Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Older and Wiser

If I flash back eleven years, to the beginning of my college application process, I have to cringe. I remember being obstinate about studying for the SAT, and the three SAT II tests that my college prep high school had me take. I remember scowling at multiple choice algebra, no partial credit, and the long writing segment on my SAT II English test (this was in those days before the regular SAT included writing). Don't get me started on the abhorrence of the Common Application, the writing of essays, the listing of extracurriculars. And I groaned when I heard about some of my classmates who went in for Admissions Consultants and test prep tutors.

And now, I am here in this spot again. But this time, it's not an obligation hanging over my head. I'm not going to business school because my parents are making me go. I'm making an investment in myself. And I willingly got up early today to go to the office to borrow a PC to take a practice GMAT test. (Note to the GMAC: having Mac-compatible test software would be a great idea.) I went to see a GMAT tutor yesterday, and have committed to at least one hour of study on the test per night, more if I can.

I wrote my essays, brought them to my mentors, who took them apart and gave me advice on how to put them back together. This is an incredible sign of maturity. I used to tune out any and all writing advice because, of course, I knew better than anyone what to put down. But I can admit now that admissions essay are a format I don't have a lot of experience with, and can use help on. I have help available and I'm making use of it.

Look at it this way: in business, you have projects, you gather a team, draft a plan, and assign parts that the leader assembles together. This application process is a project. My team involves editors, tutors, network connections, and admissions officers. I have a plan of action, and I work with different people on different segments of the project. In the end, I stitch it all together. In itself, I have learned a lot from the process. So even if I don't get in, I won't have come away empty handed.

If I could go back eleven years and talk to my high school self, I would say, "Don't be so stubborn." I'd tell myself to stop pretending that I know everything, ask for help when I needed it, and be open-minded about everything. But since I can't do that, I'm telling you. Work hard, use the process as a learning experience. If you hit an obstacle, ask for help. Never be afraid of getting advice. Most people want to help you, so don't shut them out. Weigh everything together, and in the end, it's your work. Your name goes on the end product, so create something that you are proud of. And if it doesn't work, make sure you take something away from the process, so you don't repeat your mistakes.

1 responses:

Michael said...

Kate,

It was a pleasure meeting you at Diane Darling's networking breakfast today. I'm a Mac user that's also frustrated with PC-only software. May I suggest you purchase Parallels for your Intel-based Mac? For $75, you can natively run every PC-only software you like directly on your Mac.


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