Drama and the Novel (pt. 1)

Or: "Why I'm Still Looking for a Graduate School, Even Though I was Accepted Nearly Two Weeks Ago"

(By the way: the title of this [probable] series comes from a class I supposedly took to earn that diploma mill associates I have…n't thrown away, even though it's useless and has been years.)


Unless you're one of my Facebook friends (or a family member), you might not know that I was accepted into an MFA program on the second. (The same day as the application deadline, now that I recheck.) But–as is often the case with me–the problems started about that time, too.


I noticed as I was signing papers that (in the tradition of "Greek letter codenames", let's call it Mu University, or simply "Mu" for short) does not hand out a stipend for textbooks; you have to pay for them out of your own pocket.

Now if by chance you've never been to college (or even trade school), everyone provides you with textbooks–either by giving you a stipend, shipping them from their own bookstore (or allowing you to pick them up in person, if you're offline), or creating the books themselves and mailing them to you (as in the case of correspondence schools). Now I've been to eleventy-twelve different schools and not a single one has ever failed to give me the means to get my books. Not even my six-hundred-and-some-person undergrad school!

These examples are in no particular order:

  1. Western and Olivet: I bought my books through the bookstore and the price was debited from my financial aid. (I believe I ordered online with Western and I had to pick them up in person. Olivet, I just picked them up based on my class schedule.)
  2. Penn Foster and Allied American: wrote their own and mailed them to me. No separate charge–it was part of my tuition.
  3. Career Quest: I would call it kind of a lending library–your books are handed out to you at the beginning of the semester and you hand them back in when you're done.
  4. LCC: gave you a $500 stipend on a school debit card, so you could buy from the affiliated bookstore or Amazon. (Good for that one stray book that you just can't find on Amazon because it was self-published and not put into distribution, or some such.)
  5. JCC: can't remember. I think those, too, were debited to my account and they just shipped them to me.
  6. EU: shipped you brand new books (no used option) from their store. If you wanted to buy them from Amazon, you could…they'd just take the book fee out of your tuition price and it was up to you to pay OOP.
  7. Nova: Stipend? I don’t know…it didn’t stick.

As you can see, it's highly unusual to not offer either money for books or the books themselves. But I was determined to make it work. Even if I had to take the poetry workshop (that doesn't require a book), despite the fact that I've repeatedly said that I cannot "poem on command".

At least until financial aid chimed in.

Without explaining why, they said they wanted transcripts from Nova, LCC and JCC–to which I replied that I didn't finish my programs (meaning I dropped out or withdrew) and they bore no relevance to my program at Mu. They said it didn't matter, they wanted them anyway.

Sidebar: I differentiate between dropping out and withdrawing. Dropping out is when you just get plain old lazy and stop going to classes (or doing your assignments, if it's online). Withdrawing is what happens when an emergency comes up, you find out you can't handle the material, etcetera. [Ex: I withdrew from chem, because I couldn't hack the math; I dropped out of Olivet because I was bored and what I'd decided to do next had nothing to do with what I was presently taking.]

A similar example is fired versus let go. If you fuck up, you're fired. If it's the end of the holiday season, your temp gig, whatever; you're let go.

Since Mu gave no justification for wanting this stuff (no other school had ever demanded such) and I had no money for it anyway, I said no. In fact, because of that and not being able to afford textbooks, I told them I changed my mind and didn't want to go to Mu after all.

A day or so later, I got a form letter saying basically the same thing as the original email I'd received from Mu's financial aid department, except specifying that the federal government demanded information regarding credits I’d previously completed.


So you're telling me every school I've ever been to is hiding information from the feds because no one else has ever looked at my financial aid history and ordered me to hand over transcripts from every previous school?


Thanks for that vote of confidence–especially when you consider that Western, LCC and JCC are all public schools! (Maybe Nova, too…I don't remember.)

So I emailed back and said, something like, "Not that it matters anymore, but:

  1. When I said I didn't finish my program at Nova, I really mean I didn't finish. I was failing so bad that I didn't even hold out for midterms. There are no credits.
  2. I believe all my professors from Jackson failed me because I couldn't afford to drive 100 miles roundtrip to take my exams and they refused to allow me to get a local proctor. (Their rules are/were that if you live within a hundred miles, you can drive down there.) This may be roughly a third true–I remember taking my diagnostic imaging exam and I remember failing my medterms exam because I couldn't drive down there. I know I had a third class to keep my financial aid, but I don't remember what it was or what became of it.
  3. I don't know about LCC because I've been in and out of there so many times that I don't remember. Even if there were credits beyond what I transferred in from my bachelors, they probably wouldn't hand over my transcripts because I owe them $706. (And if I could afford $706–probably to hand over to the collector, they probably wouldn't take it directly–I wouldn't be whining about not having any money from books!)" I have a few classes, but I don't know what my transcripts look like, other than a 75% failed mess with a few passes here and there. Even so, the thing about not handing over transcripts while I owe them is almost certain to be true–EU won't hand over transcripts if your financial obligations are unfulfilled.

Since the next part is going to launch into a whole 'nother story, let's move this to a second page…

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