“Buyer beware” is an unfortunately common caveat we have to accept in life. Sometimes what you purchase won’t come to you in the best condition like you’d expect. Such a caveat shouldn’t be necessary for your university tuition, but a buyers beware sign in regards to the application for new students coming to the U of A this fall might be all too accurate of a message.
First-year students this fall have applied to a university that, during this past summer, has had an unfortunate amount of bad news surrounding it in relation to budget cuts, program suspensions and the possible severance of several staff members. It would be natural for any new student to the U of A to begin to wonder if they made the wrong decision choosing this school in the first place.
The Gateway’s first editorial of the school year is usually devoted to the Editor-in-Chief extolling whatever small semblance of wisdom they’ve gathered while at the U of A, all in an effort to try and inspire new students for the road ahead. This year, it seems like a Herculean task to try and raise the spirits of any student that has to walk into this mess on day one of what could be a long undergrad. But now, more than ever, it’s crucial to remind students that despite all the doom and gloom spouted by many of the more experienced and seemingly wiser people on campus, there’s a way to take charge of your stay at the U of A.
When the seven per cent cut to the U of A’s operating budget was announced back in March, the biggest worry for most students was naturally centered around what the rest of their educational experience would be like. Would they be able to finish their degrees without necessary classes being cut, faculty and staff being fired and resources being compromised, and how valuable would that degree be in the end? There’s also worry for the U of A’s future. Some current students’ responses to the recent program suspensions in the Faculty of Arts was to advise prospective students to look elsewhere, while the faculty of science is already looking to cut their future admission numbers.
In the middle of these two groups are the students entering a university this year that’s mired in uncertainty. They’re becoming part of a student body that’s grown increasingly impatient and less forgiving of an institution that has yet to even fully and publicly reveal how they’ll respond to the budget cuts. Morale is low, student apathy is growing and don’t even get anyone started about the state of our football team the last few years.
For many, this is a nightmare. Some will have believed that they made the right decision a year ago to apply to the U of A, only to now wonder if they’ll have to look elsewhere to continue their education.The U of A has always prided itself on being a renowned institution whose degrees are respected when students graduate and find a job. Unfortunately, no one can say whether that’s still a fact at this university, which has had mostly negative news attached to its name for the past six months.
Because of all that unavoidable negativity, now is a time to remind everyone coming into their first year of studies of an important fact: throughout all of the budget cuts and admission suspensions, faculty severance and growing class sizes, you can still take charge of your university experience and make it exactly what you want it to be.
Undeniably, the majority of students see their plans change over the course of their degree. Whether it’s a change of your major or minor, a new plan for whether and where to go to grad school or a switch in your post-university career, relatively few students see their university degree play out exactly like they expected it would.
If your end goal is to simply get your degree, get out and find a job, you can still do that for now. Despite the program suspensions in Arts, it seems the U of A is still somewhat dedicated to ensuring students already enrolled at their school can finish their degree. Besides that, if you’re coming to the U of A looking for something more out of your university experience, all of the same options are still there as before. Besides the degree, a lot of students want a fulfilling experience at their university, whether that means finding a student group with like-minded people, a student service you can dedicate your time volunteering with or simply the opportunity to take interesting classes, meet fascinating people and become totally engaged with the university experience. Despite all of the negativity, those things are all still possible at the U of A.
The thing is, once you’re finished your post-secondary degrees, it won’t even be about the piece of paper you received once you’re finished. It’ll be about the experience as a whole, like else you put in time for work, volunteering, student groups or wherever, and how you made the most of your time at a university despite its failings.
The U of A isn’t creating an ideal situation for new students to get the most out of their university experience, and even worse, they’re creating an uncertain future for any prospective high school students trying to decide if they want to attend. But at the very least, for the new fall class of 2013, it’s still possible for any new student to take advantage of plenty of opportunities to lead a rewarding university experience. They just have to be willing to look hard enough to do so.
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