Thursday, January 10, 2013

College Registration: The Tenth Circle of Hell

According to Dante, there are nine circles of suffering waiting for all us unrepentant sinners. The way it works is you're sent to one circle or the other depending on what terrible deeds you did in life to deserve this shit. You've got your upper levels for self-indulgent sins like lust and gluttony and coveting your neighbors ass-a sin that could be greed or lust or both depending on what context you're using. Circles six and seven are for heretics and violent assholes. I can get behind number seven, but six is going to be pretty damn crowded considering the multitude of religions that consider you a heretic if you even think about the others with any sort of tolerance. The eighth circle is for frauds and TV psychics like John Edward. And of course, we all remember the ninth circle is for traitors like Satan, Judas Iscariot, and that kid who ratted me out in the third grade.

Dante ends the suffering at nine, but I believe I've discovered a tenth, or as I like to call it: College registration at Delgado Community College!

I was only supposed to be taking a COMPASS test. Swear to God. What started as a simple placement test soon devolved into a nightmare of endless lines and paperwork. All because I got it into my head to go back for my degree.

This all started a few months back when I did a chair massage gig at Tulane. Being surrounded by whippersnappers with their entire lives ahead of them must have hit me with a double dose of nostalgia and regret-and more than a little stupidity. All of a sudden, I couldn't stop thinking of that English degree I had always wanted but had never gotten around to getting. Recently, I decided to do something about it by signing up for classes at UNO. I was told I needed either my SAT scores, ACT scores, or so many hours of English and math from another institution to enroll. I had never taken the ACT or SAT and the classes I took at Delgado fifteen years ago were too old for them to accept. I would need to take a COMPASS placement test.

"Okay. Fine. I'll take the COMPASS test," I told the lady in Admissions. "When's the next test?"
"There aren't any available spots here," she said listlessly, her life so obviously filled with bureaucratic drudgery. "You'll have to try Delgado or Nunez."

(Insert sigh here)

The earliest available test was at Delgado City Park campus on the 8th of January at ten in the morning. I took it knowing I would miss UNO's registration deadline but hoping I could use the results for the summer semester. I showed up an hour early to find a blissfully empty parking lot. I had gone for my LMT certification at the Westbank campus where there were a few slots for visitor parking. Circling around, I found nothing to indicate where I would be allowed to park without a decal. Frustrated and running short on time, I called asking where I needed to park only to be told that there was no visitor parking at the City Park campus. The extremely unhelpful lady told me I would need to get a decal, thanked me with little sincerity, and hung up. I opted to park off campus.

(Insert a longer sigh here)

After saying a prayer to the parking gods that my vehicle would go untouched for the short amount of time I thought this test was going to take (ha, ha, yeah), I made my way to room 302 where I waited in the first line of the day and was told I needed to go downstairs to the bursar to pay for the test. That was line number two. Line number three was waiting for me back upstairs right where I started. I handed in my receipt of payment and my ID and was told to take a seat and wait. Thirty minutes later-fifteen minutes after the test was scheduled to start-me and a group of other lucky test takers were herded into a room filled with computers. While we waited for the administrators to set up, some of the others chatted away about some nursing program they were all trying to get into. I thought it was strange that so many girls going into the same program were taking the same test as me. Warning bells were going off but I didn't have time to question the administrators about this. The test was about to begin.

The English portion was a breeze. I expected this. I've always been pretty good in that subject, in spite of the many errors this blog would lead you to believe. The math...not so much. I had been expecting this as well. I knew once I got past the first few problems that I was going to end up having to take a remedial course. Oh well. I finish my test and one of the administrators shows me my results. Reading score: 94. Writing score: 99. Math score: 39. Yes, I am THAT bad at the math. She informed me that because I failed the math portion, I would have to retake it in thirty days.

"Whoa! Retake? What do you mean, retake?" says I in a distressed, what the fuck tone. "I was told this was merely a placement test. The worst that could happen was I'd have to take remedials. I'm not even planning to go to this school."

She stared at me for a beat before saying, "You're not enrolling in the nursing program?"

I shook my head.

"What test were you supposed to be taking?"

Mother fucker! No I didn't say that. Out loud. I explained the situation. She sighed and nodded and handed me over to another woman sitting at a computer who gave me a paper with my scores who sent me to room 307, or as I like to call it, the circle of hell where you sign in, sit down, hold onto your bladder, and pray for someone to call your name. I didn't know why I was sent here. I thought I was about to sign up for another test or something. When my name was called, I was sent to an advisor who told me my scores in math would force me to take remedials but that she would be more than happy to help me in the application process. Again I explained that I wasn't planning to go to Delgado and she explained that regardless of whether I went to UNO or not, I would not be able to use financial aid for the remedials because I would have to take them under General Studies. I might as well sign up here and get them over with, she said. Figuring she was right, I agreed.

Unfortunately, the computer at her desk wouldn't allow me to apply so she sent me downstairs to Student Services where I stood in line number four. Halfway through the line, a woman popped in and said, "If you're standing in this line to be enroll, you're in the wrong line. You need to go to the Dolphin station." There were many groans and much gnashing of teeth as she led us to line number five near a row of computers. There wasn't a dolphin in sight. I felt gipped.

We were told to enroll on the computers. By now I'm thinking, "If I couldn't enroll on the computer upstairs, how the hell is it going to let me enroll on this one?" But somehow it did. Probably the computer upstairs thought I hadn't wasted enough time standing in lines.

After that fun task, it was off to line number six where another woman behind another computer took some more info and told me I would need vaccinations. "Oh good," I thought, heart sinking fast as images of yet another long, long line with a needle waiting for me at the end of it haunted my thoughts. The woman must have noticed the look of misery on my face because she gave me a form to fill out and told me by signing it, it would give me a chance to get the unhappy task done at a later date. Crisis averted.

She said I could either pay for enrollment here or do the rest at home. At this point, my head is pounding and my stomach was growling from missing lunch. I opted to head home. It was drizzling when I stepped outside. Of course it was, I thought as I envisioned the long, wet walk to my car. Halfway across the campus parking lot, I met up with a security guard driving around in one of those funny looking vehicles that resemble a golf cart. He asked me if I needed a ride to my car and I explained that I parked off campus because I didn't have a decal yet.

"You could have parked anywhere you wanted," he said with a broad smile. "We're not giving out tickets for another week or so."

"Seriously?" I said feeling the vein in my forehead throb even harder.

He nodded. He looked on the verge of laughing. I didn't smack him. I am a merciful being, after all, and after the day I've had, I am trying really, really hard to get into heaven.

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