Archive for the ‘university life’ Category

I began my university studies at the University of Western Ontario in 1968; Nothing so unusual in that of course except to say that I didn’t receive my Bachelor of Arts degree until 1994, some 26 years later. Slow learner or what? All joking aside I’m sure there are many people just like me who have to put other things ahead of education such as raising kids, paying the bills, trying to keep the roof overhead and all the thousand things that flesh is heir to – the slings and arrows as Hamlet was overheard to say in one of his bleaker moments [and he certainly had a few]. No wonder poor Ophelia threw herself in the river rather than listen to any more of his moaning. You can only take so much even if you *are* a bit nutso and given to hysterics. Study topic – “Was Ophelia Bipolar?” That Will Shakespeare certainly knew how to hold his audience didn’t he? Buckets of blood, dead bodies all over the place, sex, ghosts and wailing women. Magic.


But I digress. What was I talking about? Oh yes – attending university forever. Of course there are many of us who don’t just let life get in the way of education, there are many of us who just can’t let go. I have a theory that many professors and most PhD students for that matter fall into the latter camp. They are incapable of cutting the academic umbilical cord and so are forced to stay even though it means having to deal with argumentative [and sometimes] intelligent young bloods on a daily basis who strongly believe that they know everything and anyone over the age of 30 is in danger of dropping dead from senile decay forthwith. How else can you explain anyone in their right mind completing a PhD in Visual Arts – or Oriental Philosophy for that matter, and hoping to get work outside of academia? I wouldn’t think there was much call for Oriental Philosophers down at Human Resources [once called Canada Manpower before they became insufferably PC]. I haven’t seen too many job ads in the Free Press lately and unless you could somehow combine 20th-Century Post-War Painters with an MBA I can’t see how you could possibly make any money but you could affect an air of superiority down at the food bank and hold forth on Andy Warhol over the Campbell’s soup cans I’m sure. A friend of mine did indeed take a PhD in Oriental Philosophy. He not only could not get a job outside of academia – he couldn’t get one inside either. Last I heard he was doing some part-time sessional teaching at an obscure American college located beside a swamp in Florida.


In England, at one time, you could secure endless government grants and bursaries and could therefore stay comfortably at school until you passed on to that great library in the sky if that is what you so desired. As long as you were careful to pass a certain minimum number of courses and fail a certain maximum number of courses [it was a fine balancing act] you were set for life. I knew several lifelong learners [not of the positive reinforcement variety] who were in it solely for the money and had no intention of ever graduating. In fact they were frankly appalled at any mention of such an unthinkable act. As long as they had enough to live on and a reasonable supply of ciggies, newspapers and frothy coffee [it *was* the 60’s] they were content to keep taking the same courses year after year and became adept at falling asleep on hard wooden benches wedged behind small desks.


Alas, here in Canada, OSAP [the Ontario Student Assistance Program] has put paid to that lark. If you don’t get your butt out of school within an approved number of years they throw it out for you. Either that or you have to pay for it yourself – horrors. Long gone are the days when you could take “The Anatomy of Invertebrate Sea Slugs” combined with “Plate Tectonics” one year and “A Feminist Perspective on Misogyny and Marginalization” and “Foucault and Film Noir” the next. Cor – it takes all the fun out of being a long-term inmate – I mean student – doesn’t it? I don’t know – I’m off to the cafeteria for a prune Danish and some bran buds while I think over my application to Grad School. Now – what about an Epidemiology major combined with a minor in Japanese – sounds like it would take quite a bit of time don’t you think?




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