The value of a University education and the means to pay for it has for more than two years been a contentious issue in South Africa.
And in recent years, young people, specifically millennials and Gen Zs have started taking a more value-focused approach to higher education.
And there is something to be said for taking time out to learn about the world independently before tackling college - as many find they have a more mature, worldly outlook when finally deciding on a tertiary education.
Travel is of course one of the key ways in which young people take time out, discover themselves and in doing so learn about the world and broaden both their intellectual and cultural horizons.
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And according to youth travel experts Contiki, a fifth of young people polled in a recent survey would prefer to travel, rather than going straight to university or college.
They recently put together their top 20 travel experiences to do in 2017, after asking more than 5 500 people between the ages of 18 – 35 in South Africa, the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Asia to share their ultimate travel goals with them.
The experiences they outlined range from the standard travel ambitions of a trip along Route 66 to the romantic gesture of kissing at the Eiffel Tower.
Contiki says they've also spent past two months surveying and analysing the information shared by its audiences globally to further this "millennial understanding" and to refine its product - all so as to create an "epic No Regrets List of millennial and Gen Z travel preferences about life, travel, education, friendships and much more".
SEE: The Ultimate #NoRegrets travel bucket list for 2017
'A fifth of young people would prefer to travel than go straight to university or college'
Contiki says one of the key takeouts of the research is that the one fifth percentage rises to almost a third when taking into account only Generation Z; post-millennials.
To help out those who are hungry for life and knowledge but not quite ready for further education, they've outlined a few ways to broaden the mind on your own time and in your own way - and we agree wholeheartedly.
You may have heard it over and over - but travelling is one of the best investments anybody can make in themselves...
1. Independent Learning
Learning was a key topic of Contiki’s research, with some really interesting results being thrown up around just how important broadening and enriching one’s mind is to young people.
One interesting new way of doing this is through services like Coursera, which offer anyone with a computer the ability to take college level courses online. With courses available from top universities in topics like Psychology, Digital Marketing, Medical Neuroscience and Classical Music, this way form of independent learning can be a great way to get a flavour for a college course without actually committing to it, or just learning something new for the heck of it.
Reading, whether fiction, non-fiction, textbook or newspaper is the oldest and most traditional way of learning, and its making a comeback. In recent years the swathes of e-Readers available to us have prompted resurgence in reading’s cool kudos, with many many more of us reading books in the tens than in the noughties. This is mirrored in the results of Contiki’s survey, in which almost 50% of young people claimed that ‘actually reading books’ is a defining feature of their generation.
There has also been a resurgence in podcasts - and in an always-on world, young people have come to appreciate this more and more.
SEE: Sowetan man’s winning AeroBuddies to make learning critical skills fun for SA's youth
2. Take it offline with a cooking or creative class
An appreciation for food and the importance of a varied, balanced diet is something that millennials value more than their parents did at a similar age.
Learning to cook, whether it’s a gastro basics class or deep dive into a specific national cuisine, can be a hugely rewarding experience and something you’ll maintain for years to come. With almost 60% of young people indicating food and culinary experiences are the most important type of experience to them, it’s a learning trend that resonates strongly with young people today.
SEE: Cape Town named World's BEST city
And it doesn't only have to involve food. Taking the time to accept challenging or leadership roles in things like your book or sports club can all help you learn to adult better before you're really in the thick of things.
3. Find a cause that you're passionate about and volunteer your time
There is some much going on in the world from politics to climate change and conservation - and with enough data to analyse the world we live in, yet still the future can seem uncertain.
If you're passionate about something or even mildly curious about a particular topic or interest, nothing is going to help you become more in touch with yourself as well as help you grow as volunteering your time in that specific sphere. Whether you put your efforts into people, animals or the planet - it's a 360° experience more and more young people are embedding into their world.
SEE: WATCH: 3 #TourismForAll activities to check out
4. Learning to Code
The late Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying ‘“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think”.
While some may not agree with Jobs’ opinion here, the prevalence of computer devices and their software in our society is undeniable, and a basic understanding of how lines of code create the digital worlds we inhabit every day is becoming a fundamental digital understanding.
Bolster your CV now and learn what looks set to be a valuable life skill easily now with one of the thousands upon thousands of basic to complex coding classes available online.
You can basically learn anything online and it can certainly lead to bigger and better things - watch this thrilling interview we did with Nadav Ossendryver, one of Forbes' top 30 African entrepreneurs under 30 finalist for 2016. Ossendryver swears by the power of video learning, as it is what has helped him achieve such great success with his wildlife app to date.
WATCH: Paragliding over Cape Town with founder of SA's top wildlife app Latest Sightings
And finally Travelling! Travel is obviously a fantastic way to lean, without actually going to school or college.
Nothing makes you get to grips with adulting quite like managing your own spending and travel money, while learning to cope with communal living and how very different it is to sharing a home with your parents or a room with your sibling. It teaches you the nuts and bolts of life, all adding for a well-balanced future.
Above all this, travelling instills an understanding of other cultures and people. You'll get to grasp foreign languages, change perceptions you might have had, appreciate foreign food and last but not least gain a better understanding of yourself.
The life experience and growth that can be gained from travelling when young is invaluable!
SEE: 12 Dream travel jobs for matriculants
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