I hope you brought your parents' Visa
// Sarah Vitet, Editor-in-Chief

How are you paying for school? There are lots of options, though most people prefer the “mommy and daddy” discount. If you want to be responsible for yourself you might be taking out a student loan, or going part-time while working; maybe you
managed to save enough money yourself by working graveyard shifts for twelve years fixing refrigerators in the Yukon (or something equally well-paid). However you manage to attend, there is no question that university costs a lot of money.

I’m here to tell you that it isn’t worth it. You are wasting your money on a product that shouldn’t even be considered a product in the first place. Capilano University is selling you an education, when you should be getting it for free.

No, I’m not saying that the government should pay for it (though that’s certainly a good start). I’m saying that everyone should have the right to as much education as is in existence, not just people who can afford to/have the guts to take out a loan/can get high enough grades to get in. Access to knowledge should not be limited for any reason, no exceptions, the end.

No marks, no deadlines, no fee deferrals or cashier lineups or living at your parent’s house until you are thirty.

The only price for getting an education should be the obligation to pass on your knowledge to others. Your teachers got their positions by going to University and paying their (albeit lower) tuition fees. It stands to reason that they would feed their learning back into the system they got it from. However, it would be a much more efficient system
if the only thing you owed at the end of your education was your promise to teach others what you were taught. Information is not a consumable good in the way of sneakers or chocolate bars: it is the power that our civilization uses to move forward. Nobody should be excluded from learning, but that’s exactly what post-secondary institutions do.

According to a study done by Tomkowicz and Bushnik with Statscan, people who live in Quebec are more likely than any other province to attend post-secondary right after high school. “The Quebec post-secondary educational system is different from the educational systems of other provinces,” the study reads. “First, CEGEP is very inexpensive and as such accessible to virtually all high school graduates. While in other provinces high school graduates need to rely on student loans, scholarships or grants, family support, or their own savings to pay post-secondary tuition, this is not the case in Quebec where students can enroll in CEGEP with a relatively small financial investment.”

However, keeping education trapped in an institution not only excludes those who cannot afford to go financially: it also prevents many other people from getting their education. Not everybody learns the same way, but University tells you that if you are having problems, it’s you who has to change, not your instructor. In your huge and ever-growing classes, do you really think that all your peers learn the same way? They don’t, and lots of them (and probably even you) have trouble keeping up with the various different teaching methods of your various different professors.

People with high school averages of less than 70% are three times as likely to delay going or never go to a post-secondary institution. Not receiving a scholarship, grant or bursary further increased the odds of people delaying or not going. 1 in 7 students drop out of University before they graduate. There is obviously a problem here, and it isn’t with individuals. It is with the system we are supposed to work within.

It may not surprise you that people with lower grade point averages in high school are less likely to enter post-secondary, though it’s not as simple as disregarding people as un-academic or unmotivated. It is important to keep in mind socio-economic class, race, gender, family structure, mental health, and other factors. Children with stable home environments, particularly children who come from middle-class families, tend to do better in school. Parents with more money have more time to be involved in their children’s education, from making sure their assignments are done and hiring tutors to advocating for their child with teachers. Children who are raised in more stressful home environments often have responsibilities in addition to their schoolwork, as well as potential difficulty in completing homework in their home without being distracted.

Children with parents who do not speak the language they are being instructed in, children with parents who did not complete high school, children in the foster care system, children whose parents are disabled or mentally ill, children with learning disabilities, physical disabilities or their own mental illnesses. All these people, and many more, have disadvantages when trying to “stay in school”, especially at the post-secondary level.

The benefits of getting an education, however, are expansive. Under 10% of all inmates in federal prisons have any college education whatsoever. According to Statistics Canada, the participation rate for the Aboriginal population in University was 7% as versus the non-aboriginal population at 41%. In 2008, 33.1% of all incarcerated women were Native, while Native men represented 19.1% of incarcerated men. It is obvious to me that the education system is failing, and failing hard.

Education should not be kept as a product for institutions to regulate, sell, or withhold. In order to have a successful and innovative society, we need to have a broad information commons, where there is shared knowledge to build from. There is no excuse to limit someone’s access to information. University takes learning and perverts it, turns it into an advertised pathway to careers that might not even exist. Having to pay for post-secondary education makes learning into a privilege, when it should be a right.

The number one reason people drop out of post-secondary is because of depression. Students spend all their time in fluorescent-lit classrooms trying to learn their course material in a short amount of time, and they feel pressure to make it worth it because it’s so expensive and they have to work all the time to be able to afford it. It becomes impossible to take enjoyment from any other aspect of life because they are too busy, they lose motivation, their grades start slipping, and they drop out.

However, the problem of the institution doesn’t only impact people who receive poor grades or drop out of school. How much of your last exam do you really remember? It’s been shown that the majority of students cram study to pass their exams. If you can’t even remember what you supposedly learned, are you really even “getting” the education you paid so much for?

// Sarah Vitet

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