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Three years of journey: change profession to study in the USA

This could be the plot of a movie, but this is the real story of Dasha, who entered an American university with Repafi. Three years of effort, a change of profession, a proposal to get married and move to the USA together. How Dasha decided to make changes and received funding from the University of Delaware, read in our interview.

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Dasha, do you remember the moment when you seriously decided to take up English? 

Before entering university in Russia, my level of English was, to put it mildly, not very good. But since my specialty was international law, I was obliged to know the language at a good level. We had very strong English teaching, about 16 hours a week. After the first year, I was already able to go to a language school in Oxford and feel confident there.

You studied international law, but decided to change your specialty and enter the USA in a different direction. How did this happen? 

For about six years I worked as an in-house lawyer in large international companies. This involves understanding processes and constantly interacting with different operational components.

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I always wanted not just to give legal advice, but to understand how business works.

In addition, I did not see my development to the position of Head of Legal. And I wasn’t interested. But I really wanted to solve business problems and, perhaps, start my own company.

And in the end you entered the University of Delaware. Tell us how you chose the country, university and program? What did you pay attention to when choosing?

Everything about the country was clear right away. I have been in the USA very often in recent years, I have friends here, the lifestyle and climate suit me. And here is one of the best education systems, of course.

The University of Delaware is considered one of the best public schools. In addition, very few universities offer scholarships specifically for an MBA, but here I was offered a fairly generous coverage of expenses. The specialization that I initially entered, Hospitality, is in second place in the country after the Ivy League – Cornell University. She is very prestigious.

I tried to look for something myself for a couple of months, but many universities here have terrible websites, and it’s quite difficult to get anything from them on your own. At the same time, I was still working and preparing to take tests. Therefore, quite quickly I decided to delegate at least some tasks and came to Repafi for help.

What questions and tasks were solved faster or easier thanks to Repafi? What did you like? 

We held several consultations. The experts made me a selection of programs, edited my resume, helped me write a motivation letter, gave me advice on how to communicate with universities, draft letters, and ask about scholarships. They also kept us on our toes: they pushed us and set strict deadlines, making sure that everything was ready on time. I liked that the Repafi team also shared materials for TOEFL, GMAT and GRE.

I’ve already taken a TOEFL course with Repafi – it’s a godsend! I’ve been following your Instagram for a long time . I really liked your approach. As a result, I passed the exam with 106 points.

Also, in terms of the services included in the support and the prices, everything suited me very well, which is why I chose Repafi. I was guided by many specialists, because it took me quite a long time to enroll, but I received a lot of support, especially in the most difficult moments. I’m glad we went through all this together.

We are glad that we were able to help you overcome this path. Tell us in more detail how it happened. What did the process consist of: what tests and exams did you take? What documents did you prepare?

Exams are a separate pain. I studied for the GMAT for three years. And I failed twice. I have a humanities education, and all my life I have tried to avoid mathematics.

Everything mathematical was very difficult for me, so I literally had to start everything from scratch: learn to count in a column and solve quadratic equations. In the end, I finally gave up and decided to take the GRE. It’s good that almost all schools accepted him. The basis from preparing for the GMAT was enough for me for the math part, but English is more difficult there – I had to learn new words and approaches all summer.

GRE and GMAT are different exams that differ in many nuances. But the main thing is the purpose of each exam. The GRE is taken upon admission to graduate or master’s programs in the humanities, natural and social sciences. The GMA is used for admission to graduate programs in business and management, such as the MBA.

As a result, I passed with a score slightly above average and even received a fee waiver from the University of Delaware. When the tests were passed, I collected letters of recommendation from colleagues, my supervisor, and a teacher from the university. Then I made a notarized translation of the diploma. After that, we started filling out applications and submitted them to about five programs.

A fee waiver is an opportunity for students to apply for admission to a university without paying an application or processing fee. This is provided to help students with financial difficulties to reduce barriers to entry into higher education.

I took two programs at the University of Delaware and one at Tampa University. I chose the university that offered the best funding. One university refused me, but the program there was very competitive. And now I understand that I wasn’t quite right for them. Another university put me on a waitlist, but I didn’t wait for them.

Do you remember the moment when you found out that you got in? What were you thinking?

I immediately went and proposed marriage to my boyfriend. I tell him: “Will you come with me? I entered!”

I was shocked, of course. I didn’t think that this three-year-old adventure could really take me to a bright future. After several failures in tests, I no longer had the strength. But I didn’t want to postpone my plans for another year. Of course, I was the happiest!

What was your first day at university like? Who did you manage to meet?

I was very worried on the first day. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to complete the program because of the number of new difficult subjects. Of course, impostor syndrome is always present. But the very first accounting class was very interesting. The teacher of this course became my favorite. After that it wasn’t so scary anymore.

We have a fairly large course, everyone helps each other. I made friends with guys from India and Iran. From time to time we organize joint trips, parties, game nights. Many of them came with families, and I also brought my husband and dog. Everyone is very cool. There is also a Russian-language club with guys from Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. We are all friends and together we shop for Russian products at Net Cost.

Do you like the campus itself?

The campus is a different story: it is very old on the outside, and super-equipped on the inside, all offices have a lot of equipment, you can borrow a laptop in the library, there is a VIP area for graduate students only.

And when you walk outside, you feel like you’re in a movie about students. Every time the beauty takes your breath away.

Sounds fun! After this, we ourselves want to go study again. By the way, how is the training going? What did you find particularly interesting? 

In the first year, I completed almost the entire core MBA, with only electives remaining. I decided to change my major to expand my job search opportunities, and chose Business Analytics – STEM. My GPA after two semesters (fall and winter) is now 3.9/4. Analytics and everything related to formulas and mathematics are a little difficult for me. But I can say that after a Russian law school, studying here is not difficult. Although I have to put a little more effort into precision items than others.

Electives are subjects that students choose from a specific list to satisfy course requirements or gain additional knowledge in an area of interest. Electives allow you to expand your learning experience beyond your prerequisites, major, or core curriculum.

The teachers treat the students wonderfully. I was surprised that any attempt to think and express one’s position was encouraged. Basically, you can always raise your hand and even add your own observations to the lecture. Professors are ready to sit until the last minute and explain even the most basic things. Questions are always encouraged. On the first day we were told: “If you have a question, it means someone else has it, so feel free to ask!”

What is student life and campus life like? 

I live off campus because I came here with my family. But my university doesn’t have housing for grad students. We settled very close to the university – you can walk in 15 minutes or take a bus in 10 minutes. I have 12 credits this semester, studying 3 days a week from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm and one online course that I can take on my own schedule.

There don’t seem to be very many activities themselves, but probably most of your time is spent on homework?

I’m studying a lot because I took out the maximum number of loans to use my funding for the first year. I haven’t decided yet how things will be for next year.

If you don’t take out so many loans, then it seems to me that studying here is 10 times easier than studying law at Russian universities.

I also have a graduate assistantship. I work with a professor at our college: I help write papers, do research, grade students, and supervise them on exams. My professor and I became real friends. We have a lot of common interests. For example, she chose me to join her department because we are both equestrians – involved in equestrian sports.

Do you still have time for some interesting project or work? 

A friend of mine from Iran is studying in an art program, and I helped her with a project about the freedom and limitations of women. She recently had an exhibition with my photos, it was a great success. My professor and I also did a study on how a person’s hobbies influence the choice of profession, using equestrians as an example, of course.

Dasha, thank you for sharing your story. What advice could you give to those who are now just at the beginning of their journey, like you were three years ago? 

If you see your future career in banking, the University of Delaware is the perfect place. There are a lot of offices of all major banks in this state. And this is a great place to join this field.

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