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

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