Dear member of the class of 2018,
On behalf of this entire institution, we would like to welcome you to Princeton. From your outstanding SAT scores to your incredible essay that succeeded in showing (but never telling) your intellect, character, and wit in just 500 words, we saw something unique in you that so few students in the world possess. The letters of recommendation your teachers, coaches, and club advisors wrote on your behalf as well as your interview report confirmed that you were indeed a very special kind of individual who will stop at nothing to achieve excellence.
We’re here to fix that.
It’s time for you to know the truth. Princeton is not actually a world-renowned research university. Contrarily, Princeton is PRINCETON: the Place for Rehabilitation for the Intensely Neurotic and Cutthroat who are Endangering Themselves by Obsessing Nonnecessarily. Upon reading the previous sentence, most students who receive this letter immediately go on the Internet, find the contact information for someone affiliated with the Princeton they thought they knew, and email them two questions: 1) Shouldn’t “Nonnecessarily” be “Unnecessarily”? and 2) How can you draw conclusions about type of person that I am just from reading the limited materials I submitted to you? The answer to the first question is no because using the word “Unnecessarily” would force us to call our institution PRINCETOU which is just ridiculous. As for the second question, well, the only thing that you really can conclude about someone after reviewing his or her near-perfect SAT score report, disturbingly comprehensive essay, and eight letters of recommendation is that he or she must be fairly nuts. Throw in an interview report that notes bloodshot eyes and breath that reeks of Red Bull, and you have more than enough evidence to diagnose someone with a mental disorder and a serious one at that.
At PRINCETON, we work with at-risk youth like yourself to help them overcome their need to go the extra mile. As part of the rehabilitation process, our inpatients take highly theoretical courses with few real world applications, decreasing their motivation to do any of the work they are given. Although we let inpatients select these courses themselves, we have distribution requirements and a writing seminar program to ensure that all inpatients take at least one course they can’t stand in their time here, expediting the process of getting them to not give a fuck.
In your first year at PRINCETON, most of your courses will be presented to you in giant rooms in which your course heads will present material to you directly from a course textbook and never take attendance. A few weeks into the program, you will feel an urge to start skipping these lectures, and we encourage you to do so, as that urge is often the first sign that you are making progress. Furthermore, between the four to five courses you will take in each half-year semester at PRINCETON, you will be asked to read an amount of pages each week that is physically impossible to complete. You will then attend precepts: small, discussion-based group therapy sessions at which you will discuss material you know nothing about with other inpatients. It will be easy for you to tell when fellow inpatients have not even looked at assigned material, but your preceptor will constantly tell you all that you are making strong, nuanced arguments to help you accept the futility of being a tryhard. By the end of their first semester at PRINCETON, 65 percent of inpatients demonstrate a significant decrease in neuroticism (the other 35 percent are deemed unready and unfortunately must be given A’s in their courses to maintain their mental stability).
In addition to the support provided to inpatients in the classroom, PRINCETON has many nonacademic amenities for inpatients to keep them from overworking themselves. Back when you thought you were applying to a college, you probably anticipated spending a week just researching the cheapest places to do laundry, print papers, or drink beer. At PRINCETON, all of these resources are available
to you right on our campus and at no extra charge. Additionally, your Resident Calming Attendant (RCA) will hold many study breaks throughout your time here to remind you that when you stop working, the world will reward you with free Bent Spoon cupcakes or Chipotle. There’s even a Small World Coffee and a neighboring Subway restaurant near both edges of our campus to help you come to terms with the fact that you really don’t need to put effort into anything, not even getting an off-campus lunch.
The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one, so go ahead and do that now. The next step is to recognize your problem is surmountable, and we assure you that yours is. After leaving PRINCETON, our inpatients have gone on to do incredible things like make even more money for Goldman Sachs or piss off an entire generation with controversial books about marrying smart. Your next four years will be challenging, but we assure you that if you put your mind to it, you can graduate from our facility with no recollection of any of the goals you came in with, left with just a single, unwavering mission to catch up on House of Cards.
— ACD ’16; illustrations by RLR ’16