Actually, we are cheating a bit here calling Ryan a student, because Ryan worked for Pericles for a year and a half as our admissions director and TOEFL teacher before getting the B-School bug himself, studying for the GMAT with us, getting a 640, and, now, getting admitted to University of Michigan business school! But we felt that Ryan's determination and ultimate success can inspire our more conventional students, and we also hope that Ryan's old students will appreciate hearing what happened to him since he left us.
Congratulations Ryan, and Go Michigan !
Ryan is a graduate of the University of San Diego with a bachelor's degree in international relations; and he has always had a bit of an international craving. Upon graduation from college, he took a TEFL certificate, and set out for China on what was going to be a year's adventure seeing another part of the world learning Chinese, and teaching English before settling down to a real job back home. Five years later, Ryan found himself still in China , running his own language school, and, believe it or not, marrying a Russian woman whom he had met in his classes at a Chinese University ! Well, before long, Ryan's wife, with a little help from the SARS epidemic in China , convinced Ryan to move himself, his wife, and by this time his infant daughter, to Moscow . And thus, he came to Pericles.
Ryan had always thought about continuing his education, but at first he was thinking of law school. As he got more involved in Pericles and met professionals in both law and business though, he decided that business was more the career for him. So in the spring and summer of 2004, he started studying for the GMAT with us.
You know, Ryan is one of those not-so-rare smart people who has a problem with standardized testing. This is why we think his story is inspirational. Before coming to Pericles, Ryan had taken the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) a couple of times without studying in advance for it, and had done badly on it. His initial hope was that at Pericles he would have a chance to study, pick up some additional skills and do better on that exam. Frankly though, he didn't do better. Often this isn't surprising. After taking a test like the LSAT, the GMAT or the GRE a couple of times, the taker starts to feel a pressure to perform better the next time, to justify his time and money, and sometimes just to prove to himself that he can do it. This pressure results in increased stress during the exam. While some people do well under such increased stress, just as many do not. The stress can cause careless mistakes. Moreover, sometimes the fear of doing badly again results in a negative attitude towards the exam which can create a self fulfilling prophesy as students get upset or angry and give up at some point during the test. Finally, some people begin to have doubts about their interest in, or ability to succeed in their chosen field, and this affects their motivation, so subconsciously they just don't try as hard on the exam. We don't know what particularly happened in Ryan's case, we suspect the last scenario, but anyway, he did badly on the LSAT again.
This was OK actually though, because by this time Ryan had started to decide that perhaps law school was not as much for him as business school was. In the process of arranging an MBA Success Series of B-school presentations for our students, and in helping students to choose business schools, Ryan caught the bug himself and started to see himself as a B-school participant. So Ryan switched directions and decided to study for the GMAT. As Pericles offers GMAT prep courses, we could help him much more than with the LSAT. He took our GMAT prep course, and particularly studied up on the math and data sufficiency, as these subjects were not on the LSAT. Ryan took the GMAT for the first time and got a 640! Good going!
But the story doesn't end there. While 640 is a good score, Ryan's ambitions were high. Having met representatives of Thunderbird and University of Michigan here at Pericles, he was convinced that one of these schools was for him. The problem is that 640, while competitive, is just average for these schools. So Ryan had to really prepare an excellent application package to make sure he stood out from the crowd. Talking to Pericles advisors, he decided to focus on his uniqueness-his China expertise and his experience in education. Ryan came up with entrepreneurial ideas that leveraged his background and showed the B-schools why he would be the best candidate.
Ryan also carefully researched the various schools to find those that had strong China programs so that he could combine B-school with advanced Chinese studies. He looked at schools that had an international focus where he would fit in, and particularly those that were known for being people-friendly and in good cities where his family could adjust to life in the US . In the end, he applied to University of Michigan , Thunderbird, and University of Washington , in that order of priority.
Low and behold, he found himself accepted to Thunderbird this spring and given a 50% merit scholarship. But in the focus of his researching, Ryan had set Michigan as his first choice. He was waitlisted at Michigan , so he decided to try to improve his application by taking an advanced course in calculus. The strategy worked. One day in mid-May Ryan received a phone call from someone on the admissions committee for an informal telephone interview. At the end of the interview, he was told that he was in!
So now Ryan is in the process of moving to Ann Arbor , Michigan and settling his wife and child into their new home for the next two years. Congratulations Ryan, we know you made the right decision and you will do well there!
And for those of you who also have problems with standardized testing, take heart. If you are persistent, willing to work hard at it, and really decide what's right for you, you don't have to get astronomic test scores to make your dream come true.