I’ll start this article off by saying that if you are a high school senior looking for a college that isn’t for partying nor for just being able to put on a job resume in the future, than you should still avoid going to Florida Atlantic University. I am currently attending FAU and have been since 2005. I transferred to FAU to finish off my Bachelors in Arts Degree and if I wasn’t so close to having that degree finished, I would bolt from FAU like a rat that smells a trap. It isn’t that the professors that work at FAU aren’t any good, as a matter of fact, FAU may have some of the finest professors in the country; the simple fact of the matter is that FAU is a very unorganized institution. I thought my years in the Florida Public School System were the worst I’ve ever spent, but FAU just takes the proverbial cake.
My first experience with Florida Atlantic University came when I was transferring to it. Now I have lived in Florida my whole life, to be even more blunt, I was born in Florida. My residency in Florida has never been questioned and I have been a recipient of many government programs. When I applied to FAU to become a student there, I remember writing in the residency box that I was a Florida resident. I figured that everything was going to be OK and that since FAU wasn’t exactly Harvard or Yale, my application would be accepted.
The following week I received a post card from FAU telling me that they had received my application for admission, but they needed to verify one thing. Apparently, even though my application for admission stated differently, FAU had decided to file me as an out-of-state student and to charge me the tuition that would be charged to such a student. Well, imagine my surprise that I was no longer considered a resident of the state where I was born and from which I have never moved. Being the rational person that I am, I figured there had been a filing error and that proving I was a Florida resident wouldn’t be a big deal at all. I sent them copies of my driver’s license, birth certificate, school transcripts and anything else I could think of that proved my residency and since FAU hadn’t provided a list that detailed exactly what they wanted, I figured I was making it easy on them.
I received another post card from FAU the next week stating that my documents had been received, but destroyed because it wasn’t what FAU had been looking for to prove my residency. So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to call the registrar’s office at FAU and settle this matter easily. I figured I would ask them what they wanted, get copies of it all and send it to FAU. When I finally reached the registrar’s office I was told that everything that I had just sent them is what they needed to prove my residency. This is when I decided that this was going to be a problem.
I politely told the woman on the phone that I had already sent copies of all the requested documents and had been told that they had been destroyed. She politely responded, with a high level of sarcasm that is, that it was because I was declared an out-of-state student. I decided to end the conversation and said that I would be sending the documents again. Worried that the same mistake would happen again, I decided that I would deliver the documents myself to FAU. I figured that alone would secure my residency status, because what student would drive to a state he doesn’t live in just to prove he is a resident of the state he doesn’t live in? When I finally arrived at FAU’s Boca Raton campus, I was treated like a member of a lower caste when I went to the registrar’s office.
The woman at the counter stated that I did not have to personally deliver the documents to the office myself because they never had a problem filing documents. I told her that the office did the last time I mailed the documents to them and she got very angry. She took the documents, pushed a few buttons on the computer keyboard, filed the documents and told me everything was settled and never told me to have a nice day. I left happy anyways, because I was now a Florida resident again, despite never not being a resident. I never realized the next problem would be applying with Financial Aid.
I have to admit it; I do get grants to go to college. I wouldn’t be able to go any other way and frankly, I’m not ashamed, I’m not wasting the money. Now, I live with my grandparents and have always used them to file under the dependent student classification. Well, after I had filled everything out, I received a call from FAU that it was against Federal Regulations to use my grandparents. I asked why that was since I had always done so without ever getting into trouble. The lady responded with, “I don’t know, why don’t you talk to your Financial Aid consultant,” and promptly hung up the telephone.
So again I went through the motions and found out I had to use my father, whether I lived with him or not, if I were to file as a dependent student, which I had no choice to, because a student is considered dependent until 24 years of age. I asked why the lady that called me before couldn’t tell me this and I was told by my Financial Aid consultant, “I don’t know.” For a college, a lot of people run around not knowing very much. Anyways, I received my Financial Aid and I was good to register for my classes. The only problem with that was that now I was in FAU computers as a freshman, even as a transfer student, I am not a freshman.
That was an easy problem to fix, but again I was reminded that it was my fault and not FAU’s for the confusion again. So now I was good to register for my classes. Now I live over sixty miles from FAU’s Boca Raton campus, but I only live about twenty minutes from a satellite campus. This was one of the reasons I chose FAU, its satellite campus was close to home and it guaranteed to have all the classes I needed. So I read through the semester schedule and found that only one of the classes I needed to take was taught at the satellite campus.
I was dismayed that I would have to drive over 240 miles every week with going and coming home, but I decided that I needed to take the classes because I wanted to get through with college as quick as I could. I decided that I wouldn’t just keep my mouth shut about it though. I decided to write an e-mail to the university president and former lieutenant governor of Florida, Frank Brogan. I was cordial in the e-mail, but also frank. I had heard that Brogan is notorious for not answering any student e-mails; I made sure that he would answer mine. The next day, I received the reply.
Mr. Brogan decided to be very nasty with me. First he stated that I didn’t need to ask him to reply to my e-mail, because he replies personally to all e-mails, which of course he doesn’t. Secondly he insisted that it was no big deal to me that I would have to waste so much gas for eighteen weeks, I’m glad he knew what I was thinking when I didn’t know I was thinking that myself. Third, he stated that I needed to sit with him in the board room since I thought I knew everything. Basically, he ignored what I wrote and took some pent-up frustrations he had out on me.
I decided I would never deal with him again. As a point, when he visited the satellite campus and was shaking student’s hands, I ignored his hand when he offered it to me. I did survive the semester, but I wasn’t happy. It had cost me a lot of time with paperwork and a lot of gas money. I still attend FAU though because I am so close to graduating.
The main point to all of this is that FAU doesn’t care about its students. FAU only cares about image. FAU wants the image of an up-and-coming university that can take on the best Ivy League schools in the country. Students are a secondary matter that many who work in administration at FAU feel they can just write off. It seems to be a real problem when they’re faced with complaining students and they just don’t deal with it.
So go to any other university besides FAU. You’ll have a better time and be happier with your environment. All you get at FAU is headaches after headaches. Students are ignored by administration until they need pictures of happy students and then the administration does everything to make the student happy, except actually help them. If attendance starts going down at FAU, maybe they’ll rethink their strategy toward students.