Should Your Child Join College or Work Right After High School

Should Your Child Join College or Work Right After High School


ByAngelica Ouya, Academics Director, Makini Schools

What plans do your children have after high school? Do they plan to go to university, take a gap year, start working, set up an entrepreneurial project or marvel in something else?

Let me paint a picture. Consider two high school students. One is extremely talented, highly motivated and has amazing academic results year after year.

However, career plans have not been in his frame of reference as they live for the day and do not know what they want to do after school.

The other student is average in academics but working very hard to do well in their final examinations with a perfect career path in mind. Neither of their mindsets is wrong.

As a parent, you want to see your child taking the route of a career path and furthering their studies.

The importance of education cannot be overestimated. Although there are many good reasons for a student to go to university, sometimes students attending university straight after high school is not best suited for that individual at that moment.

Parents and educationalists only want the best for our children. It can be challenging to know how to let your child go, empowering them then allowing them to make choices and learn from both successes and mistakes.

A full-time university degree has its advantages, however if your child is unsure of their career direction, there are many different potential paths they can walk before going to university.

Leading to this road, consider the following:

  • Assure your children that you will be there to support and guide them to make informed choices. This requires empathy because, in reality, it is said that 85% of careers of the future do not yet exist. Simultaneously, some skills are becoming obsolete and automated. Hence the focus on building 21st century skills in our children, that can then be applied to the various yet to be discovered paths.
  • Career exploration and self-assessments are important to provide direction for school going students. If you can not provide guidance to your child as you feel that you are too close to the situation and will show your bias, have a conversation with a guidance counsellor and/or education psychologist to highlight and/or extract your child’s interests.
  • When choosing a higher education course, sit with your child (together with a career counsellor) and think about which subjects interest them. The type of qualification they want and which style of studying suits them the best will determine the university they will one day study at.
  • Explore opportunities of job shadowing to make sure that the path your child is setting for themselves is the right one. Remember there is no shame in changing your direction.

Luckily, universities nowadays allow for this kind of exploration, before one feels sure about the course they pursue.

  • Take baby steps. If your child does not know what they want to study one day, take a broad spectrum of subjects that can cover many fields of study and the various avenues this can be explored in and out of university.
  • The good news is that your child can capitalise on their talents, skills and interest and forge a successful career by taking up an apprenticeship, or signing up for an internship or volunteering. Within these alternatives, your child may find the career path best suited to them.

Let your child know that a new chapter in life, loss of the familiar and the unknown future does cause apprehension in any person, but with thoughtful planning, courage, support and the key life skills they learn at school and at home will enable them to move forward and make better choices.

The write is the Academics Director, Makini Schools