It seems many Canadian parents are opting out of Registered Education Savings Plans and instead are ploughing funds into their kids’ extracurricular activities.
In a study by the Canadian Scholarship Trust, called ‘Beyond the Blue Line,’ it was found that 66% of parents have themselves or know of others who have had to borrow money or dip into savings in order to fund their children’s hobbies. This is compared to only 48% of people who have actually put money into a savings plan for their child’s education.
This means that over half of parents need help in finding ways to pay for their child’s education, redistribute their income and learn the importance of an educational savings plan.
With the average Canadian university costing $5,974 in fees, which doesn’t include housing, living expenses and equipment, it’s important that those who seek higher education have the means to go. However, these new figures suggest half of kids may be on their own when it comes to funding higher education.
If money is instead being invested into hobbies could we end up with a generation of real team players and competitive spirits that struggle to find jobs because of a lack of higher education?
The study found that many parents feel that taking part in extracurricular activities is a part of growing up and that children should not miss out on this experience. While life outwith an educational facility is important, families need educating on less costly means of supplying children with extracurricular activities.
A hockey hobby can cost, on average, $1000 per season when you factor in travel, registration and equipment. Other costly hobbies include horse riding, gymnastics and soccer. While these are worthwhile activities, it is unclear whether playing such a sport should come at the expense of an education.
One-fifth of parents confessed in the study to spending more than $1,500 per child each year on extracurriculars.
Another study led by Linda Pagani, a researcher at Montreal's Sainte-Justine children's hospital in Canada and a professor at the Montreal University's School of Psychoeducation, found that children who had better behavior in kindergarten were more likely to be involved in sports by aged 10 and that team sports gave a sense of belonging which helped children understand the importance of respecting rules and honouring responsibilities. Therefore to many parents the costs of the sports pay off in the long-term.
It is possible to still partake in other activities without them being so costly though. Singing in a church choir, cycling with a parent or playing basketball with friends are means of staying fit, having fun and instilling that team spirit without the extreme costs. Parents are paying the high fees for the professional coaching and league placements.
While hobbies are important and can lead to scholarship opportunities, there are ways for children to participate in sports and extracurricular activities in a cheaper way that mean parents would still be able to invest in an education plan. If they fail to do so it’s likely they’ll be left with a child exceedingly good at hockey but without an education. While there’s a small chance they’ll make it to the NHL, the likelihood is that they could be left struggling in later life.
The study by CST also found that 30% of people then felt they themselves or someone they knew regretted the amount of money spent on activities like sports. This is where advisors could be providing more information on what the lack of an education plan can mean and how to better distribute funds to afford children’s hobbies.
This study was part of an awareness campaign meant to "spark a debate about where Canadian parents are placing their priorities."