Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Glossy Garbage

© 2008 Stan Spire

Junk mail. And the junkiest is another propaganda publication from the college where I played the game and graduated with a useless degree.

Useless degree? Why, a college education guarantees a good job, higher wages! A four-year degree is gold.

Actually it’s crap if all the colleges are pumping out too many graduates for too few jobs. During one economic slump when I needed a job, any job, I was told by an employment counselor to omit listing my BA from any applications.

“You’re not being hired,” she told me, “because you look overqualified with your college degree.”

But you’re never see any stories like that in a college alumni magazine. After all, the alumni magazine wants to maintain the illusion how great college is, how successful ALL graduates are.

I hated that college. It was built right next to an immense lake, meaning that winters were insufferable. If the wind didn’t knock you down and break a leg, the frosty gales would bite any exposed skin. A snowstorm would roll in off the lake, completely burying your car in a dune of white powder.

But skim through the slick pages of the alumni magazine. Not one winter shot. Nothing but sunny day scenes taken during the non-winter months: September and May. Anything between those two months was artic hell.

Obviously, if most people knew what winter was like at that college, they would’ve chosen another institution of higher learning in New York State.

Not that would make any difference outside of the weather. The NY university system always talks about excellence, but I didn’t notice any excellence at the colleges I attended. At best I encountered mediocrity, especially with writing courses. I learned more on my own than listening to a college hack. After all, if such an instructor was so talented, how come he hadn’t been published beyond some obscure literary magazine with twenty subscribers? (The nineteen other subscribers were teaching hacks whose work was also accepted by said magazine.) That’s why I consider a college alumni magazine as nothing more than a slick lie printed on slick paper.

Flip through the pages and marvel at all the successful people who landed good jobs and are getting married, big weddings. Look who’s on the cover: that guy on network TeeVee, a celebrity who made it big because of his college education.

But what about the graduate those who didn’t make it, who never became a mass media celeb, who didn’t publish a major book or become CEO of a major company? Think about those stories when you peruse any glossy propaganda promulgated from a college desperate for fresh meat to grind through its machine.

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