How Do I Prepare My High School Student For The Real World?

    Article by Jana Jansen van Vuuren

    Jana Jansen van Vuuren

    Posted: August 22, 2017

    As the long summer days shorten again, high school students prepare to head back to school, and, you, the parent, is likely to start thinking more seriously about their future. Will school be enough to prepare your high school student for the real world?

    Even if your teen isn’t thinking about it, you are well aware that the first steps towards college and a great career begin in high school. Back to school season is the perfect time to speak to your teen about where they would like to be heading and how you can help them get there.

    One of the best ways to give them head start on a successful future out in the real world, is to support them in joining a volunteer abroad program. To find out why, read on. 



    Preparing for Future Challenges Early


    Today’s high school students will be facing a challenging new workplace.


    A solid education is the foundation for future success. As workplaces evolve to keep up with the modern world, students need to think ahead in order to prepare themselves for tomorrow’s problems. 

    The world of employment is changing and students will be facing three realities in the job market that will seem completely foreign to previous generations. 


    1) Life-Long Learning

    When it comes to getting career-ready, technological advancement and increased specialization means lifelong learning is required. More than ever, job applicants are expected to have broad skillsets as well as real-life experience in their chosen field.


    2) Competition On A Global Scale

    International recruitment also means students have to compete with candidates on a global scale. Standing out in a country-sized crowd is hard enough. It’s a lot more difficult when the crowd is the whole world.

    Further Reading: 7 Steps To Become A Global Citizen


    3) Lower Wages

    On top of that, higher living costs and static wages are making things harder and harder for the younger generation. According to analysis by Pew Research, once inflation is taken into account, wages have been flatlining for decades. Lower wages means students will have to work harder for longer to achieve what were once thought of as basic goals, such as owning property.


    The goal posts for learning and achieving have widened, and high school students need to plan carefully and insightfully to overcome these obstacles.


    The Need for Learning Outside of Schools


    GVI volunteers learn about native flora and fauna while on-site in Costa Rica.


    Schools are falling short of the sort of teaching students need. Conventional schooling simply does not promote the goals students need to get ahead.

    The focus is consistently on parrot learning and studying in order to pass specific exams, rather than learning with the purpose of acquiring knowledge and making a impact on the world. Rote learning and standardized testing aren’t enough to teach students to think critically and be curious about the world.

    However, students can fill in the gaps in their education through volunteering. Parents can make sure their children are learning in constructive and meaningful ways by encouraging them to join volunteer programs. Ensuring students have more enhancing, real world, experiences like volunteering while they are still in school can stretch their imaginations and prompt learning that revolves around curiosity and discovery, rather than memorizing information needed to pass a test.

    Further Reading: What Can Volunteering Abroad Teach Me That School Can’t. 


    How Volunteering Prepares Students for the Future


    A GVI volunteer helps out with renovation work at a local school in Kerala, India.


    Volunteering is a fast-track to employability, equipping students with crucial skills and experience.

    Intercultural competency, communication and critical thinking skills, along with flexibility and adaptability are the kind of soft skills that the structured school environment just can’t provide. These are the competencies students will learn out in the real world, involved in practical projects connected to global communities.

    Volunteer programs prepare students for the workforce by not only making them look more desirable to employers in a competitive job market, but by training them to deal with a wide range of unanticipated challenges. Even tasks like catching a bus in another country, or learning a few words in another language can teach students how to solve problems. Ultimately, they will be able to find solutions by analysing a situation – not just by learning the ‘right’ answer off by heart.

    Further Reading: One Skill Every 21st Century Student Should Have And How To Get It


    Benefits of Volunteering Abroad


    GVI volunteers in Laos participate in the local custom of donating alms to monks.


    While you might be thinking about sending your teen on a local volunteer programs to expand horizons, international volunteer programs have many advantages. The six main ones are included below. 


    1 ) Provides International Experience

    For starters, the world is becoming increasingly globalized. Most of today’s high school students will likely work with people from other cultures or in other countries when the time comes to join the workforce. International is quickly becoming the new normal, so it pays to get a head start on the trend.  


    2) Bulks Up College Application Forms And Resumes

    Adding volunteer experience to a college or job application can help a high school student to stand out from the crowd. Then there’s the added bonuses of professional networking and landing outstanding references – all factors in boosting employability.

    Further Reading: How To Explain Your Abroad Experience On A Resume


    3) Teaches Self-Reliance

    Volunteering abroad thrusts students well and truly out of their comfort zones. Experiences abroad teach independence and self-resilience – your teen might have to learn to survive in a location where there are no hot showers, no internet, and only rice and beans at every meal. Stepping into a different environment will encourage students to learn how to adapt and fend for themselves. 


    4) Expands Horizons

    Volunteering also teaches a broader world-view. What better way to understand foreign cultures than to be immersed in one? Students who have volunteered overseas will become more empathetic and have a deeper understanding of world issues as well as the importance of bridging cultural divides.


    5) Cultivates Interests

    It also exposes them to new passions which they might not be able to find in their local community. Volunteering abroad can put students on the front lines of conservation and international development. After getting a taste of what it’s like to work overseas, students may decide to pursue interests such as international business or not-for-profit work that they hadn’t previously considered.


    6) Satisfies The Travel Bug

    Finally, as well as being educational, it’s fun! Volunteering abroad is one of the most adventurous and exciting things your teen can do during school holidays. Many young adults dream of discovering the world – this is their chance to do exactly that.

    Further Reading: 3 Key Reasons Why International Experience Is A Career Must


    Teen Volunteering Options with GVI


    GVI volunteers in Quepos, Costa Rica, take a much needed break from their community development work.


    Finding a constructive volunteer program is easy with GVI. We have a range of programs geared specifically toward young adults between 15 and 17 years old, so you can help them start building a solid future now. Each trip option is designed so that students can make a valuable contribution to a unique community in the world, while gaining life-long memories and prized skills.

    GVI programs are flexible, so you can book your teen on a program as:

    1. An individual
    2. Part of a friend, sport or youth group, or
    3. Part of a school group.

    School groups are offered specifically designed service learning programs, where classroom learning and theories are taken to the next level with practical, hands-on experience. These programs follow a curriculum and include pre- and post-travel learning to ensure each young person makes the most of the opportunity.  Speak to your teen’s teacher or other decision makers at the school about introducing service learning projects into the school program.



    Further Reading: What To Expect When Your Child Volunteers Abroad

    And what about safety? What guarantee do I have that my child will be looked after well while volunteering in another country? We are well known for our outstanding 360 degree support on the ground. Find out more here.

    Not sure why you should pay to send your teen on a volunteer abroad program? Learn where your money will go here.

    If you are ready to book or have any questions feel free to call and speak to us.