higher education

Higher Ed Plans for High School Students in 2021 and Beyond

Academica Group and Glacier surveyed over 1,400 high school students in the first quarter of 2021 exploring high school students’ usage of marketing and branding resources for postsecondary institutions.


Marketing initiatives play a critical part of high school students’ decisions around higher education. That’s why Academica and Glacier collaborated on an online survey to explore high school students’ usage of marketing and branding resources for postsecondary institutions. This report covers the results of the third annual Gen Z Media Survey and outlines what we discovered from talking to over 1,400 high school students across Canada.

Higher Ed Plans

We surveyed high school students who were considering or planning to attend postsecondary education in the next two years. Most of the high school students surveyed expressed interest in attending university (80%) or college (21%). One-tenth of students were uncertain about the type of institution(s) they would like to attend in the future.

Institution Type(s) of Interest

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84% said that they had already begun thinking about what institutions they wanted to apply to. The most important considerations for this early exploration are the quality of education, cost, location, and student life on campus. 

Aspects like study abroad options and transfer opportunities were a lower priority.

What is most important to you as you look at colleges, polytechnics, or universities?

As high school students move through the applicant funnel and narrow down their decision, the importance of factor like institutional and program reputation become increasingly important (UCAS 2020 findings).

Uncertainty - likely fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic – around the future, concerns about students’ abilities to get the necessary grades, and issues with the cost of application were commonly mentioned barriers to pursuing higher ed. nearly half of those surveyed also cited difficulty with deciding on the right postsecondary school to apply to (44%).

What would you consider to be the greatest difficulties with applying to postsecondary education?

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