Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Algebra? At my age?

I had some other posts planned, but breaking news compels me to skip them for the time being.

 I seem to be in a good news/bad news ping-pong game.

Bad news: Financial Aid couldn't process my application because I didn't have a valid degree plan chosen.

Good news: I think I fixed that. I went online and found where you specify your degree plan, and chose one. Since it appeared in a drop-down menu, I'm assuming it's a valid choice. Whether it's the "right kind" of degree plan that will let me have financial aid in my situation remains to be seen.

Good news: My transcripts have all arrived.

Bad news: But none of my undergraduate courses have been credited/transferred into my degree plan.

Good news: I wrote the very helpful person in Admissions, and she requested that somebody get my transcripts analyzed.

More good news: Within a couple of hours, she let me know that my classes were all credited.

More bad news: I'm apparently not getting credit for English, Speech, and Government. I have to take a computer literacy test. And my college-math-dodging days have finally caught up with me.

Okay, let's review.  I took (and this is a guestimate here; I don't have a copy of my undergrad transcript) upwards of 120 credit hours and got two (count them! Two!) bachelors degrees. I took freshman English: two semesters, honors level, got A's. I took Speech: one semester, got an A. I took "American and Texas Government" as a requirement for the "Ed" part of my Music Ed degree: one semester, got an A.

And that didn't wipe out the core course requirements at Hoth CC? You've got to be joking.

About that computer literacy test. I suppose I should cut them some slack: I can't point to an official class I've taken and passed that says, "Yep, she's computer literate." But please tell me job skills count for something.

I've been working with computers since database searches were done via phone handset hooked to an acoustic coupler dialing into Dialog at a very high per-minute search charge. I used a dedicated terminal to do interlibrary loans on OCLC. I keyboarded feature stories for an Army post newspaper and saved them on 8-inch floppy disks. (Remember those? Really? Then you're showing your age.) I've used Microsoft products from MS-DOS all the way to Windows 7. (How about another trip down memory lane: remember the C:> prompt? I used to prank a co-worker by changing the "C:" to "What is thy wish, master?") I've used WordStar, WordPerfect, and Word to write entire procedure manuals. So cut me some slack, Hoth CC. I'm computer effing literate, okay?

But then we get to the Algebra requirement. What can I say. "Officer, you got me dead to rights. I was going 50 in a 35 zone. I'll sign the ticket."

I blame a student from my undergrad days for this. Susan had her GPA requirements for Honor Roll, Dean's List, Mortarboard Society, Phi Beta Kappa, and her top graduate school choices calculated out to three decimal places. I found this out the day she asked me what math class I would be taking. Not "did I have to take," but "would be taking." After I stopped laughing and had hauled myself up off the floor and back into my chair, I said, "None, thank heavens."

"What??!?!" she shrieked. "You can't make Phi Beta Kappa unless you take a math class!"

"I guess I'll be doing without, then," I replied.

She then explained that there was a totally painless and brainless math class nicknamed by the mathematics faculty "Math for Morons," and it would satisfy PBK's math requirement.

"Thanks, but no," said I. "I'm a music major because I only have to count up to 6, and that's only when we're not playing a Sousa march in 2."

"Seriously: the hardest thing they teach is how to balance a checkbook," Susan said. "If you can make a Mobius strip without gluing yourself to your desk, you get an A."

And so it was that I took Math for Morons, got my A, and did indeed graduate Phi Beta Kappa. (But don't tell anybody. It'll ruin my reputation. As Linus van Pelt once said, "There's no heavier burden than great potential.") I did not, however, darken the door of anything remotely like "College Algebra." And now my past has caught up with me.

After all of this bad news, I asked the helpful person in Admissions if I could come down and have a chat with her about why some of my credits weren't, well, credited. "You need to see an Advisor," she said. "No appointment necessary; just walk in." So I hied myself off to Hoth CC after work. Once there, I was told it would be a three-hour wait to see an advisor. All of the change I could scrounge had only bought me 50 minutes for the parking meter. And it was about two hours and 45 minutes until the advising office closed for the evening.


I'll be in late to work tomorrow morning, because at 7:45, I plan to be waiting outside the advising office. With a book.

Gotta run.  I need to decide whether "Painless Algebra," "Forgotten Algebra," or "Beginning Algebra, 5th edition" will be keeping me company.



  1. Love the Linus Van Pelt quote. He's one of my heroes.

  2. Ah yes. It's similar for Fine Arts students - I took "Finite Math", which I can only tell you three things about:

    1. The professor said at one point "We have too many A's on that last test! I'll have to make this harder!"

    2. I did once get extra credit for my creativity in providing a narrative for the quiz problem.

    3. I escaped with a D+, which is better than another art student pal of mine who finally passed on his fourth or fifth go.

    Man, I WISH it had been consumer (useful) math!