Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Don't focus on the past. Try to focus on making the future less disastrous."*

   Community college is kind of strange.

   I’m just saying that to be nice.

   It totally blows. 

   I’m currently enrolled at Los Angeles City College and nearly every moment spent there is an exercise in frustration and futility. I literally start getting a headache when I’m within five blocks of campus. It’s sort of like the entire series of three, hideous city blocks that makes up this campus is encased in nuclear holocaust aftershock waves. Or like there is that weird energy that the Tommyknockers put on the city of Derry in that Stephen King book that ate up a full week-and-a-half of my Winter. (Thanks a lot, Stephen King. But, eh, we can’t win ‘em all, right?)

   It all started when I realized that I have to complete two prerequisites to start grad school: basic marketing and basic statistics.

   I thought that would be no big whoop, and it kind of wasn’t: I easily signed up for The Principles of Marketing in December and emailed all the professors of the already-full statistics classes to see if I could be on their waiting lists. It was relatively simple. I showed up the first day of Professor Kendis’ statistics class and got an add slip.

   Here’s what LACC failed to mention: statistics requires its own prerequisite. (And it truly sucks typing the word "prerequisite.")

I felt sure this would be no big deal: I took math as far as AP Calculus in high school and I took Physics in college.  Plus, as you all know, I took the GRE (twice) and scored (reasonably) high on the math portion.

   But I was rebuffed at every turn.

   First: They wouldn’t accept AP Calculus scores: that was no proof that I could master Intermediate Algebra (not that I scored well on the AP Calc exam, just as long as we’re being honest).

   Second: USC fucked me over because I was in their weird honors program which lists every math class on my transcript as Core-103, Core-104 etc, and not as Math-344 and so on. I knew that Western Civilization-based-let’s-care-about-knowledge-old-professors-in-tweed-caring-about-literature-and-history-and-Stephen-Hawking program would come back to bite me in the ass. I just thought, at the time, that it didn’t matter. I planned on being an actor.

   So my transcripts were a no-go so far as skirting the INTERMEDIATE ALGEBRA prerequisite went.

   Third: Then they refused to let my GRE scores stand in as proof of my mastery of INTERMEDIATE ALGEBRA. And the counselor told me to study hard. Excuse me? Are you saying the LACC math placement exam is harder than the GRE? I didn’t realize I was applying to take statistics at Cal Tech.

   Fourth: As a last resort, I tried to sign up for the math assessment exam. The asshole running the “ticket booth” acted like I’d ruined his day by existing and warned me that if I didn’t show up, I’d be screwing up someone else’s day/chances at life. The worst part was the test was after the last day to add classes, so it didn’t do me any damn good. (Though I’m still planning ways to hurt that man.)

   So after days of struggle and multiple emails to the dean of the LACC math department (the last 6-8 of which went ignored) I decided to give up. I’ll figure it out another day.

   It’s sad to me that getting help from anyone at LACC is a lot like calling AT&T: you wait on hold for 2 hours and then give up in tears of frustration. What’s even sadder? I actually pay full tuition there because I already have a BA and can’t go to school for free like the majority of the other students. You’d think they’d want my business. But in all actuality they probably spend their days doing circle-jerks around a bonfire of unopened transcripts. Nice.
   Oh yeah, and: the first day I was in the statistics class that I was not permitted to join I got a parking ticket. My license place stickers were expired. Never mind the fact that you're supposed to get 2-month leeway: the fuckers at LACC were on the case! Screw you, Los Angeles City College.

   I am in a marketing class and it’s kind of nice. The students aren’t exactly like the ones I encountered in undergrad. There’s this puny, Serbian, punk kid who likes to be an asshole to our (adorable) professor. When Professor S. coughs, the kid coughs right after him and giggles and looks over his shoulder to see if his buddy/lover notices how clever he’s being. There’s a tiny, transgendered Black gal who wears animal print everything and eats chicken wings and candy hamburgers outside class and lets her phone ring (a custom ring tone that’s some sort of terrible hip-hop song) all the way through without silencing or answering it. There’s a middle-aged, left-handed (read: evil) Latina that talks to her seatmates throughout the lecture as though she’s at a PTA meeting and not IN THE MIDDLE OF CLASS. They add color to my Tuesday evenings.

   But I’m pretty sure they all know I’m wicked hip and most likely better than them because Michelle and Danny sent me a sweet notebook that proves how cool I am:
I learned a new skill: making drawings on a picture. Don't worry, the real Justin notebook is in perfect condition.

   I kind of think this notebook will show these other posers what a sweet, chic, modern-type student I am. Justin Bieber is so hot right now. I think.
   In the meantime I'm focusing on how to sell the idea of this class to a person that wants to learn.
*Dr. Jeremy Reed on The Mindy Project.

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