A/N: This after dinner speech was written for the 2006 Western Worlds Qualifier, a debate competition that my school hosts annually. I won, both in this category and overall. Everything in here is perfectly accurate, from the college names and statistics to the information contained in the Wall Street Journal Guide to the Business of Life. Most of the jokes in here are easy to get, apart from the mention of 'Deerflayed Academy'. That is a reference to Deerfield Academy, which is generally recognized as being the best private boarding school in the United States. This speech was written as a result of a summer spent touring colleges and a fall spent sucking up to them.
To the Citizens of Tomorrow by I, Myself
I assume the confused expressions on your faces are because you're trying to figure out who I am. Well, let me give a few hints. I am not a maintenance worker come to yell at you for the broken windows in the Student Center. I am not an irate cafeteria lady who spent all last night cleaning up from the food fight. By the way, I must extend my congratulations to Mr. Bergman, who I believe was the first among you to discover the aerodynamic properties of Tuna Surprise. I am your college counselor.
Don't look so surprised! Your senior year is about more than the class trip to Cancun. And, as you so often remind the administration, your parents do not pay the annual budget of a small country so that we can make you mop the dining hall and serve detention for smoking. You are here to be prepared for college, and that, surprisingly enough, means you must apply to some. Although I will be making individual appointments with each of you, I would like to lay out the basic rules of beating the system when it comes to applying to schools. If we are lucky, only half of you will end up attending community college.
Now, as we all know, the most important part of life is how things look, not how they are. This is overwhelmingly true when it comes to college. The first thing you must learn is that many colleges have the same names. Cornell University and Cornell College are not the same institution, but they look the same printed on a diploma. The same goes for Columbia in New York and Columbia in Missouri, and Brown with a 17 acceptance rate and Brown with a 100 acceptance rate. The average employer cannot tell the difference between these schools. I believe that many of your parents employed this strategy when enrolling you here at Deerflayed Academy.
However, if you are one among us who has taken Freshman English three times, you are unlikely to get into even these schools. Not to worry. The best tactic for you will be the blanket statement- being able to say "I got into every school I applied to!" even if the colleges on your list were University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, and Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Nearly as useful is the statement "It's such a good school!", which can be applied truthfully in almost any situation. For example, Utah Valley State College has an excellent forestry program. Also useful is "I wanted to be close to home.", which implies all sorts of noble things about your character and neatly hides the fact that the only school you could get into was ITT Technical Institute, Omaha campus.
If all of this fails you, go abroad. There are scores of international schools salivating at the thought of a student who can afford to pay in cash instead of in goats. The more unpronounceable and unintelligible your school's name happens to be, the better. Bolivia and Romania are particularly good for this. Saying you attended Universidad Nur or Alegeti Universitatea is sure to impress any potential employer, and it would be even better if your major were in a foreign tongue as well. Mu-soak-en-saw pag-goo-knee mandel-key sounds much more impressive in Korean than in English, where it translates to underwater basket-weaving.
Of course, all of you really should have started this process years ago. The recently published Wall Street Journal Guide to the Business of Life, which also contains helpful hints about getting into exclusive preschools, offers advice about buying your way into college. They suggest that when the child in question is born, the parents annually donate about $2,000 to their preferred college, increasing the amounts as the child nears their senior year of high school. I realize it's a bit late for that now, but you could try asking your parents to give it all in one lump sum.
So let's jump into the future a bit. You've toured a few universities, attended a few kegger parties, and have selected your first choice school. Now it is time to formulate your plan of attack. The first step is to bombard the college with letters of support from alumni, even if the only ones you can find are toothless and in wheelchairs. You must do this even if you have to write the letters yourself and present them to be signed with an X, because the alumni are too arthritic to write out their signatures.
Many colleges allow the submission of additional materials to their application. Take advantage of this opportunity. I'm sure many of you have heard the story of the student who mailed a single shoe to their preferred college, in order to get their foot in the door. Do not stoop to this level. Rise above it. Send them not one, but a pair of Prada shoes. Send them Louis Vittan bags. Send them Frequent Flyer Miles and Picassos and signed first editions of The Old Man and the Sea. Bribery is not beneath you. If it is good enough for our government, it is certainly good enough for you.
And now last, but not least, the all-important essay. The Wall Street Journal Guide to the Business of Life suggests the perfect topic to be How I Learned the Value of Philanthropy at an Early Age. However, I suggest that you stick to what you know. Write about something that makes you unique, an individual, but not so unique or individual that the college feels like they are your therapist or your gynecologist. Inspiring life experiences make for particularly good essays. You might consider taking a trip to some godforsaken third world country to thatch a few roofs in between enjoying the thriving local cocaine market. Then you can write about what a concerned citizen of the world you are, and how you intend to join the Peace Corp upon your graduation. And this will be true, as long as you can get assigned to a country that supplies all the world's opium demands.
I hope you all paid attention to what I've just said. Applying to college is a grueling experience, but you will be rewarded with four years of pleasure for a few months of pain. And besides, if you think this is terrible, just wait until you start looking at graduate schools.