Back to school to improve... yet no help makes for a complete failure
Going back to school is a great way to not only improve yourself, but increase your ability to market your abilities to your current employer and potential employers as well. With today’s increasing demand for top-notch employees, having an education can set you apart from everybody else trying for the same job. But what happens when your plans to go back to school become derailed?
When plans don’t go smoothly it can be downright devastating, not only for the student, but potentially their family as well. Recently, my husband’s plans to go back to school have been derailed. Not because of the abundance of people going back to school, but because of major problems with the computer system and the inability to get in touch with anybody who can help with the situation.
Riverside Community College, particularly the Moreno Valley Campus, was a big factor in the issues we had to deal with. I found them to be both unprofessional and unreliable. In hopes of furthering yourself, it seems these community colleges have an overabundance of students and will most likely not help you on your path to success.
My husband is a military veteran. He served 6 years in the Army and because of that service, it allows him to have special privileges when he goes back to school. So, even though we both had great paying jobs, we decided as a family, it was time to go back to school so he can further his career. With families who live in two separate areas of the United States, we had the pick from schools in either California or Wisconsin.
While currently living in Wisconsin, we took all areas into consideration before deciding which was the better place to go back to school. Since we had previously attended school in California, specifically Riverside Community College, and because the cost per credit unit for a community college was much less than what was offered in Wisconsin, we packed up and headed to the West Coast for a fresh start.
Before we quit our jobs and packed up all our belongings, we did our research. We knew what the payout would be for using the Montgomery GIBill and we also knew when we needed to be in state to start the process. Naturally, with a slight difficulty in getting answers, we should have been keyed into the future problems we would most likely encounter.
With the information we were told, we knew my husband would have priority registration. This meant he would be registering for his classes by December 15. We also knew that a Veteran’s Affairs representative would not discuss what classes he needed over the phone. This meant he would have to do this in person, forcing us to move to California by mid-December when classes wouldn’t even start until February 14th. We took a chance.
Which is more frustrating...
No help to be found
Unfortunately, arriving in California in mid-December resided in the inability to get anything done. Everybody was heading out for Christmas break. Therefore we were told the exact opposite in person as to what we were told on the phone. My husband did not have priority registration (at least to register by December). He would be unable to do anything until January. With our patience wearing thin, once again, we were forced to wait for answers.
Meanwhile, we are both unemployed and supporting a family with three children. While we have a roof over our head, we no longer have our own space. While I can say we are grateful for the help of our family, we are no longer in a comfort zone. We are burning through the money we have saved to support our bills and buy the stuff we need to live off monthly. Ironically, no sympathy is needed. We choose to put ourselves into this situation. Yet, while things start to become tense, even though no answers are being found, we still have high hopes for the GI Bill payment which is only a short month away, and the potential advantage my husband will gain once he finishes his degree.
The New Year
When January arrives, we know we have to get on the ball to make sure everything goes smoothly, yet, it seems the more you try to get things to go smoothly, the less likely they are to happen. He meets with Veteran’s Affairs and gets his answers. He finally knows what classes he needs to take in order to guarantee payment. That is the start. This of course took several phone calls. It seems trying to get a hold of someone is nearly impossible. Getting an appointment might happen when the world comes to an end!
The next step was a visit to Admissions. Here he had to get his schooling in order, everything from filling out financial paperwork to setting up his time for registration. As a veteran, he is told that he has priority registration (once again). This is good news because with the overflow of people going back to school, getting a class can be next to impossible. Unfortunately, the system flagged his account. Even though he was told he could register on January 14, the platform used for registering for classes would not allow him to register until February 10. This seems to be an issue since class starts on Valentine’s Day.
Through several voicemails left and still no answer, my husband has no choice but to wait it out. While occasionally checking the school’s website to see if he can register, he finds his registration is moved up to February 5. While still not good, we patiently wait. We really have no choice. The only person he was able to get a hold of told him there was nothing they could do to reset the computer so he could register when he was told to by the system.
Frustration, Frustration, Frustration
If all the waiting is not enough to cause frustration, it turns into more drama and more issues when he finally does go to register. He is still locked out of the system and since it is the weekend there is no one to contact. Now he must wait until Monday so he can go to the school and force someone to answer his questions.
When Monday comes around, we stand in line. Apparently there is numerous students having issues, all of which must stand in line to get their issues resolved. I start to wonder if these students are having the same issues as we are. After standing in line for roughly an hour, we finally get to talk to a human. Their answer… register for what you can and good luck.
What kind of answer is that? There are currently no classes available. Making a schedule which does not require you to spend the entire day either at school or driving is almost impossible. While going to school can be a sacrifice (based off of less income and less family time), how much is too much to sacrifice?
With no other option, he enrolls in both a Math class (which is open) and an English class (which is also open) and puts himself on the waitlist for the other classes he needs to take. Upon registering for his English class, he finds out he has to take a Fire Information Technology class as well. This class is unfortunately closed. Therefore, we both have little hope that he will actually be sitting in an English class this semester.
The next day comes along, and he finds that he is successfully registered for only a Math class… that is 3 credit hours. Not enough to be considered a full time or a part time student in the eyes of the VA. Therefore, the one class will not satisfy the requirements to be paid the GI Bill.
First Day of School
On your first day of college, you should be excited. You are on your way to improving yourself and your career. Yet, this one has been full of frustration. After all is said and done, the only class my husband is currently enrolled in is a Math class. He has been dropped from his English class and even dropped off the waitlist for his other classes. This makes it impossible to even continue for the semester.
To resolve these issues, we tried calling the school. With no one available to talk to that could give us an appropriate answer, we were forced to leave several voicemails with no return call. Finally, as desperation was giving in, we called the one person we thought would be able to help - the president of administration.
At first things looked hopefully… his secretary was running through loops to get in touch with the people we were also unable to get in touch with. She promised to call us back and finally we would have some answers. Yet, she failed as well. With no call back, we were unable to get any answers and he was forced to go to school Monday confused and unsure.
Even with all the legwork beforehand, he was told the best he could hope for was to go to the classes where he was on the waitlist and have them add them to his class schedule. The whole day was a complete and udder fail!
What to do
Naturally, this is going to be the question that comes up. With only one class, he has no option to actually go to school. He will not get paid for it (which was originally the plan), and he can not add any other classes to get to a full time status, or even a part time status to have some income coming in.
As we discussed the options, it looks like he will be forced to look for a job instead. It still makes me wonder. After all, going to school should make you a better person. Part of this is being a professional. So how does one learn professional skills from a school who obviously doesn’t hire professional people.
I am rather disgusted. With all the high hopes I had for my husband returning to school at the Moreno Valley Campus, part of the Riverside Community College, I now wonder if this school is even an option. I am sure there are schools out there who will treat their students better than this one has exhibited.
I understand there are other people who are probably in a very similar situation. The economy is slow and there are several people going back to school. That of course means several people with questions that need to be answered Yet, there is no way to improve the system if there is no one available to talk to or help you at the school. It makes it even more frustrating when a person must make numerous phone calls and leave numerous voicemails and messages without ever getting a call back.
While I do believe going back to school is a great option for many people, I would highly encourage a person to do their research beforehand. If the school is difficult to get answers from, this could give you a sign of future issues.
My husband, who is a disabled veteran, looking for a chance to excel, was pushed out of the system. How do you plan for instances like these? You don’t. Therefore, when you are frustrated you rant and rave and move on. In my case, I write. I hope this will let other’s know what bad experience we had with RCC and hopefully they can avoid it.
As for my husband and our family, he is going to end up dropping his class. Maybe it was fate, but he applied for a job when he got home and within 10 short minutes the hiring manager had called him. He has an interview set up for tomorrow. He may not be going to school this spring, and if this pans out, he may not even return in the summer. Maybe this is why he had to go through all the frustration in the first place. I can only keep my fingers crossed!