Op-Ed

Post-secondary offers students education outside of the classroom

Photo: Kim Wiens

With more information accumulating in the online world every day, and a seemingly constant state of debt for many students, some question what exactly universities provide that isn’t readily available for free on our laptops and smartphones.

The job market has become incredibly competitive, with 28 per cent of Canadians having some form of post-secondary education in 2013 according to  University Affairs.  This increase means that when employers are looking for qualified individuals, it’s much more efficient to judge applicants by where and what they studied. Since university tests your knowledge, having a degree shows you meet a certain standard of intelligence.

But this isn’t the only way to benefit from a university experience. Whether students realize it or not, at university you receive lots of guidance, as well as the freedom to develop strengths that give you the capacity to succeed. There are resources everywhere on campus that are designed to give you practical experience in your field, or to assist you in developing a skill set you can be confident in.

For example, there are an assortment of clubs and organizations available to you in whichever faculty you call home. You would be surprised at how specific these clubs are—instead of “business club”, you’ll be able to find your niche in a sea of marketing, accounting, entrepreneurship, or management information systems clubs. While the idea of more academic responsibility can be daunting, learning to rise above stress and simultaneously develop your interests is incredibly rewarding.

Learning is a beautiful thing, but experience is by far the best teacher. The support system you’ll build through your experiences with other students having a common passion will help you realize your potential. And that’s something you won’t find in a textbook.

While it’s clear that there’s a lot to gain by  attending university, is it worth what we ultimately lose in finances?

With tuition at the U of O reaching its tenth consecutive year of increases, it’s easy to understand the skepticism people hold about the true value of post-secondary education. While the idea of playing it financially safe is tempting, is throwing away the prospect of university really the most effective way to do this?

University is a huge investment, being prepared going in can drastically reduce your financial woes. Many people in high school feel the need to rush to post-secondary with or without a solid idea of what their career goals are.

Many students get the wrong impression of post-secondary studies, because they haven’t been able to fully take advantage of the developmental resources on campus. Without a clear idea of your interests, finding both your niche at school and spare change becomes a challenge.

When you’ve spent most of your week at the library and eating all your meals at the campus Tim Hortons, it can be hard to remember why you chose the university life to begin with. But rest assured that if you’ve entered the U of O on your own schedule, and you’re willing to lose sleep occasionally to keep up with new friends and responsibilities, the true benefits of your degree will be far too long to list on that little parchment paper.