Looks like we have some people with a lot of experience here. Admissions offices are pretty tight lipped about what it takes to get into a given program and it seems like a lot of the data that gets out to the internet isn't necessarily reliable so I'd love to see what you think?
Programs: Duke Sanford MPP, North Carolina State MPA, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill MPA
Undergraduate institution: Syracuse University
Undergraduate Degree: Psychology
Undergraduate GPA: 3.81 (heavy course load, graduated in 3 years)
I also have some additional chem/bio courses from community college when I was trying to do prereqs for a neuroscience PhD (decided that was not for me)
Study Abroad experience: Semester abroad in southern Chile with NOLS (mountaineering, sea kayaking, and emergency medicine curriculum)
GRE: Verbal: 169 (99th percentile); Quant: 154 (57th percentile); AW 5.0 (93rd percentile)
Years Out of Undergrad: 4 years
Years of Work Experience: 2 years of relevant work
Describe Relevant Work Experience:
- currently work for a health policy/advocacy focused non-profit. I am head editor of our quarterly journal, sit on the states Governor's Advisory Council on our health issue of focus, and run our legislative advocacy initiative. I also staff a call line for resource referral. Been to national policy conferences, haven't presented though.
- 1 year grants work focused on funding infrastructure rebuilding efforts working for FEMA. Communications work as well, answering state and congressional inquires into operations and policy.
- Americorps program, basically civicly minded volunteering
Other work after undergrad:
- 1 year as a database admin for a large hospital.
- 6 months a dog walker in Brooklyn (unfortunately in the middle of the winter of "snowmegeddon,")
- 6 months as an ophthalmological technician/medical admin staff in a glaucoma clinic/research center
- 1 summer as a rock climbing/backpacking guide and leader of a "leaders in training" program.
- 1 summer as a real estate agent
-- none of this is on my resume anymore except the hospital gig, but I do a cursory overview in my SOP.
English (pathetic I know)
Quantitative: Intro Stats, Statistics for the Social Sciences (A's in courses) - currently enrolled to take microeconomics and macroeconomics at community college this coming semester.
SOP: I was living in New York City right as Occupy Wall St. got going, and I was there for all the more iconic moments (people arrested on the Brooklyn bridge, etc). I became disenchanted after everything fell apart pretty quickly, but it's an exciting way to get interested in public policy. I was already working with FEMA when Hurricane Sandy hit so I was there from the day after the storm hit. I got to act as secretary on high level meetings right as the response unfolded. Two exciting stories to tie into an interest in policy I guess. I also grew up in a pretty terrible city and went to a school with a graduation rate of about 25%, so I can say I've seen what failed policy looks like from a first hand perspective.
I'm sure I could write a better essay as a health policy applicant given my 18+ months of hospital work, but it seems disingenuous since I'm more interested in social policy/global issues.
Video: I only briefly touch on Hurricane Sandy in my SOP so I'm going to try to expand a bit on my intro video. I have a lot of powerful pictures from that time period.
LOR: 1 professor, 2 former supervisors.
(I think they should be good. I don't know if either of my supervisors have ever written a grad school recommendation before but I'm not sure if that matters.
- No economics courses (I am allowed to show that I am enrolled to take them), is this a big liability?
-OWS seemed like a good attention grabber to open on, but I'm worried that it's a contentious subject; Duke and UNC are quite liberal however.
- Majored in an only tangentially related field, my course selection leaned towards neuroscience and biology
- Less than stellar quant score.
- Stated focus of global/social issues, but my work experience is mostly in the health sector.
Do I have a decent chance? I know admissions is kind of a crap shoot. I feel pretty good about NC State because it admits a lot of people. I'm applying part time to the MPA programs and would most likely cast a wider net for good policy schools in the future with some some A's in graduate coursework under my belt. My wife and I are also considering the Peace Corps but that's a whole different discussion.
Let me also ask, for what kind of positions are Ivy Tier names so important? I liked working with the Feds before, and I'd love to work in another federal position. A foreign service job sounds great but realistically I don't know how it'd mesh with family life and my wife's goals.
Everything is done for now; I guess I just hold my breath for 4 months.
Thanks for any input!
Edited by TimB, Yesterday, 07:39 PM.