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How taking the GMAT led us to China

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

Here is something a lot of people know: The "only" way to get into a great MBA program is to crush the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test).

Here is something a lot of people don't know: That is bull crap.

Here is something a lot of people know. The "only" way to get into a great MBA program is to crush the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Here is something a lot of people don't know. That is bull crap.

I did not do well on the GMAT, I did embarrassingly bad for how long I studied. I studied (not kidding here) for a year straight, for a minimum of 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. It was by far the most stressful thing I have put my family through so far. Why? I was not home for them. I was working 40+ hours a week on top of it. And I was angry, stressed, and confused.

So what did I score? Let me start by saying I was so embarrassed by this that I have lied to people about my score, yes lied. I have friends who scored 700's and others who have also done very well. It was devastating to know I studied longer and did worse, a lot worse. So what was my real score?


Yes, a 580. 30 points above average and thousands of hours and dollars spent. It honestly crushed me inside, completely crushed.

So what happened? I know that I am an intelligent person. I have had my IQ taken and it is well above average. I got a 3.95 GPA in college, and I have consistently been told by employers, that I am one of the best higher's they've ever had. Heck, I am even good at tests. I believe it came down to this: I have been told by every web form, every study aid I bought into, every book I read, and especially every person who has anything to do with (the makers of the GMAT) I had to get a high GMAT score or I was basically a failure at life and would not be able to progress beyond where I am... and I bought it. I bought it hard! SO HARD that it caused more anxiety than anything else I had ever done.'

Rule #1 of the GMAT - You will do bad if you are scared, and having to support my family and give them a good life, and knowing this test "controlled" that, terrified me. Here is the thing though... that is all bull crap.

It's bull crap! A test does not govern your future, a test never has to govern your future. Here is how I found that out.

I decided to go to a career fair after "bombing" the GMAT to look at what my future could now hold. What "lame" college will I have to go to now. Maybe they won't even accept me, so I should just become a garbage collector (seriously though they make good money). During my "Woe is me" pity fest, I stumbled upon a company called China Horizons (Teaching English in China). For a moment, pity left me at the thought of taking on a new adventure. Being able to play the roll of Marco Polo or Daniel Boone and discover a new world excited me beyond my grief. Then I realized, "I don't have to think it, I can do it." and ran over to ask more... but did you catch that last thought? I realized something very profound


This was a game changer in my life. Saying forget what anyone says. Forget what people think because of a test, or "what I am supposed to do", or anything else. I have control of my life, no one else. I can do what I want to do, and I will do it! This idea that we have to live by some unspoken rule because society, a school, or a company that makes billions of dollars off kids taking the GMAT tells us we have to, is asinine!

I still do not know what China will bring, but I feel better than ever because I decided I was in control of my life, no one else. I made the choice to do something that I believed would help me and my family grow in a way nothing else could, and I am excited about it! Do not let anyone tell you that you have to do something a certain way. It is a lie. You can make it into the college of your dreams, and you can do it a different way. I have noticed as I have talked with recruiters at different schools, that the GMAT is just one part of the story. A completely different response than the companies who make money off of you taking the test. Think about that for a second. What they don't tell you is, that your undergraduate GPA, job experience, volunteering, and life experiences can make up an even greater application.

So go out and make your story. Yes, take the GMAT if you want to get an MBA, but more important, live your life to its fullest and make an incredible story! There is more than one way into a top B-school, and even more to life.

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