This post is a long time coming. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write it–mostly, how to articulate it in a way that accurately describes how I feel–so we’re going to give it a shot and dive right in. You might remember back in the spring and early summer when I mentioned studying for and taking the GRE. This life update post addressed my plans to go back to school to get my MBA…basically, I work in higher education and one of our benefits is a pretty solid tuition remission program meaning that after accepting this role in mid-2016, it seemed obvious to go for a second degree.
A little background: Basically, I’m not a big “school” person, in a sense. I love to learn, actually like attending class (and have probably ever only skipped 1-2 classes ever, if that), but academics, particularly test taking, don’t really come naturally to me. I worked really hard in high school and college and did just…fine. Not great. It was frustrating to watch people around me who studied and/or cared a fraction of the amount and who came through with As, or those who could study for one evening while I studied for five and we’d end up with the same grade on a test. I’m not saying this to complain, but to illustrate that I’m confident there are people to whom comprehending tough concepts and taking tests (particularly in the way of memorization) come more naturally. Can academics just include papers and not tests? That’d be amazing.
After hearing this, you’re probably wondering why I even entertained the idea of going back to school to begin with! Both sides of my family are very entrepreneurial and most–including my parents and several aunts, uncles, and cousins–own their own businesses. It’s long been a career aspiration of my own to do the same, and it seemed like a no-brainer to take advantage of the tuition benefit to earn such a coveted degree that would support business ownership. That, plus the reality that I actually love learning, meant that initially, I assumed going back to school with this new job would definitely happen.
Onto what actually happened, because life….
First off: If you plan to take a standardized test that requires a lot of studying and happen to have a slower few months at work and in your personal life, I cannot stress this enough: take advantage of that time. My original plan was to take the GRE last fall and be able to spend the spring focusing on my non-degree class and our move. Looking back, I really should have just taken the test last summer right after starting this job, but isn’t it the worst that hindsight is 20-20? In any case, I basically didn’t even crack open the book until the beginning of the year and by then, what was supposed to be a busy few months became unexpectedly even more nuts. Studying wasn’t my priority and unsurprisingly, when I did take the test, my scores on the math section of the test really indicated that lack of focus.
When it came time to submit my application, there were a couple of options: 1. Apply without GRE scores and cross my fingers my work experience would illustrate enough quant work (a long shot because I haven’t had numbers-heavy jobs or been in the workforce for 5+ years), 2. Send in my scores and hope for the best, or 3. Plan to retake the test this fall and reapply for the spring. Long story short, I went with the first one, got a response from the committee that they needed test scores, and had to make a quick decision on how to proceed.
Having to decide was really stressful at the time (#tears) but as is the case with much of what life throws at you, it all worked out. I immediately chatted with a coworker and former coworker who had both gotten two-thirds of the way through the program before dropping out, and got an honest take on why they made the decisions they did. We had similar backgrounds, creative interests + talents, and longer term career aspirations so hearing from them provided a lot of clarity. J was supportive either way and knew how miserable I’d been trying to stay afloat.
One thing I haven’t mentioned on here is that the six months prior to all this were rough. J and I luckily had a pretty smooth transition with the move (more on that in a week or two), the one class I was taking was going fine, but basically I was just stretched way too thin. Between class, my full-time job, adjusting to my new lifestyle, some side + freelance work, and this blog (which dropped to three posts/week during this time!), I experienced anxiety for the first time and was consistently more stressed than I’d ever been. That stress quickly started affecting my health and it was scary. I kept trying to tell myself this was only a three year thing, but three years isn’t an insignificant amount of time–especially given my track record of struggling to grasp and test well with complex quantitative concepts in the classroom. Was it really worth putting so much of what made me happy on hold for a degree I didn’t actually need to advance my career?
You know where this is going…I decided to table the MBA. And it’s been the best decision ever. A couple other factors that I don’t want to discuss here (related to the admissions process) also rubbed me the wrong way, and all of a sudden my “cons” list was more than twice the size of my “pros” list. It was a fork in the road and I definitely think I took the right side, at least for now–being able to refocus on things that mean the most to me has been the most satisfying sense of relief.
The aforementioned freelance? One is Steph Boutique, which is located in the town where I went to college. I’ve helped Steph with some marketing work over the past couple of years and it’s something I really enjoy and really didn’t want to give up. Second, I’ve been lucky to work under the wing of Victoria for the past year or so in a mentorship/internship capacity. While they will obviously evolve, my current career aspirations include doing a lot of the type of work she does, so I wanted to be able to maintain a mutually beneficial working relationship with her and knowing that studying for my next finance test would have to take priority was a terrible notion that made me feel like my actual career goals were taking a backseat.
So there you have it–a [kind of condensed] account on why I decided that it’s okay to forego my tuition benefit for things that make me happier. There definitely would have been advantages–if you’re getting an MBA, you’ll surely see them!–but I realized that the “why not just do it” approach was too dismissive for a three year part-time degree that would still cost upwards of $20k and keep me at the university through graduation. Not to mention the econ class I was taking when I decided not to move forward…not having to show up the following Tuesday was the best.feeling.ever :)
As to what’s happening now and what’s next, well–I’m a lot happier, less stressed, and feel like I’m reworking how I spend my free time because for a minute there, it was nonexistent. I watched all of Suits (obsessed), actually sat around without a laptop open, started getting back into reading for fun, and booked a couple trips. Not being able to travel because of class was a huge thing I struggled with…seeing the world is one of the highest priorities that would have also taken a backseat. I’ve also managed to be a more sane girlfriend/roommate and went back to making an effort with my friends (actively maintaining relationships is so important to me and it was the worst feeling not to do this)…all good things! And on the blog front, a few changes are coming–really soon. Like in the next couple of weeks soon. Stay tuned for a rebrand and redesign…and me probably biting off more than I can chew. But if this post indicated anything, you know I’d much rather be busy than bored :)
And of course I’m not going to neglect talking about this outfit! This is essentially my work uniform this time of year. I do typically swap out the heels for flats depending on what I’m wearing up top (if it’s a more casual sweater, I’ll sometimes wear heels but luckily work in a pretty casual business-casual office.) Stretchy black pants are my favorite because they feel like leggings but look like nice workwear–this Everlane pair has a nice high waist and is machine washable. They also sent over this bag a few weeks ago and I can’t recommend it enough. The leather is so soft and buttery (definitely leather-proof it before use!) and it’s really spacious. It can easily fit my daily essentials as well as a laptop and large sweater or lunch containers. Also, Meghan Markle has it in cognac, which should speak for itself! Unfortunately the shadows caught it in some unflattering light but it’s even more beautiful in person–my coworker saw it on me in a meeting and immediately decided to order one for herself. You guys may remember my constant praise for Everlane so I’ve been really excited that they’re rapidly expanding their product offerings while continuing to maintain very fair pricing (helloooo, $100 cashmere!)
IN THIS POST:
J.Crew sweater (On sale! I’m wearing a medium)
Everlane pants (c/o; I’m wearing a size 2)
Everlane tote (c/o)
Knot earrings (vintage; similar and similar)
David Yurman bracelet