Academic Aggravation

Most of my morning and a sizable chunk of the afternoon was swallowed up running between buildings, floors and departments at my University. Mercifully, it’s spring break, so I was spared crowds and other people’s insanity, but unfortunately, I got dished out more than a little bit of stupid-crazy from my own department.

Answer me this: How does an academic advisor have no apparent clue how the registration process works? And how, when asked about it, does he look over the top of his glasses and dismissively tell me that, as though I really should know this, that he has no reason to understand that process. I am realizing, as I navigate deeper into the mess of academia, that this attitude is incredibly common. There is almost a suave, entitled “Heh, I know it sucks, but I had to deal with this, you do too now. Good luck.” followed by a slight sneer. The thing is, if I want those letters after my name, I have to play their game.

Today? I met with my advisor, and we came up with a plan for the next two quarters. However, he neglected to tell me the pre-reqs for several of the classes required his signature. He could not help me do this, because there was a hold on my account, but that wasn’t his department. I walked across campus to Financial Aid. Turns out FinAid cannot release my money until I am registered. Okay… I gather my papers and head upstairs to talk to accounts, per their instructions. In accounts, I learn I cannot register until my Fin Aid is released. Anyone else see the problem?

This went on for TWO HOURS. Back and forth. Notes, phone calls, emails. No one is responsible for more than their unique little niche, and had no idea what’s happening in other niches. By the time I left, I had gotten the FinAid woman to write a note on a Post-It to the registration deptartment, promising my cash would fund if they would release the hold on my registration. A Post-It note. I picked up 16 units today, based on the promise of a Post-It note.

I won’t even touch the fact that I was given a “Zero” on a class that was actually dropped, and the fight I have in front of me on that one. And I start back to school the same week my kids have spring break. Because life is just not fun enough.

15 thoughts on “Academic Aggravation

  1. It’s just delightful to read that all universities are the same. Just a crazy rabbit warren of “It’s not my problem, go look over there.”

    Let me tell you about the time some counselor I’ve never seen before decided I wasn’t going to graduate in 2 weeks. I refused to leave her office until she signed the paperwork. I’m no Sicilian, but there was a battle of wits and tenacity that I would win no matter the cost.

  2. “There is almost a suave, entitled ‘Heh, I know it sucks, but I had to deal with this, you do too now. Good luck.’ followed by a slight sneer. The thing is, if I want those letters after my name, I have to play their game.”

    Exactly. It’s maddening. It was one of the reasons I was so jealous of your 4.0, it has seemed impossible to accomplish that myself. Some of the reason is this attitude you describe.

  3. I’m so glad this craziness doesn’t only exist in small Midwestern private liberal arts colleges. Small consolation for the hoops you are running through…

    When are people going to take off their blinders?!

  4. That does suck. I feel your pain, as I get ready to regisiter for the summer session and fall semester. I was told Wednesday that there is now a pre-req for a class that two weeks ago didn’t have one. And if I can fit it in to my summer schedule there is no pre-req but if I wait to take it in the fall I can’t because I don’t have the pre-req, oh and the pre-req was just a 5 wk course, but now it’s a full 16 wk course. But then I would have had to know it was a pre-req at the beginning of this semester to have taken it as a 5 wk course, but it wasn’t a pre-req at the beginning of the semester it was only a class they reccommneded that I take as a extra class, but that I really didn’t need. If you can follow that you are doing better than me. I want to pull my hair out right about now.

  5. If it makes you feel any better, after you get those letters after your name it doesn’t get any better.

    I have a PhD in English, but have decided that I want to be able to pick where I live, so I want to get certified to teach high school English. Local university’s certification program requires that people have taken a freshman comp course, which I didn’t take because my university let me test out of it.

    I have, however, taught freshman comp for most of the last decade.

    According to everyone I’ve talked to, there’s no way for them to waive that requirement, so I would have to take the freshman composition course. Ah, bureaucracy.

  6. Arg! Bad memories. Very, very bad memories.

    It does seem appropriate that a post-it note should clear up the issue. (After you paid the requisite price of misery, of course.)

  7. My husband (a finance major) took a 400 level Shakespeare class for fun. One of the larger assignments was to present a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays. One group in the class did the witches scene from the opening of Macbeth. The witches were all dressed in business office attire and stamping, highlighting, and signing paperwork. Macbeth was in a business suit, conversing with Hecate via phone, fax, and memo.

    When asked to explain their interpretation for the audience afterward, the girls said, “Who are the modern witches in our society? The ladies in the college registration/administration offices. They have to do all that voodoo magic spell stuff before your paperwork can go through.” Truer words have not been spoken.

    Good luck with your future battles. Just remember the parable of the widow and the unrighteous judge. It worked for me when I was getting credits transferred from Idaho State University into the proper requirement slots at BYU. Only took five days of visits before their computer system was down and they actually had to look at my file.

  8. Yes. TOTAL NIGHTMARE. And none of them want to change it, because hey, they had to do it. Why make it sensible? We’re ACADEMICS, for crying out loud. It happens everywhere you go, and I think it’s responsible for more drops than people care to admit.

    Of course, you’re going into teaching. The public school systems have major issues like this too. It’s a symptom of being a large entity – make it a ‘government entity’ and it’s worse. This is why DH prefers small companies.

    P.S. You spelled ‘aggravation’ wrong. Sorry, but typos like that bother me.

  9. Just a note from the inside (my job is in academic technology) — it’s just as bad from the staff side as from the student side. Sigh. If you advisor doesn’t know the processes, its probably because no one has told him he’s required to know it, and he knows it’ll probably change soon anyway, so he hasn’t made the time to learn it. Any you need a post-it note to get data from one niche to another because no one thought to design the computer systems to talk to one another.

    That sounds crankier than I meant it. A university is many balls being juggled by many people, most of whom have one hand tied behind their back by regulations and the rest of whom are hampered by lack of resources and time.

    Hang in there.

  10. Nice spellcheck/correction. I noticed too, but figured you’d had enough agri-whatever for a while, and I have to know you more personally to be your spelling police.

    On reflection, I think that the university brand of this should always and forever hence be spelled agrivation to (poetically!) distinguish it as the special layer of hell that it is.

  11. One reason my husband left college was because of the stupid stupid games you have to play with everyone. It’s ridiculous. My mom just graduated with her doctorate. She started her program about 5 years ago and finished taking all the classes 2 years ago – and has been editing her dissertation for 1 year. One year of sending in a revision every week and having it come back with “this comma is wrong, this needs to be capitalized….” very, very minor tiny tiny corrections. For a year. She ended up having to pay an extra $3000 in tuition since she was supposed to be graduated a year ago and then kept getting rejected. It is absolutely insane. If nothing else my mom’s journey has taught me that I NEVER want to get my doctorate. Hoop jumping is stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. It makes me angry. Good luck with your jumping. Grr.

  12. Sucky suckiness! One would think the finance and registration departments would work together. Alas, it never seems to be so much to the chagrin of every student who has ever had to work with either of them. It’s infuriating to say the least and I’m so sorry you have to deal with the mess.

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