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Those letters that determine a career

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I continue to learn how the education system works, through the eyes of a parent.

I’m in my 19th year of learning on the job, going right back to that first day of nursery at Ecole Robert H. Smith School.

It’s different when the kids are adults, of course, and in many ways more difficult, because they’re making their own decisions.

I’ve written before in the paper about professional schools, mainly the fees and the proposals to gain exemptions from government caps on tuition, occasionally on new buildings and capacity and waiting lists.

What I’m seeing now are the conundrum and the tension for students who’ve applied to several universities as graduate students and awre watching the mail each day for acceptance letters.

There’s no uniform date for universities to accept applications for graduate or professional school, which all carry a fairly hefty fee just for filing. Some universities offer acceptance almost immediately to the cream of the crop, some have a second round, or a third round, setting a deadline date for the initial offers to be accepted and then going to the second or third tier of applicants when they know how many spots remain.

One university has a date by which offers must be accepted, which precedes the date by which another university says it will get back to applicants. Another offers a spot, and sets an acceptance date several months away.

If students don’t make the short list, it must be agonizing to wait until well into the spring or summer to know whether they’ll be offered a spot for next September. Or if their primary choice has not been heard from, but there’s something on the table from another school that must be accepted before word comes from the preferred school.

And then there’s money. Universities send out oodles of information about the huge pots of money they have available, scholarships and bursaries galore, but students don’t find out if they’re getting any of that cash until they accept the offer and commit to the school.

One family friend now in first year of a professional school learned this August what financial aid he’d receive for the semester just weeks before starting classes.

Anyway, things seem to be working out well.

You can look off to the right there on the website, where it lists my favourite blogs, and click on Crazy Guy on a Bike, and when child the elder is good and ready, maybe he’ll post something about his plans for next year.

Speaking of which......

I’ve never met Kurt Beach, who’s a senior police officer in Smithfield, Virginia, where I’ve never been, but I hope to meet him some day.

Beach is one of the many people who’ve been unbelievably kind and generous to child the elder as he bicycles around the U.S.

Our son had been advised prior to the trip that if he reaches a town for the night, and has no place prearranged to stay, and there’s no public campground, that he go to the police station and ask where it’s both legal and safe to put up his tent.

And it’s worked, several times.

Beach was on duty when our son arrived in Smithfield the day before American Thanksgiving. You can read about it on his journal, how Beach arranged that our son could camp behind the church in which he’s a member, then invited him along to a huge community feast, following which child the elder discovered that he and Beach share an affinity for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team. I like to think that it’s because Duke appears to be a school at which varsity athletes are expected to not only attend class, but to excel academically.......

Anyway, when we heard about all this, I was curious and Googled Kurt Beach. A remarkable man, indeed.

As a rookie police officer, Beach tried to save a dying baby by mouth-to-mouth. It led to hepatitis C, and a couple of years ago, Beach was dying, in desperate need of a liver transplant. The extensive news coverage of his plight, and how the time that had elapsed before his illness was detected left him ineligible for compensation, and having to raise money privately, tell you volumes about health care in the U.S.

He got the transplant. I’ve watched the TV news coverage on YouTube of Beach’s arrival home from the hospital to his family....such tremendous people our son is meeting.

On to other things......

I was in a high school this week, classes were changing, a kid gave me a really weird look in the hall. Yes, I know I look familiar, and you just can’t place me in this context, me wearing a tie and jacket. Try picturing me with a whistle.

Seamless segue.....

I finally got denounced by Black Rod this week. That’s the local blog written by a group of very bitter and angry people, who go into massive detail about how allegedly incompetent and corrupt that local journalists and politicians are, writing this vitriol while hiding safely behind anonymity.

In my case, BR found me monumentally incompetent and stupid.

BR may very well be right, but let me make a suggestion......when grown-ups publish something, they take responsibility and put their names on what they write.

Yes, I know, that guarantees that I’ll get another blog entry, and I’m betting that this time I’ll be corrupt.

On to another topic.......

The obits this week on Leslie Nielsen concentrated on his comedic skills, but Nielsen made his early mark as a rock-jawed, stereotypical 50s hero. I was eight when my family made its weekly trip in 1956 to the Golden Mile theatre in Scarberia, and I sat mesmerized watching Forbidden Planet, the classic deep-space version of The Tempest that so forever unleashed my imagination.

Nielsen was Commander J.J. Adams, the first great starship captain, and the man on whom James T. Kirk was modelled.

The greatest starship captains are all Canadians, of course, Patrick Stewart notwithstanding, and how much better would Voyager have been had Genevieve Bujold not backed out of the role? But I digress.

I wish there’d been an outtakes reel to capture Nielsen’s quips on the set as he pointed his blaster at the invisible creature on Altair 4, or surveyed the underground Krell city, or asked Dr. Morbius in all heroic earnestness about monsters from the id. But Nielsen played it all straight in the film, and though I long ago memorized every detail, it’s one film I never tire of watching.

He’ll be missed.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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