Alma Mater Central

Here in the MSFT parking lot, you see a LOT of alumni stickers and/or license plate holders. Like, I’d say more than 50% of the cars have them. I myself fall into this category – I pre-ordered my Bryn Mawr license plate holder before my new Scion even arrived, so I’d have it ready when I picked her up off the lot! I wish it actually said “alumna”, just so people wouldn’t think I was still in college, but I think I flatter myself in thinking I could still pass for college-age. Times are a’changing.

But as I said, I’m definitely not the only one proud of my alma mater here. The other day, I was wandering through the lot back to the incredibly crappy and far-away parking spot I had had to settle for, and I took the time to read all the license plate holders on my way. Cal Tech, Michigan State, Harvey Mudd, MIT… and then… I spotted a very sporty-looking BMW sedan with a clearly custom dark-tealy-turquoise flat paint job – it looked like a car that belonged to one of Grant’s coworkers in the videogame industry. And I got closer to see what the license plate holder said, and I was shocked and amused beyond belief.

DeVry University Alumni.

SERIOUSLY? I mean, I just find so many things shocking about this. Let’s see if I can come up with a coherent, bullet-pointed list:

•As I understood it, DeVry was the laughingstock of the “education” industry – only a quarter-step above a “University of Phoenix” program that you found via an annoying Flash pop-up ad. Or maybe even a few steps BELOW that. I read on an old best-of post on Craigslist from a hiring manager that he actually laughed at and then threw out any résumés containing references to this – his opinion was that one should not be proud to display this in a professional setting. What do I know – all I have to go on are cheesy TV commercials and Cragislist stereotypes – but this combo was enough to make me chuckle, I admit.

•This wasn’t an ITT Tech plate holder – that I could handle, because even though it’s an advertised-on-national-TV school, it at least trains people in technical fields, so it seems much more relevant. But DeVry doesn’t teach tech stuff, do they? They teach, like, inept middle management, as far as I understand. So what’s that alum doing at the tech corridor of MSFT? I mean, I suppose they need their inept middle-managers as much as anyone here, but my impression was always that said middle-managers tended to be unfinished doctorate students in cognitive science or something, ya know? Maybe that’s just my group here.
•There was another possibility, which was that this was just a joke. The guy (I know it’s a guy, I’ve seen him on my commute in) recognizes all the above points and thought it would be funny to poke fun at DeVry.

•If it’s NOT a joke, does a DeVry alum really make enough money for that (admittedly nice, though not my style) kind of car? Do you really attribute your earnings to your DeVry degree? If so, what did you major in?

•Lastly, a friend of mine, upon hearing me recount this tale, said there was a final possible scenario. That the guy had gone to DeVry (or not, I suppose) at some point, and he went to their PR office and said, “Look, I work at Microsoft now. Everyone there has really nice cars, and we all put our alumni license plate holders on them. How much would you guys pay me to put a DeVry frame on? It’s going to have to be a high figure – that shit is DAMN embarrassing!”

The jury’s out on this one. I just know I was perplexed, and I wonder now whenever I see that highly distinctive car touring around the Eastside. Someday maybe I’ll have the opportunity to ask him – though I’m not sure how one phrases that question. Maybe I’ll just pretend I went there too and ask him what year he graduated, and what program – after all, everyone out on the West Coast mistakes the Bryn Mawr College on my résumé for “Bryman College”, the local dental assistantship program. Maybe Bryman and DeVry have a sort of sister-brother relationship, like Bryn Mawr and Princeton allegedly do? I bet I could pull that off.

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