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Is This What Students Are Learning in College These Days?

If someone were to ask you which one of the following terms does not fit in with the others, how would you answer?

Mathematics: the study of topics such as quantity (numbers), structure, space, and change.

Economics:  a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

Kleptomania: the inability to refrain from the urge for stealing items and is usually done for reasons other than personal use or financial gain.

Mechanical engineering: the discipline that applies engineering, physics, and materials science principles to design, analyze, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems.

Psychology: the science of behavior and mind, embracing all aspects of conscious and unconscious experience as well as thought.

Accounting: the measurement, processing, and communication of financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations.

If you answered, “all of those terms, except kleptomania, are subjects you can study while in college”, you would be wrong.

And here’s the proof, in a story from the AP:

A Wyoming college student who told officers she was working on a term paper on kleptomania after she was caught shoplifting faces three felony charges.

The Gillette News Record reports a 23-year-old woman was arrested on June 5 after trying to leave Walmart with nearly $1,900 worth of merchandise.

Court records say investigators later found thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen items in her dorm room. The woman told officers she began shoplifting after being forced to move into a new dorm room, away from her roommate who had many of the household items.

She said she was caught once when she tried to leave Walmart with three flat-screen televisions(you have to admit that sounds pretty impressive).

The woman made an initial court appearance on June 8 and did not enter a plea. A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday.

I understand the value of experiential learning, but this woman seems to be taking it a bit too far.

It seems like other excuses might have been a bit more plausible. She could have been writing a paper on “the use of cameras to prevent retail theft” for a course in inventory management, or “at what point does one person decide to ‘squeal’ on another person for a wrongdoing” for a course in psychology, or “attitudes about theft across different geographical regions” for a course in data analytics.

But citing kleptomania as the topic for a paper would seem to immediately rouse suspicion, and lead the police to want to investigate things further, as they did.

I don’t think it looks too good for this young woman, but I am grateful that “just” stealing stuff from Walmart is as bad as things get for her.

Can you imagine if she had to write a paper on “The Effectiveness of Primitive Versus Modern Day Weapons”, or “Is Stalking Just the Price of Being a Celebrity?”, or “The Pros and Cons of Torture as an Information Gathering Technique”.

Like I said, just be grateful she was writing a paper on kleptomania.

Anyway, if you are still wondering what item does not belong on the list, it would  be accounting.

All of the others represent topics that would be of interest to other people at a cocktail party.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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