Does which university you attend matter?

Sabrina Almeida

Mississauga, September 18 (CINEWS) How much are you willing to pay to ensure your child’s academic and professional future? Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has topped the 2016-15 QS World University Rankings, will cost you approximately 80,000 CAD (at the current exchange rate) per year for tuition, room and board. A Harvard (in second place) education is roughly the same. Grad Photo1
Contrast that to University of Toronto (34th on the list) which is around 20,000 CAD a year depending on your program and living arrangements. McGill, the highest ranking Canadian university on this global index (at the 24th position) is a few thousands more.
Big difference in price there and here, no? But also in opportunity! That’s why some parents are willing to bet their life’s earnings, even refinance their homes or downsize to send their kids to these top ranking institutions across
the border.

Employment opportunities at top US universities

While I’m not suggesting that UofT or McGill students lack opportunities, they are fewer and far between. And definitely cannot be compared to the fortunes of their MIT or Harvard counterparts who are most certainly guaranteed lucrative employment at the end of their program. In fact I’m told they can take their pick. Campus recruitment is the icing on the cake and that’s the big draw of these educational institutions down south. You probably won’t have to worry about how you are going to pay those huge student loans. I know a couple of graduates who found it was well worth the money they spent.
For instance, one young man who completed his post graduate degree at University of California (no. 44) walked into Intel where he saw his career grow in leaps and bounds for the next decade. Another international student who graduated from the University of Michigan (no. 30) had plenty of opportunities to choose from aside from his foreign status issues. He tells me that most of his batch mates had no trouble finding employment either. That’s the reason he chose Michigan.
The Canadian education scene however, is less promising. Although students are always to looking to enroll in the best college or university in their chosen field, there is not necessarily a silver lining at the end of it. Whether or
not you will be successful depends more on your own efforts and networking capabilities rather than which institution you studied at. The odds are probably the same as winning the lottery. As a result many graduates take more than a year to find work and are forced into minimum wage, part-time positions to pay their student loans.
This is a different feel even from India where your alma mater can propel to the front of the candidate’s lines.

How Canadian parents and students pick post-secondary institutions

After talking to several parents whose kids are going to university or already in, the ones with internships and co-op programs were typically their first pick.
Two women who work for government ministries even insisted their kids study at institutions their recruits typically came from.
Many young people I know opted for the University of Waterloo (no. 152) for the very same reason.
Several are also choosing the trades because of the high demand there. I’ve heard many South Asian parents encourage their children to do this because they are certain of a job and good pay at the end of their study. They are totally disillusioned by the lack of job prospects for university graduates here and see almost no value in pursuing a university degree. This is big shift from earlier attitudes. Two kids whose parents previously insisted on a university degree have now joined Mohawk College because of their paid co-op opportunities.

Earning a degree seems to be easier in the US

That’s what my dentist said. She ended up getting her dental degree in Boston where she graduated at the top of her class. She did her undergrad at UofT but claimed the courses were really tough and that she had little hope of pursuing her dream had she stayed on. Looking back she feels she made a good choice (although at the expense of having to pay higher tuition costs and being separated from her family) as few of her Toronto classmates managed to get into dental  school. I’ve also come across a few teachers who earned their professional qualifications at different US institutions because they couldn’t get admission here and the job prospects for teachers was dismal at that time.

While the QS World University rankings were based on academic reputation, faculty citations, student-to-teacher ratios etc., it’s jobs that probably top a Canadian student’s list. After all employment opportunities are an important consideration when choosing a career. Even more so today considering the rising unemployment situation in Canada. That’s why many kids don’t hesitate to join universities lower down on the list when compared to UofT before of the job opportunities they promise.

It makes sense doesn’t it? What’s the point of your degree if it doesn’t get you a job? Probably that’s why high school teachers tell their students that it doesn’t matter which institution they get their
undergrad degree from.

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