Monday, July 28, 2014

Pomp and Circumstance

I did it. I fucking graduated. Put on the cap and gown, wore my fancy honors medallion, walked across that stage when my name was called. That makes me a college graduate. Right?

Except that the idiot university I attended still can't get their collective shit together to figure out whether they're giving me my degree yet. The head of the history department did my academic review, because the Academic Advising department wouldn't see me. Or answer questions by phone. Or email. They were too busy fucking up the lives of incoming freshmen. So this nice man reviewed my record, recommended I take my last two classes at another school and transfer them in. I would then meet all the requirements to graduate. He signed off on it, indeed, even wrote a letter to the financial aid department (also known as my mortal enemies) attesting to the facts.

Some other person - who I am not allowed to go to directly, mind you - reviewed his review, and proclaimed it incorrect. Such efficiency, I'm surprised these people don't work for the government. They said I'd reached the limit of credits which can be accepted from outside institutions. "What are those limits?"I asked, as my student account clearly shows the limit being 90. The convoluted answer to that is that the limit is 60, except when it's 62, or sometimes 64, and yes, sometimes even 90. At this point, I enlist the assistance of faculty, because I figure they can help sort this out much quicker than I can alone. Aaaaand there's mistake number one.

The nice man who signed off on my graduation forms writes a petition to the Registrar, which is a very official sounding person, although I'm still not entirely sure what a registrar is or does. In it, he lays out what the issue is, but does not expressly state what should be done. He thinks it better to just WAIT AND SEE what the Registrar says. And so, for the next month, the Registrar says.... nothing. Graduation day is fast approaching, and I've already applied to a post baccalaureate program, set to begin in January. *Why have I applied to a program at another school? Because my idiot university only holds the classes for it during the day. Which is also why I had to take my last two classes at another school. Are you sensing a theme here? I'd like to point out that Access to Opportunity is one of their pillars of excellence. Mmmhmmm. Sure* Still, he does not reply. Of course I'd been pestering the petition writer to contact him again. I also went to another, highly respected (and slightly revolutionary, in the sense of he'd be holding pitchforks at the forefront of a recolution) professor and asked what else I could do. He suggested talking to the Dean and asking her to assist, and if that didn't help, going to the President. When I contacted the Dean's office, they wouldn't even allow me to make an appointment with her. What is she, the fucking Pope? They pushed me off on someone else, who also didn't return my call.

Turns out I'd met the president once, and had less than pleasant words with her at a Town Hall style meeting. What was the subject? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. I pushed her on why some required classes were only available during the day, and I didn't like her answer. She said it was a budgetary issue. I say it's a bullshit issue. If you know that you have students that work full time, and that your admissions department promises them that evening only classes will not be an issue, then you should either ensure all classes are available in the evening, or you should watch that stupid fucking cap you've put on transfer credits.

Anywho, the week of graduation came and I still had no response. It had been a full month already. The Registrar had apparently told my advisor that he would look into it and answer by Friday. Friday came and went with no answer. Monday was the Honors Reception, to which yours truly had been invited. At this point, I had skipped the other graduation gatherings, but dammit, I worked hard for that GPA and I was going to that reception. I went there, and I walked across THAT stage, received my medal, and smiled very nicely at the Dean and the President. That evening when I got home, I sent them both this email:

We shook hands at this evening's honors reception. I've got my medallion and graduation tickets, but after the graduation application audit, I don't have an answer as to whether I'll be walking across that stage this weekend with my classmates. Below is Dr. XX's letter to the registrar, written on my behalf, as well as the letter written this summer regarding the classes which are currently causing the issue. I respectfully request your assistance in helping clear this up so that I may graduate this Sunday. 

As much as I would love to have stayed at NEIU to obtain both my History BA as well as education, many required education classes are only offered during the day. This is what precipitated my graduation application, instead of my planned application to NEIU's COE. I've applied to an education program at another school, set to begin in January. Of course, it's contingent on the successful completion of my History BA from NEIU.

We've waited almost a month for a reply from the registrar, and while I understand he is very busy, my future has been put on hold. Any assistance you can provide would be tremendously appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this most pressing matter.

So you see, I was polite, was I not? There isn't a single f bomb in that message. The next day I gave it some time, waiting to see if either would reply. Well what do you know? Still no reply. My next step was to look them up on twitter and ask why I'd had no response from the registrar. Apparently that is what makes them take notice - the fear that potential students or their parents may see something negative about the school. The response was swift, but it wasn't complete. In that I mean that the registrar finally responded, but still did not resolve anything. My advisor responded, too, in a very unfriendly manner. He said that I should not have written to the powers that be, and I should not have gone on twitter because I wasn't doing myself any favors by complaining publicly. Oh, but I beg to differ. I got more response in one day than he got in a month. Not that it's done me any good, as now the school is on winter break, and I've still not received an answer. 

After everyone told me that the Registrar is the ONLY person who can overwrite the seemingly arbitrary transfer limits, he now tells me he is waiting for approval to accept these classes. Furthermore, he says I will be one credit hour short even if they do accept them. To this, I remind him that there are still three credit hours from community college which weren't transferred in when I moved over to this school. The reason at the time? They weren't sure what the transfer limits were, so they trasnferred just under what they thought the limit was, but said, "Hey, you can always move it over later if you need to." Ha, I say. Ha. He claims that the class was not transferrable then, and is not transferrable now. That makes me wonder if he's even looking at the right transcripts. 

And so, they're holding me hostage because of their own negligence and incompetence. I can't stay there to complete the education program, but they won't let me leave. Guess what, folks? No matter how long you sit there with your thumbs up your asses, eventually I'll finish school and become a certified teacher. For high school students. And guess which university I will warn them all against attending? Yours. Oh yes, with every breath I take, I will tell them what a horrid, backward institution it is, and that they should take their student loans and parents' hard earned money elsewhere. I won't be able to convince all of them, but I'll reach a good number of them. Especially when it's time to talk to parents about the college application process, and they look to teachers for recommendations. Will I be doing myself any favors then?


***Note: I did write this back in December, and have just received my actual, physical diploma. Suck it, NEIU.

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