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Studying (or not) after school

Many people go through life wanting to study after school, but if we’re honest with ourselves, not many people will actually get the opportunity to study after school. This happens for various reasons that I won’t get into here, but I wanted to use this piece to explain that getting a college or university qualification isn’t the only way to ensure success after school. 

There are many ways to upskill yourself after school and not all of these are through conventional tertiary institutions. I’m not knocking the benefit of the tertiary qualification, but it’s not the only path to walk and, if we’re being honest, it’s an expensive path that not many South Africans can realistically afford out of their own pockets. So, if you’re not studying at a college or university after school, what other options are out there? 

  1. Become more computer literate

So many jobs require good computer skills – basics such as emailing, how to use Word and Excel and general typing skills have become more important in the modern world. So, an idea would be to take some time to learn some of these skills through short courses, online tutorials or just playing around on a computer if you have access to one. 

Noteworthy resource: Giraffe – these are free courses to help you develop your skills in order to land your next job or improve in your current one. 

  1. Learn more about social media 

Companies big and small are fast learning that they need social media managers and coordinators. If you’re spending tons of time on your various social media platforms, why not use that time to learn more about each platform and how to use it for business? You could watch a few videos online or find a cheap or free online course. 

Noteworthy resource: Udemy – Udemy is an excellent online learning platform that offers free and paid courses across a number of fields. This is a great starting point for those wanting to check out a few free courses. 

  1. Start your own business

This might sound daunting, but if you have a talent or a passion and there’s a market for it, then why not just jump straight in to starting your own business? For example, if you have an interest in gardening, you could sell some plants as a way of making money or you could offer your garden talents to people wanting to make their gardens look pretty, but not knowing where to start. Or perhaps you’re really good at maths, you could help tutor kids in your neighbourhood during the school year. If you think your passion can turn into a career without needing a qualification, then go for it. 

Noteworthy resource: Learn digital with Google – Google has a number of free online courses that teach you more about starting a business online, how to promote your business through digital platforms and more. 

  1. Get a job

Of course this is easier said than done, but if you want to make money from the start and you’re interested in getting practical work experience, then there is no shame in jumping straight into the workforce. A job isn’t easy to land straight out the gate and there are some things that everyone should learn about how to apply and how to ace an interview. Hone these skills and see what you can find out in the working world, and who knows, you could work your way up within your field and company in no time. 

Noteworthy resource: Giraffe – These are great courses about how to prepare for the working world. 

  1. Volunteer

If you have the capacity, time and you don’t need to earn an income immediately, volunteer work will get you far in life. It is hard work and often requires a lot of compassion and empathy along the way – all good things to learn and experience in life. If you are interested in gaining life experience and there’s a cause you are passionate about, look into volunteering to see if there’s something you are able to do. 

Noteworthy resource: volunteering.org – This is a good place to start for various volunteer projects across South Africa, as well as other parts of Africa. 

Of course, if your chosen career path needs a qualification, then by all means go for it. If you can’t afford it, chat to your personal bank about study loans or look online for bursaries from private companies or apply to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). 

This is by no means me bashing post-school studying through a university. I just think that it’s not for everyone and we need to provide young adults with other ways of upskilling themselves and getting themselves ready for the workplace. 

You can hear more about our thoughts on this topic in our podcast episode about studying and up-skilling after school here.

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