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The 'Am I competitive' thread - READ ME BEFORE POSTING

762 posts in this topic

46 minutes ago, The_Gibson said:

Program: MPA, International Relations

Undergrad School: SUNY Purchase College

Undergrad GPA: 3.48 (Dean's List the first two years, but fell off my last year.)

Note: Graduated in three years

Work Experience: I've worked as a reporter in various capacities with publications in The New York Post, LA Weekly and various papers through the Associated Press. I've also have had some fiction published. I ventured into education for a short while as a tutor of at risk youths in one of Chicago's worst neighborhoods. Currently I work as a docent at a science museum.

GRE:  Quantitative - 148; Verbal - 162; Writing - 4.5

LORs: Journalism professor with international reporting experience, high school comparative politics teacher--who was arguably the best in the country at the time she taught me--, either a political science professor or a former co-worker with knowledge of my analytical skills

Foreign Language Skills: I'm learning Spanish and plan on picking up French soon. Currently I know a little bit of both, but am no one where near fluent.

Age: 27

Journalism was my first choice, but I realized I'm more interested in international relations. I'm a career changer. What are my chances of attending a top tier school? Should I brush up on math and retake the GRE to improve my quantitative score?

I would definitely recommend improving that Q score. Your experience won't be proof that you have good analytical skills, so, combined with a below 50th percentile score, I think you are out of the running for all top tier schools at this point. Shoot for a 160, but even a 155 will look much better than a 148. You have unique-enough work experience that could prove valuable to admissions if you can prove to them that you can handle the economics/statistics.

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24 minutes ago, Ben414 said:

I would definitely recommend improving that Q score. Your experience won't be proof that you have good analytical skills, so, combined with a below 50th percentile score, I think you are out of the running for all top tier schools at this point. Shoot for a 160, but even a 155 will look much better than a 148. You have unique-enough work experience that could prove valuable to admissions if you can prove to them that you can handle the economics/statistics.

Thanks for the feedback. I plan on sticking to the qualitative side as much as possible. With my current scores what schools could I possibly get into?

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14 hours ago, The_Gibson said:

Program: MPA, International Relations

Undergrad School: SUNY Purchase College

Undergrad GPA: 3.48 (Dean's List the first two years, but fell off my last year.)

Note: Graduated in three years

Work Experience: I've worked as a reporter in various capacities with publications in The New York Post, LA Weekly and various papers through the Associated Press. I've also have had some fiction published. I ventured into education for a short while as a tutor of at risk youths in one of Chicago's worst neighborhoods. Currently I work as a docent at a science museum.

GRE:  Quantitative - 148; Verbal - 162; Writing - 4.5

LORs: Journalism professor with international reporting experience, high school comparative politics teacher--who was arguably the best in the country at the time she taught me--, either a political science professor or a former co-worker with knowledge of my analytical skills

Foreign Language Skills: I'm learning Spanish and plan on picking up French soon. Currently I know a little bit of both, but am no one where near fluent.

Age: 27

Journalism was my first choice, but I realized I'm more interested in international relations. I'm a career changer. What are my chances of attending a top tier school? Should I brush up on math and retake the GRE to improve my quantitative score?

I agree with @Ben414's advice, and would add: take a quantitative class (either introduction to statistics or microeconomics) and get an A. Maybe an extension school or community college, but something credit-granting. Even if your quantitative GRE score doesn't go up that much, this will help allay their concerns.

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Anyone want to take a crack at my profile for PhDs?

Here's my stats:

Undergrad: Top 40 American private research university, had a rough time, 2.87 GPA in an English Major.

Graduate: >100 ranked NASPAA Accredited MPA Program with a 4.0 GPA.

GRE: 155 Q 170 V 5.0 AW.

I also have taken the following supplementary courses with a 3.85 GPA: Calculus 1-3, Discrete Math, Linear Algebra, Probability and Statistics 1, Intermediate Microeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Econometrics. Courses in Progress: Probability and Statistics 2, Differential Equations and Real Analysis.

I also won an $800 research award to support an independent quantitative research project in education policy.

I have tutored for 3 semesters, including 1 semester as a math tutor at 10 hours per week.

3.5 years work experience in non-profit sector (urban education) including 1 year Americorps VISTA.

LORs are my weakest point. Being at a small program, I haven't worked with many professors who are active researchers.

I have one LOR from a professor who I worked with as a research assistant, is supervising my thesis and has taught me in 4 classes with 4 A's including an independent study. He is a young assistant professor from a top program, which I applied to, and where he arranged interviews for me. This is my strongest letter.

Other LORs from an econ professor and econ PhD student who I took one class with each. I spent a lot of time in office hours developing a personal connection, but I haven't researched with either.

I applied to the following programs:

Cornell Policy Analysis and Management, SUNY Albany Public Administration and Policy, UMD College Park Policy Studies, Syracuse Public Administration, Syracuse Social Sciences, Syracuse Economics, SUNY Buffalo Economics

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2 hours ago, chocolatecheesecake said:

I agree with @Ben414's advice, and would add: take a quantitative class (either introduction to statistics or microeconomics) and get an A. Maybe an extension school or community college, but something credit-granting. Even if your quantitative GRE score doesn't go up that much, this will help allay their concerns.

Thanks for the advice. I noticed Northwestern's program lists 148 Q as their low rung for their Phd program. Do I stand a chance of getting in there?

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3 hours ago, The_Gibson said:

Thanks for the advice. I noticed Northwestern's program lists 148 Q as their low rung for their Phd program. Do I stand a chance of getting in there?

I wouldn't bother. A sample size of 1 outlier means nothing for the vast, vast majority of candidates.

 

18 hours ago, The_Gibson said:

Thanks for the feedback. I plan on sticking to the qualitative side as much as possible. With my current scores what schools could I possibly get into?

HKS, WWS, and Yale are out. I would think SIPA and SAIS are out. I can't imagine your chances would be good at Tufts or Georgetown. Maybe American University? Honestly, I'm not sure.

Regardless, I cannot overstate how much I recommend that you improve your Q and take at least one stats or micro course (good catch, chocolatecheescake). Not only will it help you get into better schools, but it will help you get more scholarship money. Going into large amounts of debt for a MPA or MA in IR is a very questionable decision. As I already said, you have some unique experience--don't allow that to help you sneak into schools, allow that to help you get some $$$ to go along with your acceptances.

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On 2/9/2016 at 4:33 PM, The_Gibson said:

Thanks for the advice. I noticed Northwestern's program lists 148 Q as their low rung for their Phd program. Do I stand a chance of getting in there?

Northwestern also does not have a public policy/ affairs PhD program. Their program is in human development and social policy, which means its technically an education PhD program, and many of their graduates will compete for positions in education departments. Academic education research tends to be less quantitative except for a minority of academics who specialize in quantitative methods. So many of their applicants will not be focused on quantitative methods and will lack quantitative preparation, to a greater extent than public policy and public affairs programs.

Edited by publicaffairsstudent

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7 minutes ago, Ejc5ys said:

Concerns: My age. I'm worried since I graduated in 2014, I'm a little young to be applying, but am hopeful that I stand a chance at just one of these schools!

Your age is should not be a concern! You're well within the median age ranges for the programs you listed, and it sounds like you've been working since you graduated which is an absolute plus.

Otherwise, your profile looks fairly competitive but I can't really give any more feedback other than that; this process is a crapshoot once we've submitted all our materials and we can only hope for good news from these departments. Best of luck.

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone,

New here. Can't wait for the decisions to come out, but I'm reallly nervous, too. I don't know if I have any chance for funding. I'd really appreciate your take on it.

Age: 23

Program: MIA/MPP

School Applying to:  HKS, SAIS, Georgetown MSFS, Tufts, American SIS, Yale, NYU GSAS, UofT Munk, Carleton NPSIA

Undergrad Institution: University of Toronto (#1 in Canada, #17 in the World), Class of 2015 (Bachelor of Commerce, Major in Management, Minor in Economics) 

Undergrad GPA: 3.12 (due to one terrible, early semester)

Grad Institution: University of Toronto, Class of 2016 (Master of Arts in Germanic Languages, Literatures and Cultures). I was offered a Graduate Scholarship Award that covered my full tuition, as well as a paid course instructor position. 

Grad GPA: 3.8

GRE: 157 V, 153 Q, 5.0 Writing 

Years of Full-Time Work Experience: 1 year + internships, volunteer work and part-time jobs. (5 months volunteering in the Middle East, co-founder of an NPO in Toronto that gives all profits to charity, instructor of German at University of Toronto, German Translator for the Huffington Post, a couple of corporate jobs)

Published Work: Recently had an article published on the Huffington Post. Unfortunately it was after the application deadlines passed, and most admissions committees won't even get to read it.

Languages: Fluent in Arabic, English and German. Proficient in French.

Background: I grew up in the Middle East and have volunteered there through the Church or as a member of an NGO. I have a somewhat unique background story, as I took part in one of the Arab Spring Revolutions and have had some incredible experiences, which I mention in all of my essays. I plan to concentrate on Middle East issues in my studies.

Quant Experience: A bunch of economics courses as part of my undergraduate degree (Grades range from A to C, but mostly As). Some quant and analytical experience in my corporate jobs. 

Strength of LoR 1: Professor and Teaching Supervisor. She is a Harvard PHD and wrote me a very strong letter.

Strength of LoR 2: From a professor who knows me very well (4 courses, all As) and offered me the graduate scholarship award

Strength of LoR 3: My former manager at a large corporation, who vouched for my business skills. I've read it and it is a solid letter.

Results: I have already gotten accepted at American SIS and NYU GSAS. 

Concerns: My GRE scores obviously could have been a bit higher, but I hope that the fact that I am not a native English speaker will make up for the verbal section. As for the quant., I hope that my past econ courses make up for that. I am also worried about a lack of work experience. I felt uneasy putting 1 year on the application for 'years of full-time work experience', since I have almost always been working part-time, translating for the Huff-Post, volunteering and completing summer internships. Will that lower my chances? My undergrad GPA is also somewhat weak, but I think the fact that I was offered a graduate award by the same university will make up for that. My grad GPA is much better

Thanks for your time!

Edited by jcass

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2 hours ago, jcass said:

Concerns: My GRE scores obviously could have been a bit higher, but I hope that the fact that I am not a native English speaker will make up for the verbal section. As for the quant., I hope that my past econ courses make up for that. I am also worried about a lack of work experience. I felt uneasy putting 1 year on the application for 'years of full-time work experience', since I have almost always been working part-time, translating for the Huff-Post, volunteering and completing summer internships. Will that lower my chances? My undergrad GPA is also somewhat weak, but I think the fact that I was offered a graduate award by the same university will make up for that. My grad GPA is much better

Don't freak out now. We only have one to two weeks left. go watch some netflix.

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I've got a unique situation that I'll explain below. But before we get started with that:

GPA: 3.47, BA in English from a UC.
GRE: Verbal score 162, Math score 162, AW score 6.0  
Work experience: 5 years paralegal work substantial experience in environmental litigation/policy, another 2 years of paralegal work this time in-house for a hedge fund. 
Program: MPA, MAYBE an MPP.
Age: 27
Quant coursework: Microeconomics and Statistics, at both the undergrad at graduate level. 
Desired Policy concentration field: either environmental or global policy, possibly both concurrently. 

Here's the real kicker. I actually DID start an MPP program about 2 years earlier (let's just say it's a top-10 program; certainly Harvard-level), but I was dismissed after just my first semester because of poor performance. I didn't fail anything outright and even got credit for these classes, but my aggregate GPA wasn't good enough to pass muster (Bs and Cs, basically). What happened was essentially a combination between having difficulties adjusting back to school after a 5-year gap (the first paralegal gig) and long-term burnout (I kept up a rigorous study regimen for 3 years before matriculating; you eventually hit diminishing returns if you keep this up without any real resting period). Since then however, I've done well at my current hedge-fund paralegal job to get at least 2 LORs, and I'm still on good terms with one of my old MPP Professors, so that's another LOR. Most importantly, I've taken for-credit graduate courses in the same subjects that did me in 2 years ago and aced them this time, so hopefully that'll at least show some growth and improvement to the admissions committees. 

That being said, my school choices are:
HKS (MPP), Cornell (MPA), Georgetown (MPM), SUNY Albany (MPA), SIPA (MPA), USC (MPA), UVA(MPP)

I know that many of these choices might seem prosaic given my previous SNAFU, but I'm still willing to try and give it my all. What are my chances in light of all this? Thanks. 

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On 3/8/2016 at 2:30 PM, CipherTrigonal89 said:

I've got a unique situation that I'll explain below. But before we get started with that:

GPA: 3.47, BA in English from a UC.
GRE: Verbal score 162, Math score 162, AW score 6.0  
Work experience: 5 years paralegal work substantial experience in environmental litigation/policy, another 2 years of paralegal work this time in-house for a hedge fund. 
Program: MPA, MAYBE an MPP.
Age: 27
Quant coursework: Microeconomics and Statistics, at both the undergrad at graduate level. 
Desired Policy concentration field: either environmental or global policy, possibly both concurrently. 

Here's the real kicker. I actually DID start an MPP program about 2 years earlier (let's just say it's a top-10 program; certainly Harvard-level), but I was dismissed after just my first semester because of poor performance. I didn't fail anything outright and even got credit for these classes, but my aggregate GPA wasn't good enough to pass muster (Bs and Cs, basically). What happened was essentially a combination between having difficulties adjusting back to school after a 5-year gap (the first paralegal gig) and long-term burnout (I kept up a rigorous study regimen for 3 years before matriculating; you eventually hit diminishing returns if you keep this up without any real resting period). Since then however, I've done well at my current hedge-fund paralegal job to get at least 2 LORs, and I'm still on good terms with one of my old MPP Professors, so that's another LOR. Most importantly, I've taken for-credit graduate courses in the same subjects that did me in 2 years ago and aced them this time, so hopefully that'll at least show some growth and improvement to the admissions committees. 

That being said, my school choices are:
HKS (MPP), Cornell (MPA), Georgetown (MPM), SUNY Albany (MPA), SIPA (MPA), USC (MPA), UVA(MPP)

I know that many of these choices might seem prosaic given my previous SNAFU, but I'm still willing to try and give it my all. What are my chances in light of all this? Thanks. 

Your work experience sounds legit, and your GRE scores are pretty good. It's also great that you've taken for-credit courses in the same subjects and done better. I would say the important thing is to talk about in your essays or ask your professors/ LORs to discuss how you're in a different place now. Admissions will want to know that you've learned something from that first experience, or that you're doing something differently for graduate school this time around. Maybe it's even shifted your focus and helped you realize that you want to do X more so than Y. Something like that. They need to see that you've adjusted to it and are in a better frame of mind too. Basically, help them answer the question: why will it be different this time around? And if you can answer that convincingly, this will probably be not be a roadblock, but actually a chance to show you can learn from your experiences!

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Hello everyone,

New here, this forum isn't limited to MIA and MPP hopefuls I hope.

Age: 23

 

School Applying to: UW, Berkeley, Texas A&M, Portland(I am a PNW kind of guy), Columbia(Dream School)

Programs I am hoping to get into: MMIS, ORMS, or possibly a Masters in  Management Science which will hopefully shift into a PHD


Undergrad Institution: UW Bachelors in Information Systems

Undergrad GPA: 3.68 with some grad courses

GRE: 161 V, 157 Q, still waiting for writing

Years of Full-Time Work Experience: 

1 year working as a BI analyst at Providence Health and Services. Developing their reporting website for their Information Systems Department,  Supply Chain and assisting in Talent acquisition projects.

1 year working as a coding instructor teaching middle school students how to program with java script.

Published Work: None sadly

Languages: English and Proficient in Romanian 

Background: I grew up in Washington. Both my parents came from Romania before the wall fell and I am the first in my family to get a 4 year degree. On top of the jobs mentioned above I worked full time as a cook(not putting it on my resume) to pay for college. I also speak at events for my Romanian group and still work part-part time for a start up that does Pop Up restaurants. 

Quant Experience: Basic Calc, Computational Neruo, basic Statistics, economics and accounting

Strength of LoR 1: Professor I worked for as a TA who has his PHD from Texas A&M in Information Systems and a background in EE

Strength of LoR 2: Chief of Staff of Providence Health and Services who I work directly under

Strength of LoR 3: Still need to source this...I am hoping to ask another PHD holder who I work with the next time we have lunch or possibly my old boss from when I taught programming. He has his PHD in Medical Imaging 

 

Concerns: My GRE scores are either below average or average for most schools. I don't think I would get into a top tier school. I will most likely be retaking the GRE since there is still time. I think my GPA is pretty good. In addition, in my last three quarters I took several grad courses along with my normal three or four classes to try and make my transcript look a little more interesting. Although, they were completely out of scope, they were all neuro, pathology and bioinformatics courses.

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Posted (edited)

Hi all! I am aiming for an MPP in a few years, am finishing up my last undergrad semester now. If anyone would be willing to give me feedback on where I stand right now, I would really appreciate it! :)

Age: 24

Program: MPA/MPP - focusing on education and social policy

School Applying to: considering UCLA, Evans School at Washington U (interested in social policy concentration)

Undergrad Institution: a popular CSU campus 

Undergrad GPA: currently 3.812, aiming to graduate magna cum laude 

Degree: BA in Human Development, French & Francophone Studies minor 

GRE: not yet taken!

Languages: English & 8 years of French education 

Quant Experience: not so good! C in stats, going to retake at a community for a higher grade along with an economics course (never took one in undergrad)

Work Experience: 

  • 3 years experience at a Nonprofit helping families/children in multiple positions (not full time). Currently I do database administration, generate reports, and audit documents. In the past within the same org I have worked directly with elementary and middle schoolers as a tutor and an after school program staff.
  • I've also been working this year with a professor on two research projects relating to child welfare, mental health, and the educational system. Mostly I have been doing lit reviews, but I may work on a pilot study later this semester. I have used my French language skills while working on both these projects.
  • I have also provided private one-on-one tutoring for a year to help a HS senior pass her IB French exam. 
  • I have done some minor volunteering, all at Nonprofits (Special Olympics, economic/ job development org)

LORs:

  • Professor I am doing research with currently has expressed she will write me a strong letter and has said I have been one of her strongest students.
  • currently looking into building relationships with other faculty, have a few in mind
  • considering asking my current boss at my nonprofit to be a rec

Background: I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal narrative as it can apply to my applications. Education has been a big theme in my family background, as my family did not have access to free public secondary education in their youth in fascist Portugal and were economically disadvantaged. My mother was fortunate enough to receive scholarship from her aunt who lived in the United States and so was able to attend high school. This greatly affected her life in a positive way by way of personal development and economic opportunity. Subsequently she has greatly pushed the importance of education with my sister and I. I have been very passionate about social services, education, social inequity and honestly would not be satisfied with my life if I did not pursue a career that in some way would have a positive impact on society. I believe it would benefit me to further develop these thoughts and weave them into my personal statement.

Notes:

  • I'm considering looking into Americorps programs for leadership experience.
  • I'm currently applying for an internship with a local representative (who also is passionate about education/social inequity).
  • I'm also looking into a research internship with a county government.
  • I'm also looking into JusticeCorps, an Americorps program that helps client with legal paperwork  - not sure if relevant ?
  • Also looking into the Executive Fellowship program in Sacramento 

All in all, I believe I should look for other opportunities to further round out my resume focusing on social services, education, research, and policy.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thoughts?

Weaknesses?

Any advice on programs to look into for education/social policy?

I appreciate any and all input! :) 

 

 

 

Edited by belocali

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On 2016年2月9日 at 0:04 PM, The_Gibson said:

Program: MPA, International Relations

Undergrad School: SUNY Purchase College

Undergrad GPA: 3.48 (Dean's List the first two years, but fell off my last year.)

Note: Graduated in three years

Work Experience: I've worked as a reporter in various capacities with publications in The New York Post, LA Weekly and various papers through the Associated Press. I've also have had some fiction published. I ventured into education for a short while as a tutor of at risk youths in one of Chicago's worst neighborhoods. Currently I work as a docent at a science museum.

GRE:  Quantitative - 148; Verbal - 162; Writing - 4.5

LORs: Journalism professor with international reporting experience, high school comparative politics teacher--who was arguably the best in the country at the time she taught me--, either a political science professor or a former co-worker with knowledge of my analytical skills

Foreign Language Skills: I'm learning Spanish and plan on picking up French soon. Currently I know a little bit of both, but am no one where near fluent.

Age: 27

Journalism was my first choice, but I realized I'm more interested in international relations. I'm a career changer. What are my chances of attending a top tier school? Should I brush up on math and retake the GRE to improve my quantitative score?

run across the thread. I was in the same boat, shifting from journalism to international relations.   I agree that with a Quan score below 150, your chance for top-tier schools is slim. Strive for 160+ if you can. Try to get some international experience if you can. Most importantly, leverage the personal statement to tie everything up, explain why you decide to change gear and show the unique experience/ characters of being in the field of journalism (i.e. open up your statement with a story-telling tactic related to your career motivation). 

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On 2/9/2016 at 5:04 AM, The_Gibson said:

Program: MPA, International Relations

Undergrad School: SUNY Purchase College

Undergrad GPA: 3.48 (Dean's List the first two years, but fell off my last year.)

Note: Graduated in three years

Work Experience: I've worked as a reporter in various capacities with publications in The New York Post, LA Weekly and various papers through the Associated Press. I've also have had some fiction published. I ventured into education for a short while as a tutor of at risk youths in one of Chicago's worst neighborhoods. Currently I work as a docent at a science museum.

GRE:  Quantitative - 148; Verbal - 162; Writing - 4.5

LORs: Journalism professor with international reporting experience, high school comparative politics teacher--who was arguably the best in the country at the time she taught me--, either a political science professor or a former co-worker with knowledge of my analytical skills

Foreign Language Skills: I'm learning Spanish and plan on picking up French soon. Currently I know a little bit of both, but am no one where near fluent.

Age: 27

Journalism was my first choice, but I realized I'm more interested in international relations. I'm a career changer. What are my chances of attending a top tier school? Should I brush up on math and retake the GRE to improve my quantitative score?

Just a word of advice, I attended a HKS information session with a friend, and she asked about submitted AP Calculus scores as quantitative experience. The dean told her that they don't want anything from high school. A recommendation might be different, but I could imagine that admissions committees might look down upon a recommendation letter from a high school teacher. 

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Hello, everyone, I've been lurking here for years now. I just finished the GRE earlier today and figured I might as well get an assessment. I'd be applying this fall for 2017.

Age: 23

Current Location: Upstate New York

Program: MPA/MPP, Focus in health policy and social inequality

Undergrad School: Large Public University in Florida, Major in History and Political Science, Minor in Sociology.

Undergrad GPA: 3.48, 3.5+ in both majors

Quant Courses: Macro, Micro, College Algebra, Social Science Research Statistics, Empirical Political Analysis, Political Economy, Federal Budget.

Work Experience:

  • Currently work as an Americorp VISTA for a university extension program helping coordinate programs on poverty reduction.
  • Previously worked for about a year with a nonprofit that did work on the ACA roll out coordinating enrollment events and doing policy education. This included a three month period where I worked in DC.
  • Two political campaigns: 2012 presidential as a volunteer and 2014 state legislature as paid staff.
  • Six month long internship with local state representative.
  • Served in leadership rolls in two of my clubs in college.

GRE:  Quantitative - 149; Verbal - 165; Writing - Unknown at this time, but probably not terrible.

LORs: Professor who I worked with to develop a History paper on international aid I presented at two conferences, second professor I established a good rapport with, former boss from the 2014 campaign, current boss through the VISTA job

Foreign Language Skills: Moderate Spanish, some German and French.

Schools Looking Into: It's mostly built from schools that (1)have a good public health program if I decide to go for a dual degree, or a very well regarded specialization program in health policy, and/or (2) give extra aid to Americorp alums. Currently have it narrowed to GW Trachtenburg, UM Ford, Minnesota Humphrey, WWS, SIPA, Maxwell, and CM Heinz. Also like what I've seen from CIPA and from Goldman. Goldman, SIPA, and WWS are definitely the reaches. 

If that godawful score wasn't a clue, I think my biggest weakness is quant. I studied for months for the GRE and still walked away with a bellow average score, so I'm a bit bummed right now. This was my first time with the test, so I don't know whether that played a role or not, but whatever it was I don't think I'm getting anywhere with that score. I'm also wondering if I might want to take a few more quant courses to look more appealing.

 

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Posted (edited)

On 3/18/2016 at 4:06 PM, Alphyn said:

Hello, everyone, I've been lurking here for years now. I just finished the GRE earlier today and figured I might as well get an assessment. I'd be applying this fall for 2017.

Age: 23

Current Location: Upstate New York

Program: MPA/MPP, Focus in health policy and social inequality

Undergrad School: Large Public University in Florida, Major in History and Political Science, Minor in Sociology.

Undergrad GPA: 3.48, 3.5+ in both majors

Quant Courses: Macro, Micro, College Algebra, Social Science Research Statistics, Empirical Political Analysis, Political Economy, Federal Budget.

Work Experience:

  • Currently work as an Americorp VISTA for a university extension program helping coordinate programs on poverty reduction.
  • Previously worked for about a year with a nonprofit that did work on the ACA roll out coordinating enrollment events and doing policy education. This included a three month period where I worked in DC.
  • Two political campaigns: 2012 presidential as a volunteer and 2014 state legislature as paid staff.
  • Six month long internship with local state representative.
  • Served in leadership rolls in two of my clubs in college.

GRE:  Quantitative - 149; Verbal - 165; Writing - Unknown at this time, but probably not terrible.

LORs: Professor who I worked with to develop a History paper on international aid I presented at two conferences, second professor I established a good rapport with, former boss from the 2014 campaign, current boss through the VISTA job

Foreign Language Skills: Moderate Spanish, some German and French.

Schools Looking Into: It's mostly built from schools that (1)have a good public health program if I decide to go for a dual degree, or a very well regarded specialization program in health policy, and/or (2) give extra aid to Americorp alums. Currently have it narrowed to GW Trachtenburg, UM Ford, Minnesota Humphrey, WWS, SIPA, Maxwell, and CM Heinz. Also like what I've seen from CIPA and from Goldman. Goldman, SIPA, and WWS are definitely the reaches. 

If that godawful score wasn't a clue, I think my biggest weakness is quant. I studied for months for the GRE and still walked away with a bellow average score, so I'm a bit bummed right now. This was my first time with the test, so I don't know whether that played a role or not, but whatever it was I don't think I'm getting anywhere with that score. I'm also wondering if I might want to take a few more quant courses to look more appealing.

 

Hey @Alphyn

It looks like you have great internship experience and your GPA is in range.

Like you mentioned, I think your quant score is the weakest area of your app. Most of the schools on your list pride themselves on their quantitative rigor, so I think you should shoot to at least get over the 155 mark (160 would be best!). With a 149, I think Heinz and Ford might also be a reach right now - Heinz's bottom 25 percentile mark is a 153 - Ford doesn't list theirs, but based on applicant's posted scores this year, I would guess it was a bit higher. I was able to up my quant score using one of self-paced courses that had a large test bank, so I could identify the question types I was struggling with and focus on that type (I jumped 158 on my practice test to 163 during the actual). You seem to have taken a lot of undergrad quant classes, but maybe taking a stats class this summer would help as well. Still, the GRE is only one aspect of your app!

You could also focus on playing up quantitative aspects of your job in your resume and SOP - GSPP, Heinz, and Ford all give you a ton of space in the SOP to really dive into your work experience. Maybe once you complete your VISTA year, you could look for jobs that focus on budgeting and data analysis.

Have you considered pursuing an MPH?

Hope this helps!

Edited by ct9816

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1 hour ago, ct9816 said:

You could also focus on playing up quantitative aspects of your job in your resume and SOP - GSPP, Heinz, and Ford all give you a ton of space in the SOP to really dive into your work experience.

SIPA requires a Quantitative Resume as part of the application and that is where I was able to deep dive into not just course descriptions but also the quant aspects of my job (and my life)...you'd be surprised what may fall into the quantitative category if you really put some thought into it. 

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8 hours ago, ct9816 said:

Hey @Alphyn

It looks like you have great internship experience and your GPA is in range.

Like you mentioned, I think your quant score is the weakest area of your app. Most of the schools on your list pride themselves on their quantitative rigor, so I think you should shoot to at least get over the 155 mark (160 would be best!). With a 149, I think Heinz and Ford might also be a reach right now - Heinz's bottom 25 percentile mark is a 153 - Ford doesn't list theirs, but based on applicant's posted scores this year, I would guess it was a bit higher. I was able to up my quant score using one of self-paced courses that had a large test bank, so I could identify the question types I was struggling with and focus on that type (I jumped 158 on my practice test to 163 during the actual). You seem to have taken a lot of undergrad quant classes, but maybe taking a stats class this summer would help as well. Still, the GRE is only one aspect of your app!

You could also focus on playing up quantitative aspects of your job in your resume and SOP - GSPP, Heinz, and Ford all give you a ton of space in the SOP to really dive into your work experience. Maybe once you complete your VISTA year, you could look for jobs that focus on budgeting and data analysis.

Have you considered pursuing an MPH?

Hope this helps!

Thanks for the response c.

I forgot to add Fletcher as another reach school. They're surprisingly hospitable to VISTAs and they have a lot alumni in the area I want to work in. 

Yeah, I did get the impression that schools really like you to be above the 70th percentile in quant. I don't know whether it was just first time anxiety or not studying the quant the right way that did me in, but whatever happened it was a rather rude shock. I had used Magoosh previously, but maybe Manhattan is better? The one practice test I took from them was definitely closer to how the test was then anything I did before or after. I'm also looking into some online stats and data science courses. Biggest problem for me is cost. A family member agreed to help  me with this one, but any other attempts I'll have to work on myself. As a VISTA, I really can't throw money around that much and the test/course fees could be unsustainable. Does ETS wave the fee for Americorp service people?

I'm definitely looking into jobs that focus more on quant skills, but my service term doesn't end for a whille, so that's a ways off. My current job isn't quant focused, but I have had to do some quant research while making policy plans and memos, so I can play that up.

I have seriously considered an MPH as another path, especially since my interests (inequality, health policy, global health) all line up with the more 'policy oriented side of the degree. I figure most public health schools would still be pretty strict about quant though, maybe even more then Public Affairs programs.

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Hi, everyone. I'm an international architecture undergraduate (5 year) on my last year of the program. I've been admitted to University of Manchester in UK (2016 entry) and will be doing an urban design & planning master for a year. Then I would like to apply to another master program (2018 entry, preferably less than 18 months) in something related to HCI/User Experience which doesn't require computer science/programming background in US. 

 

Program: Human-Computer Interaction/User Experience

Schools Applying To:  U Washington, NYU, Georgia Tech, Northwestern U

Undergraduate institution: Non famous asian university

Undergraduate GPA: 2.9

Undergraduate Majors: Architecture

Postgraduate institution: University of Manchester (2016 entry) 

Postgraduate assumed GPA: hign 2.1/65%+/ merit

Postgraduate Major : Urban Design & International Planning

GRE:  In the process of studying, assumed V: 150-155, Q:165+, AW:4 

IELTS: 7.5 (might be waived when apply)

Age:  24 when entering

Years of Work Experience: None


Internships: 2 months as an architecture intern 


Strength of SOP:  Planning to talk about my 'strong' design background (6 years) & postgraduate experience. 


Strength of LOR: Assumed all from professors in University of Manchester.

Concerns:  Low GPA in undergraduate, especially low grades in higher maths & computer related course (only 2). I hope the master program in UK can increases the chances of me being admitted to a better School in US as the HCI/UX/CS related programs are very competitive and I see most of the applicants who did there undergraduate in US have very high GPA. Does it help much if I try my best to get a Distinction in PG? Also my GRE verbal and aw will be lower than average for sure. 


Thanks. 

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone, long time lurker and first time poster. Would appreciate your feedback on my application and details. Thanks! 

Program: Masters in International Affairs and Public Policy 

Schools Applying To:  Columbia SIPA, JHU SAIS, Georgetown, Harvard Kennedy School

Undergraduate GPA: 3.65

Undergraduate Majors:  International Relations  

Undergrad Institution: Public Ivy 

GRE:  In the process of studying, assumed V: 158-160 Q: 158-160 , AW: 5  


Age:  27 when entering

Years of Work Experience: 3.5 years 


Work Experience:  Marketing at small firm overseas (1.5 year), Digital Marketing at International Firm overseas (1.5 years), and 3 months volunteer at a NGO


Strength of SOP:  Will emphasis my overseas experience working with private and public sectors (Fortune 500 and World Bank) 


Strength of LOR: 1 previous co-worker, 1 or 2 professors, and 1 head of NGO. 

Concerns: 1) one NP (not pass) course

                   2) lowish GRE - what's the average to to get into SIPA?

                   3) No big namer employer experience although have done internships at Merrill Lynch and a big corporation

                   4) Generic LOR since I attended a larger public school with big class size...I aced all their classes and know them on a face to face basis. 

Would welcome all help and advice. I am worried about my GRE score most since this is an aspect I can still change. 

 

Thanks. 

Edited by MPPhomes

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On 3/14/2016 at 5:10 PM, belocali said:

Hi all! I am aiming for an MPP in a few years, am finishing up my last undergrad semester now. If anyone would be willing to give me feedback on where I stand right now, I would really appreciate it! :)

Age: 24

Program: MPA/MPP - focusing on education and social policy

School Applying to: considering UCLA, Evans School at Washington U (interested in social policy concentration)

Undergrad Institution: a popular CSU campus 

Undergrad GPA: currently 3.812, aiming to graduate magna cum laude 

Degree: BA in Human Development, French & Francophone Studies minor 

GRE: not yet taken!

Languages: English & 8 years of French education 

Quant Experience: not so good! C in stats, going to retake at a community for a higher grade along with an economics course (never took one in undergrad)

Work Experience: 

  • 3 years experience at a Nonprofit helping families/children in multiple positions (not full time). Currently I do database administration, generate reports, and audit documents. In the past within the same org I have worked directly with elementary and middle schoolers as a tutor and an after school program staff.
  • I've also been working this year with a professor on two research projects relating to child welfare, mental health, and the educational system. Mostly I have been doing lit reviews, but I may work on a pilot study later this semester. I have used my French language skills while working on both these projects.
  • I have also provided private one-on-one tutoring for a year to help a HS senior pass her IB French exam. 
  • I have done some minor volunteering, all at Nonprofits (Special Olympics, economic/ job development org)

LORs:

  • Professor I am doing research with currently has expressed she will write me a strong letter and has said I have been one of her strongest students.
  • currently looking into building relationships with other faculty, have a few in mind
  • considering asking my current boss at my nonprofit to be a rec

Background: I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal narrative as it can apply to my applications. Education has been a big theme in my family background, as my family did not have access to free public secondary education in their youth in fascist Portugal and were economically disadvantaged. My mother was fortunate enough to receive scholarship from her aunt who lived in the United States and so was able to attend high school. This greatly affected her life in a positive way by way of personal development and economic opportunity. Subsequently she has greatly pushed the importance of education with my sister and I. I have been very passionate about social services, education, social inequity and honestly would not be satisfied with my life if I did not pursue a career that in some way would have a positive impact on society. I believe it would benefit me to further develop these thoughts and weave them into my personal statement.

Notes:

  • I'm considering looking into Americorps programs for leadership experience.
  • I'm currently applying for an internship with a local representative (who also is passionate about education/social inequity).
  • I'm also looking into a research internship with a county government.
  • I'm also looking into JusticeCorps, an Americorps program that helps client with legal paperwork  - not sure if relevant ?
  • Also looking into the Executive Fellowship program in Sacramento 

All in all, I believe I should look for other opportunities to further round out my resume focusing on social services, education, research, and policy.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thoughts?

Weaknesses?

Any advice on programs to look into for education/social policy?

I appreciate any and all input! :) 

 

 

 

Hello! I'm also interested in social/education policy and am headed to an MPP program in the fall. Overall you sound like a competitive applicant, but obviously not quite ready to apply yet. I think there are some big missing pieces to the puzzle right now. First would be the GRE, obviously. It's not the entirety of the application, but it does help place what schools you would be competitive at. For example, right now I would say you are very competitive at both UCLA and Evans, but if you're scoring low 140s on the GRE then that may not be the case. Have you taken any practice tests? I would suggest aiming for a high 150s or 160+ score on both sections to really put you at the top of the game for these schools. The second thing really is work experience. I graduated in 2014 and spent the 2 years since as a teacher for Teach for America, which really tied together the narrative for my education policy focused application. If I were you I would be looking at public service corps (Justice Corps and Americorps are both good options, even if what you do isn't directly relevant to education!), or salaried jobs with NGOs, nonprofits, etc. They are going to want to see full time work experience, probably not more post-grad internships! This of course isn't a rule, but will likely be helpful. If you don't get a job directly related to education, I'd suggest picking up some education related volunteering-- most libraries have volunteer tutoring and many non-profits do, as well. Doesn't have to be a lot- maybe 3-6 hours a month! You are definitely on your way to being competitive (at schools like HKS, Berkeley, Ford too!), but just need to round it all out in the next year or two! 

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Hello,

Summer is coming up and I want to eliminate a few schools off of my list. After researching classes, employment statistics and professors, here is my current list: HKS, SIPA, SAIS, MSFS, Fletcher, Elliott, American, Yale and Princeton. 

I'm interested in development and emerging markets (i-banking, world bank, etc.) and maybe the foreign service in the near future. I would like my curriculum to be bent on quant courses. 

Quick stats:
Major: Biology
GPA: 3.2 
GRE: 154V/161Q/4.0. 
WE: 2+ Peace Corps
Languages: 3
Quantitative Skills: Statistics, Micro, Macro, Calculus

Which schools should I cross off the list? 

 

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Hi all.

Another international student here. Would be very grateful if anyone could give me feedback on my profile. I've listed my main stats and then put some questions/concerns at the end.

Program: MPP/MPA/MA

Schools Applying To:  Still deciding, but most likely SAIS MA, Princeton WWS and HKS MPP. Maybe Columbia SIPA MPA.

Undergrad Institution: One of the top universities in my home country (globally it usually ranks somewhere around 30).

Undergraduate GPA: First class honours (I think it equates to around 3.9 in US system). I did study abroad at a well-known US college for a semester and got A's in my econ classes.

Undergraduate Major:  Econ, but took quite a few maths classes from the math & stats department.

GRE: Haven't taken yet.

Years of Work Experience: Around 4 years of full-time work experience.

Languages: None (native english speaker) but plan on starting one this year.

Work Experience:  Since graduating I've worked as an economist/analyst in a national government department. Worked in several different areas and published a few policy/research papers. All very relevant to areas I plan on concentrating in during the MPA/MA.

Questions/Concerns: 

  1. I probably won't be able to attend SAIS/SIPA/HKS if I don't get some funding - can anyone recommend other programs that have good econ/quant training that may provide some funding? (Chicago Harris?)
  2. I haven't had any contact with any of my former professors since I graduated, so I'm not sure if I can get a strong academic letter of recommendation. Is it normal to only have professional LORs?
  3. Does it matter that I got less than A in a few 'soft' courses (think poetry etc) that I had to take while on exchange in the US? Or do people only care about grades in econ/quant/IR courses? Worth mentioning in the SOP?
  4. Does it matter if I don't speak a foreign language for any of the schools listed?

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