2nd article for school leavers

2.   Making decisions related to your future


Should I go to varsity or should I work for a year or two? 

In order to help you make this decision let me ask you how you feel right now. Can you cope with another three to five years of study? Do you feel like a rest? Do you want to carry on with your studying and get it behind you? Do you think a rest from the books might be a good idea? How do you really feel? 

The majority of young people leaving school, whose parents can afford the costs involved, normally decide to go straight to varsity. This is historic and appears to be the “done thing”. Whether it is right or wrong is a matter of personal opinion. It is a choice you must make and one that needs careful consideration. 

Too many young people leave school and go straight into university only to find that they have made the wrong choice. They end up very unhappy, they do not cope with varsity life, they choose the wrong faculty, they fail their first year, or they just waste their time and normally someone else’s money. 

This then has a very traumatic effect on the person involved. They immediately feel that they have failed. In many instances others see them and treat them as failures.

How often have you heard it said that so and so “dropped out” of varsity? He or she could not cope or could not make the grade. 

With hindsight, there is nothing necessarily wrong. The reason for pulling out or giving up is what should have been important. For the applicant to have been afforded the opportunity of admitting that a mistake was made, that he or she pulled out of varsity in order to re-assess the situation, would have put a whole new light on the issue. This takes maturity; levelheaded thinking and the ability to admit a mistake had been made. 


Taking some time out!

The advantage of taking a sabbatical or some time away from studies is that you can try out or investigate further a career that you feel might be of interest to you.

You can also just work on a part-time basis just to earn money and support yourself while you consider and weigh up your options. 

Should you decide on this approach try to avoid “job hopping”. Take a position and stick with it. Learn all you can and gain from the experience. Be honest with your employer as to why you want to work and do not try to create the impression that you intend making this occupation your chosen career. Approach companies that offer, or that might be convinced at a later stage to offer, a loan or bursary to you. If you have worked with a company for a year or two and shown what you are capable of then they may not want to lose you and might therefore be prepared to assist financially. 

Do not wait for the opportunity to come to you, get out there and create the opportunity for yourself. This requires commitment and determination on your part. Are you prepared for this? 

By taking this approach, you might find that you could kill two birds with one stone. You might find a happy medium. In some instances where companies offer financial assistance and bursaries the individual is allowed to work and study part-time. This then would have major advantages, as you are no longer required to study or work full-time. 

You need to make decisions regarding both the career and the direction in which the requirements of the position push you in terms of your chosen field of study. Again this is not an easy decision to make and requires careful consideration and discussion.  

An option some people make, but which of late has become expensive, is to travel and work at the same time. This is an option available to only a few people. It requires financial support, guts and maturity. It can be exciting and challenging but it also has its drawbacks. Being away from family and friends in a foreign country is not easy. It can be lonely and can be full of danger, worry and uncertainty. There are no guarantees that you will find work and in many countries, you will not be allowed to work. The temptation is then to work as an illegal and this in itself can be dangerous. 

A post-matric year is an alternative you might want to consider. This again can be expensive and is not available to all. This can be a fun year where new challenges are created and opportunities are given to try something different. You can make new friends, enjoy all sorts of new experiences and at the same time complete some preliminary studies in a new field of interest. It can be a tough year but at the same time a very rewarding and enlightening year. This can be a year for development and finding yourself and your direction in life. 

Life is full of change and you are now facing one of the many you will have to make.

You have important decisions to make, do not try to make them alone. 

Talk to your parents and teachers about your life and your future. Seek help and assistance from responsible people. Seek guidance from councilors and other qualified people. Weigh up your options and consider your choices. Most of all you should be adult in your approach and bear in mind, the decisions you make will have an influence on the rest of your life.


© Des Squire

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About Des Squire

I specialise in Employment Equity and Skills Development issues. Qualified facilitator, assessor, moderator, verifier and SDF. Available for any related assignments and or freelance work. If ou have a need let's meet to discuss. Quotes for training on request.

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