By John Mather
Your education died suddenly last night, after years of battling the terminal illness, Chronic Reoccurring Academic Paralysis.
Before being diagnosed with CRAP, your education was the ticket to prosperity and enlightenment. Post-secondary work was a status symbol – an indication of either one’s intelligence or pedigree.
The best, brightest and richest went to university to become the leaders of tomorrow.
During this time, whenever it was, a campus was a place of ideas – where social-rights movements flourished and social wrongs were exposed.
Professors failed students for showing up 30 minutes late to an exam or skipping too many classes. Now, students brag about earning Bs in classes they attended twice (while stoned), or getting an A on an essay they submitted two months late.
Other signs of CRAP emerged: Ryerson started transforming from a progressive skill-oriented polytechnic to a deformed half-practical/half academic school. It could no longer pay its teachers, but found millions for a Master Plan. It didn’t have enough space for exams, but boasted at least two party atriums.
This CRAP was deemed fatal with the introduction of Rammer Time. Cheap shots and domestic beers between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m signalled the end as students began rushing through midterms to knock back a couple of Canadians and eat buffalo Caesar wraps.
No one is sure where the CRAP came from, nor could experts pinpoint the very moment when a university degree became the new high school diploma. Everything from Reaganomics to NAFTA to the iPod was blamed. The fault, though, lied with us.
University was no longer a quest for enlightenment, it was an obstacle course. Society forced students to pay $20,000 to become a member of the new bachelor-carrying proletariat. Distinction, as it turned out, came with a Masters.
Granted, until its final moments, your education offered a degree and the skills to succeed in the workplace. However, with more than 800,000 undergrads working toward a similar goal, the whole experience became less special. Universities were unable to handle the numbers and employers were unable to distinguish one undergrad from another.
Slowly, the CRAP gnawing at your education took control. The degree you chased for years collapsed, and succumbed to the rot.