Friday, August 5, 2011

Updating the System

Jacob is a senior in high school this year. And he’s going to take a dual enrollment Calculus 2 class. Originally, he was going to take it at the community college where he took Calc 1. However, in an effort to save money, the community college decided to cut one hour per week from the class. (Yes, per week, and the prof still had to cover the same amount of material—can you say impossible?) Then, to cut down on paperwork, they made the homework and tests “on-line.” In other words, the computer grades everything. Problem. A computer can’t read your work. They overcame that hurdle by making the homework multiple choice. Yes, Calc 2 homework is multiple choice. I won’t even go into what they did for the tests.

Obviously, the community college was out. So we enrolled Jacob in the University dual enrollment program. After I heard the cost and picked myself up off the ground, I said, “Okay.” We don’t want him waiting another year before taking the class. Then came enrollment.

I expected the community college to be horrid at enrollment. (This is a college that forgot to send all the nursing students grades to the nursing board, so they could take their board exams. Oops.) I expected the university to know what they were doing. I was wrong.

Apparently, they don’t know quite how to do dual enrollment. We filled out all the paperwork, and they processed it. Jake tried to sign up for a class. He wasn’t a student. I called dual enrollment. They called the “tech people.” The tech people said it would show up in 24-48 hours. It didn’t. I called dual enrollment. They called the tech people. The tech people promised they’d fix it when they “updated the system that night.” I know that excuse. When I worked at Harcourt, that is what the tech people always said, and then it wasn’t fixed. I think “we’ll update the system tonight” is geek speak for “I’m tired and I’m grabbing a beer on the way home, so bother me tomorrow.” Eventually, when there were only two spaces left, the problem got fixed. Sadly, Jake didn’t get the prof or time he wanted, but he did get the class. And we thought that everything was hunkey-dory. Until we tried to pay for the class.

Jake’s bill was $3491. For one class. The rounds of phone calls began again. It turned out that the computer people mis-coded Jake. And, of course, it would take a computer system update to fix. (Maybe some day, someone can explain why this is necessary.) Just when I thought it was all over, the dual enrollment advisor told me, “Um, just so you know, it’s not my fault, it’s the State’s fault, but the class is now $200 more. I’m really sorry. It’s not my fault.”

Lovely. I wonder what else is waiting around the corner.


  1. That is so frustrating! Bills like that drive me crazy, especially if it's a mistake.

    I think “we’ll update the system tonight” is geek speak for “I’m tired and I’m grabbing a beer on the way home, so bother me tomorrow.”


  2. The Technology Imps are spreading!

    I hate what rising education costs are doing to community colleges. I won't get into what the system is trying to do to my former schools ... suffice to say, one president for two state universities, even if they are only ten miles apart, is Not Going To Cut It.

    Good luck with the rest of the process!

  3. What a royal pain in the derriere. On the plus side, your son should earn a terrific scholarship. With his smarts, he deserves one.

  4. Augh, lame. I'm sorry about all the trouble, but I'm glad he got into the class.

    Every time I think things should be easy for these school-type things, I don't know why I'm surprised when it's not. :P That said, university classes are expensive. My sister's taking a language class this summer and it is SO expensive. Makes you want to take more units during the year when it's all covered under tuition (which is also going up, thx CA state budget crises).

  5. "We'll update the system tonight" is roughly translated from geekspeak into "We seriously have no idea why this is but we're trying to get on it so please let us be."

  6. I'm with Lydia and Andrew--I work at a university and there is most definitely a real-person fix for what is essentially a billing error. They probably just haven't figured it out yet, or the person who must authorize such things is on vacay :)