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Recently I have counseled some university students who were frustrated and unhappy with their choice of their universities and programs.

At the end of four years of high school they were faced with choices: Going to work or the fifth year, Victory Lap, or registering for College or University for the Fall term.

At the time of writing my column the University/College applications have been sent out to the future graduates of high school. The students along with help from the family have sent in their acceptances to the Ontario University Application Center and hope for the best that they have made good decisions.

The first year as a frosh is sure fun/exciting with living in residence at Saugeen with 1,200 other first year students attending pep rallies and football games and parting on Richmond Row with no curfew.

Often times they did well with their studies but did not see a raison d’etre why they are still going. With little or no motivation it is hard to attend classes on a regular basis.

Boring lectures/tutorials of two hours in length are hard to endure at 8.30 in the morning. They reluctantly did their essays/assignments like programed robots merely going through the motions with the help of the magic search engine, Google, to help with their research.

Plagiarism at the click of their mouse and suddenly the world of knowledge was at their finger-tips. No fuss and no muss.

They cared more about their social life focusing on what bars to frequent with their friends on Friday and Saturday nights than their expensive text books.

For the most part many the teenagers did not know what to do with their lives and did not take university seriously. They could be wasting their time and their parents money while trying to figure things out.

Reading week February Feb17-21 has come and gone and if one was lucky to have well off like minded friends then relaxing in the Southern climes sure beat the hell out of going to the Weldon Library to study for the upcoming exams.

The Final exams at Western run from April 11-30 and too soon reality hits home that procrastination was the thief of all time. There are few weeks left to try and cram the seven months of studies to be able do well in the exams.

My advice to parents is to have their children finish their year and do their best on their finals. After the exams are over it is time to evaluate why they went on to university and to ascertain what is in their best interest for next year.

Taking a year away from school to have a Gap year has many advantages over spending another semester or two spinning one’s wheels hoping in vain to find yourself.

The students often times went to university because it was the thing to do and at the same time please their parents and not make waves.

I have students who have explored their options to experience real life experiences in China, Korea. Japan teaching English for the year. One of my students who scored very high in Culinary Arts is going to spend her Gap year as an assistant-pastry- chef in Geneva Switzerland learning the art of working with fine chocolate.

E-mails from some of my young people are simply amazing. Those who chose to work in Kenya in Aids Hospices allows for learning experiences that one can not have in the classroom.

Travel to far off lands while at the same time making a difference allows our young people to mature. Instead of calling it dropping out, it should be called dropping in. Not a time off but rather a time on to become engaged while at the same time feeling vital.

Parents can be rest assured that the vast majority of students who are academically orientated will come back to school. When they return to university they will realize that their time is valuable and education is what you make of it.

A university education degree for the most part is all about learning with no guarantee of a job tied to your degree. Remember, that university is not the only way to find happiness and success.

The likes of Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple, Michael Dell of Dell Computers, Peter Mansbridge, CBC Television and a long list of other very talented hard working people who never graduated from university.

My advice to post secondary students: if you are unhappy with school drop out and return if and when the time is right.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com