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Applying to B-School Is A Marathon–Not A Sprint

The MBA application process is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a good thing I did cross-country in high school, even if it was for the pre-race pasta dinners.

I’m blogging from the Wichita Airport in Kansas, where I was working with a client today.  Yes, my work takes me to some pretty random places, and this is my second time in the lovely state; the first to an even more remote town that only had one stop light.

Surprisingly, I have really enjoyed Kansas this time around.  Upon my arrival, instead of checking out the largest corn dog or the most significant hill, I headed straight to the malls and stores.  I needed some retail therapy after my dismal first practice attempt at the GMAT.

Right now, my main focus is getting my GMAT scores up.  At one point early on in my MBA research, I Googled “predict GMAT from SAT.”

Silly, I know, I just wanted to see if there was a correlation. Apparently there is not, though I distinctly remember the musings of one forum poster: “Take your SAT and divide by two.” He should have said, “Take your SAT, divide by 2, wait just kidding, you’ve been out of school too long and forgot your basic concepts, minus 200, and add some self-despair.” Hah.

After two weeks of pretty persistent studying (here is a gal who has not hit the books since college) which includes 2/hrs day during the week days and 5/hrs a day on weekends, I decided I was ready to take a practice CAT test downloaded from GMAC itself. I figure it has to be legit as I am getting it from the source.

The application process is starting to creep into my life (and in a few months, will overtake my life) in some crazy ways.  Out at happy hour Friday night, I called out a friend on an unstated assumption (critical reasoning, baby!). I’ve become that girl at the gym that ellipticals and runs (pun intended) through GMAT flastcards.

In the morning when I wake and before bedtime, I try to look at the essay questions posed by my amorphous top 10 list of schools and think if I have new revelations or stories. I don’t think I’m obsessive, but I know that there’s a steep hill I need to climb, I’m a little late to the game, and once I set a goal, I’m going to pursue it doggedly until I get it.

So my friend from HS who I will nickname “H” is also prepping for B-School, and we have decided to be study buddies. Saturday morning, we hole our selves up at the lovely public library with their study rooms. For as much money as I pay the library in taxes (and fines), I need to make use of all their amenities.

To quote Haley from “Modern Family,” “I thought that was a bathroom for homeless people”.

Well.  Yes, but the public library is so much more. You see, we have one of the best library systems in the entire US in my dear Pacific Northwest city. I grew up on public libraries and university libraries.  The library was where I hid out and read “Sweet Valley High,” “Babysitter’s Club” and “Encyclopedia Brown” as a child, a favorite high-school hang-out (I fully acknowledge my nerdy past), my source for SAT prep, and now I return to the same familiar section for the GMAT material, after occasionally perusing the graphic novels section for The Adventures of Tin Tin books. Don’t laugh.

But then I decided to get serious…and bought the Manhattan GMAT series.  Of course I refused to buy it full price from the official site – that is one of my main tenants of life Don’t pay full price when you don’t have to which is next to Don’t order sushi from a state that is as physically far away as possible from a major body of water.

So I go through the test, panicking and forgetting most of what I had studied and not pacing myself. Math problems take me much longer than I had thought and I blank on the shortcuts I had memorized and number properties. I try to outsmart the system, trying to figure out whether my questions are getting harder or easier, to see if I am doing better or worse. It is the most nerve wracking 75 minutes in my recent life.