The year was 1987. I lived in a garage. I was an undergrad at San Diego State University. And I thought I needed to take 17 units during my last semester to graduate. But after formally applying for graduation, I got an unpleasant surprise.
At the Department of Admissions and Records, I asked a clerk if there was a limit to how many units a student could take.
"Yes," he said. "You can only take 26."
“How do you check on that?” I asked.
The clerk just looked at me, deadpan, like, “Try it, punk.”
The SDSU course catalog was mammoth, so I rolled the dice, and blocked out a schedule that fit all my required classes. It was brutal. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays, I had classes from 8 AM to 9:45 PM, with 10-minute breaks between.
Thinking I had to get some exercise (besides racing to classes), I tried to wedge in some PE. All I could get to fit was a weightlifting class embarrassingly titled “Body Building.” Oy. (Fitness, be not proud.)
I didn’t miss a single class meeting that semester. My theory was that if I just paid attention and took lots of notes, I’d survive. But I was on pins and needles, waiting for a note from SDSU informing me that my little stunt had been found out.
But, nothing. The semester ended, and then came the wait for my official report card. It came in two separate envelopes. Had I gotten away with it?!
I had. And I think the lesson we can learn from my ordeal is a universal one:
Actually, let me get back to you on that.