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GMAT™ Examinee Spotlight: Jaron Hite

Jaron HiteThe GMAT™ exam is so much more than a test. It’s your opportunity to add to the story of your business school application and elevate yourself amongst the pool of other qualified applicants. By earning your best GMAT score, you show your target programs that you not only have what it takes to be successful in their classrooms, but that you have the commitment and drive to be successful in your career.

mba.com is teaming up with Admit.me Fellows, a free comprehensive admissions support resource for under-resourced underrepresented minorities and women, to highlight the stories of GMAT examinees from underrepresented backgrounds.

Meet Jaron Hite

Jaron Hite is an Admit.me Fellow from the Chicago area with an undergraduate degree in Applied Economics and Management, with concentrations in Accounting and Finance, from Cornell University.

Read on to hear why Jaron is pursuing his MBA, his GMAT prep journey, and his inspiring words of encouragement for other underrepresented applicants. 

What’s your background?

Jaron Hite: I’m a Black man from Rockford, Illinois. Both of my parents have bachelor’s degrees along with some graduate coursework and encouraged my intellectual curiosity. Since earning my undergraduate degree, I’ve spent my entire career in Financial Services, culminating in my most recent experience in the turnaround and restructuring space.

Why are you pursuing an MBA?

JH: I got my first exposure to MBA programs while I was still an undergraduate, taking MBA-level courses. I also had mentors who were MBAs in my latter years of my undergraduate experience who taught me the value of the MBA as a Black man looking to break into the levels of upper management and have provided advice for me as I’ve progressed in my career.

What was your GMAT preparation experience like?

JH: The first time I took the GMAT exam was in November of 2019. I needed a score in order to qualify for admission into a competitive fellowship program. I needed a 500 at the minimum, so that was the score to beat. I took the test cold and ended up with a score in the high 500s.  Definitely not where I wanted to be, but good enough to apply and get accepted into the fellowship program. For a test with only a couple of subjects, I had more trouble than I initially thought I would, but I definitely knew improvement was possible if I put in the time and effort.

Honestly, as rough as 2020 was, the pandemic was a big help. With nowhere to go and not much to do, it was easy to take the approximately 10 hours I would have spent commuting every week and focusing them on increasing my commitment to studying. I focused on using a test prep course, going through all of the modules to learn the material, which definitely helped, as well as implementing the GMAT Official Practice Exams to check progress when I was closer to exam dates. I also signed up for a valuable test prep class in December of 2019, which occurred over 6 weeks.

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I took my second exam in June 2020 and scored in the high 600s. It was a great improvement from my previous score, and I set a goal of getting to a 700 score. I took the test again in August and got mid-600s score that time, and I realized I’d like some professional help and got a tutor. The tutor was great, but unfortunately my work schedule picked up and my studying wasn’t as effective as it could have been, though I did make great strides on the Verbal Reasoning section. I took the test again in November and got a high 600 score again. So close!

Luckily, through Admit.me Fellows I got a test voucher and decided to give it one more try. It was December and I was writing essays and starting applications. I took the test for the fifth and final time and didn’t make it to my 700 goal Although I didn’t get to my target score, it was somewhat comforting that I got extremely close.

How have you helped other business school applicants?

JH: What I’ve done to give back is primarily point people towards resources that I and others that I know who’ve had success have used. Additionally, I’ve become an accountability partner for some colleagues to make sure they stick to their study schedule.

What was the outcome?

JH: I always saw the GMAT as a necessary evil. Given my background and work experience, my score that was within the range for all my schools, and the support of Admit.me Fellows and other programs, I felt pretty comfortable in applying to the schools I chose.

Currently, I’m still in the process of interviewing with five of the seven schools I applied to and awaiting to hear from the others but excited to see what’s next!

What advice would you give others?

JH: The GMAT isn’t a test of intelligence, it’s a test of will. Consistent practice, pattern recognition, and studying will get you to a score that you need to get into business school. I also want to encourage them that a “seemingly” bad test score, isn’t the end of the world and there’s nothing wrong with taking the test more than once, either – that isn’t a sign of failure.

For underrepresented students trying to muster up the courage to take the GMAT, I’d like to point them to the demographics of the students at these schools. Business schools need people like you and the talents, skills, and perspective that you bring to the classroom. This is where future business leaders are trained, and you absolutely belong there as well. And if that doesn’t help think of this quote from Confucius – “the man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right”.

Tell your unique story through your MBA application

mba.com’s free guide, Telling Your Story: Personal Branding for MBA Applications, provides you with step-by-step, expert guidance on how to position your personal brand in your applications to ensure you tell an authentic and compelling narrative that differentiates you from other qualified applicants and sticks in the minds of the admissions committees.

Get insider advice on how to:

  • Reflect on your personal journey and express who you are
  • Clearly articulate your goals in a way that will check the boxes admissions staff are trained to look for
  • Have a rock-solid answer to the key questions of “why an MBA?” and “why now?”
  • Tie your MBA story together in a way that elevates your personal brand