When it comes to school, I've got some opinions. Unpopular as they may be, I know many individuals who tend to agree.
In many cases, I feel that university or college is a waste of time and money. Not because I look down on education, but because I think the system to gain such an education can be, at times, pretty flawed.
I am a firm believer that we a much more than our high school transcripts, and that life experience and skill set speaks volumes above any high-grade point average.
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The truth is, after years of schooling and mounds of student-loan debt accumulated, a high number of graduates end up working in unrelated fields. The stats are unclear and hard to pinpoint - but I think it's fair to say that we all know a handful of college/university graduates who have a degree in their chosen field, yet continue to work as a server, or barista, or retail manager.
Still, it is common knowledge that to get a "good" paying career in Canada, you'll likely need some type of degree.
Many colleges are already accepting students who have a less than ideal high school background.
The MEP (Mature Entry Program) is in place for those of us who maybe didn't do so well in the high school setting, but show a lot of promise and skill through real-life and work experience. These people deserve a spot in a post-secondary class just as much as someone who could be considered an "academic."
Generally, the requirements for MEP are as follows:
- Be 21 years old by August 1 or December 1 for entry in September or January respectively;
- Lack the normal academic requirements for admission, but demonstrate the ability to successfully undertake undergraduate courses;
- Have not been engaged in full-time study for at least 24 months since the age of 18. Applicants who have been out of school for 12 months may be admitted provided their academic record for the previous 24 months is favourable;
- Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
A new pilot project is making the news out of Surrey, B.C. today, where a grade 12 student has been accepted into Kwantlen Polytechnic University for this coming fall. Source.
The student had excelled in areas of drama and arts, while her technical grades in the standard maths, sciences and so on were lacking. The project looked beyond her letter-grade marks to a digital portfolio of work showing her skills, aptitude, and readiness for higher education.
David Burns, a Kwantlen education studies professor is a leader of the pilot project, and says that "handing out life opportunities based on that particular instrument (a letter grade) alone is not a good way to run a public education system,"
Burns cites employer complaints of a skills shortage or mismatch between graduates' skills and market needs.
This new system has sparked a lot of debate as to whether portfolios could, or maybe should, replace letter grades for admission to higher education.
There are plenty of students who don't get the same opportunities as others because of the GPA not being the ideal for an admissions board. But these grades are not so cut and dry. There is usually more to the story that should allow for a closer look at respective student candidates skill-set and willingness to learn.
If we start to look past the letter-grade system, maybe in time we will see a more productive and rounded workforce in varying industries. People who are learning for the sake of their passion and not because they need that extra credit for the Bachelor's degree.
I've already said that I value experience over education in most ways.
Now, if you were faced with hiring, let's say a business manager, would you prefer someone fresh out of college - degree in hand - or would there be more value in someone who spent that time doing the work already?
Sure, it's easy to say a degree is mandatory, just as it's easy to forget that sitting in a class hearing someone speak does not mean you'll have the skills to flex on the job. There is a reason we have internship hours in higher education, and it is to gain this real, hands-on experience.
Those students that are already doing the work in their daily lives count just as much, if not a little more, than someone who may or may not even use their degree - also taking away space for a willing student/worker to receive a degree they may need.
I guess the point of this is to say that our school system as it stands, or at least as it stood when I was in school, needs some reworking to become inclusive for all individuals who want to learn.