Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wisconsin's Crazy Colleges - Who Needs the UW?

You're awake at 2 AM, and occasionally flip away from Showtime during the "uninteresting" parts of what you're watching (otherwise known as the parts with "dialogue.") In between ads for 1-900-HOT-LOVE (my home number, coincidentally), you see an opportunity to advance your education. Maybe it's DeVry, maybe it's ITT Tech, maybe it's a cosmetology college. Now you feel like a sucker after you wasted six years of college, knowing that you could have an exciting career in audio/visual production in, like, 36 minutes.

Believe it or not, these schools are actually regulated by the state. Every year the Wisconsin Educational Approval Board releases its Directory of Private Postsecondary Schools, which provides a complete list of schools you normally don't think anyone actually attends. As funny as some of them are, they are essential to getting people to work and provide great services to people with jobs who are looking to further their education. They include cosmetology schools, technology schools, auto repair, graphic design, accounting, health care training, and other necessary professional training.

That doesn't mean, however, that some of them aren't funny. Here are the schools, the writeups they provide in the directory, and my smartass comments:

Institute of Equine Therasage (p. 68)

The Institute of Equine Therasage is a 60-hour equine sports massage therapy certification program. This specialized course provides the education needed to help horses compete at their full potential. Our concept of what preventative maintenance massage therapy should be revolves around the horse as a whole. We have combined many unique methods of hands-on stretches, touch therapy, massage, and exercise mechanics with in-depth anatomy to create an outstanding program.

I had to think about this one for a second before I realized that it was you giving the horse the massage and not the other way around. I mean, seriously - the dropout rate in Milwaukee public schools is 50%, but we have schools to teach me how to massage horses? Isn't this why Al-Qaeda hates us?

Unfortunately, I had them in my Sweet 16.

John Robert Powers (p. 82)

John Robert Powers is committed to providing professional training for persons aspiring to explore or enter a career in film, television, print or runway modeling... Integral to the educational process at John Robert Powers is an emphasis on growing the character, maturity, and integrity needed for the demands of a career in the performing arts.

Yeah, if there's anything actors and models are known for it is the "character," "maturity," and "integrity" with which the deal with the "demands" of their careers. Some sample classes:

Week one: The proper way to hit your assistant in the face with a cell phone
Week two: Why is Robert Downey, Jr. in my house?
Week three: Lab work on Colin Farrell's STDs
Week four: Convincing denials about why your nose is bleeding

Bottom line: You have a better chance of making it on TV by running onto the field and dropping a deuce on second base at a Brewer game than by attending John Robert Powers.

Sister Rosalind Gefre School of Professional Massage (p. 146)

Sister Rosalind Gefre Schools and Clinics of Professional Massage is based on Christian principles and seeks to work in harmony with God's plan for spiritual, psychological, and physical well being. Our mission is to promote the healing of the body, mind, and spirit through touch following Jesus' example.

My favorite one. Ah, the soothing touch of the Hand of God. Who can forget the Biblical passage when Jesus turned water into wine, turned bread into fish, and provided deep muscle massages for the poor?

I seem to recall the legendary Biblical story when the small, coughing poor child tugs on Jesus' leg and says:

"Jesus, my father is a leper. And my brother has no legs. And I have this terrible stiffness in my neck that could use a little work. Can you help us?"

Martin's College of Cosmetology (p. 92)

The purpose of Martin's College of Cosmetology is to educate, motivate, and mold students into successful, happy professionals in the fields of cosmetology and massage therapy. The Massage Therapy program at Martin's provides students with the skills and confidence needed to become competent massage therapists.

Because you wouldn't want to walk into a massage and see the masseuse cowering in the corner, shaking, because he's lost his confidence. And you can see they really aim high here - their goal is to promote "competent" therapists. What do you have to do to fail? Perform a massage with ranch dressing?

Midwest College of Oriental Medicine (p. 93)

Are you allowed to say "oriental" anymore? Isn't this considered racist now? Isn't it hard to perform acupucture with a white hood on?

Midwest Power Yoga School (p. 96)

The mission of the Midwest Power Yoga School is to help each student broaden her/his knowledge of yoga and to like his/her personal yoga practice and life outlook to a new level. The Midwest Power Yoga Teacher Certificate program will give individuals the tools, hands-on experience, and confidence needed to teach a dynamic and challenging (physically and mentally) power vinyasa yoga class teaching in the tradition of Baron Baptiste.

"Mentally challenging" power yoga? Are they asking you to recite the Pythagorean Theorem while you wrap your leg around your head? When Ivy League researchers working on the mystery of cold fusion get stumped, do they call the Midwest Power Yoga School for tips?

Milwaukee School of Massage (p. 102)

The mission of the Milwaukee School of Massage is to prepare students for a satisfying and sustaining career in massage and to make the health and spiritual benefits of massage available to a wider audience.

Distinctive features of the Milwaukee School of Massage are...

- Unique and fluid curriculum design. We teach the anatomy in bite-size pieces. For instance, we will teach the cranial and facial bones, then the muscles that provide facial expression and mastication. This is then followed with the instruction in face massage. The face massage sequence competency is then satisfied by performing the sequence on the instructor. The physiology is taught in tandem with the massage or protocol it influences. An example is the circulatory, respiratory, and lymph systems are taught prior to instruction of the lymph massage.


- Introduction to a broad variety of bodywork therapies such as Foot Reflexology, Orthobionomy, Reiki, Benevolent Touch, Neuromuscular Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Myofacial Therapy, Infant Massage, Chair Massage and Lymph Massage, and Swedish Massage Therapy.

Jesus Christ, lady - I just want a massage. If I'm tense and I hear talk of "mastication," I think I'd just rather have a brownie and ride it out.

And what's with "infant massage?" I'd like to hear my wife pitch this one to me - "Um, honey - little Kabeer is awfully stressed out these days - he's really been feeling guilty that his poops haven't been inadequately solid. He could really use some 'me time.'"

St. Croix Culinary Institute (p. 149)

The mission of St. Croix Culinary Institute is to provide in-depth, intense course of classical culinary preparation. Our curriculum is based on the tenets of classical French cuisine and is designed to prepare candidates to become chefs and pastry chefs for the culinary world...
The course is demanding and hands-on.


Imagine that - a cooking school that is "hands on." Is there some other part of the body other schools teach their chefs to use? Have I been eating croissants rolled with someone's feet all this time and just not known? That reminds of a joke about how one chef made donut holes... never mind.

Also, it's good to see that they state clearly that they intend to prepare students to become chefs. You mean you don't go to culinary school to become a motor scooter mechanic?

Adelman Travel Academy (p. 1)

Yes, you too can learn how to purchase your own lucrative state contracts with campaign contributions.

Hypnosis & Wellness Training Center (p. 63)

First class: Introduction to hypnotism
Second class: Why is my wallet empty?
Third class: When do classes start again?
Fourth class: Why is my wallet empty?

NASCAR Technical Institute (p. 110)

NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI) is owned by Universal Technical Institute, Inc., and was founded in 1999 following completion of an agreement with NASCAR to provide quality entry-level technicians to NASCAR and related automotive industry companies.

I see some cross promotional potential here: Can't they team NASCAR school up with the Professional Institute of Dental Assisting? If you're looking for people that need free dental work, doesn't the NASCAR community immediately come to mind?

Alignment Yoga (p. 2)

Alignment Yoga's Advanced Studies Program offers a comprehensive training in the practice of Hatha Yoga. Yoga is a study of body, mind and spirit, and the Advanced Studies Program provides a well-rounded exploration of all aspects. Guest lecturers from India share the richness of yoga's spiritual underpinnings, while readings are selected to challenge and expand our understanding of yoga and the world around us.

I hear they take this India theme pretty far. In fact, as a class requirement, you have to steal the job of an American worker for a week and fix Dell computers over the phone for 38 cents an hour.

Wisconsin Institute of Natural Wellness (p. 175)

Wisconsin Institute of Natural Wellness (WINW) in Racine, Wisconsin, is a non-profit organization offering Professional Certification in Massage Therapy... We are committed to providing quality, professional education in massage therapy and an overview of other modalities of complimentary healthcare in order to insure that graduates will offer effective, compassionate and ethical treatment to those seeking holistic wellness.

What is "ethical treatment" of those seeking holistic wellness? Does this mean you can't shock their nipples, shave their head, cake their face with mascara and force them to date a monkey? Should PETA get involved?

Wick Insurance Services (p. 176)

It is the goal of Wick Insurance Services to work with students, in teaching the necessary material to enable the student to be ready to take and pass the required state insurance exam. The school works in a friendly classroom environment, equipped with visual aids such as overhead projectors and easel presentations.

I clearly remember having the following conversation with my Dad when deciding to go to college:

Dad: "So, Dennis - is it going to be Dartmouth or Brown?"

Me: "Who did you say had more easels again?"

And finally, the grandaddy of them all:

Wisconsin School of Chainsaw Carving (p. 179)

The purpose of the Wisconsin School of Chainsaw Carving is to teach students professional techniques and methods of carving in order for them to do high-quality chainsaw sculptures. Our goal is to raise the standard of chainsaw sculptures from one of a crude art form to one of a refined piece of art.

Who cares if their summary doesn't make a damn bit of sense? How great is this school? In fact, you can check out their website at www.chainsawcarvingschool.com. I was all set to make fun of the school, but it's actually something that Wisconsin should be proud of. It's the only chainsaw carving school currently in the U.S. - take that, Arkansas!

Their website boasts that they provide "In depth Chainsaw Carving Training for the career oriented student." Somehow, I don't think the words "career" and "chainsaw carving" probably belong in the same sentence.

But they seem like a really nice family with a good organization. Check out the course catalog here. I would think the schedule of classes would look something like this:

Cutting Wood with a Chainsaw 101
Cutting Wood with a Chainsaw 102
Cutting Wood with a Chainsaw 103
Cutting Wood with a Chainsaw 203 (Doctoral Level)

Who needs the UW System? Shouldn't we stop bragging about stem cells and start telling the world that we can turn logs into bear sculpures?