Friday, April 27, 2012

From the Onion. "Choosing A College."

The college years are a pivotal time in a person's life, not to mention a major financial investment. Here are some tips to help you choose the right school:

  • You can never go wrong choosing a college you saw advertised on public transportation. 
  • There are many fine single-sex colleges where the emphasis is squarely on academics. Attend one of these only if you are a homosexual. 
  • Examine the school's official crest. If it has a big pot leaf in the center, you are on the right track. 
  • Find a college that will nurture your talents. For example, if you have an aptitude for dressing up in drag, penning witty quatrains, and awarding celebrities prizes as a way to draw attention to yourself, you may want to consider Harvard. 
  • If you fail to get accepted at a good school, you have brought shame upon not only yourself, but also your entire family. Committing ritual seppuku is the only way to save face. 
  • Schools that boast about their outstanding academic reputation are probably insecure about their inadequacies in other areas. 
  • The Armed Forces Scholarship Program is a great way to earn a considerable amount of money toward college, but it has a small "joining the goddamn army" downside. 
  • When consulting Playboy's annual party-school rankings, be sure to look closely at the students-per-hot-tub ratio. 
  • Be wary of colleges where the chair of the history department keeps using the phrase "olden times." 
  • If you are having a hard time deciding between Princeton and Yale, cry me a fucking river, Fauntleroy. 
  • Avoid colleges where the previous year's commencement speaker was Burt Ward. 
  • College? Aw, man, what are you thinking about college for? You're the best metal guitarist in Winneshiek County.


  1. My son is still trying to decide... two days 'till the deadline. It's between an excellent school that he really wants, but which would result in about $100K in debt, and a good school that's too close to home, which would result in little or no debt.

    We're pulling for "no debt."

    1. No debt. No question. Absolutely no question. That "good" school is 95% as good as that "excellent school" and there will be myriad opportunities there to meet fascinating people, do great things and learn lots of great stuff.

      If living with the parents is the problem, you can still move out - into a dorm or nearby apartment. Go into a bit of debt for that if that is the issue. Or arrange some form of independent life at home - like your own door to the house, own kitchen or whatever, if that is logistically possible.

    2. I went with no debt.
      The undergrad school I chose is slowly clawing its way up the tail-end of the US News National Liberal Arts College list (if you want to use that as a measure of prestige or whatever), but its still a good school with some great opportunities in certain departments (not mine unfortunately, at least when I was there, but I made it work by seeking outside opportunities, and my department was very supportive of those efforts).

      I'm now a grad student at a great R1 with several awesome fellowships and no undergrad loans hanging over my head. I do not regret my decisions.

  2. Dear introvert's son,

    $100K's worth of debt for a BA will pretty much consign you to the lower middle class upon graduation, unless you are the next Steve Jobs.


    Frog and Toad

    1. Well, my wife has been keeping track... it's more like $100K vs. $50K.

    2. ...and Steve Jobs never finished college. He dropped out of Reed and never got his BA.

  3. I like the description of Harvard. It's not entirely inaccurate, at least for a small proportion of the student population. I think there may be some internecine Onion/Lampoon rivalry behind that remark, however.

    Sadly, the seppuku suggestion comes a little too close to an accurate description of the thinking in my upper-middle-class/upper class suburb. The good news (I think) is that it's gotten crazy enough that many of the parents are trying to lower their kids' expectations (and their own). But it only takes a few hyper-competitive parents and/or kids to start the whole high school hive buzzing with anxiety, and that seems to be the state it's usually in. They don't always seem to realize that the goal is a solid college education, which can be obtained in a variety of ways at a variety of institutions, not a tea-partying acceptance letter from an institution that accords with their sense of "prestige," which may be much harder to come by, but is ultimately worth nothing unless it's followed by four years of making the most of the opportunity.


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