Management & Leadership

How to Decide what to do after High School

Jan 25, 2022
What to do after matric
Mobile Curve
Mobile Curve

Now you’ve finished school – what do you plan to do with the rest of your life? How many times has a matriculant been asked this question? Deciding what to do after high school is daunting enough, without it being contextualised like this.

Life after matric is a time of great uncertainty and change. Kentse Radebe, a Sociologist and former SACAP Research and Development Manager, provides some useful insight for school leavers and parents.

Three Steps for a School Leaver to Take

1. Do a Personal Audit

The reality is that decisions made when you leave school can potentially affect the rest of your life. You don’t need to go jumping into things blindly. These are decisions, which means you can weigh them up ahead of making them. Firstly, remember to approach things holistically by weighing in your personal circumstances and your future ambitions. Think them through and then research your options so as to feel more confident when you do make any decisions.

Start Your Fact-Finding Mission:

  1. Gather together your defining personal attributes: skills, values, passions, talents and abilities.
  2. Consult people who know you well. Specifically ask them to give you feedback on their perception of your personality, strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Write down the fields that you are interested in and think you could potentially enjoy working in.

This exercise will help you identify career paths that are well aligned to your strengths. The next step is to narrow down your choices by researching the career opportunities available to you within each field.

It’s often helpful to employ the services of a career counsellor to match your attributes to a specific field or career. You may choose to take a psychometric test. This could reveal further valuable insights when it comes to choosing a career and what to study after school. Alternatively, make an appointment to chat to a student advisor, like those at SACAP. They can assist you to understand what a course entails and the future doors it could open for you.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain

2. Every decision is a Learning Curve: Learn from failure

While a mistake may not result in your hoped-for-outcome, it can result in invaluable learning. A failure presents you with an opportunity to gain experience and personal growth. Keep this in mind while you are trying to decide something. This will help make the process a lot less of an intimidating experience. It also helps to keep a positive attitude and an open mind. Which will encourage you to be more ready to explore your options. This could assist you in being more prepared to change paths should you realise you need to.

Take a break

Jumping into studying after school isn’t the only option you have. And taking a gap year to give yourself a break from learning, doesn’t mean slacking off. A constructively planned gap year can be an invaluable way to spend time while you decide what to do next.

3 Reasons to Consider taking a Gap Year:

  1. Determine what actually drives you and what your own real-life goals are.
  2. Give yourself more time to research and think about what you should study.
  3. Allow yourself to gain a bit more maturity, self-growth and life experience.

It’s important to remember that a gap year is more valuable if the outcomes you want are defined upfront. Thereafter, you need to plan how you are going to achieve them. Travelling the world is not the only productive way to spend a gap year. Instead, you could use the time to take short courses or to gain work experience. You may find that you need to widen your scope of what you consider within a gap year. For example, if you’re short on financial resources then you may need to explore internships or job shadowing opportunities. These can assist in building your CV. They will also help you to explore a career before paying to study in a particular field.

“A gap year does not mean slacking off.”

A Word of Advice for Parents

While your child is trying to decide what to do after high school, try to keep an open mind. Be a sounding board for their thoughts and give them the space to talk openly. This can only be achieved if you use a collaborative approach rather than assuming an authoritarian role.

All too often, parents forget the considerable impact their opinions have on their children. Entertaining one’s personal experiences, wishes or fears, without thought for the individuality and future desires of your child can have extremely negative outcomes. Rather, show interest and offer practical support by assisting with research or even calling on your own personal and professional networks. Keep the focus squarely on your child’s life satisfaction and future happiness. And don’t be blind to the fact that times are changing faster than ever before. The careers available to your child today look nothing like those that were once available to you.

Exploring Potential Study Options

If you are wondering what to do after matric and are considering studying psychology or counselling, the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) offers a wide range of qualifications. Graduating confident “work ready” practitioners is key to successfully starting off a new career. This is why SACAP combines an academically rigorous curriculum, with a strong emphasis on the ability to apply knowledge through the training of relevant skills. For more information, enquire now.

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