Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I am so mad I could spit.

Two weeks ago the HR office (about 10 states away from here) from my wife's company mailed out their yearly request for verification of my daughter Kristina's status as a full-time college student, as she is over 17 and therefore not eligible for coverage under their health insurance unless she's a full-time college student. We couldn't get the verification at the time because the semester hadn't started, but we weren't worried since school started on the 16th and the deadline for turning in the verification wasn't until the 24th. Plan A: the normal way to obtain this verification is to request it over the university's web site. So, on the 17th we went to the web site and requested the verification, but the most current information was for the (since finished) summer semester. Nothing to show she was registered, paid, and attending classes for the current semester. Enter plan B: I drive down on the following Monday to talk to the registrars office in person to explain our delimma. I meet my daughter and we go in together. We are told that the web site isn't updated with information about the current semester until drop/add is over, but not to worry, fill out this form and it will be processed in 2 to 3 business days (she actually said business days!). So my daughter goes in today (2nd business day) and is told that she cannot get a verification letter until at least tomorrow, probably the next day as the information won't be in their computer until at least then.

never mind that their computer knows she's fully paid for the semester and never mind that her schedule is in their computer showing she's taking a full load, apparently the computer in the registrars office doesn't talk to the computer in the financial aid department. This lady doesn't care about health insurance, doesn't care about my daughter or her problems. If it isn't in her computer, there is nothing she can do. I am driving down again tomorrow and see if I cannot make her care.

you know, these days going to college is all about the internet. You can apply to the school and be accepted (or be rejected) on-line, apply and receive (or be rejected) financial aid on-line, register for classes on-line, your advisor review and release your schedule on-line and show up for classes (which are sometimes on-line) all without ever having talked to a person. How efficient. When I went to college you had to fill out a paper application, mail it in, and then be interviewed by someone in admissions before you were accepted (or rejected) by the school. You then filled out LOTS of forms for financial aid and then sit down to talk to someone in the financial aid office before you got (or was rejected for) financial aid. You then had to actually, honest-to-god, MEET with your advisor - who actually talked to you about your wants and needs, career and life goals, who then actually ADVISED you as to what degree to try for, what classes to take (and at least for your freshman year) had to sign a piece of paper to show they had advised you and approved your classes. You then had to go through the circus of signing up for classes (1000 students in a hot sweaty gym running around to different tables to sign up for each class hoping there were seats available by the time you reached the front of the line - but sometimes you could talk the professor into letting you in even if the class were full if you REALLY needed the class THAT QUARTER or you wouldn't be able to graduate on time.

There were people in the process who's job it was to evaluate each student individually, taking into account each's needs. After all, college is about teaching people, right?

but not today. today it's all on-line, fill out this web-form and wait for an email.

Several years ago, when my son was a freshman at this same university, he was hospitalized for a week, and had to spend two weeks at home recovering. While he was in the hospital I called his advisor and told her about his situation. She sent her best wishes, said not to worry about classes right now, for him to contact her when he was able to go back to school. 3 weeks later he calls her to ask what he needed to do about the missed time and she didn't even know who he was. He was listed in the university's system as withdraw-fail for not showing up for classes. I called her and asked what was going on, she told me that when I called she thought he was a student in one of her classes (which he wasn't), that it wasn't her responsibility to let his other professors know about his hospitalization and subsequently not attending classes - it was my son's. So I then go to see the dean of students, who was the first (and) last person I talked to there who took a personal interest in my son. While she couldn't override the departmental head's decisions regarding my son's status in their classes, she did call and personally speak to them letting them know why he was out. Each department then worked with my son, letting each of his professors know why he was out and in each case they let him resume classes and worked with him to make up missed classwork and tests. The Dean of students had shown me that someone did care, that there were people dedicated to the kids and not just drawing a paycheck, that this was truly an institution of learning and not some unfeeling corporation with limited resources and a bottom line to consider above all else.

and then this stuff happened. (I didn't even tell you about the parent loan application I submitted to cover room & board for this year. I was afraid I'd pop a vein if I continued the rant. more stuff to straighten out tomorrow.)

I have always revered education. it is your path out of ignorance, an opportunity for you to grow as a person and to gain the knowledge to improve yourself. I have always held academic institutions in the highest regard, special places where kids are allowed to finish growing up and be launched into adulthood. When I went to college I was made to feel like they were there for me, to help me be whoever I wanted to be. I envied my children when they started college, here was their turn to have that experience. Instead, it's one gigantic faceless bureauocracy. hell, that's just like work.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hello. hello. hello. Is there anybody out there?

Thank you all for being patient with me and for the encouragement, your comments to my last post brought me many a needed smile.

Amusing has tagged me for this @#$%&*! meme, which has caused me much angst. I am not very good at tooting my own horn. It took me some thought go come up with these.

10 Things I Like About Me

  1. intelligent. No rocket scientist here, but moderately smart. If I can’t always grasp the details of something, I can almost always understand the concept.
  2. polite, considerate of others. I cannot remember deliberately saying or doing something to cause someone hurt (since I’ve been an adult). In fact, I will often suffer myself instead of hurting others.
  3. good listener. I often find myself the receiver of confidences and/or a sounding board for someone else’s problems.
  4. loyal & trusting. I take people at face value and trust them until they give me a concrete reason not to – and then I feel as if I’ve been betrayed.
  5. good friend. I have few friends, but I will do almost anything for those I have.
  6. responsible. It is rare that I make a commitment and don’t deliver.
  7. thorough. I can’t stand to do things half-assed. This frequently keeps me from starting something, as I don’t want to not be able to do a good job of it.
  8. open to new experiences. I like trying new things, going places I haven’t been before.
  9. I can see both sides of an issue. I frequently will take up the opposite side of a debate if I think someone is less aware or accepting of the opposing point of view.
  10. thirst for knowledge. I want to know stuff. I like learning new things.
I have to be honest and say that I slip-up on some of these every so often, but these are things I value and am proud of about myself.

I don't generally tag people for memes, so only if the mood strikes, take up the gauntlet.......