By Adrian Morrow
While some students worry about exams at the end of the year, a few have to worry about being able to stay in their programs.
At Ryerson’s theatre school, students meet with instructors who evaluate them to decide whether they can continue in the program or if they must repeat classes.
“When you walk into a room with three of your profs who will determine your future, it’s always nerve-wracking,” says Nathan Poch, a third-year theatre student in the technician stream and president of the school’s course union. More than half of those who start in theatre school don’t make it to graduation.
The school doesn’t cut people, but students meet with their professors four times during the year to get feedback and determine their standing. The decision is based on marks and can appear more arbitrary than it is, says Poch.
“It’s whether you can act, whether you can dance,” he says. “The difference between doing a plié and doing it well can’t really be marked.” In addition, profs approach students who don’t seem interested or enthusiastic and can ask them to re-evaluate their decision to be there.
While some students who get bad evaluations take time off and repeat their courses, others transfer into different programs, and some drop out.
“You can (succeed) with theatre school or you can do it without theatre school,” says Poch. “You just have to have the drive to do it.”
At the same time, Poch says, there are students who continue in the program but don’t really want to be there.
“(I see it) every day of my life. There are people visibly not interested in the program, but they stick with it because they’ve paid 20 grand,” he says.
The nursing program also evaluates students at the end of the year. The evaluation is based on their performance in their clinical placement and failing it means the student has to repeat the year, says Richard Perras, student affairs coordinator at the school of nursing.
The evaluation is carried out by a member of the faculty along with a supervisor from the clinic or hospital where the student was placed. “(The evaluation) is based on their work over the semester,” Perras says. “It’s the way the student applies theory to practice.” Students are graded on a pass-or-fail basis.
Most students pass the evaluation and those that don’t often come back the following year to try again, Perras says. The system is effective, he says, adding that he’s never seen anyone pass the evaluation and fail the exam to become a registered nurse.
“It’s the way all nurses are evaluated,” he says. “It’s always been like this.”
Hanan Molana, a second-year nursing student, says that the evaluation is tough but manageable. Roughly a fifth of the people who go through the evaluation fail but get the chance to redo key assignments in order to pass.
The difficulty of the evaluation partly depends on the instructor, he says, but is based on a marking rubric and assignments done throughout the semester.
“People bitch about (the work) but the fact of the matter is, you need it,” he says.