One in Four High School Students Undecided on College/University Education

Lack of career advice, mentors and paying for post-secondary education among the major concerns for returning high school students, new study finds.

Toronto, August 28, 2013 –High school students, getting set for class next week, feel enormous pressure to succeed academically, and 24 per cent don’t even know if they will go to college or university, according to a Big Brothers Big Sisters/CIBC Academic Success Survey.
Of those uncertain of pursuing college or university, 64 per cent wish they had an adult in their lives to advise them on their career options. As many as one in five have no concrete future plans.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos Reid for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and CIBC, found that overall students seemed enthusiastic about returning to high school and confident (93 per cent) in their abilities to succeed academically. However, the findings also reveal that students are well aware of the hard economic realities of today’s jobs market and feel worried about doing well enough (63 per cent) so that they can get into college or university.
Nearly half (44 per cent) say the pressure to excel in high school is so great that they wish everyone would just back off. The survey found that 88 per cent believe that students with mentors are more likely to succeed than those without one.
“We may think Canada’s high school students are care free and not worried, but the fact is they’re not,” said Bruce MacDonald, president and chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. “Given the pressures of high school life and so many students being unsure about pursuing higher education, mentoring is more important than ever.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and CIBC commissioned the survey, to examine how students entering Grades 10, 11 and 12 perceive the importance of academic success and positive role models. It also explored their enthusiasm for returning to school, their confidence levels and career plans, and what’s stressing them out the most. The poll took place in late July.
The survey identified three major sources of stress: finding a job in their chosen field (68 per cent), the pressure to do well so that they can get into post-secondary education (63 per cent), and not having the money for college or university (51 per cent).
“Earning a post-secondary education is truly an investment in a student’s future,” said Jamie Golombek, Managing Director and Personal Finance Expert, CIBC. “Students need to know that there are many financial solutions available and people who want to help. Getting the right advice and support early on is critical to achieving academic and personal success.”

Other key findings of the survey include:
• Alarmingly, half of the students (49 per cent) say bullying is a problem in their school and 70 per cent want teachers, principals and vice principals to do more to curb bullying.
• A majority (58 per cent) believe peer pressure is important to achieving academic success, with girls more likely than boys believing so (63 percent versus 53 per cent);
• Girls are significantly more likely than boys to worry about “heading off in the great unknown” (65 per cent versus 56 per cent) and having sufficient funds to pay for post-secondary education (56 per cent versus 46 per cent);
• Four-in-ten (42 per cent) say they will definitely need a student loan, while a similar proportion (36 per cent) aren’t sure if they’ll need one or not.
• Nine-in-ten (91 per cent) students believe governments should do more to help graduates pay off their student loans.
Tips for students to keep it cool and stay in school:
• Learn more about in-school mentoring programs;
• Seek out resources like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada to address social pressures like bullying;
• Look for alternative sources of funding, such as scholarships or bursaries, and inquire about work programs;
• Ask about financial literacy tools and seminars, such as those available at CIBC’s Advice Centre, to learn about finances, borrowing and budgeting tools
• To prepare for life after high school, check out post-secondary student loan programs and/or banking discounts/promotions.

Ipsos Reid surveyed 803 returning high school students across Canada between July 22 and 26, 2013, with equal representation of grades 10 (260), 11 (277) and 12 (266). The survey did not include students entering grade nine or over the age of 18. The poll is accurate to within +/- 3.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of Canadian youth in Grades 10/11/12 been surveyed and +/-6.8 percentage points had all Canadian youth in each respective grade been surveyed.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
For one hundred years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a positive difference in the lives of Canada’s youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs. BBBS volunteer mentors teach by example the importance of giving back, of staying in school, and of respecting family, peers and community.
BBBS provides quality mentoring services for more than 40,000 children and teenagers. The community-based youth mentoring organization currently has over 25,000 volunteer mentors working at 118 agencies that serve children in over 1,000 communities across the country. Learn more. Visit

About CIBC
CIBC aims to make a difference in communities through corporate donations, sponsorships and the volunteer spirit of employees. With a strategic focus on Kids, Cures and Community, and employee commitment to causes, including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure, CIBC Youthvision Scholarship Program, the CIBC Children’s Foundation and the United Way, CIBC is investing in the social and economic development of communities across Canada. In 2012, CIBC group of companies contributed more than $38 million to charitable and non-profit initiatives in Canada to support national, regional and local organizations. To learn more, visit
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