Try Again: How Waiting (for a Time) Worked for Me
by Kevin Ihrig
I really need you to wait, my wife said,
and with that, I withdrew from classes barely started
and lost a substantial part of my tuition. It was 1999
and I had just enrolled in the Colorado State University
Online MBA program, at the Fort Collins campus. The
program didnt require that I take the GMAT, and
the tuition was reasonable. I had a pretty good job
that seemed stable, but like all of us who go back to
school, I wanted more.
I had planned a graduate degree even when before graduating
with a bachelors. But when I finally finished
my four-year degree after six years, I couldnt
see staying in class. Homework had ruled my world for
years, along with tests, textbooks, professors, and
most of all, due dates. I was ready to go into the real
world, and say good-bye to all those school headaches.
Little did I know that homework would be replaced by
overtime and travel and tests by important projects
that have to be done today. Textbooks
changed to thick, disorganized files in cabinet
after cabinet, while demanding supervisors replaced
kindly professors. And due dates? Well, this was the
worst realization: due dates never go away; they just
become more important as the projects grow. And so I
decided I could at least get a graduate degree and move
At the time, we had one son, five years old, and we
owned a house in Gilbert, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.
I thought our life was calm enough to go back to school.
When my wife asked me to drop out, I already had my
first class videotapes, and had arranged for my employer
to pay half my tuition through our tuition
Dropping out dropped my attitude a few notches. This
wasnt my first attempt to go back. Once previously,
at least a year earlier, I had nearly enrolled in classes
at the University of Phoenix. Not wanting to rack up
the $18,000-20,000 in debt it would take to finish,
I chickened out. But this time, I was ready to start,
I thought. Out of respect for her, I dropped out. CSU
could wait, and so could I. But for how long?
By August 2000, nearly a year later, my position disappeared.
The company offered a transfer, but I declined, since
we would have had to move to a much more expensive city
at a lower salary. I found a job in northern Utah quickly,
and began planning to go to school there. The company
had a waiting period before I could take advantage of
tuition assistance, so when my availability date rolled
around, I jumped on it. Unfortunately, classes didnt
start right away, so I couldnt actually enroll
in classes, and I had to take the GMAT entrance exam
at my own expense.
I used the challenge to prepare for classes. I studied
for a month using a text from a well-known test prep
company, and a computerized training system, too. The
computer version helped more. During my preparation,
I took two computerized practice tests. On my second
practice run, I scored high enough that I thought I
was ready for the real thing. When Kaplan gave me my
score, it was only nine points lower than my practice
score, validating the practice test as an excellent
By the time I had studied for and taken the GMAT in
the summer of 2001, my company had a serious layoff.
Once again, I thought, I would have to wait. We now
had two children, one only four months old, and I was
out of work. Six weeks after the layoff, as I worked
one morning on a letter to a prospective employer, my
neighbor called and told me to turn on the television.
After the tragedy of September 11 and the onset of recession,
prospects for work were bleak. Who knew it was the perfect
time to go back to school?