A widely celebrated scholar once said, “I was never really good at anything except for the ability to learn”.
Well, perhaps I wouldn’t say a “scholar”, as it was Kanye West that said it, after all. Perhaps for once, Kanye has something reasonably articulate and appropriate to say though. Maybe we’re looking at university education the wrong way.
Brock University boasts a high post-graduation employment rate. However, for those that can relate to the harsh reality of unemployment, there is often disappointment and confusion in terms of why they had gone to university in the first place.
It’s understandably frustrating if after working four years and finishing a degree, you are left not only unemployed, but in debt. Are the university institutions themselves to blame?
The unemployed post-grad frustration is a result of a misunderstanding between the university’s intentions and the student’s expectations. The societally constructed purpose of higher education has become a means to an end — and serves the same function as a prison — simply to reform and prepare to assimilate to comply with society. This is, tragically, why almost all students (in which I am absolutely including myself) choose to pursue post-secondary education.
The universities themselves, however, don’t seem to market their institutions in this manner, which means that we should not hold them accountable for our inaccurate assumptions and expectations. Universities across Canada, including Brock University, advertise the intrinsic value of undergraduate studies.
Looking at the “Both Sides of the Brain” campaign, there’s no mention of employment opportunities or direct preparation for the industry or field of your dreams — it’s simply about becoming a balanced person and enjoying the diversity that a university campus offers.
The goal of the education system to create well-balanced, moral citizens doesn’t necessarily end in elementary school and I believe it’s something that we’ve gone too far away from in the current university landscape.
If you ask a graduate what they think university does, it’s probably going to be to make you tough, to be able to keep up, and keep fighting, even when overwhelmed by stress and work. That’s not the legacy I want university to leave in my life.
If we’re asked to engage in critical thought, pedagogical studies and rethinking the world around us, then as we walk the stage to collect our diplomas, we should not be tougher and fierce, or at least not only. Empathy, self-awareness, identity and social skills are a far better reward than a degree and a high average.
Whether you agree with Kanye’s sickeningly humble world-view or not, you should maybe take off the horse-blinders your high-school guidance counsellor put on you, and stop to enjoy the view along the way.