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These Are Students' Top Concerns Going Into the New School Year

08/14/2015 02:50 EDT | Updated 08/14/2016 05:59 EDT
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It's almost back-to-school time... and love it or hate it, no one can deny that it can be a time of high anxiety for both students and parents. From shopping for clothes and supplies to arranging transportation, preparing for courses and making new friends, it can be exciting, but stressful as well.

I remember the excitement of starting a new school year. I also remember the hint of fear... will I know anyone, did I make the right course choices, will all this work and stress be worth it? But like everyone else I would take a deep breath, and brace myself for another intense semester.

Students worry about school, but their concerns may be more practical than you might think.

Finding a job

The 2015 RBC Student Finances Poll found that 45 per cent of students state getting a job after graduation is among their top anxieties. Parents, on the other hand, believe their children are most concerned about whether their program will help land a job they will be happy with.

Earning potential after graduation is also a concern, but more so for students. Over 80 per cent of students worry whether they will earn enough money to cover living expenses and student debt versus 70 per cent of parents.

More cell phones and technology

Paying for school is top-of-mind for most students. A large majority (73 per cent) of students say they are worried about having enough money to pay for post-secondary school. While parents and students agree that textbooks and clothes will be top purchases for back-to-school, parents underestimate all the other "stuff" students plan to buy.

For example, around 20 per cent of students plan to buy a cell phone and/or electronics such as speakers and a printer, while only 10 per cent of parents believe their child is planning such purchases.

Moving out and gaining independence

I lived at home with my parents during school and moved out when I started my first job. As much as I loved having home cooked meals and minimal living expenses, I aspired to have true independence and prove (to myself and to my parents) that I would survive on my own.

For students, one of the biggest steps to independence is moving out of the house. Another finding from the poll that may surprise parents is that over half of students (58 per cent) are concerned about how much longer they will have to live at home after graduation. Only one-third of parents felt the same.

Here are some tips to reduce your financial stress:

Create a budget for today and make a financial plan for the future. The best way to track spending is to follow a budget. Revisit your budget regularly and adjust accordingly to help ensure your money lasts for the whole school year. Consider setting money aside on a regular basis to help with financial success down the road.

Be disciplined about debt and only borrow what you need. If you are using a credit card or taking out a loan, learn how to manage credit now so that you can create good borrowing habits that will pay off in years to come.

Talk about money. Parents and students need to sit down and talk about finances to be clear on who is paying for which items. Open communication will help alleviate some of the stress, and allow students to focus on their studies.

What are you concerned about this upcoming school year? How are you planning to pay for school and manage your finances? Please share your comments below or tweet us @RBC_Canada #studentsgetmore

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