NL teens prefer college over university

Survey of rural high schoolers shows most interested in higher education—via college or trades

Graduating high-school students in rural Newfoundland and Labrador are more interested in college education, according to a report released by the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Killick Centre for e-Learning Research.

A 2007 survey of almost 1,700 rural students in their final year at 72 high schools in rural Newfoundland communities showed that 88% were interested in pursuing higher education. However, the majority of respondents (58%) were looking to enroll in a non-university program such as a college. Those who said that their interest was college or technical school included 72% of male students surveyed.

The report also states that the choice between university and post-secondary alternatives depends on students’ academic performance and their involvement in extra-curricular student life. Less important, the study reads, are “different sources of funding.” The biggest barriers to higher education on the whole, however, are both academic and financial; low-income students are “at a particular disadvantage” when it comes to funding their education.

Newfoundland is not the only province where growing interest in higher education is leading to an increased focus on colleges and technical institutes. New Brunswick last week revealed plans to dramatically grow its college system, increasing enrolment by 12,000. That province’s minister responsible for post-secondary education, Ed Doherty, attributes the growth to an increased demand for skilled workers in a labour market replete with energy- and commodity-fuelled jobs.