Monday, June 1, 2015

CEGEP: It's More than a JuCo

Increasing inequity and the article The College Try brought this post (drafted long ago) back to my mind.

On his Disparate blog, Alexandre Enkerli wrote Defending Quebec's CEGEP System, which includes a somewhat lengthy description of the system.

What is a Cegep?
... A Cegep is a post-secondary institution («Collège») which serves both as a comprehensive («Général») transitional period between secondary school and university as well as vocational («Professionnel») training («Enseignement») in fields like nursing, robotics, or computer science. People in the U.S. could think of it as a blend of a vocational school, a community college, a prep school, a continuing education program, and a two-year liberal arts college.
My favorite thing about the Cegeps is that they are all those things. They bring together future literature majors, electricians, and computer geeks. In the U.S., post secondary schools are heavily segregated. Once everyone graduates from high school (which has its own magnet schools and schools within schools), the real segregation sets in. Future nurses and future computer programmers are rarely in classes with people planning to work a trade. This fractious nature of our educational system helps feed our fractured society.

Cegeps get all these people in the same place with many of the same core classes. Cegeps are also centers for continuing education, so many students are non-traditional students who are looking to change careers or simply have a thirst for learning. The cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives is a really great idea.

Cegeps are also cheap. This allows many students to "find themselves" professionally and academically. Having a place in which adolescents can transition from secondary students into independent people is important. This allows them to make mistakes, take chances, and have more confidence and competence once they move on to the next stage (whether that be a vocational school or a university). It's a bit amazing that we have so many teenagers making incredibly important and expensive decisions. Many people know someone who spent over $100k for a university education (perhaps not even resulting in a degree) that turned out to be useless for them. How much better would it have been to go someplace to figure it out without the stigma of not heading off to a university?

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