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College Students More Confident About Their Future Than Their University Peers: RBC Poll

College students view post-secondary education as job training whereas university students see it as a stepping-stone

TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - While the majority of post-secondary students see the value in their education, more college students (92 per cent) say their education gives them an advantage and puts them on a level playing field in the job market compared to their university peers (87 per cent). The 2013 RBC Student Finances Poll also found that 81 per cent of university grads see post-secondary education as a stepping-stone to higher study, compared to 70 per cent of college students.

"We know that the employment rate increases with education," said Melissa Jarman, director, Student Banking, RBC. "Understanding that a certificate, diploma or degree makes you more than 45 per cent more likely to be employed shows that regardless of the route you take, post-secondary education really is one of the most important ways to secure your future."

While college students may be planning to get into the workforce more quickly, university students can expect higher income potential upon graduation. Statistics Canada notes that average salary two years after graduation for university graduates is $45,000 and $35,000 for college graduates.

However, higher earning potential comes with an associated cost. The RBC poll showed that university students expected the total cost of education to be $40,500, more than 60 per cent higher than college students ($25,100). According to the poll, the percentage of university and college students who planned to take on debt was roughly similar (67 per cent versus 63 per cent, respectively). University students planned to take on approximately $10,000 more than their college-based peers and planned to take almost an additional year to pay it off.

"In Canada, we are fortunate to have a robust post-secondary system that allows for choice," adds Jarman. "While there are significant financial considerations to be made, the most important decision is to choose the career path that is right for you, and then evaluate your options to fund that choice."

Jarman offers the following tips to students who want to ensure they are making the best financial investment in their future:
  • Self examination: Before you even look at schools or fees, start with self examination:
    • What are your interests and passions?
    • What are your strengths and abilities?
    • What jobs or careers interest you?
  • Labour market trends: Use research from Statistics Canada or industry associations to better understand where the opportunities are in the labour market so that you have a better chance of finding a job when you graduate. Evaluate the market size and the salary expectations, location and mobility requirements for any field you are considering.
  • Education options: Consider all your options, including college, university and trade/vocational school. Be sure to evaluate all aspects, including length of study, specific learning outcomes, expected salary upon completion and future growth and development.
  • Cost: Investigate the cost of your planned education and begin to think about how you will pay for it. Be sure to understand and evaluate all of the options available to you, including RESPs, scholarships and bursaries, and loans from the government as well as financial institutions.

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