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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

The Tenth Circle of Hell Is University Administrative Offices

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

The Tenth Circle of Hell Is University Administrative Offices

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I do believe that if Dante had contrived a tenth circle of Hell in his Inferno, then it would have required those being punished to endlessly endure the process of getting enrolled in and financial aid for a university. It would have required them to deal continuously with cotton-brained administrative staff with very long fingernails. It would have involved numerous phone calls, holds, transfers, and listening to many prepared statements read in bored voices and, of course, would cap off every time with gratitude for understanding and patience that they don't actually feel at all.

I start my classes on Monday. This is a good thing. Not such a good thing was the realization that I start classes in a little over a week and haven't received my books yet.

My university has a book grant for undergraduates, so they are supposed to send my books automatically to me. Three weeks had passed since my financial aid was awarded, so I was starting to get worried.

So I emailed the materials department and was informed that they were waiting for the financial aid department. So I emailed financial aid and was informed that they had to removed the hold on my account after getting my award. So I called financial aid to ask, "WtH is the hold-up? My financial aid has been approved for three weeks and I start classes in (now) one week!"

I was told that they were still working on August admissions and to call back at the end of the week.

I called back at the end of the week and got passed around a bit before finding a person willing to help me ... if "help" counts as (very obviously) reading a statement off of a paper about the "financial aid process." Which pretty much boiled down to:

  • My semester starts on Monday, August 5.

  • The financial aid department has until Wednesday, August 7 to finish processing my financial aid so that I can

    1. enter my virtual classrooms and

    2. have my books sent.

  • If the situation arose where my classes started before I was allowed to, like, go to them, then I was to contact my professors, who are usually (emphasis mine) willing to work with students who are delayed because of the financial aid process so that they can catch up on assignments without being late.

  • And, of course, the financial aid office appreciates my patience and understanding that they have sooooo many files to process, and it is sooooo much work to process each one, so yeah.


What can a person say to that? It was pretty clear that the person I was talking to could and/or would not do anything to alleviate this, so I reconciled myself to the fact that the first contact my professors were going to have from me was going to be a whiny email begging to "make an exception" for me because I have suffered so much and "it's not my fault." Of course. (It never is.)

Throughout my career as a student, I have despised that kind of student. The girl who won the English Department's award in high school was one such student. Our senior-year AP course, she whined the entire year to the teacher about every assignment, claimed we were "overwhelmed" and "couldn't we have more time?" and so on. I was one of two recipients of the Department's honorable mention award that year, and I did my work on time and without complaint. Still bitter? Naaaah ...

I have never in nineteen years of formal education wheedled myself extra time or special treatment on an assignment. So I wasn't keen on having to do it now, especially since such begging and pleading would be my first impression with those instructors and not exactly what I had in mind.

Alas--whether because I'd achieved Thorn in the Side status from having called the financial aid office so much or because of sheer coincidence--I received notification about two hours later that all of my financial aid information had been processed; my books would be sent, and I would be free to attend my classes the first day. Yippee.

But seriously. I would love to attend a university where the administrative staff actually have half a clue what is going on. When I was attempting to get my UMBC credits transferred to the Current University (which I had to do before I could register), then I was in touch with numerous people about whether they could handle my AP test scores first just so that I could register for classes in my major. I didn't really care how they handled my other classes or how long it took; I just wanted to register for English classes. First, they failed to send for my transcripts or UMBC failed to send them. Not sure which; both point fingers at the other, of course. The Current University wouldn't review my AP scores--which they'd, by then, received (because I ordered them rather than trusting someone else to do it)--until the transcripts were received. UMBC sends transcripts in no more than three days; after a month passed with no transcripts, I begged, "Could I send my own transcripts?" which I wanted to do in the first place but was not allowed to do. I offered to overnight them just so that they could put a tick mark in the necessary box to let me register for English courses.

The person I spoke to enthusiastically told me that, "Yes! Do that, and we'll get it taken care of right away!"

So I spent $12 to overnight ship a freakin' letter ... and they still failed to credit me for my AP scores in time to register for classes that semester.

*throws hands in the air*

Recall that administrative incompetence was the reason that Bobby and I never ended up starting the program for our Biology degrees. After failing to send us any information at all about registering, when we inquired, we were told (rather rudely) that we were too late and should have registered weeks ago. This was Towson University. Bobby has his BS is Political Science from Towson University. There was no way for us to register for classes without receiving approval and login information from the second bachelor's program, which we never did, and so were out an enrollment fee, not to mention behind a semester in our goals, because no one could remember to send us the necessary information or even to acknowledge and apologize for their error. As it was, it was something we just never got around to pursuing again, sadly.

UMBC was always pretty good about things; I have no complaints about them except that their freshman advisement sucked and I ended up taking a maths course that I already had AP credit for because I was "ill-advised," so to speak. But UMBC is a speshul place. They didn't have a football team but, dangnabit, my freshman year they were celebrating their fourth Pan-American Chess Championship in a row! If UMBC offered an online English degree, I'd be geeking it up with them again.

Anyway, I suspect that the next rigmarole will concern my books. I got notification today that my books for two classes have been sent. About half of the books are listed as "used." I have no problem with used books, but I do have a problem with books that other people have scribbled and highlighted in. I don't write in my own books, and I sure don't want to have to read around other peoples' scrawls. If this is the case, I will buy my own books, thank you kindly.

Yes, I am full of complaints today.
  • Bah, I feel for you. Now that I've graduated it seems a strange thing that I'll never have to put up again with the extremely unfriendly folks at the office for intermediate and graduation exams. O.O I never really figured out why the hell they always were so damned bitchy with a working schedule from 8 to 12 and real work to do only when it was application time for exams (which is twice a year).

    But it even continues even now that I'm finished. There I was, happily waiting to finally get my hands on my shiny certificate and all I got was a flimsy sheet of paper saying I'd passed and telling me that "due to administrative efforts etc. etc." it might take some time until I got the real thing (I know from a friend that it took half a year until she got send hers!). Really, I fancy one day getting my doctor's degree, but all the administrative bullsh*t that will be connected to that manages to scare me away from that ambition.

    I find it interesting though, that your university supplies you with books. I always had to buy them myself or rent them from the library... but that may only be because studying in Germany is - even with the new fees - practically for free compared to the US.

    But anyway, don't let them irritate you too much; enjoy your studies! :) (I did for sure... I still can't believe it's already over).
  • The only thing worse than that is doing it for someone else (like, perhaps, a daughter who has about 50 I.Q. points on you and pretends like she can't read the forms or even fill in her name and address properly).
  • I am always amazed that in the age of the - supposed - digital age, so much paperwork, letters ect are needed. Just a tip perhaps, why not put out a loan request at the library for the time being. This way you are ensured of having all your books you now need. Unless, they do not borrow books used in classes to students...

    *big & warm hug*
  • Aaaahhh the joys of university. The school where I took my bachelor's degree has actually earned themselves a group on facebook where people write their (often hilarious) experiences with administration. A memorable one was when they had scheduled a firedrill in the middle of a written exam, ensuring that 100 people had to sit that exam again... And my friend who studied Spanish was surprised to see from her graduation paper that she had sat and passed an oral Italian exam! :D LOL!

  • That sounds awful... administrative things are never fun. So I suppose that’s what is waiting if I survive high school? :(
  • Dammit, i want a college sans football team! D:

    *wibble*
  • I do believe that if Dante had contrived a tenth circle of Hell in his Inferno, then it would have required those being punished to endlessly endure the process of getting enrolled in and financial aid for a university.

    You don´t have to tell me. You really don´t.

    And it´s still not over for me. Maybe it will never be. *screams*

    Anyway, I hope your Time in Hell will be over soon and that you can start doing what you really are there for: learning and hopefully having fun.
  • The joys of univeristy bureaucracy/incompetence are universal!!! At the School of Humanities of the UBA if you had to ask a question/fill in some papers/enrol/ whatever you had to stand in line for hours in a wind blown corridor at the Oficina de Alumnos (Students' office) where there was a small window on the wall at eye level (too bad if you were shorter or taller than average) and wait until somebody deigned to look at you because who could be peeping through this hole in the wall but a member of the subspecies called "alumno"? and then be treated like an idiot because you were bothering these mighty workers whose job was to... deal with the "alumnos". But I see that it's not something that happens only in the periphery.
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