For many school-leavers, the thought of pursuing a higher education qualification that aligns with their desired career path, can be a daunting prospect. Parents and guardians are just as, if not more, concerned regarding the outlook of what will happen with their children after they've written their last exam. Despite the efforts that most schools and curricula invest in career guidance and advice for learners throughout their school career, there remains a large part of the country's matrics who simply do not know what kind of direction to take after they tread their final steps from the schoolyard. Learners also risk failing and dropping out of their studies midway if they're unable to connect with their course, resulting in a cringing waste of hard-earned finances or debt.
Despite the notion of a gap year being around for some time now, there still remains a great deal of opposition to it being mentioned and a vague perception of how this time ought to be spent. Along with the responsibilities that each party should assume, and the anticipated outcome once the year comes to an end, school leavers and parents may feel more at ease after pondering the following three points when considering a gap year after grade 12:
- G – GOALS: Post-matric should be a time of exciting exploration for young adults who are bidding farewell to their final teen years. An important action that should be established before embarking on a gap year is the setting of attainable goals. These goals should have specific due dates and be aligned with the kind of experience post-school learners ought to acquire for their future aspirations, whilst maintaining a record of any kind of voluntary or paid part-time work or job shadowing undertaken. Not all forms of work involve being a mastermind. Offering support as a tutor, a salesperson, or a waitron assists young individuals to gain valuable people skills that can be used in any industry. Goals will help to maintain a sense of moving forward with a purpose rather than remaining stagnant and unproductive.
- A – ACCESS: Access to non-formal learning opportunities may come in the form of travelling, working, and volunteering. Several school leavers opt to take on some form of work whilst studying to help supplement their tuition fees. Some companies and higher education institutions may also offer learnerships where a small stipend is provided to students whilst completing their studies in the relevant field or industry. For those adolescents completely opposed to any form of work after school, a plan to access information to help them consider academic or technical training is an absolute must. Access to information about different institutions, types of qualifications, bursary offerings, and career development should not be limited to internet searches. Similarly, video games and series will not render the kind of advice required for further studies.
- P – Practicality: This relates to the actual doing of something rather than sitting and theorising or philosophising over the future without physically applying your plans and intentions. For some adolescents, leaving the nest may be the necessary catalyst they require to truly understand who they are and what they want to pursue as their lifelong career, based on their qualities and abilities. Most do eventually return to the nest once they have settled their minds on a particular path, but the need for a practical application of their talents and skills is a requirement necessary for a productive and guilt-free gap year. Being practical also allows school leavers to gain rational common-sense “school of life” skills that can never be taught but are only experienced.
In a rapidly changing world with so many options and varieties available, it’s valuable to consider that some school leavers require a little more time when making up their minds about their future career paths and what they wish to become. With careful goal setting, access to helpful information and being practical in your approach, a gap year can be a very beneficial option.
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