Welcome to the GradCafe

Hello!  Welcome to The GradCafe Forums.You're welcome to look around the forums and view posts.  However, like most online communities you must register before you can create your own posts.  This is a simple, free process that requires minimal information. Benefits of membership:

  • Participate in discussions
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Search forums
  • Removes some advertisements (including this one!)
fenderpete

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

887 posts in this topic

Programs: MA (GU SSP, AU SIS, GWU SPS, SAIS, Fletcher, Jackson), MPA (WWS, SIPA), MPP (HKS)

 

Interests: Foreign policy, national security, terrorism, non-state actors, conflict resolution, behavioral economics applications to diplomacy

 

Undergrad institution: Midsize state school in a large state

 

Undergraduate majors: Economics and Finance 

 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.6; Econ 4.0; Finance 3.85 

 

Quant Courses: Calc 1, Calc 2, Stats, Econometrics, Advanced Econometrics, Time Series Analysis, Intermediate Macro, Intermediate Micro, International Trade, and like 10-15 other finance and econ courses 

 

GRE: 167Q 159V 4.0W

 

Age: 25

 

Work Experience: 2 years at investment firm; 1 year at state 

 

Undergrad activities: Student Body President, Fraternity President, student investment fund, and a plethora of other activities. 

 

Languages: none

 

LoRs: Undecided. Close relationship with multiple undergrad professors and bosses I've worked for. 

 

Concerns: low verbal GRE. Not as much IR experience. Mediocre gpa from an unknown school. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Program/Institution: (All MPA/MPPs) SIPA, NYU Wagner, UC-Harris, Georgetown, Fletcher, GWU

Interests: International Dev/Public Policy/Global Security

Undergrad Institution: Large public university

Undergraduate Major: B.A. in International Relations/Russian

Undergraduate Minor: Aerospace Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 3.65

Quantitative Courses: None!

GRE: Prepping, will take this Autumn

Age: 30

Years of Work Experience: 7 years as a military Intelligence Officer, main role being an analyst (some Special Ops experience) and long-term planner (incorporating Intel equities into Air Force policy and plans) with a focus on West and East Africa. One deployment to Djibouti, still maintain an active security clearance

Languages: Native English, advanced French, intermediate Russian

LORs: Two bosses and one Russian professor

Concerns: How to compensate for the weak quant? I'll be applying for 2018 enrollment; will it suffice to have only taken micro by the application date yet be enrolled in macro or stats? Or should I focus on finishing two courses at the expense of GRE prep? Also, assuming I score around the 70-75th percentile on the GRE, are SIPA/Harris/Fletcher/Georgetown feasible or should I lower the sights due to the weaker quant? 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Edited by Tk2356

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Program/Institution: MPA Public Administration with Emphasis in Emergency Management (UC Denver, University of South Carolina, George Mason University, Univerity of North Carolina at Charlotte) / MS Disaster Science and Management (University of Delaware)

Interests: Emergency Management, Public Policy, GIS 

Undergrad Institution: Largest minority school in Puerto Rico

Undergraduate Major: Information and Journalism, minor in Geography

Undergraduate GPA: 3.05 (3.50 in major, 3.85 in minor)

Quantitative Courses: All maths up to Calculus II, Intro to Quantitative Methods in Geography (Got an A here) 

GRE: ): low... 151V, 147Q 3.5. A lot of my programs did not require my GRE scores atleast. 

Age: 22

Years of Work Experience:  Multiple research Experience in my school (3 research projects with the Department of Geography using GIS) and REU experience working on emergency management plans, and currently researching in a Atmospheric Chem. lab. 5 conference poster presentationes, 1 oral presentation, one paper from my REU. 

Undergraduate Activities: Mentoring freshman students, A lot of community service hours recollecting disaster relief items for local and international entities, visiting childrens hospitals and orphanages, writing for school paper and other student papers, student counselor for field trips in the Geogrpahy department. 

Languages: Fluent in English and Spanish. 

LORs: One from my REU mentor, one from my main mentor in the Geography research projects and one from a mentor/professor for my intro public service course. Very strong letters from all of them. 

Concerns: I have a lot of activities and research experience in my CV but I'm extremely concerned my GPA and GRE score would drag me down anyways. I did address in my SOP the reasons of why my GPA was like that, that was a main reason why I got into my REU. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Program/Institution: MPA -  Public Administration

Applying to: Northeastern, Suffolk, UMass Boston, Brown, Syracuse, UConn, and Brandeis.  #1 choice is Brown because I live in RI so it would be super convenient. And to put it simply - it's Brown.  If Brown doesn't happen, which I wouldn't be shocked, my next picks are UMass Boston and UConn.  

Interests: Education policy, unemployment insurance(weird interest, I know), health care reform

Undergrad Institution:  local school, phenomenal school but is not really well known.    
Undergraduate Major: Dual Major: Political Science & Public Administration, Minor: Geography

Undergraduate GPA: 3.72 

Quantitative Courses: Methodology in Political Science (got the highest score in the class)

GRE: ): 155V, 150Q.  My AW isn't in yet, but the last time I took the GRE I got 4.5 on the AW.  Not where I wanted to be but a lot better than where I started (first time I took the GRE I got 148 on both Verbal and Quant.  

Age: 26

Years of Work Experience:  I worked in banking for about 5 years prior to quitting and going back to school.  I've interned for a Congress member in both DC and here in RI.  Prior to that, I interned for a city planning office. Currently, I'm interning for a governmental agency dealing with unemployment insurance.  

Undergraduate Activities: Secretary of Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honor Society), a member of Political Science Club, helped a professor with a research project for arts and humanities funding.  

Languages: Fluent in English, can speak very very basic Spanish.  

LORs: Very strong letters from the chair of my department, former dean of the college and current professor, and a professor who also runs the MPA program at the local university who I had for a couple of classes.    

Concerns: I'm nervous that my GRE scores aren't where they should be and that my undergraduate institution will hold me back.  It really is a phenomenal school, but it doesn't have name recognition.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone here applied to GWU for MPP? or well heard back from them. My application is under review. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Program: MPP

Schools Applying To:  Harvard - Kennedy, Duke - Sanford, Georgetown - McCourt, Chicago - Harris, Michigan - Ford, Texas - LBJ

Interests: education policy, social policy, economic inequality / policy

Undergrad Institution: top 100 liberal arts college

Undergraduate GPA: 3.54, major GPA 3.76

Undergraduate Major: History

GRE: 162V (90th %), 160Q (76th %), 4.5W (82nd %)

Quantitative Courses: Intro to Microeconomics (A+), Statistics (B), Intro to Computer Science (A), Calc I (C+)

Years of Work Experience: 5.5

Age: 27

Languages: English

Work Experience: Teach For America alumnus, taught middle school social studies for two years. Then worked in administration and operations at a high performing non-profit charter school network (I was part of 4 person leadership team that founded an elementary school) for two years. Recruiter with Teach For America for past year and a half. Solid quantitative results in each role.

LORs: I anticipate they'll be strong -- one from my current manager at TFA, and two from former teammates that I managed.

SOPs: Addressed my identity as a straight, white male and how I seek to advocate for / raise the voices of those that do not share my identities of privilege through the skills and experience I would gain through an MPP program.

Concerns: I have a number of concerns about my competitiveness.

  • Lack of quantitative background: I took some introductory STEM-related courses in college and have mixed results from those classes. That, combined with my middling GRE quant score, gives me pause about my chances.
  • Undergraduate record is not outstanding. Low-ish GPA from a decently respected but relatively unknown liberal arts school.
  • No foreign language fluency. I used have very basic Spanish proficiency but I am no longer confident even listing it at a low level now.
  • No academic letters of recommendation. I was close with some of my history professors in college but thought I was too far removed from undergrad for them to be able to speak to my current credentials and experience.
  • Only real professional experience is in education. I have interests and passions beyond education, thus part of the reason I'm looking to branch out with an MPP, but no policy experience in different realms.

Would love feedback on my potential competitiveness (especially from you @Connie @ TheArtofApplying and @chocolatecheesecake!) as I anxiously await decisions on admissions and funding!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Program/Institution: (All MPA/MSPPMs) NYU, GW, American, CMU, Pitt, UNC

Interests: City/Non-Profit Management

Undergrad Institution: US News Top 25 Liberal Arts College

Undergraduate Major: B.A. in Political Science + Geography (double major with separate capstones)

Undergraduate Concentration: Urban Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 3.64

Quantitative Courses: Research Methods for Social Sciences, Intro to Econ, Intro to GIS

GRE: 160 verbal, 160 quant, 4.5 written

Undergrad Activities: RA for 2 years, organized large-scale speaker events, student body representative, ran political science honor society (including planning academic conferences), revamped campus policies for dorms and meal plans.

Undergrad Awards: Writing in social sciences, significant scholarship for women involved in the political science department, various recognitions for leadership/involvement on campus.

Age: 24

Years of Work Experience: Will be at 2 by the time I leave this job for grad school. I am a research assistant at a large policy research organization, and I use both quant and qual research methods in my work.

SOP: Shares story of my interest in urban management, coming about due to involvement in city government/politics while in high school and interest in making cities livable and beneficial for all people.

Languages: English. Conversational French and Hebrew, but nothing I plan to use in a career.

LORs: Two current supervisors I work with directly on a daily/weekly basis and one Political Science professor, who I wrote a capstone under and took many courses with.

Concerns: I want to be in a program where I can work/intern while at school, preferably in a city government role. I'm curious about what my odds are for scholarships/assistantships at these schools as well.

Thanks for your time and thoughts!

Edited by impatientlywaiting26
added info

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would love to get some feedback on my profile. I'm a journalist that has spent 4-5 years covering energy and infrastructure development internationally. Check it out:

Program/Institution interests: SAIS, SIPA, NYU IR, Georgetown MSFS, Fletcher, GWU Elliott, American SIS

Interests: energy policy and politics; infrastructure development/finance  

Undergrad Institution: Top 25 Private University, US

Undergraduate Major: B.A. Economics; B.A. Philosophy

Undergraduate GPA: 3.75

Quant courses: As in Calc I, Calc II, Calc III, Economics Statistics, Econometrics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics

GRE/GMAT: I scored a 720 on the GMAT (95%ile); however, my quant score was on the lower side at 43 (~55%ile).

Age: 26

Years of work experience: 5 (by the time I apply). My first job was as a reporter at a subsidiary of the Financial Times; I wrote about US-China trade and the energy sector. I then took a gig at an energy intelligence service covering oil politics, transportation and the federal government politics/public policy; then I took a senior roleat a start-up energy/industrial/infrastructure-focused intelligence and data provider. As part of my work I have traveled extensively in China and India; I’ve also made trips to Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Mexico City and a few other international destinations.

Foreign language proficiency: elementary French. I'd like to learn Chinese.

LORS: one from a SIPA grad, another from a well-respected energy consultant in DC, a third from a dean at my undergrad institution.

Concerns: My GMAT quant is a little low. Is it necessary to retake the test or do my college grades and work experience make up for it?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/10/2017 at 3:48 AM, dwestlakeg said:

Program: MPP

Schools Applying To:  Harvard - Kennedy, Duke - Sanford, Georgetown - McCourt, Chicago - Harris, Michigan - Ford, Texas - LBJ

Interests: education policy, social policy, economic inequality / policy

Undergrad Institution: top 100 liberal arts college

Undergraduate GPA: 3.54, major GPA 3.76

Undergraduate Major: History

GRE: 162V (90th %), 160Q (76th %), 4.5W (82nd %)

Quantitative Courses: Intro to Microeconomics (A+), Statistics (B), Intro to Computer Science (A), Calc I (C+)

Years of Work Experience: 5.5

Age: 27

Languages: English

Work Experience: Teach For America alumnus, taught middle school social studies for two years. Then worked in administration and operations at a high performing non-profit charter school network (I was part of 4 person leadership team that founded an elementary school) for two years. Recruiter with Teach For America for past year and a half. Solid quantitative results in each role.

LORs: I anticipate they'll be strong -- one from my current manager at TFA, and two from former teammates that I managed.

SOPs: Addressed my identity as a straight, white male and how I seek to advocate for / raise the voices of those that do not share my identities of privilege through the skills and experience I would gain through an MPP program.

Concerns: I have a number of concerns about my competitiveness.

  • Lack of quantitative background: I took some introductory STEM-related courses in college and have mixed results from those classes. That, combined with my middling GRE quant score, gives me pause about my chances.
  • Undergraduate record is not outstanding. Low-ish GPA from a decently respected but relatively unknown liberal arts school.
  • No foreign language fluency. I used have very basic Spanish proficiency but I am no longer confident even listing it at a low level now.
  • No academic letters of recommendation. I was close with some of my history professors in college but thought I was too far removed from undergrad for them to be able to speak to my current credentials and experience.
  • Only real professional experience is in education. I have interests and passions beyond education, thus part of the reason I'm looking to branch out with an MPP, but no policy experience in different realms.

Would love feedback on my potential competitiveness (especially from you @Connie @ TheArtofApplying and @chocolatecheesecake!) as I anxiously await decisions on admissions and funding!

@dwestlakeg: Thanks for reaching out! I hope I can help give some context to your recommendation. First of all, I think you check almost all the boxes for a really competitive applicant to the above schools. You've done your research well, and your interests are very well-suited for those schools. I'll address your concerns one by one:

  1. You do not need a strong quant background to perform well, although it can help with funding. Many classmates will not have had any statistics or economics in undergrad, and the first semester or two of both subjects is designed for pure novices. You usually need to take a pre-requisite, but it's simply because the courses move so fast and cover so much material. They still start at the very beginning by introducing basic supply and demand curves/ defining mean, median, mode. Your GRE quant score is also better than middling!
  2. Your undergraduate record matters less the further you are from it, and you have 5.5 strong years of work experience to back it up. Not that a 3.54 counts as a low-ish GPA. I'd be more worried if you had below a 3. 
  3. If you're interested in domestic policy, you probably don't need a competency in a foreign language. It can only be a plus, but no adcom will ding you for it.
  4. No academic letters is probably something I would counsel you to remedy if you had a Time-Turner. When I applied, I decided to take two grad-level MPA classes at the university I was working at, and garnered a rec from that professor. Many people take that same route. However, the academic letters mostly speak to your academic performance, and if it's strong otherwise (looks like it from your GPA and your GRE scores), this won't detract very much. If you had a low GPA, though, then it'd be essential to get a professor to speak to how hard you tried or how far you progressed.
  5. So you don't have experience beyond education but want to study policy for other related fields like inequality and social policy. This is not really a problem, as you'll find out, because that's the case for everyone. Many of my classmates were in fact looking to transition/pivot to another field or area after a few years working in one field. It's a super common misconception that if you don't have the direct service or policy experience in a particular field, you won't be qualified to study this in policy school. I wrote something similar in another response you should read, but essentially, you'll be fine. I myself wrote an SOP very similar to yours, and it all worked out. =) 

Final tip: you should be very competitive for most of these schools, and when you get the offers, make sure to identify your favorites and leverage those financial aid packages to get more money! 

--
Connie, Admissions Consultant for The Art of Applying
Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, MPP'2016
--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone,

I'd really appreciate your inputs!
Program/Institution: Gergetown MPP (McCourt), HKS (MPP), WWS(MPA), Chicago Harris (MPP), CMU Heinz College (MSPPM-DC track), Duke Sanford (MPP)

Interests: Economic Policy Analysis, International Development, M&E

Undergrad Institution: Top 15 Liberal Art Colleges

Undergraduate Major: B.A. Political Science, Economics, Cert. in English Lit

Undergraduate GPA: 3.5

Quantitative Courses: 10 courses in economics including econometrics + stats, calculus 2, multi cal, linear algebra

GRE: V: 163 Q: 159 AW: 4

Age: 26

Years of Work Experience: 2.5 years at a large-non profit organization that allowed me to have international field work experience, working on a variety of projects from agr to education, etc. 1 year at an intl org (think UN, WB, IMF). Have held a variety of roles including data analytics and project and budget management. 

Languages: English, French (intermediate), Chinese (elementary), Thai (native)

LORs: One from my current manager of 2 years, one from executive but worked with me very closely, and one from my econ professor. I believe they are all very strong!
Personal statement: Talk about my experience growing up in a poor part of a developing country, early engagement in public policy (led a non-profit org), my observation during my work about the lack of communication between technical people and management and how i seek to bridge the gap. I should have put in more time but I was having a long and hectic international assignment...really regretted it now.

Concerns: Low GRE and GPAs, lack of work experience. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've posted in this thread before and received good feedback, but I had a pertinent question that I didn't want to start a new thread for, and couldn't find an appropriate thread to put it in.

Results have gone out for the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Insitute (PPIA JSI) fellowships, and I initially was an alternate select at Carnegie Mellon (which is a fancier way of saying "waitlisted").  Well, today I learned that everyone took their fellowship and nobody dropped, so I won't be bumped up to primary select.

My question is this: is it kosher to list an alternate selection on your resume/CV or grad school app?  Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good afternoon everyone! 

I was wondering if I could get some feedback on my chances of admission to the universities I applied to?

Program/Institution: MAIR programs at Syracuse, UVA, Boston College, and UMASS Boston

Interests: Eastern Europe/ Russia, Nationalism

Undergraduate Institution: Small, unknown state school.

Undergraduate major: Political Science/ Legal Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 2.9 Cumulative, 3.4 for my major GPAs. GPA has an upward trend. Had a few rocky semesters in the beginning of college.

Quantitative courses: Study abroad program in Bosnia (B+)

GRE scores: 160V; 155Q; 5AW

Age: 23

Work experience: Have had an internship with a prosecutor but no highly relevant work experience. Graduated in May 2016.

Languages: French (Intermediate) Russian (beginner) Serbo-Croatian (beginner) 

LORs: My letters of recommendation are very strong and comprehensive. 2 From Professors of Legal Studies and one from my IR professor.

Personal Statement: I talk about how my experience in Bosnia ultimately motivated me to study IR and focus on nationalism in Eastern Europe.

Concerns: I am worried about my low GPA and my lack of relevant work experience.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now