In my waking life, I am a full time instructor at a university. In my secret-things-my-students-don’t-know-about-me life, I am on my way to becoming a grad student.
When I accepted my current job, I was brought in as one of the rare instructors without a master’s degree. I think I must have luck on my side. To this day, I’m still amazed that it happened and that I do what I do. People tell me that means that I’m impressive or something. I’ve never thought of it that way. I’ve always thought of it as a little embarrassing and that I’m not as good as everyone else around me. I always felt a little… unaccomplished and unworthy of the position I was in. I guess I have an inferiority complex to some degree (no pun intended).
I also accepted my job with the expectation from my employers that I would “show progress toward completing a degree.” It’s been a struggle in so many ways. Am I ever going to get this done? Or will I lose my job? (I was “flagged” by some standards people because of my lack of framed paperwork on my wall.) The smell of failure constantly loomed in the air and there have been obstacles at every turn. From doing the actual work to finding the right program to paying for the right program to…
The latest complication? The dreaded GRE, the standardized test that most schools require you complete for admission to their graduate program. The GRE: the wall standing between me and my future. The GRE: the main source of my anxiety since starting this whole grad school process.
I finally found the program, I finally have the money, and I finally have the time. When in the world would I be able to take this exam before the application deadline? And would I do well enough to get into the program? I didn’t need to take the GRE for the first program I tried. I’m not the best at standardized tests. Most people fear the math. For me, the verbal is my challenge.
Ever since I discovered this grad program, I knew the GRE would be part of the deal if I decided to pursue the degree, and I decided to resign myself to that fact. I’ve had the date for taking the exam in my mind for months but I didn’t want to sign up until I spoke to the Graduate Director. With the deadline for turning in my application about a month away, I emailed and left general voicemails with no response.
I tried one more time on Friday.
I called and the director was actually in his office this time. I was so nervous. I’m pretty sure I babbled at the beginning of the conversation. And then I finally got the nerve to ask, “Does the GRE requirement ever get waived?” I swear, I must have held my breath for 5 minutes 2 seconds as I waited for him to answer. “Yes, in certain circumstances, it has. It depends on the situation. Tell me what you do now…. What year did you first graduate?…. What have you done between now and then?” I answered all of his questions and that’s when he said, “Well, you have so much experience that you don’t need to take the exam. It’s usually for those with little experience or students fresh from being an undergrad.”
Waived. I got my GRE waived. I got my GRE waived!
The wall is gone. I know I can do it now. While I still need to get accepted into the program, a great weight that has been on my shoulders for so long has been lifted. What a relief!