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

774 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, macropolo said:

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?

1.) It depends on what you want to go for in terms of a concentration. Besides Harris, I'd also look into Michigan Ford and Carnegie Mellon Heinz. Both have a reputation for being quantitatively rigorous. I'd look into Fletcher too. They don't emphasize econ as much as SAIS does, but they will allow you to customize your degree to make it more quantitatively rigorous. 

2.) I know most programs say they like to see at least one academic LOR, but if you have enough work experience in your field that may counterbalance it. You mentioned doing several research papers at your job, so people who were involved with you on those projects should be able to fill a similar niche. 

3.) If the relevant courses, GRE scores, SOPs, and work experience are good, admissions probably won't care that you got a few lower grades here and there. You got first class honors, so they definitely won't be bad enough to sink your application. 

4.) Since it looks like you're going into IR/ID, having a second language relevant to your area of interest helps a lot. I know that at the very least SIPA, SAIS, and Fletcher like to see applicants have some proficiency beforehand.

Overall though, if you do well enough on the GRE you've got a solid shot at all of those schools. The real question is funding, and I'm honestly still learning how to navigate that wonderful world myself. 

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3 hours ago, macropolo said:

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?

1. Start looking at some public schools too- Michigan, Berkeley. They are significantly cheaper usually, even if you're out of state. I would also look at Duke Sanford because they are known for giving out hefty fellowships and assistantships to nearly everyone they admit. My experience with Chicago was that they give out almost no funding so that one might be tough too. 

2. I would try to reach out to some of your old professors even though you don't still stay in touch. They are likely used to that sort of situation. Most places will want at least 1 academic, although this is likely less important in MPP/MPAs than in MAs since it's professional vs academic programs.

3.  They probably won't care about a few bad classes here and there especially if they aren't related to the field of study. I had a C in a psych class on my transcript and was fine. 

4. Depends on if you are interested in IR or not really. It's nice to have some low proficiency in another language no matter what (you could definitely take online classes to fulfill this), but IR focused applicants typically are at least somewhat proficient in a language relevant to the area they want to work in.

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On 4/18/2016 at 4:54 AM, SDtoMPP said:

1. Start looking at some public schools too- Michigan, Berkeley. They are significantly cheaper usually, even if you're out of state. I would also look at Duke Sanford because they are known for giving out hefty fellowships and assistantships to nearly everyone they admit. My experience with Chicago was that they give out almost no funding so that one might be tough too. 

2. I would try to reach out to some of your old professors even though you don't still stay in touch. They are likely used to that sort of situation. Most places will want at least 1 academic, although this is likely less important in MPP/MPAs than in MAs since it's professional vs academic programs.

3.  They probably won't care about a few bad classes here and there especially if they aren't related to the field of study. I had a C in a psych class on my transcript and was fine. 

4. Depends on if you are interested in IR or not really. It's nice to have some low proficiency in another language no matter what (you could definitely take online classes to fulfill this), but IR focused applicants typically are at least somewhat proficient in a language relevant to the area they want to work in.

Your advice is very much appreciated! Can I ask what sort of funding (if any) you were offered by Sanford, Goldman & McCourt? And did they mention if there are opportunities to be a TA/RA? Thanks again.

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5 hours ago, macropolo said:

Your advice is very much appreciated! Can I ask what sort of funding (if any) you were offered by Sanford, Goldman & McCourt? And did they mention if there are opportunities to be a TA/RA? Thanks again.

Sure! Goldman I wasn't offered anything, but I'm in-state and they have a really awesome TA/RA job system so that apparently anyone who really wants one will get a position. Plus TA/RA has partial fee remission and wages so that's great.

Duke offered me $18K fellowship for the first year with the likelihood of it being renewed and a $4K assistantship.

McCourt offered me $10K per semester for both years.

 

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Posted (edited)

Greetings! I am posting basically for the same reason everyone else is, I am worried I wont get into my top choice school.

Undergraduate: Double major in National Secuirty/Intelligence and Political Science at a small D2 school in West Virginia. Graduated early with a 3.9 GPA. Was a research fellow with the State Legislature, was student body president, did a few short terms trips abroad with the school, wrote for the school paper, tutored for ESL, and some other stuff that not that remarkable

Work Experience: I am currently a Teach for America corps member based in rural North Carolina. I teach Special Education. I will apply to graduate school with two years teaching experience.

I plan on taking the GRE in July or August then immediately applying.

My top choices are UNC Chapel Hill MPA, and Johns Hopkins MPP. Also considering some programs in the DC area.

My question is how high on the GRE do I need to score to get into UNC MPA? How high would I need to score to get a TA/RA slot? What about JHU MPP?

 

I would really appreciate some feedback here, thank you so much!

Edited by SeanORaff33

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On 2/7/2016 at 1:40 PM, Talbs said:

You know honestly, UNC-CH is essentially a "dream school" to me, but I had convinced myself there was no chance in hell at getting accepted, so there was no need to waste my cash. On the off chance I was accepted, I didn't know if 55k for the program there would be worth the premium, compared to an MPA from somewhere like Clemson that would cost half as much. I will give these schools some thought.

If I enter an MPA program, I will do a specialization/concentration in either Town/City/County Management, or Public Finance. All of my work experience has been with departments within county government. I just didn't know if I should completely sell out and only apply to schools that are begging for applicants, or if maybe schools within the Top 100 should be on my list.

The online MPA@UNC would be a pretty good bet for admittance, but you will get charged the out of state rate. NC State also offers an MPA program, so there are options other than unaccredited schools. I think you could definitely get into some top 100 programs. You know your numbers aren't great, but you have a high AWA and 4 years of relevant experience. You will not be the worst applicant in any MPA program you apply to.

 

hope this helps

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Posted (edited)

On 4/29/2016 at 8:31 AM, SeanORaff33 said:

Greetings! I am posting basically for the same reason everyone else is, I am worried I wont get into my top choice school.

Undergraduate: Double major in National Secuirty/Intelligence and Political Science at a small D2 school in West Virginia. Graduated early with a 3.9 GPA. Was a research fellow with the State Legislature, was student body president, did a few short terms trips abroad with the school, wrote for the school paper, tutored for ESL, and some other stuff that not that remarkable

Work Experience: I am currently a Teach for America corps member based in rural North Carolina. I teach Special Education. I will apply to graduate school with two years teaching experience.

I plan on taking the GRE in July or August then immediately applying.

My top choices are UNC Chapel Hill MPA, and Johns Hopkins MPP. Also considering some programs in the DC area.

My question is how high on the GRE do I need to score to get into UNC MPA? How high would I need to score to get a TA/RA slot? What about JHU MPP?

 

I would really appreciate some feedback here, thank you so much!

I got into the UNC-CH MPA program with very similar credentials.  Teach for America in New Orleans (however, I'm finishing up my 3rd year here), was heavily involved with student government in college, tutored ESL, etc.

My GRE was V: 160, Q: 154, and Writing: 5.0.

They have an interview, and their cohort is only about 25 people, but I don't think that many people apply to it. It's definitely a quieter MPA program compared to all the other big ones on here.

Eventually, I declined, because they only gave me $5,000 against $60,000, and I figured I would do an Ivy for that cost. Good luck to you, however!

Edited by candrew14

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21 hours ago, candrew14 said:

I got into the UNC-CH MPA program with very similar credentials.  Teach for America in New Orleans (however, I'm finishing up my 3rd year here), was heavily involved with student government in college, tutored ESL, etc.

My GRE was V: 160, Q: 154, and Writing: 5.0.

They have an interview, and their cohort is only about 25 people, but I don't think that many people apply to it. It's definitely a quieter MPA program compared to all the other big ones on here.

Eventually, I declined, because they only gave me $5,000 against $60,000, and I figured I would do an Ivy for that cost. Good luck to you, however!

Thanks so much @candrew14 And this was for the full-time on campus MPA?

I've also heard that there is a significant in-state bias, any truth to that?

 I'm just beginning my grad school app process so I don't know much, but 25 seems like a REALLY small cohort. 

 

Good luck with the rest of your third year!

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Posted (edited)

On 5/1/2016 at 9:12 AM, SeanORaff33 said:

Thanks so much @candrew14 And this was for the full-time on campus MPA?

I've also heard that there is a significant in-state bias, any truth to that?

 I'm just beginning my grad school app process so I don't know much, but 25 seems like a REALLY small cohort. 

 

Good luck with the rest of your third year!

I'm not sure about the in-state bias.  But yeah, it's a tiny program.  And yes, my app was for the on-campus.  During my interview, I actually drilled them on why they seemed to focus so much of their marketing and energy on the online program and not the campus program.  They said it was because they were just kicking it off.

Thank you...I'm making my way through it.  Excited to be apart of the Fels (Penn) cohort in the Fall...equally small, at around 25 folks.

Edited by candrew14

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Posted (edited)

I know how this sounds....but I'm a MECHANICAL ENGINEER dreaming about a career in IR. On top of that, I'm from India. Please go through my post and any advice is super appreciated. I have been waiting to write to this post for a long time:

Program: MPP/MA-IR

Schools Applying To:  Open to suggestions, but most likely SAIS MA,Columbia SIPA MIA, Ford MPP. Batten MPP, LBJ MGPS (appears pocket friendly)

Undergrad: Mechanical Engineering (not from IITs, but in the next tier) graduated in 2014. Okay in Engineering Mathematics (which included Statistics). I think I'm at ease with some calculus. Did great in Managerial Economics (only economics module available). Overall performance - 68.5% (70%-Distinction) not sure of GPA (3.5?)

Enrolled in an MA economics (Distance-mode). Already finished diplomas in International Humanitarian Law, Environmental law. Plan on taking DELF A1 French in June and A2 in December.

GRE: 161 Q 162 V 5 AWA

TOEFL: 117/120

Work Experience: Not 'relevant', but working as Asst. Manager in a public sector insurance corporation for a year in a very poor rural district that is declared as drought-struck. Before that, I spent a year reading everything from Indian History to World Geography. I was preparing for the public sector exams and read extensively about politics, iR, sociology etc.

Volunteering: online volunteer for UNDP, and a few others, taught English for four years during college.

Not much International experience except for a high profile conference. Presented a paper at an ILO conference on unemployability among engineering graduates. Published  a few eclectic pieces in a few national dailies and an insurance journal.  

How do I weigh for the programs I mentioned above? It'd be great to know if I should go for an MA-IR or MPP with IR concentration. Also any other suggestions about good programs will be great too. How can I improve my profile to appear appealing to the admssions committee?

Apologies for being too detailed....

 

 

Edited by indianIRguy
syntax

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Posted (edited)

On 5/7/2016 at 9:35 AM, indianIRguy said:

I know how this sounds....but I'm a MECHANICAL ENGINEER dreaming about a career in IR. On top of that, I'm from India. Please go through my post and any advice is super appreciated. I have been waiting to write to this post for a long time:

Program: MPP/MA-IR

Schools Applying To:  Open to suggestions, but most likely SAIS MA,Columbia SIPA MIA, Ford MPP. Batten MPP, LBJ MGPS (appears pocket friendly)

Undergrad: Mechanical Engineering (not from IITs, but in the next tier) graduated in 2014. Okay in Engineering Mathematics (which included Statistics). I think I'm at ease with some calculus. Did great in Managerial Economics (only economics module available). Overall performance - 68.5% (70%-Distinction) not sure of GPA (3.5?)

Enrolled in an MA economics (Distance-mode). Already finished diplomas in International Humanitarian Law, Environmental law. Plan on taking DELF A1 French in June and A2 in December.

GRE: 161 Q 162 V 5 AWA

TOEFL: 117/120

Work Experience: Not 'relevant', but working as Asst. Manager in a public sector insurance corporation for a year in a very poor rural district that is declared as drought-struck. Before that, I spent a year reading everything from Indian History to World Geography. I was preparing for the public sector exams and read extensively about politics, iR, sociology etc.

Volunteering: online volunteer for UNDP, and a few others, taught English for four years during college.

Not much International experience except for a high profile conference. Presented a paper at an ILO conference on unemployability among engineering graduates. Published  a few eclectic pieces in a few national dailies and an insurance journal.  

How do I weigh for the programs I mentioned above? It'd be great to know if I should go for an MA-IR or MPP with IR concentration. Also any other suggestions about good programs will be great too. How can I improve my profile to appear appealing to the admssions committee?

Apologies for being too detailed....

 

 

You don't necessarily have to work in an NGO in order to have relevant work experience for an MPP/MA-IR. You actually have some distinct advantages that you might not even realize!

1. You worked abroad, and that to in a developing country. Big plus!

2. Your work involved engaging in a poor, rural area. People sign-up for the Peace Corps and other volunteering orgs to attain this type of experience.

3. Your work experience was in the public sector.

Nothing is for certain, but you should be a strong applicant for most if not all of the programs you have listed. Best of luck!

Edited by NoMorePartiesInLA

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Posted (edited)

Hello,

I am an international student as well! Thanks for your help

Program: MPP/MPA/MA

Schools Applying To:  SIPA, HKS, LSE

Undergrad Institution: University of Florida

Undergraduate GPA: 3.8 (Cum Laude)

Undergraduate Major:  Econ and Poli Sci.

GRE: 162 verbal / 161 math / 4 W 

Years of Work Experience: 3 years

Languages: Spanish and English (Basic Portuguese)

Work Experience:   Worked 2 years in Deloitte Venezuela as Senior Financial Adviser (M&A, valuation, etc). I quit that job and currently work at the Venezuelan National Assembly (since January) in a National Deputy's office, I also work at my political party as a public policy researcher / memo writer

Questions/Concerns: 

  1. I am worried about my writing score :/.
  2. Lack of public policy experience as such
  3. Some A- in my econ classes.
  4. Should I apply to more schools?
Edited by fgds

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Undergrad  - U.S. Coast Guard Academy

GPA/Major - 2.69/Public Policy

Quant Experience - Calculus I, Calculus II, Statistics, Macroeconomics, Statics and Engineering Design, Intro to Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ships and Maritime Systems (Naval Architecture intro class), Physics I,  and Physics II

GRE - 158Q/162V

Foreign Language - Native Korean speaker

Interested in - HKS, SIPA, and Yale's Jackson Institute.

Work Experience 

- Four and a half years as a Coast Guard Officer doing the following jobs:

 - Responsible to the Commanding Officer for the safe navigation and operation of the cutter; supervised a 7 person watch. Conned ship for 180 days of deployment at sea (Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the Bering Sea)

- Intelligence Officer onboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter: Supervised all deployment evolutions from the cutter's operations center, 11 subordinates, and responsible for the maintenance and accountability of 100+ U.S. classified materials and documents. Managed $10,000+ budget.

- Marine Inspector: Conducts safety, environmental, engineering, and security inspections on U.S. & Foreign Flag vessels (Chinese, Russian, Panama, Greek, Filipino, Korean, and many more) in U.S. waters.  Determines Compliance with U.S. and international laws, regulations, and policies. Inspects structural strength, engineering, resistance to flooding, navigation, lifesaving & firefighting systems. Extensive study and expertise in international and domestic safety and security regulations, laws, and policies. 

- Korean language translator: Translated for high seas fisheries inspections at sea, enforced international fisheries regulations and laws, gathered valuable foreign fisheries practices.

- Executive Assistant - Responsible and coordinated Commanding Officer’s and Executive Officer’s schedule, plan of the day, & administration tasks. Managed daily schedule for the entire ship served as a bridge between the command and the rest of ship. Audited and managed $2000 budget.

- Public Affairs Officer - Responsible for drafting press releases, photography, and overall media relations for the Coast Guard unit and the local and national media. 

Volunteer - Active participant in Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program, Partnership in Education

I'm well aware of my poor GPA. I have 3 years of full funding through the GI Bill and I have enough money saved up. So I will attend any of these schools with no scholarships or funding.

Here are my concerns and questions.

1. Is it worth it for me to even apply due to my GPA?

2. Should I retake the GRE? I'm not satisfied with my quant score and I lack the quant experience because my grades in the classes I mentioned above are not that great.

3. How can I improve my chances besides re taking the GRE?

4. Should I take a Microeconomics class?

Thank you all so much for your help.

 

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Posted (edited)

Program: MPP/MA-IR - education and/or environmental policy

School Applying to: Not sure, a public US university or somewhere abroad

Undergrad: BA Economics big top 40 US university

Undergrad GPA: 2.9 (3.2 last 73 credit hours)

GRE: Haven't taken yet

Languages: Beginning Spanish (took 2016, got an A), on transcript: Intermediate Japanese 1, but that was 14 years ago (I'm 31) 

Quant Experience: 
The Good:
Calc3 B+, 2016
Discrete Math B, 2016
Intermediate Micro Theory B-
Intermediate Macro Theory B
Intro Econ Stats B
Natural Resource Econ B
Environmental Econ B-

The Bad:
Trig F (online class I let slip in 2008)
Intro to Abstract D- (2005)
Calc3 D+ (retook this spring, got a B+)

Other related courses:
UD Mountain Geography B+, 2015
UD Education with classroom experience, 2 courses, both A's

Work Experience: 
Since finishing undergrad I have had some career progression through outdoor education as well as international work experience:

-2 months musician merchandise manager in Europe, 9 countries, 32 cities
-4 months New Zealand, ski instructor
-5 winters ski instructor in the USA (numerous awards and certifications), 6 summers swim coach
-2 winters manager/trainer of ski school of 45 instructors (in-house promotion)
-3 summers ground crew/ramphand at a small airport
-Nationally certified EMT (2015)
-Maybe 100 hours tutoring/classroom teaching experience

LORs: This will be my weakest. My direct supervisor at my ski school management position knows me well and will be a strong letter. But my other 2 LORs will come from professors that really don't know me.

Notes:

  • I am considering teaching abroad (likely China) before applying. This would put me at Fall 2018 admissions, I'd be 33 years old. Too old to make this career switch from outdoor educator to IR policy? I would like to work internationally eventually, though I've never been to a third world country (closest are Slovenia and Croatia). 
  • Currently enrolled in an upper division Poli Sci course: Current Events in IR
  • I'm continuing to learn Spanish on my own. It's one of the bigger priorities in my life right now.
Edited by snowandmountains

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On 5/26/2016 at 9:00 PM, jic8989 said:

Undergrad  - U.S. Coast Guard Academy

GPA/Major - 2.69/Public Policy

Quant Experience - Calculus I, Calculus II, Statistics, Macroeconomics, Statics and Engineering Design, Intro to Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ships and Maritime Systems (Naval Architecture intro class), Physics I,  and Physics II

GRE - 158Q/162V

Foreign Language - Native Korean speaker

Interested in - HKS, SIPA, and Yale's Jackson Institute.

Work Experience 

- Four and a half years as a Coast Guard Officer doing the following jobs:

 - Responsible to the Commanding Officer for the safe navigation and operation of the cutter; supervised a 7 person watch. Conned ship for 180 days of deployment at sea (Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the Bering Sea)

- Intelligence Officer onboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter: Supervised all deployment evolutions from the cutter's operations center, 11 subordinates, and responsible for the maintenance and accountability of 100+ U.S. classified materials and documents. Managed $10,000+ budget.

- Marine Inspector: Conducts safety, environmental, engineering, and security inspections on U.S. & Foreign Flag vessels (Chinese, Russian, Panama, Greek, Filipino, Korean, and many more) in U.S. waters.  Determines Compliance with U.S. and international laws, regulations, and policies. Inspects structural strength, engineering, resistance to flooding, navigation, lifesaving & firefighting systems. Extensive study and expertise in international and domestic safety and security regulations, laws, and policies. 

- Korean language translator: Translated for high seas fisheries inspections at sea, enforced international fisheries regulations and laws, gathered valuable foreign fisheries practices.

- Executive Assistant - Responsible and coordinated Commanding Officer’s and Executive Officer’s schedule, plan of the day, & administration tasks. Managed daily schedule for the entire ship served as a bridge between the command and the rest of ship. Audited and managed $2000 budget.

- Public Affairs Officer - Responsible for drafting press releases, photography, and overall media relations for the Coast Guard unit and the local and national media. 

Volunteer - Active participant in Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program, Partnership in Education

I'm well aware of my poor GPA. I have 3 years of full funding through the GI Bill and I have enough money saved up. So I will attend any of these schools with no scholarships or funding.

Here are my concerns and questions.

1. Is it worth it for me to even apply due to my GPA?

2. Should I retake the GRE? I'm not satisfied with my quant score and I lack the quant experience because my grades in the classes I mentioned above are not that great.

3. How can I improve my chances besides re taking the GRE?

4. Should I take a Microeconomics class?

Thank you all so much for your help.

 

1. Yes. MPP/MPA/MA IR programs relatively aren't that stringent on test scores and GPA, and IMO the rest of your profile still gives you a legitimate chance.

2. Maybe. How sure are you that you can improve it, and how high do you think you can get? If you can pass calculus and calculus-based physics courses, then you have the quant knowledge necessary to get a high score on the quant section. Quant knowledge is not sufficient obviously, but I would think a higher quant score is definitely within reach if you are decent enough at standardized tests and are willing to properly train yourself for the test.

Your test scores seem fine for SIPA, and a bit low for HKS and Yale.Your military experience and GI scholarship will help you with admission, but your GPA will likely hurt you a bit. If you think there's a good chance you can increase your quant score 4+ points, then I'd say go for it.

3. You could consider taking micro. UT, UCLA, and BYU seem to have good options available for that. The big thing I would recommend is to work hard on your essays. Maybe other users can give you ideas on what else you could do.

4. Maybe. It's definitely not necessary, but it might help your profile a small amount.

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Program: MA in security studies

Schools Applying To:  Georgetown, George Washington, GSPIA, John Hopkins, and American University

Undergrad Institution: A small liberal arts college in the south.

Undergraduate GPA: 3.97 (I graduated summa cum laude for what its worth.)

Undergraduate Major:  Psychology

GRE: I haven't taken it yet, but I was projected to get ~305

Years of Work Experience: ~6 years

Languages: English.

Work Experience:  4 years in the Marine Corps overseas working with SOFA status and international police offices. I gathered information and helped with some investigations. I am currently in the National Guard as a counter intelligence agent.

Questions/Concerns:

What steps do I need to do in order to make my application stronger?

Do I legitimately have a chance right now with any of the schools listed above?

Who would be the best people in my life to choose LOR from?

Is there a way I can get someone to look at my SOP and see if it is strong?

 

 

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Here's another one from me! May I mention I'm an International Student. Any advice will be appreciated. I'm planning on applying for 2018 fall admission but I'm wondering if it would be worth it to try my luck this year at 1-2 schools just to see how I do and get a hang of things. 

I'm aiming for top schools like Georgetown, John Hopkins and Princeton. Am I overshooting? Is it out of my league? Let me know. All below is 100% honest. 

School:

B.A. in International Relations from a top university in Mexico. 

GPA:

We don't have GPAs in Mexico but conversion tells me it's about 3.8. (93/100) I did get honors mention for being in the top 10% of my class. 

GRE score:

V: 164. Q: 157. W. 5.5 

TOEFL IBT: 120/120 (perfect score)

Work experience:

8 month half time internship at the british embassy, 7 month full time as political advisor at the Japanese Embassy. 6 month full time in the USA working for a delegation of the Mexican Ministry of Economy specialised on trade and investment. 3.5 years as an English Teacher to students from all over Latin America. 

Language skills:

Spanish: Native 

English: near-native

Portuguese: Fluent

French: advanced (C1) 

Quantitative requirements:

micro, macro, and two other political economy classes from undergrad. 

Overseas experience (work, study and teaching):

6 month study abroad semester in Sciences Po, France. 

2 month study abroad in South Korean Ivy school. 

6 month work experience in the USA (Mexican government position). 

Lived in the US for 5 years as a child. 

 

How much will my odds improve from another year or so of work? Say at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or such? Thanks. 

 

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Hey all - would appreciate a quick estimate of chances. 

Undergrad: BA Economics / Political Science from a good non-Ivy US school (Duke/UChicago/Northwestern/etc)

Work-ex: 2 years at one of the elite management consultancies (McKinsey/Bain/BCG) and six months at an IFI (World Bank, IADB, etc)

Nationality: American

GMAT: 760 [will take the GRE as well]

Shooting for:

KSG
WWS
SIPA

Basic "story" is that I'm passionate about bringing private sector efficiency to inefficient public sector institutions. Will likely apply to MBA/MPP and MBA/MPA programs, but only at the top ~3-5 public policy schools. 

Appreciate your help!

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On 3/30/2016 at 0:35 PM, SDtoMPP said:

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! 

Thank you so much for your feedback! I have not begun studying for the GRE at all just yet, but I will be starting this summer. Also, I appreciate the advice about seeking out work experience versus more internships - I was really shooting for the intern experience! Thanks again & best of luck in the fall! :)

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Posted (edited)

Program: Interested in MPP/MAIR for fall 2017, also interested in public health, specifically the intersection of public health, education, and public policy in developing countries, hoping to work in project management in international development

Schools Applying To: interested in Goldman, SIPA, Georgetown, American, GW, Yale, Princeton, Michigan, Korbel, open to suggestions

Undergrad Institution: A mid-sized liberal arts university in Texas 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.5 
Undergraduate Major:  Political Science 

GRE: Taking in 2 months 

Years of Work Experience: will be 2.5 years at enrollment time

Languages: English, Advanced French, Intermediate Hindi, Basic Punjabi 

Work Experience:  full time internships in U.S. House and Senate, Fulbright in India, AIF Clinton Fellowship in India, study abroad in West Africa and India, extensive advocacy volunteering experience for a health non-profit, critical language scholarship recipient, lettered NCAA athlete, extensive fundraising/development volunteering


Questions/Concerns: 

Concerns: work experience is mainly fellowship-based, lack of extensive office experience in the U.S.- wondering how this will affect my chances, only 2 Cs in College were in Statistics and Economics and did not take a microeconomics or calculus class, however got As in SPSS/ Quantitative research/ political methods classes  

Chances for schools listed above or suggestions? Chances for getting scholarships?

Does anyone have experience getting FLAS funding for MPP? Particularly for South Asian languages, and at Goldman, SIPA, or Ford?

Edited by asipringmppma

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On 6/7/2016 at 2:52 AM, Knivez said:

Program: MA in security studies

Schools Applying To:  Georgetown, George Washington, GSPIA, John Hopkins, and American University

Undergrad Institution: A small liberal arts college in the south.

Undergraduate GPA: 3.97 (I graduated summa cum laude for what its worth.)

Undergraduate Major:  Psychology

GRE: I haven't taken it yet, but I was projected to get ~305

Years of Work Experience: ~6 years

Languages: English.

Work Experience:  4 years in the Marine Corps overseas working with SOFA status and international police offices. I gathered information and helped with some investigations. I am currently in the National Guard as a counter intelligence agent.

Questions/Concerns:

What steps do I need to do in order to make my application stronger?

Do I legitimately have a chance right now with any of the schools listed above?

Who would be the best people in my life to choose LOR from?

Is there a way I can get someone to look at my SOP and see if it is strong?

 

 

I think you'll be very competitive provided you craft a strong narrative in your SOP drawing on your work experience. Focus on making your essays as compelling as possible, and on getting a good quant score (though I think that GRE scores become less relevant the more work experience you have). 

Use referees who know you well, who are willing to work with you to make a great LOR, and can back up the argument you craft in your essays with their own examples. If that means prioritising work colleagues over academic referees, go for it. I can only speak from my own experience but I think you can still be a very good applicant without having academic referees if you have 5+ yrs work experience and have been out of undergrad a long time. I just used work colleagues (not even very senior ones, just people who knew me well with 'good enough' job titles) in my LORs and it didn't harm my prospects at all. Showing my SOPs to friends and colleagues helped me to tighten up the structure and narrative, but there's a forum on gradcafe that you can use as well. 

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Program: MPP/MPA as well as International Development/IR

Schools Applying To:   John's Hopkins, Indiana-Bloomington, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Univ of Washington

Undergrad Institution: 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.6

Undergraduate Major:  Environmental Conservation

GRE: Haven't taken yet.

Years of Work Experience: ~1

Languages: Basic Spanish and Albanian

Work Experience:  Spent a summer interning for the U.S federal government in American Samoa working on environmental issues. About to start a Fulbright research grant in Kosovo looking at drought management

Questions/Concerns: 

Need funding or some sort of scholarship to help with tuition. I am just curious to see how competitive I could be for some of these programs

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Program: Security Studies

Schools applying to: American, GW, Georgetown, Korbel, Pitt, Bush I am open to suggestions!

Undergraduate institution: Large Public School in the South

Undergraduate GPA: 3.336. I had a rough first semester but upward trend from there

Undergraduate Major: BA in Political Science and International Studies (double major)

Undergraduate Minor: French

Study Abroad: Brussels, Belgium

GRE: Taking it in the next month

Age: 22, will be 23 upon enrolling

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): will be 1

Years of Work Experience:  Currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA in my gap year. I interned at a US Embassy in Europe for 3 months in the Political/Econ section. By the time I enroll I will have over a years worth of experience. I worry this isn't enough.

Volunteer: I am a Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteer. I also have extensive volunteer work in my community

Organizations: Sorority (held position), College Republicans,

Awards: Dean's list, Global Studies Award (program through my university that awards students who studied abroad and focused their studies on learning how to conduct business/relations with different nations and cultures)

Languages: French

Quant: I took Macro/Micro but they were not my finest moments.

I have some concerns and worries that my GPA is too low. My projected GRE scores seem strong but I wont know until i actually take it. I worry that I don't have enough experience to be a competitive candidate

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Programs: Comparative Literature

Undergrad Institution: Duke

Undergrad GPA: 3.88

Undergrad Major:  Visual Arts

GRE: Haven't taken yet

Work Experience: Currently a senior, planning to work for 1 ~ 2 years first

Languages: English, Korean, Japanese (limited)

Questions/Concerns: My main concern is the fact that I'm a Visual Arts major applying to comparative literature programs. My top choices are interdisciplinary ones (Brown's MCM, Stanford's MTL, NYU's MCC, etc.), but I am also hoping to apply to literature based programs. I'm working with a professor next semester to work on a literature research paper, but besides him, the only other professors that could write me letters of recommendations are for visual arts and visual studies. With my academic background, would it make more sense to start with a MA than a PhD? I would prefer not to, considering the time/money investment, but also don't want to apply to a PhD if I won't be competitive enough just yet. Thanks!

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