How big is your class?

I’ve been very lucky that my program is small. Journalism is tiny compared to programs such as business or psychology. My average class size doesn’t often go past 30 people. I’ve even had classes with only 12.

The Ryerson Students’ Union held a town hall meeting last Wednesday, with a speaker panel discussing the quality of education in the midst of growing enrollment numbers, budget cuts and higher tuition fees.

I’m not usually involved in student politics on campus but I went to the event out of curiosity. I’m a student. I pay tuition. How is my education being affected by all these things?

I was surprised to see a former professor on the panel. Kate Cornell, once a prof at the Theatre School, spoke about her teaching experience at Ryerson. Budget cuts in the program meant that she didn’t have an office, had to resort to using Scantron sheets for exams due to increasingly larger classes, and spent her nights marking essays at the library (again, no office). Something Cornell said striked me: “It’s about professors being able to have time with you.”

The time does make a difference. Therein lies the difference between an education and a quality education. Mark Rosenfeld, associate executive director of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, says faculty hiring is not keeping pace with rising enrollment numbers. Basically, more students are coming in, and faculty, well, are not.

Last semester, during a particular hard few rounds of assignment, having the chance to go and talk to my professor about my assignment really made a difference. She gave me an extension and helped me work through it, offering suggestions and edits. At the end of the semester, she said “You know, your writing really improved.” Don’t take that for granted. Having a prof who knows your work well enough that they can see improvement means you’re getting a one-on-one education.

Take advantage while you still can.

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