Written by Lilith DemHareIs

For the past few years, I've had to deal with school bureaucracy. Normally this is irritating to anyone in the normal course of the day, but for me, bureaucratic headaches are increased for two really complex issues: 1. I now live on the other side of the planet from where I went to school; 2. I was supposed to have graduated years ago.

*sigh* And yet here I am, tangled in one nasty bureaucratic mess, trying to sort out those final niggly issues so I can officially get my sheepskin.

Four problems stand in my way of freeing myself from their tangled web.

  1. The semester after I left, all the requirements for graduation changed.
  2. I have credits that were supposed to have been transferred from a different school.
  3. All the final processing and paperwork involves many small fees.
  4. I don't know everything.

See my problems?

1. The semester after I left, all the requirements for graduation changed. Normally, this shouldn't affect me, as I finished all my requirements before it changed, therefore I should be covered under the Grandfather Clause.

They forgot that. A few years ago, when I inquired as to how long it would take for me to receive my degree, they told me I was missing some credits.

What the...? How?

Apparently, I was missing a whole bunch of stuff that didn't exist when I was in school. A writing requirement? A computer literacy requirement? I again reminded the university about the Grandfather Clause and also that if they insisted on pushing these requirements on me, that hopefully I, as a professional writer with over ten years' experience in the IT field should be able to clep those requirements.

2. Like most students, I attended a few different schools during my academic career, and was (in theory) able to transfer those credits to my main university.

Only they neglected to tell me that the information they had originally received wasn't recognised as an "official transcript", and they couldn't "officially" accept them until they had received said official transcript. They could have told me this earlier (see point 4).

I think someone's mislaid something important somewhere along the lines, for when they did my graduation audit way back when, those credits somehow counted, and I had been cleared to graduate.

I had my old school send an "official transcript" to my main school. I just hope it isn't too late.

3. All the final processing and paperwork involves many small fees. If you live a few blocks from the university, five or ten dollars here and there isn't a problem. Just whip out the ol' checkbook.

When you live somewhere where they use an entirely different currency, especially a somewhere with ridiculous banking fees, these five or ten dollars can be a real pain.

Oh, all these fees have been paid with a minimum of fuss. Let's just say I owe my folks a few shekels and some really big favours.

4. I don't know everything. I don't know how I could. It's not like I can pick up a phone and give the university a call. (Well, I could, if I wanted to get up at 2 am and incur international charges to listen to fifteen minutes of hold music before being put through to someone who really can't answer my question.)

The only way I learn all these little things I'm supposed to know is when I complain in email why this hasn't happened, or that hasn't been completed, and only then do I learn the whole story.

Anyhow, concerning my transfer credits. I am supposedly at the end of my bureaucratic journey through Academia. I was supposed to receive confirmation that it was almost over, and I would soon be free and legal to add a few more letters to the end of my name. Instead, when I inquire as to why I haven't received confirmation, I?m told that they're awaiting stuff from me.

What stuff? I ask.

Official transcripts, they say.

What official transcripts? I snort.

The ones they should already have.

Nice of them to tell me. Had they told me this last year, when they should have (or better yet, all those years ago before I'd moved), I could have sorted this out. As it is, it's less than a month away from graduation, and I don't know if the official transcripts will make it there, much less be approved, in time to graduate this semester.

And if they don't, I've got to pay another niggly renewal fee to extend for another semester. Or perhaps I should make that another year, in case another something I don't know about crops up.

And that's bureaucracy for you.

But what really irks me the most is that had I been a little more diligent before I moved to Australia, I could have taken ten minutes out of my life (plus half an hour, to include waiting in line), and filed an Intent to Graduate, stood there while they quickly audited my credits, and pointed out to them that I had already had my credits transferred, I could have had all this sorted out.

Ultimately, I guess it's all my own fault.

Sometimes I should know better than to taunt the lion in the den, especially as lions always run in prides.