Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

North by Northwestern.

Northwestern-ArchNineteen-twenty Campus Drive, Evanston, Illinois, is a building located in the center of a yard surrounded by other buildings, a good distance away from any sort of actual “drive,” next to a section of winding sidewalk that goes past an Escheresque library building and what is, for now, a frozen-over lake. There are six or seven different paths you can take to get to this building, which houses the Radio/TV/Film department, and it’s only after you finally get there that you can actually figure out the most efficient path, which you then use to return to your vehicle.

Points for consistency, I suppose, because so far my dealings with Northwestern have been positively labyrinthine. If the mascot were not already the wildcat, I would suggest that the university instead adopt the minotaur to jump about and rally the crowd at the football games.

Today I finally, after a number of attempts, managed to determine who to contact in order to check on the status of my graduate school application. I’d been concerned that my transcript from the University of Illinois hadn’t arrived, as this was the only item asked for by the MFA program that I had not personally uploaded or received notice of receipt.

When I called, I discovered that the transcript had arrived. However, 75% of my supplemental material was missing.

I was perplexed. I had, as per the instructions in the online application, uploaded my statement of purpose, playwriting resume, ten-page writing sample, and thesis project proposal into the system and had received a clear message that my application was completed and filed in early December. I had downloaded and printed out a 17-page PDF from the application website that contained the entirety of these materials. So if I had a hard copy of the completed application, why the hell didn’t the university?

We have a different setup for our program, I was told. We don’t usually allow the materials to be submitted online.

“But I was prompted to do so,” I protested. “There were no indications that doing so was incorrect. I was told that my application was complete.”

Your application is not complete. We need most of your supplemental materials.

I offered to drive it over today.

Very well. Once we have your completed application, your name will be placed on a list of people whose applications have been recently completed.

“Will this affect my chances for acceptance into the program?”

I don’t know.


I don’t know, I am told. You will be marked down as somebody who could not get their application done on time and we will not tell you if or how much this will be weighed against you when the staff is making their decisions.

“Except I got the application done on time. Your bloody system told me I was finished.”

We have no idea why that happened. Thank you for finally completing your application.

So that’s that, apparently. And if I had not called to check on the transcript I would have had no idea that these other items were missing.

Between this nonsense and my recent inability to land even a menial office job among the hundreds currently unfilled at Northwestern, I start to get a little paranoid, wondering if at some point in my past I unwittingly insulted the future provost, if I slept with his wife at a cocktail party and forgot all about it.

There’s certainly the possibility that I won’t be accepted into the program based on merit, but if I’m not accepted I’m always going to wonder if it was due to a technicality, due to a failure of their system for which I was being punished instead. That, or the thing with the provost.

Hell of a day.

One comment on “North by Northwestern.

  1. Pingback: Basic reading comprehension. | Creative Control

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2009 by in Education, Mental Health, School.
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