CUNY Diploma Blues – Part 2

This is the follow-up to last week’s post about my desire to teach in South Korea. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Last week, I got into the details of all the hoops I had to jump through to apply for the position, and while I was able to pass through most of them, my progress came to a grinding halt when I discovered my school’s policy is to make alumni wait 4-6 months for their diploma. 

Why can’t I send my transcripts instead of the easily forgeable diploma? Because, as discussed last week:

*There is a law in the Korean Government that says they cannot grant a work Visa unless the teacher NOT ONLY has sent over a scanned copy of their diploma BUT ALSO has said diploma ON THEIR PERSON when they arrive in the country.*


 (Dude, what is the point of this?)

It took a long time for me to come to terms with the reality that not only was I stuck in my current job for the time being with its low salary and FOUR HOUR daily commute, but that I would be stuck living at home as well.

A part of me refused to believe I was condemned to wait until late 2014 to get a copy of a single sheet of paper. Refused to believe that because of my school my ENTIRE LIFE would be put on hold until they got their act together.

It couldn’t be true…could it?


(Durr…paper goes WHERE?)

So I went down to the College of Staten Island’s registrar office on June 4th with a friend of mine. I sat and waited patiently for my ticket to be called and when I was let in I asked the rep when the diplomas would be in.

She barked “5 months!” and stared me down, waiting for me to challenge her. I did, and calmly explained that I need the diploma for a work visa. This got me nowhere, but when I mentioned I would like to speak to a dean, she caved and brought me into the back.


(She has since been removed for intense personal training.)

 I went into the back and spoke to another woman, who was nice, but basically gave me the same answer. I again explained my situation (to no avail) and said I would like to speak to a dean. Then I was sent to speak to the head of graduation, and here’s where it gets a bit interesting.

His name is Hernan Green and through him I learned a couple of interesting facts.

1) CSI uses an outside vendor called Jostens instead of printing the diplomas in-house. Why is this done? To save money and for no other reason.

2) This process cannot be expedited. The student records for all graduating students are sent out in one batch, and if there are any bad apples that handed in their assignments late, then guess what, EVERYONE WHO PLAYED BY THE RULES suffers as well.

3) You cannot contact Jostens; CSI corresponds through email and places orders.

4) You can, however, request that your student record be flagged so CSI will call you when the diploma comes in. This shaves off a little bit of time (but not much) because their protocol is to receive the diplomas from Josten’s and mail letters out to the alumni, informing them that their diploma is ready for pickup.

So much work! Is there any way around this?


(I like where Lindsay’s head is at)

Unfortunately not. In fact, even if you want to complain about this policy, you must first prepare yourself for a long and arduous haul.

I asked people in the registrar who to complain to and (of course) they had no idea. So I called 311 and said I would like to put in a “Higher Education” complaint. Here it is, verbatim:

I graduated 4 months ago today and still have not received my diploma. I have a job opportunity in another country and my work Visa cannot be processed without a scanned copy of the diploma (in addition to my transcripts). I tried going through my school several times but they said there’s nothing they can do to help and I just have to wait until their vendor prints out the diplomas and ships them.

There needs to be an option where you can pay to have your diploma expedited, as it is no exaggeration that this policy is holding up my entire life.

 The 311 rep sent this complaint over to the Department of Consumer Affairs. The next day they responded, saying I had to call The New York State Education Department’s Office of the professions at (800) 442-8106.

The next day there was an update saying I could additionally pursue a complaint with New York State Education Department Bureau of Propriertary School Supervision Investigations and Audit Unit at (212) 643-4760.

So I did. I called both numbers, and each one referred me to the same number which was (518) 474-2593. When I asked what number this was, they said it was “New York State of” something-or-other. I really don’t remember the rest.

Then I called this number, and they said I had to speak to CUNY central at (212) 794-5555.



(Only a matter of time before this guys accosts me for trespassing in his labyrinth)

And this is where I’m at now. I’ve called this number a couple of times in the past week or so, but it’s always incredibly busy, with a wait time of EIGHTEEN to TWENTY minutes.

So if indeed you can put in a complaint, it is nowhere near simple. And even if you put the complaint in, I doubt CSI is interested in overhauling their policy because a minority of students need their paper diploma.

Finally, what bothers me the most is that nobody in the registrar office can give a solid answer. Back in July, I received a notice saying that the diplomas would be available in October and well…today is November first.

Despite being assured I would be contacted when the diploma came in, I couldn’t help but contact the office every few weeks, just in case lady luck smiled upon me.

She did not.


(She is a cruel, sultry mistress)

At first I was assured the diplomas would be in “the first week of October” but when I called on October 1, they then changed it to “the first week of November.”

Is this a joke? Like…for real? We can put a man on the moon, but it takes an accredited university FIVE MONTHS to print a piece of paper?

diploma lies

(Not this paper. It’s next stop is a bonfire.)

This policy is completely unacceptable and needs to be addressed. Please CUNY! Mandate an option where we can get the diploma ahead of time! I was willing to pay $100 back in June for an expedited copy, no questions asked.

You guys are leaving money on the table. SERIOUSLY!

That’s all for now. If there are any updates with my current struggle I’ll be sure to post an update.

Until next time,

J. F. Seegitz

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One Response to CUNY Diploma Blues – Part 2

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