What Next After Secondary School?

Do you know any young person who would rather not to go to university? Perhaps you reading this might even be one of such people who feel that way. Unfortunately, our society makes one feel like a second class citizen if one does not possess a university degree qualification. However, it is useful to explore and analyse all the options available to young people before they go on to decide what the right option for them is. Here are a few of the possible options available to young Nigerian people when they finish SS3 or Year 11 (depending on the school curriculum).

  • University: For many reasons this is going to be the number 1 option in the minds of young people and their parents. This needs no introduction so I will just leave it at that for now.
  • Polytechnic: Polytechnics are diploma awarding institutions which provide a strong alternative to universities. Typically, it takes four years to complete Ordinary and Higher Diploma levels in a polytechnic. This alternative is known to have less academic and more hands-on approach to learning when compared with the university option. However, the reality is that for a long time, this pathway had been regarded as a second class form of tertiary education in Nigeria. Interestingly, the same impression exists towards its equivalents in other countries outside Nigeria.
  • College of Education: Believe me, in two attempts I might be able to guess what is on your mind about this option. “Who wants to be a teacher? right?” Yes, going to college of education means training to become a teacher. I have had several opportunities to interact with young people in secondary schools, and little enthusiasm is shown about the idea of becoming teachers. Reality check – this route provides the lowest teaching qualification in Nigeria, so most of those who go through this pathway, typically go on to upgrade their qualifications in universities.
  • Innovation Enterprise Institutions: Okay, here is actually where I myself am really yet to understand what advantage this option brings exactly. Most people tend to believe it is the go to option while you wait to obtain admission into the university. However, I believe there has got to be more than just that. In a future post, we will dig a little further into this option.
  • Nigeria Defence Academy: Yep… Joining the military through the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) is definitely an option for most young people. There is a range of undergraduate degrees one can obtain along with the military training. One of the factors that limit young people from exploring this option is that their over-protective parents discourage them from even thinking about it (after all who wan bury him pikin?). But joining the military does not mean you will have to be a frontline fighter. So for those who aspire to be in the army, navy and airforce, take a closer look at this option, and yes, once you are admitted, you start earning a salary. How about that?
  • Paramilitary Organizations: Similar to the NDA, paramilitary organizations provide a pathway for young people to join the armed forces. Some of them include, The Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security (DSS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Immigration Service, Prisons Service, Civil Defence Corps etc, with Federal Road Safety Commission being the only para-military organization (to the best of my knowledge) who are not armed. A friend who works in one of these organizations gave me a tip – they give preference to athletes when they are recruiting. With O’ Level qualifications, young people can only join as junior cadets.
  • Gap Year: This is not quite popular in Nigeria yet, but I do believe that with time, more people would consider this option. So what is it? This is simply the option where you take a year’s break from formal education typically immediately after secondary school. This break is not taken for the sake of taking a break, but the period is used to explore life, gain some work and life experience to enable you examine what is really important to you before you spend the next four or five years in tertiary school doing something you don’t like. Why this option may not appeal to most people now is the scramble for admission into tertiary school. Popular belief is that is it easier to gain admission shortly after secondary school than later. However, most people that choose this option after their secondary school always have rewarding testimonies of gaining new skills and confidence to make the right career choice.

If you have any reservations about any of these options, or you know of more post-secondary options available to young people (in Nigeria), kindly drop your comment below. Also, do well to share this post to those you believe will find it valuable.



  1. Hello, Great Mind behind this beautiful blog,
    I searched your blog for your email to personally contact you and I couldn’t find one, so I had to use your ‘contact me’ page.
    I do want to thank you for following my blog, your thoughtful comments, your support and the connections that we will make and sustain in the course of our blogging lives.
    Thank you for putting your words and heart out here and giving the rest of us opportunity to get to know you and share your passions.
    You are doing great.
    Whenever you feel like you are not enough, remember that I and a thousand others are cheering you on.
    Love, Grace.

    Liked by 1 person

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