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Whose future is it anyway, parents or students?

RBC Poll: Students are making school decisions to satisfy their parents

TORONTO, September 16, 2015 -  Parents underestimate the influence they have over their children’s education, according to the latest 2015 RBC Student Finances Poll. While 28 per cent of students say they chose the program they’re in to please their parents, only 21 per cent of parents think they have this influence. What’s more, when it came to deciding whether or not to go to post-secondary school, 10 per cent of students made this decision to satisfy their parents, but half as many parents felt the same.

Students are more pessimistic about their future than their parents may realize. In fact, three-quarters (75 per cent) of students are concerned about choosing a program that won’t help them get a job after graduation, and more than half of students (55 per cent) say that after graduation they will likely have to compromise their values and take a job that pays the bills instead of being fulfilled.

“We know that parents play an influential role in all aspects of their children’s lives, and school is no different,” says Mandy Mail, director of Student Banking at RBC Royal Bank. “From choosing which school to attend to selecting a program, students are making decisions to please their parents. It’s important for parents to maintain an open line of communication to ensure students are being thoughtful with their approach and to help ease the stress and encourage a more optimistic outlook on their future.”

Goals: Money vs. happiness
Students’ goals for what will make them happy after graduation also differ from what their parents believe. Overwhelmingly, more parents (67 per cent) believe that finding a job that is meaningful and fulfilling will bring their child the most happiness, compared to only 42 per cent of students. Students put more emphasis than their parents on making lots of money (14 per cent students versus eight per cent parents), travelling (12 per cent versus four per cent), finding love (eight per cent versus two per cent) and paying off debt (six per cent versus two per cent).

“Whether in first year, or approaching graduation, students and parents both have goals in mind. Having a conversation to understand key goals and priorities helps align expectations and make sure there’s a clear path to success,” adds Mandy.

Mandy suggests the following tips to help students achieve their goals:

  • Check on your goals: Students should ask themselves why they are going to school and what they want to accomplish with their degree or diploma. That way they have a clear path in mind right from the onset of school.
  • Keep open communication: Parents and students need to talk more and get on the same page. Open communication throughout all school semesters will help to avoid difficult situations (and possible resentment) down the road.
  • Do your research: Everything from labour market trends to the types of jobs and salaries you can expect upon graduation.

About RBC’s financial planning advice, resources and interactive tools
RBC’s Advice Centre offers advice and tools for students. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance, including the Student Budget Calculator and the Debt Reduction Plan. With the guidance of RBC advisors who are available to chat live, Canadians have access to free, no-obligation professional advice about RBC products and services and personalized one-on-one service. Further information is available at In addition, RBC’s myFinanceTracker, a comprehensive online financial management tool, offers all personal RBC online banking clients the ability, at no cost, to create a set budget and track their spending habits. As well, RBC Virtual Visa Debit enables clients to pay for online, over the phone, or mail order purchases with funds directly from their bank account.

About RBC Student Finances Poll 2015
The 2015 RBC Student Finances Poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid through a national online survey of 1,003 students aged 17 to 24 and of 1,001 parents of students in post-secondary school (as of September 2015). Data were collected from June 23 to July 7, 2015. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual Canadian student population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. Unweighted, probability samples of this size, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ±3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, for each sample group. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error.

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For more information, please contact:
Kiara Famularo, RBC Communications, 647-638-6291
Jill Anzarut, RBC Communications, 647-534-5118


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