I have returned home from my amazing experience in Japan and I have been back at school since the winter semester. When you leave and then return back to something familiar, you develop a different perspective. I know, I did. I became more critical about the university. After having spent nearly a year working, the university seems… questionable.
To me, this institution is a commodity. Students pay an outrageous amount of money in order to be associated with a university or college. Of course, it is understood that in the exchange of money, the student receives education, social capital, skills, knowledge and a diploma or some form of certificate that recognizes his or her completion of the institution. I know that it is an extremely competitive world. Especially since most Canadian residents are situated in major cities. Those that do live in small areas, travel to live in the big cities if they have the potential to succeed. Therefore, a lot of talents are in these metropolis areas. So I know that in order to attain an ideal career and live the fabulous life, it is helpful to have this post-secondary background.
Besides the lecture materials and textbooks filled with fascinating—or even at times, dull and irrelevant—information. What do we learn when we attend this institution?
But what exactly are we learning here? Besides the lecture materials and textbooks filled with fascinating—or even at times, dull and irrelevant—information. What do we learn when we attend this institution?
Money makes the world go round
Two years ago, my university decided to save money. In order to do that, we weren’t allowed to pay tuition fees online with a credit card anymore. We can use Interact, set up a bank account, go to a specific bank and pay with cash, or drop in a cheque. Overall, highly inconvenient for many students—myself included. But apparently, by disabling the credit card option when paying for fees, it saves the university billions of dollars each year. Sounds practical. Then why do I continue to receive notifications that tuition is being increased? I’ve had to click “Okay” to the pop-up and confirm that I understand the tuition increase. Truth is, I don’t understand why we have the tuition increase.
Shouldn’t education be encouraged and promoted? Instead it stresses and puts off current or perspective students. A lot of the things that are included in tuition fees aren’t even broadcasted to students, unless they click through several pages to see what is included in the fee. The actual programs that are paid for aren’t known to many students. I discovered that I have helped pay in the last few years: the student association for the university, the student association for my own faculty, the cost of printing school papers, running the sport stadium and so forth. And of course, on top of that, health services and the actual courses.
the marks were too high because the class average was 72%. I turned and saw my peers’ expressions and they were thinking the same thing I was: that is an expected class average?
Stuck with the Bell Curve
Prior to first year, I have never been acquainted with the “bell curve.” This evil instrument is the professor’s bible. This maintains the class average. Sometimes it is helpful when the class average after a midterm is below the expected mean; the bell curve will help boost marks. However, this will also do the opposite if you are one of the few students who achieved a high mark, this will bring you down. This being said, throughout my entire university career thus far, I’ve learned obtaining high marks is possible but the system doesn’t allow everyone to achieve high marks.
A Professor’s Expectations
Two months ago, one of my professors was handing back our first midterm. She was giving an overview of how we did. The first thing she said was: the marks were too high because the class average was 72%. I turned and saw my peers’ expressions and they were thinking the same thing I was: that is an expected class average? She was not encouraging us to do better for our second midterm, and instead, stated that she will make the next midterm even harder so we cannot achieve this “high average.”
In my last lecture for this same class, the professor was giving another overview of how we did on our term papers and second midterm. Again, she said that we did extremely well on our term papers and second midterm. She stressed once more that the class average was too high. This time, she was more on the right track. Since the class average for the midterm was 76%. She mentioned that if she ever had to teach the theories course with this many students, she will have to devise another method to prevent the class from attaining the same marks our class did.
With this being said, I still think that she is an amazing professor who clearly feels passionately about the course material. She’s inspirational. Since she is such an exceptional professor, it is contagious. I want to learn more and do better because I enjoy the class. Students tend to react this way, it is only normal. But it is excessively discouraging when the same professor states that she cannot have such a high average or else she may be fired. So I realize that there are pressures put upon our educators so they can maintain the expected mean.
Why does this system exist? Shouldn’t students be encouraged to do well so that this transfers into the real world, allowing them to become driven and self-motivated citizens? This is the problem with the institution. This is the puzzle that must be solved.