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

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#421 Buffalofan4255

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 10:26 PM

thanks for replying and giving such a detailed response!! Would you or anyone else happen to know my chances at Fels, UPenn for MPA or Brown's taubman? From penn's website I saw the average GPA is a 3.48 and GRE's in the 70th percentile. I haven't taken my GRE's yet, but I score about 70% correct on practice tests...(I just started doing research on GRE's)


Edited by Buffalofan4255, 27 March 2014 - 11:20 PM.

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#422 chi2j

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 07:32 PM

Hi All, I'm a current Peace Corps volunteer looking to apply to some MPP and International Relation degrees in the coming year. I would appreciate if you could share with me your thoughts on the competitiveness of my profile for the considered programs.

 

Schools Being Considered: University of Denver - Korbel, University of Michigan - Ford MPP, University of Minnesota - HHH - MPP, University of Texas - LBJ Master of Global Policy Studies, Duke Sanford MPP, University of Wisconsin Lafollette MPA, UCSD - IRPS, University of Chicago Harris MPP, Georgetown - MPP, Berkeley - MPP, American University - MA International Affairs - Economics

 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign 

 

Undergraduate Major:  Finance 

 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.59 Overall 3.63 Major GPA

 

GRE: 158 V, 163 Q, 4.0 AW - only took the GRE once.

 

Years of Work Experience: 3.5 years of work experience in the private sector working in Investment Risk Management. Following that stint, I joined the Peace Corps and have been working in rural development over the past 2 years in business and agriculture. I also am the acting president of the Volunteer Advisory Committee here in Ecuador. I represent the interests of all the volunteers in Ecuador (over 100) and interact with the Peace Corps Ecuador Staff regularly in the interest of these volunteers. 

 

Language: Spanish - Proficient 

 

LORs:  1 from the Peace Corps Country director, 1 from former manager and Treasurer of former employer, haven't decided on the other recommendation yet. 

 

Coursework : As a finance major, my undergraduate degree focused heavily on quantitative courses in Economics, Finance, and Accounting.

 

Concerns: I'm concerned about the LOCs as I don't have a strong relationship with any professors from my undergrad. As a result, all of my LORs will come from managers in my old company or here in the Peace Corps and I'm hoping it won't be a huge issue with admissions. I'm also worried a bit about my Verbal GRE score. I'm not sure if it's worth it to take the GRE again.


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#423 pavlik

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 08:44 PM

 

Hi All, I'm a current Peace Corps volunteer looking to apply to some MPP and International Relation degrees in the coming year. I would appreciate if you could share with me your thoughts on the competitiveness of my profile for the considered programs.

 

Schools Being Considered: University of Denver - Korbel, University of Michigan - Ford MPP, University of Minnesota - HHH - MPP, University of Texas - LBJ Master of Global Policy Studies, Duke Sanford MPP, University of Wisconsin Lafollette MPA, UCSD - IRPS, University of Chicago Harris MPP, Georgetown - MPP, Berkeley - MPP, American University - MA International Affairs - Economics

 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign 

 

Undergraduate Major:  Finance 

 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.59 Overall 3.63 Major GPA

 

GRE: 158 V, 163 Q, 4.0 AW - only took the GRE once.

 

Years of Work Experience: 3.5 years of work experience in the private sector working in Investment Risk Management. Following that stint, I joined the Peace Corps and have been working in rural development over the past 2 years in business and agriculture. I also am the acting president of the Volunteer Advisory Committee here in Ecuador. I represent the interests of all the volunteers in Ecuador (over 100) and interact with the Peace Corps Ecuador Staff regularly in the interest of these volunteers. 

 

Language: Spanish - Proficient 

 

LORs:  1 from the Peace Corps Country director, 1 from former manager and Treasurer of former employer, haven't decided on the other recommendation yet. 

 

Coursework : As a finance major, my undergraduate degree focused heavily on quantitative courses in Economics, Finance, and Accounting.

 

Concerns: I'm concerned about the LOCs as I don't have a strong relationship with any professors from my undergrad. As a result, all of my LORs will come from managers in my old company or here in the Peace Corps and I'm hoping it won't be a huge issue with admissions. I'm also worried a bit about my Verbal GRE score. I'm not sure if it's worth it to take the GRE again.

 

Your GPA and quantitative GRE score are more than fine, Peace Corps experience is always great for the application (as an RPCV I can attest to that), and I think overall you'd be pretty competitive at most of those schools. Getting your GRE verbal score up will greatly increase your odds of getting funding, although a lot of those schools (Denver especially) are generous with $$ for RPCVs. Make sure you can tie in your private sector experience into why you want an MPP/related degree, that is a fairly unusual background for these programs so that's certainly favorable for you. A lot of schools require an academic reference, so try emailing some undergrad professors who would remember you and would write a solid LoR. If that is impossible, then you definitely would want to contact admissions committees and explain why you won't be providing a rec from an academic source.


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Applied: Georgetown McCourt (MPP), Texas LBJ (MPAff), Michigan Ford (MPP), GWU Trachtenberg (MPP), AU SPA (MPP), Princeton WWS (MPP), Penn Fels (MPA)

Accepted: GWU Trachtenberg ($0), Georgetown McCourt ($$$), Texas LBJ ($0), AU SPA ($0), Michigan Ford ($$)

Rejected: Princeton WWS, Penn Fels

Attending: Georgetown McCourt


#424 Khodanist

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 02:02 PM

Hi All,

 

Thought I would post my admissions results on here to help those out in the future looking for a bit of reference, see the red text below. Right now my decision is down to between Fletcher and USC, leaning heavily towards Fletcher

 

Thanks

 

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

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I'm new to this forum, just been a casual follower so far. I have kind of an unusual background, I'm currently in public accounting (2.5 yrs), but ever since undergrad I've wanted to pursue IR (got sidetracked by a Big 4 firm offering me a job in NYC). I've applied to some schools, and I wanted to get opinions from people on my chances to the programs that I've applied to. 

 

Graduated from a small public university in the deep South, earned two degrees upon graduation. A couple months after graduation I went to work as an accountant at the same firm at which I'm currently employed.

 

GPA: 3.41

 

BBA - Accounting

BA - Foreign Languages (Commercial German)

Began BS in Political Science online through same university after graduation, took 3 or so classes, + a few classes during undergrad but never earned the degree.

 

Study Abroad:

2 semesters abroad (Germany & Austria) + Summer abroad in Spain

 

Senior Capstone Research project:

 

Analysis of the effects of the European Sovereign Debt Crisis on the fiscal health and enlargement of the EU. (not published)

 

Languages:

 

Fluent: German & Spanish

Conversational: Russian, French, Farsi

Undergrad Classes taken in Polish and Turkish (I love learning languages)

 

GRE:

 

Most Recent test:

 

Verbal: 161  87%

Quant: 151  41%

AW:      5.5   97%

 

First test:

 

Verbal: 580  78%

Quant: 710  61%

AW:      4.0  54%

 

LOR:

 

Former partner at my firm (since left to another firm)

Former manager at my firm (since left to another firm)

Undergrad Professor & academic adviser (oversaw capstone)

 

After graduation, I went to work for a Big 4 Accounting firm - my firm is one of the largest firms in the world. I don't want to disclose the name, but it's either EY, PwC, KPMG, or Deloitte, and I will have been here three years by the time I go back to grad school. Unfortunately, I don't really have any experience in IR. I bombed the Quant score on my most recent GRE, but did well on Verbal and AW. I'm not sure how much this will help, however, as I know they often look at Quant to compare you to foreign students.

 

Anyway, I've applied to the following programs and am currently anxiously awaiting decisions:

 

USC - Price - MPP (International Affairs Concentration) [Accepted with half-tuition scholarship]

U Denver - Korbel - GFTEI [Accepted with 13k scholarship]

Columbia - SIPA - MIA - International Finance and Economic Policy [Accepted with no funding]

Fletcher - MALD [Accepted with 15k scholarship]

GWU - MA International Trade and Investment Policy [Accepted with no funding]

NYU - MS Global Affairs [Accepted with no funding, or at least they haven't told me yet]

CCNY - IR [Unknown, don't really care. I'll probably find out after I've accepted at either USC or Fletcher]

 

My end goal is to become an economic analyst at the World Bank or IMF, and at the programs I've applied to I want to research the efforts at regional political economic integration in various regions, with special interest in integration in South America through UNASUR. I've mentioned both in my statements of purpose and included my capstone research project (even if they didn't specifically require a writing sample!).

 

So given the above, despite my lack of IR background, what would you rate my chances of getting into any of these programs?

 

Thanks for your time!


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#425 chocolatecheesecake

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 07:15 PM

 

Hi All, I'm a current Peace Corps volunteer looking to apply to some MPP and International Relation degrees in the coming year. I would appreciate if you could share with me your thoughts on the competitiveness of my profile for the considered programs.

 

Schools Being Considered: University of Denver - Korbel, University of Michigan - Ford MPP, University of Minnesota - HHH - MPP, University of Texas - LBJ Master of Global Policy Studies, Duke Sanford MPP, University of Wisconsin Lafollette MPA, UCSD - IRPS, University of Chicago Harris MPP, Georgetown - MPP, Berkeley - MPP, American University - MA International Affairs - Economics

 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign 

 

Undergraduate Major:  Finance 

 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.59 Overall 3.63 Major GPA

 

GRE: 158 V, 163 Q, 4.0 AW - only took the GRE once.

 

Years of Work Experience: 3.5 years of work experience in the private sector working in Investment Risk Management. Following that stint, I joined the Peace Corps and have been working in rural development over the past 2 years in business and agriculture. I also am the acting president of the Volunteer Advisory Committee here in Ecuador. I represent the interests of all the volunteers in Ecuador (over 100) and interact with the Peace Corps Ecuador Staff regularly in the interest of these volunteers. 

 

Language: Spanish - Proficient 

 

LORs:  1 from the Peace Corps Country director, 1 from former manager and Treasurer of former employer, haven't decided on the other recommendation yet. 

 

Coursework : As a finance major, my undergraduate degree focused heavily on quantitative courses in Economics, Finance, and Accounting.

 

Concerns: I'm concerned about the LOCs as I don't have a strong relationship with any professors from my undergrad. As a result, all of my LORs will come from managers in my old company or here in the Peace Corps and I'm hoping it won't be a huge issue with admissions. I'm also worried a bit about my Verbal GRE score. I'm not sure if it's worth it to take the GRE again.

 

 

Agreed about the LORs needing an academic one. It is really very important for schools to see that you have done both parts well. I would suggest taking some classes between now and the winter to boost yourself in maybe statistics, which fills in your transcript nicely, and forging some good ties with the professor. I took two classes as a non-degree student the year before I applied, and the professor ended up being one of my three references, which worked out really well.

 

Also, if you can write a bang-up SOP, then I'd say the Verbal GRE is not as important. Good luck!


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#426 unagi

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 02:38 AM

Programs of Interest: Johns Hopkins SAIS, LSE, SOAS Development Studies, Columbia SIPA, GWU, Brandeis Heller School for Development Studies, IHEID Development Studies
 
Undergraduate institution: Public Ivy
Undergraduate Degree: BA Economics, Spanish (Certificate in International Economics)
Undergraduate GPA:  3.78+ (3.85+ in the last 2 years of undergrad)
Study Abroad experience: None
 
GRE: Yet to take
Years Out of Undergrad: Currently finishing last quarter of undergraduate
Years of Work Experience: 2.5 years relevant internship during school
Describe Relevant Work Experience:
- 1 year experience interning with social justice organization focused on El Salvador
- 1+ year experience with youth mobilization organization
- Working with a professor, helping with research studying inequality in the US (not international...but it shows my research skills?)
- Will gain more international experience this summer, working abroad
 
Coursework:
Intro/Intermediate Micro/Macro
Applied Econometrics
International trade
International macroeconomics
Developmental Economics
Multivariable calculus (the entire series)
Statistics
Political science
International human rights 
Undergraduate independent research course
 
Languages:
English
Spanish
Hindi
 
Concerns: I'm not sure how I stand in terms of the schools I am interested in....Any feedback will help. I know it's difficult because I haven't taken the GREs yet but any advice/comments are helpful!! Thank you! :)

Edited by unagi, 06 April 2014 - 03:18 AM.

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#427 mauldin

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 06:41 PM

Programs & Schools: HKS (MPP); Princeton WWS; SAIS; Yale Jackson (MA); Columbia SIPA (MA); maybe Georgetown (Security Studies)

Undergraduate Institution:  1. Top 50 private 2. Top 20 private 3. University of Florid

Undergraduate Major:  History and Political Science, Certificate in IR

Undergraduate GPA: 

1st University: 3.8

2nd University 3.71

3rd University (last two years) – 3.97

Note: Awarded Summa for the quality of a thesis (German history, original translations).

 

Study Abroad Experience: Spent a summer in Berlin completing an intensive language course at the intermediate level and conducting research. When back with my thesis advisor for a week in Munich my senior year.

 

GRE: I’ve completed a mock exam with other students in the room, I had little preparation:

V: 170 Q: 155

 

Years of Work Experience: Basically none, I’ve been interning in a Congressional office fulltime since this January.

 

Relevant Course Work: Tons of IR and history classes, too many to list. In terms of quant: Intro Micro + Macro, Stats

 

Language: German (Intermediate at the time I was doing my thesis research – bit rusty now)

 

SOP: Have not started on these yet, however I’m confident in my ability to craft a convincing statement.

 

LORs:  1st from my thesis adviser, a very well-known professor of German history. We had an incredibly close relationship and he was a big fan of my work. 2nd will most likely be from the Congressional office. 3rd I have two tenured IR professors to choose from, one being a prominent feminist IR scholar, the other known more for his work on critiquing contemporary realism – I’d actually appreciate some help in determining which one I should choose.

 

Concerns: A few things stand out to me. First, I’m not sure how schools will view me transferring universities so often. I can easily explain the reason for each, but I don’t think it’s worth wasting precious SOP space to provide an explanation. Next is obviously the work experience and the lack of experience. I’ve found getting a job has been very difficult since graduating, and therefore I lack direction. Lastly, is the Q on my GRE. Columbia SIPA is currently my #1 choice I believe.  

 

Any commentary would be extremely helpful. I’d actually love to take the time to explain my situation more fully and see advice over PMs. I will begin studying for the LSATs once my GRE is completed.

 

Thanks so much for any advice, I really appreciate it. 


Edited by mauldin, 08 April 2014 - 06:48 PM.

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#428 chocolatecheesecake

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:16 AM

 

Programs & Schools: HKS (MPP); Princeton WWS; SAIS; Yale Jackson (MA); Columbia SIPA (MA); maybe Georgetown (Security Studies)

Undergraduate Institution:  1. Top 50 private 2. Top 20 private 3. University of Florid

Undergraduate Major:  History and Political Science, Certificate in IR

Undergraduate GPA: 

1st University: 3.8

2nd University 3.71

3rd University (last two years) – 3.97

Note: Awarded Summa for the quality of a thesis (German history, original translations).

 

Study Abroad Experience: Spent a summer in Berlin completing an intensive language course at the intermediate level and conducting research. When back with my thesis advisor for a week in Munich my senior year.

 

GRE: I’ve completed a mock exam with other students in the room, I had little preparation:

V: 170 Q: 155

 

Years of Work Experience: Basically none, I’ve been interning in a Congressional office fulltime since this January.

 

Relevant Course Work: Tons of IR and history classes, too many to list. In terms of quant: Intro Micro + Macro, Stats

 

Language: German (Intermediate at the time I was doing my thesis research – bit rusty now)

 

SOP: Have not started on these yet, however I’m confident in my ability to craft a convincing statement.

 

LORs:  1st from my thesis adviser, a very well-known professor of German history. We had an incredibly close relationship and he was a big fan of my work. 2nd will most likely be from the Congressional office. 3rd I have two tenured IR professors to choose from, one being a prominent feminist IR scholar, the other known more for his work on critiquing contemporary realism – I’d actually appreciate some help in determining which one I should choose.

 

Concerns: A few things stand out to me. First, I’m not sure how schools will view me transferring universities so often. I can easily explain the reason for each, but I don’t think it’s worth wasting precious SOP space to provide an explanation. Next is obviously the work experience and the lack of experience. I’ve found getting a job has been very difficult since graduating, and therefore I lack direction. Lastly, is the Q on my GRE. Columbia SIPA is currently my #1 choice I believe.  

 

Any commentary would be extremely helpful. I’d actually love to take the time to explain my situation more fully and see advice over PMs. I will begin studying for the LSATs once my GRE is completed.

 

Thanks so much for any advice, I really appreciate it. 

 

 

A few questions -- have you graduated yet? And of course, put more work into improving your quant score before you take the actual exam, but I don't know how well the mock exam actually approximates the situation. Your credentials look fine in general, and I think you would have no problem explaining in a subsection of your application (rather than the SOP proper) about your switching undergraduate universities. Plus, you've kept your grades up in all of the, so I think it's hardly going to be an issue for graduate schools. 

 

What I'm really concerned about is a definition of direction. You're going to get the most bang out of your buck not to mention your time investment if you know what you want to do after your degree. Take some time and work experience to figure out what you really want to do AND if you need a degree to do it. Three years of work experience for me were extremely illuminating and directed me onto a different path. This is also true for countless other people you'll encounter on the forum, so it's not that you can't go into grad school right now if you're just graduating, but that work experience can only help you in your situation. You're contemplating several different paths right now: the MPP is very different from Security Studies at Georgetown or even the IR degree, and then the LSAT is worlds away too. It's great to have an articulated range of interests, and you should find a relevant full-time job that explores one of these areas. Maybe the congressional office would be of help in connecting you to that. 

 

Again, your credentials are great and will probably get into some schools, but they may not offer much funding, and more important, it may not be the right thing for you to. Graduate school can be a springboard and launch you to where you want to go, but you need to know the direction or you won't be able to get the job you want afterwards or make the most out of the experience. 


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#429 MJA87

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:27 PM

I had a quick question regarding GPA and how it will be perceived by admissions:

 

My cumulative GPA is unfortunately 3.30, largely due to some poor grades I received taking college classes while still in high school. I've seen some people mention the GPA from their final 60 credit hours in their profile and was wondering if this is an important factor to admissions offices? I did much better in my last 60 credit hours (~3.7) and would benefit from having them focus on that rather than the cumulative GPA which includes classes I shouldn't have been taking at 17 and 18 years old. Thanks for any input!


Edited by MJA87, 09 April 2014 - 02:28 PM.

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#430 pavlik

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:52 PM

I had a quick question regarding GPA and how it will be perceived by admissions:

 

My cumulative GPA is unfortunately 3.30, largely due to some poor grades I received taking college classes while still in high school. I've seen some people mention the GPA from their final 60 credit hours in their profile and was wondering if this is an important factor to admissions offices? I did much better in my last 60 credit hours (~3.7) and would benefit from having them focus on that rather than the cumulative GPA which includes classes I shouldn't have been taking at 17 and 18 years old. Thanks for any input!

A higher GPA in your last 2 years does help a bit. I had a similar GPA, but without the mitigating balance of a trend of improvement. There wasn't a reverse trend, my record just was spotty depending on how much I cared about my workload. If your Bs and Cs (or whatever poorer grades you had) came from higher-level classes, I'm sure schools will consider that. B- in a 3000 level organic chemistry class looks better than a B+ in Sociology 1001, in my opinion. Especially if you have mitigating factors in your personal life, it shouldn't sink your chances too much. 3.30 is certainly no 4.0, but it's still a far cry from 3.0 or 2.9. Balance it out however you can with the other components of your application (GRE/professional experience) and you should be OK.


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Applied: Georgetown McCourt (MPP), Texas LBJ (MPAff), Michigan Ford (MPP), GWU Trachtenberg (MPP), AU SPA (MPP), Princeton WWS (MPP), Penn Fels (MPA)

Accepted: GWU Trachtenberg ($0), Georgetown McCourt ($$$), Texas LBJ ($0), AU SPA ($0), Michigan Ford ($$)

Rejected: Princeton WWS, Penn Fels

Attending: Georgetown McCourt


#431 unagi

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 07:31 PM

 

Programs of Interest: Johns Hopkins SAIS, LSE, SOAS Development Studies, Columbia SIPA, GWU, Brandeis Heller School for Development Studies, IHEID Development Studies
 
Undergraduate institution: Public Ivy
Undergraduate Degree: BA Economics, Spanish (Certificate in International Economics)
Undergraduate GPA:  3.78+ (3.85+ in the last 2 years of undergrad)
Study Abroad experience: None
 
GRE: Yet to take
Years Out of Undergrad: Currently finishing last quarter of undergraduate
Years of Work Experience: 2.5 years relevant internship during school
Describe Relevant Work Experience:
- 1 year experience interning with social justice organization focused on El Salvador
- 1+ year experience with youth mobilization organization
- Working with a professor, helping with research studying inequality in the US (not international...but it shows my research skills?)
- Will gain more international experience this summer, working abroad
 
Coursework:
Intro/Intermediate Micro/Macro
Applied Econometrics
International trade
International macroeconomics
Developmental Economics
Multivariable calculus (the entire series)
Statistics
Political science
International human rights 
Undergraduate independent research course
 
Languages:
English
Spanish
Hindi
 
Concerns: I'm not sure how I stand in terms of the schools I am interested in....Any feedback will help. I know it's difficult because I haven't taken the GREs yet but any advice/comments are helpful!! Thank you! :)

 

Any advice guys? :(


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#432 Bunsen Honeydew

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 03:27 AM

Any advice guys? :(

Ok so- obviously your main strength is in your academic background.  That said, you need to knock out your GRE (aim for 160+ on both) to really round that side out.  You don't have any work experience, which isn't a deal breaker.  A lot of people look at their summer internships and say "look at all the things I've done!", but in reality an internship is just an extension of school.  You've also got a lot of the relevant coursework you need. Assuming you want to apply directly after undergrad, you won't be able to add any significant work experience (by significant I mean 2+ years of a full-time position in your field).  That said, you need to focus on those things that you can change.  The essays come to mind.  Do you have a story to tell? Do you have new perspective to give?  Try to focus on what you can contribute to the field rather than why you want to go into the field.  Crush the GRE, your essays, and choose your LORs wisely- and you've got a good shot at it.  

 

This response is just based on what I've read about other people from your background through the boards here.  Personally, I had a much different background, wherein lack of educational pedigree was counteracted with extensive work experience.  There are definitely more qualified people on here to answer your inquiry.


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Applying to: Johns Hopkins SAIS, Georgetown SSP, George Washington Elliott School, American (Distance Program)

Rejected from: Georgetown SSP

Accepted at: American, SAIS ($20k/yr), GWU Elliot ($30k over 2 years + Wolcott Fellowship)


#433 pavlik

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 09:42 PM

Any advice guys? :(

Basically I'll echo what Bunsen said: knock out your GREs. Coming straight out of undergrad can limit you, but it won't sink you. Be sure that this is what you want to do, not just postponing the eventual job hunt. If you know you really can do this now, then by crushing the GREs (and writing compelling statements), you have a damned good chance at getting into most of those schools. Your GPA and coursework are great, undergrad institution prestigious enough, and your internship probably puts you ahead of most other undergraduates who are applying. Just keep in mind how much stronger your total package (hehe) will be if you get a year or 2 of professional experience under your belt. 

 

My two cents, at least.


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Applied: Georgetown McCourt (MPP), Texas LBJ (MPAff), Michigan Ford (MPP), GWU Trachtenberg (MPP), AU SPA (MPP), Princeton WWS (MPP), Penn Fels (MPA)

Accepted: GWU Trachtenberg ($0), Georgetown McCourt ($$$), Texas LBJ ($0), AU SPA ($0), Michigan Ford ($$)

Rejected: Princeton WWS, Penn Fels

Attending: Georgetown McCourt


#434 unagi

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 06:36 PM

Ok so- obviously your main strength is in your academic background.  That said, you need to knock out your GRE (aim for 160+ on both) to really round that side out.  You don't have any work experience, which isn't a deal breaker.  A lot of people look at their summer internships and say "look at all the things I've done!", but in reality an internship is just an extension of school.  You've also got a lot of the relevant coursework you need. Assuming you want to apply directly after undergrad, you won't be able to add any significant work experience (by significant I mean 2+ years of a full-time position in your field).  That said, you need to focus on those things that you can change.  The essays come to mind.  Do you have a story to tell? Do you have new perspective to give?  Try to focus on what you can contribute to the field rather than why you want to go into the field.  Crush the GRE, your essays, and choose your LORs wisely- and you've got a good shot at it.  

 

This response is just based on what I've read about other people from your background through the boards here.  Personally, I had a much different background, wherein lack of educational pedigree was counteracted with extensive work experience.  There are definitely more qualified people on here to answer your inquiry.

 

Thank you for your advice! I will definitely be studying for the GREs really hard this summer. I am thinking of applying in 1-2 years so I'm not rushing to apply. During that time, I hope to gain some work experience in my field, which is why I am waiting to apply. Thank you so much for your advice!!


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#435 unagi

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 06:38 PM

Basically I'll echo what Bunsen said: knock out your GREs. Coming straight out of undergrad can limit you, but it won't sink you. Be sure that this is what you want to do, not just postponing the eventual job hunt. If you know you really can do this now, then by crushing the GREs (and writing compelling statements), you have a damned good chance at getting into most of those schools. Your GPA and coursework are great, undergrad institution prestigious enough, and your internship probably puts you ahead of most other undergraduates who are applying. Just keep in mind how much stronger your total package (hehe) will be if you get a year or 2 of professional experience under your belt. 

 

My two cents, at least.

Hi pavlik,

 

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I am going to apply in a year or two, so in the mean time I am trying to get some work experience under my belt. I will for sure study for the GREs and hopefully do decent. Because I am going to take my time with applying, I hope I can improve the work-experience part of my application and really get some meat on my personal statement about why I want to attend the respective schools.... Anyways, thank you so much for your advice! I will definitely take it into account! :)


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#436 mauldin

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 04:40 PM

A few questions -- have you graduated yet? And of course, put more work into improving your quant score before you take the actual exam, but I don't know how well the mock exam actually approximates the situation. Your credentials look fine in general, and I think you would have no problem explaining in a subsection of your application (rather than the SOP proper) about your switching undergraduate universities. Plus, you've kept your grades up in all of the, so I think it's hardly going to be an issue for graduate schools. 

 

What I'm really concerned about is a definition of direction. You're going to get the most bang out of your buck not to mention your time investment if you know what you want to do after your degree. Take some time and work experience to figure out what you really want to do AND if you need a degree to do it. Three years of work experience for me were extremely illuminating and directed me onto a different path. This is also true for countless other people you'll encounter on the forum, so it's not that you can't go into grad school right now if you're just graduating, but that work experience can only help you in your situation. You're contemplating several different paths right now: the MPP is very different from Security Studies at Georgetown or even the IR degree, and then the LSAT is worlds away too. It's great to have an articulated range of interests, and you should find a relevant full-time job that explores one of these areas. Maybe the congressional office would be of help in connecting you to that. 

 

Again, your credentials are great and will probably get into some schools, but they may not offer much funding, and more important, it may not be the right thing for you to. Graduate school can be a springboard and launch you to where you want to go, but you need to know the direction or you won't be able to get the job you want afterwards or make the most out of the experience. 

Thank you so much for the the thoughtful response, I really appreciate it.

 

As for the GRE practice exam, I do believe it's about as close to the real exam as you can get. Wasn't completely sure if it was an ETS one or not, but it administered by one of those test-prep companies. I'll start brushing up on my math as soon as possible.

 

I graduated last summer. Unfortunately the job market has not been particularly kind to me. I've been searching while I intern, but I have yet to find something directly related to IR. If I could easily find a job in a related field I'd take it and work a year or two without a problem, however for most work I'd be interested in an MA is a prerequisite.

 

I'm fairly concerned  that not having any real work experience will put me out of the running for admissions. I'm certain I want to pursue an MA in IR, if just to better my job competitiveness and explore a field that truly interests me. I'm of the thinking that whilst in my program I'll discover a specialized area that I'm passionate about as I already love the discipline more broadly. Maybe I should adjust the schools I'm considering accordingly.


Edited by mauldin, 14 April 2014 - 06:18 PM.

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#437 quickjudgement

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 05:54 PM

Hello Everyone, 

 

I have posted and been a part of various forums on Gradcafe, so I am not new. However, I have applied to graduate school for 2014-2015 year and am now biding my time as the admissions season gets underway. My credentials are overall pretty decent, but I bombed the GRE and there were reasons why I could not retake (whether they are good or bad, this is the fact). So here is my profile: 

 

Graduated with honors at the University of Montana in May 2013 (GPA: 3.61)

B.A. in Russian Language and Literature, academic minor in Central and Southwest Asian Studies

 

Senior Seminar Paper and Presentation on the history behind the 2008 August War between Russia and Georgia. I received an A's on the paper, presentation, and in the course (This is also used as a writing sample)

 

Languages: 

Russian (Working proficiency, all modalities) 

Georgian (Rudimentary)

German (Beginner high) 

 

Experience abroad: 

- Study abroad, Saint Petersburg, Russia (full immersion, spring 2012)

- Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Republic of Georgia (following graduation 2013-2014)

 

Distinctions within major:

- ACTR (American Council for Teacher's of Russian) Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate (2013)

- ACTR National Russian Essay Contest nominee (2010, 2011, 2013)

- Departmental scholarships

 

President of the University of Montana Russian Club for two years, active member during my entire undergrad. 

 

LOR:

3 stellar recommendations, all professors, two from the Russian Department and one from the Central and Southwest Asian Studies Department).

 

GRE:

V: (153) Q: (137) (Ouch, I know) W: (3.5) (Ouch, I know)

(The only 'C' grade I received as an undergrad was in math)

(Who the heck knows what went wrong in the writing section as writing is one of my strongest attributes)

 

Other experience:

- 10 years of working at a multicultural summer day camp

- A semester as a volunteer English teacher at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia

- A semester as an English Conversation Tutor for international students at the University of Montana

- A semester as an English Tutor to disadvantaged elementary school students in Missoula, Montana 

- Volunteer for a local political organization in Chicago, Illinois 

- Election Judge in the 2008 Illinois Presidential Primaries 

 

The schools and Master's programs to which I applied: 

- Georgetown University's Center for Russian and East European Studies

- University of Washington's Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies

- Indiana University's Russian and East European Institute

- University of Kansas' Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

 

I have applied for the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) for all four schools.

I have applied for a Pickering Fellowship (full funding for two years of Master's work for those interested in working in the government, particularly the Foreign Service) sponsored by the State Department. 

 

Ultimately, I want to be an expert on the sociocultural implications on politics in the area of Russian and Eurasian studies and how national and ethnic identity play into this theme. Long story short, I would focus on government, geopolitics, security, language, and ethnic studies. I would like to work in the U.S. Federal Government or an international agency that focuses on Russia and Eurasian matters. 

 

My main concern is that I cannot afford graduate school without funding and know that it is hard to get funding in the humanities on a Master's degree and I am wondering how much my GRE scores will impact my chances? 

 

Thank you! 

 

This is very exciting ^_^! Did you apply to Columbia this year too?


Edited by quickjudgement, 20 April 2014 - 05:55 PM.

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Applied: Penn State, Columbia

Accepted: Penn State

Still waiting for the response: Columbia

 

upd: 04/24/14


#438 chuddcity

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 06:29 PM

Hi all, I am just starting out with this process and have spent the past couple weeks lurking. I am really curious as to how my stats stack up to various MPA programs. Any advice would be helpful at this point!

 

Applying For: MPA/MPP

Schools Considering Applying To: Penn Fels, Johns Hopkins, CMU Heinz, Georgetown, NYU Wagner, UPitt GSPIA, Duke, suggestions??

 

Undergraduate Institution: Temple University Honors Program

Undergraduate Major: Linguistics, minor in Latin American Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 3.63, cum laude

 

GRE score: V: 160 Q: 153 W: 4.5

 

Years out of undergrad: 2 (will be 3)

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 3. During college, I worked as an intern with the start-up of an international non-profit and helped to lead service learning excursions over 2 years. My internship brought me to Nicaragua on multiple occasions for a total of ~4 months during my undergrad career. I chose to study abroad for a semester in Nicaragua as well. My thesis focused on how youth organizations collaborate to strengthen civil society. I am CELTA-certified but I have no teaching experience beyond the month of certification & some volunteering. I am a current AmeriCorps VISTA working on cross-sector collaboration in Philly schools. I coordinate school-based programming, assist in long-term planning, and write grant proposals. I am going to spend the coming year working at a non-profit after my term of service, possibly at the same organization (which is housed under UPenn).

 

Language skills: Proficient Spanish; Negligible French & Italian; 1+ years study of Yucatec Maya

 

Quantitative requirements: Tested out of Statistics with AP Exam scores (does this count?). No calculus or micro/macro. I like math and do not mind taking a course or two to help out my applications.

 

Statement of Purpose:

I am just writing my rough drafts now! I have sufficient time and I have confidence in my writing ability.

 

Strength of LOR: My options: Academic Director in Nicaragua, Director of my sponsor organization for VISTA, Co-Founder of the international non-profit, Director of Temple Honors Program. Who should I ask?

What can I do to make my application as strong as possible before applying?

 

Thank you for your help!


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#439 pavlik

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 07:42 PM

Hi all, I am just starting out with this process and have spent the past couple weeks lurking. I am really curious as to how my stats stack up to various MPA programs. Any advice would be helpful at this point!

 

Applying For: MPA/MPP

Schools Considering Applying To: Penn Fels, Johns Hopkins, CMU Heinz, Georgetown, NYU Wagner, UPitt GSPIA, Duke, suggestions??

 

Undergraduate Institution: Temple University Honors Program

Undergraduate Major: Linguistics, minor in Latin American Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 3.63, cum laude

 

GRE score: V: 160 Q: 153 W: 4.5

 

Years out of undergrad: 2 (will be 3)

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 3. During college, I worked as an intern with the start-up of an international non-profit and helped to lead service learning excursions over 2 years. My internship brought me to Nicaragua on multiple occasions for a total of ~4 months during my undergrad career. I chose to study abroad for a semester in Nicaragua as well. My thesis focused on how youth organizations collaborate to strengthen civil society. I am CELTA-certified but I have no teaching experience beyond the month of certification & some volunteering. I am a current AmeriCorps VISTA working on cross-sector collaboration in Philly schools. I coordinate school-based programming, assist in long-term planning, and write grant proposals. I am going to spend the coming year working at a non-profit after my term of service, possibly at the same organization (which is housed under UPenn).

 

Language skills: Proficient Spanish; Negligible French & Italian; 1+ years study of Yucatec Maya

 

Quantitative requirements: Tested out of Statistics with AP Exam scores (does this count?). No calculus or micro/macro. I like math and do not mind taking a course or two to help out my applications.

 

Statement of Purpose:

I am just writing my rough drafts now! I have sufficient time and I have confidence in my writing ability.

 

Strength of LOR: My options: Academic Director in Nicaragua, Director of my sponsor organization for VISTA, Co-Founder of the international non-profit, Director of Temple Honors Program. Who should I ask?

What can I do to make my application as strong as possible before applying?

 

Thank you for your help!

Overall, your application is good, but if it were possible to retake the GRE and boost your score a bit, that would help a lot--especially with the lack of background in math. Retaking the test is a pain in the hiney, but studying a bit more and bumping your scores (especially the math) up a few points could translate into getting more funding or into a better school.

 

In terms of schools, I don't know much about some of the ones you applied to, but if you're interesting in Latin American affairs, you may want to consider LBJ at Texas. 

 

I think getting credit for stats via the AP exam is fine--it worked for me, at least--but you may want to look into taking micro/macro at a community college over the summer if possible. I know Duke and Georgetown both require mico, which is why I'm currently taking an evening micro course. Otherwise, I think you have a good shot at the programs, especially if you can tie in your different youth development experiences into a cohesive, compelling narrative in your personal statements (I'm sure you can). 

 

One minor point: make sure the people writing your LoRs actually know you well enough to not use a form letter. The classic example of this is the former congressional intern who asks the senator for a recommendation that is basically worthless because everyone knows it's a form letter, where you could substitute any name in and it would still be OK. It's better to ask someone who actually knows you and has a less prestigious title (program manager instead of executive director, for example) who can add some personality to the letter.


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Applied: Georgetown McCourt (MPP), Texas LBJ (MPAff), Michigan Ford (MPP), GWU Trachtenberg (MPP), AU SPA (MPP), Princeton WWS (MPP), Penn Fels (MPA)

Accepted: GWU Trachtenberg ($0), Georgetown McCourt ($$$), Texas LBJ ($0), AU SPA ($0), Michigan Ford ($$)

Rejected: Princeton WWS, Penn Fels

Attending: Georgetown McCourt


#440 chuddcity

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Posted Yesterday, 01:02 PM

Overall, your application is good, but if it were possible to retake the GRE and boost your score a bit, that would help a lot--especially with the lack of background in math. Retaking the test is a pain in the hiney, but studying a bit more and bumping your scores (especially the math) up a few points could translate into getting more funding or into a better school.

 

In terms of schools, I don't know much about some of the ones you applied to, but if you're interesting in Latin American affairs, you may want to consider LBJ at Texas. 

 

I think getting credit for stats via the AP exam is fine--it worked for me, at least--but you may want to look into taking micro/macro at a community college over the summer if possible. I know Duke and Georgetown both require mico, which is why I'm currently taking an evening micro course. Otherwise, I think you have a good shot at the programs, especially if you can tie in your different youth development experiences into a cohesive, compelling narrative in your personal statements (I'm sure you can). 

 

One minor point: make sure the people writing your LoRs actually know you well enough to not use a form letter. The classic example of this is the former congressional intern who asks the senator for a recommendation that is basically worthless because everyone knows it's a form letter, where you could substitute any name in and it would still be OK. It's better to ask someone who actually knows you and has a less prestigious title (program manager instead of executive director, for example) who can add some personality to the letter.

 

Pavlik, thank you for your quick response!

 

It is good to have another opinion on what I can improve before the fall. I felt the same about my GRE scores, so I will definitely re-take them. It's a pain, but definitely worth it with regard to acceptance & funding. As for taking macro/micro, I just started looking up courses I can take over the summer. I am glad I still have the time to get them out of the way before applications are due!

 

Regarding the personal statement: my thoughts exactly. I'll be spending countless hours on it in the coming months, but youth development and coordination across sectors are definitely what drive me. 

 

And finally, the organization that I am contracted under as a VISTA is very small, so I work with the Director regularly. This is advice I will heed, though, by not asking the director of the Honors Program. The others on the list have directly seen the work I do and would be more thorough in their LoRs. Again, many thanks & best of luck at Georgetown!


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