High school student: “Universities should pay me.”


The following is a fake newspaper article I wrote anonymously, which was subsequently posted (though not by me) to the front wall of the IB history room during my senior year of high school.

Thanks to KL, who generously provided feedback.

High school student: “Universities should pay me.”

Kenmore—An area high school student, unidentified, has announced to institutions of post-secondary education across the nation his intention for them to pay for him to continue his education. The student, sporting a 4.0 GPA, a perfect 2400 SAT score and the much-rumored #1 weighted class rank, explains that his lack of a university degree could bring catastrophic results to the world at large. The only solution, he asserts, is for universities to spend all they can on him (bankruptcy not excluded!) to try to get him enrolled. “I take the highest-paying offer. Prestige and location are immaterial,” he told reporters.

In a separate interview, he was able to elaborate. “I don’t think it’s a secret by now that my family and society as a whole have spent extensive resources in bringing me to this point. It would be a complete waste if I were to not enroll in a university; I could study to obtain two PhDs and win three Nobel Prizes. As a character I am also well-rounded. I’m not like the others; not too queer, not too muscular, not too loquacious. I have friends, four, and can speak just as many languages. I read literature regularly and know how to empathize. My bowel function is impeccable, and I am humble too. It’s quite clear that I am the most complete human being to have lived. Not even Sartre would deny this. Why then not invest in me for just eight more years? It would be completely irrational to stop now. It wouldn’t make sense.”

The student has said that he first conceived of the idea while testing for the SAT, when one of the questions touched upon the sunk cost fallacy. “It’s where people who have invested in one thing will continue to do so even when another option is better,” he explains. The idea smoldered until he began to fill out applications for college. “I was sitting in front of the computer, entering information for hours on end, when it couldn’t possibly matter to the colleges what I told them. I was only doing it because I had filled the first question in. So I had to do the rest, or else I would be wasting the time I had spent on the first question, see? But then I remembered about the fallacy, and I thought to myself, ‘If I could be doing something more productive, then why am I sitting here filling out information about where my parents went to school, or whatever?’” This revelation, which he says he “read about in some book”, caused him to take a stand.

He is quick to point out that there is precedent for effecting social change. “I am at the very bottom of a long, long ladder. I am on the first rung, and above me are all those who engaged in peaceful protest, like Thoreau, Gandhi, King, and so on. We are all on our ascent to heaven.” \(\Diamond\)