It’s a Test

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It’s a Test

Getting a degree isn’t about your academic skills. It’s not about research, it’s not about close reading, and it’s not about critical thinking either.

In fact, the universities secretly test our skills to prepare us for future jobs. As spies. Or secret agents. Or double agents to spy on agents from other universities and trick them into spilling information about top-secret research.

Take the course registration, for example. It’s clearly a test to assess your patience. The system of links on the website is, in fact, a riddle that you have to solve. You click on one that seems to be redirecting you to the registration site, but it’s not. It’s a link in disguise. It gives you a list of other links instead. You click on every each and one of them, and somehow you end up where you’ve started. Unless you prove your persistence, you’ll never be allowed to continue your mission.

So you’ve passed the first test. You now have access to the desired registration page. This time, it’s your attention to detail that is being evaluated. The site is full of buttons, links, and tabs written in font size 9,5. Look closely, because if you click the wrong one, you’ll be logged out and have to start over.

Finally found a course catalog? You’ve been brave. But now you have to face the hardest test: trusting your intuition. The course catalog system doesn’t work according to course names. The course doesn’t exist unless you enter its code. Forget browsing the catalog by keywords to see what courses are interesting. You have to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and guess the desired course code. And remember: always trust your heart.

A final test is on your ability to identify a suspicious element. To register for the course you have to select it and click… “add to shopping cart”. Then you go to your virtual shopping cart and purchase the course you wish to attend. If you fail to recognize this incongruity, your credit card will be charged an amount worth a three-month rent for a classroom, three monthly salaries of a lecturer and a supply of white chalk.

You’ve done a good job. See you on the other side.  

Originally published in Univers no. 06, December 13 2012 (Download PDF)

Photo by Sergiu Nista on Unsplash

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