August 20, 2019

Banality Below the Fold


Art by Naohiro
On August 1, I tuned in my the rough draft of my final, ultimate, Omega last book-ending, door-closing, degree-capstone end-of-the line, sheepskin-getting research paper that I'd been working on all summer and was due on the 9th. 

On the second, I was informed by my advisor that the topic was now unacceptable.  Also, it was imperative that I get the paper (whatever paper I ended up writing) notarized in the office as she might not be on campus in the ensuing week.

Now a southern gentleman deals with such matters outwardly with stoicism and a smile . 

Internally I was all like:   
 

In the ensuing 7 days: 
My work hours suddenly almost doubled.  
My parents decided this was a great time for a surprise visit. 
Mom went into the hospital. (She's OK now) 
I got a kidney stone. 
WHEN I WENT TO PRINT, MY WORD FILE WAS CORRUPTED !1! 
Then after much redundant typing, saving and checking for corruption in the magic smoke container, I successfully printed!
Then I found that someone in the library had "fixed" the printer to only print in black and white.  
After dealing with that, I got to the history office with about an hour to spare before "DEADLINE: 5PM August 9th".  
No one was there.   However, there was a note on the door of the secretary's office that said "back in 5". 
After 45 minutes I began to wonder if the 5 represented days.   I put a copy (for I had several) in the professor's mailbox but it was not notarized. Finally I found a professor who agreed to sign and time stamp my packet. 
I, of course, also sent my professor an electronic copy as a hedge.
About an hour later, I passed the kidney stone. 
I was one credit short of graduating at the start of this semester.  This was a 3 credit class. 
So in theory...I was done!

The difference between theory and practice is that there is no difference between theory and practice in theory, but in practice there is.

That was the 9th.

10 days passed with no word other than my professor's absence was due to her being in...Hong Kong. ODU has some facility there and well...you know.

So I wasn't worried.

Those 10 days were occupied with filling in for vacations at work, trying to get the lawnmower started, driving 200 miles two ways to get my mom to  a doctors appointment with a specialist up here as both my folks vehicles were in the shop. 

Then, it having been 10 days, I did check on my graduation status last night and discovered that I was not permitted to graduate. Since I had failed to graduate the first time after applying I was not permitted to apply for graduation in that degree again.

I wha!?

So.

This morning after work I did not pass go, I did not collect 200 dollars, I did not shower, I sped drove calmly and obeyed all Virginia traffic laws directly to the school and scampered across campus with black hands, grime on my face and white dried perspiration streaks across my black work shirt. I went directly to Registration to find out exactly what I needed to do to start the process of rectifying this state of affairs. ( figured I'd shower and dress later once I'd made appointments)

The teller was so put off by my appearance that she initially thought I was a construction worker who was lost. When she realized I was a student she called up the next person in line and had me wait for a supervisor. A supervisor got there post-haste and explained the situation:

Since I had failed to graduate the first time after applying I was not permitted to apply for graduation in that degree again.


This was not an improvement. I then inquired as to how to rectify this. I was told that this is a new policy and that I needed to go down to registration and have a supervisor manually enter my application for graduation.

I pointed out that this WAS registration.

The supervisor agreed and said that he had already manually applied for me to graduate and was waiting for the change to propagate.  As soon as my professor posted my final grade I'd be a graduate.

He then asked when my class had ended and I told him that the paper was due on he 9th and the class ended on the 10th. The registrar seemed concerned that the grade had not been posted 9 days after the class and I pointed out that the professor was in Hong Kong and all that that implies.

At that moment, the application for graduation finished its propagation or whatever and my page refreshed on his screen. I was informed that my final grade had been posted and I was officially a graduate.

I was then advised that parking services was automatically informed of my change in status and I should probably get my vehicle out of student parking post-haste.

I am no longer a student.

I iz uh kowlidge gradjooait.

I now have a History degree and the sheepskin will arrive in the mail in one to three weeks. Almost 30 years to the day after I started.

30 years.
How does this happen?

Well first one must get suspended when one foolishly takes 23 credits in one's second semester.

Then one must spend several years paying off the student loans and a small business debt.
Then, when one goes back to school in 1999, one needs to go to school part time.
Then one needs to discover that catalogs expire and one must keep retaking entry level science classes every 7 years, making it mathematically impossible to get a STEM degree part time.

Then one must change majors.

Then when running the cold equations and realizing what a sinkhole of time and money this endeavor is one must embrace the sunk costs fallacy as one is "only 10 credits away".

Then one simply needs one more year of screw ups to make it an even 30.

Over those 30 years since 1989, counting semesters that I had to quit due to work/life conflicts, military service and hospitalizations, I have spent close to 90,000 dollars.

That sum does not include the more than doubling of the income I would have made had I not had to work part time to go to school.

The compound interest on the savings of that additional income is not something that I care to calculate.

If I'd put all that extra money in Bitcoin, I'd...I'd have a bunch of out of date graphics cards to sell now.

Nevertheless, I'm nao a kowledge grajooate.

The world hasn't even ended. Probably.

I'm in my 40s and out of school.

I retire this year, after I pay off the last of my debts, which are quite modest.

I should probably figure out what I'm gonna do when I grow up.


Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:24 PM | Comments (21) | Add Comment
Post contains 1170 words, total size 8 kb.

1 Congratulations!

Posted by: Canthros at Tue Aug 20 21:39:38 2019 (mToqK)

2 Congratulations!  I've known few people to hit quite the number of roadblocks towards a goal I've seen you recount over the years, your persistence has been admirable. It's awesome that you've finally made it!

Posted by: StargazerA5 at Tue Aug 20 22:44:57 2019 (jl9eJ)

3 Congratulations!  I must admire your perseverance, I'd have either given up, or just possibly "gone postal" quite some ways back in your catalog of woe.
So, what field of study will your masters be in?

Posted by: David at Tue Aug 20 22:48:27 2019 (wXI5i)

4 *applause*

Posted by: Doug O. at Tue Aug 20 23:09:05 2019 (kqK5x)

5 You are a gentleman and a scholar, sir.
And your university should be crawling on its hands and knees to apologize to you. Thank God you finally got a few people who weren't too proud to do their fricking jobs, opposing the vast army who apparently were.
Either way, I wish we could all make merry with you, but obviously kidney stones are not conducive to anything but deep thankfulness at finally having passed.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Wed Aug 21 00:01:29 2019 (sF8WE)

6 Congratulations, old friend!

Posted by: Wonderduck at Wed Aug 21 01:05:57 2019 (b+kLZ)

7 Sisyphus wins! Congrats, Brick. (Pocky also sends his congrats.)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Wed Aug 21 01:28:46 2019 (v29Tn)

8

Posted by: Edward at Wed Aug 21 01:43:51 2019 (2G3n2)

9 Heartiest congratulations! I shall raise a glass this evening in honour of your successful completion of this Herculean labour.

Posted by: Edward at Wed Aug 21 01:45:41 2019 (2G3n2)

10 Your picture is in the O.E.D. under "Perseverance" isn't it?  Damn well should be.  Serious congrats, sir!

Posted by: Ubu at Wed Aug 21 04:21:46 2019 (UlsdO)

11 [Achievement Unlocked!]

Given the proverbial Luck Of The Brickmuppet, please store that sheepskin in a well-grounded, waterproof, fireproof, locust-free location...

-j

Posted by: J Greely at Wed Aug 21 07:24:57 2019 (KVK25)

12 Congrats, Brick!

Posted by: JT at Wed Aug 21 08:32:24 2019 (arhpx)

13 *wild applause* Congratulations!

Posted by: GreyDuck at Wed Aug 21 09:35:34 2019 (hDUbp)

14 Congratulations. Now what?

Posted by: Clayton Barnett at Wed Aug 21 12:21:29 2019 (ug1Mc)

15 Congratulations, 'muppet! I won't say you beat *the* system, but you beat *a* system; a system that seemed intent on throwing every single roadblock it could in your direction!

Posted by: Ben at Wed Aug 21 12:57:59 2019 (osxtX)

16 Woo!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wed Aug 21 14:09:29 2019 (PiXy!)

17 Congrats!  Also on retiring really early!

Posted by: Rick C at Wed Aug 21 19:37:17 2019 (Iwkd4)

18 Congratulations!

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Aug 21 20:04:46 2019 (LZ7Bg)

19 Congrats!
Now that you're free, go leave the college admissions department a one-star review on Yelp.

Posted by: mikeski at Wed Aug 21 21:39:11 2019 (P1f+c)

20 Congratulations! (Man, how'd I miss this?)

Posted by: Mauser at Sun Aug 25 04:34:20 2019 (Ix1l6)

21 Congratulations! I'm glad you're finally out of there. You've had to deal with FAR more than I would have ever put up with.

Posted by: MadRocketSci at Mon Aug 26 14:12:15 2019 (K+Kza)

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