Newer University Students are Feeling Unknowledgeable

Data from York University suggests students lack basic writing and notetaking skills.
By: Martin Oldhues

Thousands of new Canadian post-secondary students begin their journey of working through University every year. But, as education continues to shift, students face numerous challenges, including the usage of artificial intelligence, which limits basic knowledge, their previous High Schools inflating grades, impacting undergrads and institutions shifting to online learning, limiting interactions and collaboration.

“Back in High School, I took an online course that I found I did not learn as much as I wanted to” 

Lucas Gasilva, a York University Student studying Marketing

Lucas Gasilva, is a first-year York University Student studying Marketing. Gasilva, says it has been an adjustment for him, noting he prefers being on campus.

 “For me, the best learning style is in-person and like, just having to juggle, like if you have in person and online, it’s easier only doing one.” 

 Mustafa Harnoop, A First Year Student Studying Business says Universities don’t give a clear direction on what to focus on learning digitally 

“There is too much material, and everything is dumped online, and you are left to filter out. What is important and what is not.” 

 Harnoop admits certain aspects of online learning can be easier, but transitioning to it full-time would not make sense. 

 “You do not make a lot of friends who can help you. So, There needs to be some sort of connection to the campus.” 

 With the pandemic shutting down the world, the growing acceptance of remote learning has caused millions to undertake this new trend. 


Grade’s Can be Misleading

 A growing trend in Ontario is the averages of grade 12 high schoolers. Since 2017, the rate of above 90-percent averages saw a  five-fold increase for incoming York University students. 

Despite this trend, a 2019 published survey from four Universities, including York, raised concerns about academic deficiencies. The survey found 30 percent of York University students lack the ability to take notes and half felt unconfident in writing a critical review for books. 

 In addition, most Students were labeled dysfunctional to taking tests or exams, which makes up half or more of courses grades. 

 Universities have started accounting for potential grade inflation based on regional school boards to account for this, including the University of Waterloo, which takes note of certain secondary schools, downgrading marks from A’s to C’s. 


The rise of Artificial Intelligence 

It is no secret that technology continues to influence people’s daily lives and how they work. 

 Some educational intuitions faculty and students argue that chatbots, like Chat-GPT can assist students to develop ideas, express wording, and overall answers to bridge the academic gap. 

Adobe Stock: Students, elearning and laptop in classroom education

Clara Cheto, a York University Student in the dance program, says she does not rely on technology for her work. But understands why others would 

 “It makes sense that students are turning to other tools to prove what they have acquired if the traditional framework of homework, assignments and exams is not working for them.” 

According to a survey done by KPMG, over seventy percent of students using A. I have seen a boost in grades, leading to substantial usage in universities. 

 Other Students say that using tools comes with responsibility and understanding where not to draw the line, Including York University Student Jasleen Singh, who says students cannot rely on Chat-GPT for all their work. 

“Just use it wisely and use the correct methods or correct ways of using A.I, better than just relying on it.” 

One of the disadvantages of using chatbots is lack of critical thinking, preventing creative and critical thinking, which in turn can lead to lack of motivation and unsuccessful job employment in the future, according to York University. 


Helping Ease the Pressure 


York University’s goal is to reach and support incoming students adjust to the rigorous life of University. One of those ways is teaching non-credit courses to recent high school graduates. 

Andrew Skelton, a professor at York University, is one of those professors teaching the transition courses, which reviews content and missed teachings from secondary schools. 

 “I think the skill that they would normally get while being in high school, in person all those years, may be falling behind a bit,” said Skelton, a former High School teacher. 

 Skelton notes compared to learning online. The advantages of students being around each other are a key difference. 

Adobe Stock: Students Working with Each Other

 “one of the best resources they can get for extra help, for understanding or for getting coaching is to talk to each other. Oh, how are you studying for this? What are you doing for this? 

 York University back in March introduced a new state-of-the-art building to transition into the 21st century and accommodate the needs of all. Skelton says talks of improving learning are on-going 

“There are always things we want to improve. I have an undergraduate research student right now, working on analyzing data from programs we did from the past three years.” 

 Skelton says overall, professors cannot expect high schoolers to have all the necessary skills right off the bat, but it also takes students a level of independence and realizing what they need to strengthen to succeed. 



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.