The Trials & Tribulation of College & University by St. Lawrence Intern E. V. Hutcheon DEC 23, 2013

books ladderCFN – Every year, much like schools of fish, schools of students apply for colleges and universities around Ontario, hoping to get into their first choices. While many teenagers are let down, others make their first step into adult hood. Taking the first step doesn’t always mean you are a shoo in for that dream job, allowing you to live in a fancy home with everything you could ever ask for. Often, it’s a stepping stone for let-down hopes, and the realization you may have signed up for the wrong program, and more often than not, it lands you with a whole lot of student debt that seems as though it could last forever.

 

I went to school with the hopes to expand my career in writing, and although I am slowly accomplishing this goal, I have seriously begun to rethink my future. I still want to write, but do I really want to become one of the last graduates from my program, when I don’t feel I am getting what I paid for? I decided to search around to see if I was the only one with these feelings or if there were others like me. As it turns out, I was not alone in this boat. I got in contact with a number of different students in a variety of programs throughout Ontario to see what their thoughts were. One student, Nikola Grguric’ who is a third year at the University of Toronto for Architecture informed me,

 

I am not happy with the constant technical glitches on our portal website, where a lot of necessary information is stored. Also, I’m not too happy with the extremely slow marking by most professors. In some cases, students will not get their final mark until AFTER they’ve already chosen courses for next year. This is bad because it doesn’t allow students the information necessary to adequately plan their courses the following semester.”

However this being said, for many professors as well as just teachers in general, they have so many other students and courses that they collect and mark work for. It is not always easy to give back marked homework or projects to students the week after they have all been submitted. Many professors mark all their work individually and on their own agendas. Professors are also paid a certain salary to teach and inform their students. Often a professor will do just that. Most of the professors I’ve ever had to the privilege to be taught by in my lifetime have all been very agreeable and helpful. Unfortunately not everyone is as lucky as I. There are often professors whom unbeknownst to their students in the beginning of the year are found less than helpful and can be very criticizing of little unimportant things. It has been noted also that a student’s question or comments can go unheard to the professor which can often lead to a misunderstanding between both the professor and student. One student blatantly and profoundly, came out to tell me he found his professors to be less then knowledgeable when teaching their instructed courses.

Another student attending the St Lawrence College here in Cornwall, Christopher Hannah a second year environmental technician stated,

 

“I definitely feel that the teacher’s should stay updated on teaching techniques, as well as recent updates in the field of their study. If teachers want to have a greater chance of reaching and educating their students they should offer teaching workshops to help their teachers develop their teaching skills. Teachers could also benefit from keeping up to date simply on the curriculum standard requirements.”

 

 

Later on Nikola also told us, that in one of his classes this past semester, he had one professor who commuted from New York City (USA) to Toronto Ontario for his job. While it is understandable to not immediately connect with a new class especially in a new area, it is completely uncalled for as well as being slightly outrageous for his professor to have made three individual lists with students names printed out and places in their appropriate categories. The first being “good,” the second “getting there,” and finally the third, “lost causes.” Not only by Nikola, but his entire class for the most part, found this very insulting.

 

I felt insulted looking at it. It wasn’t appropriate, it was uncalled for, and it didn’t help anything.” He explained.

 

Is it right for someone to feel that taking action means it’s okay to disregard the feelings of others? Especially when you as a professor feel that this was the only way to make your point across. Surely there has to be another solution, maybe a less hurtful, liable one?

 

Teachers and professors aside though, Nikola also brought up a good point on regards to the money situation when it comes to post-secondary education. Did you know? According to statistics Canada the average rate for intuition across Canada as of 2012-2013 is $6,975 but moving forward for to 2013 – 2014 the rate is going up to $7,259. That’s a ridiculous amount of money to be spending on an education especially when in some cases you don’t go on to putting your degree to use during the future.

 

Ontario has the highest average tuition rates of all the provinces in Canada. Québec, for example, charges an average of $2,500 per year, which is much more manageable than the over $7000 that I pay. Especially considering that most European countries provide students with free post-secondary education, I absolutely do feel like I’m being ripped off every year.” Nikola stated.

 

Often with the amount of money students have to dish out in order to afford going to the school of their choice. Students find themselves having to apply for student loans from the Ontario Government. Students apply through the Ontario students assistance program (OSAP), for these loans. After graduation, students then find themselves locked in a long-term agreement with the Ontario Government to pay back all they owe before a certain set date. If the money doesn’t get paid within that time frame a small some of interest is added on top until that debt is paid off. Of course you probably don’t know this unless you read through the terms and conditions of the Master Student Financial Agreement for Canada and Ontario. Nikola explains that,

 

Tuition can only be lowered with higher government funding, so that’s not up to my school itself to decide. But ideally that’s what I’d like to see happen, because so many people who graduate and can’t find jobs after are in a difficult situation where they cannot pay off their student loans. With regards to the university itself, I would just say that administration should be more aware of the needs of students, rather than seeing them as just an “income unit”

Many students don’t ever look over the terms and conditions because let’s be honest, there is always so much extra information that we ourselves tend to see as useless. As well as when actually looking over or skimming through the terms and conditions, the small font can often start to feel over whelming.

Stephanie Machado is a second year student at Humber College (for the Lake Shore campus) for the Hospitality and Tourism Management program. Her course is approximately four years and she so far finds it hard to really decide if she enjoys her program or not as she has not yet picked her major. Stephanie comments that,

 

I was initially in the Accounting program until I realized I did not enjoy it as much as I thought. After working in the Hospitality business for over two years, I realized that was something that appealed to me and that I could see myself doing in the future.”

 

While applying for college Stephanie took all precautions and chose a school she feels is right for her.

 

My school offers many aids for students that need them and when I was looking for a school I made sure that Humber would accommodate everything I needed.”

 

However, when discussing the means of OSAP Stephanie was no all too happy she did not feel that her needs had been successfully met. Stephanie is one of many students who failed to read through the terms and conditions. She stated that,

 

I feel that OSAPs reliability was not on par. My OSAP money came in late and I had trouble paying for what I needed.”

 

Stephanie along with the other students, all realize that it’s not the school’s fault if an individual’s loan fails to be registered in time; but they also felt that their schools should at least be a tad more understanding considering the outrageous price being paid flat out per year. It’s clear for students when seeking help to a problem due to something with their education, to go to the school for help and advice. Like Humber College, colleges and universities should and will, always offer this but at the end of the day it is still up to the student to fix and figure out their own problems. Often helps when the school puts in effort to help add as a bumper on occasion. Stephanie only had one real objection towards her school,

 

For social reasons I think that Humber Lakeshore should get a campus bar. North had one and I feel that Lakeshore should have one too to give students a chance to unwind.”

 

This is a fair statement; especially considering post-secondary institutions receives thousands of dollars from their student each year. Christopher also said during his interview,

 

I wish my school could offer transport to students who are unable to attend their classes due to unreliable rides… and pizza”

 

Admittedly, it is understandable why the SLC wouldn’t give out free pizza. They do on a regular basis sell it in the cafeteria for a reasonable price however, as well as having their own bar located in the Shark Tank in Aultsville. The transportation that is offered is a public bus service that stops just in front of the Moulinette building. For someone like Chris, as well as many others living just outside of Cornwall, like in Morrisburg or Lunenburg for instance, there is no public bus service that reaches as far as those parts. For many students with little money the one cab service that goes out to that far isn’t a very good option and sometimes isn’t even added as a plan B.

 

When it comes to education, I expect my school to be there to help me with my educational needs just as so many other students before and after me. This includes financial needs, personal needs within the classroom, and social needs within the classroom. Journalism has become a main way to get a point across and discussed these days. But a point is a point, is a point… I can put a point across as I see fit and have it published, but I cannot always find the answers I seek on my own.

 

If we are consistently complaining to others about problems that don’t get solved and why our needs aren’t getting met, are we really accomplishing anything? Nothing will ever get done in this case. Has anyone every actually done anything to change a circumstance that they weren’t happy with? It’s clear to say, nothing will ever get done to solve the issue, if no one gets up and does anything about it in the first place.

 

E.V. Hutcheon is a 2nd year St. Lawrence College Journalism Student.  She has professionally edited a Polish history book and is hoping to see her dream and passion of writing into a career. Previously living Toronto, E.V. is now a proud Cornwall citizen. On her off time you can usually find her at home writing her latest book, or walking along the St Lawrence River. 

Milena Cardinal

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