Notes From a University Student 1
The registrar of the local university gets to determine what my degree is worth. And he has determined that he cannot recognize my degree because my library school did not have “university” in the name; it has the word “academie” in the name, and he knows exactly what that means, because he’s watched Police Academy. It was also only three years.
I doubt the man has ever left the region, let alone the country, and he knows absolutely nothing about European degrees.
I point out that a master’s degree in library science also takes three years in America, and I show him the list of courses I took in library school, along with the number of classroom hours for each course, which I have translated into English and credit hours. I also show him the coursework required to get a master’s degree in library science from UT Austin (which I had sent to me from their library department), and point out that not only did I have pretty much the same courses, but mine add up to more hours.
But he won’t even look at them. Three years is three years, and in America you have to have four years of undergraduate work before starting on a master’s degree, so according to him I have another year to go to get an American bachelor’s degree. And after that I could go to Austin and get a library degree.
I point out to him that most of what’s offered in his bachelor’s degree is stuff we do in junior high and high school in Holland, but according to him that doesn’t count. Since all he knows of high school is what he sees around here (see my posts about my experience in a high school, starting with this one), it’s not surprising he would think that way.
Because it’s obvious that he is completely ignorant about the issue, I decide to take it up with one of the supposedly independent evaluation companies that specialize in comparing foreign degrees to American ones. It costs more than $300 but I’m confident that after they have looked at it, the matter will be put to rest, because they are experts, after all.
So I send my information, along with a check for $300, and a few weeks later I get their reply. My degree took three years, ergo, it’s the equivalent of three years in America. One more year and I can have my bachelor’s degree. So all they did was look at the number of years. They knew no more than the registrar did. I paid $300 so some scam artists could count to three for me.
It’s infuriating that my degree isn’t recognized while everybody else seems to be an expert just because they say they are.
For more on degree confusion and dismissal, click here.
(From a letter in 1996)
Anyway, this all took place during the first months after emigrating. I got the job as children’s librarian because they can claim not to have anything to do with the university registrar, and after that T told me that if I applied for a librarian position in a small school district, they might take me regardless of my degree not being recognized, because I might be the only applicant, and then they’d probably be willing to find some loopholes.
He was right, but after 18 frustrating months in that high school I caved and was ready to start getting a bachelor’s degree. I only had to do the last year, so I would be a senior.
In the following posts I describe my experiences as a student at this university. If you got to this post because you’re interested in how Dutch and American degrees compare, the following posts are worthwhile, because you’ll get an idea of the level of education at a small state college in America.
The next post is about college deadlines.
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