Planning to borrow for university? Think strategically, proceed with caution, consider all options

Raphael: The  School of Athens"Sanzio 01" by Raphael - Stitched together from Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Raphael: The School of Athens. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –


The first time the subject of my going to university came up in conversation, I pictured students at the feet of men and women of letters, straining to hear the pearls of wisdom falling from their lips. Reality was peeling previously enjoyed gum from the underside of the desks and chairs I sat at during classes at McGill. The desks had also been previously enjoyed and they had the inscriptions to prove it.

There were other realities to deal with before graduating, not the least of which was paying for the right of sitting at those desks. Today, the average cost of a B.A. in Canada is $26,000. The price of the first and only home my parents ever owned was $24,500.

The idea of using “due diligence” and “university” in the same sentence may not appeal to traditionalists. But today’s newly minted university graduates are living a life that’s a lot more complicated and a lot more risky than mine was at that age. Many of the 7.251 billion people on this planet, of whom 35 million live in Canada, are just as bright, just as educated, just as Internet savvy and Internet connected as we are—and just as driven. We have to take into account how the free trade agreements into which Canada is entering—including the Canada EU Trade Agreement (CETA), details of which will be released shortly—will affect employment.

Our children will be working in that world, provided they qualify for the jobs that will define it. Technology, finance and higher education are going to figure very prominently in it. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the “system” to tell you what “right higher education” means or to equip your children to configure it. If the education system were more about education and less about politics, you wouldn’t be reading this.

Rob Kelly defines gap analysis as “a strategic planning tool to help you understand where you are, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.” Many high school graduates can tell you where they are and where they’d like to be. So can their parents. But where they want to be and where they may have to be could be two entirely different places.

Parents and children who don’t know or accept that risk miscalculating which could mean having to postpone their retirement to help their children pay off any student loan debt they might incur. This assumes that employers will accommodate those parents…

You might want to read this story about Frazier Fathers, his undergraduate degree, his two master’s degrees and unemployment in Windsor, Ontario.

The day newly minted graduates receive their diploma is the day they become unemployment statistics—unless they have a job to step into. We have enough statistics. What we need is as many gainfully employed graduates as we can produce. The country needs them, too.

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