Applying to university is one of the most terrifying yet exciting moments in a Grade 12 student’s life. Although we do not know the challenges we may face in this next chapter of our lives, we do know the admission requirements and the averages we need in order to achieve acceptance to our desired program. One course that is needed for every university program is Grade 12 University English. Many of us believe that English is unnecessary for the program we wish to take, but the basic skills we gain from the course are essential to our success in university.
I am personally interested in taking medical sciences and for many science or math based students, English is not our strong suit and we really don’t see how reading Shakespeare and writing stories will benefit us next year. The truth is English teaches us reading, writing and communicating skills which are crucial for any university bound student, irrelevant to the field of study.
One aspect of university that I find particularly intimidating is lectures. We will no longer have our teachers slowly scanning through power points and summarizing the main points that we need to know for our next test. Now we are in a room with hundreds of other students and a professor who is rapidly firing lengthy information at us that we will stand no chance in copying down word for word. TheStar.com references an article about a 17 year old English student at the University of Toronto who explains how much harder lectures are then she thought they would be and how overwhelming it has been for her to know what points from the lecture to write down (Freeman). English gives you the ability to practice analyzing text and selecting the most important ideas from it which is critical for successful note taking in lectures. Having the ability to independently summarize a piece of writing will not only help with writing notes but will also help with being able to find key evidence and support when writing reports or research papers. This is a huge part of a university student’s career and marks.
A topic that is well known when it comes to English is plagiarism. We would all be lying if the temptation to copy ideas for an essay topic hasn’t crossed our minds at least once. The university I am interested in is Western University and the disciplinary actions for cheating and plagiarism can result in a zero on an assignment, a failing grade in the course, failure of the entire year or complete suspension from the university (“Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students”). English allows us to learn ways to avoid plagiarism and how to properly cite the original author so we do not steal their work. I would hate to see all of my hard work to get into medical sciences go down the drain or feel the wrath of my mom and dad after blowing their money all because I copied someone else’s work.
We currently live in a society where texting “u” instead of “you” or “cuz” instead of “because” has become almost first nature to us. Unfortunately, for university and even more so for the workplace, these shortcuts are not acceptable. The University of Waterloo requires students to write an exam that tests their English literacy skills and almost a third of the students fail it (Macleans.ca). This reveals just how poorly the simple spelling, grammar and punctuation abilities of students today really are. How seriously can you be taken as a university student if you have numerous spelling and grammar errors throughout your formal essays that are worth a huge portion of your mark?
University is very fast-paced compared to high school, about “10 times faster,” (Mitchell) says one undergraduate student. With fast-paced comes piled up homework and assignments that will often require a lot of independent readings. It is surprising to hear that nearly 12 million Canadians cannot read well enough to do everyday tasks with 3.3 million of those people having finished high school, and 2.6 million having post-secondary education (“Who are the People with Low Literacy in Canada”). Without the basic knowledge of how to read efficiently it would be nearly impossible to not only comprehend the complex vocabulary of university textbooks, but also to communicate certain ideas with fellow classmates when working on a project or presentation.
Years from now I will look back and be grateful for the late nights spent perfecting essays or reading those 300 paged books until I fell asleep because the hidden benefits English provided will lead me to endless opportunities and a lifetime of useful skills. I mean who knows, I may choose to completely change my program or even dislike university altogether, but at least I know that because I took grade 12 English I am sure to have the tools to tackle any new topic properly and aim for success.
Freeman, Sunny. “1 in 6 first-year university students won’t make the grade.” Thestar.com. Thestar.com, 20 Sept. 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
Macleans.ca. “University students can’t spell.” Macleans.ca. Rogers Media, 01 Feb. 2010. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
Mitchell, Jenny. “Why university made me feel stupid.” Macleans.ca. Rogers Media, 19 May 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students.” The University of Western Ontario : SCHOLASTIC DISCIPLINE FOR UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS. Western University, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“Who are the People with Low Literacy in Canada.” Literacy and Policing in Canada: Target Crime with Literacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017. <http://policeabc.ca/files/factsheets_englishPDFs/Ch01FactSheet02.pdf>.