies?

Many institutions do not require you to pass Grade 12 for admission to their courses. This means you could still make the transition from school to college without skipping a year. Find out if the course you are interested in is offered at one of these colleges. Don’t let failing your exams put a hold on your future.

What other options do I have?

Maybe going back to school is not an option right now. If you can afford a gap year, use the time to decide what you want to do with your future.
Don’t sit at home moping. You’ll only wear yourself down and irritate everyone around you. Look for a job or volunteer work to keep busy while you plot your next move. Have you thought about working abroad or on a cruise ship? It’s hard work for minimum wage but you get to see something of the world and meet loads of interesting people.
Many companies offer learnerships where you can work for a stipend while deciding if this is the career you want to pursue.