May 22, Thursday

On Tuesday between shifts, I drove to Provo and had a perfectly delightful time at BYU.  The campus was so beautiful and the students so bright.  I was able to talk to an admissions counselor, Troy Selk, who informed me that the minimum acceptable transfer GPA (with few and small exceptions) was 3.5.  I told him I had a 3.2 (it was actually a 3.185), and he wondered if I had been showing improvement lately.  I told him my last semester was one of my very worst.  He wondered if there were any explanations, and I told him I had simply had no academic direction, no real desire to graduate or transfer, and personal turmoil.  I went and printed out an "unofficial transcript" from the LDSBC site and brought it to him.  He advised against retaking classes generally, especially more than once, since it didn’t show progress.  He suggested instead to move on with other classes.  He did encourage me to retake my English 101 class.  He also mentioned the "visiting student" program, an open-enrollment plan for non-admitted students during summer.  He made note of the language aptitude test, and informed me that such credits would positively impact GPA.  I knew (from an Excel file I’d made at school previously) that it would be a very tight squeeze to get my GPA that high, and I needed all the credits I could get.  Out of curiosity, I asked him if BYU had a pre-medical program…
 
I made a couple trips between there and the Joseph Fielding Smith Building where the language department was.  A receptionist named Sarah, an SVU girl, directed me upstairs where I found another office which pointed me to a third office where I met Agnes Welch, a Hong Kong woman working in that language department.  Sarah downstairs had told me that since Cantonese only had fall and winter classes available online, there would be no summer class.  Agnes, however, knew that there was a Cantonese class that was pending sufficient interest (she gave me a lower limit of three students).  She said there was a young man from California who was quite interested in taking the class, but she was unsure if anybody else would enroll.  I told her I would definitely be interested in it as soon as I could apply as a visiting student.  She gave me the time the class would be held (8 to 9 a.m. daily), and after stopping back at the counseling place to determine further whether the class would count for me, I departed rejoicing, certain that the class would be opened, and thinking that I would have to get a bus pass rather than burn all my funds driving back and forth every day.
 
On Wednesday, I went to school and updated that Excel file of my transcript to include my degree progress, as well as a list of the times of the classes I could potentially enroll in for summer.  The school’s grade calculation system is easily found out (and somewhat inconsistent: the teachers report letter grades, and an ‘A’ grade is a 4.0, an ‘A-" a 3.7, a ‘B+’ a 3.4, a ‘B’ a 3.0, and so on — you can see that the first two grade drops are worth 0.3 points, but the third is worth 0.4 points, which in my experience is very little understood by either students or teachers here, who assume all steps in gradation are equal — which they should be).  I discovered that I would still be able to transfer to BYU if I finished out with high grades while retaking two or three classes (which should replace the previous low grades).  I also noticed that I apparently would have to pack full my summer and fall terms this year (and graduate thereafter) in order to meet BYU’s fall 2009 deadline for application: next March (which I do want to meet, having been frightened by Burk last Sunday when he told me that "no medical school would accept a student over 30").  So, this has become my tentative plan.
 
Anyway, I asked around at school, and the Romney-acquainted Michigan girl there told me that I needed a new bishop’s recommend before I could enroll in classes for summer.  This proved to be incorrect, as the institute secretary told me; I will need one for fall (I will at any rate need to get one in order to apply as a visiting student to BYU [edit: uh, also incorrect; they also use the 2007 one for summer; they share them between Church schools]).  The institute woman corrected another inaccuracy too by informing me that there was no religion class requirement for full-time students during the summer, only during the fall and winter.  This was very pertinent, since I would definitely, according to my plan, need to be a full-time student this summer, but there were (I believe) only three or four religion classes, and none that would fit my schedule (which includes several hours in the morning for my expected BYU class).
 
Finding all this out, I went and tried to enroll online for five classes.  There was no technical error, only a small note on my English class warning that the class "may be subject to the institutional repeat policy".  I checked that policy online and found nothing prohibiting my enrollment; although I had enrolled in it a total of three times before, only one time received a grade, the others resulting in withdrawals, which have no bearing on the matter.  Anyway, the policy only requires "approval from the program director" before the class can be taken.  I left school — you guessed it — rejoicing, and also wondering about how I (id est, my mother) could pay for such a heavy summer term: 1620 in tuition alone, not counting the class in Provo.  I guess it won’t hurt to inquire about the regulation of financial aid at school. [Edit: Ha ha… I was calculating each credit-hour separately.  In fact, from 8 to 15 are all the same price, 870.]
 
Also on Wednesday, I visited the justice court and asked about the schedule.  On Thursday (today) I spent the entire morning between two courtrooms there, one conducting "arraigments" and the other a bench trial which developed into a jury trial.  It was tremendously instructive.  I talked downstairs with one of the officers there about the functioning of their laser guns (the speed detectors), and also visited a few other places (the prosecutors’ office nearby, and the public defenders’ office a few blocks away) to try to figure out the legal process.  What I learned was that there are four steps I will possibly be passing through: 1, an arraigment (during which I can plead guilty in exchange for some small degree of leniency, or else plead not guilty to continue the process); 2, a pre-trial conference with the city prosecutor (same as the last; both of these I presume are for the expediency of court business); 3, a trial (without a jury, since "there’s no jail time involved"); and 4, a sentencing (in case the trial goes unfavorably).  I’m still no more certain of the strength of my defence… but I’m a little more confident that I will have the possibility of working off the fine rather than depleting my life’s savings.  I think I would enjoy community service; I tend to do it anyway when I have occasion.
 
Right as I arrived for my afternoon shift today, it struck me that today had been a short day and I’d already completely missed the second shift…  There are eight more days at my crossing job, four days per week.  I’ve done that job now for one school year and a couple months.  I’m not sure if I can start again in August, if my own school schedule fills up.  And if so, I’ll be seriously short on funds.  Well, at least I can bring in a hundred a month from cleaning (Shane paid me my half today from the last month’s cheque).
 
The U of U medical school wants applicants to have… what?  Community service?  Ha ha…  Yes, service during their preceding four years.  I was thinking about going back to that English-teaching volunteer center…
 
Well, today has made me consider lawyering again besides doctoring.
 
Work at Hunan has been very tolerable and nice.  Every day, I enjoy wonderful classical music from the radio and superb scenic views while driving.  Going down a certain road yesterday (Michigan Avenue, coming down from Foothill) was breathtaking, the way the trees lined the road.  Today, the mountains were soft and snowy green and the sky was majestic.
 
All I need now is to… go.  Go on, go forward.  …And remember in whose service I now am.  It’s not mine.
 
-Steve
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