As of last Thursday, I am officially a college graduate! No, I was not secretly still in college trying to complete my degree whilst lying to my employers… Here’s what happened:
As many of you know, I went to music college and I graduated in 2009 – only one year later than I should have! The thing about Berklee is that they have so many non-traditional students that they just kind of let anyone who is close-ish to graduating participate in the ceremony. I swear, on graduation morning in between Berklee trivia games and whatever we were supposed to practice about walking in lines and sitting in chairs, one of the administrators stood up and gave a strict announcement about the fact that our diploma carriers did not contain our degrees and participation in the ceremony did not in fact guarantee our graduation. Yes, it was super-fucking-celebratory.
A few months after graduation I realized I hadn’t received my degree. Much to my chagrin, I picked up the phone and called the Registrar’s office. I don’t understand what the deal is with Berklee’s Registrar, but it is the Worst. Thing. Ever. Everyone else at Berklee is super helpful, even the librarians are chill, but the Registrar seems to have one requirement for its employees – you must be a sadist to work in this office.
While I didn’t know their names, I’d learned their voices: Angry Bald Guy who barely looks up to undermine his victims’ senses of self-worth, Blonde Lady who forces her prey to make an appointment because she has an office (DUNGEON) and once allowed into her chamber, you have to wait and wait because she’s at lunch even though it’s 2:30. After many, many hours of waiting on hold and many, many hours of the RegiS(tr)ADISTS examining my transcript, they informed me of the issue: I took a Music Business Products class in place of a Music Business Marketing class and Angry Bald Guy said I was totally fucked. Blonde lady was like, “Yup, you’ve gotta move back here. The city you totally hate is pulling you back and there’s nothing you can do about it.” I could hear their joy – it’s like I’d given them my heart to feast upon.
Alas, the Registradists, being twisted and unable to process positive intentions, were unaware that the rest of the Berklee staff is made up of lovely human beings. I called the Business department and they were like, “Yeah… whatever, we don’t care, we’ll clear it up, no worries.” That night, and many nights after, I slept like a baby. I pretty much forgot about that piece of paper after that because I was really busy having a quarter-life crisis in 2010, and there were so many songs I NEEDED to write about running away or wanting to be saved, that there was no time at all to check the mail. Also, no one gets their Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and starts waving it around at giant corporations being like, “HIRE ME BITCH, I’M THE BEST CANDIDATE.” Once given a BFA, graduates tend to cry a lot, contemplate suicide and work at restaurants. And then, before I knew it, I was up in New York, working at the Flower Company and only in fleeting (see: drunk) moments did I think, “Hmmm, I never got that degree in the mail? I don’t think? Do I have cigarettes?”
In the past year I’ve thought of it more. I think this might be a sign of my growing older. Like how I think about cancer and the dentist and both of them are no longer mythological creatures but actual facts of life that I might have to deal with. So I started thinking, “What if they never cleared it up? What if I don’t really have a degree? Do people check that?” In moments of panic I decided that the Marquis de Sade of Transcripts had shredded mine in its entirety, erasing any sign that I’d ever darkened Berklee’s doors. I pictured him laughing manically, listening to Jazz fusion that only someone with a dual major in Experimental Composition and Music Synthesis could appreciate, using his hand to conduct the sounds of the shredding and hybrid chords in unison.
Clearly, I had to call, but I kept putting it off. The Registrar is really that terrible, I promise. The other day I booked a dentist appointment in order to avoid calling, because I feel like there are only so many adult things I can do in one day before they have adverse effects on me… Like wrinkles. I booked my first dentist’s appointment in five years in place of making a phone call to Berklee’s Registrar. I’ve actually accomplished a lot while putting off this degree thing.
Last Thursday, however, I went outside for a diet coke and I decided… Enough was enough.
“Tiffany, this is your day of reckoning.” I said to myself. I took a seat in a cafe, hit dial, and braced myself for thirty minutes of 15th century Renaissance hold music.
“Registrar’s Office, this is Matt.” He picked up on the second ring! Matt sounded young, unjaded, almost happy to accept my call!
“Hey, so um, I graduated? 3 years ago?” I am very awkward when it comes to explaining situations in which I already feel guilty despite having no reason to actually feel guilty. Matt pulled up my transcript.
“Oh yes, it says here that you are ‘In Progress.'” They should probably come up with another status for those who have been ‘in progress’ for so many years… Right?
“Ok yeah, that’s what they said they’d fix.” I explained the situation. I figured that because Matt was totally younger than me, he’d totally understand.
“Well, it looks like you in fact HAVEN’T graduated. Your transcript is not complete. Have you RECEIVED your degree in the mail?” Et tu, Matt? The Registradists have advanced in their techniques. They’ve learned how to disarm someone, reel them in, and then FUCKING EVISCERATE them.
“Um, no. I guess not. I’ve been moving around a lot? I have a job…” Whenever comforting myself about the possibility of not really having a college degree, I default to the fact that I have a job, because really, isn’t that what we go to college for? I have one of those things that I spent five years studying to get! Whether or not I took How to Read Spreadsheets 101 does not concern me anymore.
“Well. You are still missing three credits. So you haven’t graduated.” Matt, you are younger than me. Matt, you might be younger than MY younger brother. I wanted to tell Matt to go back to his dorm room, take a bong rip and enjoy it, because one day he was going to wake up and not be in college. Le sigh… Instead I acted like the adult that I guess I am.
“Listen. Who do I need to talk to to straighten this out.” Fuck you Matt, you young, Snapchat-using scum. I will crush you one day. I bet you post no original content on your Tumblr. I hate your generation so much and so does Obama.
Matt gave me the email address of the graduation director. I wrote her an earnest email explaining my ‘awkward’ situation, how “frustrated and disheartened” I was at my Alma Mater. I expected to wait, to have to follow up, but within three hours I received this email:
It’s strange because, when I actually graduated from college 3.5 years ago, I was like, “K, whatevs, I hate everything,” but being told in the middle of your workday on a Thursday that you’ve achieved something is TOTALLY awesome. I was so excited that I skipped yoga, went home and bought myself some champagne. I had a singing-along-to-Taylor-Swift party and was like “I’M A COLLEGE GRADUATE, BITCHES!” Youth is totally wasted on the young, and I’m still young…
So now my only thing is that I wanna call up that little bastard, Matt, and be all, “HEY DOUCHE-BUCKET, CHECK OUT MY TRANSCRIPT NOW MO’FUCKA. STUDENT ID NUMBER 044156 BITCH. WHO HASN’T GRADUATED NOW? WHO HASN’T GRADUATED NOW, YOU LITTLE BITCH?”
And then I’m gonna do this to him: