This poem appears in the Spring 2021 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe, click here.

(On the disintegrable document called a “diploma” issued by the academic institution struggling to maintain accreditation from a disinterested third party who has been trained according to rigorous standards by what was once termed “education”)

She was proven by the College Board to be
one who had achieved the highest measure of success,
and all her grades in every subject agree
that, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, she was blessed.
If in doubt of her merits, just read her CV.
Except for the Quarantine until graduation,
she worked hard with her comrades to achieve maturation
and met the demands of every syllabus,
dolling out homework and passing the tests,
always dotting her I’s and crossing her T’s.
Her transcript of credits shows her true skills
(though half of the courses were made by appeal).
As President of Student Government, she shined—
a born manager with a Machiavellian mind.
In her classes, she kept her feet on the ground
by avoiding conversations that became too profound.
Having checked the boxes of Western Civ and Poli Sci,
she’ll opine on fake news, sham stats, and other lies.
Her professors (from online who saw her one time) declare
in their letters (where they fill her name in its spot)
that she’s the most qualified choice from the lot,
and they list the hows and whys with such care.
Our administrators communicate to their board of trustees
that this kind of student our university strives for—
one who returns for homecoming and gives generously,
donning school colors but never asking for more.
She may change jobs every year and even career, but be assured,
she was trained to make money and buy things. Her future’s secure.

Whether she’s free or happy, they are not concerned.
With a diploma in hand, who cares what she learned.