‘Slowest Student In The World’ Graduates 54 Years After First Enrolling Enrolling At The University Of British Columbia

Published May 24, 2023
Updated May 26, 2023

Arthur Ross, 71, is expected to graduate with a history degree this week from the University of British Columbia, breaking the record for the longest a student has been enrolled in university.

Arthur Ross

University of British Columbia Arthur Ross, the “slowest student in the world,” in 1969 when he first enrolled and in 2023.

Fifty-four years after enrolling in an arts program at the University of British Columbia, 71-year-old Arthur Ross is set to graduate this week, earning him the self-proclaimed title of “slowest student in the world.”

In 1969, Ross enrolled at UBC immediately after graduating from Prince of Wales High School in Vancouver.

Despite showing interest in the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, Ross decided to pursue college to follow in the footsteps of other family members who had graduated and worked at UBC.

While attending university, Ross initially thought he wanted to pursue a degree in English, but he quickly became enamored with theater.

“I was besotted with theatre at the time. It was alive then, with a sense of vitality and newness. It seemed just electric to me,” Ross told UBC.

Only two years into his degree at UBC, Ross left to pursue a career in acting but eventually concluded that the life of an actor was not for him.

“I liked it too much. It wasn’t going to be healthy for me. I knew I was a good actor but I always thought you had to be great,” Ross told UBC.

“I just thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this. If I do, it will take a huge toll on me,'” Ross clarified to the Vancouver Sun.

With acting now behind him, Ross decided to pursue a more stable career in law. After graduating from law school in Toronto, Ross spent the next 35 years working as a lawyer before retiring in 2016.

By this point in his life, he had married, had children, and finished a successful career as a lawyer, but there was still something missing.

While attending an opera in Chicago, Ross realized that he had a strong desire to study history, particularly why the First World War occurred.

It was then that Ross realized an unfulfilled bachelor’s degree had been calling his name, and so he decided to continue his education. This time, however, Ross dedicated his studies to history.

“…The great revelation of pursuing a history degree was not in answering that initial question [about the First World War], but in looking at the sordid nature of Canadian history,” Ross told UBC.

Irving K Barber Library

Wikimedia CommonsThe Irving K. Barber Library at the University of British Columbia.

For the next six years, Ross studied as a part-time student, often being the oldest person in the classroom.

“I’m appreciative of the students accepting that old guy tuning in from outer space,” he joked in his interview with UBC.

Because of his efforts, Ross will walk across the graduation stage on May 25, 2023, and become the longest-enrolled student in history.

For Ross, the title is something to be proud of, especially given that he had the opportunity to work with his fellow students and professors, who opened his eyes to new ideas, even through the hard times of the pandemic.

“I give full credit to those who stuck [the pandemic] out, who carried on through all that learning at home in difficult situations, not to mention losing out on the experience of university… This group really persevered and my hats are off to them,” Ross told the CBC.

“They’re wonderful,” he continued. “They’re smart. You just feel uplifted by being amongst these young people.”

Overall, Ross’s description of his experience was littered with gratitude and admiration:

“It was stimulating. It’s really remarkable in the quality of people they’ve got there in the history department. It’s a jewel and the faculty are simply world-class. I obviously wanted to do it. My advice for someone in a position like mine? Make sure you want to do it, too,” he concluded to the Vancouver Sun.

After reading about Arthur Ross, discover the record-breaking story of Robert Wadlow, the tallest man to ever live. Then, dive into the story of Marilyn vos Savant, the woman with the highest IQ ever recorded.

Amber Morgan
Amber Morgan is an Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
Matt Crabtree
Matt Crabtree is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. A writer and editor based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Matt has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Utah State University and a passion for idiosyncratic news and stories that offer unique perspectives on the world, film, politics, and more.
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Morgan, Amber. "‘Slowest Student In The World’ Graduates 54 Years After First Enrolling Enrolling At The University Of British Columbia." AllThatsInteresting.com, May 24, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/arthur-ross. Accessed May 23, 2024.