Double Cohort Revisited

Monday, April 9, 2007

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

When, in 2003, two Ontario high school grades simultaneously entered university, a wave of panic spread through the province: admission was going to be too competitive and many qualified students would not be able to go to university. A year later, this wave was revisited as many high school seniors had preferred to take a year off rather than face increased competition, thus affecting conditions in 2004. And because we can’t live without crying “double cohort!” for long, this year much of the entry class of 2003 is graduating – creating new fears that graduate school applications in particular are going to be harder than ever.

Jill Ferguson, the Coordinator of Educational Planning & Job Search at Career Services here at U of G says that the impact of the double cohort will be “staggered out,” as not everyone that entered UoG in 2003 will be graduating in 2007: “a lot of them are coming back for their victory lap.” Ferguson also cites the increase in cost of graduate school as a reason that many potential applicants will be discouraged.

Ferguson says that students are worried that the double cohort will be a factor. Citing the number of enquiries that she received during the Fall semester about furthering education, she talked in person to 69 per cent more students than in the same period a year earlier, and e-mail and phone enquiries shot up by 330 per cent. However, she says, “It’s not necessarily just the double cohort. It’s the economy in general; employers are starting to ask for more credentials. It’s not just this year.”

Ferguson also says that systemic problems in Canadian graduate schools are also at fault. “All of the programs are oversubscribed. This has been the trend for quite a while.” Again delving into the figures, she says that, last year (this year’s stats are not yet available) Lakehead University received 3100 applications for 400 spots and the University of Western Ontario had 5800 applications for 1500 offers of admission and only 850 final spots.

U of G Graduate Admissions could not be reached for comment at the time of writing this article. On a CKCO news segment last Thursday though, a representative of the department said that grad school applications had gone up by “20 per cent, maybe more in some disciplines.” The provincial government announced last September that it is planning to add 12,000 graduate spaces across Ontario by the 2008-2009 school year, “to meet anticipated student demand.”

Ferguson says that, even if a student’s application is not accepted this year, “it is not a one-shot deal. Don’t look at it as a wasted year. Make sure you contact Admissions [of the university you are applying to] and make sure you can make your application stronger.”

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