Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ok, what now?!

I am in shock.

Complete shock. You don't want to be around when it wears off either. I don't even want to be around.

At 1PM this afternoon I had a meeting with the dean of my department/my advisor about my upcoming graduation next semester.

I have met with him many times before and we have filled out this same graduation check-off sheet every time.

...Uggh, just telling this story is going to be a pain...

Backstory: I am finishing a long-delayed undergraduate degree so that I can have a feeling of completion, and perhaps enable me to justify a higher salary in the future. (Yes, I know that a Graduate degree might not even do that, but every bit counts, right?)

During my college career, I originally was working toward a degree in Painting and Printmaking. [Note: The following sentence is very important.] Halfway through my Sophomore year in 1989, I decided to switch to Art History and all those introductory drawing, painting, and photography classes became general electives, over 20 credits worth.

After a hiatus of 10+ years I returned to school and marshaled some past credits and some new ones acquired at a community college into an AA degree. Once that was accomplished I returned to my old school in 2004 to finish that Art History degree, believing that it wouldn't take that long, even on part-time status. At least it would be better than starting all over with a new major and losing most of those completed credits.

I walked into my meeting today, mistakenly having the idea that I only needed two, maybe three more classes in order to graduate. One History and two more Art History classes.

My advisor agreed with me that both numerically (I have the requisite 120 credits for my major) and categorically (I have the 15 credits of History, the 15 credits of Foreign Language, the 6...etc.) I have what it takes to graduate.

However, [Note: first time anyone has mentioned this] out of the 45 courses required at the 300 and above level, I have only achieved 30 of those. I still need 15 credits of classes. The three classes I was prepared to take in the Spring will only count for 9 of those credits. Therefore, I still need to take two MORE classes.

How did this happen?

Those damn electives, that's how!! Those electives that take up space on my transcripts count for nothing in this particular regard because they are only 100 or 200 level introductory classes. I have so many (too many) superfluous classes on my transcript! And now I have to take TWO MORE classes in ANYTHING (yes, that's what my advisor said, it doesn't matter what) just as long as they are categorized as 300 and above in order to graduate. Why couldn't anyone have pointed that out to me before this, my second to last semester?

So there's no question that I will just have to buckle down and take five more classes.

Of course, this again delays my graduation, my moving out of Richmond, and what is starting to feel like the beginning of my new "personal life-allowed" life.

I was given the unique option that the University DOES ALLOW in that I could march at May Commencement as long as I then completed those six credits in the summer. At this point, doesn't that seems like the most depressing thing, second only to not graduating at all? How can you throw your hat up in the air, when in the back of your mind runs the all familiar refrain, 'so what is going to happen NOW to keep this from becoming a reality?'

I want a hug.

A BIG hug.


Anonymous said...

Oh no! Consider yourself hugged. As someone who took 17 (!) years to graduate, I can sympathize.

Stephanie said...


Oh man, that sucks! However, to put a positive spin on it, I know you can handle an additional two classes. Don't give up!

It really sucks that they're telling you this now though. :(

drwende said...


Now may I go kill someone for you? That is SLOPPY advising to let you get this far without addressing the 200/300 issue.

You're right -- walking in May with two summer courses to take is slit-your-wrists depressing at first blush. The point of being done is being DONE.

For those last two courses... consider going way far afield on some topic that tantalizes you but that you'd never have dreamed of taking if this situation weren't forced on you. When the universe screws with you, you need to grab the opportunity.

Shonda said...

I agree- that was sloppy advising. I've lived through a very similar situation ( i was told I needed to repeat a class about three weeks prior to graduation). I did the walk across the stage & received my degree though. Until I took the class- I transcript did not state that I had graduated/completed the degree requirements. It was worth it for me- I felt just as happy as the other grads.

Gladys said...

I'm late in reading this - and your on a rest and recuperation break - but I have to add my ((((((HUGS))))))) in. Having worked at a couple of universities, as well as (finally) completing my MA in Art History, this is a familiar story.

Don't have any answers as to how to improve the advising system - can only add that I am glad this was discovered now and not when you applied for graduation next spring.

Hang in there! Knowing that you have completed you degree is very satisfying!

puglyfeet said...

I feel for you. I'm sorry to hear about the delay. What a bummer.

lsaspacey said...

Thanks everyone! I really appreciate it! I'm just taking it day by day now. The biggest problem is where the money is going to come from.