The Dreaded GRE.

My first memory of pondering college happened in eighth grade during my eighth period, Advanced Algebra II Diff. class. Ms. Hajj was teaching something algebra related on the projector, and I was not listening. I blame my best friend at the time, Brayden, for my lack of attention and note taking, as he was distracting me with his whispers about his weekend plans. We were placed right next to each other on the seating chart first quarter, and poor Ms. Hajj didn’t know we were best buddies! Brayden and I had been reprimanded many times, by many teachers for our slightly too loud voices and muffled giggles during any given class, but we never failed to remind everyone around us that we were connected at the hip.

I distinctively remember asking him how this Algebra lesson would make us successful. I asked that with sarcasm, not expecting a serious answer, and to my surprise, Brayden went off on a tangent about how these very problems that Ms. Hajj was explaining could be on the ACT. The what? Yea, the ACT. I learned that afternoon, that the ACT is a standardized test that shows colleges how smart you are, and essentially if you are worthy of being a student at their college. Wow, mind blown. How could one test determine so much? I guess we should be paying attention to Ms. Hajj, if we don’t want to live in a box on the side of the road. However, that notion didn’t phase Brayden or I. We then continued not paying attention, by going into a very detailed discussion of which colleges we planned to attend. “My top college is Yale, and then Harvard, and then my back up will be Berkeley,” I confidently proclaimed, knowing well that I hadn’t done any thinking about college. But hey, it feels cool that I can list off Ivy League schools. It shows that I know something college related, right?

Let’s fast forward to high school. When faced with having to take the dreaded ACT, I still saw that standardized test as a life changer. I had the mindset that if I didn’t score high, that I just simply wouldn’t get into a “good” college, therefore I wouldn’t get a “good” education, meaning I wouldn’t get a “good” job, leading to a life of woes! I recognize that this thought process was pretty dramatic, but that’s truly how I was thinking during high school.

When ACT season rolled around, I earned an above average score, which filled me with elation. Though even with a good score, I ended up attending the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Definitely not a bad college, but also not Yale, Harvard or Berkeley. Middle school me would be highly disappointed. Almost-adult me with a BA in Communication Studies, however, is very proud. So what changed between middle school and graduating college? Well. A lot. Ha! But one of the more notable changes, is that I have realized that a number does not define my future. Furthermore, it’s not the college you attend that defines your future, but what you do at the college that makes the difference. While UNL isn’t necessarily the “best of the best”, I made it my “best of the best”. I took the opportunities UNL provided, and used them to help me develop my knowledge and skill set. All of my experiences at UNL culminated into discovering that I have a passion for working with the international community and that I love helping other people! I now have the amazing opportunity to teach in China, which is something I never in my wildest dreams thought would be presented to me.

So what does all this have to do with the GRE?

Well to start, the GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination aka ANOTHER standardized test, which is something I thought I had escaped after taking the ACT back in high school. But oh no, Heather, if you want to further your education by attending graduate school, you need to prove yourself once more.  Well that sucks. While I will be teaching abroad in China from the August 2017-June 2018, my current plan is to go to graduate school in the Fall of 2018.

This  means I need to take the GRE, before I leave for China in the fall.

I am scheduled to take my GRE on Monday, at 9AM. Like any standardized test, the scores are weird AF. If you miss every single problem on the GRE, you receive a 130. If you get every single question right, you receive a 170. This means that the average score is a 150. Why can’t the scoring just be a 0-40? That would make my life a lot easier. Any who, I have done all the preparation one would do prior. I bought the “Official” GRE practice book off of Amazon for a whopping $10 bucks (It’s nearly $40 at Barnes and Noble, such a rip off). I have been reading through the test tips, taking practice tests, and studying strange words, almost as much as my lovely Vietnamese students study English words. I plan to get a full 8 hours of sleep tonight, and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. I even have my 3 forms of ID sitting on my table, ready to go.

One thing I am not doing however, is stressing the hell out! I remember attempting to get the full 8 hours of sleep the night before the ACT, and getting in maybe 5 just because I was so anxious. I couldn’t stomach any food down the morning of, I would have a headache, and would just put all this pressure on my back to get this super, amazingly high, flashy ACT score. And what do you ask was causing all this angst inside of high school me? The unreasonable idea that getting anything lower than perfection equates to a future full of failure! As I have already discussed, I have learned that this mindset is ridiculous, and that my success is not defined by a number that potential psychos created, god knows how long ago. No matter where I end up attending graduate school, the only thing that will inhibit me from achieving all that I’ve wanted to achieve, is me.

My plan for the GRE: Go in confident. Go in relaxed. Try my best. And as long as I don’t score a 130, my life will A-okay.

Until next time,
Heather Mei

Feature image from: https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/06/12/grit-better-than-gre/

 

 

 

 

 

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