I’m a graduate student in the United States. At least I was.
Let me explain.
In my particular program, students have the option, as the final culmination of the program, to write a series of papers on topics chosen by the school or to write a thesis. The thesis is the harder road: you have to choose a topic, get it approved, perform original research, set up your own thesis committee, have said committee approve what you’ve done after a round of revisions, and then go through a series of further revisions in order to get it ready for binding and publication. It’s a pain in the ass.
I did the thesis, for whatever reason. Fine.
I finished my program in December, 2004. I should be done and on and off to bigger and better things. However, my thesis is now in the final binding process. Here’s where the extortion part comes in.
I am required to submit three copies of my thesis, printed on fancy-shmancy paper, under the stringent specifications that have been outlined. I’m required to pay $45 for the honor of having my thesis bound by the school. Since I moved during the middle of graduate school and finished up my degree at an extension program, I have to ship nearly 300 pieces of fancy-shmancy paper and other related paperwork to the main campus. Fine.
Here’s what’s not fine: after going through all of these efforts and paying these fees, my school will not officially designate on my transcript that I have a Master’s Degree until they they’re finished taking their sweet time finishing the binding and publication process.
This can take months.
In most industries, this isn’t a big deal. Saying you have a degree and sounding like you mean it is enough for many companies and organizations. For me – going into academia – this isn’t the case. In some cases, employers are required by law to have a complete transcript in hand before letting yon newbie graduate work.
In the US, it’s customary to get something that you’ve paid for (or bled and sweated over, as other examples).
So I ask: is this academic extortion?