Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Online "University" Names

The ad for "Full Sail University" that's currently running in the right-hand column got me thinking: do the people running these places ever think about what the university name will look like on a c.v. or transcript, as opposed to on marketing materials aimed at students (and perhaps their ever-indulgent parents)? A quick search on "online universities" suggests that most of them are still trying to sound like their bricks-and-mortar counterparts (sometimes to the extent of creating deliberate-seeming confusion). But "Full Sail University"? "Independence University"? "Ivy Bridge College" (a subsidiary of the wonderfully-named Tiffin University, which gets its moniker, reasonably enough, from its Ohio home town, not the Anglo-Indian(?) word for "snack")? Who's the audience here?

A little more searching reveals that Full Sail has been around since the late '70s (another rather flaky period), and is a for-profit that focuses on training people for the entertainment industry (also that "Full Sail University Scam" is a frequently-searched phrase on Google -- not true of Harvard, or even, for that matter, the University of Phoenix or Kaplan).


  1. I had a similar reaction when my brick-and-mortar university recently decided to change the name of its largest faculty from the designation that's pretty much standard in my (and many other) countries for a faculty of its sort, to a lengthy name which (1) makes it sound like a non-degree-granting organization of the kind that advertises on late-night tv, and (2) results in at least two variant acronyms, one of which is vaguely obscene and the other simply demoralizing.

  2. I know for a fact that Widener U. in Chester, PA. is misrepresenting how old the university is because a military academy previously existed where that college now stands.

    BTW, the 1970s was not flakey; the 1980s was a far more screwed-up decade, producing the retarded god of conservatism, crack cocaine, and the start of the deindustrialization of America.

  3. @Strelnikov: at least from my (elementary school/junior high) perspective, the '70s looked pretty flakey -- lots of disruptive and ultimately rather aimless attempts at self-actualization by the parental generation. My own parents were blessedly boring and responsible, but they were also a bit older than the norm (depression/WWII rather than boomer-era childhoods).

    Mind you, I didn't think much of the '80s, either. Let's just say that I voted for over a decade before a Presidential candidate I supported actually won.

  4. Even real universities sometimes don't think through their names all that well. Mine has an abbreviation (which is what it is always known by) that makes an obscene word when you add an "s". So our marketing people tell us we must always refer to it as "of the X" instead of "X's" when we want to use it in a possessive phrase.

  5. @Contingent Cassandra
    So you were against any sort of experimental parenting? When it came to children in the post Nixon `70s I think the big fear was divorce. In the 1980s it was divorce and WWIII....that whole decade was full of media scares: razor blades in Halloween apples, Satanic cults, hysteria over Nicaragua and the USSR. All of that hid the deindustrialization of the Midwest, the growing wage disparity between the upper and middle class, and the growing phenomenon of workplace shootings. I think there was a real attempt to bring the culture back to the 1950s, but that failed because the gap between reality and that ideal was too great.

    What I truly liked about the 1970s was the willingness to question certain assumptions about American life, the nature of the American political system, and the role of technology in the United States. You may not have liked the answers, but at least questions were asked.

  6. @Strelnikov: I think children are by nature conservative, even reactionary, especially when it comes to their own families, and, at least for those of us who were politically aware at an early age, the Watergate scandal was a macrocosm of what was going on in too many families (you can't trust Daddy -- either the actual one or the metaphorical one, and if you can trust one, you still can't trust the other). Questions were, indeed, asked, and some productive answers were reached, but, day-to-day, the process was a bit (maybe necessarily) chaotic, and the welfare of children sometimes seemed to be an afterthought. Mind you, I actually prefer that sort of often-benign, sometimes-not-so-benign neglect to today's helicopter parenting (which is to some extent an outgrowth of the distraction-by-proliferating-"threats" you mention), but somewhere there's a happy medium, which may be reached only briefly, and more or less by accident, in the process of swinging wildly from one pole to another. I suspect we're due for a swing back to more emphasis on the needs of parents/adults; if so, I hope proffies somehow manage to benefit.

  7. I applied to "Arcadia College" outside of Philly and I kept thinking...why haven't I heard of this school before? And then I figured it out. Arcadia USED TO be "Beaver College." As Rachel says, sometimes regular unis don't think this out too well.

    I have a friend who is now employed by "Semester At Sea," which we delight in renaming all kinds of things..."STD At Sea," "Disaster at Sea," and, my personal fave...The Loooooove Boat, which you have to half-sing in the manner of the theme song to that sitcom.

  8. My friends who work in the entertainment industry generally scoff at Full Sail people though it's mostly because they have spent egadzooks amount of money just to come out and have to work their way up through the ranks. More about who you know than how you know it, etc.

  9. Full Sail University = FSU

    This implies equal footing to Florida State who used to be pretty damn good.

    Full Sail is where bad artists go to die. I grew up in Central Florida and I knew plenty of people who applied to tons of arts schools all over the country but only got into Full Sail -- because to get into Full Sail you only need a check, not talent.

    It's like going to le cordon bleu crapolina culinary school. $100,000 in debt and you might get a job as a busboy!! YES!!


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