A Cohesive Timeline of Ford’s College/Researching Years, 1969-1982
I got a pretty great response to my timeline of Stan’s homeless years (you can read that here), and several of you asked for a similar timeline of Ford’s years. Now, the timeline for Ford isn’t nearly as complicated, seeing as he spent most of this time in the same three areas (Backupsmore, Glass Shard Beach, and Gravity Falls) but it was definitely harder to pinpoint exactly when he went there and what he did, as we don’t have a lot of data or a map of his travels.
So let’s begin.
- In May of 1969, Ford’s brother Stanley was kicked out of their home, leaving Ford to put up with an abusive/neglectful household where he was viewed as nothing more than a money ticket out of Jersey.
- Unable to find the funds for a better college endeavor, Ford is stuck attending Backupsmore University in the Fall, 1969.
Now, let’s take a moment here to figure out where exactly Backupsmore’s real-life equivalent might be.
We know that it’s a university that suffered a financial downturn in the late 60s, early 70s. We know it would have needed to be founded prior to 1969, at least, and we know it’s a university with a high acceptance rate. Considering this was the late 60s and early 70s, enrollment rates would have skyrocketed from students enrolling in universities to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War (thanks to the-ford-twin for that bit of research). That being said, considering the mostly-bug free dorms, we might also be able to assume that this university was financially unsuited to take on the student load. We elso know it’s an institution that offers doctorate degrees, and we know it’s no one’s first choice. With that in mind, I did some research and pinpointed it to these 2 schools (Unless I look at every university in the country there is no way to really find an irl equivalent, so if you guys know a college that fits better, let me know and I’ll add it in an edit):
Shrimer University (Illinois) - This liberal arts college underwent several power struggles between the students and deans in the late 1960s, had several school leaders resigned simply because they were done with the school’s bullshit, and the university even filed for bankruptcy in 1973. Admission rates are at 90%, with an essay being the main point of judgement, and the campus itself is very, very small. While it mostly offers liberal arts studies, it also has courses in natural sciences, and has one of the highest alumni doctoral rates in the U.S. which would help in Ford’s 12 PhDs.
Fordham University (NY )- Forgetting the name Ford in the title, this college is actually a very likely contender. Though the current admission rates are well beneath 48%, between 1967 and 1974 Fordham set up the Bensalem College, and experimental college with no requirements or grades (though it closed down in 1974.) the Princeton Review also put out a study and corresponding articles about the food at Fordham, reporting students finding bugs in their meals. How’s that for “mostly bug-free?”
Without knowing Backupsmore’s policy towards Undergrad/Grad student credit load limits, however, it is almost impossible to pinpoint their average doctorate times. Some universities offer PhD programs in less than 7 years, and some in over 11, and it’s really hard to pinpoint the average. One source said the average completion rate for a grad student to finish a PhD was 8.2 years, but that doesn’t take into account accelerated programs or above-average course loads.
Nonetheless, I placed Ford as finishing his PhD in 5 years, meaning he finished in 1974.
I looked at 15 different universities across the country for their maximum credit load, even calling a couple of their offices to make sure, and almost no universities normally allow more than 21 hours to be offered per semester, with around 18 per summer semester. Some of these universities also required that grad students take less credit hours per semester than undergrad students, though this was harder to take into account. However, nearly all of the universities offered an option to fill out an override form to take up to 24 credits per semester, if you show the capability to your adviser.
So, for the sake of this theory, let’s imagine Stanford consistently took 24 credits per semester, including summer semesters. If a bachelor’s degree takes around 120 credits, a master’s degree an additional 35, and a scientific doctorate adds another 90-120 credits (we’ll put it at 105) on top of that, we can assume he took around 260 credit hours for his first doctorate. Now, if we imagine he took 24 credit hours consistently every semester, including summer semesters, then he spent 10.8 or 11 semesters getting his first PhD. (Note: This course load is nearly impossibly difficult for anyone who isn’t a prodigy. We might be able to make it more probable if he assume Ford had some AP/Honors college credits from high school, giving him a head start, or if the classes at Backupsmore were heeeeella easy. But for the sake of this theory, we’ll be using these numbers.)
This equals about 3.5 years for his first Ph.D.
Now this is fast. Ridiculously fast. Most PhD applicants don’t finish until their 30s, and this New Jersey punk would have been 21 by the time he was Dr. Stanford Pines, PhD.
“But wait, Fordtato!” I can hear you shout as one strong collective anonymous entity. “Didn’t you say he went to Gravity Falls in 1974? If it only took him 3.5 years to complete his doctorate, how is it that he took so long to finish?”
Well, disembodied voices of the internet, Ford didn’t just get one Ph.D, did he?
What if he was working towards 2 of his 12 Ph.Ds during this time? Which ones? I’d put my money on Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Biology. His focus was anomalies and hereditary mutations, and both of these sciences are the cornerstone of his goal. They are also similar enough that he would have been able to complete both degrees simultaneously, with several classes counting towards both degrees. Meaning, he was able to finish both of these degrees in 5-6 years, finishing up in 1974, 3 years ahead of schedule, after which he was able to go to Gravity Falls to begin his life’s work.
“But wait, Fordtato!” I can hear you shout, once more, in internet-wide unision. “What about the other 10 PhDs?”
Well, we could assume either one of two things.
Either A) Ford didn’t get another PhD until he crossed into what is now canonically a multiverse where he was hunted by Bill like an animal. Or, B) Ford got 10 honorary PhDs (which wouldn’t be impossible—there are people with over 100 honorary doctoral degrees, so for someone as smart as Ford, it isn’t too much of a stretch.)
- So, in 1974, Ford graduates with a $100,000 grant for his anomaly research and heads to Gravity Falls to investigate the paranormal. Assuming it takes less than a year for his home to be built with Manly Dan’s help, we can assume he stayed either in a motel, an apartment complex, or in Dan’s home in the time it took for the shack/lab’s construction to be completed.
- In 1974-1975, Ford is able to begin full involvement in his research at Gravity Falls. He begins Journal 1, and sets off to find the stranger elements of the forest.
-Between 1975 and 1980, Ford
creates the copy machine
Discovers the spiritual properties of unicorn hair and mercury
Sees Bill show up in his dreams, where he is tipped off to dark magic such as blood rain and possession spells (more on that here)
It can be assumed that he got the bulk of his honorary PhDs in this time.
Ford made connections with the town and its people, possibly making spare cash removing ghosts and paranormal annoyances from their homes, like Gravity Falls’ resident ghostbuster
- Around 1980, Ford officially meets Bill after summoning him in the cave. From there, he brings Fiddleford onto his team to get started on the Portal. Around this time, Ford lost his grant funding, either right before meeting Bill (as it would fuel his desperation for answers before he went bankrupt) or immediately afterward (as he might have stopped producing viable research to supply to his benefactors, or misused funds to pay for non essential items, like, say a giant golden Bill statue.)
-Between 1980 and 1981,
Fiddleford and Ford became a field-research team, with Ford reluctantly dragging Fidds along to face terrifying monsters like the Gremloblin.
Ford discovered the existence of the UFO/Shapeshifter and, with Fiddleford, explores and uses parts from the UFO to create his portal and underground bunker
Ford, with the help of Fiddleford, creates the electron carpet
As Ford discovers the math and physics behind the portal with Bill, Fiddleford designs the user interface and connects it to his laptop.
- In 1981,
Fiddleford falls through the portal and discovers Bill’s true motivation
Ford falls into deep paranoia and fear of Bill’s abuse
Fiddleford erases Ford from the minds of the townspeople (more on that here)
Ford installs a metal plate into his head
Ford is enlisted to create the mind-control tie for the Reagan Administration in Fiddleford’s place (more on thathere andhere)
-In early 1982, Ford calls Stan, the only person he could still trust.
I put a flower on the back of its dress. It’s probably best to forget it. It’s probably best to let go. I paint it the shade of where the skin and the lip meet, Only a moment after breaking the kiss. And I blur out everything else. That’s how I choose to remember it.