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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Relative Theory of University Annoyance

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Annoyance can be defined as dealing with the rigmarole of a university.  Whether you’re in school, applying to school, trying to repay loans to the school that you went to, it’s an endless runaround, a labyrinth of frustration that accomplishes nothing while driving you insane. 

I’ve gone through it all before and I’m currently going through it all again.  I can vouch that the added experience doesn’t count for anything.  I still want to reach through the phone and stab someone’s eyes out just as much as before.  You call one department, and they pass you off to the next, and this guy doesn’t know anything, so he shuttles you over to some lady who pretends to know the answer, but she doesn’t know, and then you have to start the whole thing over again.  Looking up arbitrary numbers that might work, getting the wrong number from uninterested attendants, playing phone tag—what is their deal!?!  Get it together eggheads!

Luke, want to play racquetball later?
Well, here’s the rub; now I work for a university.  I’m part of the machine.  Is it apt to compare me to Darth Vador, turned to the Dark Side?  Only if Vader did it for the sweet, sweet health insurance and access to the campus rec center.  But the point remains; why join the enemy?  Why become part of the system that has vexed my kind for decades, if not centuries?  Aren’t I just hypocritical for complaining about being shat on by other college collectives while doing the same myself?  Probably, but I have this theory.

So let’s say a student comes into my office and asks me to enroll him into a certain class.  He already has permission from the course’s instructor and I have the access to do it for him immediately.  A pretty simple, reasonable request, right?  Not so fast Billy—the student’s hypothetical name in this hypothetical scenario is Billy—think again.  That request must first be taken to the Registrar, approved, sent back the original professor to be approved, and sent to a couple more approvers before it’s finally returned to me for actual application.  Ridiculous?  You know it. 

And there are similar protocols for getting student workers paid, inquiries about grad school, everything and anything.  There are four people you need to call to stamp off on it before anything can happen.  If things were more centralized then all of this run-around could be eliminated.  Instead of going through four people, it would only have to go through one.

Ah, but wait!  Here it comes.  What happens to those three other university employees who may only be there to provide their respective e-John Hancocks?  Boom— gone!  And therein lies the reason for all of this hullabaloo surrounding every single, solitary collegiate function; it creates jobs. 

Here’s my theory; when new graduates go forth into the world, armed with only a diploma and the hope that it actually counts for something against the likes of student loans, bills, and crushing reality, it is the universities who provide the meager jobs just sufficient enough to keep the reality monsters at bay.  These aren’t great jobs mind you, and that’s probably why most of these folks are so curt and unhelpful to the students who, unlike them, still have hope and promise until they too graduate and are forced to take crappy jobs to pay the bills.  It’s a vicious cycle. 

Obviously, there are exceptions to this theoretical rule--old ladies and such.  And despite how it might seem I’m not so cynical—yet—that I don’t want to help people.  Supporting college students is kind of at the crux of being a professor, and one of the main reasons why I want to become one.  But in my position I’m only given enough information and access to help them so far before having to pass the buck on to someone else who’s been trained just a little differently from me, so he can help students just a little bit more before having to pawn them off to someone new himself.  They’ve thought of everything. 

Words of wisdom that don't cost $40,000/yr
So there’s the dirty secret behind the university runaround; these people that you hate so fiercely over the phone or from behind fiberglass countertops, are really just alternate versions of yourself, or even additional versions of yourself.  The universities syphon off your money for an education that doesn't necessarily get you anywhere, and then give you a place to go in return.  So to re-use Homer Simpson's infamous quote about alcohol; "To universities, the the cause of and solution to all of life's problems." 

1 comment:

  1. woohoo! over, the 2,000 view mark--now is this the necklace or watch aniversary? I always forget.

    follow the blog if you like it, tell your friends to follow the blog if you hate them, secretly. it's easy to follow and makes me look super popular!

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