I finish grad school. With a speedbump at the end.

It's been longer than unusual between posts. I have been busy finishing the last course of my grad program. As soon as my final is graded and my final grade has been posted, I will have completed all requirements for the degree of Masters in Public Administration from Troy University.

The end did not come easily. Up until this last course, I have been able to fulfill the requirement of one proctored exam per course by having the Executive Director at my agency serve as my proctor. I was able to take my exams at the comfort of my desk at work, with a well-known keyboard under my fingertips. This possibility was eliminated for all public administration students effective with this term, unless you happen to be located in a combat zone. Alas, I was unable to make the argument that given the budget problems in New York, any quasi-governmental agency is in the line of fire these days. So I arranged to take my final at a professional testing center in Rochester.

Make that quasi-professional. If that.

I got to the testing center on time, and was shown to a quiet room with a computer. Very poor ergonomics, though. The computer was set up on a narrow table, so there was no room to put the CRT monitor in front of me, and I had to spend 4 hours looking to my right to see the screen. I already have "The Neck" of office workers (any massage therapist knows what I am talking about) on top of a congenital problem of fused vertebrae in my neck, so this was physically uncomfortable. I hated the keyboard, too. Still, I was able to access my final on the Blackboard software. So it was full steam ahead.

I had four hours to take the test. At three hours 54 minutes, I was done. I pushed the "Submit" button. And got an error message.

Panic. Immediate headache. I even forgot about my bladder, which was full.

I got people from the testing center into the room, and called the university's Blackboard support line. The IT support person confirmed that my exam had turned into digital dust, and there was no sign of it in their system. A learning center person got on the phone with the IT person, and they discovered that there were two versions of Java on the computer. The two versions conflicted with each other when I pushed the "Submit" button, and shredded my exam.

I called my professor. He had received an email from IT by then, confirming that the learning center's computer had destroyed my exam. He decided to allow me to retake my exam in the comfort of my office, under the same rules I had been governed by in the past.

The learning center still charged me the full fee for the exam. I was too upset to protest.

I retook the exam yesterday. It still took almost the entire four hours, even though it was the same case I had written about the day before. This time my prof emailed the exam to my proctor, and had him email the exam back. Good ol' tried and true email.

I am trying to find out if the university informed the testing center of the computer requirements. If so, I think the testing center should refund part of my fee, because they did not provide what I was paying for. If not, the university needs to know that they need to get this information out to testing centers to prevent other students from undergoing the intense emotional upset of seeing their work disappear before their very eyes.

And after all that, I am finished with grad school. Done. Except for that pile of textbooks. I need to sell some, and keep some. I also won't have my degree conferred until May, because I was late in filing the "intent to graduate" form. Until that happens, I guess I can't put "MPA" after my name in my email signature.

I believe that I will graduate with a 4.0.

Wow. This is really going to change my life. More free time. Less insomnia (I hope).

Student loan payments in six months.


  1. Have you figured out yet how to post to this thing from your graduation present? :p

  2. Hi, congrats on the grad work, good job.

    Just found your site and enjoying it -- I have one too

    silly stuff but what the hell, keeps folks happy.

    Have a great holiday season.


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