Well, here I am at the end of July and the beginning of my MBA program — the real, honest-to-God, nuts-and-bolts, sitting-in-a-classroom work — is bearing down on me like an ocean liner towering over a canoe. I last wrote at the start of June… and I have done virtually nothing since then but work during the day, and do homework at night. I have waded through the majority of the pre-work that was assigned — 11 chapters of Accounting with associated questions has kept me up until 1:00 a.m. almost every night in July. A Statistical Analysis on-line course kept me up late for most of June. Fifteen chapters of Managerial Practices reading got squeezed into lunchtimes at work, and various late nights when I couldn’t take any more stats. But I have, so far, done it. I’m in the home stretch…but a home stretch that stops at the real beginning of my journey
This is Tuesday. (an hour from Wednesday, actually) On Friday I will get in my 10-year-old Volvo at six in the morning and make the three-hour drive to Lansing for my official orientation. From 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., my Friday is tightly scheduled, and likewise my Saturday from 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. I will meet my study team, the four other people who will travel with me for the next two years; whose academic future is enwined with mine; who are destined to become my friends for life…and I haven’t even met them yet. Orientation is an intensive team-building, bond-forming machine that looks to throw individuals into the hopper, and squeeze cohesive teams out of the nozzle.
After I return on Saturday evening, I get a week at home, then I will climb back into the Volvo early Sunday, August 9th, and return to Lansing, where I will stay for the next week. The thought of completing three full college courses in seven days (instead of 16 weeks) isn’t actually so intimidating now — miraculously, a lot of the material I’ve been cramming into my head has actually stuck there.
What’s hard for me to believe, is that this is in 12 days. Twelve days…it’s surreal to realize that I am down to days…not weeks, months, or “someday.” I have been wanting, wishing, hoping to go back to school for what seems like forever — for most of the 14 years since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, honestly. All of my research is over. All of my surfing of university websites, of graduate school advice forums, of school rankings, and program rankings, and compiling spreadsheet after spreadsheet of comparative advantages of different schools, classes, degrees…and so on, and so on, and so on…
Now, it almost seems like I snapped my fingers and “poof,” I’m standing at the door to a Big 10 university’s graduate school, class list in hand, laptop under my arm, thinking “wha’happened?” All the research, the studying for the GMAT exam, the grey day in November when I drove two hours to take the exam despite gruesome intestinal goings-on, the information session in Grand Rapids, the applications, the forms, the waiting — it’s all kind of compressed into one composite memory.
And here I am. In a little over 48 hours I will be at my Orientation. In 12 days I will start my first classes. In a little over a month I will be settled into my new routine of every-other-weekend classes, and the gruesome spectre of a one-week, 5.5 credit madness will just be a “yeah, we did it” memory. I find that I’ve been focused on what happens after I finish this program more than on getting through the next two years of school, and I have an uneasy feeling that I’m about to have an abrupt awakening.
Yet, despite all of my forebodings and uneasinesses and trepidations…I’m wholeheartedly looking forward to the start of this thing; heck, I’m practically giddy with excitement. I actually have two overwhelming thoughts….one is “I can do this,” and the other is “bring it on!”