If you’re about to leave high school or you’ve been out of school for a while, you might find that you’re in need of some direction. Well, look no further. We’ve got you. This guide aims to equip you with everything you need to know about finding a path to take after school. Without further chit-chat, let’s get you on the right track. We have highlighted two of the main options available to you after school.
After School: the World at your feet
FYI: if you feel like deciding on the next step is impossible, you are not alone. After high school, there are many options at your disposal. Almost too many. We are here to introduce you to two of the most popular options.
Often, the deciding factor between studying further or taking a gap year is whether you have a career field in mind. If you do, you might want to get qualified as soon as possible. If not, a gap year is a great opportunity to give your future some thought while living your best life.
This is often seen as the only option after school. However, it is important to give some consideration to your career path before making this decision. Having done some research and knowing the type of career you would like to pursue will save you a lot of time.
Once you have made the decision to study after school, take some time to think about the qualification you need and the type of institution you should attend.
There are a number of learning pathways you may opt for:
1. Study at an Institution
This is the most traditional path to take after school. In fact, most individuals see this as the only next step to take after high school. Furthermore, university is often viewed as the best type of institution to attend. This notion is invalid.
In fact, you might be better suited to studying at one of these institutions. University is deeply rooted in theoretical learning and is designed for academics. In general, a qualification from a university will take between three and four years to complete.
Whereas, an institution such as a TVET College could have you qualified in half the time. Universities of Technology and TVET Colleges offer a more practical approach to learning. In general, university standards are high and the entry requirements can be tough to meet.
Things to think about:
- Give some thought to the qualification you need to pursue your chosen career. Completing a three-year diploma as opposed to a four-year degree could save you time and money. You could also start earning sooner rather than later.
- If you’re applying to a university, you will need to write the National Benchmark Tests (NBTs).
- You will need to calculate your Admission Point Score (APS) for the university/universities you’re applying to. Meeting the minimum score is an entry requirement.
- If you don’t meet the entry requirements, you could consider doing a bridging course which will give you the chance to upgrade your marks.
Fun fact: another way to get qualified and continue your learning is through a learnership or apprenticeship.
2. Learnership or Apprenticeship
Completing a learnership or apprenticeship is an untraditional learning path to take after school. However, you will be able to develop specific skills that relate to a particular occupation through practical training. This form of learning will allow you to get work experience and network in the industry of your choice. Essentially, this after school option is similar to an internship with the benefit of scoring a qualification at the end of the programme.
Wait, so is there a difference between a learnership and apprenticeship?
Great question! Yes, there are a few differences between the two.
Apprenticeships are more focused than a learnership. Both offer work experience however, someone who applies for an apprenticeship will be more intentional in pursuing a specific career. Apprenticeships also take longer to complete but you will often get compensated for the work you do.
If you opt for this route after school, remember that you will gain practical experience and be specialised in a specific field.
Completing an internship will not result in a formal qualification. However, this is a valuable learning path to take after school.
An internship will provide you with valuable work experience and allow you to better understand the realities of a career. If you are uncertain about a study path, internships give you the opportunity to learn what would suit you best. This is a form of on-the-job learning which will look great on your CV.
The training you will get through an internship will stand you in good stead for any career you pursue.
Take a Gap Year
As exciting as it is to wave goodbye to high school, it is also daunting.
High school has become a comfort zone and figuring out the next step is not an easy task (even if some people make it look easy). There is often peer pressure to study further but (and this is a big “but”), studying further straight out of school is not the best option for everyone. Especially if you are not sure about what career field interests you. Take a beat and spend your gap year discovering the career that could suit you best. This tutorial is aimed at helping you figure out your options.
There is no shame in taking a beat to figure out what you would like to study or if studying further is for you at all.
Volunteering is a great way to give back while get some experience. There are many organisations that are always in need of volunteers. We live in a country where help is welcomed with open arms – you will not need to look far to find a charity you can invest your time in. Perhaps, consider your interests and then see if you could help out in this area. Apart from giving your CV a boost, this will be a really rewarding experience.
There is no better way to get work experience than actually working. That being said, it can be hard to find work without experience. If you decide to spend your gap year working, you might need to settle for a low-paying job. There is also the option of working overseas during the American ski season, as a teacher in Asia, as an au pair or on the yachts. This will also provide you with valuable working experience.
One of the best ways to spend a gap year is learning more about who you are and what you would like to do with your future. Travelling allows you to discover so many unknowns about yourself such as your ability to problem solve and adapt to a new environment. Check out where South Africans can travel visa-free for least amount of admin and then jet off to start checking things off your bucket list.
There are some great online resources to help you map out your travels, like this one. Just be sure to plan trips where you’ll actually learn something, not hang around chilling!