Satire: Jaded juniors realize college is nothing like the movies
College is a place for learning, right? Wrong.
The following piece is satire and should not be misconstrued for actual reporting. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental.
College promises a profoundly life-changing experience and a community of life-long friends. But what is college, really? Is it a time to explore new interests? Is it a place to acquire new information and venture into uncharted intellectual territory? Is it an opportunity to vet your sorority sisters and carefully construct your bridal party? The Seagle caught up with some of American University’s juniors to explore these questions.
Jarrod McNeil, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, began college bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. With a thirst for knowledge and a passion for learning, McNeil said he hoped college would allow him to explore new topics and broaden his perspective. Despite never having taken a Russian literature class, he decided to try it last semester. After all, college is a place for learning, right?
“Wrong,” McNeil said. “In this class, we were required to write an essay without referencing any class readings. Professor Clasista said that all of the information in the paper had to come from outside sources, preferably ones we had read in high school.”
The assignment only got stranger.
“She told us that if we went to a private high school, we would receive five extra points, and if the tuition was over 50k per year, we would automatically get an A+,” he said.
Considering the University distributes grades on an A-F scale, an A+ is impossible, but McNeil said this professor didn’t seem to care.
“She said she would slip the Dean of Students a few extra bucks and make it happen. It felt inappropriate to ask follow-up questions.”
The Seagle followed up with professor Ellen Clasista. “It might seem like I’m putting public school students at a disadvantage,” Clasista said. “That’s the whole point.”
Gertie Muñoz, a School of International Service junior, believed in the benevolent power of elective credits until she arrived on campus and, well, her bubble burst.
“How naive I was then,” Muñoz said, referencing her first year at AU. “My cousin majored in Public Health at Sharnard College in the early 2000s. She told me all how college was a time to explore and experiment with elective classes completely divorced from your primary area of study. She told me tales from her ‘Religion in Dogs,’ in which the bulldogs largely aligned with Roman Catholicism. She told me about her ‘Victorian Lampshade Construction’ class, where she hand-designed and built original lampshades twice a week.”
This exploratory approach to college has not reflected Muñoz’s experience at AU.
“I was so excited to push myself outside my comfort zone,” Muñoz said. “I even thought I might build a Victorian lampshade. Turns out SIS requires me to take up to Econ-870 and I barely had enough room in my schedule to fulfill my requirements. We need to take more Econ classes than political science majors, Econ majors and SIS Ph.D. candidates. In fact, I know more about selling t-shirts in a small two-product economy than I do about the Geneva Convention.”
Still, Muñoz feels she will excel in her field of study. “So far, these skills have served me well at my Human Rights Watch internship!” she said.
School of Public Affairs junior Iris Campbell confessed she was never incredibly enthusiastic about college life. After working diligently and achieving top grades in high school, Campbell hoped to graduate college as early as possible.
“My mom graduated a semester early because of all the Advanced Placement classes she took in high school and she always encouraged me to do the same,” Campbell said. “I took 15 APs in high school and received 105 college credits.” That’s enough to graduate seven semesters early. “Imagine my surprise when I was told they are all elective credits!”
Campbell contacted her advisor, who said that AU is planning to restructure its credit system so that students like Campbell wouldn’t find themselves with an overabundance of elective credits.
“Starting in the fall of 2022, APs won’t count for elective credits,” said an SIS advisor. “They won’t count for anything at all.”
From coming-of-age movies to familial stories of yore, college is often portrayed as a romantic, exploratory and intellectual experience. But according to these juniors, college isn’t all it’s chalked up to be. After all, college is a product that is sold to young students from the time they are children — it’s not so surprising that there’s some false advertising.
But when will it end? We can’t be sure. After all, college sells. Ask Muñoz, she can tell you all about it.
Nora Sullivan is a junior in the School of International Service and a satire columnist at The Eagle.