Among friends, it's no secret that I prefer SFU's compact Burnaby Mountain campus to the sprawling UBC burbclave growing on the shore of Point Grey. It's not because SFU wins any prize for beauty. Most people I speak with agree that the grey concrete SFU campus is butt ugly. And though I live in Burnaby it's not civic loyalty at play. SFU has thrown a satellite campus into both downtown Vancouver and central Surrey, so it's now a stretch to claim SFU as "Burnaby's university". I guess it's really a matter of size and accessibility. Even folks who live in Vancouver find it a pain in the ass to commute into and out of UBC, and once you do get there you need GPS and good muscle tone to get around.
For years I have assisted students in competing for admission into SFU and UBC, as well as popular universities in other provinces and states. This past spring my assistance included helping a half dozen young people to write the new UBC "Personal Profile" online. All they had to was bring their laptop to my office and type what I dictated. (Dictating the profile saves me time.) I didn't think much of it. Just helping out. Imagine my surprise to catch the following story in this morning's Vancouver SUN:
"This year almost every direct-entry program at UBC Vancouver offered applicants the opportunity to submit a personal profile, and in total over 2,500 students were admitted on the strength of their personal profile, not on high school marks alone," James Ridge, UBC's associate vice-president and registrar said in an email.
Next year we expect all faculties will use [personal profiles], and the total number of admission decisions made this way will again grow significantly," he said."
Wow! I think I'm going to get a lot of phone calls next spring. I live near Burnaby's biggest high school. Read Tracy Sherlock's story here - UNIVERSITY ADMISSION. (Reading time - 2 Minutes)
To illustrate what the SUN is talking about, here is the description of the UBC Personal Profile clipped from the university admissions website:
UBC has added a number of other online innovations this year, many of which are an obvious attempt to jump on the "social networking" bandwagon. For example the IT boffins have posted a video on YOUTUBE which was created to help students use the new UBC BLOGS which were "launched" on August 11th. I like the fact that the term "cool" still pops up frequently in UBC campus chatter. The UBC Personal Profile is also "cool". I'm going to be writing many of them.
So this will be our future. "20 something" teachers, raised on a diet of Gerber's and Google, will not teach without a comforting screen of technology between themselves and the demanding mob they face everyday. Smart screens in the high schools, Wiki knowledge at a key stroke, our public school teachers are now lobbying to have the cellphone jammers switched off, so they and their squirming students can Twitter to their hearts content. (If curious, you may read the story HOW TWITTER CAN BE A GOOD THING in the SUN.) Here's a thought - Perhaps next year's crop of Grade 12 students might like to invest a Saturday morning in a two hour session of Creative Nonfiction, the sole subject of which will be their UBC Personal Profile. I'm up for it.