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Lessons from the pandemic

By Logan Jaspers, September 19 2022

It feels like yesterday that it was March 2020, when I was in 12th grade and arrogantly saying to a friend that the province should shut down the schools so we could get two extra weeks of spring break. The last months of high school, the first year of university and much of the second year was remote. As such, these last few years have been a surreal blur.

It seems this year will wholly deliver the intended university experience for many students for the first time. Given how many Canadians have a post-secondary education, youth often hear from their older peers, like parents and educators, something like “you have to get a university education to be successful.” In this context, remote learning accented considering why we go to university. 

Though there are many jobs you need a university education for, there are fewer opportunities for people lacking a high school education compared to people lacking a university education. 

Likewise, the internet has made knowledge more accessible than ever before to the public. Topics from history to biology are packed with online resources the curious can access with a mere Google search. In the span of a couple decades, the internet has revolutionized the regular person’s capacity to simply know things without a formal education. 

Tuition is expensive and for many programs is regularly hiked, deadlines ominously loom overhead like a stormcloud and exam season always marks a collective downturn in student’s mental health.

All of these are features just as much for in-person learning as they are for remote learning, but when your two first years of university are largely spent with professors who were woefully unfamiliar with how to navigate D2L, recycling recorded lectures from the previous semester, and mechanically lecturing entirely off the textbook. When your university experience is so cold and distant, it begs the question of why you’re paying that money and toiling for all those hours.

This is not a diatribe against university. Rather, it’s recognition that despite these flaws, I’m still attending classes at the University of Calgary because of what I hope to get out of my time here. I want my education to be filled with intellectual rigour and unique perspectives on new ideas from a place of expertise rather than just unfiltered factoids from the web. I want to make new friendships and connections, and have experiences I couldn’t get elsewhere. There’s more to university than the piece of paper at its end that I’m yet to attain because of the pandemic.

For this reason, I’ve embraced that I won’t finish my degree in four years. Instead, I’ll take my time to actualize my conception of how the university experience should be. Because university is expensive, exhausting and optional — your education should be the way you want it to be.

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