Dear Dr. Boli: How do intellectual giants like you go about earning their doctorates? —Sincerely, An Ambitious High-School Graduate.
Dear Sir or Madam: Dr. Boli has long been a keen observer of the academic world: first from the inside, at his beloved alma mater, the School for Unusual Boys; and then, for the past 213 years, from the outside, as an interested spectator with strong opinions on the course of American education. In that time, he has noted that there are generally two ways of earning a doctoral degree.
The first is by laborious study, which usually terminates in some sort of thesis or dissertation. In theory, this dissertation advances the cause of learning by proposing and defending some original idea. The flaw in this theory is that the supply of original ideas is considerably smaller than the demand for dissertations; and, at any rate, most of the original ideas of the past two hundred years have been bad ones—always excepting, of course, the ideas advanced by Dr. Boli himself.
The second method is by what one might call notoriety. Institutions of higher learning are always ready to confer honorary doctorates on anyone who has proved by his accomplishments that he has no need of a degree. Dr. Boli prefers this latter method as more reliably reflecting the truth of a person’s accomplishments.
There is, however, a third way, which is perhaps more consonant with the individualism that has always marked the American character. Having taken an objective and realistic survey of his own abilities, Dr. Boli determined that they surpassed those of most literary figures who had earned their doctorates by either of the two common methods. He therefore founded the Boli Institute for Advanced Studies to award himself the degrees of Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Letters, &c., &c., based on this candid assessment; and he recommends his method to all honest and intelligent men and women as the least laborious means of earning a doctorate.