Is your course HOT? I repeat HOT! - and not to be confused with "hot", which is another thing altogether. That much became clear to me as I perused a publication shoved into my hands on the way to work the other day entitled: Hot Courses.
With a growing sense of gloom, I realised that the classes I teach need not only to be lively, stimulating, interesting, egalitarian, equalitarian, legal, decent, ethnically and socially diverse, non-discriminatory, high in quality, low in fat and above all FULL, but now for God's sake they've also got to be HOT!
From there, things rapidly went downhill. Arriving, all HOT and bothered, at the fun factory, I showed a colleague my plans for student induction.
"They're all right," she said peevishly, "but they're not very sexy are they?" And to think when I signed up for that PGCE all those years ago, I thought I was going into education!
But to return to Hot Courses. As a freebie designed to get bums on college seats, it inevitably is going to be hyping up - should that read "hotting"
up - the courses it has on offer. So what exactly is HOT and what is not?
The first thing to realise about a HOT course is that they have to be cool! Cool, of course, in this context means HOT - in the same the way that wicked means great, bad means good, white is the new black and 120 the new 60.
Once you've grasped that, everything else quickly falls into place. So while you might think that Uniform Services (Fire Brigade), would be HOT and Level 3 Air Conditioning COOL, sadly in both cases you'd be wrong - Chi Kung, li Do, Tui Na, Indian Champissage and Korean Hand Massage, assuming, that is, you first have access to a plentiful supply of Korean hands.
Qi Gong can be studied on its own, but, combined as it is at one college with Tai Chi, it clearly hits the fusion jackpot!
The medical field provides some interesting contrasts. I can't see my colleague finding anything "sexy" about Oral Healthcare for Dental Nurses, but Anytime, Anywhere Massage might just catch her eye.
Ultimately, though, it's all that off-the-wall fringe stuff that is really HOT in the health area. So bring on Reflexology for All, Crystal Healing and Power Zone Body Conditioning - or possibly try a sexy fusion of all three!
You only have to turn on the TV these days to know how HOT gardening is, but that built-in heat doesn't always translate into a college course.
OK, Designing a Town Garden or 3-D Drawing for Garden Design could both be turned into a 47-part mini-series fronted by male and female presenters with the phwoar! factor. But could the same really be said of Pruning Techniques or Overgrown Garden (recognise that one?) In the end you can't help thinking it's all in a name. A friendly university admissions officer told me recently that when a course isn't attracting enough punters, they no longer think about dropping it or changing the content, instead, they just give it a new, sexier-sounding handle.
Thus the study of war becomes Peace Studies, and student-starved geographers suddenly find they have the word "Environmental" in the title of all their degrees.
So, stop worrying about whether your course is HOT or not. The solution is in your own hands. You think Plumbing for Beginners sounds a bit pedestrian? Not now it's called Blowlamp Therapy for the 21st Century, or Exploring Your Inner Self via Wrench Techniques.
Accountants might get it in the neck for being dull, but not once those boring old NVQ Accounts courses are reborn as Money: the Great Aphrodisiac.
And even old age can have its compensations when that Planning for Retirement course has been re-branded as: Spice up your Sex Life with AVCs!