Free Character Writing Prompts #65: 
Perpetual Students

These character writing prompts focus on those who can't stop getting degrees no matter how hard they try. While many college students take four or five years to earn their undergraduate degree, there are many other students who may spend another decade of their lives in school to become doctors, lawyers, professors or all of the above. Perpetual students are the types who jump from one masters degree to another looking to either find the best career for them or to stay out of the real world as long as possible. When I was young, my mom warned me about become a perpetual student, to ensure that I experienced everything I could from the world instead of just learning about it. Here are a few that are content with the learning part. 

Free Character Writing Prompts #65: Perpetual Students

1. Like any good joke, he translated very well into multiple language. Though English was not his native tongue, he easily adopted it when he traveled to the U.S. for graduate education. One of the best ways for him to stay in the country was to continue to get grants to study more and more subjects. He had multiple masters degrees and was working on his first PhD. He loved his new country and he decided he would finally attempt to gain employment so that he could become a permanent resident. The only problem was, he seemed to be a bit overqualified for almost every position. What employment will this extremely educated and intelligent student be able to ascertain?

2. He was never a big fan of the term, "The real world." After all, wasn't he learning more real world things by studying with teachers who had been in the real world themselves? He had been in school for over 10 years and he knew things that these real world dwellers could never figure out on their own. He had studied in sociology, philosophy and psychology programs and he knew without a doubt that he could read a person better than anybody. If he had a regret it was that he hadn't ever kept a steady girlfriend over that time and he wished he could use his knowledge to improve his flirting. How does this "people person" compare with a non-college graduate with people skills?

3. She always hated the fact that her mother had never gone to college. She vowed that she would become so educated that her children would feel that they could do anything, especially if she had any daughters. She pushed herself to earn a living on the side of school so that she could pay for grad school without parental assistance. She was so successful at saving money, that she opted to continue school after receiving her masters degree. There was something about being at school that felt like home. When her mother suggested she go out and get a job in her field, she just scoffed and continued to hit the books. What are some other ways in which she's tried to go in the opposite direction of her parents?

4. She came from a family of academics. Her parents had met while they were studying for a PhD and both went on to get multiple sets of letters after their names. She'd had no problem being pushed into the same field as her parents, after all, she didn't have a lot of ambition on her own and she was happy to get it from somewhere. She never really felt like she was living her own life, but she had little issue with that since she didn't think very highly of herself. She looked in the mirror and just saw a disappointment who would never live up to the standard of her family. Why does she feel so low in her parents eyes and is she right to be thinking of herself like that?

5. He wanted to go into the arts from the time he was a small child. Even though his parents refused to pay for his school unless he did something practical, he was allowed to do theater as long as he didn't have a job yet. As a result, he figured he'd bend his parents rules by staying in school and getting as many degrees as possible, since it would allow him to keep his art alive. Eventually, his parents began to wise to his plan and he had to make a decision: go into an academic profession and teach things he didn't care about or go into the arts full time and be disowned by his parents. What would he decide and why?

6. He seemed like the most dedicated student when he was studying a particular area of academia. When he finally gained a position related to this area, however, he quickly became bored. It was obvious to those around him that he simply liked being a student too much. It allowed him to work hard without being the person in charge of a project. He had responsibilities, but they weren't close to the responsibilities he had in a job-related capacity. As a result, he would spend a year in these positions and then go back to school for a completely different area. What was it that made him shy from leaving the student life?

7. The first time she walked down the path in the main quad of campus, she knew she would never want to leave. After running the fifth year victory lap as an undergraduate, she worked a job on campus for two years before applying for grad school there. Most of the jobs for her profession were in New York or Chicago, but she didn't want to do anything that would take her farther than a few miles away from the campus she loved. She couldn't imagine not being able to sit in the library and study or not having the chance to see the other students excitedly move from activity to activity. She knew that school was her home. How will the rest of her life in the area play out and will she ever get bored of her "home?"

8. She had never been a big fan of school and she considering ditching college entirely before her parents convinced her not to travel for four years. Just as she was ready to drop school again, she met a wonderful partner who encouraged her to better herself and her education. She really didn't want to progress her degree from bachelor's to master's, but her partner was just so persuasive. After another few years, her partner once again made the case for her to move her learning forward to pursue another degree. Before she knew it, she'd had nearly a decade of school past what she wanted. Why did she let herself get roped into an activity she didn't particularly like?

9. The degrees that he obtained never mattered to him much. He had a much loftier goal in mind. He wanted to be the smartest man in the world. He figured that the more pieces of paper he obtained, the more knowledge he would pick up during his quest. He was inherently intelligent enough to figure out how to make all of these degrees achievable while earning a great deal of money from each program. He even did special brain exercises he learned from his love of neurology to increase his brain's capacity. He hoped with all his efforts he could be frequently referred to as smarter than Einstein himself. How did he come up with this goal and how possible is it?

10. When she was a child, she had few friends aside from what most would consider the great works of literature. While others were going to dances and playing sports, she would curl up on whatever couch, bench or chair she could find and read into the middle of the night. As a result, her grades were beyond incredible, even in mathematics-related subjects. She flew through college in two and a half years and figured she could do the same in her PhD programs. She was right. She had a knack for pushing through three and four year programs in a year or less. By the age of 30, she already had five separate PhDs and was gunning for a sixth. This was the most fun she'd had in her entire life. What will she do with her life when she tires of academia? 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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