Graph as it appeared at the time of this post

Each color represents a different age group.

Introduction

I was listening to the radio today and I heard an ad for the Globe and Mail.  It mentioned “Canadian higher education” and encouraged people to go to their website and vote and state their opinion about post-secondary education.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

I voted and wrote my 240 characters worth of comments. However, I was surprised at how different other opinions were from mine; I was shocked. One of the comments in the article stated that this graph is very biased because it only reaches out to G&M readers and that people who are very dissatisfied with their education are unlikely to share their opinion here.

It has been 4 years since I graduated from Sheridan College with honors. I studied Computer Science Technology. Since then, I have had plenty of work experience and I have spent time learning on my own when I have the time. Things have been changing very quickly and I have done what is necessary to adapt to my environment. If I had to decide whether or not I am on the right path to success, I cannot give a guaranteed accurate answer. I consider myself a hard worker and I am constantly learning about new technology.

If I could go back in time and make different choices, I would. I wish I was more aggressive in school and more adamant in getting things done; I wish I maintained a tighter connection with friends and acquaintances; I wish I was more methodical in job hunting.

If I could go back in time, would I have chosen another school? I worked hard at Sheridan; I gave it my best; I helped friends out whenever I can and they helped me; through thick and thin, we prevailed; they ramped up the difficulty and we got through it, one step at a time. With all that in mind, in addition to what I know now… Yes! Yes, I would have chosen another school, increasing my risk of sinking in debt. I made many sacrifices to save money, pay tuition myself and graduate from Sheridan with zero debt! I say yes because of personal feelings; my opinion. I met some of the smartest and coolest people at Sheridan and making friends is an important step in surviving school. The name “Sheridan College” on my resume has a lot of meaning; it is valuable. There are other schools that have more meaning and more value in the workplace. That’s why I say yes. However, time-travel aside, I have learned to love the decisions I made and accept them.

Without this getting TOO personal or delving into politics, I’d like to state some things that are wrong with colleges and universities that everyone can agree with.

Irrelevant Classes

I’m not talking about general electives; that’s another story and it’s complicated! I know that as students, we’ve sat through numerous classes that seem to serve no purpose other than to fill up the curriculum. There are too many courses out there that feel like a waste of time and when students graduate, these lessons are never used again. For example, math is an essential subject to learn; everyone must understand math in order to function in life. However, there is a fine line between a necessary class and just something that is just so irritating, so useless, so complicated that I can’t wait to finish the exam so that I can move on with my life! These courses can easily be replaced by more relevant courses closer to the student’s career path.

Expensive Tuition Fees

“Is this my bill or is this my phone number?” This is arguably, the #1 complaint. I really don’t have to say anything else. Who do I point my finger at: Politicians, Unions, Teachers, Deans? If everything lowered in price or at least froze, life would be easier. This is true for everything.

Brand name loyalty

I really don’t know who to point my finger at for this one. It’s really just a popularity contest. If a student graduates from School B and starts looking for a job, workplaces start to care about students from School A. If employers start to look for people from a certain school, it makes that school look good. However, this upsets the balance (or whatever remains) and suddenly choosing a school is more complicated. Suddenly, people choose a school they cannot afford knowing that not all schools are created equal.

The world is changing too quickly!

I remember in my first year at college, one of our teachers told us the following:

  1. You have to learn on your own. Everyone else will be too busy and you have to read books and teach yourself.
  2. Everything you will have learned before graduating will be out of date.
  3. Most if you will end up working as [insert-boring-career-related-entry-level-position-here].

At first, I thought he was laughing at us. It was only just before we graduated that we realized he was telling the truth. While it’s not the most optimistic advice, I cannot deny it. However at the same time, it shows that even the best classes can mean very little depending on the career path one would take.

Conclusion

Life is rarely fair. I could write more about this, but I want to limit it to the above points. Again, I want to reiterate that regardless of the things I said about my school, I have accepted the decisions I made and enjoyed found ways to teach myself and pursue different interests outside of work. The education system is not perfect and can used many improvements! I once had an interview where the employer concluded, “I know people who went to Waterloo and got hired just because of that!” While that’s great for them, it makes job hunting more complicated. It is one of the many reasons why people decide to go to study another program or go to another college or university after graduating. I like to call it “tertiary education” or “post-post-secondary”. I know a bunch of people who have successful careers with multiple careers. This decision shouldn’t be forced on people for the simple privilege of getting a paycheck.

To be honest, this really is just another survey. After it ends, everyone will forget it and move on to the next one. I remember when The Star posted the 2011 Ontario election results; the voter turnout was incredibly low and people were bickering in the comments and blaming non-voters for the outcome. What’s my point? Nothing; just that I didn’t think about that until now and neither has anyone else.

Now go and put in your two cents and enter a comment; blank comments really don’t carry much weight other than just a colored dot.

Links
Vote: How relevant is Canadian higher education?