by Peter Neiger
In Autumn of 2005 my student experience began. I was fresh out of a four-year contract with the military and I had had a lot of time to plan how I would manage the next four years. I researched schools and programs, weighed the pros and cons of different scenarios and basically put as much thought into the process as I could. After all was said and done I decided on the plan that seemed the smartest, at least on paper; I was going to enroll in a Community College, get my Associate’s Degree and then transfer to a University to get my Bachelors Degree. This path is not uncommon for military veterans who have often spent a lot of time mapping out the future. A little maturity and focus helped me pursue fiscal responsibility and independence instead of jumping into a program or school because of peer pressure or parental preference. Unfortunately, the process was not as smooth in real life as it was on paper.
I enrolled in the Fall Semester 2005 of Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, South Carolina. After all the required placement exams and bureaucratic in-processing I sat down with an advisor to outline the next two years. I told my assigned advisor of my plan to transfer but I was unsure of what my preferred major would be. I was leaning towards Political Science at the time due to my interest in world affairs, and she quickly stated that an Associate in Arts degree would be the best option to help me glide into the four year school process. With a description like “The Associate in Arts Degree is designed for the student planning to transfer to a senior college/university program” in the course catalogue, it seemed perfect. The AA degree requirements were 63 credit hours.
I enrolled in my first set of classes and got started. After my first year I sat down again with my advisor who assured me that with the Associate Degree my Gen. Ed. Requirements at the College of Charleston, the university I chose to attend would basically be taken care of. I ended up graduating on time with a total of 70 hours; I took some extra courses essentially just to keep busy. With my time at HGTC completed, I set my eyes on CofC. The first step was to attend a mandatory express orientation session that was half the time of the normal first year orientation sessions. This sounded ideal in theory but in practice it worked against me, the transfer orientation session was at the end of the summer and I had to register for classes after everybody else. I was now a third year student who was one of the last to register making it extremely difficult to find classes within my major, Economics, or to fulfill the one General Ed requirement I had left, Foreign Language. Foreign Language was not a requirement for my AA degree but four semesters (two years) was required for graduation from CofC. I would later find out from other students that this requirement was one of the prime reasons students did not graduate on time. Many of the foreign languages were offered at very inconsistent times and missing one semester could put you back a full year. I was worried about this already so I ended up in a language I had little interest in due to lack of more desirable options. Once committed, I was stuck, to change languages would at best set me back one semester, at worst set me back a year.
I was a little worried because my advisor at the orientation session was not from the Economics department and I was told I would not be given an Econ advisor until I declared my major. Something I was not allowed to do until I completed two pre-requisites for all majors at the School of Business and Economics. Despite these minor glitches I felt ready to go… that is until the Registrar’s office informed me that I did not have any credits transfer over from HGTC. I knew I had filed all the paperwork and had transcripts sent, so I went to the Registrar’s office to find out what happened. I was informed by a student employee that the Registrar was out for lunch so I decided to wait, after two hours the same student employee informed me that the appropriate faculty may not be back that day so I should make an appointment. I agreed and made an appointment. I arrived for my scheduled time the next day and sat down with a representative from the Registrar’s office who had all my required paperwork. Seeing that I had 70 credits and only 60 credits would transfer he arbitrarily gave me transfer credit for the top 60 worth on the list, I voiced concern because that would mean I would be retaking a science class as well as a math class because I took them my final semester. He agreed and we went over the transfer credits again and figured out what worked best for my plan. Thinking that my battle was over I went home and got ready for class the next week.