I am now a Bachelor!

No, not that kind of bachelor. My dance card is still full. (Sorry, interested party(ies).)

In the Spring of 2001, I completed my last courses and, prior to leaving my university and entering the workforce to work off the debt I’d accumulated, I applied to graduate. I thought I had all my core prerequisites under control, and I assumed that I would be sent a diploma sometime thereafter.

As it turns out, I had actually flubbed one of the prerequisites. In order to complete my Bachelor of Arts (major English, minor Sociology) degree, one of the prereqs was that I had six credit hours in a language other than English. And I did — I had 3 hrs in French, and 3 hrs in German. The syllabus neglected to mention that they had to be in the same language.

So the university sent a letter to the address they had on file — my hometown, in New Brunswick, where my father kept the mail and, owing to our poor interpersonal communication skills, it sat unopened in a drawer until all my friends had gotten their diplomas and I was feeling left out.

A few months later, when we finally next talked over the phone, I had my father open the letter. He read it, and I exploded.

Then I calmed down. Then I assessed the situation. It was too late to file to take another 3 hrs of French for the upcoming semester, and my bank account was in dire straits (and I already owed a few months back rent to my landlord). I decided I would take a year paying down my loans, as I was doing pretty well in the tech support call centre job I was in.

And then I kept falling upward in that career. As time wore on, my drive and need to get my degree (to become an English teacher, as was my goal) waned. I excelled in the computer industry. When the tech support contract at my call centre dried up, I followed my then-supervisor to Toronto to work at a website hosting company. I was promoted again, to LAN/phone manager. I was doing very well for myself in this career, and my dreams of being an English teacher waned as I realized I liked computers better than people. But Toronto didn’t suit me, and I pined for Nova Scotia.

I contacted the old call centre, asking what jobs they had that were above the agent position. I was hired as a local IT manager — a step up from local hardware tech, and basically master of my own little slice of the company. My abilities, responsibilities and influence kept growing.

And my status with the university lapsed, and every once in a great while the whole episode gnawed at me. Until yesterday.

Two nights ago, I sent an email explaining my situation to the Dean of Arts. Yesterday morning, suddenly impatient with my one massive life failing, I called him. He agreed that it was a rather silly reason to not have graduated, had a chat with the registrar, and I stopped by to pay my late convocation filing fee. ($25 — not because I was twelve years late, though that would have been hilarious. Just because I was late to file for graduation for THIS Spring.)

I walked away with an official university document. The relevant part:

"To Whom It May Concern: I write to confirm that Jason Joseph Thibeault, born 1979/04/12, completed all the degree requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in English in December 2001. He will graduate at he Spring Convocation held on May 12th, 2013. If further information or clarification is needed, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Okay, it’s not as pretty as a real diploma, but I’m still tempted to frame it and put it on my wall.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m studying up to get a Linux+ certification. Yeah, I’m a far cry from my original career path, but you know what they say about life and plans.

I am now a Bachelor!
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28 thoughts on “I am now a Bachelor!

  1. 2

    I followed a similar education-to-career path and I still need to check off that “diploma” box, so congratulations! I’m envious (but not deeply so.)

  2. 3

    Nice! I’m glad it all worked out for you. The same thing happened to me, sort of, but I was single and had a good job with the college itself, so stuck around to finish the two extra German classes. Good thing, too. Now I’ve forgotten even more.

  3. 4

    Woohoo! Congrats mate. Computers are way more fun than students, if for no reason other than when a student is stupid you can’t very well rip out their brain and jam a new one in. Well not without some pesky prison time anyway

  4. 6

    Congratulations Jason – better late than never! I’m glad the Dean had the common sense to look at your credit hours and come to the conclusion that there was no sensible reason to deny your graduation on such a trifling technicality.

  5. 11

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m studying up to get a Linux+ certification. Yeah, I’m a far cry from my original career path, but you know what they say about life and plans.

    Uh oh, Linux+. Those people are dividing the Linux community with their radfem misandry!


  6. 14

    It may seem silly to some to think that a piece of paper means much (surely the classes you took and the knowledge you gained is more important!), but really… a diploma – or that letter – is the short hand way to communicate everything you know. It allows people to independently verify your study and not just take your word or it, or invest six months determining it for themselves.

    It is important, and I’m very happy for you! Congratulations!

  7. 16

    While I was actually conferred the degree, I never received my diploma 12 years ago either! My father moved to Canada (Newfoundland) a couple of years before I graduated and that diploma is still out there somewhere, probably in a dead letter office due to no forwarding address. My degree was in music performance. I ended up more on the tech side of things eventually.

    Recently I took a new job building a multi-channel YouTube network. My new office is exactly three blocks from the university registrar on the same street. It would cost me $50 and about 10 minutes to get a new diploma issued. Jeez I’m lazy.

  8. 18

    Forget the confetti, it’s time for a German Sparkle Party!

    On a semi-serious note, I never did receive my high school diploma. It was supposed to show up in the mail, since I never went back to the high school to pick it up, and it never did get delivered. That was 20 years ago this summer, so I figure there isn’t much point in worrying about it anymore.

  9. 21

    Congrats! (Isn’t there one of those nightmares where you’re all ready to graduate and then you find

    What is it about IT and English majors, anyway? When I was managing tech support teams, some of my best staff were English majors (and also from the east coast). As an engineer, I was forced to shed my preconceptions about artsies!

  10. 22

    Ooops – missed the rest of the 1st sentence – should be

    Congrats! (Isn’t there one of those nightmares where you’re all ready to graduate and then you find that there was some course (probably back in 1st year) that you missed one assignment on, and now all the rest of your 4 years of work is for nought, and so you have to go take the exam but you studied the wrong book and you look down and realize you forgot to put your pants on when you left the house….)

  11. 23

    Congratulations! A good friend of mine was one semester shy of finishing his Bachelor’s degree, but he and his wife had and unplanned pregnancy and he ended up quitting school to work to make ends meet. He’s in his 60s now, and his lack of a degree has dogged him professionally all his working life.

  12. 25

    Congratulations. I see two interesting things in your story: First, that you finally decided that the situation was stupid enough that you tried to rectify it (I agree with your opinion and your actions), and more interesting, that you apparently found a Dean with a bit of sanity. In my career from student to professor I’ve found such to be quite rare.

  13. 27

    Congrats! I remember how much it bothered you at times. Now you know you can get a VISA to work in another country, but you CHOOSE NOT TO! *This is the part where you stand on your desk with your chest out!*

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