February 2002
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Bubble, Toil and …Double Cohort Troubles!?
By: Lesley Tse, Grade 12, Father Michael McGivney School, Markham, Ontario

Teenage life is so easy and carefree, especially for those OACs who need more stress about university. Yeah, right.

Unless you've been out of school for a very long time and have absolutely no connection to the news in Ontario, you have probably already heard about the double cohort system newly dispatched by the government. Erasing the traditional 5th year of high school, the curriculum has been condensed to 4 years, pushing for students to strive to work harder. As though getting accepted into local universities wasn't already tough in the past, this last batch of OAC students are now being compelled to compete with the zillions of fast-tracking grade 12s to get into university. This is already evident in high school, where OAC students are being forced into taking courses they don't want to take because students in younger grades are taking up the spots even though they may not be planning to graduate that year, leaving the ones who do plan to graduate missing a credit they need.

Besides the fact that teachers are too often more lenient with those students who fast track, the classes are also over-capacitated. Edmund Chang, an OAC student from Ontario's Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy says, "There were definitely way too many students in my English class; nearly 32 enrolled into a single classroom. The teacher was unable to give us the individual help we needed to understand the material because there were just too many of us. The more people there were, the more questions would be asked and the teacher had to take more time out of our class to answer them. By the end of the course, the rest of the stuff we had to learn was crammed until the very end, then rushed to be taught to try and be prepared for the exam."

Understandably, the government had to raise the levels of education standards so that ultimately, it would benefit the students in the long-run. It was necessary to start somewhere and sooner or later, someone would have to suffer the sudden application flood. That ‘someone' just happened to be this year's OACs (and next year's grade 12) students.

So what can they do about it? OSCA's (Ontario School Counsellors' Association) Directors Dr. Pat Comley and Penny Hopkins have a website dedicated to "Beating the Double Cohort Blues". Among other suggestions, they recommend networking with graduating students and recently graduated students, taking responsibility for your own post-secondary planning by finding out what happens in the process, looking for a variety of different opportunities by preparing several plans, and starting to plan as early as possible.

So they tell us to keep smiling: that the government is ensuring a place for every motivated and qualified student. Too bad that place might not be where you want to be. Nevertheless, we as students are just going to have take their word for it.

After all, what choice do we have?