Substitute Student

Back when I was looking for work, I stumbled across an ad on Craigslist offering $200 for someone to take a biology exam for an Asian female, assuming they received a score in the 85-95% range.

I laughed. It reminded me of a class project I did years ago. Between grad school attempts one and two, I took some HR-related classes through the local university extension (where I am currently taking my copyediting classes). My favorite course in that series was a “how to be a trainer” course.

UCSD Extension Catalog

Normally I dislike group projects, but the one for this class was awesome! We had to create a company (on paper) and then develop a half hour training for current or potential employees.

I normally avoid taking the leadership role, but no one else stepped up, so I took control of the brainstorming. Between the four of us, we built off each other’s ideas until we developed the best ever (albeit unethical) company: Substitute Students.

Our target market was people too busy to go to class. They could hire us to sit in and take notes for a single class session or for busier (we preferred that adjective to “lazier”) individuals, we would take the entire course … or all the degree requirements for them.

The training we decided on was a new hire orientation for our substitutes. In it we explained how we matched our substitutes to our clients based on six physical characteristics: sex, age, ethnicity, height, weight, and hair color.

For the example client, we put up a picture of Cindy Crawford and asked everyone to stand up.

Cindy Crawford's Picture from her Google Plus page
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One by one we called out the qualifying characteristics, and people sat down when they were out of the running. We did end up with one member of the class, our “new hire,” who would have that gig. The young woman was both embarrassed to be singled out and flattered to be picked as a sub for Cindy.

That was one of the most practical, hands-on classes I have ever had in my professional development. They didn’t tell us what to do: they showed us how.

What celebrity have you been compared to? (I get Mary Louise Parker comments all the time.) or Would you have been more likely to be a client or employee of Substitute Students, Inc.?

6 thoughts on “Substitute Student”

  1. When she was in college my wife was almost a substitute student. She had a job taking notes for learning disabled students which for the most part were student athletes. Here comes the almost part: if they didn’t come to class she didn’t take the notes. Of course she’s a teacher now, so go figure.

    People use to say I looked like Woody Harrelson, so if he ever needs a Substitute Student I’m ready!


    1. Your wife was a university-sponsored substitute student! How interesting that she wasn’t allowed to take notes if the student wasn’t there. It definitely makes sense.

      I’ll let Woody know that you are open to taking classes for him!


  2. i would be a good candidate for being a substitute student – I was an excellent student, loved the classroom and am an awesome note taker. I’ve been a teacher too so i know what they’re looking for. I used to be compared to Cybil Sheppard when i was younger – many, many years ago. šŸ™‚


    1. Okay, we really are twins separated at birth, except for that whole teaching part. I tried going down that path, but my first teaching course taught me not to go there!

      Cybil, a beautiful woman. I wonder if she is still acting. I was introduced to her in “Moonlighting,” and then went back to see earlier work in “Last Picture Show.”


  3. Wow, what a fun project. I don’t doubt that there are people out there that would actually use that service too. There were a couple of classes in grad school for me that I wish I could have sent a substitute student in for.

    The celebrity I hear I look a lot like is Luke Wilson. Not now that he’s gained some weight, but years ago when he was in better shape. I guess we have similar facial features and body type. I’ll take it too since I think he’s a good actor.


    1. I would LOVE to be a substitute student: Getting paid to take classes. That is my dream job, and it would never get old. It’s good to know that if I ever want to cross the ethical Rubicon, I probably could get paying clients. šŸ™‚


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