Tis talk like a pirate day, me hearties, and—Avast!—t’day we recollect the scabrous treasure chest buried by t’ lubber, John Keats. Me barnacled beauty o’ a perfessor called ye, “T’Autumn.” So, just ter mix some chum in wit t’po-eh-tree, I’ll say ye t’launch o’ t’poem in pirate:

“Season o’ mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-bucko o’ t’ maturin’ sun;
Conspirin’ with him how t’ load and bless
With fruit t’ vines that round t’ thatch-eves run.”

Aaarrr. Don’t tat jus’ blow t’ grape shot tru yer planks? Drink up, me beauty. T’at land lubber John Keats be rollin’ in his dirt.

Enough of That!

It’s fall. A new school year. And the subtle joys of a Keatsian-pirate mash-up. “Talk Like a Pirate Day“ is an entirely made-up holiday that could only have been invented in the Internet age. If you’ve never “celebrated” it, some easy starts include setting your Facebook language preference to “Pirate,” or send your go-to phrases through the English-Pirate translator.

Trying on a Different Voice

I’m not really very good at talking like a pirate. I am probably too stuck in my own voice. Getting out of that voice takes careful study, practice, and intention, as when I write for 16-year-olds. Talk about an alien experience! (Shameless plug: that’s why creating marketing materials that appeal to prospective students rather than deans and administrators takes research and care.)

Also, as a grammar nerd, I choke on the limited vocabulary and informalities. It’s embarrassing, but true. I do note, in case any of my former professors read this, that Keats in pirate is remarkably unchanged. His vocabulary and poesy are too distinct, perhaps, to shift easily to the pirate dialect.

Times Change

Historians and culture critics are correct to point out that real pirates are not suitable for children’s theme parks or family fun adventure movies. And yet, we laugh. Perhaps we can laugh because, as Steven Pinker argues in Better Angels of Our Nature, we actually live in a less violent world than the 17th century was.

Times, fortunately, change. New years roll around. Cultural paradigms and memes shift. We know it’s happening for higher ed these days. Education, rooted in centuries of learning, is well-ballasted against many ordinary storms. Yet to weather the current typhoon, colleges and universities must engage a business mindset that is somewhat foreign.

P Is for…

In that additional crew, you’ll need a routine and disciplined approach to marketing, a critical eye to competitive positioning, and continual innovation in your business model. Tuition pricing is one of the core marketing disciplines (one of the four “P”s), yet has not been fully embraced as a rational and strategic practice in the academic world. A college or university that undertakes a thoughtful pricing strategy is more likely to strengthen its business model. With research and expert guidance, you can bring these additional skills on board and sail on.


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