Honors Program

The "Official" AU Honors Entrance Exam (Not)

The best application essay not submitted to the Alfred University Honors Program

Excuses for late papers
Why chocolate is better than sex
Honors Program bumper stickers
Unusual French, Spanish, and Latin phrases
Why dinosaurs became extinct

The "Official" Alfred University Honors Program Entrance Exam (Not):

Time Limit: 3 weeks

1. Where does rain come from?
a. Macy's
b. a 7-11
c. Canada
d. the sky

2. What religion is the Pope?
a. Jewish
b. Catholic
c. Polish

3.Would you ask William Shakespeare to:
a. build a bridge
b. sail the ocean
c. lead an army or

4. Discuss the ancient Babylonian Empire with particular reference to architecture OR give the first name of Pierre Trudeau.

5. What time is it when the big hand is on the twelve (12) and the little hand is on the five (5)?

6. How many commandments was Moses given (approximately)?

7. What are the people in America's far north called?
a. Westerners
b. Southerners
c. Northerners

8. Spell each of the following: Bush, Carter, Clinton

9. Six Kings of England have been called George, the last being George the Sixth. Name the previous five.

10. What language is spoken in France?

11. Can you explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity?
a. yes
b. no

12. Explain the Principle of Dynamic Equilibrium - OR- spell your name in BLOCK LETTERS.

13. Advanced math: if you have three apples, how many apples do you have? You must answer three or more questions correctly to qualify.

Part II (but only if you're really a smarty):

Medicine: You have been provided a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

Biology: Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this life form had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English Parliamentary System. Prove your thesis.

History: Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.

Music: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.

Sociology: Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

Psychology: Based on your knowledge of their work, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of Alexander of Aphrodisis, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), and Mme. Blavatsky.

Philosophy: Sketch the development of human thought. Estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

Engineering & Ethics: The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In ten minutes, a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to your room. Take whatever action you feel necessary. Be prepared to justify your decision.

Economics: Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan on the following areas:Cubism, the Donatist Controversy, and the Wave Theory of Light. Criticize your method from all possible points of view.

Part III: For the very very advanced applicant:

The Monkey and the Banana

A rope is placed over the top of a fence, the same amount of rope on both sides of the fence. The rope weighs one - third pound per foot.

On one end of the rope hangs a monkey holding a banana, and on the other end is a weight equal in weight to the weight of the monkey.

The banana weighs two ounces per inch. The length of the rope (in feet) is equal to the age of the monkey (in years), and the weight of the monkey (in ounces) is as much as the age of the monkey's mother (in years). The combined ages of the monkey and its mother are thirty years.

The weight of the banana plus half of the weight of the monkey is one-fourth as much as the sum of the weights of the weight of the rope, where all weights are in the same units.

The monkey's mother is half as old as the monkey will be when it is three times as old as its mother was when she was half as old as the monkey will be when it is twice as old as it is now.

How long is the banana?

If you can answer that, you don't belong in Honors. You belong on the moon. The Alfred University Honors Program "official" answer, by the way, is six and seven eighths inches. All bananas, as far as we can tell, are six and seven eighths inches long.


The best application essay not submitted to the Alfred University Honors Program:

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis. But I have not yet gone to college.



Over the years we've had many "contests." The first, "excuses for late papers," came about when a student told me her paper would be late because "an iron fell on my head and I was too dizzy to write." I was pretty sure honors students could some up with something better. The winners follow:


Excuses for Late Papers:

My girlfriend thought it was just a draft, so she scalloped the edges and used it for cupcake liners.

I finished it before dinner last night and was so pleased to have finally gotten one done on time I decided to throw a party. I had too many margaritas, and when I woke up this morning I couldn't find it. I couldn't find my underpants, either, but that's another story.

My advisor is writing a comp text for Houghton-Mifflin. He read it and said he wanted to use it under the heading, "A Well-Written Paper," so I gave him my only copy.

This is Teacher Appreciation Week, isn't it? I didn't want to burden you on "your" week.

I had it all done but the Writing Center tutors said it wasn't passable and there was no point in handing it in the way it was, so I didn't.

My paper, "A Critique of the Mullahs," was all done and I was about to hand it in when I heard that you sometimes read papers aloud in class the day they're due, and so I decided to wait a few days.

I couldn't find the book! The first time I went to the library it was closed, and then when it opened, I was disappointed to learn the book wasn't in the library!

My horoscope said my Jupiter was opposing my Venus and that any writing I did would be used against me, so I didn't dare write anything.

My roommate is taking your class too, and asked me "if he could read my paper." He copied most of it! Now if I turn it in you'll accuse me of plagiarism.

I didn't want to hand it in unstapled.

And then someone sent these:

Animal Trauma: "My paper is late because my parrot crapped into my computer." "I can't be at the exam because my cat is having kittens and I'm her coach." "I couldn't be at the exam because I had to attend the funeral of my girlfriend's dog."

Crime Victimization: "I need to take the final early because the husband of the woman I am seeing is threatening to kill me." "I can't take the test because some guys upstairs chinned themselves on the sprinkler pipes, which broke and soaked my apartment."

Grandparental Death: This old favorite needs no description, but one professor's class established what must be a world's record when 14 out of 250 students reported their grandmothers dead just before the final.

Friend/Relative Accident/Illness: "I can't take the test Friday because my mother is having a vasectomy." Right.

Other: "I can't finish my paper because I just found out my girlfriend is a nymphomaniac." "I want to reschedule because my grandmother is a nun." "I'm too happy to give my presentation tomorrow." (The contributor noted: 'This was easily fixed.') "I can't take the exam on Monday because my mom is getting married on Sunday and I'll be too drunk to drive back to school."


Why chocolate is better than sex:

I enjoyed those so much that when someone sent a one liner about "why chocolate is better than sex," it was time for another contest. After all, chocolate is our totem, isn't it? Any group that can eat ten chocolate cakes and five dozen chocolate cookies in the first half hour of "Death by Chocolate" must have something to say about it:

*The word "commitment" doesn't scare chocolate.

*Chocolate doesn't expect you to call the next day.

*You don't have to tell your Baby Ruth about all the Paydays and Almond Joys in your past, and if you did, it wouldn't get jealous.

*Chocolate doesn't make you pregnant.

*Good chocolate is easy to find.

*You don't have to feel guilty for imagining that your Eskimo Pie is a Dove Bar.

*The pharmacist doesn't smirk when you buy a Milky Way.


Honors Program Bumper Stickers:

Once when, for the twentieth time, I was annoyed by the yahoo bumper sticker, "My kid beat up your Honors student," I had one of those moments of insight --what the world really needs, I thought, is a bumper sticker to counter that one. And so a new contest was born. I suspected this would not result in politically correct replies; I wasn't disappointed. To prime the pump I sent out this suggestion: "My Honors student beat up your dolt."

*My Honors kid left a pair of forceps in your kid, on purpose.

*I is not an Honors student.

*My Honors kid can read this.

*My Honors kid used Gauss's Law to prove the non-existence of your kid.

*My Honors kid knows your credit rating.

*Edjukashun snot for me.

From there it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to bumper stickers that had little to do with Honors, dolts, class war, or anything else. A few people sent versions of these--they must have been making the e-mail rounds.

*If we aren't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made of meat?

*Photons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic!

*The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

*I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

*Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.

*We have enough youth; how about a "fountain of smart."

*We know where your trailer park is.

*Auntie Em: Hate you, Hate Kansas, Taking the Dog." --Dorothy.

*I'm anti-life, and I vote!

*If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic.

*Save the whales. Collect the whole set.

And my favorite:

*Your kid may be an Honors student, but you're still an idiot.

top ^

Many of the following were also home-grown:

Unusual French, Spanish & Latin Phrases:

Cogito eggo sum: I think, therefore I am a waffle.

Rigor Morris: The cat is dead.

Felix navidad: The cat has a boat.

L'etat c'est moe: All the world's a stooge.

sang Freud: Glee club for psychiatrists

Annus horribilis: Need for Preparation H

Pas de duh: Dancing for dummies

Omnia Galliano est divisa

in partes tres: Waiter! One Galliano and three straws.

Veni, vipi, vici: I came, I am important, I conquered.

Veni, vidi, vegi: I came, I saw, I had a salad.

Veni, vedi, visa: I came, I saw, I charged it.

Veni, vedi, vasectomy: I came, I saw, I clipped.

molto bene: Benny's losing his hair.

sic transit gloria: Gloria threw up on the bus.


Why dinosaurs became extinct:

Another home-grown piece of humor came from Dr. Muller's seminar, "How Things Change With Time." The idea was to create a list of reasons for the mass extinctions of dinosaurs: it begins seriously, sort of, then gets silly.

It got too hot.

It got too cold.

It got too wet.

It got too dry.

It got too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.

New mammals ate their food.

Mammals ate the dino eggs.

Giant meteor smashed into Earth.

Cosmic rays bombarded Earth.

Massive volcanoes explode all around the Earth.

"Nemesis," the DEATH STAR, came for a visit.

They all joined a cult and committed mass suicide.

Meat eaters ate the plant eaters, then starved.

Ocean currents switched and put cold water where it used to be warm.

New insects evolved which spread nasty diseases.

Dinos got stressed out and laid eggs with thin shells. The shells broke.

The only certainties in life are death and taxes--even for dinos.

Everyone's got to die someday.

They were ugly and deserved to die.

They had too much food.

They didn't have enough food.

They had the wrong kind of food.


Entropy (I don't explain them--I just list them).

Lack of standing room in Noah's Ark.

Dinosaurs got too big to have sex (this doesn't, of course, explain why little velociraptor died out. It also doesn't explain what the brontosaurs did for all those years).

Walrus Icontop^