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A Letter to The Man

Dear Ed Taylor c/o Office of Undergraduate Education,

You said you wanted to hear about my UW experiences. Here are a few:

I’m a transfer student with credits coming in from two different institutions. So when I arrived last autumn, I had a lot of work to do to make sure my credits were properly transfered over. I had to talk to many different departments and advisors, filing multiple petitions and filling out many forms. For the most part, that process worked. I got the proper transfer credit for most of my math and science classes, and that made getting a degree here at the UW much more attainable. However, along with all the courses that became a direct equivalent here at the UW were many courses which became “dead credits.” I call them this because they weigh own my transcript without serving any useful purpose. Let me give you some examples:

1) Out of high school, I attended BYU. Unlike the UW, BYU doesn’t accept college-in-high-school credit. So the calculus classes I took in high school, and recieved BCC college credit for, didn’t count at BYU. It didn’t bother me much at the time; I simply took honors calculus at BYU my first two semesters, and I was merrily on my way. However, the result now is not nearly as clean. Since the UW does accept college-in-high school credit, here, I have credit for those high school calculus classes. I also have credit from my BYU calculus classes. Only one set of these credits is useful, but I’m stuck with both.

2) During high school, I took some running start classes. But having no particular degree in mind at the time, I guess I didn’t choose them very well, since mostly they ended up showing up here as “Biol 1XX” or “Math 1XX.” When I ended up back at BCC after my time at BYU, I pursued an AAS for the Direct Transfer Agreement, and this time I ended up with credits that shows up as specific things, but mostly useless things for the degrees I happen to be pursuing.

So, I have a lot of irrelevant credits. No big deal, right? Wrong. Because every quarter I’ve been here, save one, I have had to deal with a registration hold. Each time, the hold has become progressively harder to get rid of. First, I just had to email some people to clear some things up. Then it was simply talking to an adviser at Mary Gates and getting a signature. That was my very first quarter here. At that point, I already had “too many” credits. Now, I need a signature of the college dean or an appointee. What will I need next, Mark Emmert’s signature? Then God’s?

I have a graduation plan. It is on track. I have only one year here at the UW under my belt, and yet I deal with this crap every quarter. It takes up my time that I would rather spend learning and passing classes so I can get out of here.

How about we strike a deal? You give me the option of blasting away credits that I earned elsewhere and which count for nothing. Then your mighty machine of bureaucracy stops flagging me and wasting all of our time. Everybody ends up happy, right? I don’t have “too many” meaningless credits, and you don’t have to bug me every quarter about my failure to graduate after a year at your institution.

It sounds good to me. Does it sound good to you?

~Ryan McElroy

Office of Undergraduate Education wrote:

Dear Ryan Edward McElroy

We look forward to celebrating your academic achievements with you at
the University’s annual commencement ceremony. An important step in
graduating is formulating a plan to graduate with an academic adviser.

University policy requires that undergraduates complete their degrees
with fewer than 210 credits. Because you will have earned at least 210
credits by the end of this quarter, a hold has now been placed on your

If you will graduate this quarter–congratulations! All you need to do
is submit a graduation application. If you haven’t already applied to
graduate, your department adviser can help you submit an application.
Please meet with him/her at this time.

Students with more than 210 credits may not continue to enroll at the
University unless they have a 210-credit petition approved by the dean of
their college, or his/her designee. The petition must include a goal of
graduating from the University within a period of two academic quarters
of the petition’s acceptance.

Once your 210-credit petition is approved, the hold will be removed.
Your academic advisers will work with you to develop a 210-credit petition
that meets your academic goals and UW graduation requirements. Please
meet with your adviser at this time. You must complete a 210-credit
petition even if you have applied to graduate in a future quarter.

To view an example of what is expected in a graduation plan, visit the
Arts and Sciences form at

If you are currently studying abroad and cannot meet with an adviser,
please contact us at

I’m also very interested in hearing about your UW experience. I encourage
you to send me a note (I may be reached at to
tell me about your involvement in particular programs or research
opportunities and how they contributed to your education and future


Ed Taylor
Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs

5 Responses to “A Letter to The Man”

  1. Stickman Says:

    You sound a bit meaner than is necessary at the end, but you certainly seem justified.

    Good story. Let us know how it ends.

  2. Stickman Says:

    A. Because it interrupts the logical flow.
    Q. Why is top posting bad?

  3. dc Says:

    did a human being respond to you at any point during this process?

  4. Ryan Says:

    dc, this just in:



    Thank you for your quick and clear response. I have scheduled a meeting with my bioengineering counselor for Friday — do I also need to meet with my CSE advisor? In other words, do I need to turn in two petitions?



    P.S. It seems to me that it is more misleading to have credits that show up as “UW 1XX” than it would be to have a note saying “additional credits earned at other institutrions have been omitted” or even a list of those other credits and the classes they were earned in at the other institution. Just an idea for the future.

    On 10/19/06, Undergraduate Education wrote:

    Dear Ryan,

    To avoid being bugged every quarter, all you need to do is meet with your
    advisers in bioengineering and computer engineering and complete a
    210-credit petition indicating when you do plan to graduate and the
    courses you plan to take each quarter until graduation. Once that is
    approved and on your record, you will not receive any more email messages
    about graduation.

    Even if they aren’t relevant to your current academic interests, we can’t
    delete credits from your transcript because they show the total picture of
    your academic history. Deleting them would be misleading.

  5. Jiro Says:

    The first 80% of the first email doesn’t even sound like it was written specifically to you. Perhaps a cut and paste and then a little touch at the end?

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