Monday, April 6, 2009

The Undeveloped Story

Re: "Profs Blast Lazy First-Year Students"

As a first year student at the University of Ottawa, I can't help but be offended at the gross generalization presented in this article. I am shocked to see that students and professors alike would assume that, en-masse, first year students are lazy and unprepared for university.
Throughout high school I knew I would be attending university and from that certainty was the understanding that there would years of hard work ahead. Not only did the school re-enforce this understanding, but so did my peers. The reading, writing, and research skills necessary to succeed in first year were drilled into me in high school, and yes while the transition was difficult to begin with, I would not want anyone to say that it was a result of lack of preparation on my part.

For those professors and students who would make such an assumption, I wonder if they considered what their university does for its new students within the first weeks of school. Consider the traditions of frosh week where socializing seems to be the primary focus as opposed to tours of the libraries or an effort on the part of teachers to discuss expectations with students. Had we a better grasp on the ACTUAL reality of university, perhaps professors and older student would see the maturity and seriousness I recognize in my peers every day.

As midterms and final projects come to a close here, students have already begun preparations for final exams. We draw up study plans, cancel evenings at the pub, and crack down on ourselves to ensure that we complete our first year with a sense of pride. What should be noted is that no matter what a high school does, or does not do, to prepare its students for university, once said students enters the halls of higher education it is that institutions responsibility to mold them into what is needed for their role in the world in years to come. Never should first year be a "sink or swim" experience, though I would say, this is slowly what first year at university is becoming. What the profs and students in the article have noticed is not a failure on the part of first-year students or on the part of their high schools, it is the inflated ego and expectations of post-secondary institutions that leads them to believe that its ok to throw students in to the whirlwind of university without first informing them of what exactly the institution requires of them.

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