Monday, December 18, 2006

Math schmath!

Hey all!
Some of you may know that I have become increasingly frustrated with the Art Institute Online and some of you may not know. For those that know this is rant time, for those that don't get a cup of coffee and pull up a chair.

I was looking to get back into school and my main focus was to use my abilities and my passion to make something into a career. Early on I thought about teaching but decided against because I was afraid I would burn out. There is a lot of crap teachers see and try to fix that can never be fixed and I wasn't sure I wanted to face that. After all I am the guy who draws pictures of cartoon bunnies in his spare time. I am a dreamer and I hate seeing reality too often. I have had enough reality the last couple of years of scraping by and making my dad's "Bank of Dad" shirt more realistic then cleverly ironic. I started looking around and I thought a journalist would be cool and I still think it would be if I was one of those people that could do reviews or entertainment opinion columns. I once again realized there was way too much reality in that world to suit my tastes. I started thinking what do I like to do. I like photography and I love making things on the computer. So I started checking out art schools. I read about several cool looking schools that required a portfolio and several essays on why the world is the way it is or what color is the best to wear after Labor Day since we all know white is out.... I really wasn't interested in driving to Beaverton to hang out with the unwashed hippies that reeked of a horrible mixture of Patchouli and body odor. The same hippies that spend their time drawing "amazing" pictures of trees and write poems about trees and why weed is your friend. Ok so maybe I am in the wrong city to think these raggety looking hippy wannabe granola kids are annoying and maybe I am a little judgemental of something I really never experienced but whatever this is my story. AND YOU WILL LISTEN TO EVERY WORD I HAVE TO SAY! (thank you Adam Sandler) Back to the story.

So here I am wanting to go back to school but afraid photography will lead to me being a sears photographer and thinking writing will lead me to a pissed off typesetter at the local newspaper and when I mean local I mean the community newspaper. I decided I would go back to the computer for my answer and low and behold I found Art Institue Online. Which boasted some amazing majors which included Media Arts and Animation. I was in it to win it, with dreams of working on the next Toy Story. They rushed me right through the enrollment process and before they even had all my transcripts I was in my first class.

The first class was pointless but I enjoyed the interaction with other students and the fact that I could log in at 7 PM or 2 AM and it didn't really matter. I did very well and I recieved a very high 'A'. The second clas began about the same time they told me my transcripts were not completely acceptable and that I would have to retake Math courses, specifically MTH 099 Basic Mathematics and MTH 100 Intermediate Algebra. What I had taken was Mat 154 College Algebra and MAT 160 Trigonometry. Apparently it is that damn "A" and "H"'s fault that my credits weren't taken and that is about the best guess I have. I tried to find out why they weren't accepted via email and the phone, but I recieved no response. Finally last week I recieved a call that I had to take the Accuplacer Test or else. So I called back and I was told that "the credits must not have matched up and it's too late to do a credit challenge". They don't match up? Math is Math! 1+1=2 Is that different if you got to art school? Does 1+1=Picasso? Then the other half of that statement.... "it's too late to do a credit challenge". Forget that I emailed and called about this and heard nothing back. Lets focus on something being too late when I was not even aware it existed until it was mentioned during my little phone call that I had to make three times (not counting the prior unreturned messages) to get a hold of someone. How is it too late? I am not enrolled in the classes and you have had my transcripts for 2 months! Why do I have to take these stupid classes anyway? What art talent will I improve by learning how to divide fractions and to solve for 'x'? If they are trying to go more legit with their degrees then the next question is what makes makes me have to take them next semester? In every school I have ever attended they allow you to choose your courses and even though courses are required to complete the major and some are prerequisites for other required classes all they do is suggest you take them. You could buck the whole system and take every class with the word "SEX" in the title and as long as they get their money they will let you. Even against their advisors advice YOU still pick YOUR schedule. The other problem with the "more legit degree" excuse is the fact that those same classes worked great for my first major and have worked for every other school with required math courses I have asked that did not want higher courses then the ones I took. In fact, I often get told that I more then qualify the math requirements but at AIO I am told I will be force placed into the basic math class unless I can take some test that requires me to ask a total stranger to jump through several hoops. I have asked several times if there is a way to sign up with a proctor service. I would pay for it I don't even care about the money as long as it could be on a Wednesday. My other problem is that this involves the other person (or Proctor) to have email access and internet access. Yet it can not be done at my home or at the proctor's home. I have had two people say they would but they don't know how to work around the internet connection issue.

About the test they want me to take. I have to find a non-relative that can be my communicator to the testing company. They have to send in their information and they will get the test or the test link sent to them via email. They have to be present while I take the test and then they have to submit the test and communicate with the testing company on my behalf and I have to get all this set up and complete by Wednesday.

So I am back at square one. With no reason that my math courses are not acceptable and the fear of having to take math again. Which puts me into a corner and I tend to get very feisty when I am stuck in a corner. I have an overwhelming urge to bag it all but I worked hard to get the money situation straightened out and I really want to be in school. I decided the other day that I need to head to the physical campus in downtown Portland and talk to them about switching to them next year. If I get pushed into MTH 099 and MTH 100 I will be talking to them after the first of the year about getting in as soon as possible. At this point even if I do miraculously avoid the gallows, known as remedial math courses, I will be talking to someone at AI at Portland about starting with them next fall. I decided to share a few warm happy thoughts with the Online chuckleheads about what this stupid situation has done to my outlook on AIO and I wrote the email below. It is nowehere near what I would like to say but it will have to do.

I am not understanding why these math classes are so imperative. I have 8 credits of math already that are at a higher level then the ones you are forcing me to take. I am having a hard time seeing how these classes will help me in my chosen career. I also have no clue why I have to get this all done now. Why is it so important that I get into the math now. Is it a prerequisite for something? If so then what. I am extremely irritated that my credits weren't accepted and I am even more irritated that this test relies on me to find a proctor and can't be done at the Art Institute in my city. I am at a point that if I get forced placed into these math classes, that I feel I shouldn't have to take, I will be looking for a new school to attend next year.
As far as the math goes why was I rushed into enrolling if this was such an issue? I have talked several times with Andi Spano about this accuplacer test and the fact that my math classes should count for something. She has never given me a reason that my credits weren't accepted. In fact until the other day I had no idea that I could have challenged the credits to try and get them accepted. I have had a hard time getting in touch with people because you are based in Pennsylvania and I am at work for most of the time you are open and I am off after you close. I don't get replies to my emails and usually they are not helpful or require me to submit more information so I can wait 24 hours longer for help. I signed up for the convenience factor and I have not experienced that.
There is a slim chance that I will be able to get this pointless test done by Wednesday. I am going to try to set it up but as of yet I am unable to mesh times with anybody who has agreed to be my proctor. I also have another question about the test is it emailed to the proctor or can it be faxed? The proctor I do have does not have email access which is another reason this has been hard to set up.
Thank you for your time,
Michael Williams
Student ID: *****
Phone: (503) ***-****
URL: Http://


Robert said...

Wow! Sounds like you have a die-lema... Unfortunately, I don't have any answers. I share your fustration with acedemia - they are never available for part-time sturdents and tend to be more interested in being profitable under their "not-for-profit" banner.

On to another topic - why not write some cool shorts and essays and try to get some stuff published a freelance?

Mike said...

Yeah well there is not much I can do at the moment. I was not able to get the test done on such short notice so I will be taking math for village idiots next semester. I can and will switch schools next year.

I am working on a few things at the moment and hope that I can get some things published but I have not been real happy with most of the stuff I have written yet.