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New University...where should it go?

When you have lower admission standards, you'll tend to attract the students who aren't as academically inclined or capable. And when I see most liberal arts programs with admission standards that are markedly lower than most other programs I wonder about the type of student they are taking on. The reality is that we have a glut of Liberal Arts and Sciences undergraduate spots simply because the government does not want to make the difficult decision of raising standards and hence competition.

The worst part about the government's cowardice is that this hurts us economically. We don't produce enough professional grads compared to other developed countries. And we don't produce enough second tier (college) grads for our economy. There's proof of this. Lately, colleges have had far better job placement rates than universities. Meanwhile, university grads are left competing for a few generic entry level jobs.

I am not campaigning against a new liberal arts school because I abhor a liberal arts education. I am campaigning against expanding the number of liberal arts students, because it's not what we need. I have seen far too many friends go to university and take random degrees because they thought it seemed interesting or was a good idea at the time, only to be saddled with student loans and have no serious career prospects. Who wins in that situation?

I agree with you concerning the topic of admission standards - to a degree. My own take is that university is an environment in which a student should be able to improve him or herself. I would not like to see the bar set so high so as to cut off a large group of otherwise capable students from being admitted simply because they could not quite get through the first hoop.

My gripe is grade inflation. In my experience, far too many students expect a good grade for little effort. They expect to graduate. My view is that once you are in university, you should earn the right to stay in. One should show some commitment in the process.

Many programs lumped into the Liberal arts category lack easy measures of mastering subject matter. This becomes an issue when trying to grade the efforts of students, or to determine whether they are making headway in comprehending the subject matter. Unlike other courses of study, many programs within liberal education are not just about acquiring knowledge, but learning how to use it, reason with it and express one's self with it. It's actually a little more difficult than showing capacity with engineering principles (which require considerable effort to learn but are relatively easy to test for).

One reason why employers may be more reticent to employ graduates of liberal education programs is that many employers now demand job-ready workers. The purpose of a liberal education (in the more classical sense) is to engender a way of thinking along with a broad range of knowledge rather than just one particular skill. More than ever, employers don't want to train their employees. They don't want to invest in them. They expect the individual to be doing that for themselves. So in a sense, every student takes the financial risk in their education - regardless of what they study.
 
I think a lot of these problems could have been avoided or more easily mitigated had OAC not been eliminated. You now have people applying to university when they're 17 years old, and far too easily swayed by their parents/peers. First year has taken over OAC's role, and honours degrees have become the standard. Maybe a distinction should be made between students who have completed a four year program and students who have completed a four year program with good grades.

I went to Queen's and it was automatically assumed that one would take an honours degree before OAC was eliminated. I was admitted to Queen's in 1998 as a member of the Class of 2002 (four year, honours degree program), not the Class of 2001 (a "regular" BA or BSc). In any case, why are people having issues 17 1/2 year old students (without OAC, almost 100% of the students are 18 or will turn 18 during the first semester anyway)? Kids in other provinces which don't have OAC seem to do fine. And 17 1/2 isn't too young to go away to school. My high school admits boarders as young as Grade 7. The youngest Grade 7s aren't yet 12 years old!

As for the liberal arts and sciences, I think our society needs to emphasize on it a little more. Not only do we need critical thinkers, we need people who are well-rounded and "cultured." Perhaps there needs to be a happy medium - all business majors must take five or more electives in the liberal arts (some schools already require this).
 
As for the liberal arts and sciences, I think our society needs to emphasize on it a little more. Not only do we need critical thinkers, we need people who are well-rounded and "cultured."

I would like to see universities do more to partner with colleges to this end. A lot of people who go into the liberal arts would do well to combine this education with a trade, precisely to the goals you set out. In a lot of sectors of our society -- for instance, this board, I imagine -- lack of well-roundedness typically looks more like liberal arts grads with no experience in the trades, than the reverse.

Imagine if one of Ontario universities' many philosophy departments started a joint diploma/degree program with, say, plumbing? Now that'd be well-rounded. (And, as the saying goes, we'd wind up with folks whose arguments and pipes both held water.)
 
I would like to see universities do more to partner with colleges to this end. A lot of people who go into the liberal arts would do well to combine this education with a trade, precisely to the goals you set out. In a lot of sectors of our society -- for instance, this board, I imagine -- lack of well-roundedness typically looks more like liberal arts grads with no experience in the trades, than the reverse.

Imagine if one of Ontario universities' many philosophy departments started a joint diploma/degree program with, say, plumbing? Now that'd be well-rounded. (And, as the saying goes, we'd wind up with folks whose arguments and pipes both held water.)


That's probably not going to happen. We currently have university and college affiliated programs that are generally applied bachelor's degrees, but we'll might see more combined/concurrent programs where they'd have to take more liberal arts courses.

My immigrant parents would have freaked out if I went into a trade (and not to mention that many trades aren't exactly "lady-like" and unlike medicine or law, hard to imagine that it could become that way...it's something that matters a lot to some immigrant parents. I think many would find them "ungentlemanly" as well. What would they tell their friends at the golf course??)
 
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Too many kids today DO go to university, and it's largely due to parental pressure. Further, a lot of these students don't bother getting much in the way of work experience during their summer breaks (instead traveling or whatever) which leads to really, really unimpressive looking résumés. If all you got is "BA, Philosophy" and your paper route as your past experience, you're probably not going to get hired anywhere.

(Even more unfortunately, a lot of these grads end up going to teacher's college, too, as a 'default' because it's the only linear path from their BA to steady employment.)

We still do a lousy job of educating students about post-secondary options, and most parents seem to regard 'university' as the golden ticket to prosperity, which it isn't.

Ideally, we'd direct more high school grads into college programs or the trades. This would benefit everybody. The student gets to do something they actually have an interest in. Our economy gets a more skilled workforce. And the universities can restore some prestige to their liberal arts programs, many of which have suffered due to over-enrollment and grade inflation. (An English degree should be HARD to get. It should require you to READ and UNDERSTAND books.)

I doubt that will happen, though. More likely is the continuation of something we're seeing already: college programs elevating themselves to 'university' status. From this we get stuff like "OCAD University" and more vocational areas like journalism and publishing offered as university programs.
 
The Portlands. All vibrant neighbourhoods are built around a campus--the Annex model.

Call it "Lake Ontario University."

ps, prospere gal, you mean to say cool ppl hang out at the golfcourse? Only bores, imo....

Yeah, cool people golf. Boring people golf too. I guess my parents are somewhere in between.

On travelling: That can be "experience" too. You're learning first hand about other cultures. That is, of course, if you go to museums and galleries when you travel.

I spent one of my summers going to school in the UK. While I was at the Queen's UK campus (aka Herstmonceux Castle or "The Castle"), there were trips to London and other parts of England every weekend as well as a three day trip to Brussels and Paris. I had A LOT of fun and learned a great deal. My experience in the UK is actually on my resume.
 
It may be a good idea to start promoting something else in between highschool and University/College. I began applying to colleges when I was 16, and I can't really say I was very into the process. At that age I would bet that most people wouldn't exactly dream about becoming, say, a plumber. Just about any job for that matter, white or blue collar, would strike most 16 year olds as dull. That is why the liberal arts are attracting so many people. They have taken on the task of helping people "find themselves" or some such thing. It is obvious that something isn't quite right at the high school end of things when most people don't finish in the program they start.

I'm all for self fulfillment, but transforming campuses into day care centers for 18 year olds doesn't seem like a great idea. Those Dalhousie adds on the TTC come to mind, advertising Dalhousie as a great place to "play ball" or something to that effect. It is ridiculous that we are subsidizing people to "play ball" and chill out. It screws everybody. For people who actually are serious about their studies they get shoved into 1st year classes with over a thousand students, and people who aren't so serious just come out of it with some mickey mouse degree they don't really care about and student debt up the ying-yang.

In Europe gap years are quite common, and from what I have seen of them they do a good job of letting teenagers acclimatize to the greater personal responsibility after leaving high school and blow off some steam. Maybe start a program that would try to coordinate high school grads with volunteer jobs or internships. Even making a sort of 1-2 year military program of sorts may not be such a bad idea. Anything to separate university from high school. Dig wells in Africa.
 
^^^

What about a CEGEP-like program? Or would that not work either, since it's "school"?
 
Professional Experience Year

As usual here at UT....we're stretching the topic! :D

So why stop here!

I think as far diverting traffic from our Universities on a NET basis; that's really a non-starter.

Even though I do agree many students end up pursuing university for the wrong reasons, and society is not necessarily a beneficiary of that choice....

Consider that even if we reduced the current percentage of High School graduates who go on to University, that if we get the HS drop out rate under control the total number of graduates will rise.

Add to this the growing population, particularly in the GTA, and you could slice 10 points off the percentage of HS graduates who go to Universities and still see a NET increase in the post-secondary student body.

*********

That said.

I have an idea to bounce off everyone which might reduce some University applications, and which might also set some students on a better post-secondary path.

I think High school should be re-extended to 5 years; but not with in-classroom instruction.

Instead, modeled on the U of T professional experience year, or some hybrid of that and Co-op education.....

Students after their Grade 10 or 11 year would take a professional experience year. This would place them in 2 different fields but 4 different employment situations over the course of 1 year (likely 2 per semester) Total hours would be 40 per week (20 or so per posting)

So that a student who might be interested in Cooking and Medicine would spend a semester doing work in a restaurant and in a butcher shop; and then in the second semester do work in a Community Health Clinic and a Hospital

That way they might get more effective career and study guidance; but they would also get real work experience BEFORE graduating High School.

They would get academic grades on their work; based on the evaluation of their employer, and could be paid a special 'training wage' so that the employer pays very little, but the student understands the idea of 'earning a cheque'.

In exchange for the cheap labour, the employer must provide real training and experience, not just a job-shadow system or a posting with no real learning experience.
 
That said.

I have an idea to bounce off everyone which might reduce some University applications, and which might also set some students on a better post-secondary path.

I think High school should be re-extended to 5 years; but not with in-classroom instruction.

Instead, modeled on the U of T professional experience year, or some hybrid of that and Co-op education.....

Students after their Grade 10 or 11 year would take a professional experience year. This would place them in 2 different fields but 4 different employment situations over the course of 1 year (likely 2 per semester) Total hours would be 40 per week (20 or so per posting)

So that a student who might be interested in Cooking and Medicine would spend a semester doing work in a restaurant and in a butcher shop; and then in the second semester do work in a Community Health Clinic and a Hospital

That way they might get more effective career and study guidance; but they would also get real work experience BEFORE graduating High School.

They would get academic grades on their work; based on the evaluation of their employer, and could be paid a special 'training wage' so that the employer pays very little, but the student understands the idea of 'earning a cheque'.

In exchange for the cheap labour, the employer must provide real training and experience, not just a job-shadow system or a posting with no real learning experience.

In most places they call that an apprenticeship. My godsister raised in Vienna, went through one. It's a 5-6 year program teaching someone to be an office assistance. First year - MS office 6 weeks training in a community college, while the rest of the year she worked. Next year database, and so on.

As for the suggestion of using gap year students as cheap labour, it depends on how much employers will buy in. Would employers be willing to train individuals only to have them leave and possibly not return after just a year?

Contrast that with the apprenticeship program I mentioned which gives employers trained employees who receive progressive skills development, through just-in-time training funded by the government, that's commiserate with their growing responsibilities. It fosters a culture of life long learning.

And to those who would talk about expanding cultural horizons, my godsister has probably read more books than any lit major I know. She participates in book clubs, visit museums and operas, and is all around fascinated with culture far more than most folks I know. Goes to show you, that it's not university that trains the thirst for culture.
 
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I always felt like Barrie would be the best spot for a university, preferably with easy GO Transit access so that York Region could access it with ease.
 
I have a question for you guys: If kids in other provinces can handle university life at the age of 17 3/4 - 18 years of age, why can't Ontario kids? What makes our students less mature? I think 18 is MORE than ready to go away. My roommate in first year was from Nova Scotia and was 18 1/2 when she came to Queen's. She was more mature than many Ontario students who were already 19.
 

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