OT: Graduating YU
It's well known in the YU world that all it takes to get into YU is a bris. What's not so well known is what it takes to get out of YU! The basic steps are simple, but YU makes them oh so complex!
- Apply many months prior to your desired graduation date (May, September, or January) with the "Graduation Fee" (YU is running a good scam - $20,000+ for 3-4 years isn't enough, they need an extra $50 to print your diploma).
- Schedule a "Senior Check" to ensure that your graduation requirements were met. Because of the double curriculum, this can be a somewhat complex process.
- Hope all the magic behind the scenes work
I started YU in Fall 1997, fresh out of public high school in Palo Alto. I was pursuing a major in engineering (the joint program with Columbia), so I took English Comp, Physics and Calculus (among other courses). After my bechina, I was placed in second year level JSS.
The following year, I went to Israel. While I was there, I decided that I was might be more interested in computer science than engineering, so I wanted to take a CS course over the summer. Doing so would give me a taste for programming, and let me get a jump on my requirements. (An intro to CS course is the prerequisite for most CS courses.) I emailed the head of CS at YU to find out about what courses would be good to take (in Cali), and he said to email course descriptions to him. I sent him 2, and he said that one was better. I proceeded to fill out the famed P-10 Form, and sent it in with a copy of the email from Dr. Breban approving it. Shortly thereafter, I received a copy back, stating that the course was approved. I registered for the course, and then shortly thereafter got another copy of the P-10 sent to me, with "Approved" crossed out, and "Rejected" circled. The explanation given was that it was a community college (which it was). I was just annoyed that no one had cared earlier, and at this point in time, I no longer recall whether there was anything on the book about community college courses, but there sure is now (in bold and underline) - "No courses may be taken at any community college for credit or exemption." Despite getting a rejection, I took the course anyways, figuring that I would deal with it later.
About a month into my junior year (second year on campus, first year back from Israel), I went to the registrar's office to check on the status of my summer school credit. They informed me that they hadn't gotten a transcript, so I had one sent. I returned a few weeks later, and they informed me that my P-10 was missing (Great!). I told them I could give them a copy of my copy, which I did. I checked back a few weeks later, and they claimed to have lost it again. I told them I could give them a copy of my copy, which I did. I checked back a few weeks later, and they had mysteriously found the "Rejected" version.
At this point, I figured I'd leave it alone. I was proceeding smoothly through my CS courses, and would worry about it when graduation came along. Meanwhile, during this second year on campus, I enrolled in IBC, "moving up" from JSS. Cramming the requirements of a 4 year major into 2 years is difficult, especially in a small school when only a handful of requirements are offered in any given semester, and of those courses, several usually conflict. I basically arranged my schedule around CS. I took as many CS requirements as possible, then added in other requirements as available.
As if matters weren't already messed up enough, YU decided to modify the major. They took several courses that had been 2 3-credit courses (e.g. Intro I & II), and created single 4-credit courses. For those of us caught in the middle of this, we ended up being exempted from our choice of one of three courses.
Senior year rolled around, and I enrolled in MYP, having "moved up" again in the Judaic Programs world, making for a small YU success story. I continued with my scheduling strategy of taking as many CS courses at once. I also began to strategize about escaping YU without taking a substitute course for that original Intro I that I took over the summer. So I began to gather allies and proof. First, I set up a meeting with Dr. Cwilich, whom I had for Physics back during my freshman year, and the only advisor who had any idea what was going on with the CS major.
During our meeting, he started with Judaic Studies, realized I had been in three programs, and basically told me he wasn't even going to try to understand if all my requirements were met. He sent me to Rabbi Rosensweig, to get confirmation from him. Meanwhile, we proceeded with general studies, which checked out fine. The last issue was the CS major itself, which he said looked OK, but suggested I get a letter from Breban, so that during the summer there wouldn't be a problem (there is apparently some final review that follows "graduation" prior to "graduation").
I arranged to meet with Rabbi Rosensweig (whose Jewish History course I suffered through). We met in his tiny office, and he reviewed my courses. For the Hebrew requirement, one is normally required to take one year, unless you are in JSS, in which case 2 years are required. I had only taken one year of Hebrew in JSS, but it had been second year level, which I had been told was sufficient, but didn't have any hard proof. Thankfully, he confirmed that this was the case, and after reviewing the rest of my coursework, concluded that I had indeed completed all the requirements. He thought he was done, but I wanted written confirmation. He tried to get me to come back to get a letter, but I wanted it then and there. He looked around, found some paper in a printer, pulled it out, scratched out a letter in pencil, asserting that indeed I had fulfilled my Judaic requirements, and I left with a smile.
The only remaining letter was one from Breban. He insisted that I write it, and he'd sign it. Only he didn't like my first draft, or my second. Finally he accepted my third draft, signing it, making it official that (pending successful completion of my current coursework), I had completed the CS major. I also managed to get him to sign a letter stating that I was exempt from Intro I because of the summer school course, and that he felt I should get credit for it. He seemed to be in a bit of a "screw the school that screwed you" type of mood.
I proceeded to take copies of all the letters back to Cwilich, who appeared satisfied to see my success, though a bit depressed that I had turned my back on Physics/Engineering.
Fast-forward past graduation, which went off without a hitch (surprisingly), to mid-August, 2001. I was to be married within a week, and we needed a car. I was in the dealership with my father, and had just about completed bargaining a nice deal on a Camry. The only outstanding issue was the need for proof of graduation, in order to receive a $500 "Recent College Graduate" rebate. I hadn't received my diploma yet (heck, I didn't even know if I had officially graduated, so I called the registrar's office (from the dealership), and asked for a letter confirming my status as a YU graduate. Betty Mirabal (212-960-5274) told me it would take several days. After getting no where fast arguing with her, I hung up.
After reporting the situation to my father, he suggested I call Lamm, to inform him that YU wouldn't be getting an donations from this alumnus if they pulled stuff like this. I tried that, but it turned out that both he and his secretary were away on vacation. Instead, I devised my own plan. I called the registrar's office back, but this time spoke to a regular secretary. I asked her who prepares the letters confirming graduation. She gave me a name, and then I asked to speak to this person. She wasn't available, so I asked her to leave a message, but told her I would call back anyways.
Meanwhile, I returned to the salesman, who began to draw up a contract. I convinced him to include a clause about the rebate, and then returned to call the registrar's office again. This time, the person with whom I needed to speak was there, and though she hadn't gotten the message, she would be able to prepare the letter for me, but immediately. I returned to the salesman, and we proceeded to finish up the paperwork. I signed lots of paper, shook people's hands, and was getting ready to leave when the salesman came running over, holding a fax. As he got closes, I realized it was the confirmation that I had indeed graduated!
Elated, I asked him for a copy of it! He complied, and I considered framing the fax, but my real diploma did come shortly thereafter.
Walking out of the dealership, I turned to my father, and told him that the only despite getting a good deal on the car, the only redeeming part of the day was getting confirmation that I was done with YU. Of course, I'm now back in the fold, but that's another story.
If you're looking for more, check out Bronstein's.