Readers, as always, I open this post with an apology for my lack of posting. February has come and is practically gone so quickly (Happy Leap Day!), I can hardly believe my last post was Valentine’s Day. That said, I had a very disheartening realization yesterday.
My study habits are exactly the same as they were in college.
I know, this is exactly not exactly the most horrible thing that one can realize about themselves, but it’s definitely thrown me into a bit of an existential tailspin. Here I am, thinking that I have “matured” and “grown” and “learned stuff” but apparently, I am just an older, slightly rounder version of my college self but with a retirement fund this time.
As you may have surmised lately, I’ve been softening my stance on graduate school and am applying for the MBA program here (thanks, employee tuition benefits!) After an encouraging meeting with graduate admissions, I gathered together my application materials and felt exceptionally confident that they would be duly impressed with my academic performance, diverse resume, glowing references, and sparkling personality. The only missing piece is an improved GRE score.
Technically, I could just submit my GRE score from the first time I took it. At the time, it was a perfunctory task – take the GRE, apply to a few graduate schools, put off my admission to work, never think about the GRE again. My scores weren’t horrible (especially considering my complete lack of preparation) but they’re certainly not great now. Plus, the new GRE is preferred by the admission department, so I figured a little bit of effort wouldn’t kill me.
Naturally, I assumed that I would order a couple practice books off the Internet (sidenote: if you want to feel guilty about ordering inexpensive study aides off the Internet, read this Mother Jones article), block off some serious study time, and use social activities as an incentive. Sadly, my “serious study routine” has devolved into something closer to this:
- Spend morning debating whether to haul practice books to work with me. Decide that I much prefer showing off how quickly I can finish the crossword (in pen!) to my anonymous Metro seatmate and that said book would never fit in my cute work purse anyways. Toss on bed and forget.
- Consider visiting the library (job perk – favorite library branch only two blocks away) during lunch and getting in some practice questions but decide that strolling through campus and mentally rating the hotness of different graduate students based on building is a better use of my time
- Late in the afternoon, I will access the online component to my study book and stare at a quadratic equation question for approximately seventeen minutes before I decide to troll Tumblr for gifs from Happy Endings and Cougar Town
- On the commute home, I will berate myself for neglecting my future and SWEAR UPON PENALTY OF DEATH that I will buckle down after dinner.
- Drink bottle of wine with dinner. Leave study book unopened.
- Repeat cycle daily. Occasionally replace bottle of wine with two bottles of wine.
Not only am I frustrated with myself over my lack of commitment to studying, but I’m terrified to realize that this is the exact same pattern I found myself in during college. In college, I would “study” by dragging a book with me to my favorite divey college bar, order a pitcher, and then proceed to do just about anything except look at that book (examples: play darts, cajole the bartender for jukebox money, play the jukebox, convince other patrons to play the jukebox, cajole the bartender for naked photo hunt money, play naked photo hunt, convince other patrons…you get the idea). If nothing else, I wish I had developed new and exciting ways to procrastinate something educational!
The one difference seems to be that back then, I knew that I could always pull off the grade I needed or that eventually, even the bartender would force me to focus on the task at hand. Now, I’m realizing that perhaps my ability to learn (or, technically, re-learn) certain skills like algebra and geometry may have plateaued and I’m going to have to either embrace my math-related mediocrity or really buckle down in the next four weeks in order to earn that proverbial A. I also know that no one can make me focus but me.
So, readers, tonight when I get home from work, I am swearing that I will buckle down and spend some time factoring and unfactoring some equations. You’ll hold me to that, right?