The Value Of Education

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

January 20, 2009 Ed Cartoon

As the North American economy continues to slide and entry-level jobs become scarcer by the day, Canadian post-secondary institutions are bracing themselves for an increase in both undergraduate and graduate student applications. The University of Toronto has already incurred a nine per cent increase in post-graduate applications over previous years and other Ontario schools are expecting a similar rise in all disciplines of study.

Does this increase in applications mean hesitant undergraduates are choosing to advance their education in hopes of escaping the inevitability of the ‘real world?’ If so, is now the time to take on greater financial burden in the form of more tuition? Or is it just that undergraduates feel a bachelor degree alone is simply not enough to stand out to potential employers anymore?

The comical assumption is the majority of students " particularly those enrolled in the social science and arts disciplines " have a measure of apprehension in entering a competitive job market. Considering the present economy, there may indeed be a greater measure of truth in this assertion.

Regardless of the economic state employers are expecting a higher level of education from their applicant pool than they did a generation ago. With the increasing number of people graduating with a bachelor degree, it may seem a logical conclusion that today’s student may feel a post-graduate education would set them apart from the competition.

In facing one of the most competitive job markets in recent memory, employers will certainly be looking not only at the educational accomplishments of applicants, but at other measures of qualification, such as participation in relevant extra-curricular activities " an intangible part of a post-secondary education that too many students forego in their pursuit of academic excellence.

In a cruel twist of fate, this surge in applications comes at a time when securing educational financing is becoming an increasingly difficult task. Financing terms from most national institutions are nowhere near as appealing as they were in the past and two years of post-graduate tuition comes with a daunting price tag.

There is no arguing the expectations of today’s graduates are as high as they have ever been and the dramatic rise in applications is representative of students’ understanding of this. As well, the rise in applications demonstrates that students feel the financial cost is well worth the potential advantage they will hold following graduation.

Indeed, procuring an advanced education " complimented by the benefits of a well rounded university experience " is not only worth the financial burden, but is most likely the best form of preparation for the current job market and the ever daunting world of ‘reality.’

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