A John G. Kelly Report
John G. Kelly
B.Com., D.PIR., LL.B.,M.S.Sc., M.A. (Jud.Admin.), F.CIS.
The “Coming of Age” generation who are nearing completion of their high school education is being pushed by parents to pursue a dream they had when in high school often with the help of guidance counsellors whose advice is grade point average (GPA) focused. Go to university and get a degree. A baccalaureate of Arts (B.A.) will open the door to good paying jobs and wonderful careers. That was then. But this is now a digital age that’s dominated by science, technology engineering and math (S.T.E.M.) in a “gig” economy and an emergent world of remote work.
It’s true that if you want to access some of the highly regulated prestigious professions, notably law and medicine, you do have to attend university and get not just a baccalaureate degree but a graduate specialty degree such as a JD for law, MD for medicine, DDS for dentistry and B.Eng/Professional engineers. But take heed. A new genre of paralegals, alternative legal services providers in law, the emergence of 28 self-regulated health professions and computer techs in Canada is making inroads into the traditional professions.
Once you gravitate to the traditional university degrees such as BAs in arts and humanities and the variation in undergraduate business degree programs a university education can be an expensive proposition when linked to entry level positions in the private and public sector. The big entry level career positions are becoming fewer and far between. You now need to add on two or more years of graduate study and get an market related M.A. (Political Science or Economics) or MBA (Finance or Marketing) to be considered as a preferred candidate for prestigious entry level career positions. A “coming of age” candidate for university is now looking at a post education accrued bill in the $50,000- $75,000 range and will leave them in post-secondary education debt for 5-10 years. Is this a dream or a nightmare?
University can be a dream if you have a passion for a professional career that you want to ignite and are prepared to chart a university pathway that will open that all important career door. But that dream needs to be yours, not your parents. Nor can it be based on the advice from a guidance counsellor who’s grade point average (GPA) focused. And don’t just think of the prestigious professions. If it’s in the arts and humanities; think social work, teaching, political action, environmental advocacy, then enroll in arts and humanities and go for it. That and not university should be your dream of living life to the fullest.
The London Underground (“the tube”) has a notice painted at the edge of the platform that’s accompanied by a heads up announcement. Every time a train approaches a station you’re reminded to “mind the gap”. In other words, don’t slip on the edge of the platform and tumble into the subway car.
How’s that applicable to the “coming of age” generation of high school graduates looking into post-secondary college and university education?
In the U.K. students graduate from what is equivalent to a high school diploma with an Ordinary Level (O-level) certificate. It’s equivalent to a grade 11 education in Canada. Students intending to apply to university are then required to enroll in what are labelled as Advanced Level Qualification (A-Level) programs. They select a package of post-secondary programs that are focused on their preferred areas of study. The nature and type of program package and the grade point average (GPA) is utilized to qualify for entry into a university program. A normal A-Level program of study usually takes two year.
It's an intensive program of study. If a prospective A Level applicant is unsure of what courses or program of study they want to pursue during their A Level program or they want time think through whether they’re in an area that is aligned with their primary area of interest and doesn’t ignite their passion they can take a year off. During that year off they’re encouraged to explore an activity of some sort that’s of interest to them, career oriented international travel, or work with a non-governmental organization (NGO) and became involved with advocacy for a cause, etc. y
The gap year is integrated as an option in the A-Level program of studies in the U.K. Universities are supportive of the “gap” year and encourage prospective students to pursue it. It is oftentimes a value add to a university application, particularly if it’s to one of the elite Russel Group of Universities.
The Canadian university system doesn’t have a formal gap year option integrated into their application process. However, if a student makes an inquiry to a university about taking a gap year in conjunction with an application most universities will support it. As is the case in the U.K., it’s a value add to an application and can be a factor in adding value to the conventional grade point average (GPA).
A university education is a time consuming and expensive proposition. It’s estimated that approximately 30% of students in universities in the Maritime provinces drop out by the end of second year of study. In many instances its because they just don’t see how the university program of study they’re enrolled is associated with a career that’s of interest to them. University dropouts were prominent in every program I taught in at Seneca College. They weren’t failures. They were now on a pathway to success. They had enrolled in pre-college program registration counselling and had finally aligned their personal preference with a career. This was smart thinking.
Give a gap year some thought if you’re wondering what will ignite your passion for a career. My extensive mentoring in the U.K. university education system has made me conversant with gap year mentoring. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information.
A John G. Kelly Report
John G. Kelly
B.Com., D.PIR., LL.B.,M.S.Sc., M.A. (Jud.Admin.), F.CIS
That’s the ominous title of a recent article by Nathan Heller in the New Yorker magazine. The article reports that 80% of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) have found that enrollment in arts and humanities programs in universities has been in decline over the past decade. In this same period enrollment in the health, medical, natural sciences and engineering has dramatically increased.
There are several reasons for the decline. The most obvious is that this “coming of age” generation in the 16- 21 year -old category isn’t well read. The recent movie highlighting the career of Judy Blume, who was a godmother of sorts to young girls and whose books were avidly read by virtually an entire generation of girls entering puberty, is no longer the must go to source. This is a generation that has been conditioned to scroll social media and I phone for information. The era of curling up in a couch for a long read has ended.
Aspiring college and university students don’t see a link between the humanities and a career other than teaching. All of the talk in the education arena is about science, technology, engineering and math, the S.T.E.M programs, as being the occupational fields with rewarding careers. Interestingly, even though the arts and humanities are in decline as introductory courses there’s an upsurge in students enrolling in statistics as an optional course in their program of study. Sitting in their bedroom playing on their computer has introduced them to the power of “stats” in social media. They know their profile on social media is defined by statistical analysis and they want to find out how it works.
The arts and humanities model of university education was initially defined and shaped by the elite British universities (Oxbridge) which were havens for learning by the elite. We’ve all seen brit box movies of young gentlemen in gowns learning to master the classics and recite poetry while awaiting to take their place in upper class society. North American universities attempted to adopt this model in their formative era but it just didn’t work in a society where everyone was expected to get to it and get to work. Instead of looking at a model that reflected the reality of North American society universities developed learning silos. Think of the english department, history department, political science department and the professional schools such as law and medicine. North American universities have evolved into a series of competitive learning silos that devote too much time arguing with one another.
If, and when they step outside those silos and look at how they can become part of an inclusive learning enclave the arts and humanities are often surprised to discover that students want to incorporate them into their university learning experience. One of the law programs I taught in at Seneca College had a required English course module. The English professor put together a compilation of crime novels. The students learned how to critically read and write by reading books they thoroughly enjoyed because they were linked to their career aspirations.
Canada is a multicultural country. Many children of first- generation immigrants are coached, in some instances to the point of coercion, to get into occupations where they can do financially well. Everyone knows that doctors, lawyers and MBA;s are in the upper strata of the career income bracket. The arts and humanities aren’t associated with high paying prestigious careers.
I founded a very successful professional educational consulting company, Canada Law from Abroad (www.canadalawfromabroad.com) that mentored and counselled students into prestigious top tier law schools in the UK. A significant number of prospective students were children of first -generation immigrants whose parents were determined to get them into law school and that was all there was to it.
I developed an innovative graduate post-diploma program at Seneca College in anti-money laundering compliance to enable recent immigrants with university degrees to become accredited as para -professionals in the financial services field in the banking sector. I wasn’t surprised to find immigrants with undergraduate baccalaureate degrees in the arts and humanities, in many instances from prestigious international universities, enrol in the program rather than an academic M.A. They wanted to access a career with assured above average pay rather than risk get caught up in an arts and humanities silo that wasn’t career linked.
So, should students be mentored and counselled not to enrol in arts and humanities programs. No, but they need to be mentored on how they can link arts and humanities studies to defined professional careers. What universities need to do is to develop a counselling and mentoring course labelled as “Making a Career with a Humanities Major”. In the interim post -secondary counsellors need to take the lead and put a personalized version in place. Want to know how to do it from someone who’s successfully done it? Contact John Kelly at email@example.com
John G. Kelly
Mentoring & Counselling