A Conversation Overheard

“Hey, Fred! You coming to the party Thursday night? It’s going to be seriously fine!!”

“Nah. I’ve got a Mid-term coming on Friday and a paper due at the end of next week. I’ve got to hit the books.”

“Dude, you gotta be shittin’ me! It’s Thursday, man! It’s party night. Tell your Prof your Grandma died and get her to let you take a make-up. Then, after we’ve sobered up we can catch the game on Saturday!”

“Yeah. Great. But even if that worked, I’ve still got that paper for Professor Erickson.”

“What’s the topic?”

“It’s for history and it’s on Reconstruction after the Civil War.”

“Well, what you do is Google the topic and there are hundreds of essays online on that topic. Cut and paste a few of them and stick in some misspelled words. She’ll never know the difference. C’mon, man. LET’S PARTY!! This party is going to be fantastic! Jack has a couple of kegs and some of the girls from Tri-Delt will be there!”

“I really can’t, much as I’d like to. I really don’t think my Prof will let me take a make-up.”

“Who is your Prof again”?

“Professor Erickson.” She’s supposed to be tough.”

“Bull! I checked her out on “ratemyprofessor.com” last semester to see whether or not I wanted to take her class and she’s a pussycat. She will let you take the test any time you want!”

“If that’s so, why didn’t you take her class this semester?”

“Because there were two other profs who are supposed to be even easier. This stuff is gravy. You can cruise the internet and you won’t have to sweat out your four years. I got an A+ from Professor Stewart in Sociology and I never even opened a book.”

“An A+?? There’s no such grade! You gotta be kidding me!”

“I know! Just like I said: this stuff is easy! Now work on your sob story and plan to be there tomorrow night! We’re going to have a blast!”


Needless to say, I made this up. And for all my shortcomings as a fiction-writer, this is no fiction. It’s common at so many of our colleges that are taking huge amounts of money from parents and students to defraud our young, telling them they are getting an education while all the time they are simply running in place.

Let’s hope our hero doesn’t go to the party. But here’s betting he does.






5 thoughts on “A Conversation Overheard

  1. Being accountable, having expectations to meet, and learning responsibilities starts at an early age. Very early. In the home. In our lower grade schools. There are so many signs of failure here in your vignette, Hugh. More than meets the obvious and apparent eye.

    • The truly astonishing thing is that those responsible for the failure refuse to acknowledge that they have failed! I suppose this is what happens when we disallow external agencies to evaluate performance. The schools tend to be very insular and they insist that those outside “just don’t understand their problems.” But somehow tiny Finland gets it right!!

      • Hugh, on a related topic, UNC did one internal audit and one faux outside audit of their academic scandal where athletes were steered to a “one term paper” course” which was written by someone else. They found it was contained. Then, a real audit was done by an external group and they found it had been going on for years. Keith

  2. Good non-fiction, fiction. As we have discussed, there is an industry of people who write papers for people and sit in for SAT and ACT tests, although that is harder now. One such author is bemused by the email requests she gets and writes the paper accordingly to the quality level of the email. When one client complained that she only got a C+, she commented, “if I wrote an A paper for you, the teacher would know it was a fraud.”

    • Like the AMA, academia ought to subject itself to an “outside audit” on a regular basis. It is a mistake to allow those who do the work (presumably) to judge of its effectiveness!

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