Where has “What to Consider if You’re Considering University” by Coates and Morrison been all my life?
In my opinion, this book should be required reading for every single grade 9 student and her parents from coast to coast.
What, you may wonder, has got me so excited?
It’s real. It’s honest. And the information is absolutely relevant to the swarms of graduating high school students seeking direction on what to do next.
Coates and Morrison use the term swarm to describe the large majority of university bound students who have been “influenced by the over-selling of a university education”. These are the students who don’t necessary enjoy reading, probably won’t engage entirely in what a university has to offer and who seriously lack in the curiosity department. Swarm students are less likely to succeed at university and if they do manage to scrape together the grades required to graduate will probably be no further ahead (just further in debt) then they were after high school.
It’s no surprise that I have encountered a number of students from the swarm over the years. In extreme cases, swarm students have admitted that they just want to “get through” the next four years and it would be so much better if I would just get on with it and tell them what I want them to do and how they should do it to make the process as painless and expedient as possible.
That’s sad. And the individuals I described are not the type of students for which the university system was designed.
What many soon-to-be high school graduates and parents don’t realize is that there is more to life (and post-secondary education) than universities. In fact, other post-secondary options might be a much better fit for both the student’s learning style and desired outcome.
This post is the beginning of a series of four that will delve into the key takeaways from Coates and Morrison’s book.
I encourage all high school students, students struggling through first or second year university and parents of said students to pick up a copy of the book.
Unfortunately many students and their parents were mistakenly led to believe that a university education would somehow automatically line them up for a great paying job so if they could just “get through” the next four years, all will be well in the world.
Reality check – a university education does not equal job training (unless you are in a professional program like nursing, medicine, engineering, teachers college and possibly some business programs). If a specific job is the desired outcome, one of the other options might be better for you.
Coates and Morrison describe college as the road to employment. If you are interested in a particular career then a college program might be the right choice for you. Colleges typically offer a range of programs (most often diplomas) in the areas of social service, health care, paraprofessional, and trades. Colleges tend to be regionally focused and do a good job adapting to the changes in local and regional economies (which is rarely on the agenda of universities). Not only do colleges train students in high-end facilities using the latest technologies, but they offer a direct pipeline to potential employers who often have longstanding relationships with the institution.
Most people don’t even know that polytechnics exist or how they are different from colleges or universities. There are similarities and differences. Polytechnics can offer certificate (typically one year programs), diploma (typically two to three year programs most like colleges) and degree (three to four year programs) programs. Polytechnics are informed by advanced applied research and offer practical, hands-on training, often designed in conjunction with employers. If you’re looking for a direct connection to work upon graduation, the polytechnic choice might be the right one for you.
And what about universities you may ask? I will leave that to the next post where I explore Coates and Morrison’s Curiosity Test as a measure of university readiness. In the meantime, share this post or order a copy of the book for that special high school student in your life.