i think chicago hates me- part 1: NPD3

Ah northpark… I have to say that i have very very mixed feelings about North Park University. I’ve spent one semester there and it’s hard to tell if it was just a hard semester or bad circumstances or if the school just isn’t for me. Either way, I think North Park may hate me right now, and I hate it right back. I feel like I should have some sort of loyalty to my college, but I am and always will be a UW-Madison Badger, and my three semesters at North Park will never taint that.

Less than a week ago I received an e-mail from NPU’s records office. The graduation application I had submitted last April had finally been reviewed and I am eligible for graduation May 2007. Yippie! Between AP Credits, my summer courses at UW-Waukesha, UW-Madison, and my three maxed-out semesters at North Park, graduation was finally in sight!!!! And it only took 164 credits and five years to get there, but I was going to graduate in May. Finally- free from undergraduate studies!

When I transfered to North Park from UW-Madison I lost tons of credits. To find out how to graduate in three semesters I had to work many many many hours getting special permission to take almost every class out of sequence, squeeze out every last possible transfer credit, and talk to millions of people (i think i have met most of the North Park staff). The end result was a work of art… three semesters at 17 credits each (NPU’s maximum) and one summer internship credit all carefully crafted to fullfill all of my major and gen-ed requirements at North Park. (And if you have ever been to college, you know how many requirements there are to graduate.) I was so proud and so overwhelmed- there was a three-semester way to graduation! It all would work out! I had tons of help from staff and asked a million questions to make sure it would all work, but it appeared I had found a way! (I was told that no one has ever completed the entire Youth Ministry major in three semesters- I was pretty excited to be the first.)

After reading the top of my graduation application review, looked at the list of classes I still needed to complete and some confusion set in. There were several on the list that I was supposed to be exempt from or had already completed at North Park or had equivalents completed at UW-Madison. I made phone calls, I pulled out past e-mails I had been carefully saving to document all the “special permissions” I had aquired, I e-mailed back and forth… and all those classes disappeared from my “need to complete” except the ones I had scheduled for my final year and NPD3….

To be exempt from North Park Dialogue 3, a student needs to transfer in 90 credits. I transfered 84 of my credits from UW-Madison and another 16 from AP credits. 84+16=100, and i’m out of NPD3! So I made some phone calls to try to get NPD3 removed from my record and i got the bad news. AP credits do not count towards the 90 credits needed to be exempt from NPD 3. I tried and I tried and I tried to find a way out. I talked to three people on the phone in three different departments. I explained myself over and over again over email to people at North Park. I told them I had a completely full year this next year and fitting in NPD3 just was not possible. I told them how I just got married and refused to take a 20 credit semester. I told them how I refused to come back next fall to take another class. I told them how I could not afford to take a 3-credit overload (it’s around $1000). I told them how in all the paperwork I read and in the countless conversations I had with many many staff and professors at North Park, not one, NOT ONE, told me that I could not count AP credits towards the 90 I needed to be exempt from NPD3. I even explained to them that several people looked over my three-semester graduation plan several times, and my transcript, and no one else caught on to this discrepancy. I don’t think anyone else really knows about this “rule” except for the few people I talked to in the records department.

I felt like someone had just hit me. Who would fight for me? Who would see this injustice and let me out of the NPD3 requirement? I was already exempt from NPD1 and NPD2, why couldn’t I be exempt from NPD3? I got frustrated, I cried, I prayed. Because I had worked SO HARD to make everything work out with North Park and suddenly someone pulls some rule out of nowhere and refuses to make any exceptions.

I still don’t know what to do. I just refuse to believe that I have to take this class. I worked SO HARD to get out of this class. I actually took an extra semester at UW-Madison to get out of this class. And now they tell me I have to take it? And what’s worse…. NPD3 is just some “liberal arts” class that has no real purpose. Depending on what section you take, your topic can be anything from the AIDS Crisis in Africa to Conflict Resolution in the Classroom. And when I begged to get out of the class, I was told it would help me because it “enhances many students ability to reachout to the community and world around North Park”. I just wanted to write right back to her, “my experience working in urban missions and my time spent working in Youth Ministry, Gospel Choir, and other ministries have taught me how to reach out to the community and the world. It is already a passion of mine. So give me back the 3 credits of time and money NPD3 would take away and give me the freedom, time, and resources to continue to reach out to the community and the world outside of a class.”

So I’m left with questions: Why would a Christian school have me take a class that would actually hurt my education, rather than help it? Why would every single person up until now fail to tell me this “rule”? And why can’t a school make an exception when it comes down to situations like this? And when is God going to fix this situation for me? Or is God just going to leave me stuck taking a 20 credit semester during my last semester of undergrad and my first year of marriage?

I don’t like North Park University at all right now.

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2 thoughts on “i think chicago hates me- part 1: NPD3

  1. Wow, Maria. I am sorry I couldn’t do more than give you a quick hug today. I don’t even know what to say other than ARGHHHH!

  2. Gripping tale. Bureaucracy really stinks sometimes. I’ve gotten to detest it intimately at times. I think it’s created to be a time-saver. The staff at the organization don’t have to come to a consensus on every single situation – they have a rule, so they follow it. It’s a 10 second decision, versus an hour-long meeting with the staff. Bang. Fortunately, God has all the time in the world and doesn’t operate that way. He’s got you covered. Can’t tell you how, though…. Whatever the scenario, don’t get pushed into a corner with a situation you’ll be so frustrated with that it changes you into someone you don’t want to be. That’s my two cents anyway. I’ve let authorities push me into situations that I shouldn’t have let myself get into, and it’s a bad place to be.

    I looked up your post because I know Chicago and have attended a Covenant church for 4 years, so I’m somewhat familiar with the denomination and the city, though I’ve never visited the school. Thanks for sharing the story! I’d say I’ll be praying for you, except I know that really, I’ll forget. However, I can pray a minute for you right now, and I shall.

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