The Road To Graduation, Part I

I’ve been going to San Jose City College on a part-time basis for the last five years to learn computer programming. With Data Structures (CIS 55) approved to continue with only seven students, I’m finally on the road to graduating this semester. I did a lot of walking between the Technology building (Parkmoor Avenue and Bascom Avenue) and to Admissions & Records inside the Student Union building (Parkmoor Avenue and Leigh Avenue) to get the paperwork straighten out. The worst part was that I didn’t need to.

After checking with my instructor on taking Object Oriented Programming (CIS 59) under Directed Study (CIS 98) last week, I made an appointment to see the dean at the Technology building. He signed off on a note that I can make the appropriate substitutions to graduate this semester. When I file my graduation petition in a few weeks, I’ll get a substitution form from the counselor for the dean to sign off to approve the substitutions.

I made my first trip across campus to Admission & Records to sign up for the CIS 98 class to get that out of the way since was the third week of the semester. The clerk refused to do anything since I didn’t have a signed add slip for the class. When I pulled out the note from the dean, he reluctantly accepted that and put into the pile behind him. I pointed out that I needed the paper back, he told me tough luck that I didn’t make a copy as the original now belonged to Admissions & Records.

That’s not what I wanted to hear. I started thinking about if I could hurl 355 pounds of muscle over the counter to get my paper back. A desperate graduate-to-be in desperate times will do desperate things. Fortunately, the clerk’s supervisor stepped in to give me my back my paper. Since the dean forgot to put my name on the paper, Admissions & Records wasn’t going to accept it and I couldn’t register for my class until I have a signed add slip anyway. So double tough luck.

I made a second trip over to the Technology building to see my instructor to get an add slip, have the dean put my name on the note, and maybe have the department secretary make a copy so I didn’t have to stop by the library. Everyone was out of the office. Since I had business on the other side of campus, I made a trip there and back again. When I still couldn’t find them, I went out to dinner. Before class got started that evening, I showed the note to my instructor, who made an announcement to the class that I was graduating this semester, and he sent an email to Admissions & Records to add me to CIS 98.

I haven’t had this much fun chasing paperwork since attending San Jose State University during the 1994-95 school year. I could never find my major adviser to sign off on any paperwork. I’d managed to corner a drunken Russian mathematics professor in his office to get him to sign off on my paperwork, hoping that he wouldn’t keel over dead on top of them. The department secretary took one look at the signature and declared: “This doesn’t have a snowball chance in hell of flying through here.”

The department rejected my paperwork the following week and the university kicked me out the following semester. I’m quite certain that playing Magic: The Gathering card game until the wee hours of the morning with my roommates, running a BBS business on the side, and being depressed over a girl I fell in love with were not contributing factors in getting kicked out of school.

You would think that being in Silicon Valley that everything could be done over the computer without having students chase after pieces of paper. Unfortunately, SJCC is still using the same mainframe computer with the same slow serial connections when I first went to school in the early 1990’s.