articulate mediocrity

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Last Chance U? October 13, 2009

Filed under: education — alison @ 10:26 pm

Last Friday, my sister and I visited the illustrious campus of Carleton University for its annual “CU Day,” a day intended to promote the school and its programs to potential students. Needless to say we found ourselves decidedly unimpressed. After running around campus in the rain, desperately seeking the Field House, we eventually discovered a rather mediocre set-up of displays from the various faculties and disciplines. Nothing too eye-catching; generic poster displays with dated brochures were the norm. Most troubling was the lack of free swag — where were the pens, lanyards, whiteboards, and magnets?

Finding a pair of airheaded upper-year students who were heading towards the Faculty of Science session, we made our way to a presentation touting the plethora of opportunities for science undergrads in the research lab. All well and good, but once the presentation drifted into babblings of “transfer of knowledge” and statistics on the number of faculty journal publications, I couldn’t help but wonder what this information meant to a seventeen-year-old like my sister, who is anxious to learn more about course content, assignments, student life, and employment opportunities after graduation. More of the same was heard at presentations surrounding biology and biochemistry. After a quick tour of the cafeteria — where we declined a generous offer of a 15% discount on lunch! — we decided to make our escape.

The competition for university students is fierce; and while enrollment may or may not drop over the next decade, potential students have a vast array of schools to consider (Ontario alone has over twenty university institutions). In my sister’s case, the University of Ottawa, Carleton, Queen’s, McGill, and Concordia are are all located within roughly two hours of home and seem to be the main schools under her consideration. Yet Carleton’s haphazard day supposedly dedicated towards recruiting eager students seemed more like an excuse to give the majority of its current students and faculty a four-day weekend. In short, Carleton is advised to strive harder to impress the echo generation, many of whom undoubtedly have older siblings and parents who haven’t forgotten that Carleton once held the dubious distinction of being Ontario’s foremost “Last Chance U.”

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master contemplator October 12, 2009

Filed under: general — alison @ 4:58 pm
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It seems that I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life avoiding the inevitable. I chose to major in communication because I thought it would help me keep my options open when looking for a job. Instead, it made me more susceptible to blank looks and questions of, “And what sort of job can you get with that?” I would invariably respond to the question with “Hopefully, something to do with writing.”

So why deny the fact that, somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve always been somewhat receptive to the concept of being a journalist? While I have little interest in reporting generic news stories (“Ignatieff a Douche at Stornoway Gala”. anyone?), a newfound interest in the business of higher education has sparked a shift in my thinking.

To pursue or not to pursue graduate training in journalism? I’m relatively lucky to have a decent journalism school nearby; however, being a young homeowner, two years is a long time to spend without the promise of a steady paycheque. For now, it seems more reasonable to spend time honing my writing skills and developing an expertise in a few specific fields.

I’ve always had a hard time channeling my thoughts into a semi-coherent blog post/article/mind dump. Let this blog, then, be a record of my attempt to avoid languishing into the void of mediocrity and instead create something genuinely worth reading.