In 2007, I went to a Jewish friend’s tree-trimming party, got slightly drunk, came home, slept for a few hours and took the GREs the next morning. (For those of your reading from across the pond, GRE stands for Graduate Record Exam, the bane of my existence and the existence of all academically inclined 20-somethings across the country). Suffice it say, my scores weren’t exactly off the charts. But it didn’t matter: I ended up going to grad school in the UK where nobody cared about my ability to solve for X.
2007, unfortunately, was six years ago. And GRE scores expire after five years.
This means that I’ll be taking them again this fall.
To say that I am “unhappy” about this would be an understatement. To say that I am “angry” about this would also be an understatement. I am, in fact, livid about this.
And not just because I was stuck lugging my “GRE for Dummies” around the Bahamas, and not just because the darn test costs $180 before you tack on the cost of the test prep materials (which range from $29.99 on the low end and on up into the triple or even quadruple digits on the I-cannot-afford-end).
It’s the principle. My students and I spent nearly an entire class period last semester discussing how the education system is biased in the favor of the upper class and even though a bunch of them starting whining about affirmative action and “all those black moms with like three kids who take our scholarships,” I eventually managed to get the conversation back on track. We had what turned out to be one of the most interesting discussions of the entire semester. But now I find myself in the not-so-unique position of having to play the game in order to beat the system.
It doesn’t matter that I already have a graduate degree.
Or that I’ve already taken the exam.
I’m telling myself to just suck it up and get on with it– if I want to be a better teacher, I need to get my PhD– but I can’t help but think what I could be doing with my time instead of studying…
I could write 10 blog posts.
I could inform the college girls seated next to me that the first “r” in “library” is not actually silent.
I could watch 12 ethnographic films.
I could walk to the art museum, spend eight hours studying useful things, and walk home. The next day, I could walk to the archaeology museum and do the same thing.
I could read approximately 16 back issues of Expedition magazine.
I could continue harassing the dean of the liberal arts department about the shortcomings of the designated textbook and get my students some proper reading materials.
I could make cookies. Lots of cookies.
I could finish writing my novel.
But those vocabulary flash cards aren’t going to write themselves.
Wish me luck.