Peter Kriel, general manager at SA’s largest private higher education providerIndependent Institute of Education, says graduates who study straight after school and complete their qualification within the required timeframe, are significantly better off than matriculants who chose to work or take a gap year, particularly if that gap year is unproductive.

Options to consider

Kriel says there are ways to make a gap year work if they are convinced it’s the right thing to do. “It is crucial that they at least do something to improve their skills and competencies during that time. A great option in this instance is to do some distance or part-time courses.”

This is a particularly great option for matriculants who are hesitant to register for a full degree or diploma straight away because they are still uncertain of what they want to do with their life.

They risk losing their “study muscles” 

Getting back into the habit of studying and focusing on academics can be a challenge if your child decides to take a break after their final year of school.

Encourage them to register for a short course

Doing short courses allows them to get a better idea of where their passion and talents lie, while at the same time earning some certification that they can add to their CV.

Consider future study options

“Look at all the higher education institutions, whether it be a public university or private, and their offerings. Encourage your matriculant to find a qualification that will make them employable – one that is recognised by employers and has a curriculum that is relevant in the workplace of today,” Kriel advises.

 “Finally, students should choose an institution that will give them the best possible chance of succeeding and completing the qualification in minimum time. Every additional year of study leaves a long-term financial impact, so consider things such as student support, class sizes, and the quality of lecturing and facilities.”