“The grind,” as we students call it, is officially over. With April exams behind us and ‘unofficial’ marks being posted, the stress of school is no longer lingering over our heads, at least for the next four months.
However, the grind is a never ending cycle during the four or more years at university. During the school year we drown in assignments, essays, readings, tests, exams and some of us even balance a job. Then as April approaches, we are on the search for a summer job or even two summer jobs, because our bank accounts are at less than zero. With the increase of tuition, students are being put into more debt than ever before.
According to a poll on The Brock Press website asking students how much debt they’re in, most students clicked the “more than $10,000” option. The 17 people who voted are a small sample, but the 12 people who said they were in debt beyond $10,000 probably speak for the majority of students.
The debt puts us students in a position to have almost no time to relax. As over the course of eight months of school we’ve piled up debt through tuition, purchasing textbooks, paying rent and other necessities. This makes the summer months that much more important to find a job so we can make some of that money back.
Some students spend their summer working internships, which can add to work experience for when looking to land a career job after graduation. Other students may rely on the simple fast-food or retail jobs to get by. Construction and landscaping jobs also become available during the summer months. Even well-known companies such as Ford add student positions for the summer, but that is if the auto sector is not slowed by the economy and other factors.
Realistically however, the amount of student summer jobs available is at a minimum and continues to decrease. In fact, summer jobs have become so difficult to find that most students are left jobless well into May. The ones that are lucky to find a job are normally looking while also studying for April exams, which just puts more stress on our plates.
According to a Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey done last May, the student unemployment rate has increased 15.1 per cent. That’s a 1.5 per cent boost from the year prior, and what makes things worse for student’s is that this past year tuition increased 3.2 per cent from the previous year.
At Brock University, the tuition for an Arts or Science program ranges just under $6,500, and the cost of rent in the St. Catharines and Thorold area is about $400-$500 per month. If you’re in first-year, residence plus meal plan will cost you over $10,000 (that’s more than $1,000 per month).
Meaning the correlation between increased student unemployment rate and increased student tuition is a sign for more debt for the millennials.
The Ontario government has taken no action to help fix the rising cost of tuition, let alone the lack of jobs for students (and let’s not get started about minimum wage). So how can one student, let alone millions pay back the debt? It’s said to believe that Canadian students owe the federal government more than $15 billion in student debts, but the income students make over the course of summer won’t even be enough to pay for the upcoming school year expenses.
I can’t say the provincial government has done nothing to help students pay back their debt, but they certainly haven’t done enough. The only effort put in by the government to help students in debt was in June of 2015. The Ontario government began a program to allow graduated students to pay their tuition debt back through travel points. You know, because we have all the time to go on vacation while we work low-income blue collar jobs.
Some are going to argue that students can’t be blaming the government for their debt. Arguing that the way we manage our money is a major factor towards our debt, but the statistics show that most students spend their income towards getting by university. The lack of available jobs during the summer and even post-graduation continues to add the lingering debt and added stress to student everyday life.
Summer has arrived and students may spend most the four months working, but we have to remember that there needs to be some time to enjoy life. It’s a chance to spend time with family and friends, yet still focusing on work to pay back debt for our education. Students don’t complain everyday about their debt or let it hang over their heads, but the increase of unemployment for students during summer and the increase of tuition is a growing burden.
So as we continue to fight through the year-round “grind”, it might be time to think of a more educational word to describe what we students go through as we do pay a lot for the education we get. I tried to think of the proper word, while staying professional at the same time, but the only word that comes to mind is one that begins with bull and ends with something that rhymes with spit.