What is the eternal student? Well quite literally it is one who studies forever. You might say that everyone is in fact an eternal student. But I am referring to that type of person who is a permanent resident in a university. The perks of staying in college are numerous-- namely you don't have to pay for your life. Some of the lucky are able to con parents into paying for their stay at institutes of higher education, but one can occasionally trick the government and other scholarship organizations into paying. There are several types of eternal students ranging from the truly dedicated to the wild partier.
Most often when one refers to an eternal student the automatic assumption is that of the Truly Dedicated Eternal Student. This is often a student who has chosen random and rather bizarre course work. You most often find these students among Classical Studies or History students. The reason is simple. No one cares about those majors except the people in them. Who really needs to major in Sanskrit anymore? It's a five thousand year old dead language. So students of these types of majors can always find something old to study and claim the need to study that fully before they move into "the real world".
These students can always find something else to study because the stuff has been around so darn long. Since no one cares about these studies anymore these students are free to hide is the sunlight-deprived coroners of dusty libraries and remain free from responsibility. The major difficulty in being a truly Dedicated Eternal Student is to lie convincingly enough so that the parents, friends, the university, and financial supporters all believe that the student needs to remain ensconced in their studies.
The Multiple Degrees Eternal Student is a nefarious schemer. This student is the only eternal student to ever actually earn a degree. And not only do they earn one degree, but they earn several. The primary goal of this type of student is to have more letters after their name than in their name. They will earn a BA and a BS and an MA, MS, MPH, JD, MBA, MD, PhD, DrPH, and on and on and on. In some ways this Eternal Student is the most talented and most conniving of all Eternal Students.
Not only must they posses the intelligence and talent for earning these many degrees but they must convince others that they actually need these degrees. The danger, however, in being a Multiple Degrees eternal student is that, unlike other eternal students, these individuals have actually completed acceptable levels of education. At some point their financial support will revolt due to the immense financial burden these multiple degrees impose and the student is generally told to go ahead and utilize their degrees. The best counterattack to this type of difficulty is to be educated out of any possible job and so, after a brief interval, return to higher education.
Another study bound eternal student is the Cutting Edge Eternal Student. These students study material on the cutting edge of technology. Often the world assumes these are the students who are first to venture from the confines of college life. In this the world is sorely mistaken. Most major advances in technology are made by doddering old men and women who made the mistake of leaving college and have been trying to keep up ever since. True there are your Walt Disney's and Bill Gate, the rare examples of young people achieving great technological successes. But those individuals are few and far between. The Cutting Edge Eternal Student insists on learning the latest new technology before entering the workforce, so as to be "well prepared". Cleverly enough, by the time they finish learning the last skill there will be new material to be studied.
The only problem with study bound eternal students is that they almost always have enough or more than enough credits to complete their degree. Parents or government officials who notice this often require the said student to graduate, putting an end to their free ride. The Multiple Minors Eternal Student manages to dodge these questions of graduation by never achieving enough credits to qualify as a major in any given subject. These students cleverly craft their schedules so as to always be without the correct requirements at the appropriate time to have continuous course study.
Because of these "scheduling mistakes" the students must then take alternate classes where they "discover" new interests and the same scheduling problem arises. The most common excuse from such students is that they are using college to "expand their horizons". Despite appearing to have a lack of foresight these students are very conscientious of timing in courses. The only difficulty with The Multiple Minor Eternal Student is that after a period of fifteen or so years lines of study become restricted. So these students can most often be found petitioning for new majors and can be thanked for many of the more curious majors found in colleges today.
The Lack of Core Eternal Student is another student who fails to meet the prerequisites of graduation. These students do, however, study all the course work required of their major(s). These students refrain from graduating by failing to meet certain prerequisites of the core curriculum. They are different from The Multiple Minors Eternal Student is that their goal is to receive all credits BUT the core course whereas The Multiple Minor Eternal Student's goal is to meet ONLY the core course requirements. Obviously The Lack of Core Eternal Student can only be found at schools with a core curriculum, preferably an extensive one. The difficulty with this method of study is that the student must work hard in their major to counter the effects of their "failed" core courses in order to not be kicked out of the school. These students are most easily found supporting the need for a "liberal arts education"; also know as a ridiculously extensive and hardly useful core class requirement.
The Eternal Transfer Student also manages their education so as to avoid gaining any real credit form a given school. Often these students take a "leave of absence" to "explore" other schools. In that way they fool the schools that they attend into not giving them credit while still remaining in the college lifestyle. The Eternal Transfer Student must be very astute like The Multiple Minors Eternal Student and plan the course and schools they attend.
If they are very good they can successfully fail to obtain a degree from dozens of universities. The key to this failure is choosing courses at a given school that do not transfer to another as anything more than elective credit. A subset of the Eternal Transfer Student is the Eternal Study Abroad Student, who is merely a transfer student of foreign universities. This specialized Eternal Transfer Student is slightly more difficult to maintain, due to the immense expense of foreign travel. Another common pitfall of the Study Abroad Student is to unwisely fall in love with a foreign city or person and to permanently move abroad, therefore putting to end their "studies".
The last and most infamous Eternal Student is simply called The Eternal Party Animal. The name speaks for itself. These students are the students who always manage to miss class because they are sleeping off a hangover. These students require very gullible PARENTS. The government cannot be conned into supporting The Party Animal's habits for long. The most common fault among The Party Animal Students is carelessness. They are so busy partying they fail to pass enough classes to remain in school. Therefore a smart Party Animal will only attend a school that is easy and abundant with fraternities and sororities. Schools that provide that atmosphere are more likely to be lenient towards The Party Animal and let him or her thrive. The Greek System is also very supportive of the Party Animal in providing instant friends, abundant booze, and term papers. A warning to those considering The Party Animal life: most former Party Animals die of depression, cirrhosis, or venereal diseases.
The privilege of Eternal Studentdom is not to be taken lightly. At no other point in your life is it a) acceptable that you not know what you are doing b) normal for people to give you excessive amounts of money and c) expected that you will do dumb things. If you doubt what I say is true just look at all the adults trying to go back to college- it can't be done.