Rosen CollegeHeigh Ho, Heigh Ho! It’s off to college I go!

Categories: About Diane
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Published on: February 11, 2013
Rosen College
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

It’s been a LONG time since I graduated from college. A LONG LONG time. (I won’t go into further details about how long!) I originally graduated from Illinois State University, in Normal, Illinois with a batchelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I completed my degree although I knew halfway through my college years that I didn’t want to be a teacher. I figured a degree in Education would come in handy eventually (an education course-of-study is like a REALLY good liberal arts education). After college, I tried a few different jobs, including substitute teaching, managing a book store, and even traveling around the world in a volunteer performing arts program. After I returned from my world tour, I ended up settling in Orlando, Florida, and ended up working in the tourism industry as a theme park ride attendant, entertainer, and hotel concierge. 

Now, over 20 years later, I feel like it’s time to admit that my career has been in the hospitality industry. I’m no longer working in a job. I want to advance, and I want to be better at what I do. It’s time, in other words, to “get serious.” After doing a little research into the subject, I discovered that one of the top hospitality management colleges in the United States is literally down the street from my current employer. “Maybe,” I thought to myself, “it’s time to go back to school.”

I applied for admission to the Hospitality Management Master’s Degree program at Rosen College. Rosen is part of the University of Central Florida, and was created and is funded by some of the top names in the hospitality industry. Professors have worked in the hospitality industry for such giants as Disney, Rosen, and some of the top restaurants, theme parks, and hotels in the world. Furthermore, it is a beautiful, quiet campus away from the hubub of the main UCF campus. It is conveniently located right in the middle of the attractions area, and has access to state-of-the-art restaurant, hotel, and tourism equipment and opportunities.

Graduate School is a scary proposition. The application process itself is quite daunting. After more that 20 years out of college, I found it difficult to find people who were able to write pertinent letters of reference for me. My current employers were unable to due to policy restrictions, and my previous employers were hard to find.

In addition, it had been a long time since I’d taken basic college math and a “competitive score” on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) was a requirement. I studied over a couple of months, and ended up with a very competitive language score and a very average math score. This was not going to be enough to set the world on fire, but most Graduate programs put more emphasis on experience and academics than on test scores (or so I hoped).

Let me just say that if you are considering going into Grad School, remember that the GRE (or GMAT for some programs) is usually a requirement. It is a grueling, stressful, hideous test experience! The test itself is designed to take up to four hours to complete, and includes basic algrebra, reading comprehension, and language/vocabulary skills. It’s designed to not only test your knowledge, but your stamina. It’s also not cheap to take (around $200 not including study materials) so it’s not something you enter into lightly. Sitting for the GRE involved more security than the airports (no contraband allowed: including calculators, cell phones, watches, timers, or crib notes). Just going to the bathroom during the test involved signing out, going to the restroom, getting patted down for contraband again, and signing back in! And, you only have 6 minutes to do it in most cases. You complete two math portions, two vocabulary/reading comprehension portions, and 2 short essay portions and have only an allotted amount of time for each. I only vaguely remember the ACT (or did I take the SAT?), and I remember it being stressful, but this was nerve-wrecking!

After completing the GRE and submitting my personal statement (why I wanted to attend the school and program), references, and application, I hunkered down to wait for acceptance or, Heaven forbid, rejection. And I waited. And waited. And waited! Although the turnaround time for acceptance or denial of an application for enrollment is supposed to be 2-weeks, I ended up waiting over four months!

The wait finally ended last week when I received an email letting me know I’d been accepted. I had just about given up. Now I can stop worrying about getting into college, and start worrying about how to pay for it all!

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