I just returned from New Student Weekend at Washington University in St. Louis. Because I am entirely too exhausted to give you the play-by-play, I’m just going to give you a little background on how I ended up as a WashU student in the first place. So I’m splitting this in to two parts (plus, if your attention span is anything like mine then you’re already getting bored…)
It dawned on me the other day – after the 15th person asked me where St. Louis was – that I haven’t been very outspoken about this journey to grad school.
Typically, when someone isn’t familiar with the school or the city, I don’t explain any further for fear that I will come off as pious. For the most part, I’m totally OK with letting people believe that I am leaving this job for an MBA program in Podunk-town, USA with a bunch of country folk. (That was plan B, anyways!) But in all seriousness, I really should be proud. (Disclaimer: I’m going to start presenting facts which may sound a lot like bragging so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing please, close your eyes!)
The MBA program has most recently been ranked the 19th best in the nation,the university as a whole ranked at 14th and the Business School as a whole did even better…coming in at 8th!
I have never earned anything remotely close to 8th-in-the-nation status. I was 8th in my high school graduating class, voted most likely to finish everyone else’s lunch (100% serious) and was the first of my friends to stop growing (obviously) but never 8th in the nation. Being that my GPA and GMAT scores were well below admittance requirements it was a feat in itself that I even landed an interview. But I know that made all the difference in the world. If I hadn’t flown out there to make my case in person (and subsequently charm every last shred of logic out of the admissions panel) then I don’t think I would have been accepted. It goes to show that the greatest minds in business understand that you don’t necessarily need to be technically outstanding, you just have to know how to manage the people that ARE. Doing so requires more than a well-balance personality. It requires magnetism. You want people to feel like they have no choice but to be on your side.
Side note: In reality I probably won them over when we were at our fancy dinner reception during interview weekend. One server decided to challenge my agility skills by surprise-launching fortune cookies at me every time I passed his station (which happened to be in plain view of the admissions panel.) He literally chucked them at me full-speed when I wasn’t looking. I don’t know why, but it didn’t even dawn on me that this could have been construed as unprofessional. I was in a room with some of the most accomplished people in the country but what was most impressive was that they knew how to have FUN. So I just went with it. I caught 6 out of 6 cookies throughout the night and by the last one, the server had his whole team around him to watch the “game.” We laughed it off and shook hands afterwards. (I guess he had never met a female ninja before.)
So, of COURSE, the admissions panel must have immediately thought “we need this chick on our team!”
Upon receiving my acceptance call, I cried tears of shock and JOY and called my parents and sister. Then naturally – because I just couldn’t allow myself to be happy for five minutes longer – sheer panic set in. The idea of suddenly being 100 grand in debt made me want to puke. So my elation was immediately followed by panic which was immediately followed by getting up out of my heap of patheticness and calling the Admissions director to negotiate a scholarship.
I got one. A big one.
The gall I have sometimes just shocks me. Especially considering that I am the same girl that went her entire elementary school career without checking out a single library book because it meant I’d actually have to TALK to someone.
On a serious note, I have never felt more humbled or grateful in my life. I can’t run into someone without getting choked up as I update them on my story. This is a big deal to me and not because of the rankings or the fancy school branding. It’s a big deal because this has long been what I considered a totally unrealistic dream of mine. It’s more than an education. It’s a right of passage to a network that I sometimes don’t even feel privy enough to be associated with. This changes everything. And I have a lot of people to thank for that.
Ok, if you took my bragging warning seriously you can open your eyes now! Oh wait….you can’t see this….HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME?!? Oh shoot…
Please stay tuned for part 2 of my WashU postings which will appear as soon as I get some SLEEP. I promise things will get more exciting…and I have pictures!