Volume 95, Issue 67

Thursday, January 31, 2002

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Double cohort nightmare

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Double cohort nightmare

Skipping class, having a spare and going to the prom were rites of passage for most people at some point during their high school days.

But, in the modern hallways of high schools across this province, a new rite of passage is making a name for itself – the double cohort.

Essentially, it works like this: phase out the OAC year and implement a four-year high school curriculum, similar to those in other Canadian provinces.

The problem, however, arises when students from the old, five-year curriculum and students from the new, four-year curriculum square off to compete for spots in Ontario universities in 2003.

The Ontario government – who is responsible for creating the double cohort – recently aggravated the situation by abandoning plans to help universities deal with difficulties arising from the double cohort, leaving schools with little more than a set of "principles" as guidelines.

Under Ontario's new secondary school system, young people are now thinking about things like university admissions standards at around the same age they are learning to drive.

Students are also losing a year of public education that many will make up with at university for a much higher cost, as three-year degrees become virtually obsolete and four-year degress become the norm.

But only the lucky ones will actually get into university. More competition means higher standards and more students SOL.

With all of the news surrounding universities of late, colleges look better each day. They have shorter, more hands-on courses so graduates leave school with more tangible skills.

And with so many colleges offering co-op programs, students are at an even better advantage because they are getting the opportunity to work in their chosen field.

Despite the imminent fears surrounding the double cohort, it is important to keep things in perspective.

Remember Y2K? People were stocking up on bottled water and non-perishables, building bunkers in their basements and taking all of their money out of the banks because they feared that, at the stroke of midnight, January 1, 2000 all hell would break loose.

But it didn't.

Chances are, the same can be said for the double cohort. Although it will undoubtedly create some logistical nightmares for high schools and universities and some undue anxieties for high school students and their parents, it will not be the end of the world.

The double cohort will not be an easy adjustment, but, if all sides are patient and willing to help –especially the provincial government – this too shall pass.

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