Tangled in the Halls of Ivy

Jackie Wells-Fauth

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

I like to think I was a fairly good college student in my day. I signed up to attend a school not far from my home and with a remarkably small campus–just the way I wanted it. And when I signed up for school there, I imagine they asked for my high school records and I had to fill out certain health and financial papers to boot. I just don’t remember it clearly…it was a long time ago!

It seemed easy. I packed my minimal suitcase, filled with a few clothes, an alarm clock and a few dozen pencils and I sailed right into the post-secondary halls of my learning experience. Freshman year is always tricky, but beyond that, I didn’t give how I got there, another thought. That college diploma arrived just when it was supposed to, I packed up my less-than minimalist belongings, threw the alarm clock out an upper story window and went out into the world of teaching. Simple, right?

Now, I’ve taught for 30 years and in that time, I have had to take classes to keep my certification together and apart from the fact that I have had to learn how to use an online-classroom format, I have managed pretty well. Until now, that is.

It was time. I needed that re-certification and I was about to embark on taking some classes to accomplish this. I decided that I would try a different in-state university because I had never tried that school and they had a class or two on their summer roster that looked interesting.

I contacted the school, asking for guidance, since they no longer have one of those handy catalogues that you can hold in your hands and refer back to over and over. My e-mail: “I am interested in taking a class being offered at your university this summer. How do I proceed to sign up for it?” Their e-mail: “You are too late for summer classes (this was the beginning of May) and you must go to this link (link provided) and fill out an application to attend our university. We are so excited to have you attend!”

Oh well, perhaps I would do better with a fall selection anyway. I went to the link and filled out the application to join their university students and everything was fine, until it asked me to check the degree I was pursuing. I wasn’t pursuing a degree, but it would not allow me to say that, nor was there any place to explain what I really wanted. I selected non-specific and entered.

Next step: “Send us $28 in application fee and your high school transcript.” Now, the money wasn’t so bad, except I never remembered having to do that before. The high school transcript seemed a tad ridiculous. So I wrote a rather tongue in cheek e-mail: “Since I have a college degree (naming the in-state university) and I have been teaching for 30 years and all I want is a class for recertification, can we assume that I graduated from high school?” Their reply: “All applicants are required to submit not only an official high school transcript, but also indicate any dual credit classes they took. Admission applications will not be considered without this.”

Feeling like a 40-year alumni on a foolish mission, I contacted my high school, which thank fortune, was still in operation. They kindly chipped my transcript off the cave wall and sent it in, with the caveat that since they didn’t start dual credit classes until 20 years after I graduated, I probably didn’t have any.

Problem solved! I received notice that I was admitted! I got an e-mail from a lady saying I should call with any questions. I called. She was on maternity leave. While I was wondering what to do next, I received a new student packet in the mail containing fun things like a school mascot sticker. They didn’t say where I should stick that, but I had a suggestion. This fun packet also informed me that I would not be able to sign up for classes until I had filled out my federal financial assistance application (signed by my parents or guardians) and my immunization record.

Now, that will be tricky. I don’t have a need for federal financial assistance, as I only plan to take a couple classes. And as for my immunization records, I have two objections: a)I don’t plan to set foot on their campus and b) I am not immunized for most childhood diseases because I went the hard way and just had the diseases!

Finally, finally, I was able to contact someone other than the lady on maternity leave. I spent five minutes talking to this real live person and he made an astounding discovery: I was filed under the wrong admissions program! It only took me two months and a lot of aggravation to get someone there to understand that. He very generously told me that I would not have to re-apply or pay another application fee; they would make sure I was transferred to the correct program and he will be contacting me to let me know when that is done and I can at last sign up for the classes I want.

Now, I’m making an even bet with myself as to whether I get this information first, or if I get my on-campus mailbox number and the name of my dorm roommate for the fall. Ah, college life!

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