There is this test with rodents in a maze to find the cheese.  If they take the right path, they get cheese.  Choose wrong and there is nothing or worse pain and suffering.  This was then used to train the rodent to better navigate the maze.  To avoid certain areas of the maze even if cheese was present while seeking the cheese at all costs to avoid the pain and suffering. Inhumane and cruel.

The Counseling department and the Financial aid department and the various other bureaucratic departments like enrollment and accounting are all mazes that students must navigate.  They operate like little fiefdoms with no communication between departments, no service level agreements and thus no measure of effective or efficient processing of the duties they are supposed to perform.

Most of the front facing people are students and while I am not insulting that or them, they are often the least knowledgeable in the areas they are providing the information for.  There is an extreme lack of information and communication when things are not properly in place for the next semester or year.  No feedback.  Misinformation from the front facing people after waiting for hours in line to speak to them.

Navigating each Maze can be confusing because the map and layout sometimes appear th change without reason. They still use paper forms in the modern age where most of the actual information I’d already online.  They have multiple sign ons and various systems with their own login and security, often redirected to hosts outside of the campus network. This translates to a system with an ugly and ungainly user interfaces that have nothing in common.  The system is unintuitive because there is no unified interface.

They use Desire 2 Learn and some professors use Moodle.  D2L cost the school a small fortune, Moodle could have done the same job and been maintained internally for significantly less then the initial cost for D2L.  They use peoplesoft software for registering for school and classes which has a totally different interface, layout and design.  Most fortune 500 companies with a Web development department would have made the interfaces look as uniform as possible to make it less apparent they were outsourced solutions.

I have had screw ups on my part registering for classes where I clicked the wrong button and the class got added to my shopping cart instead of enrolling in the class.  This shouldn’t be allowed to happen so easily and I am technically savvy.   I made the mistake and I have talked to others and they have too.  Registering for classes in and of itself is a chore because you have to first locate the classes you wish to take and you need to write down the numbers and then enter them in to the registration system.

The lack of integration between the course catalog, semester class schedule and the registration system makes getting everything in order a chore because after you register you have to go back to the class schedule to find the books and materials needed for the class.  They do have the integration between the schedule and bookstore online, because it pays to fleece the students.  Financial pain.  The cost for renting a used textbook was more expensive then buying the new textbook online.

If you do not already have your classes picked out and ready by your enrollment date and time, you may not get in to all of the classes you want.  The more time that passes the more likely you will be wait listed or the list will be full.  If you successfully register for classes and somehow make a mistake in all of the financial aid paperwork, they will dump you from those classes for non – payment of fees.  Now let’s say you are determined to go and pay the fees on your visa and later get the financial aid that waives said fees?  Do you think the school would just reverse the charges and put the funds back on the card or notify you that they waived the fees and you were entitled to a refund?  Nope and in the small print they limit the refund period.  I know, they got me one semester when I was afraid of being dropped.   Mental and financial pain.

So I have been in this nightmare since the summer semester.  I am deep in the middle of it right now.  In the maze in search of the cheddar, financial aid and the swiss, a degree.  The pain of searching for cheddar often makes one reluctant to continue the search for the illusive cheddar. 

The lack of room in regular classes necessary to transfer made me decide to take Honors classes.  The trials of navigating the maze to get cheddar to find the Swiss can be frustrating and daunting when you have a class that has 30-60 pages of reading for each class session without books.  My financial aid was held up not because I was failing classes, or dropping classes.  My grades and completion rate are mostly B’s.   I got in to financial aid trouble because I have taken too many classes.  I reached 72 units in my sporadic 21 year career.  Here is the kicker, most of those classes were taken 5 to 20 years prior to this attempt and I paid for those classes out of pocket.  Pain for going down that part of the maze like a delayed reaction to being burned.  Even though at that point they were all IT classes and I had a higher GPA.

So this semester, I bombed to first Health class exam because I didn’t have a textbook and the stress and distraction from financial aid and enrollment issues added to my dilemma.   Luckily my professors all understand the difficulties we face as students, at least the ones I have this semester.   My HEED teacher fully understands and helps new students navigate and find resources they can use to better their grades and their study habits through skills programs.  She offers extra credit for some of them.

I almost dropped all of my classes on Monday except for Archery and US History.  I was going to find a night job doing something.  Mopping floors if necessary.  But I got an email today and all the sweat, tears, pain and suffering are about to get better.

image

The cheese is right there, around the next corner.  I can smell it, the cheddar smell like the Potatoe wedges from Jack-In-the-Box.  I just have to be patient, Ironically the reason I didn’t drop on Monday was that I lost my wallet.  I didn’t go to school as planned and depression over that added to the stress aggravated the feelings from agoraphobia and I avoided people on Tuesday and most of Wednesday.   So, I didn’t think about financial aid or dropping classes.  I Obsessed about my lost wallet and I’D and credit cards and shit.

So now I just have to wait and I will be able to afford supplies and to pay my friends back for the materials and financial support they have loaned me over the last 5 months or so.  Here’s the funny thing about being poor and having mostly poor friends, they tend to be less resource stingy.  They tend to not care about buying a friend food or sodas or paying for the movies.  TeaBag and his foster family have sort of become my people.  They have adopted me too in a lot of ways and I wasn’t even trying.  I earned it by being myself and encouraging and helping TeaBag get his license.  TeaBag is me when I was that age except he had it worse.

The reason I want to earn a degree in primatology is because I love the Pan genus where the troops are held together by the strength of the bonds between the alpha male and the other males in the troop.  Sons of Anarchy really is a show about the strong bonds between males.  Most of my friends watch the show, we call it motorcycle porn.  Bong hit every time someone dies and tequila shot every time someone has sex.  It’s really exciting when people on the show die while having sex.  I will let that sink in for a second because I literally mean the drinking game and not the action on the screen.  I am not Tigg.

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About Old Guy Student

I am a 43 year old IT Consultant who has decided to go back to school and get a degree.

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