Back to School

This week, I have something in common with Rodney Dangerfield. It’s not that we both lament that we don’t get any respect, though that is probably true as well. I’m heading back to school! Work has decided to send me to a training program for some of my new job responsibilities, so instead of sitting in an office all day I’ll be sitting inside a (hopefully air-conditioned) classroom.

You’d think someone who spent as much time as I did in school – both as a student and an instructor – would be an old hand at this education stuff, but I have to admit that I’m a little anxious about it. I’m not so concerned about making friends or small talk – it’s amazing how interested people are when you say “I have a blog” – but I worry that the learning part of my brain is a little rusty. After going to school for 25+ straight years, I kind of turned that part of my brain off for a while after I left graduate school. It honestly needed a break, but I am concerned that part of my brain may not turn on again so easily. I’ve sat through training seminars before that were only a day and I was getting antsy being stuck in a room all day; I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for most of a week. It’s really weird to go back to being a student after you’ve been the teacher. We’ll see how this goes – hopefully I come back to work with some cool ideas and methods for handling all the new work I’ve volunteered for.

As I was getting ready for this seminar, my mind ultimately wondered to pop culture – as it is wont to do. I started thinking about the various schools that have been featured in various television shows and movies. Some seem like very cool places to go, while others look to be less desirable. So while I try to adjust to listening to lectures all day, peruse my list of pop culture institutions of learning.

Enroll Me!

Greendale Community College – Community

Here’s all you really need to know about Greendale Community College – it offers a course on the history of ice cream and they have paintball wars most years. If that isn’t enough to convince you, I don’t know what is. Greendale appears to focus on all the good parts of college (campus activities and events, blowoff classes) and none of the more tedious parts (you know, actual learning). Greendale is so incredibly mismanaged that I don’t think I’d have any problems gaming the system. Plus they have some really fun teachers like John Oliver, Betty White, Malcolm McDowell and Michael K. Williams (OMAR!). The opportunity to watch Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) play pool in his underwear is a selling point as well.


The question isn’t really why you would want to go to Greendale; the question is why you wouldn’t (academic standards being a valid reason).

Chilton Preparatory School – Gilmore Girls

When I was a teenager, I had a brief flirtation with the idea of going to a prep school. I liked my current school and all my friends, but I got it in my head that the path to an Ivy League school would be easier if I had a diploma from a prep school rather than a private school (I was still dreaming of going to Harvard at that point). Prep school in my mind was equivalent with “serious academic;” I had not yet realized that prep school  also meant under achieving trust fund babies and rich kids kicked out of public school. I also kind of liked the idea of uniforms; having to wear the same thing as everyone else meant that was one less thing I had to worry about in the morning. So it’s no surprise that I hold some residual nostalgia for prep schools and wanted to enroll in Chilton, even though I was well beyond college when Gilmore Girls was on. Everyone at Chilton seemed fairly smart and it appeared to be a challenging and nurturing academic environment. They got to work on interesting projects and it all seemed so sophisticated. Sure you had to deal with classmates like Paris Gellar, but there are people like that at every school. I actually feel smarter just writing about Chilton. I can’t imagine what it must have cost to go there, but it got Rory into Yale so it was probably worth it.

Rydell High School – Grease

I loved Grease from the first time I saw it as a tween, but my desire to go to Rydell stems from one scene alone – the end of the year carnival. I was so impressed that they had a full carnival, including all the rides and games (not to mention the flying car – seriously, can someone explain that to me? That ending made no sense).


Imagine my disappointment when I finally made it to high school and not only did we not have an end of the year carnival, we didn’t have an end of the year anything. We didn’t even get a senior trip. The best we ever got was a trip to an amusement park in 8th grade, but all I remember about that was that there was a lot of drama associated with that trip (not surprising when you take a group of 13 year olds anywhere). It also came as a surprise that high schoolers don’t all look like they are thirty (Stockard Channing, I’m looking at you).I was totally disillusioned – I’m still waiting for my Grease-like carnival. BSHS – you let me down.

Eastland School for Girls – The Facts of Life

This choice could be a continuation of my prep school fascination, but this selection is more about Mrs. Garrett than anything else. If you are going to spend time away from your family, you want someone like Edna Garrett keeping an eye on you. She was so warm and loving that the girls she was in charge of became like her daughters. It was a nurturing environment that anyone would want to be a part of. Of course, going to a fancy schmancy school like Eastland should have resulted in a career beyond running a novelty store, but at least they got to hang out with George Clooney in the process (who I recognized, even at the tender age of 9, was a stone cold fox)


Request a Transfer

Shermer High School – The Breakfast Club

While they ultimately wound up being friendly after a day in detention together, Shermer High School didn’t seem like a very friendly environment. The cliques seemed too prevalent and well-defined. That is a realistic depiction of high school, but with the added bonus of a principal that was a real jerk and who could make life miserable for everyone. I’m guessing there were definitely not any carnivals at Shermer – that seemed like a place where there wasn’t a lot of school sanctioned fun period. The upside – they did have a very nice library.


Westerberg High School – Heathers

If the cliques seemed inhospitable in The Breakfast Club, they were even worse in Heathers. The cruelty factor was at an all-time high thanks to queen bee Heather Chandler, who ruled the school with an iron red scruchnie and generally made life miserable for everyone else. Even her so-called friends were not immune to her reign of terror. Add in a homicidal maniac who is randomly killing popular kids and trying to blow up the school and this is not a place I’d want to spend my formative years (even if I had the right name). Clip NSFW


McKinley High – Glee

The show has done nothing to make living in Lima, Ohio look all that glamorous; the fact that everyone wants to get the hell out of dodge is way too close to my own high school experience. I had a great time in high school, but I also counted down the days until I could expand my horizons a bit and move on. I’m not built to live in a small town. But the real issue with McKinley is having to deal with people randomly breaking into song all the time. I imagine that is not only distracting but also highly annoying. We get it – you love to sing. Now shut your yap and move through the halls quietly. I was kicked out of our library for talking; these kids do a complete musical number in the stacks.Add in the fact that a lot of slushies are thrown around and that Mr. Schuester is kind of a creeper and I’d rather matriculate elsewhere.

What pop culture schools and universites would you want to attend? What pop culture institutions of learning would make you want to skip school? Sound off in the comments below.