From Gina Barreca‘s Brainstorm column:

So I decided to anticipate the inevitable future, where all kinds of corporations get into the act. What would it be like, for example, if the following corporations ran college and universities?

The Barbie World of Mattel U.
Education at BWM would emphasize outfits, cars, and accessories, and, in this way, mimic the world found on the campuses of many small, private nonprofit colleges already in existence. The BWM student could train for 16 simultaneous careers as long as she (or he, but mostly she) is 6’2 and blonde. “You, too, can be a student, or just look like one!”; “Be anything from a pet vet to a rock star!” are the mottos. Just don’t expect to learn any viable skills. You’ll learn to look like you know what you’re doing. You can be an environmentalist, a surgeon, an architect, a news anchor, and/or computer engineer, or just dress like one.

Starbucks U.
Degree: Tall, Grande, or Venti? We have 43 billion locations worldwide, many of which are right across the street from one another in a gentrified neighborhood near you. We embrace diversity to create a place where each of us can be ourselves. Not that we know what that means, unless it requires the use of some nonfat steamed milk product. You’re a partner and a shareholder, not a student, and as such, you’re expected to bus your own tables. We’re not picking up after you. We’re your equals. Don’t forget to tip your teachers on the way out. Have a nice day, and maybe when you graduate you’ll be earning enough money to stop stealing the Splenda.

Random Publishing U.
You’ll get your degree, but it will be out of print in three years.

Victoria’s Secret U.
Not really a secret — a visible force providing an uplifting learning environment. Great padding on your resume. You can wear strapless gowns at commencement.

Ashley Madison
We’ll teach you how to plagiarize effectively. There are no rosters. Go to any classes you want. AM or p.m.: a very open relationship with students is encouraged.

Hallmark U.
Get Rejected from state U?

No need to feel sad and blue!
We can make you feel good too.

Learn about diversity.
Overcome adversity.
We’re rhyming universally
At Hallmark University.

LL Bean U.:
We’ll personalize your degree, waterproof it, and ship it for free. Get one for your puppy, your cabin, and your canoe! Available in pine green, coral pink, lemon yellow, or lime, with a whale motif.

Amazon.com U.

We’re focused on providing the greatest works of literature to everyone, unless those works are published by Macmillan. In that case, you’re out of luck.

Toyota U.
You’ll get your degree, but we’ll need it back.

QVC U.
What’s another letter to us? Get your Ph.D., M.A., Ed.D., or M.S.W. at QVC. While supplies last. Only 10 left! Order now! Our customers are more than satisfied. QVC does more to provide for education than any retailer of education. We see classes as merchandise that can be provided as a direct response to what is selling! We know what is necessary for a top-of-the-line education and what is not! Irish Spring is necessary! Also, we can now provide your education in Hi-Def. How many places can say their degrees are endorsed by celebrities? After all, Joan Rivers isn’t shilling for Barnard. She’s schilling for QVC! Hurry! If you’re not completely satisfied, return for the full purchase price. Just pay shipping and handling. The ShamWow’s on us.

Home Depot U.
Potential, passion, growth. Educate, inspire, lead. Make. A. Mess. Put your passion to work. It all starts here. You’re a stakeholder, not a student, and you’ll be staking your life on it. Hiring a professional is for suckers!

Which leads us back to the original idea of universities: some projects — like a genuine education — are not best if you DIY. Sometimes you need a professional. Sometimes you need a professor.

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