Welcome to the Drama (partes 1-7)
Honestly, I don’t remember when the first part of this began, so it’s just easier to say there have been seven and go from there.
It became clear from the start that literary theory wasn’t going to be an easy class—and not in the least because the professor and my advisor both said it was the most difficult class in the entire program!
I’ll save you the vast majority of the heartbreak, though (or maybe I’m saving myself), and just fast forward you to the present as best I can.
(I’m also going to warn that this is a rageblog up front. I’m only a few sentences in and I can feel it coming! And it’s a long one.)
I had originally said sometime back that Southern New Hampshire was going to be my last stop on the grad school train, and whether I passed, failed or simply gave up, I’d clear the board1 when I was done, and that would be the end of my educational career.
So I have no clue why I was trying to dip my toe in the water at my alma mater in case I failed Southern, especially since I have very little interest in public health. (Maybe in terms of epidemiology, but not the field as a whole.) Perhaps it was the crazy idea that it would be all over in a year and I’d have a shiny new masters for my trouble?
Yeah, it was crazy alright, but more than I understood.
And I’m about to make it weirder by using my Yelp review to tell the story (with my commentary in Verdana). But rather than initials and Greek letters, I’ll make up names.
Sam: the admissions rep that first made contact with me
Catherine: the admissions rep that I talked to briefly one day when Sam wasn’t available
Sally: the admissions rep that actually ended up working with me
Janet: a random admissions rep that randomly horned in on Sam, Catherine and Sally on Monday
Olivia: Sam, Catherine, Sally and Janet’s supervisor. The head of admissions (I think)
Tammy: works in the financial aid department
Liam: some sort of VP…I already forget his full title, because I pretty well blew off his sole email
Jeff: my academic advisor, who is also apparently the dean of students
Blake: some random guy with EU that called on Tuesday in place of Jeff
And, just in case we need them…
Michael: my advisor at Southern, who I’ve recently named my “school husband” (as opposed to “work husband”)
Sander: my therapist
Far be it for me to call my alma mater a scam, but this school has gotten really weird over the last decade. It’s like I found an old friend, but instead of being the nice person I knew, they’ve become nosy, secretive, forgetful and a liar.
If I had to guess, I’d say that after achieving regional accreditation in 2010, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools said, “Great! You’ve done the bare minimum to get here, but now you have lots more work to do.” I realize that doesn’t explain the weird stuff that EU was asking for if none of the other schools I’ve ever been to have done it, but it’s the best idea I’ve come up with.
First, and most importantly, is the lie that their master of public health program will only take a year. Four-week classes, just like when I was an undergrad. That’s what their website says [as of Tuesday], that’s what my admissions rep said…on Monday. Today [Tuesday], Sally agrees with Blake and says, “No, each class is two months.”
I was so surprised at this sudden change in information that I actually sat here and emailed Sally while I was on the phone with Blake!
Can y’all not count? Twelve classes times two months apiece is TWO YEARS! And they’re not going to double-up, because Everglades is famous for its “one class at a time” approach. (More about this shortly.)
That would explain why grad students only start on terms A and C (there are four per semester), but not why the school’s website says the degree takes one year! Plus, I don’t want to double-up! I’ve done it twice with two different schools and it’s a BITCH! (Any school that demands you take two classes per term/semester to keep your financial aid is out of its fucking mind. Find another!)
I have to pick up the narrative thread from the review for a minute.
When I first put out a request for information a month or so ago, Sam was the first person I talked to by email, with Olivia following up shortly after. She told me that Sam wasn’t available, but Catherine would be calling me at some point. (I don’t remember if I ever talked to Catherine on the phone, by the way.) I told all three of them the same thing: I look like I’m failing2, but I want to be completely sure, which is why Sam and I agreed to talk on August 31st.
Two weeks or so ago, I heard from Sally from the first time. She interrupted my nap (this is important to the story), we chatted for a few minutes, and I told her the same thing I’d told Sam, Catherine and Olivia.
That was it, until I filed a preliminary application with EU on Sunday (August 30).
Janet emailed me about scheduling a time to chat, and I also received an email from Liam, which I all but ignored because I was already making plans with Janet. We ended up agreeing on six.
About 2:20, Sally calls and I tell her about Janet emailing me. There’s a little (verbal) handwringing on her end, but I say (in so many words) that it’s bullshit, because she called me before Janet. She and I talk until about 2:50, at which point I have to get off the phone, because it’s time for a virtual session with Sander. (The low-cost clinic chain Sander works for is still not allowing its therapists to have offline visits.)
Sally calls again at 4:20 and there’s even more handwringing and many complaints of, “You’ve already talked to Janet and I don’t want to step on any toes…” She didn’t straight up say, “If I take Janet’s student, Olivia is going to be pissed,” but it sure as hell sounded like it.
Again, I try to tell her that it’s bullshit. I haven’t “talked” to Janet, we’ve merely emailed to setup a time to talk. If Olivia or someone has a problem with it, I have a papertrail to prove it.
“Setting up an appointment counts as talking,” Sally whinges, “And I don’t want to step on any toes.” (She literally kept saying that. I was getting tired of her using those words.)
“In that case, Sam or whatever his name is has priority over both of you! I talked to him first, then Olivia, then Catherine. Then you called me during my nap two weeks ago (you or Catherine…I didn’t catch a name) and I told you that Sam and I had agreed to talk today. If there’s any toe-stepping going on, it’s Janet’s fault!”
“Oh, yeah, I guess we did talk two weeks ago. Okay, I’ll tell them.” Olivia and Janet, I guess? No idea. Also no clue why Sam completely left the picture and Catherine isn’t even listed as an admissions rep. (But maybe she’s new…the guidebook I was reading was a year old.)
These dumbasses also tell each other absolutely nothing. I was on the phone for three fucking hours with Sally on Monday, answering questions for my "interview" (which I didn't know was coming) and handling general other things to get started.
When Blake called on Wednesday, he was starting to ask the exact. Same. Fucking. QUESTIONS!
As if that wasn't bad enough, when Tammy called to work on my finances on Tuesday, she whined that she couldn't get a hold of me.
Apparently in three hours of talking to me, Sally couldn't be fucked to update the system, so my mobile was listed as [two numbers ago], my work was listed as [toll free for library I was at a decade ago and never gave out] and there was no home number. (They also had a license number for me that was dead a good month before I started class with them in 2007.)
Oh, and they're also impatient little fucks: I hadn't even signed off on a transcript request yet and they were already calling my high school for a person that didn't exist outside of the internet back then! Didn't find out about that until someone called from the registrar's office complaining they couldn't find me. (*eye roll*)
I think I can jump the review back in at this point:
This afternoon, Blake calls. (No idea who he was, because I was told my advisor was Jeff, who pulls double duty as the dean of students.) He [starts asking similiar questions to Sally's] and I give him dull answers. When I finally ask him why we’re scheduling an advising appointment for February if I start class in October, he says, “Do we have a problem?”
“Yeah, I’m starting to think this program has been SERIOUSLY misrepresented to me!”
I already had tears in my voice by the time I hung up.
Sally tried to call me ten minutes later, at which point I was already emailing her.
I yelled into the phone, "I don't want to talk to you!", and the dumb bitch barely waits five minutes to call back.
'Scuse you? "I don't want to talk to you" means that I, Dayanara Sanar Ryelle, do not wish to speak to you, "Sally [Surname]", because I am too worked up and because I'm already pouring out my feelings in an email.
You'd think she'd have given it twenty-four hours and then either answered my email or tried calling to see where we stood on me starting with them (especially as worried as she seemed to be about taking crap from Olivia), but it never happened.
[Paraphrasing this part.]
They also seem to be absolutely fantastic at losing important papers, or at least failing to read the email that they come in on.
At some point before Blake called, I heard from Sally.
"I asked you for two pieces of ID the other day. Where are they and where are your transcript requests and your timeline?"
"I sent you the two pieces of ID and the transcript request. I told you that the timeline file was corrupted. Did you bother to read the email?"
She went looking and found the ID, but complained that the only transcript request she saw was for undergrad.
Yes, they're so addlepated that they needed a transcript request to their own selves for my file. (A friend said it was for FERPA, but they'd already had me sign a FERPA release on Tuesday?)
"I told you in the email that I wasn't going to sign off on the high school transcript request with my deadname on it. They won't be able to find me and it'll be a waste of time."
Some babble about me changing it.
"Can't you change it?"
"No, you have to change it," or "it can't be changed" or some shit.
Seriously? How hard is it to get a blank form and fill in the information I give you and send it off?
I think it was in response to the corrupted file that Sally said, "I've never heard of that."
Tough shit. I haven't heard of a ".numbers" file, either, but that's what you sent me and it's corrupt!
As if all this wasn't bad enough, they kept asking about shit they had no business knowing.
We need a copy of your driver's license and social security card.
Okay, putting your SSN on an application isn't unusual, but why do they need both when I'm an alumna? (If there's any lesson I've learned from all this, it's to be less complacent. Just because you think you know someone/a business/a school, doesn't mean you should get comfortable!)
We need your [high school] diploma and your transcripts.
I get not having my information on file after I've been gone a decade, but…why? Literally no other grad school has ever asked for my high school transcripts.
We need you to sign off on this warning that you're getting close to your max undergrad borrowing limit.
For grad school? (I think I asked about this one, and Tammy blew me off with, "It just a thing they make you do.")
How did you support yourself in 2018?
Why the fuck does it matter? What you need to know is on my FAFSA. What the government needs to know was on my tax return. Why do you think you deserve to know more than the IRS?
But who paid for your car, phone, utilities, etcetera?
I bought my car out of pocket. I don't pay for my phone. My dad pays for the utilities because they and the house are both in his name. I get food stamps.
Oh, well, you can't tell them [whoever "they" are] any of this, or they'll start asking awkward questions. Just say "N/A" for your car and say your dad pays for the rest.
Repeat after me: I do not need to know all this. It is none of my fucking business. As long as Dayanara has a safe, supportive home where she is loved and fed and her mental health issues are kept at bay, I have no reason to demand answers to questions that no one should be asking unless they are authorized representatives of the United States Social Security Administration or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Petey says, "I knew you never meant to leave!"
Michael pulled my withdrawal request before it was processed, so my biggest concerns right now are:
1. My professional identity statement. I went looking for examples and found one from a therapist who went to Western…and it's basically a fancy biography (like something she might post to her Psychology Today listing, if she has one). I'm terrible at bios, and I'm not sure having instructions from a professor is going to help.
2. A new short story. I'm going to send my mom a link to this post, and I can already hear her saying, "You're creative, you'll think of something."
Which I'm pretty sure is momspeak for, "I have no clue. You're on your own, kid." (*chuckle*)
I also have to write a query letter for an appropriate publication for my story; but for some reason, that seems to be my least concern at the moment.
3. Did I screw up my invitation to ΣΤΔ? Theoretically, no, since my withdrawal was never processed, but we'll see. (If it arrives as fast as my NSLS invitation, it will be here on September 8.)
Thankfully, all of those seem pretty small in comparison to the stress of last term.
As for Sally? Ten to one, she'll finally call back after I've started term next week. (*eye roll*)
1There is a disability discharge available that would clear all my student loans, but it would also forbid me from ever going back to school again, since it’s nigh on impossible to do so without loans. So that’s why I call it clearing the board.
2If I had failed lit theory, I would’ve failed out of my program, as there was no other option except retaking it. And you know me—I’d never agree to a retake.