Thursday, June 21, 2012

She called me a cheater!

I have spent the last three months in constant battle with the program from which I am hoping to complete my Bachelor's of Nursing. It has been an absolute nightmare. Among the issues they have created is that they misfiled my original nursing school transcripts under my maiden name, despite my declaring that they would find records under my maiden name. They lost a transcript for a class as well, took three weeks and the Registrar's office to set the straight before they "found" that one. So, I finally got it straightened out, got the admission acceptance and the required deposit submitted.

I was then informed that I missed the deadline for the earlier required orientation class. They lock you out of any other classes until you complete the orientation, and they set me in one that would lock me into only being able to do that one class in the semester, one three hour course. Federal financial aid requires you take at least six hours in a semester. I do not have an employer that can nor will pay for my classes. I am self-pay right now. If I can't take at least six hours, I can't attend.

I called the nursing program to see if they would authorize me to take 1-2 classes concurrently with the orientation course, given that my background is *not* the typical background for their incoming students. Most of their students hold either an Associates in Nursing or a Diploma. They don't have their general education requirements and are admitted into the nursing program to complete their Bachelors, getting their general education classes while they also get their nursing classes. I don't fit that profile at all.

I needed a program that was primarily online, though I specifically wanted preceptorships in person. I know there are bridge programs that skip that portion, but I felt that component was important. Outside of clinicals though, I needed my dyadic coursework to be online due to the issues M is having at this point. I needed a program that was non-profit, as I would sooner not pursue my education than use a for-profit program, even if I could find one acceptable in both my current state and the state we moved from and might return to next year. Finally, I needed a program that didn't have a difference in tuition for instate versus out of state students. I don't qualify for in-state yet, and if we move back to where we came from, I wouldn't qualify for in-state at the end of the program either. I didn't want my nursing program to rule out the possibility of going home for us but requiring me to stay present for instate status, or in-person classwork. Lastly, I needed a program willing to work with my Statistics and Chemistry issues. I have never taken Stats. Instead, I have three semesters of social science research methods. It's far more indepth than a basic statistics course, but if you don't look directly at it and simply use checklists, it will disqualify me. Also, while I have the first semester of inorganic Chemistry, I made a C. Yeah....that was the class that I had just come out of AP Chemistry and hated the 300 student lecture hall when the entire grade was the average of the mid-term and final exams. So, I never went to class and managed to pull off a C based solely off the material I had learned in high school. I'm not proud of it, but that's the reality off that grade, from 18 years ago. So, I needed a program that didn't require two semesters of Chemistry before admitting me. It didn't matter if they didn't require it, or if they allow you to do it concurrently with the program, or whatever. I just needed to not need it done *before* I started.

So, I narrowed my search down to two programs and I applied to this one. I got in, and it was supposed to run smoothly from that point onward. Then they messed up my orientation class, which would completely disqualify me for financial aid. All I asked for was permission to take at least one other course so I could get my financial aid. I attempted to reason with the Program Director that with ten hours of online courses under my belt and the extensive experience in my family, I know how to learn in an online formatting. I was then informed that the orientation class was not just about teaching me how to use the online formatting.

Nope, the mandatory orientation course is required to teach me how to use library resources for research, how to write in APA formatting, and how to build writing skills sufficient for a Bachelor's degree program. Therefore, it was impossible to allow me to take anything with my orientation class.

Yippee skippee, it was the Enlish department all over again! I explained to her that my research paper which was accepted and submitted for the SEUSS symposium clearly demonstrates my ability to do academic research. I am fluent in far more than merely APA citation formatting, and proceeded to list off the ones I am well versed in. I assured her that my academic record over the last two years clearly demonstrates that I am not her average student, and listed those accomplishments for her. I then offered to submit a writing sample to assure her that my writing skills are more than sufficient for the task at hand.

All I wanted was a waiver to take at least one other class with the orientation course so I can get financial aid. That's IT. She agreed to reviewing a writing sample. Ever the overachiever, I submitted my 19 page final paper for Social Theory that was on Symbolic Interactionism, the Criminology paper that was presented at SEUSS, and a random final paper from a history class to demonstrate my ability to write across different disciplines. I offered to provide works in other disciplines or creative writing samples if she desired and I offered to provide her with academic references to assure her of my capabilities.

She gave me a waiver to take Statistics with my orientation class. Technically, this program had accepted my research methods in lieu of statistics. However, about half of the master's programs I am interested in specifically require statistics in addition to the Bachelor's in Nursing. I had intended to take statistics regardless simply so that I don't need to seek a waiver when I apply for my master's coursework. Technically, she gave me what I asked for.

If all she had done was that, we would be fine, end of discussion. What was NOT okay was the "advice" she included with her waiver permission.

•With respect to your writing, you do not paraphrase, you are advised that papers can only be 10% direct quotes. There are also errors involving the placement of punctuation in parenthetical citations, and those errors will need to be worked out in orientation.

•I will consult with Dr. M or Dr. V, whoever will be your statistics instructor, if you are meeting writing expectations for the course.

•We expect our students demonstrate integrity; I understand you have family who are ready to assist you but your works needs to clearly be your own.

Okay, point number one is just plain old pissy. Furthermore, when you realize that two of the three papers I submitted to her were in ASA and not APA formatting, you immediately recognize her complain about punctuation in cituations *if* you are versed in the differences between these two styles. ASA to the uninformed eye basically looks like lazy APA. I thought of that when I submitted. However, I wrote those papers for senior sociology classes. ASA was the appropriate formatting for them, and I wasn't going to go reformat them to submit them to her for this writing sample. As for the quotations, different disciplines have different requirements and expectations. It's disingenious to judge two other disciplines by their expectations both as a discipline and as a department. It's easily fixed by merely telling me what your expectations ARE and I will conform to them immediately when I write for YOU.

My admission to the statistics courses is entirely dependent upon the professor agreeing that my writing is sufficient for a sophomore statistics course? Pardon me while I laugh there. I've known a lot of nursing students and a lot of math students. I would be beyond shocked to be informed that my writing skills are sub-par for a sophomore statistics course. However, if it makes her feel better, go right ahead and show the professor my writing style. Never had a mathematics professor complain about my writing before but perhaps that is because mathematics is primarily about manipulating numbers and not words. There was that one calculus proffessor who begged me to consider becoming an engineer instead of continuing to major in sociology. My algebra professor didn't rqeuire writing skills at all, and my research methods course required formuliac writing. There wasn't exactly room for creative writing skills when learing how to use SPSS and very specific research reports. In fact, I'm not certain a statistics professor even wants to wade through a 19 page social theory paper in the first place and will likely simply say okie dokie rather than survive that experience.

However, it is point number three that literally stops me in my tracks.

We expect our students demonstrate integrity; I understand you have family who are ready to assist you but your works needs to clearly be your own.

WTF? Tell me please that the PhD Director of Nursing did NOT just say what it apears she said. Oh, when I responded, offering her both academic references to attest to my academic skills but also the contact information for the three specific professors those three writing samples were submitted to, so that they could confirm I subumitted them, I earned As on them, and those papers were 100% consistent with my normal writing style and academic performance for their classes, yeah after I said that of course she didn't say what it appears she said. Just for posterity's sake, I most definitely saved those emails. Essentially, what she is saying is that my writing samples were far, far too advanced for their typical student in her program. Therefore, her logical conclusion is that I CHEATED, not that I really am far advanced from her normal student and did it all MYSELF.

I don't cheat. If you intend to accuse me of cheating, you'd better have more than your own snotty attitude to back that insult up. Not only did I save the whole conversation in case she accuses me again while I am in her nursing program, if she makes such an unfounded and without basis accusation again, I will file a formal complaint for it. Do NOT accuse me of cheating. Those are fighting words!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, your writing really blew her out of the water, huh? ;-)