#RealTalk: Numbers can be scary. Especially for those of us who are a bit out of practice.
Looking back on my past, you'd think I wouldn't have an issue. I was a member of my high school math team, a state champion in Science Olympiad and competed on the academic decathalon. I took calculus while in high school through a local community college while enrolled in college-level courses in statistics and physics. I did a lot of math back then.
So, I entered my undergraduate career with all quantitative requirements fulfilled. And, being that I have a BA in literature (and a pretty non-quantitative professional history), I haven't done math since.
This was my biggest concern when choosing to apply to business school. To be admitted to a top MBA program like Anderson I needed to demonstrate high proficiency in math. I knew it was just a piece of my application. But every admissions officer told me that - for someone with my profile - it was a big piece. But I had no record, and no practice.
So, it was all up to the GMAT.
The first time I took the GMAT, I self-studied, thinking that I could do what I had done for every other standardized test in my life: just become somewhat familiar enough with the test beforehand to ease any pre-test anxiety, and then just figure it out as I went. My score was good. But not great.
I took it again, and really focused on math. I raised my score by 30 points, but didn't reach my goal. So, I took a prep class. It was time-consuming (and expensive!), but worth it. I learned the strategies I needed to pull off the score I wanted. I ignored the rest of the test, and just focused on the quantitative section.
And it worked. I raised my GMAT score by 50 points, taking my score into the very top of UCLA's range. And, even more importantly, I was admitted to Anderson!
Unfortunately, however, this is only just the beginning of my reintroduction to mathematics. The reason, of course, for the demonstrated quantitative proficiency required for admission is that we will need those quantitative skills in school. Business school courses have a lot of numbers. A lot.
To prepare for this anticipated barrage of numbers, I decided to enroll this summer in two 10-week online courses offered through Anderson: Mathematics for Management and Excel for Management. I am more than decent at navigating Excel, and have a somewhat mathematical mind, but I wanted to be as prepared as possible to collaborate with my more quantitatively learned colleagues come fall quarter.
The classes, taught by the legendary UCLA accounting professor David Ravetch, began a few weeks ago. The videos are awesome:
I never took an accounting class at UCLA, but I know he is, literally, a hero among men on this campus. And Professor Ravetch has, so far, delivered. Among his playful demeanor and palpable love of math (and Excel), he distills complex topics into learnable nuggets that are slowly awakening the quantitative side of my brain.
And while it's sometimes difficult to find time for my math homework - among working, volunteering, socializing, traveling and preparing for school this summer - I know I will appreciate it when I begin school in September and my fear of math has fallen away like the autumn leaves.
(Ok. No. We don't really have seasons in Los Angeles.)
- Devon Dickau, MBA '15