Saturday, December 28, 2013

College Testing Adventures

Today, David drove the short distance to the GRE testing center. I recalled my two testing adventures: as a high school junior to ACT testing and as college senior to GRE testing. Neither was close by nor an easy drive.

I don't recall my sisters having to take the ACT test to get into college. But as luck would have it by the time I reached upper high school status, I did. Way back then, there weren't encouragements to study for the test or to take it again. It was a one-shot deal. At least, that is how our high school counselor sold it.

So the nearest testing center, in those days of paper tests, was 95 miles away. It didn't occur to me to see if anyone else was taking the test the same day in order to carpool. And in hindsight, my Dad wished he would have drove instead of sending me solo.

95 miles. To put in perspective that's like driving from Chattanooga to Cookeville. In the early morning. Before dawn's early light. And not on a four-lane highway but a roadbed covered with asphalt and no shoulder. Just a sharp dropoff. A Kansas farm to market road.

On this narrow asphalt road with no shoulder, the front tire had a blowout. As if driving early morning at age 17 by yourself rushing to get to a test wasn't stressful enough. So, not having a place to pull over and being on just the downside of a hill just barely out of sight for oncoming drivers, I began changing the tire.  Thank goodness no one popped over that hill.

Back on the road, I arrived late to the testing center with dirty hands and wondering if this trip was worth the trouble.

As expected, my test results were not indicative of what I really knew. And a few colleges rejected me based on those scores.

Now to my GRE adventure. Well, first, a lot of blame fell on me. I didn't take advantage of the studying groups before the test. And I didn't get to my room to sleep until about 4 AM. It was a terribly mixed-up emotional night for me. At 6 AM, I was roughly woken up by my friend.  I wandered outside and somehow in my mind within the two hours, a terrible ice storm had come up and the roads were frozen solid. But I was told that happened way before in the night.

We had to drive 50 miles in the dead of winter on the frozen Iowa plains, freezing temps, and ice-packed highway to the GRE testing center. I don't remember how bad the roads were.  I slept.

I finished my test in 1 hour and 30 minutes. The fastest time ever at that time. Too bad my scores weren't indicative of my true intellectual value. After begging KU to let me into grad school, I was admitted as a probation student solely based on my writing sample, faculty recommendations, and all of the collegiate groups I was active in.  But KU found out that I was in reality a really good student and the probation was dropped in mid-fall semester.

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