All high school graduates will now have to have a “plan” before they are allowed to pick up their diplomas. The plan can be going to college, joining the military, or being accepted into a “gap year” program, whatever that is. If you don’t have one, you don’t get your piece of parchment.
The beauty of the plan plan is that it comes down equally on the mindless poor and the unimaginative rich as well. No matter if you were just planning to go to Europe and spend your parent’s money drinking French wine until you were old enough to drink wine in Illinois, or if you were merely thinking of doing bong hits in your mom’s basement until you blacked out for a couple of years, you will have to pursue both passions without the benefit of a high school diploma.
When I graduated from high school back in the Pleistocene, I remember I had a plan. I planned to have sex with all the women who would let me. Sure, I went to college, but that was only as an adjunct to my main purpose. In the glow of youthful optimism, I did not realize how many women in the world did not want to have sex with me. Yeah. Learned that the hard way. So, gradually, my plans changed.
Needless to say, I wouldn’t have gotten my diploma if I had whispered my plan into Rahm Emmanuel’s ear. Other, similarly large ambitions, like achieving the world’s highest score in Minecraft or becoming an Instagram model, dreams possibly writ large in the minds of today’s high school seniors as they sit suffering through another civics class, wouldn’t pass muster under the Chicago rule. The kids of the Second City have to have more mundane goals, like joining the military while knowing full well that they will eventually be sent to some Muslim country where the citizens are already eagerly strapping bombs to their toddlers to welcome them, or go to college.
College is not what it used to be, now that everybody goes, and if you pursue an arts degree because thinking about numbers is something you had had enough of back in Algebra II, you count on being offered a job as a salesman when you graduate.
Loftier goals do not qualify. This is my main objection to the Chicago scheme. Putting down “Sleeping my way to the top in Hollywood,” or “Porn goddess,” or “Feared leader of a ruthless prison gang,” will not cut the graduating mustard.
Critics of the decision have pointed out that it is inherently unfair to deny someone a diploma that they have earned, the product of countless hours of looking over classmates’ shoulders during tests, of furtive glances at notes written in ballpoint pen on one’s wrists, or paying, or threatening, other, better students to write papers for his or herself, even if he or she cannot formulate a plan for the next five minutes, let alone a life. They also point out that you can still be a high school dropout in Chicago without showing any capacity for foresight at all, and more kids might choose this option.
But Rahm has spoken. My advice to you Chicago students is to do what I’m going to do next.
Google “gap year.”