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College Survival Guide: a Crash Course in Higher Learning

 By Jon F. Merz (jonmerz@wwwiz.com)

           By the time you read this, millions of kids will be journeying back to puke-green colored school walls with the same enthusiasm I usually reserve for a colonoscopy.  The hallowed halls of higher learning beckon and students everywhere heed the call.

          So this column is for them.  We're going to satirically explore a little of what I personally feel are critical elements to surviving the college years.  Admit it, if you had the chance to go back to college, there are a few choice skills you would have liked a crash course in ahead of time, right?  Well, then, here they are.

          For the over-21 crowd (and for crying out loud, use some common sense when it comes to this) alcohol is going to play a role in your college years (and still will later on if your hot IPO fails to materialize).  Knowing how to mix up a proper drink is vital know-how.  After all, having the captain of either the football team or cheerleading squad ask for a fuzzy navel and receive a bird's eye shot of your lint-laden belly button probably won't improve your sex life.  That said, open your browser to Bartenderonline and you'll see how for $19.95 you can get the ``same information national bartending schools charge $500-$850 for." 

          Not into slippery nipples? More of a vintage vineyard vixen? No sweat.  Jump over to the Society of Wine Educators homepage where you'll find tons of resources, trips and other functions of this non-profit organization devoted to fermented grapes.  Knowing how to pick a good wine can set you apart from the rest of the keg-crushing crowd.

          During the next four years, you will be asked to read stuff you wouldn't normally wish on your worst enemy and then regurgitate it in the form of term papers.  Take heart.  The online world has revolutionized the way college students write their papers. There are more than 600,000 hits in the search engines for term paper mills.  My personal fave?  Professor G's site, which naturally lists its products and services (including a staff of more than 50 researchers on 24 hour duty) as being for ``research & exemplary purposes only." Suuuuure.  Try telling that to some deadline-frazzled senior who's just ingested 23 tequila fanny bangers and see if he believes you.

          Let's talk about lying.

          Probably one of the most often used but never appreciated skills, school is where you begin honing this talent for its use in the real world.  But you need a crash course to fully appreciate its many splendors. Point yourself to http://sailor.gutenberg.org/etext96/pathl10.txt for a decidedly verbose course in the pathology of lying as seen from a criminal justice standpoint.  You get bonus points for staying awake past the third paragraph.

          For those of you whose attention span rivals the length of an amoeba, check out Power Lying.  Can't you just hear Stephen Covey getting nervous about the possibility of a book called ``Seven Habits of Highly Untruthful People?"

          And on the subject of weaving spells with your words, who hasn't wanted the ability to say something and have anyone do your nefarious bidding?  Head on over to http://www.seduction.com and visit with Ross Jeffries.  Jeffries, a self-described six-foot geek from Culver City, has developed a method called Speed Seduction based on neuro-linguistic programming and a boatload of rejection.  Simply put: talk your way into anyone's pants. Of course, you can use it for other things as well...but why would you want to?

          Money. 

          The bane of a student's existence.  Between text books priced higher than  Tanzania's GNP and an endless stream of take-out pizzas, money is a problem. Most students turn to a work-study job to help make ends meet or max out their credit cards.  Well, point your browser to http://www.recess.freeserve.co.uk/start.html and get started making cash doing one of the coolest jobs around:  being a DJ. Not only do you get paid to spin funky tunes, but DJs end up with a lot of fans.  That means dates.  Dating is good.  It helps you acquire necessary social skills to use in the real world.  And though this site is located in the UK, it contains a ton of helpful material.

          One of the hardest things to decide on during your college years is your major.  With obvious and yawn-worthy choices like marketing and management, many folks look for interesting alternatives.  And by far one of the coolest has to be the University of Washington's newest graduate degree program in astrobiology.  For those of you allergic to polysyllabic words, that means they give you a degree in searching for extraterrestrial life forms. That's aliens to you and me, pardner. Bug-eyed Martians.  Read all about it at http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,15381,00.html

          So what if you don't have the patience for classrooms and studying?  You can always use the Net to get your degree.  Check out http://www.degreeconsultants.com and see how for only 545 bucks you can turn your life experience into a Bachelor's degree in as little as 30 days. While you're pondering how it's possible to knock 47 months off the normal Baccalaureate turnaround time, cruise over to http://www.wired.com/news/print/0%2C1294%2C35068%2C00.html and take a gander at how degree mills are churning out papers to the tune of $200 million in profits annually.

          There you have it: college, WebBizarre style.  Now at least you know why I majored in basket weaving with a concentration in applied hop fermentation and female anatomy.  Speaking of which, I think I need some continuing education credits...

   Jon F. Merz (zrem@earthlink.net) freelances from Boston, Mass., where he writes for APBNews.com, Guyville.com and more.  His past articles have appeared in World Rhythm Magazine, Ura & Omote Journal, and Wcities.com.  He has also published two dozen short stories in various national and small press magazines.

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