College education in Canada

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Beautiful university campuses somehow seem a lot more bleak when contemplating one's grades and student loan debts. james Michael Thomas via flickr manipulated by lee lim

Many praise the European College education system, but the one in Canada has its merits 

by rayanne gwilliam, contributor

Something that is often debated is the secular education systems in Europe versus that of North America. While post-secondary education is arguably the most expensive place to go to college, Canada is also experiencing a high hike as well. Comparatively, in many countries (the vast majority being in Europe) students are either offered free education or much lower rates of tuition. Some of these countries have become popular destinations for students as a way to capitalize on this offer, especially considering the fact that the cost of living is frequently much lower as well in comparison. Given both the opportunity of free or lower-cost education and lower living costs, it makes sense how many people wanting higher education make the decision to relocate for school when applicable.  

There are of course other things to consider though, such as the fact that European education is more concentrated only on the original major being studied, whereas in Canada there are elective courses that are much broader, often allowing for students to pick up a minor as well as their degree should they choose to do so. High school grades are arguably more important in Europe as well, as the grade requirements are taken into further consideration. Due to this, it’s argued that it creates a level of privilege to those who are more academically-inclined than others. Conversely, in Canada the grade requirements are less intimidating, giving equal opportunity from that standpoint. This also includes the student centre testing services, tutors, therapy, and more.  

While this may be true, Canada could be argued to create its own kind of privilege in terms of money. Though not common, anyone who is fortunate enough to not acquire any debt while perusing their education does have a distinct advantage over those who have student loans, especially considering the total amount combined with the interest accumulated. Not to mention frequently the costs are increased even more for international students. Unfortunately, as costs have routinely been going up, it is we who run the risk of college continually becoming harder to afford, as well as pay off, due to the cost of living going up as well. It’s also tricky to compare the high school grade requirements, since the curriculum and supports during that phase of life can be different. Therefore, in terms of privilege, it’s fair to say that both post-secondary education systems remain equal.  

Something Canada could definitely benefit from is a decrease in tuition costs for students. Whether it be through financial aid, a breakdown and decrease in expenses, partnerships for scholarships, or some other avenue. There needs to be a plan to gradually decrease the cost overtime to make it more manageable, possibly to the point of being free or at least much less of a burden to students. It could also be beneficial to reconfigure the requirements for degrees, such as being able to choose whether or not to take the extra classes that are simply electives ointerest that don’t apply to the degree itself. This would allow a concentrated degree to be an equal possibility as well, saving both money and time for the student should they not be interested in the extra knowledge provided by more classes. Lastly, it would be beneficial to look into working with places of employment to help fund the education of future and current employees – for both an act of corporate responsibility, an investment into the future, and a mutual benefit of funding for access to student workers.  

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