On Campus

Zigzagging to a degree

MESA reports that many students change programs, delay studies over course of degree

A sizable group of Canadian students enrolled in university or college finish their studies in a different program or take an extra year to graduate, according to a yet-to-be-released report by the Measuring Effect of Student Aid project obtained by the Globe and Mail.

The study also apparently finds that “just more than half of college and university students graduate from the program and the school where they begin,” and that one in four college students take time off during their studies.

Greater than one in three university students take an extra year to graduate, according to the Globe.

Ross Finnie, a professor in the University of Ottawa’s graduate school of public and international affairs and the lead researcher on the project, told the Globe, “These numbers open the door to a whole lot of questions … It’s very exciting stuff.”

Finnie conducted research with Theresa Qiu using data from Statcan’s Youth in Transition Survey.

These most recent findings seem to illustrate a tendency of Canadian students to pursue their studies using alternative techniques. Not only are they changing programs and taking more time to finish, but they are also taking time off before pursuing higher education.

We recently reported on a Canadian Council on Learning study that analyzed this “gapper” phenomenon in Canada and around the world. Gappers are those students who take time offat least four months, according to the study’s parametersbetween high school and their post-secondary studies.

Commenting on that story, University of Ottawa education professor Joel Westheimer suggested that more and more students are taking time between studies to experience learning in a non-academic setting that better prepares them for the workforce. According to Westheimer, universities are increasingly focusing their curricula on job-training functions and students are looking outside university for “life training and exposure to the broader world.”

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