Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Way to Generate School Pride (In an Opposite Universe)

Our spelunking school offers a limited number of scholarships, based on need and merit. So, last spring, for the second year in a row, I wrote a five-hundred word essay, printed my hundred page screenpl—ahem, spelunking document, filled out application forms online and on paper, drove across town, paid to park then stood in line to turn in my packet at the designated hour.

For the second time in my spelunking school career, the summer passed. Dead quiet from the Spelunking Division on the topic of scholarship decisions.

And then I heard a rumor. Whisper circulated that scholarships had been awarded. Surely, I thought, something would appear in my inbox to confirm this rumor. A short courteous note perhaps, saying something along the lines of: “Thank you all for your application. Scholarships have now been awarded, and the recipients have been notified.”

Days passed. Then weeks. Months.


The end of summer approached, and for the second time in my spelunking career, my spelunking school announced available D.A.ships—a kind of work stipend applied toward tuition. I revamped my resume, wrote my personal statement, provided my financial details and class schedule and drove across town to hand in a manila envelope full of papers and my hopes by the deadline.

Once again, I’ve watched my inbox. Not, to be honest, with any real hope that I would get a D.A. ship. But with some curious hope again, of some acknowledgment: "Your application was received and considered, but that the positions had been allocated."

Spelunking classes begin tomorrow. I should probably give up that hope.*

Once, in high school, I had a girlfriend who was invited to prom by a boy. She decided not to go with him, but didn’t bother to tell him. “He’ll figure it out,” she said.

I couldn’t look at her the same after that. That moment marked the beginning of the end of our relationship. But looking back, I see she was young, not fully morally developed, not really that smart.

From grown-ups, however, who are not stupid, one might expect better manners.

Should I talk to them do you think? It’s a dilemma. I did, last year. I wrote my letter, had a meeting with the chair of the spelunking department. I voiced my disappointment. The grown ups looked at me across a table, and thanked me for expressing my concerns.

And then, for the second year in a row, the representatives of an organization that urges me to consider it to be my community (albeit one I’ve paid many thousand dollars to belong to) have again chosen to accord me—and my classmates-- the same courtesy and respect one might expect to receive when responding to an anonymous job posting on Craigslist.

*Lest my bitterness be misinterpreted as that of someone who has never been the object of the school's largesse, I'd like to note that I have indeed received a D.A.ships in two recent semesters and was grateful for them. On those occasions however, my less fortunate friends were not informed, and had to find out through those of us who had received awards.


  1. Completely agree. In my time at school for directi--ahem, driving, I put a full course-load's worth of effort in my application without so much as a "Thank you for your submission but we regret to inform you..."-type letter.

    But then again, you're a writer -- you can get your revenge by naming your villains after these discourteous fools :)

  2. So, the day after posting this, I received a letter re: DAships. Coincidence or result?

  3. They're watching you!!! Just kidding. I don't think the spelunking administration is that sophisticated.