Most parents are afraid to have their children take time off after high school. There are various fears associated with having their offspring at home, doing nothing. The need for rest does not appear to be a privilege readily extended to children. While conceding that it is necessary to keep focused on the future, this guide offers some alternatives that will give the young ones the gap year they desire while at the same time keep them a little more occupied that they are not considered ‘sitting at home doing anything’.
Learn a Language
The ability to speak a foreign language is an asset. Knowing more than one language opens up vast opportunities for future study and also to broaden your career. My favourite picks are as follows:
- French: This is a widely popular language in the world. It is also a widely learned language and is on the curriculum in some schools locally. If you are interested in tourism, you may find that while most foreign guests may not understand English, even non-French nationals are likely to know some French. Even in Mozambique – they may not answer to your English but you can usually find some French speakers.
- German: There are no undergraduate tuition fees in Germany, even for foreign students. Need I say more?
- Mandarin: This is the most common Chinese dialect spoken. China is fast growing into a force to be reckoned with globally, not to mention the close relationship that exists between Zimbabwe and China.
- Sign Language: Disability mainstreaming is gaining more publicity by the day. While every industry will need to consider this as a valuable skill in the near future, if your interests lie in teaching, nursing, human resources or social work, sign language will be a very big advantage.
- Swahili: Possibly one of the most popular African languages in the world. It is also taught in over 100 universities worldwide.
- Ndebele: While Ndebele speakers seem more able to grasp Shona or to work in mainly Shona speaking areas, to be of true relevance locally it would be important for a native Shona speaker to learn Ndebele. Also, an understanding of Ndebele is helpful in understanding some of the dialects spoken in South Africa.
Learn a new skill
Here I am referring to learning outside of the kind of learning you wish to pursue as part of your tertiary education. Learn a life skill.
- Computers: Even a basic ICDL qualification could land you leaps and bounds ahead of your peers. Most people are familiar with computers but usually cannot prove it. Earn a qualification.
- Driving: It seems there are two extremes in our country – those teenagers who dream of nothing else but driving, and those teenagers who never think about it at all. In a year you can pretty much commence and attain your driver’s license with plenty of time left over to keep trying.
- Short Courses: For the more serious minded, this could be the time to start familiarising yourself with your chosen career. In almost every sector there exist short courses that you can attempt with little previous experience and not so stringent entry requirements. In addition, you could use this as an opportunity to pursue hobbies and interests for example in agriculture, cell phone technology or theatre.
Start a business
Youth usually have an edge over older people when it comes to entrepreneurship, mainly parents purse strings and fearlessness. Right now you should still be thinking anything is possible, and usually, mum and dad are prone to cater to your every whim. Things like tutoring, lawn cutting and babysitting are relatively simple to set up. Be creative. You can then use this experience in future applications that will require you to demonstrate initiate or entrepreneurial spirit.
Get a job
Entrepreneurship is not everyone, despite what people may say. For some, being employed is their forte. Given the current unemployment statistics, this may seem daunting. However, a little outside the box thinking may lend you better odds. For starters at this point you are not too concerned about experience or money, so that should give you broader albeit menial areas to choose from. Being a ‘mud boy’ may not earn you much cash or Swagga, but it will keep you occupied and earn you the respect of your parents. Further, it adds another field to your portfolio with which to demonstrate core personality traits for whatever you pursue later.