What is the eternal student? Well, literally, it’s someone studying forever. You could say that basically everyone is a perennial student. But I am referring to this type of person who is a permanent resident at a university. The perks of college are numerous—namely, you don’t have to pay for your living. Some of the lucky ones are able to get parents to pay for their college stays, but occasionally one can trick the government and other grant organizations into paying. There are several types of perpetual disciples, ranging from the genuinely dedicated to the wild partygoers.
Most of the time when referring to an eternal disciple, the automatic assumption is that of the truly devoted eternal disciple. This is often a student who has chosen random and rather bizarre coursework. These students are most commonly found among those studying classical studies or history. The reason is simple. Nobody cares about these majors except the people in them. Who still needs to study Sanskrit? It’s a dead language five thousand years old. So students of these kinds of majors can always find something old to study and claim they need to study it fully before moving to the “real world”.
These students can always find something else to study because the stuff has been around for so damn long. With no one bothering about these studies anymore, these students are free to hide in the sun-deprived coroners of dusty libraries and remain free from responsibility. The main difficulty in being a truly dedicated perpetual student is lying convincingly enough that parents, friends, the university, and financial supporters all believe the student needs to remain withdrawn in their studies.
The Multiple Degrees Eternal Student is a nefarious schemer. This student is the only perennial student who ever actually graduated. And they don’t just get one degree, but several at the same time. The primary goal of this type of student is to have more letters after their name than they have in their name. You get a BA and a BS and an MA, MS, MPH, JD, MBA, MD, PhD, DrPH and so on and so on. In a way, this Eternal Apprentice is the most talented and devious of all the Eternal Apprentices.
Not only must they have the intelligence and talent to earn these many degrees, but they must convince others that they actually need those degrees. However, the danger of being a perpetual student with multiple degrees is that, unlike other perpetual students, these individuals have actually achieved an acceptable level of education. Eventually their financial support will rebel due to the immense financial drain that these multiple degrees bring and the student is generally told to utilize their degrees. The best counterattack to this kind of trouble is to say goodbye to every possible job and return to higher education after a short break.
Another tuition bound eternal student is the Cutting Edge Eternal Student. These students study state-of-the-art material. Often the world assumes that these are the students who will be the first to venture out of the confines of college life. The world is sorely wrong about that. Most great advances in technology are made by doddering old men and women who made the mistake of dropping out of college and have been trying to keep up ever since. True, there are Walt Disney and Bill Gate, the rare examples of young people achieving great technological success. But these people are few and far between. The Cutting Edge Eternal Student insists on learning the latest new technology before entering the workforce in order to be “well prepared”. Clever enough, when they finish learning the last skill, there will be new material to study.
The only problem with college-bound perpetual students is that they almost always have enough or more than enough credits to complete their degree. Parents or government officials, noticing this, often demand that said student graduate, putting an end to their free-riding. The Multiple Minors Eternal Student manages to dodge these degree questions by never earning enough credits to qualify as a major in a particular subject. These students cleverly design their schedules to always be at the right time without the right requirements to have continuous course study.
Because of these “scheduling errors,” students are then forced to take alternate classes where they “discover” new interests, and the same scheduling problem arises. The most common excuse given by such students is that they are using college to “broaden their horizons”. Although lacking in foresight, these students are very conscientious about their time management in the courses. The only difficulty with The Multiple Minor Eternal Student is that after about fifteen years, the fields of study are restricted. As such, these students are most commonly found applying for new majors, and can be thanked for many of the odder majors found in colleges today.
The lack of perpetual core student is another student who does not meet the requirements for graduation. However, these students take all coursework required for their majors. These students forgo a degree because they do not meet certain core curriculum requirements. They differ from The Multiple Minors Eternal Student in that their goal is to get all the credits BUT the core course, while The Multiple Minor Eternal Student’s goal is to ONLY complete the core course requirements. Obviously, The Mangel of Core Eternal Student is only found in schools with a core curriculum, preferably an extensive one. The difficulty with this method of study is that the student must work hard in their major to counteract the effects of their “failing” core courses in order not to be expelled from school. These students are most easily found when they support the need for “liberal arts education”; also known as a ridiculously large and barely useful core class requirement.
The Eternal Transfer Student also manages their education to avoid getting real credits at a specific school. Often these students take a “leave of absence” to “explore” other schools. In this way, they fool the schools they attend into not giving them credit while still remaining in the college lifestyle. The Eternal Transfer Student, like the Multiple Minors Eternal Student, needs to be very smart and plan the course and schools they attend.
If they are very good, they can successfully fail dozens of universities. The key to this failure lies in the selection of courses at one particular school that can no longer be transferred as elective credits to another. A subset of the eternal transfer student is the eternal study abroad student, who is merely a transfer student at foreign universities. This specialized Eternal Transfer Student is a bit more difficult to maintain due to the immense cost of traveling abroad. Another common pitfall of international students is unwisely falling in love with a foreign city or person and moving abroad permanently, thereby ending their “study”.
The last and most notorious Eternal Student is simply called The Eternal Party Animal. The name speaks for itself. These students are the students who always manage to miss class because they sleep off a hangover. These students need very gullible PARENTS. The government cannot long be tricked into supporting The Party Animal’s habits. The most common mistake made by Party Animal students is carelessness. They are so busy partying that they don’t pass enough grades to stay in school. Therefore, a smart party animal will only attend a school that is simple and rich in fraternities and sororities. Schools that provide this atmosphere are more forgiving of The Party Animal and allow him or her to thrive. The Greek system is also very supportive of the party animal, providing instant friends, plenty of booze, and chores to do. A warning to those considering the life of The Party Animal: Most former Party Animals die of depression, cirrhosis, or STDs.
The privilege of the perpetual student body should not be taken lightly. At no other time in your life is it a) acceptable that you don’t know what you’re doing, b) normal for people to give you inordinate amounts of money, and c) to be expected to do stupid things. If you doubt what I’m saying is true, look at all the adults trying to get back into college – you can’t.
Thanks to Sarah Boutwell