The Double Cohort Dilemma

Two grades of high school compete for limited college spaces

School Crowd Double Cohort

Tiffany Hall is not just worried about completing her homework she is also concerned that she won’t have the marks to get her into university.

Hall, 17, is just one Ontario high school student who will graduate next year as part of the ‘double cohort’. Beginning this school year, Ontario moved from a five-year high school program to a four-year program, which means double the number of students will be graduating in 2003. Known as the double cohort, these students will trigger a surge in demand at universities and colleges that will challenge each institution’s planning skills, faculty resources, and physical facilities.

It is estimated that an additional 33,500 secondary school students could be applying to universities and colleges across Canada, although it is expected that Ontario will receive the bulk of applications.

Cim Nunn, Director of Media Relations at York University, in Toronto, says that York is preparing for the double cohort class by building additional residences and parking structures to accommodate the surge. Similarly, the University of Toronto has committed to providing space for an additional 9,000 students. UofT, which currently has 5,000 residence spaces, has already begun constructing 2,600 more spaces to be completed by 2005.

girl student with textbooks

Not only will students see much more crowded first-year classes beginning in the 2003-2004 academic post-secondary year, but competition for some programs will increase.

“The demand for space depends on the program. Some programs
that are in high demand, may be more challenging to get into,” says Nunn. UofT also expects competition for places to increase although they are attempting to maintain present class sizes.

The double cohort issue will not disappear when the 2003-2004 academic year comes to a close. The strain that the double cohort class will create on university resources will continue until they graduate. According to Nunn, this presents a unique challenge for universities; “The question that universities have to ask themselves is do they grow and stay big to accommodate this demand or do they maintain their current size?”

Although Nunn can understand that many students will be concerned that they may not have the required marks to get into university, he urges students to ensure that they have some volunteer activities and community work reflected in their application.

Hall seems to sum it up for many of the thousands of students who find themselves part of the double cohort dilemma when she says, “I’m too young to be this stressed out about my grades and figuring out my future.”

Written for Faze by Leesa Barnes

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