Getting into the habit of learning well‚ solid support from his parents and sports were some of the ingredients that transformed Nicholas Brinkmann into a top matriculant at St John’s College.
Brinkmann‚ 18‚ of Emmarentia in Johannesburg‚ got nine distinctions in the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) examinations.
He was one of 19 students at St John’s College who were placed among the top 1% of the IEB candidates per subject. He got into the highest echelons in seven of his nine distinctions.
These were for English home language‚ history‚ Latin‚ mathematics‚ physical science‚ advanced programme English and advanced programme maths.
“I spent my whole high school career just trying to learn everything well. In a sense you could say that my whole high school career has led up to my performance in matric.
“Everything that I did at Grade 8 to 11 … has helped me to be very interested in the work that I do. It also helped me to create a habit of learning well‚ which has contributed to how I treated my matric programme.”
Brinkmann said during his matric year he would wake up at 6am because he was not much of a morning person. “I’m more of a night person. I would [rather] stay awake a little bit late at night to get work done than wake up [earlier] in the morning. That worked better for me‚” he said.
He would arrive home in the afternoon‚ ensure that he had some time with his parents and watch some television.
There were days he had to put in extra hours to complete assignments and projects but he “generally” got to sleep between 10:30pm and 11pm.
He also attributed his success to his family. “My family’s support was critical. For my whole life my parents have made it clear that they support me and my education and they would do anything in their ability to help me. In the morning‚ often my mom and dad would make me breakfast. I feel like they sacrificed a lot in order to help me perform at school.”
In addition to the hard work put into his studies‚ Brinkmann played second team basketball and first team hockey. He believed that sports helped him perform better academically.
“There is a lot of research that shows that exercising is very important to help keep your mind fresh. I felt the sport helped me a lot. It helped get me better focused when I needed to get down and study. I feel that if you don’t exercise you sometimes struggle to concentrate well‚” he said.
While he excelled in many subjects‚ he did not particularly enjoy Afrikaans. “I think the syllabus needs a little bit of work to be honest …. It felt shallow. I think the IEB needs to take a look at the Afrikaans syllabus and make a few changes.”
Brinkmann is taking a gap year and then hopes to study mathematics and science in the US.