Choices, Chances, Changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.” ~ Unknown

For some learners, reaching the end of high school and getting that matric behind you, is the only major goal. Many go on from that educational milestone to look for a job, or undertake a gap year, or travel with hopes of finding the right niche to comfortably occupy for the rest of one’s life. However, there is much evidence that simply stopping your education at this magic moment of the final school year limits your choices in life in the same way you might scupper a fully-sailed ship.

The lure of a job, if you are lucky enough to get one straight out of school, is undoubtedly enormous: no more homework, no more studying for exams, no more classes and picky teachers – none of that, but instead a salary! In the grownup world, you’ll be doing grownup work, and be paid for it! Your freedom is complete!

Changing your mindset about education beyond school

For various reasons, young people can easily develop a negative attitude towards education. Often there is not enough choice, and subjects are foisted onto learners. Curriculums are pre-established and there are daily rigid guidelines and regulations to adhere to. There’s too much attention paid to rote learning and not enough to creativity of thought or decision-making. ‘Spoon fed’ is often the term used to define scholastic education, and studying within these constraints can lead to boredom, repetition, unfair examination criteria, and teachers who sometimes hold too much sway over the learners thinking abilities and style of progress.

So when that final release comes after the last matric exam, there is great excitement for a liberated future free from study, obligation, and those thick books with tiny print. Yay! But this is precisely the point at where thousands of youngsters go wrong; the moment when we assume all our schooling has been purely for this point and our freedom makes us fully independent, and the world our oyster.

However, the benefits of continuing your learning – either at university or college, or through distance or independent study – is absolutely vital to presenting you with far greater choices and potential career opportunities. There is no doubt that tertiary education of one sort or another can completely change your life.

Personal development is built on the power of knowledge

At this point, you should really know that not only does education present you with useful knowledge, skills and expertise, but it is also a powerful force for personal development.

By moving your mind into new areas of focus, study and application, you give yourself the opportunity to explore a vast array of options that you may not have considered a year before. Some educators even advise waiting until you have nearly completed your chosen qualification before reviewing your position on vocation. This way you may really get to feel genuine attraction or apathy for your chosen discipline, and this can either confirm or change your direction. Be mindful of the fact that academic environments are one of the best places to explore fresh options and make vital choices. Finding what you love and what you’re passionate about can change your life completely. But it may take sampling a few possibilities first.

Growth areas that lie beyond school

  • The most pertinent persuasion may be the fact that those who obtain a degree or diploma beyond matric tend to earn higher salaries right from the beginning of their working lives. This can make a huge difference in how you plan and prepare for the future, your lifestyle and your choices within that lifestyle – choices that would not have been there had you just continued with the daily pressure of an unexciting job simply because of a pay check.
  • Those who have ensured a tertiary education for themselves become more socially aware; they become more concerned about issues because their reading material is often broader and more sophisticated. They have opinions that carry educated weight, and can more eloquently make themselves heard in academic, political and corporate spheres. Their impact and influence is much greater than those without tertiary education, a factor which broadens their choices as their careers progress.
  • People who seek education beyond high school are likely to be better off in terms of economic status, physical health and participation in community affairs. Regardless of what you study, devoting time to educating yourself and training your brain beyond high school comes with many potential benefits, including well-being, interpersonal relationships, and a well-rounded, more fulfilling life.
  • Improved communication skills are key to more effective ways individuals can express themselves. Reading is more substantial in volume and understood as a major tool in advancing life choices.
  • Critical thinking skills enable an individual ask pertinent questions, analyse choices, identify and solve problems. These are skills that go with you no matter your job. The ability to think clearly and rationally cannot be more emphasized as a key factor when making positive choices in life.
  • In a higher education environment in particular, you may be exposed to a variety of possibilities and new ideas. All of this will influence your decisions; the broader your knowledge the broader your opportunities for choice become.
  • Discipline and a sense of accomplishment can drive a careerist further along their road of success. Both of these are hugely influenced by the amount of time you can devote to study and remaining set on your goals and ambitions.

Decision-making is the one key skill that education offers everybody. Concepts can be analysed and evaluated, helping us to make good decisions about how we want to live, and giving us the self-esteem and empowerment to put those decisions into practice. Thus choosing to live where there is greenery and quiet, or within the vibrancy of the middle of the city, are choices we can confidently make for ourselves, knowing they can surely reach fruition.

Education, no matter what we choose, ultimately gives us the control to change our lives, to realise goals, and see the future in a different light.