How students are really choosing programs

Statistics Canada survey shows importance of jobs, interests, reputations and more


Dalhousie University’s new president told Maclean’s last fall that while large numbers of his students were seeking career training more were there for other reasons. New numbers from the National Graduates Survey, 2013 back up his point. Around 388,400 graduates who finished school in 2010 were asked by Statistics Canada about why they chose their programs. Four out of five bachelor’s degree holders said “personal interests” were “very important” while only two-thirds said “future employment opportunities” were. Those who attended colleges were more career focused but interests mattered very much too. Meanwhile, reputations were very important to around half of grads and, while parents won’t like to hear it, proximity to home and parents’ and friends’ recommendations mattered much less. This table has the details:

Factors "Very Important" to choice of program College Bachelor's Master's PhD
Future employment opportunities 79% 66% 64% 58%
Personal interest 75% 80% 82% 92%
Parents/friends recommendations 16% 12% 10% 8%
Reputation of program 48% 43% 45% 50%
Reputation of institution 53% 47% 49% 50%
Proximity to home 44% 39% 38% 30%


How students are really choosing programs

  1. Interest is the only way to choose.

    • Your attitude is why so many are disappointed. Be unlikely to get a job as a sexologist with a whining and protest major in Quebec.

      But if you had a in demand skill people wanted….

      I would recommend to consider both, with emphasis on ROI… only economic idiots go in debt for an education that will not pay.

      When I chose my profession I considered cost of getting it, jobs I would get after graduation, if I liked it, portability/mobility and all factors to seek a holistic balance.

      It was a good move, I chose economical college engineering electronics with a side in programming as may main degree, doing university later in the evenings for management and accounting, with adult subsidized courses. I drove cab as idle time was study time, had summer jobs and did it all without debt.

  2. Sad. Guess then so many didn’t get rationality, logic, personal economics in high school.

    Before I went to college and university, I did ask only 2 questions and in order….

    1) How will I benefit economically from this?
    2) Do I like it. (note, it takes back seat to 1).

    Sure do something you like, best people in any arts/trade/skill are going to the ones that succeed but know, arts, other “consumptive” jobs are scarce and often pay low. You need to find a balance and not so self centered myopic in choices.

    Education is like an investment, and kids need to look at ROI before spending so much money and time on it.

    And if our dysfunctional governments had any economic sense at all, they would reduce the subsidies to professions not returning the wage/taxes and put the money to careers they get taxes and revenue from. After all, its taxes that pay for it, and money doesn’t grow on trees.

Sign in to comment.