As some of you already know, after two years at Rutgers, at the end of the current semester, I will be transferring out. This was a hard decision for me, but one I have had to make out of a growing necessity—which I shall explain below.
This all started in January. We were already one week into classes; all the books I needed–$100 later—were purchased and on their way to me. I was prepped for an exciting semester, taking a few courses I was really excited about. One was ‘God, Sex, and Violence in the Old Testament’ and the other was on the Historical Socrates. On the former, I had a good grasp of the material already and had developed a good relationship with the instructor, with whom I’ve had several very useful and informative conversations. The latter course I needed to satisfy a requirement for my Classics program and I was very interested to see how the class was taught in relation to my Historical Jesus class from last semester (were the methods, assumptions, and criterion used in the different fields similar or different, for example?).
I received a rather bizarre email at 7:30 in the evening while I was working on homework. I was informed that I would have to drop my Gods, Sex, and Violence class because it did not satisfy any of my graduation requirements. I immediately grew suspicious—a spam email maybe? It made no sense. It was offered by Rutgers, I am a Rutgers student, I’m double-majoring and I knew it counted towards my generic ancient history major. So what gives?
I immediately wrote to the advising office who then informed me that because it was offered by Rutgers Camden (satellite campus) and not Rutgers main (at New Brunswick), it would not meet the criteria necessary to count towards my graduation, so I had to drop it now or they would drop it for me.
So quick recap: 1 week into the semester, books ordered, classes paid for, email ultimatum issued demanding I drop a class. Got that all? Okay.
Now I’m in a predicament. It’s a week into the Spring term, I now have to frantically try to find another class (not an easy task after a week has gone by—most are full, closed, or don’t count towards my degree). I am doubly-screwed because I am taking the courses online due to the terrible weather in the winter months and commuting over an hour and a half to classes after working a full 8 hours is unbearable normally, but then throw in the winter we’ve had this year (and the fact that Rutgers NEVER, EVER cancels classes—EVER) and it is just more miserable. So I am extremely limited to what classes I can take (RU does not have a very well developed online program for nontradition students).
So I called—because by this time I was livid—and spoke with someone who seemed to be having a bad day. I was confused since I had taken a class last semester on the Camden campus through their online program to get a few more credits and I had not received this email or any indication that I should be dropping the class. Well, she informed me, they let me slide that time—but it still didn’t count. Full stop.
Yes, you read that right—it isn’t bad enough that they wait until a week into the term to let me know I’m wasting my money, Rutgers didn’t feel a need to inform me that I was taking a class last semester that didn’t count towards my degree (not even electives). I just threw away $2500. Seriously, I might as well just go burn my money.
You may be asking–$2500? Wha? Yep. You see, as a nontraditional, out of state, part time student, I am paying $809 per credit hour. You would think with all that dough I’m shoveling out, Rutgers would have a more helpful administrative staff. And this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten the infamous RU Screw.
I settled for another class I didn’t want to take, but being a week late meant I was a week behind (two weeks actually, by the time my books came and I had access to the course because, apparently, technology).
Don’t get me wrong, I love Rutgers. I love the brand. I enjoyed walking down the sacred path and the lively discussions during class and having professors who get it, and who know what they’re talking about. But I just can’t afford it anymore—I can’t continue to shovel out that kind of money (or throw it away)—when I don’t feel I’m being treated like a student (more like a commodity). I pay so much more money per credit hour than an instate, on-campus, 18-something and yet I get thrown under the bus. And I just can’t take it anymore.
And it’s sad, it really is. Rutgers has really grown on me. But the other issue that I had to take into consideration is the travel time and the fact that I’m no spring chicken. I’m dangerously approaching 31 (which technically isn’t old, but it is when you consider that I’ve got another few years of undergrad work to do and I still have to go to grad school). I’m actually, literally, wasting time because there is no way I can go to morning or afternoon classes without quitting my job—which won’t happen because bills.
And this isn’t Rutgers fault, per se. But what is annoying is that they don’t offer any solid online programs. I mean, being in a class room is fantastic, but you don’t really need to be ‘present’ to be present anymore. Technology has dated the old-school in-class need, with programs like Skype and Google Hangout, you don’t have to be physically in a room with 30 other kids to have a lively and interactive lecture. But Rutgers is insanely slow to catch up to this and it is leaving students like me in a bad place financially (because we pay the same rates that other commuters and on-campus students pay) and mentally (because we have a harder work load and less options).
I know I’m not alone in this either. A lot of my classmates have expressed similar dissatisfaction with Rutgers’ ecollege programs. I’m pretty sure other nontrad students like me have had (or are having) similar experiences.
The good thing about transferring into another program is that all of my credits have been excepted (so I don’t have to burn all my cash and watch it disintegrate after all). The school is fully accredited (by a proper accrediting institution—thanks to Chris for looking into it all for me), I can get my whole degree online, and it is way, way less expensive (about $240 per credit hour). But there are downsides.
For one thing, the brand isn’t as well recognized as Rutgers and I can’t double-major anymore (and they don’t offer a Classics program, only a basic history program). That’s fine because I can still get into grad school with it, and really it is the grad school that really matters. But by then I’ll be a bit more ahead, have some money saved (I was blowing through $80 a week on gas commuting to Rutgers 3-4 nights a week last year), and have more publications under my belt.
So here it is. I am still at Rutgers until the end of the semester. But before the summer comes, I’ll have to say my goodbyes. It’s been fun, I had a blast, but I have to get along now (and by ‘now’, I mean in a few months).