All Posts Tagged With: "university"
Prof. Pettigrew says it isn’t a lack of skills training
Earlier this month, student Mercedes Mueller caught my eye with this provocative open letter to Canadian university presidents, accusing them of having failed students by not paying enough attention to their “career ambitions.”
Here’s the key bit:
Universities pride themselves on teaching students critical thinking and reasoning skills. Yet upon entering the workforce, many grads have little to offer employers in terms of “skills.” Skills, primarily associated with the hands-on learning done at colleges, are a severely lacking component of university curricula. When one considers that the majority of BA graduates would like to enter the workforce without having to obtain further degrees, learning a skill or two in undergrad isn’t asking a lot.
Students come to university to get a job, she explains, and thus deserve to have “degrees worth more than the paper they are printed on.”
What’s wrong with well-educated coffee servers?
The easiest punchline for media commentators on higher education these days is that we have university graduates working as baristas in coffee houses. Sometimes the assumption is that it’s mainly the arts grads consigned to this humiliating fate, and even this piece by Leo Charboneau, which does a generally good job of pointing out the hysteria over youth underemployment, still concedes the bachelor’s-barista link.
It’s time to drop this trope. And not just because it’s too easy.
For one thing, it makes the same old mistake of thinking that the only reason to have a degree is to get a “good” job. We all know that there is more to life than earning a living, and just about every bit of research we have suggests that wealth does not correlate in a meaningful way with happiness—and yet writers go on pretending that the only thing a sane person would want in this world is a hefty pay packet.
As for a good job, why do we so blithely accept that good means high-paying. I’m not at all convinced that barista is a worse job than being, say, an accountant. Is preparing coffee is necessarily a worse job than preparing lay-off notices? Is it really “blind” as one particularly harsh commentator has said, to pursue your dreams even amid economic uncertainty?
The Maclean’s ranking tool lets you mix and match data from the most recent edition of the Maclean’s University Rankings to build your own, customized university ranking.
Maclean’s ranks Canadian universities on a range of performance indicators in six broad areas, assigning a weight to each indicator that determines how much it contributes to the final score. The ranking tool lets you select whichever indicators matter most to you and lets you decide how much weight you want to give to each indicator.
For example, Maclean’s weights the Student/Faculty Ratio indicator at 10%. That means each university’s performance on this indicator contributes 10% to their final score. If you place a high value on access to your professors, you can weight this indicator at a higher percentage. You can customize a ranking based on this indicator and just two or three others but give 50% of the weight to Student/Faculty Ratio. Or you could choose this indicator along with up to six others, but still give Student/Faculty Ratio the heaviest weight. You decide.
How it works:
Select the performance indicators that most interest you. You can select up to seven at a time.
Then click NEXT.
Assign a weight to each of the indicators that you have chosen based on how much you want each to contribute to the final score. The total must add up to 100 per cent.
Then click NEXT.
Select the universities you wish to compare. You can choose all universities, or select by region, such as universities in the West, Ontario, Quebec or the Atlantic region. Or you can create your own list of up to 49 individual institutions.
Then click NEXT.
Our ranking tool will perform the calculations using the indicators, weights and schools that you have chosen. Voila! Your own personalized ranking of Canadian universities.
Note: Ranking for the Personalized University Ranking Tool is not calculated in the same way as the annual Maclean’s university rankings. Though the two use common data, the rankings use a statistical percentile method and are three separate rankings, one for each of the three categories of universities: Primarily Undergraduate, Comprehensive and Medical-Doctoral. As such, results obtained from this online tool may not agree with the Maclean’s annual rankings, even if the same set of weights are applied to the indicators.
One woman reflects on her high school torment
When I read about Amanda Todd’s suicide, I was affected, not only because someone so young decided to take her life, but also because of how it reminded me of my own adolescence.
To the right is a photo of me at Todd’s age. By the time that picture was taken, I had been bullied practically every day for five years. It started with some older girls who thought my name, Ravanne, sounded funny. They would chase me, scream at me, and throw food at me. Although concerned classmates stood up for me, it never stopped.
As early as sixth grade, I was depressed and socially anxious. When I entered junior high school, I was afraid to talk to new people out of fear that they too would laugh at me. I did make some friends, but for every friend I made, at least two people would obsessively bully me.
Voter turnout (%) in campus elections from 2009 to 2012
Relative value varies by industry: study
Ever wondered whether an applied college degree or a traditional university degree will add more to your paycheque?
The answer depends on what industry you work in, according to a new study published by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. While university degrees generally offer a higher rate of return (as measured by increased earnings over people with only high school diplomas), there are some jobs where the college degree is worth more.
Not surprisingly, university rules in health care, senior management and in the legal field. In those industries, workers with university degrees make about 40 per cent more than those with no post-secondary credential, while college degrees bring only about 20 per cent more earning power.
But chefs and cooks, child-care workers and sales people who have college credentials have a roughly 20 per cent advantage over those with only high school, while those with university better their pay by only five to 10 per cent.
And in the trades, including construction and transportation, college credentials offer roughly a 20 per cent premium over high school alone while university adds only about five per cent.
What’s not considered in the study is the fact that there may be an advantage to earning a university degree and then adding a college credential. To read more about The College Advantage, click here.
You’ve moved into residence. Now what?
1. Go downtown. Then find your way back.
You’ll end up downtown at some point. You may not be sober the first time. Spend some daylight hours riding the bus along the essential routes, so that you can find your way back in the dark. Write down the numbers of the bus routes that take you to the entertainment areas and back. Find out when the last bus leaves from downtown for the school. Look for landmarks near stops. Store the info in your phone or on paper in your wallet.
2. Pick up a free agenda
Most student unions hand out free agendas with important dates already printed in them. If you loathe paper, get one anyway and transfer the dates into your web calendar or smartphone.
Advice for first-year students from our resident professor
Ever heard the story about the university student whose paper was too long, so his professor tore off the extra pages and graded the remainder? It’s just an urban legend. But there are some big differences between high school and university that freshmen should prepare themselves for.
1. How you write matters. In high school, your teachers were likely happy if you wrote anything at all, and were probably ecstatic if you wrote something clear and gave an opinion or two. That won’t cut it at university. Professors expect essays to be formally structured and to provide analysis backed by evidence. They expect papers to be properly formatted, and they expect you to cite sources according to professional style guidelines. Dashing something off at the last minute — no matter how smart you are — won’t cut it.
Click to find out who charges $25 and who charges $1,000+
Most students walk or take a bus to school, but some just need to have a car. For one, it makes grocery shopping much easier. It also tends to boost a student’s popularity at a time when it’s crucial to meet new friends. Oh, and it provides an easy way to visit mom and dad on the weekends. (If angling for a car, don’t forget to remind mom and dad about that important point.)
Whatever a student’s reason, bringing a car to school can be very expensive — especially in big cities. Or it can be suprisingly affordable, especially in Eastern Canada. It costs less to park for eight months at some maritime schools than it does to park for a weekend in Toronto.
That’s why we’ve decided to show you the Top 10 cheapest schools for parking passes, followed by the Top 10 most expensive.
Top 10 schools with the cheapest parking
1. Memorial University — $25
2. St. Thomas University — $75
3. University of Prince Edward Island — $82
4. University of New Brunswick — $94
5. Trent University — $99
6. Acadia University — $110
7. Algoma University — $121
8. Bishop’s University — $132
9. Lakehead University — $136
10. Brandon University — $145
Top 10 schools with the most expensive parking
1. Ryerson University — $1017
2. McGill University — $990
3. University of Toronto — $760
4. University of Ottawa — $744
5. University of British Columbia — $640
6. University of Calgary — $632
7. University of Winnipeg — $630
8. York University — $616
9. Queen’s University — $608
10. Université de Montréal — $546
This analysis is based on the lowest rate for an eight-month permit (or year-long permit where applicable) at 49 Canadian universities that are profiled in The Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities. Note that because these are the cheapest lots available to students, they may also be the first to sell-out. That’s right — it could cost even more to park.
This article originally stated that the lowest parking rate at the University of Regina was $640. That figure was incorrect. Maclean’s On Campus regrets the error.
Book by Andrew Ferguson
If the purpose of art is to elicit an emotional response, then this is a book of intense artistry. The reaction from most Canadian parents who read it will be intense, hand-raising, thank-you-God relief they don’t have to participate in the madness that is the U.S. college application process.
Crazy U combines U.S. writer Andrew Ferguson’s first-person account of helping his son get into college with a behind-the-scenes investigation into the American university industry. It is a world of competition, conflict and confusions that can apparently only be solved by generous applications of cash.
Ferguson provides a brief history of the controversial SAT test, its opponents and the various prep courses that cling like remora to its underside. He visits with Kat Cohen, an independent college admission counsellor who charges $40,000 for her “platinum package” of advice on how to get into the school of your choice. As personal essays are now a major component of applications, and since these unfairly favour Type-A boasters, Ferguson finds a “model essay development service” that promises to turn every student into a mouthy extrovert. He spends $199 on an essay and finds “every sentence contained a little stink bomb of braggadocio.”
While fascinating in their own right, Ferguson’s experiences—thankfully—have limited applicability to Canada. Some Canadian schools do require personal essays. But aggressive competition for spots in top schools, driven by what Ferguson calls “that feral look of parental ambition,” is largely absent north of the border. For that we can thank the uniform quality of Canadian universities, a more civilized application process and our muted interest in the provenance of degrees.
Regardless of cross-border differences, however, Ferguson is a witty writer worth reading for his talent alone. Describing the university brochures sent to his son, he says they “were printed on paper so thick and voluptuous they might have been mistaken for the leaves of a rubber plant—you didn’t know whether to read them or slurp them like a giraffe.” There’s plenty to slurp here.
Mom, dad, big brother and sister—everyone was scrimping to keep Jessica Holman in university. The Maclean’s $20,000 scholarship changed all that.
Jessica Holman almost didn’t apply to university. Once accepted, she almost didn’t go. Even after a successful first semester of social work at Carleton University, she often felt she should be working instead of studying. The thing constantly nagging at her? Money.
That’s why Holman started crying when a woman from Maclean’s told her that she’d won the $20,000 scholarship contest, which was part of our 20th Rankings Issue celebration. She was chosen at random from more than 27,000 entries. “Maclean’s didn’t know how badly my family needs the money, so it’s kind of astonishing that we were the ones who won,” says Holman. “Now we don’t have to worry about whether or not I can go back to school next year.”
When she says “we,” she means her entire family back in Oakville, Ont. Her mom, dad—even her older brother and sister—are all scrimping and saving to help her pay for school. Her experience is a good reminder of how much many Canadian families sacrifice to send their kids to university. All in, it now costs roughly $80,000 for a four-year undergraduate degree, according to TD Economics. For many families, it’s a struggle to put even one child through school.
Cheap loans and tight job prospects create a new crop of entrepreneurs
After graduating from the University of Western Ontario in 2004, long-time friends Joe Facciolo and Skai Dalziel, both from Barrie, Ont., set off to travel the world. By the time they came home, in 2008, the job market had toughened considerably. “I was looking for work in alternative energy, but nothing really materialized,” says Dalziel, 30. Chatting about their travels, and how hard it was to find a good restaurant in a new city, the two friends were seized by a business idea. “We said, we’re young and we don’t have a lot of responsibility,” Dalziel says. “We figured it was a good time to give it a go.”
That fall, they moved to Whistler, B.C., where they knew the tourism market was strong. By November, Whistler Tasting Tours—which provides guided tours that visit some of Whistler’s best restaurants, providing a multi-course dinner in one evening—was born. “One of the biggest challenges was securing financing,” Dalziel says. “Banks weren’t interested in getting involved.” The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), a charitable organization that works with entrepreneurs aged 18 to 34, gave them a $15,000 loan, and Whistler Tasting Tours was profitable within its first year; now they’re talking about branching out to other locations. Running a business, “you’re letting go of your social life,” he says. “But it’s really rewarding.”
Facciolo and Dalziel are two of countless twentysomethings who’ve avoided a more traditional career path, launching their own business instead of working for somebody else. Driven by a tight job market, the number of tools available online, and a growing sense of do-it-yourselfism, entrepreneurship is booming among students and recent grads. And with role models like Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old billionaire founder of Facebook, they’re in good company.
Should schools be in the business of turning out employable grads?
Carlie Deneiko is from the tiny town of Watrous, Sask. (population 1,800), more than an hour’s drive southeast of Saskatoon. As a teen, she dreamed of travelling the world, but her priorities are shifting. “I’ve got a boyfriend, and I’m really settled,” says Deneiko, 20, a student in the faculty of education at the University of Regina. “It’s becoming more important to me to get a job.”
Deneiko’s not too worried: her education comes with a job guarantee. She’s one of 355 students enrolled in a new program at the University of Regina that promises students they’ll land a job—in their chosen field—within six months of graduation. If they don’t, the university gives them another year of tuition for free. The UR Guarantee has other bells and whistles (like internships and work programs), but for Deneiko, it’s that extra year of free tuition that pulled her in. “If I don’t get a job, I’m coming back to get my special education certificate,” she says.
Since it launched in September, the UR Guarantee has been incredibly popular. Enrolment in the program, which is open to all first-year students, has already jumped by 24 per cent, says president Vianne Timmons. “We looked at students’ motivation for attending university,” she says, “and realized they’re looking at a degree primarily as a launching pad for a career.”
Universities have long been seen as ivory towers, leaving job training to colleges and vocational programs, but that’s changing fast. “It’s not the old, green college on the hill anymore,” says Lloyd Axworthy, president of the University of Winnipeg. “The marketplace has changed,” adds Ronald Bordessa, president of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). “Some universities have moved quickly. Others haven’t, and are having greater difficulty attracting students.”
Regina isn’t the only university in the job guarantee business—tiny Sainte-Anne in Church Point, N.S., offers its education and business graduates free tuition if they haven’t found work after four months. It’s a radical approach—but some schools don’t even track how many graduates go on to get jobs in their field. Monitoring this is “absolutely critical,” says University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera. “If your students are not finding employment, it means that employers are not finding them competitive.” Even so, it’s hard to know which schools are turning out the most employable grads, which leaves some industry leaders shaking their heads. “Amazingly enough, [employability] is not the metric for success that universities follow,” says businessman Reza Satchu, who teaches the highly successful economics of entrepreneurship course at the University of Toronto.
Do grade 12 students freak themselves out too easily?
Note: This post has been edited below.
Ditch the plan. Throw it in the dustbin, tie up the bag and take it to the curb. It’s not doing anyone any good.
It’s January. University applications for high school students are due next week. But the first round of acceptance letters have already gone out, so panic is settling in as the rat race kicks into high gear. High school students are now comparing letters, entrance scholarships and who was admitted where.
But the fact is this: Those who have done well to date are more likely to continue to do well. Those who have done poorly are less likely to get into university. And the statistics back it up.
The race has already been run – now it’s just a question of who gets to run the next leg.
In 2005, approximately 57,000 high school students were admitted to an Ontario university. Considering more than 328,000 high school students applied applications were received for university programs that same year, acceptance is anything but a given. In Ontario, students can apply to three schools for a flat rate of $120, and each additional school costs $40. The Globe and Mail reports that the average student submits 4.4 applications.
But that raises the real issue. Is it true that only 17 77 per cent of applicants are qualified to attend university? Or is it more likely that, despite the premier’s investment in post-secondary education there are still likely qualified students being turned away?
The situation is improving. Investments are being made. But for the time being, the annual high school panic session seems warranted.
We find the trend toward race-based admissions policies in some U.S. schools to be deplorable
Maclean’s annual University Rankings issue is our most popular and most discussed magazine of the year. The 2010 edition, released two weeks ago, was no exception. Alongside our comprehensive rankings of Canadian schools, we also tackled the biggest issues facing today’s university students. There were stories dealing with school stress, problem roommates, difficult school choices and sex. And when students told us race is becoming a conversation on Canadian campuses, we took a closer look at that as well.
Our reporters Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Köhler spoke to university students, professors and administrators about campus racial balance and its implications. The resulting story was titled: ‘Too Asian?’: a term used in the U.S. to talk about racial imbalance at Ivy League schools is now being whispered on Canadian campuses—by everyone but the students themselves, who speak out loud and clear.”
The article has generated a great deal of response, a representative sample of which is included in this week’s Letters (page six). Some of the comments we have seen on the Internet and in other media have suggested that by publishing this article, Maclean’s views Canadian universities as “Too Asian,” or that we hold a negative view of Asian students.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As our story relates, the phrase “Too Asian?” is a direct quote from the title of a panel discussion at the 2006 meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling where experts examined the growing tendency among U.S. university admission officers to view Asian applicants as a homogenous group. The evidence suggests some of the most prestigious schools in the U.S. have abandoned merit as the basis for admission for more racially significant—and racist—criteria.
We find the trend toward race-based admission policies in some American schools deplorable, as do many of our readers. Our article notes that Canadian universities select students regardless of race or creed. That, in our view, is the best and only acceptable approach: merit should be the sole criteria for entrance to higher education in Canada, and universities should always give preference to our best and brightest regardless of cultural background. This position was stated clearly in the article: “Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so,” reporters Findlay and Köhler wrote.
Through hard work, talent and ambition, Asian students have been highly successful in earning places in Canada’s institutions of higher learning. They, like all of our high achievers, deserve respect and admiration. Every one of them is a source of pride to their fellow Canadians.
One final note about the headline. Although the phrase “Too Asian?” was a question and, again, a quotation from an authoritative source, it upset many people. We expected that it would be provocative, but we did not intend to cause offence.
From the editors
No more ‘uniformity’
There are lots of reasons why university is a million times better than high school. Never mind all the obvious ones, like the fact that the courses are way more interesting, or that you have more control over your marks. When I started my first year of university, a nice bonus that I didn’t expect: you don’t have to worry about what you’re wearing.
In high school, everyone wears a uniform. Sure, there are a couple variations of this “uniform.” And certain styles go in and out of popularity. But the High School Uniform is partly why distinguishing between two 15-year-olds is more difficult than making a Jurassic Park 4 with an original plot. Meaning, something that doesn’t involve a bunch of archaeologists wandering around a tropical island and getting eaten one by one, except for the main character wearing a fedora.
That’s why it’s kind of ironic when high school students get in an uproar about actual school uniforms. They’re all wearing the same thing, anyway.
Some people don’t wear the uniform, sometimes because they’re truly individuals, and sometimes because they’re completely oblivious and need their older sister to point out why wearing that sweater and those pants is a really, really bad idea.
University is completely different. When you’re sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds of students, nobody is paying any attention to you.
Or what you’re wearing.
-Photo courtesy of Jim.landover3
Loose-leaf is the way to go
Back in first year, I remember being shocked at how expensive university textbooks are. It seemed ridiculous to be paying hundreds of dollars for books that would be getting less than four months of use. And that I wouldn’t necessarily even enjoy reading.
In high school, textbooks are just something that your teacher uses to assign homework. It’s different in university. You spend hours with your textbooks every week, keeping up with readings, doing practice questions, finding quotes for an essay, or studying for an exam. They belong to you, and only you. You’ve known each other since the beginning, back when they were still covered in plastic wrap. It’s a special moment when you peel the plastic off and open a brand new textbook for the first time.
But it’s not a worth-hundreds-of-dollars kind of moment.
Buying textbooks second-hand is one common way to save money. Another solution: buying loose-leaf editions of textbooks. By sacrificing the spine and hard cover, I saved more than $70 on a loose-leaf edition of my biochemistry textbook this semester.
Buying a loose-leaf edition solves another textbook problem: instead of lugging around a 20-pound brick, I can remove all the pages I’m not using at the moment.
-photo courtesy of katerha
Universities facing bedbug infestations
Coming soon and you heard it here first
A friend of mine turned me on to a recent piece in the New Yorker on the state of higher education in America. The author is responding to the supposed crisis in the education sector and essentially debunking it. Now you’re welcome to review the article, written with the style and in the elevated prose that one would expect from such an esteemed publication, but the piece also rests on what I consider to be an unimaginably ignorant premise. The system must work, or so we should believe, simply because so many people are lining up for school. If the educational system were broken, people would presumably be opting out of it.
Now, bearing in mind that this article takes an American context, there’s already one huge problem. Many people are opting out of the public system down there. If one allows that education includes any kind of organized learning at all then sure, I suppose it’s easy to establish that lots of people are in favour of receiving that. But in America it is increasingly delivered by private or partly private institutions. So taking all forms of education and throwing them into one big pot only confirms one of the most basic facts about today’s modern society that everyone knew already. We all need to spend more time learning, and while we may have some choices over what and how we learn it’s hardly an option at all to simply opt out of education entirely.
More critically to the Canadian experience, this article also omits any real attempt to grapple with the ballooning cost of modern education and the resulting debt that often follows. And here is where I’ll introduce a concept that we all need to hear and think more about. It’s the idea of sub-prime education. Degrees that we are putting out on the market that are unlikely to pay off. Education that doesn’t actually create higher pay or better jobs or new opportunities. Sub-prime education.
The sub-prime mortgage crisis is often referenced but rarely understood. I’m not an economist but allow me to give a primer. American politics and American citizens bought widely and deeply into the narrative of home ownership. Home ownership was seen as the route to both private and public prosperity. So huge government programs were created to get as many people buying homes as possible and many citizens gladly mortgaged themselves to the hilt in order to buy as much property as they could possibly afford. And for a while it seemed to work. Unfortunately, many of the home loans put out there so that people could afford these mortgages were sub-prime. Prime is the rate at which a lending institution loans money to individuals it considers to be a good bet. Sub-prime is a higher rate, reflecting the fact that the lending institution considers the borrower to be a worse bet. Spread the risk over enough weak borrowers and the extra tax helps cover the occasional default. That’s the basic premise. It gets more complicated when banks start trading these loans and packaging them as investment vehicles, but that’s the basic premise.
What banks did not count on is that when the property market started to tank it created a cascade effect. Lack of faith caused the value of everyone’s investment to plummet. It’s a classic market bubble. When it bursts it drags everyone down. Only in the market you catch investors who, with adequately good sense, have protected themselves through diversification. When you catch homeowners you catch everyone. Ordinary people who put all their eggs in this one basket not because they are bad investors but simply because they bought into the narrative that home ownership is the route to prosperity. Time was that everyone believed that as an article of faith. No longer. But not until we had a whole lot of wreckage to teach us otherwise.
Now let’s look at education. In Canada, the floating rate of interest on the federal portion of a student loan is prime plus 2.5 per cent. That is, in the most literal terms imaginable, the very definition of “sub-prime.” Our government is publicly acknowledging that investment in education is a sub-prime lending risk. That doesn’t mean it never pays off. That doesn’t even mean it’s a bad bet for everyone. That just means that spread out over a wide sample group it simply isn’t a very good bet, on average. And private lending institutions aren’t even eager to participate at that rate. Contrast that with the rates that professional students can expect on their student loans if they go to private banks. For degrees in law and medicine — education that banks consider to be good bets — students can expect to access sizable loans at straight prime rate or at prime plus 0.5 per cent. That’s what it looks like when the market believes in the value of an investment.
Up to the government, or the university?
In a case regarding equality rights at the University of Guelph dating back in 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada released a decision defending the autonomy of Canadian universities in the name of academic freedom. Essentially–the government declined to stick its nose in university affairs.