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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