The Simpsons in Academia: Just for Fun

It’s not all work all the time. I’m a big Simpsons fan, as my students will tell you, and it’s an intelligent show with lots of college references (writers have included Harvard-educated Conan O”Brien, among others). I use this list with cast cutouts in a hall exhibit I put up late in the year. It gerts kids laughing adn helps relieve some of the seriousness of the moment.

Enjoy!

The Simpsons in Academia:

Character Education (or Lack Thereof…)

In its 16th year, The Simpsons is still going strong. And some of them have impressive, if suspicious, academic pedigrees or aspirations. Just for a laugh, here are some of them.

Lionel Hutz, “attorney”: “Harvard, Yale, MIT, Oxford, the Sorbonne, the Louvre…” and many supposed others, however briefly…

Dr. Nick Riviera: Hollywood Upstairs Medical College; Club Med School; Mayo Clinic Correspondence School

Mr. Burns: Yale (“I say let Harvard have its sports and academics. Yale will always be first in gentlemanly conduct.”) He was Skull and Bones, as was Laddie the dog.

Sideshow Bob Terwilliger went to Yale also.

Herb Powell, Homer’s half brother, worked his way through Harvard washing dishes and scrubbing toilets.

Santa’s Little Helper nearly flunked out of Emily Winthrop’s Canine College, graduating by the skin of his teeth

Cecil Terwilliger (Sideshow Bob’s brother) went to “Clown College” (“I wish you wouldn’t refer to Princeton that way.”)

Kirk van Houten (Milhouse’s dad) went to Gudger College

Lisa laments that she “won’t even” get into Vassar if she doesn’t get to go to school (Homer replies: “That’s enough of your Vassar-bashing, young lady!”) In a dream, she is also tempted to throw a spelling bee by the Seven Sisters schools…

Otto almost got tenure at Brown.

Freddy Quimby: Dropped out of fourth grade

Nerds Benjamin, Doug and Gary are getting their degrees from Springfield University, where they tried to help Homer get certified for the NRC. Others on the show have attended Springfield Heights Institute of Technology, which you don’t want to abbreviate…

Homer gets a degree from Springfield University by cheating. SU’s motto is “If you were enrolled here, you’d be home by now.” Upon graduating, he says, “Woo hoo! I’m a college man! I won’t need my high school diploma anymore!”

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon graduated at the top of his class of several hundred thousand at Caltech (Calcutta Technical Institute).

Lenny has a master’s degree in nuclear physics.

Dr. Julius Hibbert: Baylor University

Larry Burns, Mr. Burns’ illegitimate son: Couldn’t quite get into Yale, despite his father’s help (“Yale DOES need an international airport, Mr. Burns!”)

Superintendent Chalmers went to Ball State University (although he grew up in Utica, New York)

Mother Simpson: Student radical at Springfield State College (now in hiding)

Comic Book Guy: Master’s degree in folklore and mythology at an undisclosed institution

Dr. Foster: Uses the University of Minnesota Spankological Protocol to help “cure” Ned Flanders

Snake: Middlebury (On robbing Moe’s Bar he exclaims, “All riiiight! No more student loans!”)

Lindsey Naegle: MBA from Wharton

Frank Grimes (“Homer’s Enemy”) got a correspondence-school diploma in nuclear physics “with a minor in determination.”

Many of the Itchy & Scratchy writing staff have their degrees from Harvard (and can sing “Fair Harvard” when forced to by Roger Meyers)

Professor Lombardo (Marge’s art teacher) teaches at Springfield Community College.

Bartender Moe Szyslak went to Swigmore U.

Feminist Ashley Grant (“Homer Badman” episode) is getting her graduate degree at Springfield University.

Brad Goodman, self-help guru, has a PhD in pain…

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About Will Dix

I am currently writing a book about college admission. I'm interested in the intersection of the college process and American culture. I attended Amherst College in the 1970s, taught high school English and theater at The Hill School in the '80s, returned to Amherst in the '90s as an admission dean, and began the '00s as a college counselor at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. I then joined Chicago Scholars as Program Director. Currently, I blog about college admission for Forbes.com. I also help community organizations serving low income students understand the college admission process so more students can consider gaining access to higher education. I have a few private college counseling clients that I take by referral only. The views expressed in this blog are mine alone.
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