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Jul 09

Surprise trip to Costa Rica… for two

In the fall of 1994 took my first college courses at the University of Texas in Austin. Today I embark on a journey to Heredia, Costa Rica to obtain the last 3 credits of that same undergraduate degree I began eighteen years ago. I’m on the plane and anxious to begin my trek, but first I thought I should set the stage a bit.

I was originally enrolled in my last 3 credit hours of Spanish at Weatherford College last semester, but the class didn’t make and I was forced to take an online version. It was evident the first week that my online approach was doomed. About that time I saw a flyer for Texas Wesleyan’s study abroad program offering 6 credit hours in Spanish this summer in Costa Rica. A quick call to Financial aid verified that my loans would cover the trip and I had found a way to finish my degree.

On the day of the deadline an evil grin hit my face as a scheme was hatched in my mind. I knew my wife wouldn’t be too fond of me taking a two week trip to Central America and leaving her with our three children. So why not take her along? And why not make it a surprise? Could I do that? Sure!

I knew I couldn’t afford to take her along as a guest so she would need to be a student. However, she hadn’t taken a class at Wesleyan since 2001. I went to the international sudy office and inquired about making a deposit for the two of us and they said she couldn’t register for the trip unless she was an active student. “Has she been admitted?”, they asked. “Well… No” I said. “Has she applied?” again I said no.

There was then a long pause in our conversation. Where any larger institution would have simply said, “No!” Wesleyan paused. I suspect that the voice inside that office worker’s head was saying something like, “I should say no cause there’s almost no chance she could get admitted today if she hasn’t even applied.” But what she said was, “Well… If you take her over to admissions and get her application in and IF you ask them to hurry – maybe we could make it happen.” She warned me that there was no guarantee this would work, but she agreed to hold my check in case the planet’s somehow aligned.

I sent an email to my choir professor saying I had some important business to attend to and marched up to admissions. I explained my situation to them and they said to have Mary apply online and he would try to push it through. I hadn’t mentioned I was trying to make this a surprise, so I pretended to text Mary to have her apply. What I was really doing was applying online on her behalf.

Sure enough, I was able to do the entire application on my smart phone and he processed her application in about 15 minutes. Since she hadn’t attended anywhere since Wesleyan way back in 2001, they had all the transcripts they needed and she was admitted within 20 minutes. The case worker said this was probably the fastest admission every processed. In my mind I was thinking how incredible it was that I was able to apply and get my wife accepted to the school without her knowledge. Perhaps not the best security practices, but it certainly favored my scheme.

Needless to say, I was successful and as I take my final class, Mary will begin her return to a bachelors degree she started 16 years ago.

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