Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where's the Money Going?

I've decided to return to school- again. Really, since Perpetual Student is my dream job, it's sort of the best thing I can do for myself, except that no one is paying me to do it- yet.

Last week I had an appointment scheduled with a former prof who is interested in advising me about the Reclamation and Restoration Ecology Certificate Program here at the University of Wyoming. I went online to do some research so I could be pretty well prepared for this appointment and had difficulty accessing some department webpages so that I could get to course listings that would be helpful to know, as they are part of the program options. So, I took a little walk from the Museum, where I was working, over to the Graduate School to request a hard copy of the Graduate School Bulletin.

I walked into the tiny office, and the woman at the reception desk looked at me as though I maybe shouldn't be there, and why on earth was I standing in front of her? I asked, "Do you have a copy of the Graduate School Bulletin I could have, since I am considering returning to school, or could you tell me where I might get one?"

"We don't have them," she answered. "You can't get one anywhere. We don't publish it anymore. You have to go online."

I lost my patience; I had been online, and that had not helped me. (Just to add a little fire to my story here, I have been online again this evening trying to do the same sort of research and again have been thwarted.) So, I told the woman the fact that the bulletin is not available except online is simply ludicrous and unacceptable, that I for one was not able to access the information I needed to plan properly for an appointment with my advisor, and someone needed to know this.

Now, two things here:

1) In the role of "therapeutic educator" that I have taken for many years in the professional world and will not again, as I have decided to make a Big Career Change with this Going Back to School Thing- again- I learned long ago and practiced wisely the mantra that one does not tell people what they "need" when "need" is not really the correct term. I know that no one "needs" to know that I am pissed to think that not only can I not access a simple book with pages all there that I can flip through and mark and rely on to not go away unless I rip them out, but that I have a big problem with our ultra-reliance on internet technology for all our "needs" these days, when some people who would like to go to graduate school may have limited access to computers at all, and particularly the internet (yeah, it's true!) so may be particularly pained and disadvantaged by the fact that the Graduate Bulletin is not available except for online. However, sometimes a girl gets mad and has to make a point.

2) You ought to know that there is all sorts of construction going on all over the University of Wyoming campus to make newer, bigger, facilities and grounds. But dare I say "better?" Because I don't believe it yet.

You see, campuses across the country are increasingly relying on online technology for course selection and registration as one method of cutting costs. However, tuition continues to rise, including at UWYo, and college costs in general increase at a rate greater than the cost of living annually. And are students, or prospective students, being served by this? It seems not at all.

Coming up, The Chronicle of Higher Education will feature a series of articles devoted to the question of why college costs are so high anymore. I will scour these articles in sincere hopes that there are actually some answers, and not just empty political rhetoric, to assuage my indignation. Because who really likes walking around all mad at the injustice of this kind of crap most of the time? Bleah!

p.s. The photo here is of the Classroom Building, which used to be pretty unique in its circular designed, but which now, all renovated, looks like a boring square with the cool old part just barely hanging in there. The classrooms are definitely in better shape, but speaking of shape, whatever happened to creative design? Progress, baby.

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