Home Student & Career Tips Career Tips for School Leavers – 2024

Career Tips for School Leavers – 2024

This article aims to give important tips on the best career path to follow as school leavers. A school leaver is someone who has just left school, especially to do or look for a job rather than going to college, university etc.

It can be very daunting leaving high school and facing the “real world”. At this point, many thoughts may come to your mind as to what next to do, which way to follow.

As a younger school leaver, I made lots of mistakes, career wise. I thought I knew it all but then I knew nothing. I was a bright student. One of the hot brains in the class.  As a result of this, I made a wrong career choice. Everyone around me felt I would do well in Medicine related fields since I was intelligent enough. At that point I believed their opinion. I believed then that intelligent students were made for such courses. I believed smart students were meant for sciences and dull students for art.  Deep down I knew I hated the medical profession but I still went ahead to apply for Nursing and Agricultural Economics as first and second choice respectively.

Career Tips for School Leavers - 2024

When the admission list was finally released, I had double admission in both but eventually I accepted the second option. I couldn’t take the risk of accepting Nursing science.

Today, I’m a graduate of Agricultural Economics but deep down I didn’t feel fulfilled. Sometimes, I felt that I made the wrong career choice as a school leaver. Not for once have I worked with my Certificate. Rather, I derive joy in doing other things outside my field. It’s glaring to me now that art related stuff gives me more joy than science. Today, I have turned a freelance writer and I am gradually building a career in that direction.

As a school leaver, you’re bound to make mistakes when not properly guided. From my personal experiences I wouldn’t want you to make the same mistakes I made career wise. No doubt that career mistakes can be corrected later on but that would mean more time and money expended. To avoid this, it is best you take the decision once and for all.

Thus, below are some career tips that will guide you as a school leaver:


Career personality tests are also known as career self-assessment tests. It includes a list of personal questions in relation to your likes and dislikes. By answering these questions, you’re able to deduce what you love doing most, things you can spend all day doing. From this, you can bring up a handy list of career ideas that match your interests.

There are lots of career tests you can take online. All you need do is to make a note of your personality type and put all the career ideas into a list.  You can then make more research pertaining to each career list.

This will enable you to choose a career that will not only earn you an income, but something you’ll enjoy studying as well. So, don’t be so quick to make decisions, consider other options.


In this part of the world, Africa precisely, gap years are taken for granted. The importance of gap year is not appreciated.  This is why a young person who is clueless  as to the career path to follow, will graduate from high school at the age of 17 years and the next thing is getting into the University to pursue a career that looks good on paper even when it’s not what they really want to do. In cases like this, a young school leaver is likely to choose a career in Medicine because of the prestige instead of a career in areas they are more inclined.

This is why a gap year is encouraged. As a school leaver, taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you really want to do in life. During this period, you can travel to other places or get a job.

From experience, students who take a gap year have more life experience than those who decided to get straight into university. They are also exposed to the workforce as well. This allows them to go through situations such as dealing with difficult colleagues and toxic office setting. School leavers who take gap years have been identified to make better career choices.


As a school leaver who may not want to get into the University immediately or wish to further  studies for personal reasons. Online courses might just be the best option.

Most people looked down on the authenticity of getting a degree through such means but as time went on, due to different challenges hindering people from getting a university degree, online courses have become the solution for such Individuals.

While there are some individuals who haven’t come to accept the idea of online courses, there are others who find that idea invaluable and are ever grateful  for its existence. Well, human wants differ.

Advantages of Online Course 

  • Learning Is Flexible: The very interesting thing about online courses is it’s flexibility. In a world filled with choking schedules, online courses give you the opportunity to fit your daily life activities and schedules into learning as well. It gives you the opportunity to study at your own pace and time without fear of missing lecturers but you must have it in mind that you’re expected to meet up with deadlines.
  • Lower Cost: The cost of being a campus student can be very discouraging, especially for those who are not financially capable. You think of spending on accommodation, feeding, transportation etc, but with an online course,it’s a different ball game. You need not to worry over much spending because whatever you may spend can not be compared to the cost of being a campus student.
  • No Commute: Another reason people go for online courses is that it saves one the stress of travelling and moving from house to school. With online courses, no need rushing to beat traffic on the road, no need to panic on going late for lectures. You take your lectures from any location. This saves cost.
  • Ease Of Access: Unlike studying in campus settings, online courses can be assessed from any location. All that is required is a PC and sometimes an internet connected phone. The course materials , assignments, lectures are very accessible online. Some are sent via email.
  • Shorter Duration: Online courses take a shorter time to complete. For individuals who dread the idea of being tied in University for 4 years or more, online courses are your best bet. Taking up online courses have helped many school leavers to make smarter decisions on a career to choose. While many use the Certifications they acquire to work their way to the top, others use it as an avenue to gain background knowledge on a given career path in order to further at the University.

As a school leaver, volunteering will expose you to a lot of experiences that will help you in making career decisions. There are different Organizations in need of Volunteers both locally and Internationally.

You can explore such opportunities to broaden your world’s horizons as well as your mind.

By getting involved in volunteering, you’re learning new things and probably discovering the areas you barely had an idea you would find interesting. This way, you are exploring your career interests too.


Are apprenticeships worth it? The answer is a big YES.

You can get an apprenticeship for almost any career you can think of. If you have an idea of what work area you’re interested in like fashion or technology or hospitality, then employers are offering apprenticeships in that work area.

This allows you to learn and earn while learning. Have you been thinking hairdressing and tailoring is all there is to apprenticeships? Then think again.

There are so many apprenticeship programs in existence and the good thing is that most of them award certifications on completion. In a world where transferable skills are what business owners are looking out for in an employee, you stand a chance of competing with a University degree holder.

I’m a graduate and in my 6th month as an apprentice in fashion designing.

Do you still believe apprenticeships are for dropouts? Research shows that apprentices can earn up to 70% more, over their lifetime than their university graduate counterparts. So, don’t be weary of choosing that alternative, you’re simply making a future Investment while it lasts.


In some cases, school leavers do not see the possibility of getting a higher  qualification due to personal challenges. The best option in such a case is to take advantage of sponsored degrees.

Here, there are companies that bear the financial burden of such individuals, with terms and conditions.

In sponsored degrees, beneficiaries usually work for the company on agreed times and do not have the influence over the school they attend. The sole decision of the program is made by the sponsoring company.

However, what you need to bear in mind when choosing a sponsored degree is that you may be contracted to join the company on a permanent basis after graduating. Hence, ensure you are comfortable with this condition before joining the scheme.

The main difference between a sponsored degree and apprenticeship is that on an apprenticeship you will follow a training programme alongside your studies. For sponsored degree, you are a full time student who only gets to work on vacations or after graduation.


Going by the name, school leaver program is another alternative for  students who have completed their A levels but probably do not wish to continue with  getting a University degree. It is almost similar to apprenticeships but the striking difference lies in the age. The students start at an early age.

School leaver schemes normally last between one and five years and may involve getting a qualification. You can join them immediately after school and will get an on-the-job  training. The benefit of a school leaver scheme is that you get relevant work experience while building your skills in the workplace.

There are schemes available for both those who have finished their GCEs and those who finished their A levels. They are also available in a variety of industries, including Marketing, Engineering, Hospitality, and IT.


Heading straight to the labour force after A level is not such a bad idea. Many have done this and are grateful they did because they were able to build a career right from that level.

Through hard work and diligence, people have made it via this alternative and turned out doing better than some of their University counterparts.


Traineeships are designed to give you the appropriate skills and experience you will need to join an apprenticeship or get an entry-level job. They are focused on preparing you for the next level of your education or career in major areas like English and Maths.

Joining a traineeship can be the perfect opportunity to get ready for employment and also build your confidence and network in the industry you might want to join in the future. They are also available in the majority of sectors. Getting involved in traineeships may not earn you an income but there is a probability that the employer may pay allowances for meals and transportation.


This is the traditional and most recognized path to building a  career. Through a degree, you will get first hand knowledge and exposure you will need to join certain industries.

The disadvantage of building a career through this means include the high tuition fees and the fact that you will most likely be repaying a student loan for years after graduating. Also, chances are you will be a novice amongst apprentices who have had years of experience in the workforce.

On the other hand, more career paths are open to you when you have a university degree. There are still vocations that apprenticeships will not qualify you for, but a degree will. Many employers are also still asking that applicants have a degree. However, as a young school leaver, this is the best path to a career. It offers you better employment opportunities.


As a school leaver, there are many options and career tips to consider. You do not necessarily need to build a career by getting a university qualification. You can live the life of your dream, build a career of your choice through the options that have been stated in this article. There is no reason that will stop you from building the career of your choice. University is just one way that will help you secure some positions that other means may not.

So, as a school leaver, you do not need to put your life and career on hold because you can not afford to go to a university. There are many ways to build a career.  In your choice, choose wisely.

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