On Tue.., Mar. 4, the Calgary Herald enticed its citywide readership with the headline, "U of C applications jump 25%." That same day, my stepfather remarked, "Why do all these kids want to go to your school?"
Then I tried to think of an answer other than "it's convenient."
To be fair, there are advantages to the University of Calgary that go beyond convenience. Our much-lauded physical plant is outstanding, as are the athletic facilities and several academic departments. We're close to the mountains, we're close to the hospital--what more does a student need?
This unexpected jump in applications can become another advantage if the U of C treats this situation correctly. More applicants corresponds to more smart applicants. Thus far the U of C has stated that the general admission average will rise from 70 per cent to 72 per cent.
Why stop there?
Why not raise the admission average further, alleviate the obvious space crunch at the university, and possibly raise the profile of our institution?
Right now, we have a lot of average students studying in generally below-average facilities. If a bright(er) but smaller crop of youngsters entered the university for two or three consecutive years we might actually create an academic community around here.
Consider this: How hard is it to get a 72 per cent matriculation average in high school? How many students attend this university even though they lack the intelligence or drive to gain something from their experience? How much does the overall level of instruction go down because of these students? And finally, if these students were removed and the entrance average was moved up to 80 per cent, would first year courses become challenging?
It is no coincidence that a faculty like Engineering has the toughest first-year classes known to man. You actually have to do well in high school to enter Engineering. Now, if the rest of the university followed suit, perhaps the collective worth of our U of C degrees would increase as well.
Also, maybe my wretched middle-class stepfather wouldn't make fun of my school anymore.