New book teaches Millennials how to be grown-ups
The news has two objectives: to report what’s just happened and to rehash, in the most sensational terms, what is apparently always happening. There’s the obesity beat, the what-gives-you-cancer beat, the housing-crash beat, and the most constant of these constants: the everyone-under-30-is-lazy-entitled-and-doomed-to-fail beat. Some recent highlights: “Generation Y struggling to start their adult lives”; “Study claims Generation Y more materialistic, less willing to work” and “Are Millennials the screwed generation?” We either can’t get jobs or can’t appreciate the jobs we have. We’re not even thinking about getting married yet, we walk through traffic with our eyes fixed to our phones and, to top it off, we can’t even cook a decent roast: according to Australia’s McCrindle Research, “only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of Baby Boomers.” We are also useless at gardening: “Only 23 per cent [of Millennial women] can grow a plant from a cutting when 78 per cent of older women say this is a breeze.”
To the rescue of this so-called lost generation comes 28-year-old American blogger and former newspaper columnist Kelly Williams Brown, who has written a book called Adulting, How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps. It’s the first book of its kind—a guide for Millennials who are oblivious to all things seemingly adult: the young professional whose parents still pay her cellphone bill; the med student who spends his student-loan money on a trip to Tijuana; and the Maclean’s magazine columnist who, until very recently, thought that Warren Buffett sang Margaritaville, and had to ask her boss for instructions on how to write a cheque.
Universities face austere budgets from coast to coast
Last year, Quebec’s students were so angry when their government raised tuition that the ensuing protests helped topple that government.
After Ontario’s budget was tabled last week with a proposed increase in operating funding for post-secondary schools of roughly two per cent (slightly more than inflation), it’s safe to say no province’s universities have escaped austerity.
A closer look shows that, despite the anger, Alberta students may be better off than most.
Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Quebec are all cutting operating funding. It will be flat in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland will offer small increases that will mostly be eaten up by higher-than-average inflation in those provinces.
Student union, CFS want administrators to butt out
More than 70 per cent of University of Guelph undergraduates who responded to an unusual survey last week from their administration said they were opposed to paying student fees to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). That’s not surprising considering 73 per cent of voters were opposed when asked in a 2010 referendum.
Still, don’t expect the CFS, a student lobbying organization, to accept either poll anytime soon. Despite what appeared to be a strong mandate to stop funding the CFS in the 2010 referendum, the group has never accepted the result, arguing that there was something fishy about the vote.
And the CFS has support. Guelph’s Central Student Association (CSA)—the very student union that ran the referendum and vigorously defended it to the tune of $407,000 in legal bills as of August 2012—has switched sides and says it would rather stick with the CFS than fight on. That could mean paying roughly $250,000 per year retroactively plus $250,000 annually going forward.
Two Canadian entrepreneurs plan to try
Crowd funding websites, notably Kickstarter and Indiegogo, are used to raise cash for everything from charitable causes to music projects. Recently, more than 60,000 fans of Veronica Mars used Kickstarter to raise nearly $5 million to produce a movie based on the TV show. It was an impressive use of the concept, which involves small amounts of money from many donors.
FundUni, based in St. John’s, Nfld. is the creation of Kyle Hickey and his brother Trevor, who both attended Memorial University. Though in its infancy, FundUni aims to help both current and prospective students launch tuition funding campaigns. It will work like this: participating students will post a video detailing their stories and ambitions. “The more compelling the better,” says Hickey. Students can offer rewards to those who contribute to their tuition funds. For instance, Hickey, 28, says an art school student could offer a painting or art lessons in exchange for much-needed financial support. The brothers are seeking an initial crop of five students to test the concept. They hope to promote the site across Canada within a year.
Students and parents don’t see value in $400,000 salaries
I attended a lecture at the University of Toronto last week where some of Canada’s brightest higher education experts spoke to a Canadian Studies class about The Future of Canadian Universities. It was in a derelict lecture hall in University College with broken seats and dusty windows, a common sight in an age of austerity.
The consensus among the administrator, the bureaucrat and the professor on the panel was that with tuition at $7,180 and rising in Ontario and universities experiencing annual crises to balance their books, something’s got to give. According to them, that something ought to include “differentiation,” a government policy that would force professors and schools to focus on what they do best, either teaching or research—not both.
Differentiation may indeed help and it’s a conversation we should have. But it occurred to me, as I sat in that creaking seat, that something else ought to give. Them.
BMO: degree for child born in 2013 could cost $140,000
The cost of a four-year university degree for a child born in 2013 could rise to more than $140,000 due to tuition inflation, a new study says.
But three-quarters of parents with children under 18 haven’t made a detailed estimate of the total cost of post-secondary education, said BMO’s Wealth Institute in a report released on Wednesday.
Tuition and other costs for a four-year university degree now can cost more than $60,000, the report said.
“I think that for most people if you tell them that tuition has increased two or three times the rate of inflation they will be surprised at that,” said BMO’s Caroline Dabu.
This can leave parents unprepared for the costs and students with hefty loans to pay back when they graduate, Dabu said from Toronto.
It’s imperfect, but successfully fights oppression and tuition
The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is the best! By that I mean the CFS is the best thing students have on a national level. The CFS is the largest student association in Canada, representing more than 500,000 students in more than 80 colleges and universities.
The CFS isn’t perfect, but it more than deserves the membership fees our Carleton University Students’ Association currently provides. As students, it would be unwise to leave this nationwide organization, as could happen after a referendum that has been proposed. Here’s why I think we should remain united with the CFS.
In the early 1990s, the average undergraduate tuition in Canada was $1,464. In 2012, the average was $5,138. What’s my source? It’s an easy-to-read and informative publication from the CFS. Such accessible research and publications are one of the benefits of a dedicated national group.
It’s ineffective, undemocratic and wastes money
During a recent Carleton University Student Association meeting, it was announced that a petition for a referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) will circulate. The potential savings for Carleton students are huge: just under $500,000 in student fees that are sent off campus annually to CFS National and CFS-Ontario.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the CFS, it’s an organization that collects millions in membership fees from Canadian university and college student each year in exchange for supposedly providing services and lobbying the provincial and federal governments. Its main goal is the elimination of tuition fees. In my opinion, Carleton should leave the CFS because the organization is ineffective, undemocratic and doesn’t appear to be careful with student money. Let me explain.
Federal government writes off $540-million in student loans
The federal government is writing off $231-million in unpaid student loans after exhausting “all reasonable efforts” to track down the money from more than 44,000 cases by 2012-13. The government absorbed even greater losses of about $312 million the year before. That’s half a billion dollars in just a couple of years.
The government has essentially thrown its hands in the air and given up on ever seeing a dime of that money, meaning a lot of people can start answering their phones again without fear of getting harassed by debt collectors.
Now, as someone who actually paid income taxes a few years ago, I am outraged that all these deadbeats are costing the public purse hundreds of millions each year. But as someone currently taking loans to fund my education, this gives me some hope of avoiding the full bill.
Plan would raise fees by $70 per year
Quebec students who staged a memorable series of protests last spring could see their efforts result in a roughly 80 per cent discount on planned tuition hikes.
The Parti Quebecois government has tabled its plan for tuition increases, a long-awaited development in a political dispute that rocked Quebec last year and was dubbed by students as the Maple Spring.
The plan involves indexing university tuition by three per cent a year — which amounts to about $70 annually. That is sharply lower than the $325 yearly hikes sought by the previous Liberal government, which then adjusted the proposed increases to $254 per year, over seven years.
The planned hikes prompted huge and often rowdy protests, with the PQ siding with the student protesters ahead of last summer’s election campaign.
Premier Pauline Marois then cancelled the Liberal tuition increases after taking power.
PQ youth want tuition frozen then eliminated
Quebec student groups didn’t get along well with the province’s Liberal government — and now things don’t seem too rosy with the ruling Parti Quebecois.
The two sides appear to be at odds over tuition rates in the lead-up to a summit on post-secondary education.
PQ Premier Pauline Marois says she wants to reduce the student debt load, but won’t rule out a tuition increase tied to inflation.
But many student groups are pushing for a freeze on tuition rates.
Huge protests erupted last spring over the former Liberal government’s planned increases, with thousands of students taking to the streets.
Marois scrapped the increases after the PQ took power in September.
At a PQ delegate meeting in Drummondville, Que. on the weekend, Marois faced some pressure from the youth wing to further reduce tuition rates.
Marc Garneau would extend grace period
Liberal leadership hopeful Marc Garneau is proposing to make it easier for students to shoulder record debt loads after they graduate.
The Montreal MP would do away with the current requirement that post-secondary students begin paying off their student loans six months after graduation, whether or not they’ve found a job.
He would give them an indefinite grace period, requiring graduates to start repaying loans only after they’ve found a good-paying job of about $40,000 per year.
Garneau, who is touting himself as the most substantive of nine leadership contenders, is to unveil his latest policy proposal Monday.
An engineer and former astronaut with impressive academic credentials, he has made building a more diversified “knowledge economy” one of the cornerstones of his campaign.
You won’t believe what they’re spending it on
It’s the time of year when most students in Canada ignore posters imploring them to vote for student government executives. Although student unions may seem irrelevant, they’re not. They collect millions of dollars each year in mandatory student fees and spend it, sometimes on things most students wouldn’t support—if only they knew.
Here are six stupid things Canadian student unions did with your money. If this doesn’t motivate you to research the candidates and vote in your campus elections, I don’t know what will.
1. Spent it on big parties you didn’t attend
Avicii, one of the top electronic acts in the world, doesn’t usually show up in places like Windsor, Ont. Snoop Dogg doesn’t often party in St. John’s, Nfld. It should be no surprise then that the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance lost about $40,000 on their show in September and that the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union lost $100,000 on Snoop. The Kwantlen Student Association may hold the record though. They lost $128,000 on Jay Sean. Jay… who?
Students pay the price for high compensation
As Canadian universities continue to pay the most generous compensation to their professors in the world, something is going to have to give. Mix this with pensions that are sometimes worth more than the paycheque of professors in the U.S. and U.K. and it’s a recipe for budgetary disaster.
St. Francis Xavier University is the most recent university staff to go on strike, cancelling classes for more than 4,000 students. Pay and the contracting of term professors are some of the justifications offered by the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT).
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 report, assistant professors at St. FX made a median of $74,377 in 2010-11 while full professors earned a median of $123,673. The average assistant professor’s salary nationwide was $91,035 and the average full professor’s salary was $143,366. That’s far higher than most Canadians will ever earn.
As the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance reported in a 2011 study, new funds for teaching staff there are mostly going to current professors, so it’s not as if students are benefiting.
Millennial students are materialistic and proud
In a famous scene from the 1995 film Clueless, protagonist Cher Horowitz is robbed but, though scared out of her wits, refuses to get on the dirty ground. “Oh, no. You don’t understand. This is Alaïa,” she says of her dress to the gunman. “It’s, like, a totally important designer.”
In the mid-1990s, Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz was comedic relief, an exception to the rule. Today, many of us are Cher Horowitz.
A staggering 34 percent of American Millennials grew up wealthy, according to Forbes, and the figures are likely similar in Canada.
Luxury items, previously reserved for the one percent, are now more accessible than ever and much of the student population at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver where I study seems swept up in luxury consumerism.
Darren Dahl, who specializes in consumer behavior at UBC, views abundance as the primary ethos of our society. “Previous generations like the Baby Boomers didn’t have the discretionary income some of the kids today have,” he says. “Because there’s a higher level of discretionary income, there’s an ability to spend in this cohort that wasn’t in existence in previous cohorts.”
Saskatchewan cuts millions while former execs get paid
There’s a bit of panic these days at the University of Saskatchewan. Secretaries who gave decades to the school are now boxing up their desks and students are worried about the quality of their programs as the university chops its way out of a budget deficit projected at $44.5-million by 2016.
In November five administrative staff from humanities and fine arts were fired. Then the university announced the closure of a remote campus,* leaving students in certain disciplines unsure whether they would graduate on schedule. Last week, 40 more job cuts were promised.
Adding insult to injury is that a couple of guys who helped run the university right before this crisis are receiving a combined $1.3-million from the budget after leaving, reports the StarPhoenix. And that doesn’t include pension contributions.
How Canadian university students are paying their bills
The typical Canadian university student spends four years blowing borrowed money on clothes, music and liquor, right? That may be the stereotype, but it’s not the reality. The Canadian University Survey Consortium’s 2012 study of more than 15,000 graduating students shows that six in 10 are working, the vast majority pay off their credit card bills each month and only one-third have more than $20,000 in debt. Here’s an infographic that shows how students are paying their bills.
What I learned from Princess host Gail Vaz-Oxlade
After years of watching her TV shows Til Debt Do Us Part and Princess, I got the chance to listen in person to Gail Vaz-Oxlade discuss her Money Rules earlier this week on campus. Moneyaftergraduation.com and the University of Alberta’s Student Financial Aide Office hosted the free event. After an hour and a half, I felt less afraid of the sometimes ruthless world of money. I’d like to share five rules that stood out for me.
Rule 1: “Don’t pay the bullsh*t.”
By “bullsh*t,” Vaz-Oxlade means your monthly minimum credit card payments. Every credit card owner should pay more than the minimum. Those seemingly low payments required each month are meant to keep you in credit card debt for as long as possible, so you pay more interest overall. Oh, and the same go for student loans. “Aggressively pay down your debt”, says Vaz-Oxlade. She says students in debt should only worry about savings after they’ve paid off their loans.
Rule 2: Take on no more than one year of your future net income in student debt.
Vaz-Oxlade says this is a well-known rule of thumb, but I’d never heard it. Apparently every student should try to graduate with less student debt than their projected net income in their desired job. So if your career starts out paying $30,000-a-year after taxes, you shouldn’t have more student debt than that. (Law students, for example, can borrow more because they will make more.) Otherwise it eats up too much of your income, “and you won’t have a life for a very long time.”
Ottawa student lost bid to have student fee returned
I don’t like my student union’s Education is a Right campaign and I don’t go to social events on campus like the Winter Challenge. I don’t need the transit pass and don’t generally associate myself with the politics of my student union at the University of Ottawa, where I study part-time. So why should I have to pay to be a member?
Edward Inch didn’t think he should have to pay and so he tried suing the Student Federation at the University of Ottawa (SFUO) in small claims court for the $92.60 they charged him one semester after he opted out of the union in 2012.
In a court decision yesterday, deputy judge Lyon Gilbert decided Inch must pay up anyway. “As a student, Mr. Inch is bound to the terms and conditions of enrollment,” Gilbert said, according to The Fulcrum student newspaper.
Your university degree may be worth less than you think
The message to young people is simple. If you want an extra million dollars, maybe more, just get a university degree. Your lifetime earnings will be at least that much more than those of someone with only a high school education. Or so says the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), quoting the 2006 census.
The university establishment does not lack confidence on this matter. In September 2012, Paul Davidson, president of the AUCC, quoted a more impressive statistic: “While it is true that tuition has increased in recent years, so too has the value of a degree. The income premium of a university degree is large and growing. University graduates will on average earn $1.3 million more during their careers than a high school graduate and $1 million more than a college grad.”