A thought prompted by this (very) tongue-in-cheek complaint:
Office of the President
Arizona State University
PO Box 877705
Tempe AZ 85287-7705
Dear President Crow:
cc: Vice President/ Dean CLAS David A. Young:
I am writing this letter to notify the Office of the President of Arizona State University — as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — that I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English Literature that I purchased from your institution via layaway in August of 2003.
Despite repeated attempts in different situations (job interviews, ice cream socials, blind dates, carnivals, etc…) the product I purchased from you fails to live up to the promises extended to me. The thing flat-out does not work. It has garnered me not one iota of respect, admiration, or financial gain and I would appreciate a full or partial refund at your earliest convenience.
Such "dissatisfaction" probably wouldn't surprise career counselor Marty Nemko, who writes (Chronicle of Higher Education, a month and a half ago):
Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."
I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later.
Neither would it surprise Adjunct Professor of English "X":
My students take English 101 and English 102 not because they want to but because they must. Both colleges I teach at require that all students, no matter what their majors or career objectives, pass these two courses. For many of my students, this is difficult. Some of the young guys, the police-officers-to-be, have wonderfully open faces across which play their every passing emotion, and when we start reading “Araby” or “Barn Burning,” their boredom quickly becomes apparent. They fidget; they prop their heads on their arms; they yawn and sometimes appear to grimace in pain, as though they had been tasered. Their eyes implore: How could you do this to me?