Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pimp and Circumstance

St. Pauli Girl just completed a short, miserable stint teaching English for a certain online college we’ll call The University of Griffins. With a Ph.D. and several years of college teaching experience, she had the audacity to bring this experience into this new job and expected students to have to work like college students and write papers as well as a college student (or at least as well as a 9th grader). It turns out that her teaching philosophy clashed with the school’s motto: We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover and especially Guaranteed Student Loans.

A lesser person might be bitter and angry, but I see opportunity. Having learned how a great online campus is run, I’ve decided to open my own university: University of Flagstaff (we’ll only raise the flag half-staff if you don’t graduate). My university motto will be: We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, student loans, drachmas, gold doubloons, cases of whiskey and the renminbi or yuan.

U of F is a win-win situation for both the students and myself (Dean, President and Director of Financial Aid) because I reap the rewards of Guaranteed Student Loans while the student will enjoy a grading curve that makes Dead Man’s Curve look like a runway at Edwards Air Force Base. One of the great things I learned from the University of Griffins, is that it’s all about word count. When assigned a paper, teachers usually demand a minimum word count to extract a certain amount of torture from the student. Usually, failure to achieve the word count results in failure for the paper. But not at U of F (or U of G for that matter)! You get credit for the percentage of words you write! Just by putting your name on a paper, you avoid getting a grade of zero.

Let’s look at another example. An Introduction to Quantum Mechanics class includes an assignment of a 500-word paper on Newton’s 3 Laws. Whew! That would make me want to drop that class. But there’s a better solution at U of F. Here’s my paper:

Newton’s 3 Laws
Dexter Klemperer

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog….

Now imagine that sentence being repeated until I’ve run up a word count of 375. Most high school teachers would probably give you an “F”. But at U of F, 375 words out of 500 is 75% which means “C”. Just think if I take a couple more minutes of copying and pasting to bring the word count up to 500: “A+”! Why does this paper merit that kind of grade? Because you get partial credit for word count, the grammar is perfect, and since content is subjective, we just grade on the objective parts. (Plus you’d get bonus points for using every single letter in the alphabet.)

You can use the same paper for every class (just make sure you cite yourself or your 1st grade phonics book in the bibliography to avoid plagiarism charges.) But you can also easily change it up for different classes, foxes can be grey, white, golden and dogs can be sleeping, growling or diffident. Get an online Ph.D. in no time!

U of F will offer many employment opportunities with jobs paying as much as $4 per hour. If you know how to access the “Tools”, “Word Count” menu, our employment recruiters want to talk to you (must be at least 12 years old to apply for a professor position). As an instructor, you will be put through a rigorous training program which will totally waste your time, but that’s okay because we won’t pay you for it. In the final phase, you will be paired with a sorcerer (kind of like a mentor but cooler and more magical) to help you navigate your first course. For instance, if you teach English, we might assign a Professor of Upholstery to be your sorcerer. Not only will your students master English, but you can probably get one to fix your couch as well.

Students will enjoy the more informal atmosphere of our online campus. Instead of instructors and professors, our faculty will be referred to as your BFF. But that’s not all, we require your BFF to provide his/her home telephone number so you can call with questions at any time. Don’t like the grade on your last test? There’s nothing illegal or against school policy about 3 a.m. phone calls.

But my university isn’t just about making lots of money like the others. For many years, test scores show that American students have trailed other countries especially in science and math. Educators and politicians have struggled for ways to improve American education. But they’re looking at it from the wrong end. Since the U of F accepts the renminbi or yuan as well as other Asian currencies, we encourage as many foreign students as possible to enroll. We’ll dumb them down to the American level.

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