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Half of parents unsure how to advise children about college

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College students (Stock photo)

College students (Stock photo)

College students (Stock photo)

Half of parents do not believe they know enough to advise their children about what course or area of study to pursue at college.

Despite being the biggest influence on prospective college students, parents struggle to provide adequate career guidance for their children, according to a new survey.

The same survey shows that nine out of 10 parents encourage their children to pursue their education after their Leaving Certificate, but most would like more information made available to help them help their offspring. Unsurprisingly, in the face of rising student contribution charges and accommodation costs, parents also believe that tax incentives and higher grants would improve third-level affordability and encourage third-level access for their children.

The survey was carried out among 1,000 adults by Amarach Research as part of College Awareness Week, a new initiative aimed at highlighting the benefits of third-level education and encouraging students of all ages to become "college ready".

It included face-to-face interviews with people in two Dublin communities that experience severe economic disadvantage and which traditionally have lower college-entry rates. It noted more positive trends in relation to completing further and higher education.

In both areas - Dublin 10, covering Ballyfermot, on the south side of the city, and Dublin 17, on the north side - researchers found strong support for further studies.

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In Dublin 10, 72pc said college education was very important, while in Dublin 17, 62pc said it was very important.

Almost half of Dublin 10 residents (48pc) said no other family member had attended college, while 36pc of Dublin 17 residents said likewise.

Where people in these two communities had attended college, there was a high degree of satisfaction with their path.

Overall, the primary motivator for not progressing into further/higher education was a desire to gain employment, while nationally, financial constraints ranked second whereas for those in Dublin 10 and Dublin 17 a lack of interest was the second most common factor.

The importance of parents being adequately prepared to advise their children was underlined in other results of the survey, which found that, in Dublin 10, 44pc of young people said their parents were their biggest real-life role models, followed by 20pc for teachers. In Dublin 17, 45pc said parents had the most influence on them, with 18pc listing their teachers.

The survey also revealed mixed views on the level of information available to mature students about returning to education, with 44pc believing that there was enough while 41pc do not believe it is sufficient.

Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, said College Awareness Week was all about creating a conversation about post-secondary education plans. "We not only want to encourage young people to make college a part of their future plans, but we also want to show those people, who may not normally have considered further education, that it is a viable option for them too."

College Awareness Week sees the roll-out of more than 300 activities, some in schools and colleges, but others in the community, such as libraries.


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