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Jewish World Review May 3, 2001 / 9 Iyar, 5761

Barry Rabin

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Consumer Reports


At last, a discount Ivy League college!


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- HAVE college costs gone absolutely, totally nuts?

I think so. And yet recent stories about skyrocketing college tuitions and fees have included the fact that the more top-name universities jack up their fees, the more people clamor to get into them.

This is the so-called “Perfume Effect.” The higher the price tag, the better the public thinks it smells.

To me, however, the college tuition spiral just plain stinks. Twenty years ago, no American family could have imagined spending literally the cost of a middle-class house on four years of beer-drinking, panty-raiding and occasional studying for Junior.

My solution: I am starting my own Ivy League university. Its mission: To be the first discount college in the Ivy League. We’ll start by giving it a nice, Ivy-sounding name. How about Dartyard?

Yeah, that’s the ticket! It’s Dartyard Discount Ivy League University (Inc.).

So how will we do it?

Volume!!!

After all, that’s how every other discount entity keeps its prices down. So where every other Ivy League school gets maybe 20,000 applications a year, and accepts only 2,000, I say we start by letting EVERYBODY in. After all, the professors don’t have to talk any louder just because the class is bigger (thanks to the huge, rock-concert-sized sound equipment we’ll haul in for each class).

The math is simple: If we accept ten times the number of students, we can charge one-tenth the tuition. Bingo!

And speaking of professors, why even have them? Everyone knows by now that the actual teaching in America’s colleges today is done by low-paid “teaching assistants,” many of whom are foreign grad students who barely speak English. If we save money by not hiring superfluous professors, we could double the pay of those poor, underpaid T.A.s AND steal the best ones from those other [grossly overpriced] Ivy League schools. (And maybe there’d even be enough cash left over for some English lessons for the math department!)

Now that we’ve taken care of unnecessary extras like faculty, it’s on to Dartyard’s “physical plant.”

Whereas most of the Ivies hold their classes in massive brick buildings with names like “Elton Bishop Hall” – buildings which cost a fortune to maintain, heat, etc. – Dartyard will save money by not having any buildings!

So where will classes be held? Outside! That’s right, out in the “Great Out There,” under a spreading chestnut tree or its present-day equivalent. This plan will require us to be located in a warm climate, lest we lose students to exposure or frostbite in places like Parasite, Montana or Great Legs, South Dakota (dead students’ families tend to want refunds, which is bad for business).

Besides, being based in a fun place like Key West, for example, would be a great way to attract students. Pina colada, anybody ($5 each)?

Of course, rain or other inclement weather could put a damper on those outdoor classes. No problem! Classes could be easily moved to local churches, bus stations and abandoned buildings when the forecast calls for precipitation. Besides, just imagine how instructive it would be to hold your seminar class on Substance Abuse Policy in the local crack-house. I’ll bet Harvard and Yale can’t match that one!

Then there’s student housing. In my book, dormitories are an expensive luxury which could easily be dispensed with. So no dorms! Let the little twerps fend for themselves! Aren’t there enough apartments, motels and flop-houses in this world already?

Besides, that way Bubba can destroy somebody else’s real estate when he gets liquored up and sexually frustrated on Saturday night (somebody who won’t hesitate to call the cops when Bubba gets out of line, or alternatively, beat him with a tire iron).

Finally, let’s talk about Fundraising.

Since Dartyard will be new, it won’t have the multi-million-dollar endowment or alumni giving stream those other colleges have. But it will have a way to make lots of money.

How?

By locking up the beer and pizza concessions on campus. Everybody knows that the average American college student spends at least double his/her tuition per semester on alcoholic beverages, pizza, snack foods and other assorted substances.

So why let somebody else get the profits? At two bucks a beer, my own alma mater could have made more on me than my tuition and dorm payments combined.

Let alone on the pay toilets...



JWR contributor Barry Rabin is a lawyer and humor writer (REALLY!). Comment by clicking here.

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© 2001, Barry Rabin