WLU arts first years need to refocus and compete to pass

With 39.7 per cent of first year arts students below a 5.0 grade point average (GPA) there are worries that these individuals entering university straight from high school will continue to struggle throughout university if they are able to stay in their program. When the increasing amount of students leaving high school for post secondary education is taken into consideration, it is hard to ignore an intensifying environment of competition. But then why aren’t these students worried?

Focusing on the general motivation for university students, we can assume that the majority of Laurier first years intend to graduate, receive a degree and get a job. Given the reality that not every graduate will be lucky enough to find a stable job right out of university, why are some students still clinging to the illusion that their careers will unfold the way they want it even if they don’t personally ensure it?

Maybe this isn’t the primary cause of first-year arts students struggling at Laurier. Consider the differences between cut off averages between arts and BBA. First years are accepted to an arts program with just a low B (72) whereas BBA students must compete for acceptance above A (86). This distinction shines through in recent data showing that in BBA only 9.8 per cent of students are below 5.0 GPA. On the other hand, in BBA students are required to maintain a 7.0 GPA compared to the required 4.0 in arts. This could suggest that the fear of academic probation could actually affect study habits more than cut-off averages and high school grades. Rather than blaming bad habits for academic shortcomings it must be remembered that all students have the capability to compete successfully in Ontario’s job market whether they are in BBA, arts, science or any other program.

Laurier’s administration is on the right track with its interest in mentorship and community learning programs but it should to refocus first years on the realities of personal responsibility in university and the post-grad world. The school cannot hold the hands of students and also expect that they can naturally transition out of the “high-school bubble” into a successful life.

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