Factors behind university rankings

Most of my friends graduated last year, plastering pictures of their degrees on Facebook and updating statuses announcing their freedom. Almost half a year later, those sentiments of accomplishment seem to have faded away. While many of my closest friends are now making their way through teachers college and master’s theses one long-winded essay at a time, there are plenty of graduates that have either thrown themselves rather blindly into any graduate studies program or they’re looking for work without success.

I refer to U of T students specifically. For some reason, years of researching, essay writing, and midterm cramming haven’t translated into career opportunities, and graduates are confused.

There’s plenty of grumbling going on, both on campus and in the media, that a university education just doesn’t cut it anymore. But has anyone considered that they’ve chosen the wrong university or program of study?

Without a doubt, a bachelors degree has become the latest basic requirement for a well-paying job. Companies list undergraduate degrees from varying academic backgrounds as qualifications for entry level jobs–even though sometimes these degrees don’t provide adequate training for the position.

As one of the leading research institutions in the world, U of T stresses theory based learning. Administrators emphasize the importance of developing the university’s strong reputation for pumping out scholarly publications and encourage students to pursue graduate studies. As Joanna Iossifidis investigates in her news article on the Times Higher Education Rankings, U of T received a high ranking for it’s achievements in research.

In other regards, U of T has been ranked among the lowest in student satisfaction in the Globe and Mail University Report Card and in Macleans university rankings.

In my first year of university, I wasn’t particularly pleased with experience at U of T — but at no fault of the university.

Coming out of high school at the age of 17, I didn’t realize that I was diving headfirst into a university program that does not stress the skills and development necessary for my career direction. It wasn’t until second year that I realized a specialist in political science with minors in history and Italian were not appropriate fields of study to drive my career forward after graduation. I was fairly certain that I didn’t want to pursue a life of research and, at U of T, I felt like I was out of options.

Then I discovered the professional writing and communication program. Unique to the Mississauga Campus, the program is spearheaded by department director, Guy Allen. Under his vision, class sizes are kept small, lessons are conducted as discussion seminars, and professors are accessible. Even more impressively, the course material combines theory based studies with practical skill development. Plus, students have the opportunity to participate in an internship that counts towards a whole credit.

Combined with extracurriculars and part-time gigs, I feel that my university experience has prepared me to move forward with my career after graduation. For many of my friends, they’re left wondering why they chose to pursue a specialist in geography and a major in anthropology.

After 4 years as a heavily involved student on campus, my most valuable piece of advice to those now enrolled in U of T is to venture outside of class and gain practical experience. If you know that you want to become an academic and pursue research after graduation, then by all means crack open those books. For the rest of you wondering what your degree is worth, it’s time for a change of attitude. Start thinking about what you can do to better your degree.


Stefanie Marotta

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