Love learning? Have disposable income? You might have a matriculation problem. Don’t wait until you can no longer grip your pencil to find out. Take the following quiz!
1. Which of the following locales is a favorite haunt of the hidden rich?
2. Test the following syllogism for validity:
Oedipus was a patricide.
Privileged Princeton grad Thomas Gilbert Jr. is a patricide.
All privileged Princeton grads want to sleep with their mothers.
Answer: This is not a valid syllogism because it’s sexist.
3. Signs your college roommate may be concealing wealth:
a) Grows quiet and begins texting when conversation turns to financial aid
b) Refers to trim, well-dressed couple getting out of Audi as “just some people I know”
c) Skimps on beer fund, then overnights self Macbook Air
Answer: All of the above
4. Autodidacticism is not advisable for which of the following careers?
b) Rock star
c) Outsider artist
5. Between matriculations, I spent a good deal of time reading in libraries. My notebooks from these periods most closely resemble which of the following:
a) Jack Torrance’s manuscript in The Shining
b) Margaret’s diary in Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret?
c) Edward Casaubon’s work-in-progress “The Key to all Mythologies” in Middlemarch
Answer: c. Casaubon, an avoidant rich person, shuns sunlight and human intimacy. He devotes his life to writing a massive comparative study of world myth and is frequently overheard at his desk saying, “Wait, why am I doing this again?” In an effort to show his new wife affection, calls her his little “amanuensis.”
6. Dorothea Brooke, the rich and guilt-plagued heroine of Middlemarch, chooses Casaubon over sporty, upbeat and incredibly landed Sir James Chettam. Why?
a) Sir James not conflicted about wealth and social station
b) He disapproves of her “Property Is Theft” wax seal
c) Frightened by his ample and unruly side-chompers
d) Prospect of candlelit dinner with roll of foam insulation more interesting
Answer: a, d
7. In a recent Salon article, writer Ann Bauer fessed up to support from her husband and challenged established writers to be forthcoming about their financial circumstances. Responses ranged from gratitude to anger, with fierce debates in the comments about money and literary success.
Which of the following is most important for an aspiring writer?
a) £500 a year and a room of one’s own
b) An MFA
d) Memory of learning to change one’s own diaper
8. Circle the names of the opponents of “college for all”
a) Professor X, “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower,” The Atlantic 6/1/08
b) Louis Menand, “Live and Learn,” The New Yorker 6/6/11
c) Peter Thiel, “Thinking too Highly of Higher Ed,” Washington Post 11/21/14
d) Barack Obama, speech at Pellissippi State Community College 1/9/15
e) Paul Fussell’s 1992 book, Class
f) Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
Answer: a, c, e2
9. The most mind-blowing class I ever took was…
a) As an undergrad at a fine liberal arts college
b) In a master’s program
c) An adult education course
d) A writing workshop in a third-floor walkup
10. My Dad was an undergraduate at Cornell in the ‘50s and said the following teacher was an easy A:
a) Lillian Hellman
b) John Kenneth Galbraith
c) Irving Howe
d) Vladimir Nabokov
11. At a recent Business Backs Education event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman offered up a utopian idea of the future of public school education. His idea?
a) Teach kids about money in first grade
b) Eliminate letter grades until high school
c) Replace public school teachers with retirees
d) Require teachers to take public speaking classes
Didn’t finish reading this? You may have a matriculation problem.
If you read all the way through, you’re actually not matriculating enough. Put a course catalogue in the bathroom or something.
1 Parents wishing to raise future Tolstoys take note! If you want little Seamus or Collette to pen the next War and Peace, set them down on an exit ramp from time to time and drive off. If this is too difficult for you, simply use them to fill your own emotional needs until they start erasing holes in their homework.
2 Libertarian venture capitalist billionaire Peter Thiel called a college diploma “a dunce cap in disguise” and offers a two-year $100,000 Thiel Fellowship for students to drop out of college and pursue other work. Fussell called the marketing of college for all a “swindle” and Professor X’s teaching experiences have made him skeptical. Menand offers a good summary of the various arguments against college for all but feels everyone should study the liberal arts. I agree, if only for the confidence to bark sardonically when some jackass writes a review piece comprised entirely of knowing references like “Jacobean wall of sound,” “unheimlich on the range,” or “the Schlegels in a love triangle with Barney Fife.”
3 It was a year-long night class on Shakespeare taught by a retired SUNY professor. My agenda in bringing this up is to indulge in my perennial fantasy of a free or extremely cheap liberal arts education. The curriculum would be culled from an ever-changing database of non-degree options, a kind of Napster for the humanities using MOOCs, file-sharing communities, YouTube etc. For instance, students could watch a series of debates on linguistics and political theory from YouTube, ex. Chomsky vs. Skinner, Chomsky vs. Foucault, Chomsky vs. Dershowitz, and the extremely rare Chomsky vs. Chomsky.
4 He added “Pay them next to nothing, or nothing.” International Business Times 1/23/15. “Blackstone Group’s Stephen Schwarzman Says More Money Won’t Improve Public Education.”