July 2010

In the beginning of July, I knew that it was getting down to the wire in terms of the end of the summer. Yes, in July I was already thinking about the Fall because I knew how hectic the Fall would be with applications and studying for the GMAT. I was still studying all of the Veritas Prep books and was beginning to feel more confident and relaxed because I didn’t have a concrete date for the GMAT scheduled yet. I had one in mind, but was not telling anyone what it was. I was getting a lot of unsolicited input from everyone who was rooting me on.

Then, I received an email from my Veritas Prep Consultant from the Consulting package that I won from the BeatTheGMAT.com posting contest. She asked me how my preparation for the GMAT was going, no pressure right? I knew/thought that the GMAT would be the deciding factor in my admissions so I definitely did not underestimate the importance of it – FOR ME! I laughed when I responded to her email because her email was a simple short 2-paragraph email but my response was a long 8 paragraph response. I had a lot of questions built up and I wanted to make sure that I had the chance to ask her now before we started getting into the nitty gritty of my candidacy.

She answered them with the responses that I had expected so there weren’t any secrets divulged there. For a “normal” applicant, the advice may have been helpful, but I did not consider myself to be a normal applicant because I knew most people were not going to be as fanatical about the process as I was. Come to find out, that many applicants are! If I considered myself to be a 10, then a lot of applicants are 7-9 in terms of how hard they work to get in. Many people – usually the one’s who complain about not getting in are a 5-6. I didn’t come to find that out until after I, and my friends, had gotten into school and we shared stories. When I responded to her I had some questions about my potential recommenders. The good thing about my consultant is that she doesn't let me get ahead of myself and lose sight of the fact that I need to score well on the GMAT!

In July, an article came out from HBS about their Class of 2012 class profile. What was interesting is that the GMAT range of applicants who had been accepted was a 510 – 790. This was incredibly surprising to me for a couple of reasons. The first surprising reason is that HBS accepted a study with a 510 GMAT score. Usually, schools divulge their 80% range, so that they don’t have to show what the lowest score was of an applicant who was accepted. HBS thinks differently and apparently had no embarrassment towards accepting a 510 GMAT score. I wished every school did this because it would give a lot of people hope. Not that I, or anyone, should not strive for a higher score, but I thought to myself, “Wow, whomever this person was had a low GMAT score and still thought enough about him/herself to apply to HBS.” That story gave me hope even though I didn’t know the rest of the person’s profile. The other thing that was interesting is that HBS didn’t accept anyone who had an 800. Sure, the average GMAT score in 2012 for HBS was a 724, but I knew that’s not where I was going to be.

So then I got to thinking more and more about the schools that I would apply too. It was now the middle of July and I had to start thinking about the 2nd part of the process, which was determining my target schools. When I think back to when I started the process, I thought that everything would work out the way that I wanted it too. By that I mean that I thought that I would have taken the GMAT in May and got a high score. Then in the summer I would start working on my essays, then visit schools in the Fall and apply R1 to all of my schools. In a perfect world, that’s exactly how it would have happened, but after that 590, I knew that my plans would change.

I registered for a Ross event, again at the Kaplan center in NYC mainly because my two friends that I met at the Yale SOM event told me that I would love it. I was very excited to go to the information session, but then again I was always very excited to go to an information session.

Aside from preparing to go to the Ross event, I was still chucking away with my studies. Sometimes, I would do problem sets and not look at the answers until the following night. Then I would review the answers, again both right and wrong, and then do another set of problem sets. I remember one night I got so many questions wrong from the night before that I simply closed the book and threw it off my bed. LITERALLY! It may seem overly dramatic but I was very pissed. I think that time I got 16 out of 20 questions incorrect. I let myself be angry for a short period of time and then determined that I need to formulate a plan of action so that I didn’t continue to try to study while upset. The GMAT exam does weird things to people both smart and not-smart (I don’t like saying dumb when referring to people’s intellects). It’s a puzzle and some people get it quickly and others never get it. I seemed to be in the latter group and that was frustrating. Instead of trying to torture myself and do more problems that night I decided to watch videos provided by Veritas Prep on topics that I was having trouble with. I felt very defeated that day.

After watching a couple of slides from the Veritas Prep video I realized WHY I had gotten so many questions wrong before. There’s a Veritas Prep strategy called SWIMMER that I had completely forgotten about and threw totally out the window. This was a dumb mistake on my part but it was good that I realized this mistake. As a result, I decided to add the SWIMMER technique to my posterboard and post it on my wall!

I remember after this meltdown having a jam packed week ahead of me. Here is what my schedule looked like:

Monday - Work then Ross event
Tuesday - Work then InsideTheMBA Fair, which I heard about from a friend a couple days before and ended up registering on my phone. I knew that representatives from Johnson, NYU Stern and UNC would be there, so I knew that I had to be there. Wednesday - Work then my last Statistics class
Thursday - Work then a work Networking Event at the Roger Smith Hotel (Aka the Social Media hotel)
Friday - Digital Marketing Class
Saturday - Digital Marketing Class (LAST ONE TO COMPLETE MY CERTIFICATE!!!)

And in addition to all of that, I had to make time to study. I knew that wouldn’t be hard for me to do because I’m a night owl, but I also knew that it would be a very tiring week indeed.

At the Ross event at the Kaplan center. It was actually a JD/MBA information session so there were people there who were also looking to do the joint degree. As you know, I take a copious amount of notes at these sessions because I like to hear what the admissions officers thinking. Here are a couple of notes that I took during this session.

1. The GMAT is a good gauge to tell you if you are admissible RELATIVE TO THE LAST ADMITTED CLASS... I thought that was very poignant!

2. 1 Page Resume (which I think may be hard for me.. I've had 3 jobs thus far)...In the resume ask yourself
- "What does this tell the admissions committee about me?"
- "What value did you add to your company?"

- "What impact did you have on your organization?"

Towards the end of July, I put some time on my VP’s calendar so that we could meet and talk about her recommendation and how I would be able to keep in contact with her during her maternity leave. At that point in time she didn’t even know which schools I was interested in. I knew that I had to get her up to speed quickly before she had other priorities – aka her newborn daughter!

Now that I was beginning another part of this process I had more questions for my friends who had just been accepted to business school. A lot of these questions revolved around what one does after he/she has been accepted to school. The friend that I met at the Yale SOM event and later in the train station in New Haven had decided to go to Ross and agreed to answer some questions for me. I was still battling the gMAT but I wanted to get some insight into the months post-admission yet, pre-matriculation for an MBA student.

With all of the available information out there about how to get in to school, I couldn’t really find anything that spoke to the months after admissions yet before getting to business school (which is also why I’m glad I’m writing this book.) Anyway, this friend of mine scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT. He was ultimately “dinged” from Yale and the other schools that he applied too but he was also admitted to some other schools. I liked his story because again, to me he was the seemingly perfect candidate that should have gotten in everywhere – in my eyes. His rejections reaffirmed to me that I was on the right track that there was something “bigger” to this admissions process than GMAT score and GPA. I learned a lot from him because he was not admitted to every school that he applied too. I think we can learn a lot from people’s setbacks and not just their accomplishments. – hence the reason for this book.

I met this friend in the train station in New Haven, CT after my visit to Yale SOM. He was doing the campus tour with my group but he was also interviewing that day. We kept in touch because, well, that’s what I do! I also kept in touch with him because he was just a nice guy and down to earth. I also wanted to pick his brain about the application process and hear his thoughts. I followed him throughout the process of him hearing from schools and he decided to go to the Ross School of Business at Michigan University. Here are some excerpts from the interview that I did with him.

1. How did you and I meet?

We met in the New Haven train station. I had just completed my interview at Yale SOM, and you were visiting the school. Being well-organized pre-MBAs, we had left plenty of time to catch our trains. Coincidentally, we also hung out in the train station with two folks who will be joining me at Ross in the fall.

2. Walk us through the day that you received the email/letter/phone call of admission to Ross.

It took me totally by surprise! It was about four or five days before the official notification

deadline for R2, and I had just gotten into the office in the early afternoon after attending a conference in the morning. My work phone rang. The 734 area code seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I assumed that it was a customer calling and picked up the phone. I was very excited when the admissions officer on the other end told me where she was calling from! After a pleasant but brief conversation (they have a lot of phone calls to get through), I hung up, called my parents, told my colleagues, and then tried (unsuccessfully) to focus on work the rest of the day. My birthday was the next day, and my admission to Ross was a fantastic gift.

3. What is the admitted students weekend called? When was it? Was that what sealed the deal for you in deciding to go to Ross? Why?

All the cool kids call it “GBR.” But the official name of Ross’s ASW is “Go Blue Rendezvous.” Although it may be the first time that you hear the phrase “Go Blue!” as a Michigan student, it is far from the last. GBR was in mid-April, about one month after the Round 2 notification date.

GBR was an extremely fun, somewhat exhausting, and overwhelming compelling case to enroll at Ross. Of course they hit all of the expected bases – the classroom experience, the career development program, the housing options, the financial aid details, the best Ann Arbor bars, etc.

What really stood out, though, was the strength of the Ross community. A huge number of current Ross students went out of their way to plan or participate in GBR. Several reached out individually to me before GBR arrived to answer questions and share information. One “Ross Ambassador” knew his classmates well enough to connect me with one who had just secured a full-time consulting position very similar to what I will be seeking. Another student organized an informal reception in her apartment for pre- MBAs who shared her interest in organizational strategy. It was so clear that they loved being Ross students. They didn’t just want us to choose Ross, they wanted to help us begin a Ross experience that was as much fun as their own.

Many folks talk about how cool the Ross building is (and it is!), but what really impressed me about it was how seamlessly it supported the school’s action research teaching model and its values of trust and collaboration. The building’s many collaborative work spaces create an environment that promotes formal work, impromptu exchanges, and socializing. It is the physical embodiment of the school’s distinguishers.

What was most exciting about GBR was seeing how happy current students were at Ross and how faithfully the school environment lived up to the way that Ross portrays itself.

4. Was it painful writing that deposit check or a sigh of relief at that juncture?

In comparison to the full cost of tuition, it was a drop in the bucket.

5. Did your job know you were applying to business school? If not, how did you break the news to them that you were accepted and would be leaving? If they did know, how did you decide when your last work day would be?

I was upfront with my employer about my plans. Although there are plenty of things that

I would do differently if I were going through the application process again, I would try to replicate this aspect of my approach. It was good for my employer and for me. We were able to plan and implement a smooth personnel transition that aligned with our strategy for the product that I managed, I was able to ask my boss and a customer to write recommendations for me, and I didn’t have to feel any anxiety about studying for the GMAT in my office (after hours!) or breaking the news. I know that not everyone can be as open as I was, but I strongly recommend it if it’s possible. If your boss is even somewhat enlightened, he or she will appreciate the time to plan ahead. Even more importantly, there are enough things to get stressed about while applying without having to sneak around!

I gave a lot of thought to the question of when to stop working. I used the promise of some time off as a motivator for myself when I was studying for the GMAT and writing essays. So, I wanted to make good on that promise and reward myself. I also balanced the following factors:

a) having enough time off to see my family, travel abroad, and arrive in Ann Arbor relaxed and focused,
b) having some time in DC after quitting work to pack up and say goodbye to friends, c) drawing as many paychecks as possible, and
d) having enough time at work to train up my replacement.

Ultimately, I chose July 2 as my last day, setting up the 4th of July weekend a celebration of my independence from employment as well as our nation’s independence. It ended up feeling like the right date for me.

6. How did you prepare to essentially be salary(less) for a full year until your internship? A lot in savings?

To be honest, I don’t feel fully prepared to go 11 months without a four-figure sum of money being deposited into my bank account every two weeks. I did save as much money as I could for b-school, but I will still be taking out substantial loans. Since b- school tends to attract students who have already been professionally successful and who plan on being professionally successful in the future, the adjustment to a student budget and lifestyle seems to be a common concern. I am optimistic that the Ross experience will be so much fun and so much work that I won’t have the time or energy to worry about fine dining, weekend trips to Vegas, or any of the other ways that I’ve found to spend money over the last four years. But we’ll see. The good news is that b-school is significantly shorter than many graduate programs and has among the best

ROIs. Plus, they teach you budgeting as part of the curriculum ;)

More seriously, your question raises the broader issue of the sacrifices involved in going to business school. During the application process, it is easy and perhaps even helpful to focus on the many exciting aspects of returning to school. But once b-school stopped being an abstract goal and started being an imminent reality, I began to feel the attendant financial, professional, and social sacrifices more acutely. I realized that I was giving up over $200,000 in tuition plus foregone earnings, leaving a work environment that I really enjoyed, trading down in housing, and moving 800 miles away from some of my best friends. I am very confident that the Ross experience and the opportunities it provides are well worth those sacrifices. But I would encourage your readers to make sure that the unique sacrifices involved in any decision to get an MBA are worth it to

them. If you take a clear-eyed look at the sacrifices and then decide that the benefits outweigh them, you will be positioned to make a more confident and coherent case to MBA programs on why they should let you in.

8. Let's say your last day of work was July 1st and you classes don't start until September 1st (exact dates are irrelevant) - What does a pre-matriculated MBA student do for 2 months?

Even though there is virtually nothing that you “have to do” during your summer, I am also doing some low-intensity prep for b-school. I’ve attended a handful of formal and informal receptions, happy hours, and events for incoming Ross students (these are actually really fun), completed a career assessment, and networked with some recent alumni who work in consulting. I’m also taking a course on MBAMath.com to bone up on the quant skills likely be called upon during 1MBA.

9. You asked me earlier if I had ever heard of MBAMath.com. Why do you feel it necessary to brush up on these Quant skills?

I think of MBAMath.com and similar programs as more of a comfort than a
necessity. Presumably, the admissions officers for competitive MBA programs only admit students whom they are confident can do the work. However, I know that I have had significantly less day-to-day exposure to quant work than some of my fellow students. Considering the full price of an MBA, $150 seems like a good investment if it means that I will walk into class on day one with an added layer of confidence.

10. What do you know now about the whole pre-MBA experience, that you wish you knew prior to applying?

A lot. Here are the things that stand out:

Program Diversity - I did not anticipate what great differences exist between top MBA programs in terms of curriculum structure, functional specialties, culture, signature classes/experiences, industry/recruiter relationships, and even grading systems! I wish that I had started researching schools earlier and been more selective in applying only to schools that were good fits for me.

Application Workload - If you do your applications the right way, they will take a long time. It is essential to tailor each application in order to present the aspects of your narrative that best match the school’s unique qualities. If you can’t make a compelling case for a good match with a particular school, you may want to consider whether you are in fact a good match and whether your ~$200 application fee might be better spent elsewhere.

How Early to Start - The above two points suggest this third one. I wish that I had been more systematic in keeping track of b-school’s local events, planning campus visits, and reaching out to current students. It’s hard to do all that while working at a full time job, and no one can do it all. But those are themselves arguments to start as early as possible.

How Good Admissions Officers Are - This is easy for me to say now that I know where I am going to school in the fall, but I think that the schools that I applied to did a

good job of figuring out whether I would actually be successful and happy in their programs. I think that at least one or two of my rejections were actually blessings in disguise.

As a bonus, here’s one thing that I did know before I applied that I’m glad I knew:

Why I was applying. Truly understanding why you want to go to business school, why now is the right time, and what you plan to do with an MBA are invaluable. This insight into yourself will not only make selecting schools and writing applications easier, it will allow you to dive into the b-school experience from the moment that you’re admitted.

- End of interview -

Since we're all interested in business school we should know that many, some say most, times it's not what you know but WHO you know. I think this is true in many
cases. There is a way to network before your MBA that will help you through the process while you're navigating through applications. This post will reference A LOT of people whom I've met this past year and have been able to help and have help me. I can whole heartedly say that I do not think I would be this far along in the process and have the understanding that I do without having networked the sh*t out of everything.

I will add that being in NYC has been invaluable in my ability to network. Hey if I'm here I might as well take advantage of it right? I understand that not everyone is in my position...

Below I'm going to think about the events I've been too... who I met...and how we've helped each other...

NYU Stern Marketing Event 2009: Last year I attended this annual marketing event at NYU. This was for current students and prospective students. Here I met two important people whom I still talk to.

Person 1 - Jessica - It's funny because the end of the event consisted of a
reception. Sidenote - reception is just a formal MBA way of saying OPEN BAR. You guys don't know me but my saying is... "If it's free...I'll take three!" I didn't want to be a lush so I tried to contain myself, but there was a girl who said to a couple of us after the reception - "Who wants to go to a bar?" so.... we went to a bar! We were also in the same boat because we were not applying in that current year, but would be applying this year. Since then I have become very good friends with Jessica. We speak on gchat everyday. She's a member of MLT and we pass nuggets along back and for to each other about this process. She has become an invaluable contact because sometimes just sharing application process War stories is a good thing.

Person 2 - Matt - Matt was also an attendee at the NYU marketing event. Unlike Jessica, Matt was one of the people who had the 680 and was applying applying in that current cycle. R2 to be exact. We bonded because we both did Digital marketing for major fashion retailers. We kind of had the same job and similar reasons for wanting to go to business school. He's the classic case of WHAT NOT TO DO. He took a MGMAT in the summer of 2009 but didn't take the GMAT until December of 2009. Then he had to write 1 ESSAY PER DAY in order to meet all of the Round 2 Deadlines. He works a couple blocks from me and we meet up every couple of weeks to talk about our war

stories. It was interesting for me to see him go through the process and then even decisions. I would email him "CHECK YOUR EMAIL I HEAR THAT _______ SCHOOL DECISIONS WERE JUST SENT OUT!" Then he would email me back with the decision. He ultimately got into Darden and was waitlisted at NYU. He didn’t end up going to business school that year though as he got a cool new job.

Person 1 - "Banker Boy" - Before the official event kicked off, I was talking to a student who would be applying in Round 2. We traded cards...and kept in touch, because well.. I wanted to see if he would get into HBS. He was a nice guy and we also talk on
chat. gchat is great btw. He applied to the top 4 schools and unfortunately was not admitted to any of them. BTW he has a 750 GMAT score. I actually am amazed because the first time he took the GMAT he got a 690 and then he took it again AFTER WORK and got a 750. I was baffled. In any event, we kept each other abreast as to which events are happening when.

Person 2 - "Childhood Neighbor" - HBS 1st Year Student - While I was talking to Person 1 at an information session at Credit Suisse in Manhattan with HBS, Kellogg, Columbia, a current HBS student came over to find out who we were, what we did, why we want to go to b-school... all of the standard stuff so to speak. We traded business cards with him and went on our merry little way! Because this Credit Suisse event happened before I went to the HBS LGBT day, I didn’t know much about this person but come to find out when I went to the HBS LGBT day, he was the coordinator of the event. It also turns out (from me Facebook stalking him) that he went to my high school’s rival school – the town next to mine.

Person 3 - Jonathan – He is the Ross student who was kind enough to do the interview above.

Person 4 - Spencer - I too met spencer during my visit. It was funny because I almost missed my train because I was talking to him in the train station. We exchanged contact information in the train station even though neither of us had any more business
cards. He was visiting Yale SOM for his interview. So he had already gone through the application process. Spencer has been a great contact 1.) because he makes me laugh on gchat everyday. 2.) because he's been able to give me insight into the life at

Ross. He too will be attending Michigan Ross this upcoming fall.

Person 5 - Ben - I met Ben during the LGBT HBS reception at the end of the day. I honestly don't remember what we spoke about at all. I just knew that we were both from NYC. I'm sure we talked about that. We exchanged contact information and left the event. I remember him saying that he was taking the bus that was leaving an hour before mine to get back to the city. The next time I saw Ben was at the Dartmouth Tuck event at the Kaplan center on May 8th. The only reason I remember that date is because it was the day I took the GMAT! It was as if we were old friends. When I was attending the Michigan Ross event on Monday, Ben texted me and asked me if I was going to the InsideTheMBA.org event the following day. I hadn't even heard about it, but I registered and attended. During that event Ben had me dying laughing. Apparently he had been at an all day Wine tasting event and let me tell you.. he kept it going during the MBA
Event! Jessica was also at this event, and now... ::patting myself on the back:: Ben and Jessica are friends on Facebook. He had her and her friends cracking up! Cut-to 2 years later, Ben is at Duke getting his Law Degree and Jessica was at Duke working on

her MBA!

I wanted to recap these people because remember, before starting the process, I had not known of anyone who applied to business school or was applying. Through out those last 7 months, I had met so many people and kept in touch with them just so that I could stay sane and trade war stories with others in similar situations. For me, and I actually think for most people, it’s important to surround yourself with others who understand where you are in your life at the juncture. It will keep you calm during those times when you feel like everything is falling apart.

The following week after that business school information session, I met with my VP again right before she left on maternity leave. Some people were suggesting that I find a new recommender because she didn’t really know how much free time she would have to write my letter of recommendation since she would still be on maternity leave when I was applying. At the time I was planning to apply R1 for all of my schools. I told these naysayers that my VP is hardcore! She was due on a Thursday and she said that if all worked out as planned the Wednesday before her due date would be her last day. As I got to know her, this made sense because I could never picture her sitting at home doing nothing. When she told me Wednesday I said to her, “I think your last day should be Tuesday so that you can get a full days rest on Wednesday before your life changes for ever." She laughed but didn't seem to agree. So I was confident that she would find time to write my recommendation letters. She was definitely on Team Richard!

InsideTheMBA.org event on Tuesday:

The event was PACKED to say the least. There were more people standing up than sitting down because there were not enough tables. When I got there I looked for my friends Jessica and Ben. We were standing, I was eating and drinking white wine. There was a "panel" discussion for about 15 minutes and then they let us mix and mingle with the school representatives. The reason I put "panel" in quotes is because they were standing and passing the microphone between each other. It was very informal.

They allowed people to ask questions and all of the questions were pretty standard. I honestly didn’t know how the school representatives could stomach answering the same questions over and over and over and over again. I wondered if it got draining. How many times can you answer "What GMAT score do I need?" before wanting to pull all of your hair out?

There was one question that was asked that made everyone go "Did she just say
that?" This person asked, "So you guys said what people should not do, but what can we do to make sure that the admissions committee isn't thinking, "Wow this essay blows!" While a very candid question, everyone in the room had a look like, “Um, did she just say that?” I don't know if you guys think that's inappropriate but I sure do. That question should have been phrased differently.

I was only at the event to talk to three schools. NYU, Cornell, and UNC Kenan- Flagler. At first the crowd for Cornell and UNC was huge too, so I just got some more free food and free wine and sat down at a table and waited for the crowds to die down. When I did finally get to talk to Cornell, I spoke with the director of admissions. I remember hearing the director speak at an Information session the previous year and I was very impressed with the school. I asked him about the curriculum pertaining to my

interests and about the Johnson Means Business diversity weekend. After answering a couple of questions, he gave me his business card and told me to email him. I don’t know about everyone else, but when someone tells me to email them with any questions that I have, I definitely plan to do that.

Towards the end of July, I got an email from the founders of BeatTheGMAT about an admissions event in NYC that was to be put on by Kaplan. They were offering to send me to this conference for free because they had an extra ticket. I jumped at the opportunity to go but there was one caveat. That was the weekend that I was supposed to be out of the city on vacation. Once I saw the itinerary for this weekend, it was a no- brainer that I had to forgo this vacation and attend the 2-day event called Destination Business School. It was to be an all-encompassing 2-Day business school event. It was to cover everything from Essay writing to Elevator pitches and I was looking forward to it.

Even though I had paid for my short vacation, I knew that the opportunity cost was just too great for me not to attend since all the other people in attendance had to pay for it. I also felt that this would be a good segue into getting me into essay writing mode. I finally had all of the essay questions that I will have to write. Ultimately, I could start to write my essays. All that I had done up until that point was make folders on my Mac titled Business School with subfolders for each school. Each school specific folder had all of the essay questions per school. That’s all that I felt that I could do up until that point as I was still trying to study for the GMAT.

When July came to an end it became increasingly more difficult to focus on JUST the GMAT. My fall calendar was beginning to fill up with events that I thought I would be attending as well as with the decision deadlines for R1 applications.

I was in a position where I was looking for two types of events, on-campus events and NYC events. I was looking for of course general info sessions. With that being said I had a full September/October/November. I'll give you a preview into what was on my calendar. Some of the events overlap and I'll have to decide which ones to attend.

Fall of 2010:
September 2nd - Tuck Reception at Yale Club in NYC
September 3rd - NYU Diversity Conference application deadline September 6th - Ross Diversity Conference application deadline September 19th - MBA Tour event
October 7th - 9th - NYU Diversity Conference
October 8th - 9th - Ross Diversity Conference @ Ross
October 14th - 17th - Reaching OUT Conference in Los Angeles October 28th - 30th - Cornell Diversity Conference (JMB) in Ithaca November 6th - Consortium interview Deadline
November 11th - 14th - Tuck Diversity Conference
November 15th - Consortium application Deadline.

Not only was the fall shaping up to be very hectic, but it was also shaping up to be incredibly expensive. For trips like Ross Diversity conference, Reaching Out MBA conference, Tuck Diversity Conference and Johnson Means Business at Cornell I would have to shell out a lot of dollars.

With those trips looming, I knew that I had to work hard at studying to try to get the GMAT completed in the beginning of the Fall. In order to do that, I started studying on my hour-long lunch break at work. Since it was the summer, I would go to the park and find a nice quiet place to eat my lunch and go through one of the myriad of guides that I had. This time around, while studying, I did not allow myself to skip any hard questions. Previously, I would skip them and say that I’d come back to them and never actually come back to them. Now my focus was to sit there for 10/15 minutes and actually solve them. It was definitely a good confidence booster and I began to see things differently.

I started working with that GMAT Tutor who I had met up with at Starbucks in May. He lived on the East side of Manhattan and at the time was about $120/hour. I will be candid in saying that I got a reduced rate for two reason (I think): He knew I would write about him on my blog, even thought I never divulged his name until after I had gotten in to school. I think people knew exactly who I was talking about. The other reason I think he gave me a discounted rate is because he knew that I didn’t make that much money but that I was a hard worker. We had met in NYC a couple of times at coffee shops just to chat so I was very comfortable with him by the time we started working together.

Some people looked at me crazily like, “Why would you start working with a tutor after having taken 2 GMAT classes?” Well, “I thought it would help me, and that’s the decision that I decided to make!” Do I feel bad about making that decision now? Nope, not in the least bit. I liked working with him because he was able to understand why I was making certain mistakes. It’s one thing to tell someone that they’ve made a mistake and that they should think about it a different way, but it’s another thing to understand why someone keeps making the same mistakes. It usually goes back to how they’re thinking about things and my tutor truly understood that. He was also able to create a list of sample problems that I should do to drill in a certain topic. How he was able to do this, I don’t know. I guess after having worked with so many people for so many years you just get the hang of it. That’s why HE was the GMAT tutor and I was the student. Anyway, I digress.