Impressions of a First Year
I’m feeling pretty good about life. I’ve studied for the exam for days. I am Kaizen and I am bleeding TOM.
I’ve hit the COOP and bought a pack of cheap but high-utility mechanical pencils. I’m happy with most of them, except for the hot pink and purple colored ones. Well, I guess I won’t lose them in the dark of night. I’ve also bought a bottle of Gatorade to make sure that I’m properly nourished during the exam. My calculator also has fresh batteries.
I’ve gotten my answer sheet and scrap paper and already neatly filled in the bubbles for my name and Harvard ID. The test is going great so far, as I think have bubbled everything in correctly to this point.
Someone has just asked the professor how much the test is worth. I think to myself, “It’s too late son. You are on the rollercoaster now. You can’t get off.”
The test has started, and I’ve gone completely blank. What do these boxes and triangles mean? I’m not sure what they mean by cycle time, but maybe this cheat sheet thing will tell me. Oooohh…., I forgot my microscope, which renders the sheet useless. I think that if I add up all of the numbers, multiply it by the Wall Street Journal’s HBS rank, and divide by the Business Week rank, I should come up with something close. Ah, my answer is only 5 minutes from answer C. Let me bubble that in. Who’s a Baker Scholar? Daddy is.
By now my Gatorade is nearly gone and my throat is drier than a poorly planned corporate presentation. It’s time to switch to the green mechanical pencil, which is obviously is my go-to pencil. Everything has gone downhill since the first question. I feel like Webster in an Olympic Weightlifting competition. I could go for a Bombay and Tonic right now.
I haven’t seen a ‘B’ answer in a while. I’ll be generous and fill in ‘B’ this time. In actuality, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m laughing at that fact. I’m fairly certain some of these laughs I thought were in my head, were actually out loud. The woman sitting next to me is looking at me like I’m completely insane.
I just woke up from a short dream that included the Finance professor and a fire truck. I wipe the drool from my answer sheet and reread the same question I’ve been on for ten minutes for at least the tenth time.
I’m nearly an hour into the test and I’m on question #10 and have a long way to go. Things are looking awfully Eric Peterson right now. The guy directly in front of me is getting up to turn in his test. I think he worked at Dell or something, so he probably is going to destroy the curve for me. I try to trip him but miss wildly and hit my knee on a completely unnecessary sharp metal edge that seems to be in the technical requirements of every table I have ever sat at in my life. I think I’ve been crippled.
A jukebox-like random assortment of songs play through my head including Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen”, “I’m the Best Around” from the Karate Kid soundtrack, and worst of all, the “We Are the World” song. But it’s not all of the “We Are the World.” It’s just one line.
“There are people dying…”
Juxtaposed with an image of HBS first-year students, many with fists locking clumps of soon-to-be fallen-out hair in a choke hold, this line is sobering and hilarious at the same time. Literally, this test is laying waste to the best and the brightest before my eyes. I look at my reflection in the face of my calculator. I look like Three’s Company’s Don Knotts mid-binge on God knows what. Not surprisingly, I’m only on question #17.
It’s the speed round. The Professor has made an announcement that there are ten minutes remaining to work on the test. I start working diligently. I take a glance at my answer sheet and my answers look like a Cosine curve.
My leg is tapping uncontrollably like Thumper in “Bambi”. The woman sitting next to me is looking at me again. I retort back with the deranged face of a desperate man. She gives me the finger and I continue randomly filling in answers to the best of my ability.
I start filling in bubbles in correspondence with notes that I learned playing the violin in 1st grade for a change of pace.
The professor puts his hand on my shoulder. He tells me that it’s over (son) and to put down the pencil. He continues and tells me that everything will be ok. After twenty more seconds of talking down, I put the pencil down and hand him my test. It was finally over.
The author, Allen Narcisse, wants to get a job in manufacturing.