3 Pathways to Choose After High School

"What's next after SPM?" “Which college are you going to now that high school is over?” “Eh, you haven’t sent in your application! Faster send in lah… don’t wait too late!” “Taking a break? What will you be doing? Eating KitKats?”

Are you tired of these pesky familiar questions thrown at you by practically EVERYONE? Is “Wait lah… I’ll figure it out when the time comes...” the only response you’ve responded with? Feeling like there’s nothing worse than cluelessly facing these “what’s next” questions?

We hear your pain and we’ve got your back, high school leavers!

Here are 3 pathways you could possibly explore based on the different situations you could be in.

Option 1: Continue Studying

If you’re certain of what you want to pursue or are prepared to remain riding the education train, then perhaps continuing your studies would be a suitable option for you.

Because most people would opt for this option, you would probably start around the same time as your peers and if everything goes smooth sailing, you’ll also be able to graduate around the same time as your friends!

Now the big question would be, what should you study? 

For starters, you can take a look at some pre-university programmes such as Cambridge A Level, SACE International, or even Foundation programmes. If you'd like a more hands-on programme, a Diploma programme might be suited for you too.  

Learn what to study next from our counsellor

Option 2: Part-Time Job or Internship

If you’re looking to take a short break before jumping back on the education train and want a taste of the working life, consider taking up a part-time job or an internship. This option would allow you to gain some income on the side too!

A part-time job or an internship goes beyond gaining working experience and extra cash. Just like a gap year, you would gain the soft skills that will definitely aid you in your student and working life by increasing your confidence level as well as conversational skills, giving you and your resume an edge.

With the time and interest spent while doing this, you would be able to make a more informed decision on your next course of action. If you’re good at time management, are very dedicated and up for a challenge, you could even stick to your part-time job while pursuing your studies!

Pro Tip: FLIP provides an extensive list of internship opportunities to choose from.

Option 3: Gap Year

If you’re looking to take a break from the educational train and to experience different cultures while travelling around the world, then taking a gap year would be a perfect way to do so!

A gap year is a great way to gain soft skills necessary both in the student and working life while giving your resume an edge with the different experiences outside academic life. Plus, you can use this time to discover your passion which will help you in deciding what to pursue in university.

Here are the different ways you can spend a gap year:

Volunteering Gap Year

What: Volunteer with an organisation of your choice in various fields.

Why: Increase sense of community, builds network, could land you a permanent, paid job.

Place & Duration: All around the world depending on the opportunities given and with different schemes ranging from short (a week) to long (a year) placements.


Pro Tip: Build homes for indigenous people with EPIC homes or volunteer internationally with AIESEC.

Travelling Gap Year

What: Travel anywhere around the world, be it local or overseas - depending on how much you’d like to spend.

Why: Learn about the different cultures around the world or grow deeper in love and understanding of what you have on home ground.

Place & Duration: Wherever and however long you want! It all depends on your budget.


Pro Tip: Research about the different things you would like to learn when finding where to travel to.

Academic Gap Year

What: Study abroad or at a different location where usually based.

Why: Able to learn and develop different key skills as well as the cultural aspects in the place.

Place & Duration: Wherever and however long you want! It all depends on your budget.


Pro Tip: Stay with a host family while studying abroad programme with AFS or with YSEALI.

Now that you’re aware about the different options available after high school, you’re now able to make a well-informed decision (and finally answer those pesky questions during the festive season!) 

Remember that every person is at different stages of their lives and may, therefore, head in paths different from yours. If you do know the next step in pursuing your passion, that’s great! For others, you can learn about the different steps to finding your passion here.

Need help deciding your future? Our education counsellors are more than happy to help with your queries you here!

Need more contents to keep you mused? Sign up to be part of The Risers community!