Those entering the university when it was still a good year-and-a-half from being my alma mater were going to be treated to a little less stress than those of us already students in the Lang. & Lit. Department, thanks to a reimagining of earned credit hours. Graduating college is not "attend XX years, earn the degree" - you're required to complete a minimum number of hours to collect that sheepskin and those hours usually have to break down into a minimum number in each of particular categories, such as core classes and major-related courses. The majority of Lang. & Lit. classes were worth 3 credit hours my first three years in school; the university board eventually voted to make many of the harder upper-level ones worth 4 each, to take effect the first semester of my senior year. To earn 12 credit hours used to mean taking four classes, whereas after the change it would only require three and the credit hour fees stayed the same. Further, future graduates wouldn't have to have quite as many of those classes on their transcript to qualify for the degree.
Most faculty liked it. Younger students loved it; the university administration, it seemed, had built a significant lever into a better mousetrap that would allow their charges to either relax a little or, for the very ambitious, to fit in an extra class here and there and graduate a semester or two earlier than under the old system.
Once in a while, life is able to execute a perfect win-win. This wasn't one of them, though to be fair it seemed that way for a year before an obvious chink split the tantalizingly buffed armor. For those of us who had calculated in our sophomore year precisely how and when to take what classes were needed each semester to graduate at a certain time, ending up with an overage of credits in our last year didn't bother us ... but having to pay extra for what we didn't ask for did. You were limited to 18 credit hours each semester for a flat tuition fee, but every hour over cost you an extra $150. If you were a junior planning your last year, you still had to take certain classes to graduate on-schedule. What was originally a well-crafted plan to push through my last 36 hours needed, in 12 carefully-delayed upper-level classes - 18 hours each semester - under the new points system turned into a 44-hour mess which cost me an extra $1,200.
Since the senior class was the smallest of the student body and the change only hurt us and some of the juniors in the department, it seemed at first our finances would simply be ground under the cogs of progress. For reasons I can't recall 20 years later, the administration was made aware of the problem but wasn't going to do anything to fix it for us - probably because were were only a subset of seniors; perhaps because as mostly English majors we were viewed as math-ignorant, and as mostly 21-year-olds not experienced in negotiations with adults who knew more about how the world worked.
A senior friend of mine was the first to think to register a formal complaint with the dean's office - and after she won her case, I had the distinction of being the second person on campus to go through the process. I had to schedule an appointment with the assistant dean and lay out a case to get my $1,200 back. A few more people doing this after us and word-of-mouth led to the administration finally making the option available to any upperclassmen caught in the same cogs.
Early this year I had a situation at work in which I had to cover for a supervisor on emergency medical leave for several weeks, in addition to doing my own job. After he returned, I waited a month to see if upper management would do anything to acknowledge it; when no extra pay was forthcoming, I bypassed two superiors and went to the owner of the company for a raise or at least extra back pay/bonus. I had fumed for a month that I'd been taken for granted, but when I sat down with her, she said she didn't know I hadn't been rewarded and apologized that I'd had to bring the matter to her. And while I still didn't get the amount I requested, nor the lesser amount I felt should have been paid, I did get something - and was reminded of the first time I had to tell someone in charge they'd screwed me out of money that was rightfully mine.
To this day I still don't know if the extra fees was truly an unintended consequence the university board hadn't taken into account or simply something its members hoped wouldn't come to light among much of the student body - it would still be a few years before the Internet became a factor in rapid, wide communications, Facebook's founders probably hadn't even been to their first junior-high dance yet, and tweets were still all about birds.