Another new academic term looms on the horizon: I start my Masters in just over one week. It is a weird and wonderful feeling, as this is something I have always longed to do, but equally so I cannot believe the day is drawing near. Goodness, I must be getting old (she sighs wearily).
I cannot wait to commence my studies in conflict transformation, transitional government and law, and social justice. I always thought I would study Human Rights at a Masters level, but then I came across the Masters in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice. I was hooked from the start. It promises to be an interesting and intriguing course, spanning across various academic disciplines. It reminds me of the liberal arts colleges in America: studying different disciplines enables you to gain knowledge and awareness of the same issue/topic but through different perceptions. It is fascinating, and I look forward to studying political, legal, historical and psychological modules.
However, no new term is complete without the infamous process of online registration and enrolment. Yes, a new term brings excitement and speculation (what module? Which lecturer?). It even brings a touch of nerves and a twinge of fear (what if I hate this module? What if I spend all this money and become disillusioned? What if I prematurely age from stress?). But come what may, it will always bring the joys of enrolment on a computer system which seemingly delights in taunting your nervous system. (Or maybe that is just me).
This year, I was due to enrol as a part-time postgraduate student on Wednesday 14th September. It was a bundle of laughs, let me assure you.
Thrice have I used QSIS. Thrice have I had tales to tell after using it. This year marked the fourth time of such larks.
Firstly, you should consider yourself fortunate if you are able to successfully log in to QSIS. Due to the sheer volume of students attempting to register and enrol, the servers have an alarming tendency to crash, with the result being students may fail to even log in. Should you be one of the lucky few to log in, you may fall at the second hurdle, that being actually clicking on the registration button – many who reach this step fail, as the server crashes and they are unceremoniously logged out. Once you commence the registration process, you may find that your screen freezes, you are logged out and so have to fight the good fight to log back in, or you constantly have to resubmit information. I generally end up resorting to threatening my laptop and/or the QSIS programme. It really is the Hunger Games of university registration, I kid you not.
Anyway, I eventually managed to confirm that my name, DOB, address etc have not magically changed after a year, and that all the other information on file was still accurate. I flexed my fingers, for the next step is that of ‘Academics’, otherwise known as ‘Supermarket Sweep: module edition’. (As a toddler I adored that zany programme, for reasons I have yet to fully comprehend. Should you not know of this veritable gem, please do Google it.)
Now, as someone works part-time, I am restricted as to what modules I can study per year. I knew roughly what modules were compulsory core modules, and I knew the number of optional modules I was eligible to study and the number required per School. Knowledge is wonderful, dear reader. Success depends however on the application of such knowledge, or rather, can the online system agree to my choices? I knew what I had to do; I just did not know whether QSIS did too.
My fears, sadly, were well-founded. No sooner had I entered the Supermarket Sweep of class selection, ready to seize upon my chosen modules for the new academic year, than I was presented with a message saying that I was not registered for the year. Glancing to the pile of enrolment leaflets posted to me by my university at my side, and the official letter of confirmation of my acceptance to the course, I looked to the Heavens, and sighed.
It was going to be one of those days.
Of course, just like the Labour party campaign theme of 1997 – ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ – irony was at hand. Scrolling through the rest of the registration process, I discovered that I could not tell the system that I was set to graduate in 2018, and I apparently did not owe the university any money. No matter how many times I logged in and out, refreshed the page, or entered details, the message re my apparent non-registration stubbornly remained. Cue repeated telephone calls to RegHelp, being transferred, being transferred again, before having to leave a voicemail message and send off – a cry for help – an email. Phew.
Oh, and did I omit to mention that this fantastic tableau of me bearing leaflets and letters and the weight of QSIS-inspired frustration on my shoulders took place as I was sitting in the dentist’s, awaiting an emergency appointment for the Erupting Wisdom Tooth? Not only that, this was unfolding as I was preparing to head into work, with Assembly Committees awaiting me. Truly, I am the living embodiment of Murphy’s Law.
Mercifully, my proverbial silver lining took to the stage. Whilst in the office, I received several lovely emails from a clerical officer working in the relevant School, saying that she was working to resolve the issue and not to worry. By afternoon, I was informed the problem had been fixed and I was now able to select my modules and complete online enrolment. And dear reader, that is what I did.
I have now sorted out my timetable for the next two semesters. I have opted to study two core and two optional modules this year, and then can study the remaining two core and two optional modules plus my dissertation next year. Autumn term 2016 will see me study Global Concepts and Practice, and International Human Rights Law. Spring 2017 will see me study Conducting Research in Conflict and Theoretical Criminology. Essentially, despite having graduated from my undergraduate Law degree this summer, I am keeping with the Law theme with my optional modules. (You can take the girl from Law, but you cannot take Law from the girl…)
When I received the confirmation email of successful online enrolment and payment of course fees, I smiled. Sometimes the best feeling is that which comes after stress and frustration. A mellow, sweet wave of calm and tranquillity.
Of course, this could just be the calm before the (commencement of Masters) storm. With me, who knows. It’s going to be a ride over the next two years, but sure – who doesn’t love a challenge?
*Erupting Wisdom Tooth is set to be extracted on the 23rd September. I am due to attend my first seminar on the 27th. The living embodiment of Murphy’s Law am I indeed.