“Yeah, but you’re taking your time.”
There’s something that irks me about this statement. Not necessarily any one thing about it, but there a few things that rub me the wrong way. Allow me to explain.
The other day I was having a conversation with my co-workers about the changing nature of tuition and how I’m paying double the fees my co-worker paid when she went to the same school ten years ago. Some held the opinion that there are better services in place like a transit pass that enables students to use unlimited transit for the semester and some held that it’s still pretty damn expensive, especially if you include inflation. Although we all agreed the bottom line was that post secondary education is now expensive, and that colleges like Douglas College are cheaper alternatives to universities like Simon Fraser University (SFU), we differed in our experiences.
Currently I’m taking 3 courses this semester at SFU, and my tuition (including student fees, rec fees, etc.) was $1913.32. To add, I paid $378.30 in textbooks. That amounts to a semester of $2291.62. That’s a lot of money. To put in perspective, a full courseload of 5-courses for my co-worker ten years ago was $1400, including student fees, rec fees, etc. Although they had no U-Pass for transit, this is undoubtedly much cheaper than my semester.
To see just how much of a difference our fees were, I used myself as an example because I attended Douglas College before SFU. The main point was that my last semester at Douglas College I took 4 course totaling $1450 after a medical plan opt-out whereas when I took 3 courses at SFU, my tuition (and student fees, rec fees, etc.) was already $1,518.27.
Then to my surprise, the response was: “Yeah, but you’re taking your time.”
I don’t know about you, but when I hear this I really feel stunned. It’s like I have this experience and it’s denied empathy. Now, I don’t think the intention was to ignore that it takes a lot of money to go through university, but I felt like the part about me actually living this reality right now was kinda brushed to the side. Sure, I’m not taking 5-courses at full steam, but 3 courses is a full course load in policy and in practicality. Nowadays it’s not so easy to get a job with credentials alone (although it helps, and I know that credentials alone weren’t a surefire hire in the past either), nor do I agree that this is a handy practice.
We live in a culture that rewards and idealizes Type A personalities and lifestyles while at the same time is stuck with the consequences this produces. I respect the people who plug through their degrees and finish in 4-years (or less!) but I also respect that some students don’t know what they want to do and take their opportunity to wander the system while finding out. Why shouldn’t people be allowed to take their time if they so choose?
In this lifetime we will see friends and colleagues change careers two, three, or more times. Instead of being locked in the traditions of movie and TV portrayed life paths, we have the opportunity to create our own. If I’m going to be doing something completely different in ten years, why should I stop doing what I love now?