From the Editor: How unexpected educational hurdles can slow student progress

Prerequisites, cost, and waitlists can sometimes prevent students from finishing their race


All post-secondary schools have lists of course requirements and prerequisites, some which directly relate to their professional and academic focus, some of which really don’t. 

At times I have questioned the relevance of the KPU Bachelor of Arts requirements, which often have nothing to do with my major. I would ask myself the point of taking courses like astronomy, anthropology, and psychology that didn’t align with my career path or make any meaningful contributions to my degree. 

KPU’s online site for the Bachelor of Arts Degree Framework says that it is meant to help students to acquire educational experiences that will help them develop  “personal, societal, and global well-being.” 

These requirements, they say, will give students valuable skills that encourage “communication skills, critical thinking skills, research skills, problem-solving skills, personal management skills and time management skills.” 

This semester, KPU lowered the number of BA framework credits that students need to complete for the quantitative and arts and breadth requirements.

Though it has helped reduce the workload for some students, the BA requirements still add to the cost of their degrees. One of the most painful things to see is a student failing a required course. It’s a loss of money and a detriment to their GPA. 

Institutions shouldn’t have to extract every last cent from students’ pockets by making them take requirements that don’t contribute further knowledge that helps them on their career path. 

In most programs, having prerequisites before taking a selected class can be helpful as they are a “way of making sure that students … enter into a course or subject with some prior knowledge. This not only helps the professor to teach at a certain academic level, but it also helps you to feel more comfortable and confident with the subject matter,” according to NewYouth, an information site for university newcomers in Ontario. 

For example, at KPU the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing used to have a required preparatory program called the Health Foundations Certificate where students needed to take the one-year program before pursuing the Bachelors. 

KPU has now stopped accepting new applications for the program and is working on finding other entrance alternatives that will be more accessible for students. 

Being trapped on a waitlist is any post-secondary student’s worst nightmare, and another one of the unavoidable challenges some students need to face, even when they’re at the end of their degrees. At KPU, for most courses there is a maximum of 35 students per class, which makes classrooms easily accessible to those students who want to get one-on-one communication with instructors and other students. On the other hand, limited seating can also impact students by promoting a higher degree of waitlists, and if you are in a popular program, waiting lists can be a regular occurrence. 

In comparison Simon Fraser University has three class sizes. These are small classes with 30 seats or fewer, medium classes with 30 to 100 seats, and larger classes with over 100 seats. 

The BSN program is in high demand. Many students are on a waitlist for months, so they may apply to other institutions again and again until they can get in. Some do, but others have to find different dreams to pursue. 

Some students have plans to enter a certain profession for their whole life, and being told it’s much more difficult than they expect, or just outright not possible can be devastating. The finish line is just a few blocks away, but as hurdles appear on the track, they challenge students to an increasingly tiresome race that at times seems like it has no end. 

Universities are working on solutions to these problems, but the results can’t seem to come quick enough.