Surviving university

“…It’s generally assumed that in the culture wars, universities are somewhere far behind the battle lines, in territory long ago occupied by the enemy. A dark forest through which our children nonetheless have to pass on their journey through life to get the apparently indispensable credentials that will allow them to intern at low or non-existent wages, or compete with thousands of other graduates for entry-level jobs while lunging for the bottom rungs of career ladders in a job market that’s often depicted as something like a boot camp gauntlet, or a salmon-spawning stream patrolled by armies of ravenous bears.”

  • Waffle

    North Americans have been sold a bill of goods for a long, long time (well, starting back to the early 70’s in my observations).

    The failure of the primary and secondary schools to teach the basics has dumped the load on the post-secondary institutions.

    I still remember my shock when I was a university freshman in 1970 (I was a mature student and 8 years older than my classmates) and learning that some had to attend “remedial reading classes”.

    Much later, in the early 2000’s, I was a marker for the EQAO Grade 10 literacy test. By that time, things had deteriorated even further. It was a depressing experience to say the least.

    The lack of a basic skill like being able to read and understand what you are reading has created a situation where employers are requiring university degrees for low-level clerical work.

    Where it gets downright scary is that hospitals and other health facilities have a lot of people working with patients who can neither read nor write English properly, many of them Canadian born and raised. Actually, it’s beyond scary. It’s effing criminal.

  • Frances

    It’s been some years now since the offsprings went off to the local uni. We were supporting them to a certain extent, but they were expected to pay for tuition and books. As I recall, they all wanted to be actors, but were somewhat deterred when I asked, “and how do you plan to feed yourself?”. All did well, and graduated with good, marketable degrees. Also, all had to pick up various courses not affiliated with their majors. For the non-scientists, “bits for twits” and “rocks for jocks” worked well (the science major was heard to wish there were “arts courses for the non-arts types” as had to take arts classes with majors in that subject). Luckily, they did not so much of the malevolent stupidity that has overcome too many faculties these days. I do remember one offspring, faced with studying a play from a noted Canadian playwright and really not liking same, salvaged the situation by invoking the family heritage and claiming to be offended by the depiction of a character with the same background.

    These days, unless the kid wants a STEM degree, send him or her to the local polytechnique. Better a good trades diploma than a degree in whining, bitching, and victemhood.