How I Earned a College Degree, It Just Wasn’t My Own

How I Earned a College Degree, It Just Wasn’t My Own

People go to school to learn.  That’s a pretty straightforward fact.  You sit in a class, listen to a teacher, do the work, and come out of the experience with new knowledge gained.  Right?

Well, not necessarily.

My then wife, Arlene, earned (we can debate that point) her degree while working.  That is a noble endeavor, work full time job and attend college at night.  Although, perhaps it is not so noble when someone helps you.  I don’t mean someone runs questions with you, or helps by throwing ideas around; I mean, someone does the work for you.

And that person was me.

Of course, as a married couple, you are there to help each other.  Although, I don’t see anywhere in my wedding vows that stated, “To love, honor, and write a fifteen page paper on whether or not Oliver Stone can be considered a true historian” (actual assignment).

To be fair to Arlene, I never did any work for classes in her major, Computer Information Systems.  Though, I do enjoy asking ‘What was your major again?’ when Arlene calls me when she has a problem with EXCEL.

Basically, it worked this way: Arlene would go to class, get her assignments, and then hand-off those she either felt I could better, or just flat out didn’t want to do (hint, it was the second one).

For a short while, I was a trainer for my company.  One time, while my students were taking a test, I sat at my desk answering one-hundred psychology questions.  Another was the aforementioned Oliver Stone question.  In my opinion, Oliver Stone is not a historian, and a hit-or-miss filmmaker at best (granted, I give him more hits than misses).

For a philosophy class, Arlene told me (not asked me, mind you) to write a paper about the color blue.  After toiling over it for a bit, what can you say about the color blue, I handed it over to Arlene.

The following week, Arlene returned from school, upset with me.

“I got a ‘C’ on that paper you wrote about the color blue!”

It was a good paper, much better than a ‘C’.  I asked her if the teacher gave any feedback.

“Yes,” she said, “he said that you didn’t understand his directions.”

Let that one sink in for a bit.

But, hands down, my all-time favorite, an art class project.

The assignment?  Storyboard a commercial.  A storyboard is like a comic strip, a series of pictures, depictions of the action to take place during the actual commercial.  For this, it could be a made up product, or something already on the market.

Does everyone remember the ‘Flowbee’?

For anyone lucky enough not to do the childhood walk-of-shame to school the day after your Mom tried this money-saving device, a quick description.

It sucked. 

Literally.  Attached to a vacuum, the ‘Flowbee’ device sucked up your hair, and cut it.

Not sure why we landed on that particular product, but I drew six panels of moms who used this device on their unsuspecting children’s heads.

A week later, we found ourselves near her college.  Arlene wanted to run in and get her grade for the art project.

I waited in the car (window cracked, so I had air); she took forever before she returned.  She was laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Well,” Arlene began, “I was standing the in the hallway, checking the grade list, when my teacher spotted me and pulled me into her classroom full of students.”

“Class,” her teacher beamed, “this is the woman I told you about.  The one who handed in that project that was so funny and clever.” 

“She then asked me if she could keep it, to show other classes.  To show them, as an example, what they should do.”

 “And you just stood there?  Took in all the praise, and let her keep the piece?”

“Of course,” Arlene sounded confused I even asked, “It was my project.”

For all I know, it’s still hangs in that classroom.

To give Arlene credit, she did go on to get her Master’s Degree, and Project Management Certification, without any help from me.

However, for her Bachelor’s Degree, Arlene attended a catholic college.  So, since she basically lied in earning that degree, I feel it only right she should say ten Our Fathers, and ten Hail Marys, before she can rightfully hang it on her wall.


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