Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Complications

It's that time of the week! Mama Kat's Writing Prompts. Hop on over to see the full list of prompts and participate!

This week, I chose prompt number 4:

Write about something that complicates your life.

Warning: This may be more of a rant than an intelligent stream of thoughts or writing.

Something that currently complicates my life and probably will for a long time is related to my career.

I've worked extremely hard to get where I am. To get through school, obtain my degrees, write my thesis, student teach, get through graduate school from Columbia with my Master's, and finally pass my last test needed for certification, the American Sign Language CST (Content Specialty Test), which took me three times to pass. Don't even get me started on that.

To teach in public schools in New York, teachers must have certification. Regardless if the principal, superintendent, and curriculum and instruction personnel want a teacher on staff, he or she cannot be hired without Board of Education approval, which without certification, cannot happen.

Before I passed the CST, I thought that was the last thing I needed for certification. I thought that once I passed, I would be certified and finally find a job -- if one was available here; a whole other issue -- and be a real teacher, in a real classroom, with real students of my own. And theoretically, that's how it works, assuming all other documentation is complete.

Those documents include a child abuse workshop, a violence workshop, completion of a teaching program from an accredited institution, an institutional recommendation, and all undergraduate transcripts. All of that of mine is finished. Except for one thing. My undergraduate transcript from my Bachelor's degree at C.W. Post.

Why, you ask? Well, here's where it gets interesting.

Before C.W. Post, I was a student at Suffolk County Community College. Luckily, my mom paid for these two years of attendance, I received my Associate's degree in ASL and Deaf Studies, and I was on my way to Post. To pay for my tuition at Post, I needed to take out student loans, which my mom co-signed. However, I guess since tuition was so high, we were maxed out on our loans, and I could not get a loan from anywhere for my last semester, and clearly I could not pay thousands of dollars myself.

The funny thing is, I was allowed to attend classes, even without payment. I attended classes, completed my work, completed all courses and all necessary requirements to graduate. But I never received my degree, because I never paid for the tuition, because I had no money, because I couldn't get a real job outside of retail yet. It eventually went to collections -- shocker -- and I paid a good chunk of change upfront, with a monthly payment of $161 immediately after. I've been paying this religiously every month, on time, without fail, for a couple years now, but I still have quite a bit left that I owe.

Due to this balance, which I have even less capabilities to pay for now than I did then, Post absolutely refuses to let me have my transcript, let alone my degree which I still have not received either. Okay, I understand that I still have a balance I owe. But this is literally the last and only thing left I need for certification as a teacher. If I could get certified, I could get a job in my field, make more money, and pay them faster. Make sense? Apparently not to them.

When I went to the school recently, in person, about a 45 minute drive, by the way, I explained to the girl at registrar what I needed. She told me that she could only print the transcript if she got permission from bursar because of the balance. She also told me that if she got permission, she could send it directly to the state or Columbia for me, since it was for certification and I needed to get a job to pay them back.

This might be a good time to mention that I also needed this transcript to get accepted into Columbia. How did I get it then? I called and begged the poor guy who answered the phone at registrar that day to do something, and he felt badly and e-mailed it to me. WHY CAN'T THEY DO SOMETHING NOW?

I then walked over to bursar, literally the opposite side of the small room, and when called up to the window, explained the situation to the woman there. She immediately told me that she could not print transcripts when I have a block on my account due to the balance. I explained what the first girl at registrar told me, that if she got permission she could send it directly to Columbia or the state, and the bursar woman even went to check with someone else, possibly a supervisor or higher-up person. After a few minutes, she came back, apologized and said there was nothing she could do, and there was no way she could print it for me with the block. I almost started crying right there in front of the window. I know it's not her fault, but why can't they just hit PRINT?

I understand I have a block on my account. I understand I owe a balance. But what I don't understand, is then why was I able to attend classes? Why was I able to complete my coursework for all credits necessary to graduate? Why, after knowing this is the only thing left I need to get certified, and that I have been making the necessary payments, at least the minimum amount required every single month, on time, with no latenesses, in succession without fault, can't they just hit PRINT for me? Why can't they just do it once in good faith, knowing that I am paying them back?

I do not have the thousands that are still left to pay. I barely make my payments as it is now, and I can't even afford my phone bill. Somehow, I find a way, because I know I must. But if I don't find a better, higher-paying job soon, I won't have anything left to give them. If I could get a job in my field, that would help. I'd have a better income, and I could pay them more, and faster. But, I can't get a job without being officially certified, and I can't get certified without this stupid transcript, and I can't get the transcript without paying the balance with money that I do not have.

To add to this slightly minor inconvenience, there are plenty of ASL jobs for teachers in states other than New York. People are moving out of here left and right, for teaching other subjects as well, because the availability of job openings here are scarce to say the least. I would try for one of those jobs and move, but wait, I don't have the money to go anywhere, because I don't make enough to save anything to be able to move any time soon. And so the vicious cycle starts again. UGH.

What's complicating your life? I hope it's less annoying than mine.
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