19 August 2010

School Days, School Days...

Greetings everybody! Yes, I have been away for a long time and I don't blame you if you don't read my rantings anymore. Thing is, there has been so much going on that it has been very difficult to to write without turning into a raving lunatic...please forgive me. As I am sure a lot of you know, I have decided to go back to college and make good use of my remaining GI Bill eligibility. My decision was not arrived at easily, nor was my choice of schools (I will tell you which school in a bit); and that is why I am writing this tonight. This is a very interesting, albeit a long,story.

You see, back when I retired from active duty (US Navy) in 2007, I applied to University of Phoenix for a 2-year degree in Information Technology. My experiences were, well, a little less than ideal. Apparently, University of Phoenix does not mind having students who cannot put together a coherent thought, much less a sentence, on paper, as long as they can pay the tuition. I received my Associate's Degree in Information Technology in October 2008; I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment! At least, until, companies started laughing at my "degree".

So, I did nothing in 2009 and for most of 2010, until I thought that maybe I would go to the local Community College here in Brandon, MS. I picked up a catalog from Hinds County Community College and found quite a few certificate courses that interested me. I thought it couldn't hurt if I brushed up my welding skills and electrical skills. Uhhh....yeah....about that...my experience with enrolling at HCC was not good, it was not ok, in fact it was possibly the worst experience of my life. I arrived at the Admittance Office to fill out the application and order my official transcripts and was met with stone-cold silence. Nothing. Nada. I'm still not sure if the ladies in there just didn't want to help me or they didn't know how but either way, I was stone-walled mercilessly. When I had trouble getting my unofficial transcripts to print, the antiquated system just did not want to comply and imploded. When I asked for help to use another terminal, again, I was met with nothing, nada. Once my official transcripts arrived, I received a letter from HCC telling me I was accepted on a conditional basis; evidently, my Navy transcript and my transcript from University of Phoenix (3.91 GPA, thank you very much) were not enough for me to enroll in the welding CERTIFICATE program. When I asked about this, I was told there was no proof I had taken English.

YES, you heard me correctly! According to the admittance office at Hinds County Community College, I could not attend their WELDING CERTIFICATE program because I could not prove I took ENGLISH! The fight over this was exhausting and, even though I prevailed, I still had to go toe-to-toe with the counselor because, evidently I was going to be expected to attend one class on Monday and Wednesday, then another class on Tuesday and Thursday, each class from 5pm to 11pm...this while working 8am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday (a 40 hour week)! Now, I don't know about you but, to me, that seems a bit excessive. I was still in the middle of this battle when the battle over the Montgomery GI Bill began brewing. I bet you're sitting there asking, "What the hell is he talking about?". Well, it goes like this; I called and emailed the Hinds County VA rep several times, but, my calls and emails were never returned. I went to the campus to speak with the VA rep, but the VA rep wasn't there (on TWO visits!) and it wasn't known when he or she would be back. So, eventually I said forget it and stopped altogether. In retrospect, I'm not surprised by this, although I cannot figure out why a state that has an astronomical high school dropout rate would make it so difficult to get into school.

Things looked bleak for a long time after this. I live near Jackson, MS, which we all know is Mississippi's Capitol City. The only other colleges in the area were three "Christian" (no, thank-you) colleges and Jackson State (another no, thank-you); Mississippi State is in Starkville and Ole Miss is in Oxford and living in Brandon makes it untenable, to say the least, to attend these schools. Enter Tulane University! (Yes, THAT Tulane, from New Orleans! Taa-Daa sound right here!) An announcement had been made earlier this year that Tulane University was opening a School of Continuing Studies in Madison, which is only about 30 minutes from my home! Browsing their site, I saw quite a few degree opportunities that interested me, so I applied online and sent my $25 application fee. Guess what happened? I was called that same day!!! Holy Crap, you mean they actually CALLED ME?!? YES, they DID!!!

On the phone with an advisor, I was given the address where my official transcripts could be sent and I was given an email address and phone numbers of all people I would speak with in the process of registering...imagine that! The very next day, I received an e-mail telling me an account was set up for me as I was now a student of Tulane University! I called the Madison office several times with many questions and each time I was met with a warm greeting and enthusiastic help! I called the VA rep in Biloxi and was told I should fax my DD-214 (this is a document that verifies military service) and he would take care of the rest! I did this, and two days later, I received an e-mail from the VA telling me an application for benefits had been filed by Tulane University! I attended the Student Orientation this past Tuesday and went back to the office Wednesday to sign the forms that tell the VA what degree I am pursuing. I initially wanted to pursue a Bachelor's in Journalism but was disappointed when I was informed that particular degree would not be possible in Madison. Before the disappointment showed on my face, the nice lady at the counter told me I could pursue a Bachelor's in Media Arts. Basically, Media Arts is Journalism but with a few other areas include, such as Graphic Design, etc.

So, dear friends, come this Monday, August 23, 2010, I will be a student at Tulane University studying Media Arts. The excitement I feel right now is almost impossible to contain! The way Tulane welcomed me and assisted me in all facets of enrollment, registration, Montgomery GI Bill benefits, and confirmation of courses registration, I cannot believe I ever thought about going to Hinds. It's amazing what can happen when you apply to a REAL university, rather than a Community College...especially here in Mississippi


  1. Man, NOTHING in Mississippi is easy, is it? Kinda makes you wonder why people still live there...anyhow, congrats on the enrollment, and I know you'll do great!

  2. Media arts sounds fascinating!