January 9 , 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 55  

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No need to declare with this degree

Ad Nauseam
Anton Vidgen

News Editor

A university diploma is complete bullshit — at least in its current form.

Diplomas presume that their proud owners are career-focused with specific skills that will enable them to succeed and perform well in their field of study. Sounds good, but since when did students become unwitting labourers in the giant assembly line of life?

Through degree-based education systems, students are trained to be proficient in their selected discipline so that they supposedly contribute more effectively to industry. A more focused worker generally bodes well for the economy, so universities subserviently spit out students with degrees that better enable businesses to shape their workforce.

I’m no Marxist conspiracy theorist, but I’m also no fan of universities pretending to be one of the last bastions of abstract thought while mirroring the intents and purposes of colleges, that is to prepare students for the working world.

Degrees are essentially disguised routes to the job of your choice. Of course, not everyone gets the job they want, but you sure have a betting chance of getting a job in, say, marine biology if you have a degree in marine biology.

Which brings me to my main point: university students should be able to get a degree which does not confine or limit them to any career path. That’s why I propose a Degree in Undeclared, in which students can choose their own courses from any faculty they want. This would accomplish a number of things, least of which is restoring the meaning of a liberal arts education.

Students would study what they WANT to learn, not what someone else thinks they SHOULD learn. Renewed interest in academics is one effect, actually enjoying school is but another.

Professors would be challenged to make study material interesting instead of relying on a steady flow of students who have to take their course as required by their degree.

Employers would be forced to conduct comprehensive interviews to see if prospective employees truly mesh with their job description and the company’s culture instead of just reading the title of their diploma (Ivey business degree? You’re perfect for our company!).

No prerequisites and no required courses allows for ultimate academic freedom, a quality sorely lacking in today’s universities.



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