With convocation season wrapping up, journalist Penney Kome is prompted by her own son’s graduation to consider the severe deflation of university degrees in trying economic times. “Convocation at the University of Alberta was a bittersweet occasion for at least one family,” writes Kome in The Degree Bubble. “Yielding to parental pressure to attend the graduation ceremony, our son the graduate irreverently considered adding a bright duct tape debt message to his mortar board: $47K. That’s the accumulated debt from a basic part-time seven-year Bachelor of Arts, not the fees to earn a medical or law degree … read more
While on the topic of education, read or revisit poet Patrick Lane’s essay, Convocation Address, delivered last fall at the University of Victoria and republished here with permission. It begins: “It is sixty-five years ago, you’re ten years old and sitting on an old, half-blind, grey horse. All you have is a saddle blanket and a rope for reins as you watch a pack of dogs rage at the foot of a Ponderosa pine. High up on a branch a cougar lies supine, one paw lazily swatting at the air. He knows the dogs will tire. They will slink away and then the cougar will climb down and go on with its life in the Blue Bush country south of Kamloops.* It is a hot summer day. There is the smell of pine needles and Oregon grape and dust. It seems to you that the sun carves the dust from the face of the broken rocks, carves and lifts it into the air where it mixes with the sun. Just beyond you are three men on horses …. read more
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