Anyone who's put a kid through college without special discounts or scholarships knows that, next to buying a home, it's the biggest single expense of your life.
You don't want it to go to waste. You want your son or daughter to get something special out of the experience…something different from the kind of crap that they usually watch on TV or the Internet.
So imagine the surprise of Dartmouth College parents when they got word that the keynote speaker at this year's commencement ceremony will be TV host Conan O'Brien.
Now, I'm not a killjoy. I like Conan a lot. But should your child's last experience in college be listening to a guy you can watch on TV every night, in between texting your buddies and checking out the scores of the ball games? Is that really why we saved a lifetime to send our kids to college?
The cynic in me says it could be worse. One of the academic community's most coveted graduation speakers is MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, who just made news by condemning the raid to kill Bin Laden. Worse, he suggested that President Bush is more deserving of assassination than Bin Laden...
Here's what he said: "How would we be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic? Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed Bin Laden's."
Given a choice between this kind of blather and listening to Conan O'Brien, I'd choose Conan O'Brien any day of the week. But after spending $60,000 a year for four years, I'd hope that my child could end up with something a little deeper than television -- and something a lot wiser than the moral relativism of Noam Chomsky.