It doesn’t get any better than this, amigos…

The newspaper’s respected – but notoriously short-tempered – science writer was in a bit of a snit a few mornings ago.

“I went about this education thing all wrong. I spent 10 years in college and all I really had to do was go to the Internet and order my degree from a prestigious, nonaccredited university,” she sighed.

Ten years in college?

“There were extenuating circumstances…”

Our writer’s frustration, however, was not so much with the extended nature of her educational experience, but with the fact that she could have wrapped up the whole miserable decade in a few simple keystrokes. The damning evidence was glowing on the computer screen right in front of her:

“UNIVERSITY DIPLOMAS! Bachelors, Masters, MBA and Doctorate (PhD).

Obtain a prosperous future, money earning power and the admiration of all.

Diplomas from prestigious non-accredited universities based on your present knowledge and life experience.

No required tests, classes, books or interviews.

Bachelors, Masters, MBA and Doctorate (PhD) diplomas available in the field of your choice.

No one is turned down.

Confidentiality assured.

Call NOW to receive YOUR Diploma within days!!! 1-212-465-3129.”

Faced with such an offer, I can understand my colleague’s quite justifiable consternation. All those years forced to hang out with card-carrying UC Davis sprout-eaters while having to read books and take tests. And she probably had to walk three miles through the snow to go to lectures and pep rallies on top of it all. Talk about a wasted youth…

“Look! It says life experience. I’ve been alive all my life and experienced every bit of it. So why did I have to waste all those years in college?” she mused, a tinge of bitterness creeping into her voice.

Based on her life experience alone, my disillusioned colleague easily qualified for a prestigious nonaccredited university degree in firefighting, scuba diving, horseback riding and waitressing.

“I used to play the piano, too, and I helped look for birds in Panama…” she added.

Hey, sounds like a dual major – perhaps a doctorate in avian firefighting or a master’s in equestrian waitressing?

“There’s no reason why you can’t get a prestigious, nonaccredited university degree in addition to the one for which you wasted a significant portion of your life,” I said cheerily.

“And, unlike your current degree for which you spent a decade cooped up in a drafty, rat-infested campus garret eating gruel, you’ll also get a prosperous future, money-earning power and the admiration of all,” I added.

Our science writer may be a little bitter now, but you can bet she’ll be dialing that telephone number for a prestigious, nonaccredited university degree tomorrow.

And I’ll be right behind her. Yeah, maybe pick up an MBA and get a prestigious job with WorldCom…

Originally published July 28, 2002