Subject: College explained...
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 14:51:18 -0500
From: eric poulin (

                        Submitted by The Historian
                             (Long but Good)

Many of you young persons out there are seriously thinking about going to 
college. (That is, of course, a lie. The only things you young persons think 
seriously about are beer, loud music and sex. Trust me: these are closely 
related to college.) College is basically a bunch of rooms where you sit for 
roughly two thousand hours and try to memorize things. The two thousand hours 
are spread out over four years; you spend the rest of the time drinking, 
sleeping and trying to get dates.

Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college:

1. Things you will need to know in later life (two hours). These include how 
   to make collect telephone calls and get beer and crepe-paper stains out 
   of your pajamas.

2. Things you will not need to know in later life (1,998 hours).  These are 
   the things you learn in classes whose names end in -ology, -osophy, -istry, 
   -ics, and so on. The idea is, you memorize these things, then write them 
   down in little exam books, then forget them. If you fail to forget them, 
   you become a professor and have to stay in college for the rest of your 

It's very difficult to forget everything. For example, when I was in college, 
I had to memorize-don't ask me why-the names of three metaphysical poets other 
than John Donne. I have managed to forget one of them, but I still remember 
that the other two were named Vaughan and Crashaw. Sometimes, when I'm trying 
to remember something important like whether my wife told me to get tuna 
packed in oil or tuna packed in water, Vaughan and Crashaw just pop up in my 
mind, right there in the supermarket. It's a terrible waste of brain cells. 
After you've been in college for a year or so, you're supposed to choose a 
major, which is the subject you intend to memorize and forget the most things 

Here is a very important piece of advice:  Be sure to choose a major that 
does not involve Known Facts and Right Answers. This means you must *not* 
major in mathematics, physics, biology, or chemistry, because these subjects 
involve actual facts. If, for example, you major in mathematics, you're going 
to wander into class one day and the professor will say: "Define the cosine 
integer of the quadrant of a rhomboid binary axis, and extrapolate your result 
to five significant vertices." If you don't come up with exactly the answer 
the professor has in mind, you fail. The same is true of chemistry: if you 
write in your exam book that carbon and hydrogen combine to form oak, your 
professor will flunk you. He wants you to come up with the same answer he and 
all the other chemists have agreed on. Scientists are extremely snotty about 
this. So you should major in subjects like English, philosophy, psychology, 
and sociology-subjects in which nobody really understands what anybody else 
is talking about, and which involve virtually no actual facts.

I attended classes in all these subjects, so I'll give you a quick overview 
of each:

1. ENGLISH: This involves writing papers about long books you have read 
   little snippets of just before class. Here is a tip on how to get good 
   grades on your English papers: Never say anything about a book that 
   anybody with any common sense would say. For example, suppose you are 
   studying Moby-Dick. Anybody with any common sense would say that Moby 
   Dick is a big white whale, since the characters in the book refer to it 
   as a big white whale roughly eleven thousand times. So in your paper, you 
   say Moby-Dick is actually the Republic of Ireland. Your professor, who is 
   sick to death of reading papers and never liked Moby Dick anyway, will 
   think you are enormously creative. If you can regularly come up with 
   lunatic interpretations of simple stories, you should major in English.

2. PHILOSOPHY: Basically, this involves sitting in a room and deciding there 
   is no such thing as reality and then going to lunch. You should major in 
   philosophy if you plan to take a lot of drugs.

3. PSYCHOLOGY: This involves talking about rats and dreams.  Psychologists 
   are obsessed with rats and dreams. I once spent an entire semester 
   training a rat to punch little buttons in a certain sequence, then 
   training my roommate to do the same thing. The rat learned much faster. 
   My roommate is now a doctor. If you like rats or dreams, and above all if 
   you dream about rats, you should major in psychology.

4. SOCIOLOGY: For sheer lack of intelligibility, sociology is far and away 
   the number one subject. I sat through hundreds of hours of sociology 
   courses, and read gobs of sociology writing, and I never once heard or 
   read a coherent statement. This is because sociologists want to be 
   considered scientists, so they spend most of their time translating 
   simple, obvious observations into scientific - sounding code. If you plan
   to major in sociology, you'll have to learn to do the same thing.  For 
   example, suppose you have observed that children cry when they fall down. 
   You should write:
      "Methodological observation of the sociometrical behavior tendencies 
       of prematurated isolates indicates that a casual relationship exists
       between groundward tropism and lachrimatory, or 'crying,' behavior 
   If you can keep this up for fifty or sixty pages, you will get large
   government grants.

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