SASKATOON, CANADA – During the past decade, college and university enrollment rates in North America have been curiously rising. Hundreds of thousands of students a year attend their schools of choice in order to learn a specific trade or to test their alcohol tolerance. And while the stories of the freshmen have been told many times over, there remains a group frequently ignored.
"I’m currently in my ninth year at the University of Saskatchewan," Warren Reed proudly exclaims to anyone who will listen. "Everyone I went to high school with finished their three or four years and moved away, but I’m pretty comfortable here."
A nerd of the palest kind, Warren is not sticking around because he has failed courses, or even because he is indecisive about his career. He, along with many others, has taken a stand against normal social trends. Even though they flourish in an expensive environment, most live quite peacefully, supporting themselves by taking part-time jobs at local supermarkets and similar establishments. Their only worries are tuition and book costs, never rent, as many continue to reside in their parents’ basements. Even the threat of bullying has receded over the years, on account of the bullies themselves graduating.
"It’s everything I wanted junior high to be, and more! Well, except for the whole ‘making friends’ thing. I had to adjust to that," says Kenneth Mills, a student with a 4.2 GPA. Starting his seventh year at the same university, his plans for the future have already been meticulously decided.
"My goal is to get a BA in every field that doesn’t require any sort of physical activity. My doctor said my allergy to the sun could flare up, excuse the pun," he continued, laughing at his own remark. What’s more, he plans to achieve the degrees in alphabetical order. He is currently certified in agriculture and architecture, and is working on astronomy. Kenneth also seems unfazed by the idea that the degrees will become outdated in a few years time, stating that "with luck, I’ll never have to use them anyway."
In addition, this growing cultural phenomenon has given way to various student-groups across the country. Notable groups include "Students Against Final Education" and "Higher Intellectuals Demanding Iconoclasts Not to Graduate," the latter representing students at the Saskatoon facility. Along with creating social awareness and planning trips to Star Trek conventions, tenure students visit area high schools as guest speakers, despite crippling flashbacks.
Neil Chambers, president of the Saskatoon HIDING chapter, lectures that volunteering is a key step in beginning the lifestyle. "The only reason young people volunteer is to get big scholarships. We’re trying to get kids to realize that’s not immoral. I mean, how many of us can honestly say we bathed homeless people out of the goodness of our hearts?" He shivers, "It still gives me nightmares."
"If you play your cards right, becoming a permanent student should be easy. Some of us have more education than our professors now, and are a few years older. It’s nice to hold that over their heads. Especially with history professors. Learning about the Cold War is much more interesting when you’ve lived through it."