FACT 143 – the end of everything

now that the saga is nearly complete, i feel i can write about it. those of you who know me (and those of you i answer calls from at work with any frequence (^_^) ) know that i’ve been having some difficulty scheduling classes/graduating these past few months. it turns out i’ve actually been having trouble these past few years, i just didn’t know it. the problem lurked, and i was caught unawares. so, for those of you interested, i here chronicle my saga. 1999 – that’s right, i first attempted a college career ten years ago. it started well, financially at least. i got some scholarships, i tested out of several classes, i started an architecture major. or course, i soon cooled on that, and decided not to go to class that often, so my first quarter resulted in a 1.557 gpa. after i was 11th in a class of 350+ in high school. yeah, not going to class was definitely my nemesis. 2004 – but i managed to control my demons, get on the dean’s list three or four times, and changed my major from stupid architecture to beloved english. things were going alright, i was finally taking classes i liked, i was getting good grades, i was going full time and actually attending class. (^^;) then my father quit his job, tried to find another one, failed, moved to chicago, found a job there, we put our house on the market, had a buyer lined up, where about to move to chicago. this involved my father and brother living in chicago in a(n astronomically-priced) one-bedroom apartment, while the rest of us lived here in columbus in a house that was on the market, could be sold at any moment, and out of which we were regularly cast in an attempt to bring buyers into the house. we also had to keep it clean and spotless. in summary, i was under A LOT of stress. so when i ran out of funding that fall, and the financial aid department refused to help me (the fact that we were maintaining two households was not, apparently, ground for financial hardship. yeah.) i dropped out. to this day, i am surprised at how easy that was. no one even asked me why. 2004, later – the offer we’d had on the house fell through. it never sold. 2005~2008 – we gave up on relocating to chicago, dad quit his job there, moved back to columbus, we started to pick up the pieces. on a personal level, readjusting to that many people was (still is) hard. i’m not a people-person, i hate large groups. there’s 6 of us now, plus three cats. it’s like living in a boarding house. keep this in mind for the emotional trip we’re about to have, when… April 2008 – i reapply to go to college. i finally figured i’d spent enough time lazing about, i was 26 years old, i was finally gainfully (re)employed, and at a decent rate. it was time. and here is where the problems start. when i dropped out, i imagined myself to be about three quarters from the end. i figured i had a couple of general curriculum (GEC) credits to get out of the way, and then four or five major classes to take, and i could graduate. i filled out my FAFSA (the federal application for student aid) and duly sent it off to the local community college, where i planned on taking my last GEC courses before transferring back to OSU (ohio state) to finish my degree. well, i then investigated precisely what classes i could/needed to take. turns out i was considerably closer than i had imagined. as in 6 classes from the end. if not for the need to maintain a work schedule, i could have been done in two (albeit packed) quarters. unfortunately, i needed to keep my job. so i investigated precisely what 6 classes i needed: 1 GEC course, 5 english major classes. none of the classes i needed were offered at the commmunity college that i had sent my FAFSA to. and it was long past the deadline to send them to OSU. so i formed a new plan. one class a quarter at $1200+ a pop, for six straight quarters, with a graduation date at the end of Autumn quarter 2009. great! May 2008 – met with advisor, was informed i had been out of school so long, i had to abide by revised graduation requirements. got paperwork telling me which six classes i needed, reapplied to go to school. all things (apparently) on track. summer, autumn 2008; winter, spring, first half of summer 2009 – took classes, one at a time, adjusted work schedule to fit, enjoyed myself with all kinds of new learning, really hated my summer 09 course, but took it anyway. early 2009 – i fail to fill out a FAFSA for this year, either, as i believe i will not qualify. you need at least 6 credit hours to qualify for aid, i will only be taking 5. july 2009 – applied to graduate. the advisor reviews my classes, she says to me, are you also planning on scheduling this last elective for the fall? … … what elective? surprise, you have one more, silly, stupid, lower-level GEC class to take. social sciences. this is the new requirements i was telling you about. … … oh. (T_T) well of course, i’d better schedule it, then, hadn’t i. (commence freak out) august 2009 – attempted to clear holds on student account, due to first) student loans that needed to be in deferrment but weren’t, second) $400 past due balance from autumn 2008 because system continually mis-interpreted which balance i was attempting to pay, third) previous balance from summer 2009 because it took me so long to clear the other two holds. in the meanwhile, i investigated the disconnect between what i thought i was supposed to take and what i was actually supposed to take. i unearthed the pack of papers the advisor had given me some 18 months earlier and i discover the problem: the paperwork she gave me was incorrect. it has only 10 hours of social sciences required when in fact 15 are required. she said revised requirements, but she gave me non-revised paperwork. september 18 2009 – i do not have the money to clear the hold from summer quarter. $630 cannot simply materialize from thin air in time to schedule a class for autumn quarter, which is now less than two weeks away. figuring it is easier to simply fullfill the requirements rather than argue with the woman about whether she did or did not give me the incorrect paperwork. so i head down to the financial aid office to stand in line for two hours (literally) and then be told that i don’t qualify for much, since i didn’t fill out a FAFSA. this mysterious extra class will put me well past the 6 credit-hour threshold, but since i didn’t know about it until five months after the FAFSA deadline, i did not file one, and therefore can only receive the minimum of help in paying for it. it turns out the only thing i can get is a $500 emergency loan, which i duly apply for. the man tells me i should have a notice the following tuesday telling me to come in a sign a promissory note for the loan. september 22 – the following tuesday comes and goes without any notice. september 23 – the first day of class. i wait in line as long as i can at the financial aid office, but i have to go to class before i get to the front of the line to ask why i haven’t received my notification. september 24 – thursday. i’m working 10-hour days now, to make up for the time i have to take off for class. three 10-hour days will give me enough hours to qualify for the health plan, and still leave me 2 days off to take two 2-hour classes on those days. i don’t get ahold of anyone at the financial aid office. i work at an inbound call center, i cannot make a call while i’m answering them. 24th – friday. i call the financial aid office on a whim on my way to work. a miracle! i get put on hold! previously, the system was so overloaded, it simply hung up on you. i’m on hold 45 minutes, somehow taking calls on my work phone while i’m on hold on my cell phone, and finally i get a person. she seems to have trouble pulling me up, she says hold on, let me investigate, and my phone goes dead. i’ve been hung up on. i decide that’s it, i’ve had enough. luckily (a word i don’t get to use often, at least not these days) i have an awesome boss, and she lets me use a landline to call the financial aid office. i am on hold an hour and a half, but when the gentleman who answers the phone has the same difficulty in pulling me up and suggests that i hold on while he investigates, i am not hung up on. he comes back on some minutes later to tell me (apologetically, to his credit) that there is no record of my application in the system. who did i turn it in to? i describe the two guys i spoke with that day, he puts me on hold again. minutes pass. have they actually lost my paperwork? the quarter has already started, i need this money to relieve the hold on my account so that i can schedule my second class. have they lost my paperwork? … … they have. i have to go back down to the financial aid office to fill out another one. the gentleman suggests i speak to a councilor rather than just the guys at the counter. probably the most timely helpful suggestion i got from anyone at that university. but, i’ve already taken up 3 hours of my work day, i cannot take up any more. i haven’t got that many time-off hours left, and the way things are shaping up, i may need them. it will have to wait for monday. september 28 – i arrive at the financial aid office bright and early, hoping to bypass the long lines. well, at least this time i was only in queue an hour. i spoke with an actual councilor, she left a note in my account to the effect of, we’ve lost this once already guys, let’s try doing our jobs this time, and i leave relatively happy. my new notification should show up wednesday i then head from lincoln tower (the location of the office of doom) to denny (the english department and heretofore home of the arts/sciences advising department) to meet once more with my adviser and revise my graduation application, to add the new class i’m going to have to take to the ones already listed. i get to denny hall, only to find that the office has been temporarily relocated while denny is under some renovations. guess where they are now? yeah. lincoln. so i walk all the way back to where i just was. the soonest meeting i can attend is wednesy, the 30th, early. fine, i’ll take it. i go to the class i haven’t even scheduled yet, to explain to the prof that i will be scheduling as soon as the hold is off my account and apologize for any incovenience. 29, tues. – a 10-hour day. 30, wed – still no notification. my meeting with my advisor goes badly. not five minutes in, i’m in tears, as she flatly denies giving me the incorrect paperwork, despite the presence of her check marks all over my pages. she presents my options: petition to have one of my (85 credit hours worth of) extraneous classes count for the surprise requirement, or petition to have the requirement waived. finding a class to cover the requirement would involve finding a syllabus at least five years old, probably older, so i guess my option is to petition to have the requirement waived. we fill out the same form, check different boxes, and i have to write a letter explaining my need. i completely fail to bring up my other questions, i just want to go home and curl up under the sheets. i declare a mental health day and go home. i email the nice anthropology lady to say i won’t be taking her class after all, i email a super awesome english prof to apologize for skipping her class. i write my letter, email it to my advisor, move on with my life. later that night, my advisor calls me to say, why are you even taking that english class, you don’t need it. i’d noticed that, too, i said, my english major classes don’t seem to be as i assumed they would be, although the system says my major’s been fullfilled. she says she’ll forward my forms on to the committee of old dudes that decides these things, but she can’t really recommend they agree with me, since i could be taking the class i need instead of the one i don’t. i tell her i’m in the middle of an epic battle with the financial aid department about a loan to get the hold off my account so i /can/ schedule something, and suddenly a miracle occurs: she makes a useful suggestion. i can have them temporarily remove my hold, just 24 hours, but long enough for me to schedule. oh, i say. i’ll look into that. still later that night, i call in sick to work for thursday. i’ve caught whatever flu my sister had the previous week, and i’ve gone through an entire box of tissues since i’ve been home. it’s probably best i refrain from infecting the entire department. october 1, thursday – i call the financial aid department again, about temporarily removing my hold so i can schedule. oh sure, the girl says, no problem! come down and pick up this form and hand it over to the bursar, and we’ll do it. … … seriously. by the way, i ask, where’s my notification for my promissory note, which /still/ hasn’t shown up. let me check on that. … … well, you didn’t have a financial aid account, since you didn’t file a FAFSA, so we had to create one for you. that takes an extra day of processing, you should have it tomorrow morning. i leave for lincoln tower once again… but i haven’t even made it to the highway before my mother calls me. the lady from the financial aid office called back to the house phone. turns out she can do that hold release thing from there, i don’t need to come down. awesome! i race home, plug in my course’s call numbers, and… am told i don’t have access to schedule classes. (X_X) so i call the financial aid girl back. i get a different, a british, one. she says, of course you couldn’t schedule, it’s past the first friday of the quarter, you need prof permission to add a class. oh. thanks for letting me know. i can pick one up at the advising offices in lincoln, or print one out online. well, i’ll need someone to explain what i’m supposed to do with it, and all the professors i’ll need signatures from are (supposedly) on campus anyway, so i guess i’m heading down to lincoln tower after all. i get down there, i pick up a form, i head out looking for a prof to sign a form. i figure, the easier the class, the better, so i start by looking for a prof in townshend hall, for a lower-level sociology class on social deviance. his office hours turn out to be 7.45~8.30 AM daily. ok, cross him off my list. i head to the library (newly renovated) to find what other classes i can take. (p.s. our library was recently renovated, and looks lovely now. good to know my outlandish tuition payments are doing something useful, i guess.) i choose as my next targets, an anthropology class on pre-history. two options for class times, taught by TAs. i head over to smith labs to find them. smith labs is huge, by the way, originally designed for physics work, it houses the physics dept, the anthro dept, and at least two other departments that i saw. took my half an hour to learn that my targets were not there, didn’t have set office hours, and in fact hadn’t been seen by their fellows all week. oh wait, you know that class i went to on monday, the class i emailed the prof about to say i couldn’t take? she was super nice, surely /she’d/ sign a form for me! well, i left her syllabus at home, but i phone my mother (delightful woman that she is) to find the girl’s office number/hours. hours = m/w 5-6 pm, number is nowhere to be found. the class is in bolz hall, so i head over there. no luck. i phone the anthropology department, since this class is an upper-lever anthro class, and they tell me her office is 4100a… wait for it… smith labs. where i just was. yeah. so it’s back to smith. i relocate 4100 (also the office of one of the unfindable TAs, by the way) and the prof isn’t there. she’s a new girl, not actually a prof, just a lecturer, on loan from the ohio historical society. ask down at the anthro dept office for her office hours. okay. anthro dept office has no idea what her office hours are. she hasn’t turned in a paper to them. at this point, i decide it’s time to go home and regroup. the syllabus with her info is at home, lunch is at home, my feet are really starting to hurt, i’m ready to kill. i get home, double check the syllabus, call the office number listed for Dr Sharon Dean. the machine answers with someone else’s number, but i leave my info anyway. if this isn’t her number, why did she put it on her sheet? lo! and behold, i haven’t even finished my sandwich when Dr Dean calls back. i explain my situation, the delightful woman says she’d love to sign my paper, i could meet her at the historical society where she’s working at the moment and she’d be glad to help me out. AWESOMES! so i haul serious ass to the historical society (which is a really cool place, by the way. i’d love to go for pleasure some day) and meet her in the lobby, where she puts her j hancock on the form. i thank her profusely, and hightail it back to lincoln tower – the advising office closes at 5pm, and it is now 4. except i can’t get out of the parking lot. the exit gate is operated by a $4 token slot, and i don’t have any cash. i go back into the lobby, explain to the ladies at the counter my situation, and the politest lady in the world gives me a token for free. she was there to see me wait for Dr Dean and get me my paper signed. lovely ladies, both of them. i haul ass back to lincoln, hand the lady my paper, and BOOM! i am signed up for my final GEC credit, i have dropped the english class i didn’t need (which actually is really heartbreaking for me, coz it’s the one class i was really looking forward to taking, and i really really liked the professor) and i can finally get some sleep at night. — thus standeth the saga. seriously, the whole problem could probably be attributed to my inability to finish my first attempt, but i place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the incorrect paperwork. if i’d known what classes i was supposed to take, i could have taken them. not that it’s entirely her fault. my english major classes still aren’t as i discussed with my special english advisor, who had to sign off on my major, but frankly, i think i’m going to leave it alone. if they’ll let me graduate like this, i’m not going to question it. among the other loose ends to tie up are the promissory note that i still have to sign. it’s actually still thursday, so we’ll see tomorrow morning if the notice shows up. i have one of those 10-hour days at work tomorrow, so if it does i’ll have to go down at lunch and sign it. why do i still need the loan, if its only purpose was to clear the hold that i’ve already cleared? turns out, if i don’t pay my fees for this quarter by monday, they’ll drop all my classes. so now i need the loan to pay for my current quarter fees, so i can keep the class i just scheduled. this means that i have to pay my fees tomorrow, because that’s when i get paid. my full paycheck is only $618, but my mother is also one of those delightful women of this world, and she has agreed to supply me with the additional funds until i can pay her back. i’ve signed up for a tuition payment plan that splits the $1300+ due this quarter into two payments, but if the notes the financial aid advisor put in my account say only to apply the loan to my previous balance, i’ll need another ~$90 that my mother will be providing. otherwise, i can use the $500 towards my autumn balance, pay the additional $130 and gain a couple more weeks to pay the summer balance. we’ll see. i’m not counting it a success until after i walk across that stage in december. 3792 words. .

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.