3 Reasons Why Blue Jeans and Brick Buildings Are Beating Out Bowties and Ivory Towers


I was just reading this article about how many Canadian students are now switching from university degrees to college diplomas as the most sought-after post-secondary education qualification, and I must say, I was caught up in the argument. Once again, as many of you know, I am a university graduate and I now work at a private college, so I would certainly say that I have somewhat of a vested interest in the debate.

This versus...


After reading the article and pondering (yes, I said “pondering” – I love that word) each reason, I came to 3 conclusions as to why I think colleges are beating out universities when it comes to admissions:

1) College campuses are smaller: As a freshman, I had a bit of difficulty finding my classes. My campus was so large that just to walk from one building to the next seemed to take, at bare minimum, 20 minutes or so. Therefore, if you have a class at 2:30pm and another class at 3:00pm, you had to high-tail it to the building. Once you finally made it there (usually about 15 minutes or so late), the professor was already in the midst of his/her lecture and the class was deep in debate about the colour of socks on The Wife of Bath in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (or whatever). I had to slunk down in my chair and pretend that I wasn’t gasping for breath from my 20 minute jog to class, while even though sweat was pouring down my face and I was the colour of a fire engine. Yeah, because that’s what I normally look like – wheezing, panting for breath, and so hot that my eyeballs were sweating. Perfectly normal.

I kinda looked like this guy...sans medal.

College campuses just never seem to be so big that you nearly die just trying to get to class. I’m sure that there are some out there, but the ones that I’ve encountered have never been as big as my alma mater. (You can read more about my unfortunate experiences trying to navigate my way through my university during my freshman year here). This may seem like a ridiculous reason to want to choose a college over a university, but if you’ve ever had to run across your campus like a madman to get to your next class, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Don’t judge me.

2) Colleges don’t offer “filler” courses: Perhaps the most irritating thing about a traditional university are the completely useless classes that you can take in order to fulfill the requirements of your degree. Two of the most useless classes that I opted to take were Film Studies and Criminal Behaviour.

The first had me sitting for 2 hours once a week in an “academic movie theater”, in which we would watch Charlie Chaplin twirl his cane and make surprised face all the time, or those old films where the bad guy was always dressed in black and tied some random woman to a railway track (those really do exist), or films with Antonio Banderas before he was actually famous. We would then meet again for another 3 hours each week to discuss film quality, acting styles, mirror placement within the film (it’s supposed to be artistic), and even whatever happened to Baby Jane.

This. This is whatever happened to Baby Jane...

The second class had me studying the minds of criminals; it was disturbing and made me distrust everyone around me. Once you delve into the psychology of a sociopath, you can’t help but look for similar signs of that behaviour in all of your friends and family – Hmm…why are you really taking that cookie from the cookie jar, little Timmy? To me, that seems to exhibit classic signs of a future serial theif. We better get you into counselling, pronto.

Courtesy of witcracker.com

You just KNOW this guy's got a shady past...

Don’t get me wrong, these classes were interesting, but they added absolutely no value to my degree. These were just filler courses that I had to take in order to be “well-rounded” in my educational pursuit, and have not helped me one bit in life (except when I watch melodramatic movies from the 20’s with my friends and can explain why they used cheesecloth to shoot the film – oh, wait…that never happens).

Colleges just give you the classes you need to learn the skills, and get the job. Huh…what a concept, eh?

3) Colleges are just slightly more down to Earth, no? : Have you ever noticed that universities are always aiming to impress? The buildings must be grandiose and a thing of wonder, whilst the classes must evoke deep thought and academic debate. Once again, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for intelligent discussion, but sometimes it can be taken a little too far. While completing the necessary classes in order to earn my degree, I was more than a little annoyed with one of my professors. She, of course, was an intelligent woman, but I think that she felt the need to prove it to us over and over again…to the point that I began to think quite the opposite. For some reason, she loved the word “pedagogy” and used it in almost every sentence. Obviously, “pedagogy” is not a word used in every day conversation, so I believe she felt quite proud to be able to use it in her lectures…every time. In fact, she said it 372 times in one month – I know. I counted.

This guys is dressed to impress. (Photo Credit: prawfsblawg.blogs.com)

College professors/instructors don’t need to impress anyone with fancy words*. They are there to make sure that you understand the material, and to help you through it.

*Side note: “Pedagogy” is no longer a fancy word to me. In fact, it is one of the most annoying words on the planet, I think. Can’t imagine why I feel that way…

So, I’m sure that there are many of you out there debating which institution you may life to attend in order to pursue your education. All I ask is that you weigh your options carefully, and decide what you really want to get out of your degree/diploma before you enroll, and ensure that the school is right for you. Not only do most colleges offer a wonderful and intimate learning environment, they also want to ensure that you are employed after graduation. That reason alone may be the reason why most Canadian students are preferring to go to college rather than a traditional university.

I’d like to leave you with a quotation from the president of the University of Toronto, David Naylor, in which he states: “The view that graduates in the arts or humanities are somehow fiddling away for four years is regressive. It’s a classic trap in logic that people fall into when they imagine that every university degree has to have some employability prospect”.

Because Heaven forbid that you go to school for 4 years and expect to get a job once you graduate…


22 Responses to “3 Reasons Why Blue Jeans and Brick Buildings Are Beating Out Bowties and Ivory Towers”

  1. I did my first 2 years of under-grad at a State College, then went to University of California (at Santa Barbara). It didn’t matter a bit until I got into grad school.
    Unless one has a real clear path of migration, I would actually suggest a junior college for a couple of years to keep the cost down.

    • I completely agree. If your ultimate goal is to attend grad school, then a traditional university may be the best option for you. However, because of the soaring costs of education in Canada (particularly in Ontario), as well as the over-saturation of gradate students in the job market, many students do not want to waste 6-8 years in school, accruing thousands of dollars in debt, only to be told that they do not qualify for a position.

      If your intention is to receive a post-secondary qualification and then begin working straight after graduation, I believe college is the more viable option.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Steve!

  2. As of this fall I’ll be teaching at 3 different schools. One if a large community college and another is the University of Pittsburgh. So far it appears that my department at Pitt might be pretty laid back, but that would be the exception to the rule you described. I enjoyed my time as undergrad and grad student at a state university though.

    As for your marginalizing of Charlie Chaplin I feel like you’re really just trying to antagonize me now. First you go Longshanks, then you hit up Ireland w/out me, and now you simplify Chaplin. We may have to rumble.

    • I think that if you are able to take a rather laid back approach to your teaching while at U of P, then I have to agree…it’s the exception to the rule. All of my professors at uni were a little uptight; one even threw chalk at me when I was talking to a classmate during a lecture. Yes, a bit uptight, indeed.

      And just for the record, I’m not dogging (do the kids still say that? Dogging?) on Charlie Chaplin in the least. He was awesome. All I’m saying is that I didn’t need to pay $1,200 to watch a few of his films and then discuss all of the angles that the camera used to create the film. Had I watched him twirl his umbrella for free, I’d have been happy. As for Longshanks, that’s not something that I can help…but if your ancestor had not antagonised mine, then we wouldn’t have had a problem. šŸ˜‰ And regarding Ireland, all you had to do is ask! Therefore, the fault is all yours, friend.

      But, no matter…if you want to rumble, let’s rumble. I always enjoy a good fight. I’m pretty tough; don’t let the blonde hair fool you. šŸ˜‰

  3. 5 anonnickus

    A friend and I were perusing the dictionary in 1969 looking for important sounding words to use in his campiagn speech for election to the student body council. We hit upon “Pedagogy” and tried to use it in some meaningful context. He did not win. No one could complete the picture of him at seventeen wearing a bowtie and Keds.
    On the subject of bowties and keds you have chosen a great blog topic, one I think on a lot. Yes ponder works here. Pondersome works even better. We do have a choice of two paths where “E” and “Duco” conflue. As they say in Trois-Rivieres “Vive La Difference”. As to ‘Claytion’, I think you can take him. Good post.

    • You see? You just proved my point that if you use the word “pedagogy”, you will be beaten in life. It’s just a horrible, annoying word.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

      P.S. I think I could take Clay too…he’s not as fearsome as he seems. šŸ˜‰

  4. topik anda sangat menarik

  5. Hey Christy, I do not have an opinion on this so much. I think it would be different from person to person. But I do have a new blog that is right up your alley and directly relates to the last sentence in this post. Please drop by.



    • Hey Mitchell, you’re right; it may vary from person to person, but the stats in Canada are indicating that more people prefer to attend college than university. No matter what, it’s a pretty great topic to discuss! I’ve just checked out your new blog, but I don’t see a place where I can comment! Is there no place to comment or am I just missing something?? lol

      • I think I fixed it. ;p

        Do you think that cost is a reason people chose college over univ? Might be interesting to see how many college goers had to take out student loans as opposed to the people going to universities.

        Might just be that some like big cities and others like small towns kind of things.

      • Yes, I think that cost is a major contributing factor, but I think that several Canadian students are also seeing the need for skilled workers in certain specialisations within the country. So many people, over the last 10-15 years, have been told to go to university to get a degree to the point that, now, the market is completely littered with degree-holders…to the point that they cannot get jobs because there aren’t enough to go around. Also, unfortunately, universities tend to only focus on the theoretical aspect of knowledge instead of adding a practical component as well. Colleges are preparing students for specific careers and have them out in the workforce much sooner.

        It just seems to make more sense to do that, these days, no? šŸ™‚

        P.S. Glad you fixed it…I’ll have to pop on over soon to read your new posts…now that I can finally comment! šŸ˜‰

  6. Plus, i think that universities in particular are for more run as a business rather than a school of learning. Many of the universities in America are worth an enormous amount.

    There may be an agenda driven side to universities as well. Many are advocating certain ideologies and really just creating certain voters rather than workers. Maybe not.

    Yes, come on over. I will make sure there is hot tea ready, or whatever you neighbors to the North drink. šŸ˜›

    • Actually, I find the opposite is true in Canada; if more universities began running like a business, I believe they would care more about the end product (student’s levels of learning and acquiring jobs, etc.). Unfortunately, sometimes when things are government run, they are not nearly as efficient as they may be if they were privately run…we may look to all sorts of other sectors for proof of that, which leads me to believe the same for education. Just my personal opinion, here. šŸ™‚

      Yes, I will drop by now…and we do drink tea here in Canada. Also, sometimes just warm Maple Syrup. šŸ˜‰

      • I think what is happening is the universities are lowering their standards in order to keep students from dropping out. They rely on tuition money and if students cannot “make the grade” they are forced to leave. So the schools are just making it easier for students to squeak by. The result? More money for school (tuition, food, housing, etc) and less educated graduates heading into a now global market, competing against the product of other nations much higher educational standards. *shrug*

        JUST maple syrup? Is it just regular stuff you buy at the store? May have to try that. Hmmm….


      • Haha! I was joking about the Maple Syrup; that would be disgusting…or possibly delicious. I’m not sure yet. But, if you ARE going to try it anyway, then you have to get the REAL stuff, not that Aunt Jemimah stuff. You have to go out and tap a tree yourself….then, it’s good. šŸ˜‰

  7. Oh sure, here I go and order “warm maple syrup” at Caribou coffee and the barista asks if I’m Canadian.

    Was quite yummy, I recommend it. šŸ˜€

  8. OMG! In my absence you did write a lot!
    I cannot miss that all! I must definetely be up-to-date with your blog. Not only cause I learn a lot reading you, but becasue each one of your posts are so interesting…well, better than interesting, inteligent writings šŸ˜‰

    • Haha! Yes, I’ve written a fair bit since you were last in the blogosphere! šŸ™‚ Thanks so much for coming by and commenting, Javi!

  9. I enjoyed my time in college at a big state university. I went more for my mother than myself. I did not need it for my first job after college. It was helpful for my second job. If I had it to do over, I think I would be a plumber!I have now found my passion, photography. My colege class in photography was abust. I don’t think my professor would like my photos today, just as in the past. Beauty and passion is in the eye of the beholder.

    • Haha! Yes, I think that if many people had to do it over again, they wouldn’t repeat the same decisions that they made. I suppose that there is always a lot of hype about universities and big colleges, and because of that, there are way too many people with degrees out there and not enough jobs to employ them. Let me clarify that a little: there aren’t enough jobs out there that require a degree to employ them. Therefore, there is a huge demand for vocational workers (like plumbers!) and these are the people gaining full-time employment and making good money as well!

      I’m glad that you found photography as your passion; we all need something that takes us away from our desks at work and allows us to be creative!

      Thanks so much for dropping in, subscribing, and commenting, Mark! šŸ™‚

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