An Open Letter to Matriculants and Parents.

There is more to life than the classroom, textbooks, lectures, exams, certificates, etc.

Posted by: Nicky Verd Comments: 0

Dear Matriculants,

I know these last few months haven’t been easy. So much expectation, excitement and anxiety about your Matric exam results. I wish schools weren’t such competition grounds. No winning, no losing – just learning but it is what it is.

However, the wait is finally over and your results are here! Congratulations to all who wrote the Matric Exams. Well done to all who passed with distinctions. Well done to all those who didn’t make it and couldn’t find their names on the list.

Whether you made it or didn’t make it, the future is still in your hands. The only person who can bring a real difference to your world is YOU… not certificates! A certificate on its own is just a piece of paper.

Whether your results are ‘good or bad’, it is now time to ask yourself – what do these results mean? Are these results the binary predictor that you’ll be a success or failure in life? Is your intelligence based on your performance in school? Is your success based on a certificate?

And the answer is a big no. Matric results do not necessarily show the things that captivate and make you feel alive. Matric results do not display your talents or capabilities. They do not depict your strong moral compass nor do they determine your future. Matric results are not a reflection of the depth of your kindness or the resilience of your spirit.

This open letter goes out to all parents, teachers, and guidance too.

As you embark on exploring what lies beyond Matric exams results, here are 5 Important points for you to consider:

1. Success Predictors

What factors predict whether a person will become successful or not? Having a vision for your life, a sense of purpose, dreams and ambition backed by hard work and resilience are better predictors of success in life than any single public exam.

Of course, Matric exams and other exams are an important part of life but they are only good indicators of your knowledge at one point in time, rather than the ultimate final word or seal on your destiny. Success in life is determined by your attitude and state of mind.

Even though public exams are designed to separate the more ‘intelligent’ from the less ‘intelligent’… but measuring intelligence only through exams is inevitably limiting. Too many ‘intelligent’ children, often bored by conventional learning, slip through the net. Measuring intelligence through a ‘one size fits all’ model is limiting and sometimes those who fall by the wayside can be the most important of them all.

The system loses too many talented and intelligent kids by defining intelligence only through exams. The kid who dreads going to school still loves to learn. The kid who is too shy to participate in class still has ideas worth sharing.

The kid who would rather explore nature for themselves than read about it in a textbook is also learning. The kid who struggles in the classroom but excels in art or athletics is also learning and has an equal chance at success.

The aspiring musician, comedian, actor or content creator who is called foolish for choosing something different instead of pursuing a “real” career is also intelligent.

As I write this, I’m reminded of the many times some people have asked me: Nicky, what do you do for a living? I always answer the question” “I am an Author/Speaker?… but they’ll still repeat the question as though I didn’t hear them – No, I mean what do you do for a living? I’ll respond with a smile, I just told you.

This is because many people still don’t believe it’s possible to make a living without a traditional job or without a certificate. People always assume what I do is a just a hobby and that I have a “real” job somewhere…lol

I shared my brief story to let you know that, everyone is capable of leading a happy and fulfilling life doing what they love, even if it doesn’t measure up to society’s standards. In the grand scheme of things, certificates are only a small factor in one’s life and do not define you as a person. No one should ever feel worthless or commit suic*de for failing an exam. 

You only need to look at the vast numbers of highly successful and intelligent people in our society who failed miserably in school and you’d see how limiting exams are.

2. Academic Excellence vs Real Life

Society puts too much emphasis on academic excellence and forgets there’s a real world outside the classroom. Passing an exam with distinction doesn’t necessarily make one an automatic success as well as failing an exam doesn’t make one an automatic failure in life. There is a real world outside the classroom that doesn’t necessarily care about your “grades and certificates.”

Many students and even parents confuse academic excellence with passion and talent. Having distinctions in a certain subject does not necessarily mean your career path lies in those subjects.

The same goes for failing or scoring low marks in certain subjects. Performing well in History or Mathematics does not necessarily mean your destiny is as a Historian or a Mathematician.

Performing well in Accounting does not necessarily mean your destiny is an Accountant. Choosing a career simply because you did well in certain subjects is a strategic blunder. Many people made this mistake and are paying heavily for it. Be led by your heArt and by the things you enjoy doing.

Whether you are about to go to university or about to get a job, Do not let Matric results put you on the wrong path or discourage you from doing something you love that might lie outside your academic qualifications.

From my own personal experience, back in my days, I was a good Accounting student in high school. I even had classmates who wanted to be friends just so they could tap into my ability with numbers but I knew deep down my passion/purpose wasn’t in Accounting. My family was already boastful about having a future accountant in the family…only to be disappointed.

I have a curious mind that loves to explore and I knew I’ll be miserable in a profession of standardized routine format and red tape with no room for creativity. 

And so, do not follow the opinions of your family or friends in choosing a career path just because they’re suggesting it will make you a lot of money. Deciding your career path this way equals the game of playing dice with your future.

People who allow certificates or family to choose their paths in life, end up feeling stuck, burn out, depressed and unhappy. So, as you are getting ready for your next move, think carefully about what you really love doing and are passionate about.

3. Consider how Technology is Changing the World of Work.

Here’s an important question to ask: Will your matric certificate or the university degree you are embarking on or the career you are choosing still be relevant in the next 3 to 5 years?  

Rapidly emerging new technologies are generating a huge paradigm shift that is affecting businesses and changing work as we know it. Think five years ahead. Think about how disruptive technologies will impact your future and the industry you are getting into. Think robotics, artificial intelligence, digitization and self-service automated systems.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here and with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the future certainly has the potential to draw more on an individual’s talents than certificates. If all you’re bringing to the table is a certificate then you’re in for a rude awakening.

The process of job loss due to robotics and artificial intelligence has already begun and entire industries are being wiped out by artificial intelligence. The impact of disruptive technologies and how humanity can navigate the disruption is the core message in my book: “Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted.”

Times have changed! The Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating a demand for new skills and new competencies. In this age and time, a kid with only a smartphone and access to the internet with no academic qualifications can still build systems that’ll disrupt and bring giant industries to their knees.

You only have to look at some leading content creators today – some are kids literally making millions on Youtube from reviewing toys, playing with cats, etc to know that the traditional method of measuring success is completely outdated.

They are many examples of celebrated people who found success despite their poor performance in school. If Steve Jobs hadn’t dropped out of college, the genius designs of Apple may have never been invented. The same goes for Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson. 

Albert Einstein was deemed “mentally inept” as a child but went on to become the most famous physicist in history. These brilliant minds are regarded as the greatest innovators in their fields but were once considered nerds or incompetent students.

4. There is More to Life than the Classroom and Exams.

Sometimes, society looks down on those who pursue other interests instead of furthering their education. We are so focused on whether someone has Matric or a Degree so much that we tend to lose focus on other important things like creativity, imagination, mindset and personality.

And so dear Matriculants, there is more to life than the classroom, textbooks, lectures, exams and certificates. Don’t turn the classroom into your world but turn the world into your classroom.

In case you are one of the kids who failed Matric, please don’t put yourself through a mental breakdown, and don’t worry about parents doubting you or your classmates laughing at you. Don’t go through life with a stigma because you failed an exam or scored average.

Everyone has different talents, abilities, and strengths. Everyone learns differently and just because you don’t do well in school doesn’t mean you are not smart, capable or worthy of success. Let me say this again, Success or failure in life is determined by your mindset not certificates.

There is an urgency for the school system to look wider and encourage not only aspiring doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, etc but also the entrepreneurs, the inquisitive, the creatives and the downright stubborn in our schools to make the most of who they are and to bring out the richness and diversity of thought and ideas to society.

In Chapter 3 of my new book, Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted, I mentioned that. “Certificates are no longer a guaranteed ticket to success. You can do more today with your life having just a smartphone and an internet connection, and that’s an opportunity our parents and grandparents never had”

5. Choose your Future Based on the Future, not the Past.

As you explore life beyond matric, or as you go to the university – whatever degree you decide to choose, make sure you choose your future base on the future.

Don’t choose to become an Accountant because your great-grandfather was an award-winning Accountant in his era and it was such a prestigious profession. That era is gone! Nowadays, there are apps and software that can do an accounting job better than any human can.

Therefore, understand how advances in technology will impact your future career before embarking on it.

Also, you can align your career with your passion/gifts because people who start life from the platform of their talents tend to experience more happiness, and fulfilment and ultimately rise much higher in life than people who start life only from the platform of their certificates.

Going to school, getting a degree, and getting a job is the path that we are “supposed” to conform to and follow. But this is not the path for everyone, and that is okay.

This isn’t to say education isn’t important. No, getting an education is one of the best things you can do for yourself but don’t let everything hinges on your school certificate or lack of it. Do what you are passionate about because that is where you will make your mark in the world.


I’ll conclude my letter to you in the words of Dr Seuss “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the boy/girl who’ll decide where to go.”

A letter From my Heart to Yours

Nicky Verd

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