Delaying Education in Canada: Who Does It and Why?

Statistics Canada has published a research paper by Darcy Hango on who delays post-secondary education and for how long. The link to the report is here.

In short, the paper notes that there is an increasing number of young people in Canada who do not pursue any post-secondary education for an increasing length of time. The report notes that a gap year is relatively common in the UK, but is not commonly understood or researched in Canada, and this report seeks to fill in a portion of our gap in knowledge about this trend.

Of greatest interest to me is that Hango demonstrates that males, First Nations youth, Anglophones, youth from Ontario and youth whose parents have lower levels of education take the longest time between completing high school and entering post-secondary education. Two of these jumped out at me.

We known for some time now that males, First Nations youth, and youth from homes where post-secondary education isn’t the norm are the least likely to go off to college. But I had no idea that Anglophones and youth from Ontario took longer than others on average. Apparently, the educational structure of Quebec seems to be a factor for Anglophones. I’ve read the report over several times and can’t figure out why Ontario youth seem to take longer to go to college.

Frankly, I would have assumed that males from Alberta would have made the list – after all, their earning potential on the oil fields could easily distract them from going to university. But that was not borne out by the research, and you can check the charts and graphs for other interesting points.

Several other jewels of information in the report show that the following groups took longer to enter post-secondary education:

  • youth with low marks
  • youth who worked many hours at a job while in high school
  • those who skipped high school classes often
  • young people who participated in activities outside of school
  • those who had close friends who were not going to college

There should be no surprise here. These youth have not engaged in education with a high level of passion and interest, and so one would expect them to take longer to engage in post-secondary education. Of course, I should not make broad sweeping assumptions here – I have numerous friends who competed at a very high level in sports like hockey, which meant that they spent a few years in junior hockey or minor-pro hockey but always intended to go to university afterward and they have. It wasn’t an engagement issue for them – it was a timing issue.

The report is interesting. I recommend that you take the time to read it. It may affect your Strategic Enrolment Management planning.


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