June 28, 2013

GMAT Horror Story: Test auditors cancel my 700+ score

Mehul Tolia, MBA '14
Sometimes you have this love – hate relationship with certain people for me it was with GMAT. Yes! A relationship because it lasted for about a year and a half.

It all began in the summer of 2010 (you know how horrific the story is going to be by the way it begins). Fresh from my undergrad, I attempted the GMAT for the first time. It took me about 2 months to prepare, but at the end of it I just wanted to get it done. On the day of the test I was nervous but felt well prepared. I finished the test in time and got the result. Though the score was good but not up to my expectation. Nevertheless I left it at that and took up a job.

A year into the job I took a month off. I wanted to better my previous GMAT score. I worked hard again and cracked it. I was able to go past the 700 mark. I was simply ecstatic. Seemed like all the hard work and the gamble of taking it again had paid off. The score was balanced and competitive enough. I went back to my job knowing that I was definitely done with the first part of the MBA application i.e. the GMAT.

But (yes there is always a ‘but’) nothing goes as planned. About three weeks after I took my test tragedy struck. Early in the morning I was informed that my GMAT score had been cancelled. Apparently, the GMAT audit members had found some discrepancy with the particular test center and hence were cancelling all test scores for the previous 3 months. I was shocked, angry and frustrated at the same time. My only compensation was I could book another GMAT test date for free. I took some time to evaluate the situation as even if I wanted to retake the GMAT, but I couldn’t afford to take a long break again.

Finally I decided to give it another shot. Thankfully there was a long festive break coming up, hence I was able to get 2 weeks off. When I began preparing this time, I didn't really know where to begin as I had just finished all the necessary material a month back. I decided that this was my last time; no matter what the score would be I would never retake the GMAT. And came the fateful test date when I went to take the GMAT for the third and final time. Though I ended up getting a better score then my first attempt it was still lower than my second score. I then began focusing on the MBA applications. After the interview the longest wait was for the decision, and when I heard back from Weatherhead I was thrilled. I now realize, GMAT though important, it is just one part of your profile. In the end, the schools thankfully looked at the overall picture.

The past one year has been a great learning experience both inside and outside the school. The small class size has provided me an opportunity to work with people from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. I am looking forward to the second year at this school. As cliché as it may sound "all's well that ends well".

Mehul Tolia, MBA '14

June 21, 2013

GMAT/GRE Horror Story: You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather

Me (on the right) with CWRU alumnae Glynis Brault
One of my favorite song lyrics of all time comes from Outkast’s song “Ms. Jackson”. Although I didn’t know it at the time the song was first released, I would later apply Andre 3000’s genius to many situations, including a near disaster during my GRE exam.

This past spring, I chose the GRE over the GMAT when applying to the part-time MBA program, as I had spent time learning its content before I completed undergrad. I decided to sit for the exam here at Case Western Reserve University so I wouldn’t get lost trying to find a new testing center on test day. I estimated my score versus the score I believed would guarantee my admission into the program and memorized them almost as well as I did the format. My proverbial picnic was well and truly planned.
Of course, things did not go according to plan. The weather that rained out my picnic that day came in the form of a fire alarm and an emergency evacuation of the testing center, just as I was about to complete a section about halfway through. When I returned to my seat, I realized that the module I was working on had ended itself early and I began to panic. All of my preparation went out the window and I stumbled through the rest of the exam.

Later that day, convinced I should simply withdraw my application as I wouldn’t have the score I needed to be admitted, I tried to reflect back on why I wanted to be part of the program at Weatherhead School of Management. This is not a program of people whose strengths lie only in their ability to take standardized tests or who just had a high GPA in their undergraduate major. Nor is it a program of full of people who only work in finance or only those with extensive work experience in their fields. Sure, some of the cohort may have these attributes but the beauty of this program is that the admissions process allows you to demonstrate your strengths and present yourself as a whole person, not just a number or a rank. You are encouraged to share how you’ll contribute to the program as a whole and how you’ll use the knowledge gained to achieve your career goals.

In the end, Andre 3000 was right. You can prepare for a situation but life happens and despite it, I was accepted to the program. Now I am excited to spend the next 3 years at Weatherhead developing as a professional and learning from those who have different backgrounds and areas of expertise from my own.  It is this blend of people that I found most attractive when selecting a program and feel confident that I will become a better leader in the future as a result of working with the talented individuals in my cohort.

Roxanne Hodgkinson, 2016 part-time MBA candidate

June 14, 2013

Grad students love ice cream too

Every day is a great day for Mitchell's Ice Cream. Especially when this hometown favorite ice cream shop is located a short stroll from Weatherhead's front doors. Flavors such as Pralines & Cream, Bing Cherry Chocolate Chunk, Caramel Sea Salt, Toasted Pistachio and Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp keep Weatherhead students (and staff!) hopped up on natural sweet goodness to get us through the day.

So here's to Mitchell's; get ready to treat our sweetest incoming class to your finest flavors this fall!

June 7, 2013

Cleveland Newbies

Happy in CLE
Part of acclimating yourself to the Weatherhead community is immersing yourself in Cleveland and all the great things our city has to offer. For Brandon McFarland and his fiance, Megan Hopkins, Cleveland, Ohio, is their new home. They moved to Cleveland in March so Megan could start her new job and Brandon could begin networking in the local business community prior to starting his MBA in the fall. The Michigan transplants had enjoyed their Dean's Weekend visit last year and fell in love with Cleveland, so they were looking forward to moving here.

Since March, Brandon and Megan have balanced work, networking, and wedding planning with getting to know their new surroundings. Thankfully, they have found some time to discover some of the hidden gems in the area. When I asked Megan about what her favorite place in Cleveland is, she mentioned Cuyahoga National Park, which features the beautiful Brandywine Waterfalls. This 33,000 park area attracts nearly 2.5 million visitors every year! CNP features great hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking areas, and horse trails.

Recently, Brandon, Megan and I attended a Cleveland Indians game with some of their new friends. Megan told me her favorite thing about Cleveland is the people, and it was great meeting some of the people they have already established close friendships with in a short amount of time. 

Megan and Brandon are not only embracing this new chapter in their life and looking forward to their big day with great anticipation, but they are doing so as the saying goes around here, "Happy in CLE." We here at Weatherhead wish them nothing but the best on their big day and all their married days to follow.

Al DiFranco
Director of Admissions