Are high schools preparing learners for life after high school?

16 Sep 2021

High school is an exciting time for learners, as they believe that it will help prepare them for the real world. However, this is not always the case. Many high school learners leave high school unprepared for the real world and struggle to adapt to life. 

In South Africa, about 40% of students drop out of university within the first year of study. One of the reasons for the university dropout rate is struggling to adapt to university life, as students don’t have the necessary skills to succeed. 

Employers also report that graduates start their first job unprepared because they lack the necessary skills to succeed. 

A survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry found that university graduates were not ready for work, despite having the required qualifications for the job, Forbes magazine report.

While academics are essential for a successful life after high school, transferable skills such as adaptability, critical thinking and social-emotional skills are crucial to success. 


If there is something that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, life can change in a split second. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected the way we live our lives but has also shown us that nothing is certain. This means that it is crucial to be adaptable as nothing is guaranteed, and things can change at any moment. 

High schools should be teaching learners how to be adaptable. Being adaptable will help learners navigate challenges when they leave school and start university. We know that one of the reasons students drop out of university is they struggle to adjust to university life.

Critical thinking 

Learners should also learn critical thinking at high school. Critical thinking allows learners to come up with solutions and solve problems. 

SPARK Schools High School Curriculum and Assessment Lead Kathryn Garden says SPARK high school learners learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the Character quotient course. 

“We have developed a bespoke Character Quotient Framework that explicitly develops the transferable skills which we believe are necessary for life beyond school,” she says. 

Social and Emotional skills 

Social-Emotional skills such as empathy and critical thinking are essential skills that every learner should have to succeed in life and the job market. 

With the world constantly changing, it is vital that high schools adequately prepare learners for the future.

To learn more about SPARK Randburg High School, please click here.