A Levels to the World: Where are they now? - St Andrew's College

A Levels to the World: Where are they now?

Makana Athletics Championships
February 13, 2024
Crimson Presentation: US, UK and EU Universities
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Makana Athletics Championships
February 13, 2024
Crimson Presentation: US, UK and EU Universities
February 16, 2024

A Levels to the World: Where are they now?

In a candid conversation with one of our school’s illustrious alumnus, Justin Stoddart, we delved into the transformative experiences of his time navigating the Cambridge A Levels Programme and the invaluable lessons he learned along the way.

In his A Level year, Justin took Maths, English Language, and Music. These subjects not only shaped his educational journey, but also laid the foundation for his future endeavours. He achieved an illustrious C for Music, a B for English Language and an A for Maths.

At school, he was also a valued member of the Jazz Band, the Model United Nations team, Alchemists Society, Astronomers Society and sat on the Transformation and Diversity Committee

Reflecting on the personal and educational gains from the A Level programme, Justin’s enthusiasm is palpable: “The programme ultimately drilled independence, self-control, and the value of specialisation,” he reported. This is self-evident in Justin’s endeavours since leaving school.

In January 2021, he founded a coffee shop called “The Trailer”. He was so successful that in April 2022 the revenue of The Trailer was sufficient enough to hire a full-time team allowing Justin to shift from day-to-day management to passive ownership. Moreover in 2023, revenue reached R1,571,428 whilst maintaining a net profit margin of 36%.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Justin then co-founded of Loopa in 2022, a white-label software service that offers small-to-medium sized businesses a unique mobile app at no upfront cost. The provided app allows the store’s customers to purchase and validate subscriptions on physical in-store products. Thus far, Loopa has facilitated over R50,000 in subscription payments.

He has also fulfilled his passion for athletics by coaching youth in hockey, athletics, and football. He enjoyed the rewarding experience of nurturing and fostering team spirit among young athletes at W.P.P.S and Supersport Football Academy.

Drawing on the differences between the A Levels and South African curricula, Justin highlighted the intensive focus demanded by the former, setting the stage for accelerated growth. “It’s not just about the increased time spent on each subject,” Justin emphasised, “but the heightened standard of content.” He continued with a clear example: “… the A Levels Mathematics subject quantifies the differences in the curriculums quite nicely. The overwhelming majority of content covered in MAM1010, MAM1012 and MAM1000 (popular first year Mathematics courses offered at UCT that most commerce or science students would inevitably take) is identical to the content covered in the A Level curriculum. I have just begun my honours in Economics with a two-month Maths boot camp and I am still covering work now that was taught in the A levels programme four years ago!”

Acknowledging the challenges encountered during the A Level journey, Justin candidly shared, “The transition from grade 10 to AS-level in Grade 11 was tough.. [especially] the mental challenges of consistently getting 90%+ in grade 8-10 and then dropping to 60-70%.” However, he credited perseverance and adaptation for easing the journey in subsequent years. What he fails to note is how much of his A Level career was conducted online as a result of Covid and therefore bears testament to his ability to work independently and take initiative.

Currently immersed in the pursuit of an Honours degree in Economics at the esteemed University of Cape Town, Justin underscored the preparatory virtues of A Levels. He asserted that the programme’s foresight in aligning coursework with university studies is invaluable – acting as a bridge that eases the transition into tertiary education.

When asked to dispense sage advice to our parents and current as well as future AS and AL cohort, Justin urged discernment: “Do not discount South African universities,” he advised. Reflecting on his journey, Justin emphasised understanding admission requirements thoroughly, recognising the abundant opportunities available within South Africa. “The feeling for our year” he said “was that A Levels was to be used as a “ticket” into an overseas university. However, the requirements to get guaranteed admission to universities like UCT, Stellenbosch or Wits for top degrees are surprisingly not as challenging as one might expect. For example, I received guaranteed admission into Actuarial Science and Economics at UCT.”

Peering into the future, Justin revealed his aspirations with unwavering determination: “I graduate this year in November and hope to work in investment banking in London or New York,” he declared, his ambition shining brightly. We are incredibly proud of Justin and wish him all the best in his next endeavours. His journey serves as a beacon of inspiration, illuminating the boundless possibilities that await those who dare to dream and strive for excellence.