Welcome distinguished faculty, honored guests, and bankrupt parents. And above all, welcome to you - the eager and unemployable graduates of the Class of 2011.
Today represents the culmination of a long safari through the murky thickets of this impenetrable rain forest we call "higher education." Just a few years ago you arrived for your freshman orientation, full of wide-eyed anticipation and existential dread, wondering if this place would eat you alive. Soon though - through luck, pluck, and enormous amounts of mind altering substances - you adapted to your new surroundings. You learned to communicate in the natives' strange gibberish and follow their bizarre rituals. You learned which taboo words and thoughts to avoid, and how not provoke the cannibals. And finally, today, as you stumble out of that misty, bewildering glade and across this stage, you will receive the ultimate acknowledgement of your successful journey through the heart of darkness: a college diploma.
Oh, what a handsome document it is; genuine acid-free vellum, laser printed in the finest Olde English calligraphy, expertly kerned and cropped, suitable for framing. One can only imagine the pride of the sheep that sacrificed its life that you might walk away with this elegant ironic keepsake of four years in your own beloved ovine herd. Or five, or seven, or whatever your family financial resources and alcohol habits demanded.
Behold its Latin inscriptions and embossed seals; why, if you just squint a little, it looks like it could have come from Harvard, maybe even Hogwarts. Drink in the bold signatures from the dean of your college and the president of the university, affirming to the world that you have fulfilled each academic requirement and never bounced a tuition check. And thus it also affirms that you have been sanctified as a graduate of this fine institution, and are now granted all rights and privileges thereunto appurtaining. What exactly are those rights and privileges, you ask? Believe me, you'll be finding out soon enough.
Now that your time and money are tapped out, this diploma will serve as lasting reminder of everything you accomplished during your magical four to seven years on campus. Please take it with our compliments, and treasure its distinctive elegance during the many, many free hours you will soon have after moving back home with your parents. As a special offer to those parents who have any money or pride left, we will cheerfully mail your student's diploma pre-framed for the low additional cost of $79.95 plus shipping and handling, ready to hang in a place of honor over your family hearth or hot water heater. Or, for $99.95, this deluxe leatherette-bound diploma TrapperKeeper makes an elegant organizer for all those student loan bills that will begin arriving within the next 60 days.
But why dwell on the costs? As college studies show, a college diploma is a bargain at any price! Oh sure, four to seven years ago you could have taken out a $200,000 loan and bought a nice starter house, or a new Ferrari. But where would that leave you today? With a four to seven year old Ferrari, that's where. Instead you have this priceless diploma signifying your wise financial choice to put your debt where your brain is, and hot rod that sucker with the latest nitro-fueled, supercharged academic knowledge this side of Jacques "Big Daddy" Derrida. That knowledge hurtled you down the quarter mile at Deconstruction Valley Dragways and now you claim the prize - this diploma naming you as Top Patriarchy Eliminator. And unlike a Ferrari, no repo man will ever load your knowledge on a flatbed and haul it away - even if he wanted to.
Yes, some of you may have invested your cash in pursuing mercenary "professional" degrees, like engineering and nursing and accounting, with their tedious emphasis on "right" answers and "employment." Some of those graduates aren't even here, because they'd rather be working at their new jobs than joining us in this celebration of the life of the mind. Happily though, the majority of you came to this university to learn how to think, not what to think. You learned how to speak truth to power, and how to question authority. If you were hungover for the big Questioning Authority midterm, you learned how to plead the TA for an extra-credit paper, topic of his choosing, and how he wanted it worded. You learned how everything can be deconstructed and critiqued, with the exception of Deconstruction and Critical Theory.
Armed with all those deconstructing and questioning and critical thinking skills, the world is finally your oyster, if not your employer. Don't be shy! Try them out around the house. When Mom stops doing your laundry in disgust, or Dad snaps at you to mow the lawn and "start pulling your weight around this place for chrissakes," remember to point out their false consciousness and societally proscribed gender roles. If they continue to oppress you, remind them you are the owner of this - a genuine college diploma.
If your parents then threaten to exile you from your aboriginal homeland unless you get a job, try getting hired back at that Subway you worked at in high school. Remember Jason, the guy you used to smoke weed with in the Subway parking after work? He kept working there while you were in college. In fact, now he's District Manager, so, hey, maybe he can put a good word in for you.
And if that doesn't work out? Hey, big deal. So you're being crushed under a mountain of debt by a cold heartless anti-intellectual world that refuses to value your highly-honed cognitive skills and handsome diploma. The answer is obvious: get an even bigger diploma.
That's right. By re-enrolling in our award-winning graduate school, you will learn how to really think - plus get temporary relief from those nagging student loan bill collectors! Student loans are available.
Welcome back to the jungle, baby.
Just don't think about it.