Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elation and frustration, baby. I got 'em both in spades today. But please allow me to explain.

I am the first person in my family to attend college. As a result, many situations arise here that leave me feeling a bit like the Lewis and/or Clark of higher education. Sadly though, I have no Sacagawea to help guide my way. Instead, I am trekking through the vast uncharted wilderness alone, hoping to determine the best possible method in which to reach the coast, only to frequently discover that I've made an error that would have been easily avoidable, if only I had been privy to some small advice before.

I first experienced this when buying books for my creative writing class. The detailed signs in the bookstore informed me that my required texts were a book on grammar ($38, used), a book on creative writing ($45, used) and a book of essays ($61, used). So, naturally, I purchased all three.

It wasn't until months later, when the class was nearly over, that I realized something odd. During the entire quarter, we had only used the book of essays. Never once were we asked to reference either the grammar or creative writing books, which were now sitting on my shelf at home, gathering dust. When I asked the professor about this, on the last day of class, she mentioned that those were actually recommended materials, not required materials. The bookstore information had been incorrect.

Optional books? That made sense, but still... I didn't even know optional books were a possibility. If someone had been there to give me a little advice, I could have saved myself $80. (Or, in truth $65, as I sold the untouched books back for a fraction of the purchase price.)

Flash forward to the next quarter... I'm taking a 3-D design course and the syllabus itself says that we are required to purchase a long list of materials. So, the week before class begins, I run out and pick up a hot glue gun ($17), various paints and pencils ($28), assorted artistic papers ($31), etc, etc, etc.

You can see where this is going, right? Well I didn't, because I am a fool. Sure enough, those were also recommended materials. Most of the necessary goods were provided for in class. True, because I had my own hot glue gun, I could do artwork at home (and receive a better grade), but these avoidable missteps remain frustrating; little stumbles that result in little scratches. But then, today happens.

A fellow Art student of mine, who also happens to be majoring in Photography, asked me why it is that I'm taking French.

Me: "Um... Because I have to?"

Her: "Why not just get a Bachelors of Science in Photography and take math instead?"

Me: "Um... Because I can't? Even a BS has to take a foreign language, right? That's what I read in the registration guide."

Her: "Well, they must have changed it or something because I'm getting a BS and I'm taking math classes."

Of course, I immediately looked into the matter and (horribly/delightfully) it turns out that she is correct. Either the University changed their requirements (doubtful) or I misunderstood the registration book to begin with (much more likely). The mixed bag result? I now feel like a total idiot but, then again, I never have to speak another word of French either. Lose/win.

I contacted the Office of the Registrar this afternoon. As of this very moment, I am now officially an Art major (oxymoronically) getting his 'Bachelors of Science' degree in Photography. As an added bonus, because I had taken math courses all the way back in the late 1990's (when I went to community college), I don't even have to take the math classes. I've already completed them.

So, there we are. As I said before... Elation and frustration, baby. I got 'em both in spades today.

At least I can look forward to being Sacajawea for my nieces, who are slated to begin their own college explorations in about four years. Hopefully, I can help them avoid a few of these ridiculous mistakes I keep making.


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