Exam advice to help you procrastinate
Entering an exam room can be intimidating. Where in this sea of chairs and desks would prove the best for productivity? Which seat will yield the best exam results? One of the most important factors in a seat’s potential is its neighbouring student. The people around you can have an enormous effect on your ability to focus, so it’s important to avoid what I call the five worst exam neighbours:
1. The Sniffler
Because students are stressed and abandon basic hygiene in December, colds and flus sweep through exam season. That means that you might sit next to a sniffler—someone who will spend the next three hours alternating between sniffling, coughing, blowing into a tissue, and—if you’re especially lucky—vomiting. You’ll want to put some extra space between you and this noisy peer. Early indicators: someone putting a tissue box on the corner of the desk.
2. The Sloth
You likely won’t recognize these students from class, mostly because they’ve rarely been to a lecture. The sloths will sit the exam but take the first 10 minutes to sharpen a pencil. After dedicating some time toward counting ceiling tiles, the sloths might take a well-deserved nap. An hour into the exam, you might see them write something—probably their names. Though not particularly loud, you will be distracted with disbelief, wondering how on earth these people made it this far. Early indicators: someone wearing sweatpants and asking, “which one is the professor?”
“Flat fees” change and “deferral fees” are done
Ontario announced today that it is making long-anticipated policy changes that will make it easier to pay tuition in that province, a plan that will likely be unpopular with university administrators who will struggle to make up for lost revenue. Beginning in 2014-15, colleges and universities will:
1. No longer be allowed to require fall semester tuition fees before the beginning of August
2. No longer require students who complete Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) applications by the beginning of August to pay their tuition before receiving their financial aid
3. No longer charge deferral fees or interest to those who pay tuition in per-term installments
4. No longer collect deposits of more than $500 or 10 per cent of tuition, whichever is greater
Ontario will also make it cheaper to take less than a full course load. As of fall 2015, university students will be charged on a per-credit basis if they take less than a 70 per cent course load, rather than the full-time student rate charged at some schools. In 2016, that threshold will rise to 80 per cent. Students with disabilities will be charged on a per-credit basis regardless of course loads.
Currently, some universities charge the same tuition rate for anyone taking a course load of 60 per cent or greater. Student groups like the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and University of Toronto Students’ Union have long opposed the policy. Meric Gertler, University of Toronto president, recently said that changes to flat fees could cost U of T $16 million a year in lost income.
Discovery Centre aims for innovative learning
There is a space on the fourth floor of the library at Carleton University with no bookshelves. No, it’s not a washroom. It’s the Discovery Centre, an interactive learning space open for all students where they can bring work, sit in one of the wheeled chairs and move around or study while walking on one of two treadmills. There are also 60-inch 3D gaming displays, 3D printers (which will soon be up and running) and circular couches that face laptop-connected projectors.
The Discovery Centre is helping Carleton’s library adapt to new ways of learning. Alan Steele, the centre’s director, says the technology and configurations will encourage students to think in ways static classrooms won’t necessarily allow.
But what do students think of the new options for studying? In one of the lounges in a nearby computer science building, student Georges Anktnmamm was surprised to learn it existed while student Andrew Bjuaki had just recently seen it and thought, “Wow, we finally have this.”
Keith Robinson on his surprising findings
If there is a single pillar of unchallenged, conventional wisdom in education theory, it’s that parental involvement is the key to a child’s success in school. Certainly, University of Texas professor Keith Robinson had no doubt about it when he and fellow sociologist Angel Harris decided to investigate exactly how that involvement played out. But not after plowing through the rich data provided by the U.S.’s National Center for Education Statistics (surveys of 25,000 students) and Child Development Supplement (family questionnaires). The effects of parental involvement in schooling, write Robinson and Harris in The Broken Compass, are mostly inconsequential—sometimes even negative.
Q: This wasn’t the result you were expecting, was it?
A: I have to say I certainly was surprised, given the view of the public and the government. There is such an overwhelmingly positive sentiment toward more parental engagement, even dating back to the ’70s. And a good deal of federal dollars is spent promoting it. But things jumped out at us. Afﬂuent children with good academic success do have involved parents, it’s just that that’s not the reason they have success. The relationship of parental involvement at the school—which varies greatly over racial and especially economic groups—never yielded positive estimates even one-third of the time. At home, where the class and racial differences are narrower, it was a bit more positive. Overall, only approximately 15-20 per cent of the involvement was positive, roughly 30 per cent negative and the rest statistically insigniﬁcant. A big surprise was that Asian-American parents—the model minority whose kids are doing so well in school—hardly did any of these involvement measures, another thing that sort of ﬂipped conventional thinking on its head.
Gen Y workers want flexible work spaces
TORONTO, Cananda – A new survey says many Canadians consider the time it takes to get to work as important as the job itself.
The survey by Oxford Properties and Environics Research Group found that 76 per cent of respondents wanted a reasonable commute to the office.
All things being equal, 50 per cent considered commute time to be the No. 1 factor in choosing one employer over another.
The majority of those surveyed said a commute time of less than 30 minutes was the appropriate travel time to work, in line with the average one-way Canadian commute of 29 minutes.
But that commuting time applies to only six in 10 Ontario workers, with commuters in Toronto facing an average one-way trip of 42 minutes.
Atlantic Canada commuters fare better, with nine in 10 workers commuting 30 minutes or less, as do workers in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa.
While some Canadians may change jobs for a shorter distance to work, one-third of workers would be willing to work an extra three hours per week for a reasonable commute, the survey said.
Montreal among top 10 places to study
A global ranking by QS of the Best Student Cities in 2014 puts Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver all in the top quartile of those considered.
The top 50 rankings considered 14 factors including how highly the city’s schools are ranked, what proportion of residents are students, results of two major quality of life surveys, popularity with domestic and global employers and cost of living.
QS says it considered 98 cities this year. All of those considered had more than 250,000 people and at least two universities ranked in the QS World University Ranking, ruling out places like Edmonton and Halifax, although Ottawa would qualify and doesn’t appear in the top 50.
Here are the top 10 cities, plus the rankings of the Canadian cities that made the top 50.
One seriously injured, 30 relocated
The University of Guelph has confirmed that a fire in Dundas Hall, East Residence on Saturday evening, just a few days before the start of final exams, was set by a 20-year-old male student. The student was injured and admitted to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Two staff members were also taken to a hospital and released. Although the fire was contained to the student’s room, about 30 other students in the building were relocated as a precautionary measure. The university says it is “aware that there is disturbing social media activity circulating about this incident,” and has reminded students and employees that emergency counseling is available.
Perhaps a Chinese university would make more sense
The University of Ottawa’s English newspaper thinks French-speaking Ontarians deserve “a university to call their own,” because, they argue, “Franco-Ontarians are plenty in number but hugely underrepresented at universities.”
They quote Geneviève Latour, a student and co-president of the Regroupement étudiant franco-ontarien, an advocacy group. “It’s really a question of having the right to it,” she says.
Oh please. Francophone Ontarians are neither “large in numbers” nor “underrepresented.” In fact, they’re quite well-served already. Ontario does not need another francophone university.
The Fulcrum and Latour should check out the study on francophone post-secondary participation published this week by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. It says that students from French-language school boards are slightly more likely to attend university than average.
That’s not surprising considering the number of options available to study in English or French.
Photos of disrepair on campus don’t tell the whole story
Every Monday I teach in a classroom that, I must admit, is not my favourite. It has a dusty old chalkboard (I know, chalk!), and several ceiling tiles are missing. A couple of the windows are caked with so much salty residue that one can barely see through them, and a fluorescent light is burnt out. There are two lecterns in the room and both are broken—though one has been hastily repaired with a piece of cardboard.
It’s just not a great room in which to teach.
So I get the motivations of a new generation of staff and students seeking to shame their universities into improving facilities. One prof at Hunter College in New York started tweeting pictures of holes she saw on campus and now has a blog called Holes at Hunter. A similar blog, Classrooms of Shame, seeks to draw attention to such “deplorable conditions.” In Canada, too, blogs like I heart SFU show similar pictures and a prof at Memorial University recently went public with complaints about mould and asbestos on his campus.
PQ’s Drainville cites “security concerns”
MONTREAL – The Quebec cabinet minister responsible for the government’s proposed charter of values pulled out of a debate on the topic Thursday because of security concerns.
Bernard Drainville said he had no choice but to cancel his presence at Montreal’s Concordia University because there was a real risk it could get out of control.
The Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia had promised to protest outside the event, describing the charter as ”xenophobic.”
Drainville said he decided not to take part in the debate because members of the group refused to commit themselves to keep the peace.
Due date change may bring “drought” or “plague of locusts”
Students in a third-year McGill Middle Eastern politics class, calling themselves the Paper Extension Movement, recently petitioned their King, Prof. Rex Brynen, for a week-long extension on a paper. His hilarious response has since been viewed on the site BuzzFeed more than 110,000 times.
Graphic: employment outcomes for 10 disciplines
An annual survey by the Council of Ontario Universities asks new graduates what they took in school, whether they were employed full-time two years after graduation and how much money they made. The numbers are useful for tracking the demand for degrees. The trend isn’t looking good.
Chart 1 shows the percentage of grads reporting full-time work two years after university for 10 of the most common degrees. For nine out of 10, fewer class of 2010 grads were employed than class of 2008 grads with the same degrees. (The exception, oddly enough, was journalism.) This suggests things actually got worse for grads since the economy recovered from the 2009 recession.
Chart 2 shows average salaries of graduates two years post-graduation. The overall average has remained around $49,000 since the recession but there were winners and losers. The computer science class of 2010 averaged $5,050 more than the class of 2007. The engineering class of 2010 made $2,032 more. Journalism, however, was down by $2,099 and humanities dropped by $1,509.
Why can we find money for execs but not foreign students?
International students at the University of Alberta are facing a possible five per cent tuition increase next year, equating to $900 to $1,600 per year, depending on the program. They already pay several times as much tuition as domestic students to make up for lack of taxpayer funding. Domestic tuition, meanwhile, is set to rise only one per cent. While many international students have cried out in protest, some domestic students support higher increases for non-Albertans.
I, however, have to side with my international colleagues that this tuition increase is unfair. I can’t imagine the sudden stress they’re under. Why is it that Alberta universities can find millions of dollars for things like $8.1-million executive office upgrades and 3.65% pay raises but can’t keep tuition down for these vulnerable students?
My empathy comes from the experiences I’ve had as a student on a diverse campus. For the past year, I’ve been a writing tutor working exclusively with students who are relatively new to Canada. I meet with an entire class of English as a Second Language students every week and so I know them not only on an academic level, but a personal level. Some say I’m their first Canadian friend.
RCMP identify victims
VICTORIA – Two 19-year-old University of British Columbia students have been identified as the victims of a head on crash on the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
The BC Coroners Service says Olivia Robertson of Collingwood, Ont., and Valentine Leborgne of Los Altos, Calif., were in a vehicle that crossed the centre line and slammed into a pickup truck.
Robertson was driving and Leborgne was a passenger in the Jeep Cherokee that was heading north towards Whistler on Saturday morning.
Two other women in the back seat survived the crash, although one of the women was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
The driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.
The coroners service and the RCMP are both investigating.
Campus activists want to pull out of national group
More than 50 people gathered in Gatineau, Que. at noon on Saturday to protest the Canadian Federation of Students, a group hundreds of thousands of university students automatically pay money to each year to lobby on their behalf. They’re most famous for opposing tuition fees.
The protesters sang, danced and chanted outside the hotel hosting CFS’s Annual General Meeting to draw attention to the fact that unsatisfied student unions find it difficult to exit the organization and stop sending money to Ottawa each year, a process known as “defederation.”
It’s a perennial issue. At this spring’s national meeting, Brad Evoy of the University of Toronto was defeated after he tried to reform the organization by bringing the number student signatures required on a petition to start defederation back down to 10 per cent of the student body. The threshold had been raised to 20 per cent in 2009.
Martin Gingras says site is helping job hunt
TORONTO – It gets dropped without warning and can strike anywhere in the world, laying waste to rational arguments and leaving a trail of offended sensibilities in its wake.
But the linguistic threats posed by the f-bomb on Twitter pale in comparison to its entertainment value, according to a Canadian computer science student who has made it his mission to track the global prevalence of this word-based weapon on the social networking site.
Martin Gingras’s fascination with the popular profanity prompted him to create fbomb.co, a website that tracks the use of the word in real time.
By combining features from two of the web’s most widely used applications — Google Maps and Twitter — the site allows readers to observe where in the world f-bombs are falling and in exactly what context they are being used.
Gingras himself does not track the data for geographical trends, nor does he expect the site to be much more than a source of entertainment to its readers.
Divestment movement gets a boost
The Dalhousie Student Union unanimously passed a motion on Wednesday calling for the university’s Board of Governors to end investments in fossil fuels, putting pressure on the school to respond. It’s a win for a global movement that wants to hurt the industry they say causes climate change.
“It is morally bankrupt for an institution who claims to be a leader in sustainability to profit off the extraction of fossil fuels, the warming of the climate, and the displacement of millions of people, ” said Divest Dal member Rob McNeish, according to a press release.
Professors clog up clinic with students who may not be ill
Jane Collins is a very dedicated campus nurse. So dedicated, in fact, that she offers her cell phone number to students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax so she can advise them after hours. She picked up on the first ring when Maclean’s On Campus called to find out whether she’d really stopped writing sick notes for those who show up to the campus health clinic, as reported by CBC.
She hasn’t entirely but says that, after 19 years on the job, she’s fed up that professors still ask students to get excuse notes for missed midterms, which is often a waste of time. The registrar has twice asked deans to pass that message along to professors but it’s not getting through.
Social media connects Canadians to careers
Ignore that request from LinkedIn or Twitter at your peril — it might be a job offer, according to a global study released Wednesday.
The study, commissioned by U.S. human resources firm Kelly Services, found that 39 per cent of Canadians polled have been contacted through a social media website or network in the last year about a possible job opportunity.
Of those surveyed, 14 per cent of Canadians said they were hired after having been contacted via websites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
“Social media is rapidly revolutionizing the recruitment process because it broadens the access to an enormous pool of candidates,” said Michael Webster, executive vice-president of the Americas region for Kelly Services in a statement.
“We are also seeing the impact access to smart technology has on retention as the work and personal lives of today’s employees is more commonly blended together. Suddenly employees have the flexibility to engage socially or accomplish work tasks at any given time.”
Man, 18, recovering after campus attack
An 18-year-old male University of British Columbia student is recovering after being slashed in the back several times with a knife during an early morning attempted robbery, according to UBC RCMP. Police offered a written statement that says the attack is not connected to the recent series of late-night sexual assaults on campus. They warned students to be “constantly vigilant and aware of their potential vulnerability when walking alone on Campus in the very early hours of the morning.”
From the release:
The student was returning to his student residence complex in the 2500 block of West Mall just after 4 a.m. when he was suddenly confronted from behind by an unknown male brandishing a small knife and demanding his wallet and mobile phone. The attacker lunged towards the student slashing at him as the student attempted to run away. The student escaped from his attacker, foiling the robbery, however the student did sustain several superficial cuts to his back and shoulders requiring minor medical treatment. The attacker fled on foot in an unknown direction after the student escaped. The attacker is described as an Caucasian male approximately 40 years old. This male had a greying beard and short grey hair. He was of average build and was wearing a light coloured hoodie and black sweat pants.