Author: Liezl Grobler, on behalf of Job Mail

One of the top newsmakers this year has been the student protests at universities across South Africa.

Students rallying together in protest action against rising university fees, petitioning that the fees must fall, or be completely scrapped to provide free education access to all. Even though much communication has taken place between students, university managements and government, the matter is still inconclusive and protesting students’ demands have not yet been met.

The protests have, however, affected and disrupted the normal academic programme at many universities.

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Prolonged closures, class rescheduling and cancellations, postponements in examinations and damage to public property has put a great damper on the usual academic flow.

This, sadly, leaves a lot prospective students and matriculants with uncertainty about their future and career prospects

Many worry that they won’t get accepted at university because of a possible backlog of students not finishing their studies on time or inoperative facilities due to the protests, that their safety might be compromised if violent protests continue, or simply that they won’t be able to afford going to university …

The student protests and their effects aside, there are many other reasons why some people are simply not able to attend university, including financial constraints, limited course intake, not meeting the academic requirements, personal reasons, etc. Subsequently, these individuals have to explore other options.

Not being able to go to university, however, is not the end of the world, as there are other great alternatives to reaching your career goals:

1. Attend a college, FET institution or training academy

Obtaining a typical four-year degree is not the ‘be all and end all’ of a successful career. Many people choose to enroll at established and reputable colleges and training academies in either diploma, certificate or short courses.

These courses are designed to prepare you to enter the job market immediately with the practical skills and knowledge necessary to be successful.

Depending on your career goals, you can take as many courses as you want in order to become an ‘expert’ in a specific field. Colleges will allow you to gain the knowledge to enter exciting careers such as IT, business management, PR and marketing, tourism, engineering and accounting.

2. Gain work experience or in-service training

Many jobs offer fantastic in-service training opportunities that can enable a person to grow in their career. When looking for employment using job portals like Job Mail, whether it’s entry level, no experience needed, or more senior level employment, find out whether there is opportunity for training on the job.

In-service training will save you the costs involved in studying at university or college, and fits around your work schedule.

3. Take a gap year working overseas

Going overseas is something that you might want to consider if going to university isn’t an option. You can gain fantastic work experience abroad in various industries, from teaching, childcare, tourism, to farming.

Consider teaching English in South Korea, working as an au pair in Amsterdam, becoming a ski instructor at a resort in France, or working on a bee farm in Texas.

Consider teaching English in South Korea, working as an au pair in Amsterdam, becoming a ski instructor at a resort in France, or working on a bee farm in Texas

Not only will you gain the experience, but if financial constraints are holding you back from going to university, you will be able to earn substantial foreign currency which you can save towards your university education.

4. Online studies or correspondence learning

If your personal safety concerns, travel limitations or other personal circumstance such as having to work full time hinder you from attending a university, then you might want to think about enrolling in a distance learning course.

Many universities and colleges offer great online and distance learning courses, including degree and diploma programmes in most career fields. You can even attain your post graduate qualification online and through correspondence.

5. Explore entrepreneurial opportunities

South Africa is a land of opportunity and boasts a number of entrepreneurs making it big with their own startups and businesses.

These people don’t necessarily have degrees behind their names, but they have the drive and desire necessary to be successful.

If university won’t be an option, there is a great opportunity to do your own thing and be your own boss. You might want to consider pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities in the food and hospitality industry, property development, tourism, health and beauty, technology, etc.

For whatever reason university isn’t an option, there are great alternatives to reach your career goals and be successful.

About the Author

Liezl Grobler is the Digital Copy Editor and PR at Junk Mail Media Group.