Saturday, August 15, 2015

No, I am still not a college student

I wanted to ride my motorcycle to campus so I could register for classes as a senior citizen. It took me a half-day to get the bike in running order, but I got that done. I wanted to make a statement: old, but still truckin' along. And I made it there, in time for late registration.
However, I did NOT get registered for classes as a geriatric student at Kennesaw State University for the fall semester. There were two obstacles left for me to overcome, and I only was able to accomplish one of them.
That particular obstacle was a stupid, stupid, stupid obstacle. (The first time I wrote that sentence, I only used two 'stupids,' but added a third upon re-write. That's the very, very nice thing about using a monitor and keyboard to write; those of you who go back to the age of long hand writing and typewriters will appreciate that.) It was in place due to a ruling by the Board of Regents that students had to demonstrate 'Lawful Presence.'
That sounds easy enough. I was born & raised in Georgia, blah blah blah.
Nope. Not even close. And therein lies a story. It's not a very interesting story, unless you like hearing about things that are a little bizarre and frustrating. A number of things had to occur, in order for the not-very-interesting story to emerge, and here they are.
The FIRST thing that happened, back in 1975:  I get a free driver's license because I am an honorably discharged veteran. It's a nice little benefit from the State of Georgia. Didn't expect it, but it was nice. The benefit was made nicer, when I was issued a license (by mail!) which didn't expire until my 65th birthday, which is in 2018. Didn't expect it, but it was nice.
Here's the important bit, for the purposes of the story (and it's really NOT that good of a story. Honest.): the license was issued to me with a date of 1/16/2007.

Got that? Because I am a veteran, I get a free license, and in 2007, they extend it until I'm 65.

Here's the SECOND  thing that happened: in May, I turned 62. Now, way back in 1980 or thereabouts, the University System of Georgia said that if you were a Georgia resident, 62 years of age or older at the time of registration, you could go to college for free, with some minor exceptions for things like lab fees. I was working at Georgia State University at the time that went through, as well as working on my M.Ed.  Despite temptation, I did not defer my education for 30+ years to take advantage of this bonanza, but I was aware the program was in place. So, being aware of it, I've really been looking forward to doing it, especially since I was forced to retire due to being bughouse nuts from  insomnia and other side-effects of the meds I was on for a chronic pain condition. Retirement was in September of 2007, so I've been waiting on this program for eight years. On my birthday, I applied to Kennesaw State University, just to take classes, not to get another degree.
The 62+ program is not very well known, and I had some erm, amusing interactions with admissions people who wanted my high school transcript, and later wanted all of my college transcripts, not just the transcript showing my degrees. Fortunately, I was able to get all that fixed with a contact made to persons higher up on the food chain. And, o beauteous day, o joyful morn, on July 7, I was admitted to KSU.

Because I am 62 years old, I am eligible to attend college for free!

But there's this thing they are worried about in Georgia. It's called 'lawful presence,' and I don't know why it's a problem. I don't know if they are afraid terrorists are going un-noticed, or if migrant farm workers are attending college when they are supposed to be pickin' the dam' cotton. Regardless of the original problem, though, there has definitely been a crack-down, and in 2010, the Board of Regents demanded that all applicants and new students provide proof that they are lawfully present in the great state of Georgia. This is NOT for tuition purposes, mind you; that's a different process. This entails providing certain documentation, which can include a bunch of other stuff, but in my case, the appropriate and easiest way is through a driver's license, issued after 2008.

I need to provide a driver's license issued after 2008. But because I am a veteran, my driver's license was issued BEFORE 2008. So, I may not register for classes.    

Well, do I have any other picture ID? No problem, I thought. My latest concealed carry permit was issued in 2014, which is after 2008.

WRONG. That doesn't prove I'm  lawfully present. 

How about my Veteran's Administration Health card, also issued after 2008?


Evidently, we must be criminally indiscriminate in handing out weapons carry permits, and enrolling people in veterans health care program.
At this point, I'm inclined to take myself home. And that's what I would have done, too, had it not been for the fact that I have seven years experience in college administration. I KNEW that there was someone on that campus, perhaps even in that office, who could look at what I had, and give me permission to register.

And that's what happened. After a relatively short period in which numerous clerical people scampered to and fro, and in which I did nothing mean and never raised my voice, I was able to speak with a kind, problem-solving person who had the authority to do so, and she solved my problem, and I was cleared for registration. That was obstacle one.

Alas. It was now rather late in the day, and I needed a waiver from the Learning Support office in order to take the remedial algebra class I needed. (That's obstacle two.)
Rabbit trail in this not-very-interesting story, which is almost at an end, no kidding:

Why am I, at age 62, with no career or degree goals, attempting to take math? 

Well, I have a family history of senile dementia. Whether or not it's Alzheimer's is a moot point; certainly I'm beyond the age of early onset, and so far experience relatively little trouble with my cognitive skills. HOWEVER, the handwriting is on the wall, as far as I'm concerned. Unless my future is very different from my fore-bearers, I'm going to start forgetting things in the next ten years. So, what's the best way to stop that from happening? Exercise the brain cells. And the best way, I THINK, to do that, is by working complex puzzles.  And that's what math is.
Now, I did NOT particularly shine in anything in high school, and certainly not in math, but I did make a 710 on the math part of the SAT, and have had comparable scores on the three GRE 's I've taken over the years. I just haven't DONE any math (except statistics) since 1977, and I wasn't really paying attention then. I DID pay attention to statistics, since it was a useful tool I could use to, erm, do something I'm sure, but I remember none of the calculus classes I took. I DO remember how to take the difference between two squares, but that's about it. So, I want math, and I need remedial math.
And actually, math is the language of the universe.

So that's why I'm taking math at my age and station in life. And here ends the rabbit trail, and then the final, no kidding, end of this not-very-interesting story.
After I left the admissions office, I rode my motorcycle over to the main campus. Motorcycle parking is free, and is located by the main gate. So, I had to walk to where I thought the Learning Support office was located. Turns out it wasn't there, but it was next door, so that wasn't too bad. However, it was 5:00 by the time I got to where I needed to be, and so I didn't get a chance to get a needed waiver from them. So, I walked back to my bike, and rode home, in rush hour traffic.
And collapsed.
My body hurt so bad, I felt as if I had been beaten. I have not walked any further than the end of the driveway in forever. I was so out of shape, that the relatively short trek across the campus (in August heat) just stomped me in the ground.
So: I postpone.
Here's what I have yet to do:
First (and I've already done this) I wrote a thank you to the nice person who helped me establish Lawful Residence.
Second, I've got to start hitting to pool at the gym, and do enough laps to get in condition.
Third, I've got to re-activate my application for the Winter Semester, and
FINALLY I need to establish some allies on campus. I need to talk to the people administering the Learning Studies program IN ADVANCE so that I can get a waiver without having to explain what I want three times to three clerical-level people. I need to talk to people in the other departments, as time goes on, so that they will let me in their classes as well. I have to register during late registration; that's a program requirement. So, wait lists may well be in my future. That's what allies are for.
And thus endeth the not-very-interesting story. Don't forget to tip the waitress.


  1. Have you considered online, free courses that are offered by some universities in the meantime--since what you want foremost is the knowledge?

  2. I'm looking forward to hearing more about this - perhaps because I am also in school at an odd age (although it's because I need a degree). I sympathize with the difficulties. I'd suggest rather than waiting on the math, you check out either the open source MIT classes linked above, or look up Khan Academy. That way you can get your brain moving in the comfort of your own home. Also, ask me about my big whiteboard and how handy it is for equations next to my desk!

  3. Thanks, gentles, one and all. Ori also had a resource for me,
    I may pursue one of these things to try to get up to speed, but I'm still after the 'in-class' experience. A horrid side effect of retirement (FOR ME) is the social isolation. I almost never HAVE to leave the house; in fact, except for medical appointments, I have gone months (in the beginning) without moving beyond kitchen, man cave, and bathroom. By the time I began to court my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, I was mostly able to get to church every week, and she holds me to a high standard there. However, I believe more social interaction will benefit me, and I also will be able to share my experience with others, as appropriate.