Wednesday May 29, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 142



Graduating can be hard to do

Ellen Simonson

Anyone who's had even a passing acquaintance with UH knows that this school is capable of screwing up on a scale that makes the FBI look
well-organized. After five years here, I thought I knew that.

But I never really knew how bad it could get, not until my parents called me this April and told me they'd received a diploma in the mail
backdated for December. I had been approved at first, then declined, for a December graduation; when this happened, I was confused, but
dutifully enrolled for spring and applied for a May graduation. My first hint that might not be necessary arrived when the diploma did.

You might think that not even UH could make such a colossal mistake twice, but I assure you, it can and it will. I sincerely hope it doesn't
happen to you, but the fact remains that it might. To that end I provide you with this list of Handy Tips to Follow as Graduation from UH

One: If you apply for graduation and receive a letter of approval, do not I repeat, do not call your parents excitedly, begin planning a
celebration or anything like that. Instead, brace yourself for the possibility of another letter (which may reach you only days before your
anticipated graduation date) stating cryptically that you are not, in fact, approved. Call everybody with whom you might have shared the good
news and rescind it.

Two: Check with the department of your major and the good folks in E. Cullen to find out why you were disapproved. Do not, under any
circumstances, make the mistake I did and assume you are being told anything close to the truth. You should follow the orders anyway after
all, what the hell else are you gonna do? In the end you might as well follow the advice of a street lunatic.

It's not the fault of the individuals involved; it's the massive, malevolent UH bureaucracy.

Three: File for graduation again, this time for the next semester. Don't worry you won't get an approval or a denial, and God knows nobody
will contact you to break the news that you have, in fact, already graduated. You'll just wait, biting your nails, until...

Four: When a random, backdated diploma does arrive in the mail, immediately visit every UH office you can think of that is even remotely
relevant and demand, "Can they take this back?" Once you've received five to seven assurances that no, UH cannot one day and demand that
you hand over the diploma (plus $400 in random fees and your firstborn daughter), you can relax. A little.

Yeah, it's cool that you're a college graduate, but let's face it most people find out about such milestones a little sooner than four months
after the fact. Besides, if you're anything like me, you're now looking at a Stafford loan the size of Dallas, one you took out in desperation to pay
for a semester you hadn't planned on taking and, it turns out, didn't need.

I, for one, was lucky. My teachers believed me when they received e-mail saying, "I'm afraid I won't be taking the final for your class, as I
apparently already graduated." Both of them were kind-hearted enough to withdraw me retroactively and help to get a refund, which means that
for once, UH is bending over for me.

So I guess you could say the whole saga ended fairly well I am, in fact, a college graduate, and the refund checks are pouring in, meaning I
can afford non-store-brand ramen for once. There's only one problem ... I still haven't actually seen the diploma. My parents say they're getting it
framed and they'll mail it to me when it's done. But I wonder...

Simonson, who (apparently) 

graduated in December 2001

with a degree in English, 
can be reached at

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