It comes as a major shock: your name just wasn’t on the list in the newspaper. You are devastated and your parents and family are devastated. You feel as if you have hit a complete dead-end.

The good news is that that is simply not true. Here’s what you can do to save the situation:

Repeat Matric

Right now it doesn’t feel like an attractive option going back to school and sitting in class with last year’s Grade 11s. Everyone will know you have failed.  But if it means getting your Matric the second time around, it is worth it. Maybe consider going to another school, or even doing evening classes? Not all schools re-accept Matrics who have failed – sometimes the classes are just full. The Education department came be contacted on 0800 202 933 for more information.

Rewrite the exams

You can do that if you failed no more than two subjects, if you were ill, and have a medical certificate, didn’t get the exemption you needed, or had a personal problem such as a death in the family. There is something called the Second Chance Matric Programme, which is being piloted in 2016. It will offer the following subjects: Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Geography, Business Studies and Economics. Read more about this programme, where it will be offered, and how to register for it right here.

Find a job

This is not easy – our unemployment statistics are high and many other people are also looking for employment. Watch the newspapers, notice boards at community centres, and tell everyone you know you are looking for work – any work. Take whatever comes your way and do it as well as you can. It might lead to other things, and even if the pay is low, it is still more than you would have earned sitting at home doing nothing. Make sure you have a CV in case anyone asks for it.


Go and offer your services free of charge at a charity or a business in the area, so that you don’t have to spend money on travelling. This will give you working experience, and might make it easier to find other work down the line. If you work hard, they might think of you if any work opportunities there do come up. Sitting at home doing nothing is demoralising and depressing, and will not lead to anything constructive.

Don’t see this as the end of the road. Many people who have gone on to be very successful in their lives have failed somewhere along the way. The point is that they tried again. Don’t give up hope – you are still young and anything can happen in your life. If your school has a counsellor, it might be an idea to make an appointment to discuss your options.

Start your own business

Right, you have no capital, so you will have to start small with something such as washing cars, or babysitting, or running errands for people, doing shopping for others, or even standing in queues for people who don’t have the time to do it themselves. You are young, and you have energy – use this to your own advantage.

Help at home

Maybe you can earn your keep, if all else fails, by taking over household tasks such as yard cleaning, babysitting, doing the washing, cleaning and cooking. This is the least you can do if others are supporting you, and at least it is constructive. But never stop looking for opportunities outside the home. You will eventually need your own income.

Read more:

5 careers that don’t necessarily require maths

8 things I learnt as an intern