May 16, 2019

Holding Pattern

Tuesday I went to school to make arrangements for re-enrolling in my final class. I checked my Student E-mail to see if my advisor was available for consultation. It turns out that she has left the country and won't be back for over a month but she insisted that rather than signing up for the current session that I "DON'T DO ANYTHING!" She said that she's pretty sure that I'm good to graduate, but that the process of applying for another class involves removing my graduation application. I also noted that my graduation worksheet"Degree Works" says that my credits requirement has not been met; that I have 'only' 123 out of a needed 120 credits.
Well. That's odd.
So... I'm going to hold tight while the chocolate ration is adjusted.

Below the fold is the a copy/paste of what I typed in the two fields of the senior survey I was asked to complete last week.

Below this text is a good visual representation of how not to stagger ladders for safety.

  O.S.H.A. counter-instructional by Okayuu (おかゆー)

Things you Liked about your University Experience

Advising. I work and support myself, and as a result must attend class part-time. Additionally, I have a difficult schedule to work classes around. This and my military activation/ deployment made it nigh-impossible to graduate without having the catalog change on me multiple times. The history department advisors, especially omitted were particularly helpful in getting me through this Kafkaesque unpleasantness.

The Language Learning Center: This is a tremendously valuable resource and very well run. My only complaints about the facility are related to its restricted hours.

The Libraries in general and Perry in Particular: Only recently upon visiting other libraries have I come to realize how good the O.D.U libraries are. Some of the Historical texts the University inherited when it was established are extraordinarily important. The decision to retain large numbers of physical books, in an age when even many libraries are going digital is a welcome and valuable thing. Physical books are not easily edited or eliminated with a keystroke by those threatened by their contents.

The Professorate: in 30 years I've encountered a few bad apples, but the Faculty at O.D.U. has been overwhelmingly excellent and dedicated to learning and encouraging critical thinking. They tend to be professional, dedicated to their work and in my experience have striven to make their students think in new ways. They have also tended to be available for questions and quite knowledgeable in their fields.

Things That Were Sub-Optimal

I noted above that the catalog structure does not lend itself to non-traditional students like myself. Assuming a student is going half time, 4-5 years can quickly become 8 or more. That is to be expected of course, and is the trade-off one makes when avoiding the student loan trap and returning to school as an adult. The problem is the catalog structure that can change requirements mid-way through. Catalog changes every 7 years can come as nasty surprises to students who think they are going to graduate.

Science courses are particularly egregious in this regard: I started out as an Oceanography major, dropped out, came back and had to take all the introductory courses again. I took a History minor and plodded along until informed that my intro Chemistry/Biology/Oceanography classes were obsolete and had to be taken again. When this was explained to me, I realized that it was MATHEMATICALLY impossible to finish an OCEAN degree without going full time.

There are reasons for this policy: The Biology I learned the first time was, in fact, different from that which I learned the second time around. In particular Membrane Chemistry, which the first time I took the class consisted of a list of chemicals in the membranes and a note that might be summed up as "At this point in the process, a miracle occurs". Little more than a decade later, when I returned and took Bio-111 again, I was learning about the little protein turbines and nano-mechanical valves that make protein chemistry actually work. Science marches on and it is good and proper to keep the introductory classes current. However, one would expect that these advances would also be covered in upper level classes, perhaps with some remedial work. Instead, I was informed that I'd effectively lost over 30 credits (this includes those that had the introductory courses as prerequisites and unrelated classes that were no longer counted). This  is one of several reasons that I'm a History Major.

Now, in fairness to the university, my particular situation is extreme due to the fact that I dropped out, came back and subsequently had to drop out several times. Being switched at work from 2nd to 3rd shift and back again (several times) , taking care of sick relatives, reserve activation and multiple military call-ups, as well as personal hospitalizations all combined to contribute far more to the anomalous length of my 30 year college career than the 30+ credits that I effectively lost due to a catalog flip.

However, I mention the catalog issue because that particular setback was significantly more demoralizing than the rest. This is because it was not just one of the things one encounters in life, it was being thrown at me by the university. It is the only time I seriously considered quitting. While the rationale behind this university policy is indeed sound, I would suggest that the possibility of implementing some work-arounds be examined.

The Language Learning Center: Its hours need to be expanded, preferably to include weekends, so that those who work during the week can better use its crackerjack staff and excellent facilities.

The Libraries, Especially Perry Library: As Above. Weekends are when non-traditional students have the best opportunity to catch up and do research. The lack of overnight hours on weekends is keenly felt. Also, a coffee bar may not be the best use of space in a facility dedicated to preserving books.

The Gym: A very minor quibble; pool hours need to be extended. 

Blackboard: Blackboard is a wonderful tool. However, I've noted issues with submissions assignments and getting alerts (specifically the ones in the margins).  My work-around for this has been to use the library and LLC computers to submit work. However, this may not be realistic for many students. 

 Tuition: What I pay now for a class is comparable to full time tuition when I first enrolled. Some of this is surely due to inflation and expansion of facilities, but there does seem to be a certain extravagance in fixtures and landscaping recently. Why a state commuter university needs so many dormitories is a matter that may warrant some reflection.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 02:03 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 Fingers, toes, legs, and eyes all crossed, Brickmuppet!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thu May 16 20:12:57 2019 (PiXy!)

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