college is catered towards the able bodied and able minded. school applauds people who can stay up all night, skip meals, and work endlessly. that kind of extreme contribution is expected. why are disabled people being squeezed out of academic…
Due to the nature of education, rather than apprenticeship, a lot of what we do in college is not directly related to on-the-job performance. Especially when we say you have to complete a course of study in 4 years. College in 4 years, especially if you have a job, is equivalent to holding down 2-3 full time jobs. That is not relevant to how well a person will perform in a full-time job.
Some of the best people I’ve worked with have had disabilities ranging from quadriplegic to blind to dyslexia. Helping them get the training to do a valuable job helps both them and society.
Up until this semester, I was in the honours chemistry program and taking a course load that I thought was something that would show how “worthy” I was as a student. I thought taking an insane course load, as demanded by the program, would validate how deserving I was to be a chemist. When I was diagnosed with a couple mental illnesses about a month ago, I couldn’t keep up with the program’s workload anymore, and was forced to withdraw from the program. As a result, I felt as though I was no longer a “good student” or “worthy” of being a chemistry major. That, obviously, is not true for me, or for anyone else that may feel that way.
It wasn’t until I was no longer in the program did I sit back and think, “Wow. When would I ever need to do this in real life? When would I ever need to work on lab reports, do problem sets, and study for midterms every single week? At what point in my life will I be forced to sleep 3-4 hours a night just to get everything done?” Never (I hope).
Of course, you need to complete certain courses and meet certain requirements in order to graduate from college and/or university. That’s great. However, the way in which educational systems expect us to go about this is unreasonable, in my opinion. Had I stayed in the honours chemistry program, I would have had to take 6-7 courses per semester (which is doable, but borderline insanity) just to fit in some electives I’m interested in taking. I would rather eat paste than do that to myself. I was absolutely miserable in my own program and started to hate everything related to chemistry, which was not a good thing, seeing that I am a chemistry major. You get so caught up with the mentality of when your next assignment is, how many more days you have to study for midterm X and midterm Y, when your next lab report is due, etc., that you really, really, really begin to forget that there’s life beyond studying and you lose track of what you came to university to do: learn and be inspired by what you learn.
I’ve recently decided to complete my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 6 years, instead of the “normal” 4 years (or 5 years due to the co-op program), and I couldn’t be happier with this decision. Sure, I’m not graduating with any of my current friends, but I’m taking courses I like, and at a pace that is comfortable for me and will not cause me to have daily panic attacks (which is physically and mentally exhausting, by the way). I’m also going to be able to devote more of my time to other things like volunteering with the chemistry department, being involved with my community, being a part of the undergraduate chemistry society, etc. Ultimately, I’m going to come out of university a much, much happier person, will actually enjoy and appreciate my courses, and know that I haven’t just spent the past few years doing nothing but studying.
Sorry for the long post, folks!