Schools (Tentative): HKS, WWS, NYU (Wagner), Indiana, Georgetown, AU, GWU, UT (LBJ), Chicago (Harris), Columbia (SIPA), Maryland, George Mason, Penn (Fels), Virginia, William & Mary
The list above is primarily just programs that interest me for one reason or another; I won't be applying to that many.
Career goals: Applying the law to policy analysis & formation to enact social justice reform at a governmental level.
Institution: University of Chicago
Major: Public Policy
Years out of undergrad: 3 years
GRE score: 166 V, 161 Q, 4.5 AW
Work experience: 2 years in legal administration for a county court; volunteer experience; campaign experience
Coursework: Intermediate Calculus, no Stat or Econ (hindsight is 20/20)
Language skills: Spanish (Proficient)
Statement of Purpose: WIP, but I'm not worried that I'll be able to write something compelling that reveals my passion for social justice and investigative nature.
Letters of Recommendation: Having trouble deciding who to ask; for the most part, I'm worried that, although I did well in classes, being 2+ years removed from school and not having had extensive relationships with any handful of professors will make this area of my application weaker than others.
Concerns: Lack of a resume full of exciting job experience; Unknown LOR quality; I need significant financial help as well from all the debt I racked up in undergrad, so aid is a major factor.
Thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to assess the situation and determine the best course of action.
First thought off the top of my head is to start those quantitative classes. Either statistics or microeconomics (or even better, both) this fall will be a good idea. Chances are, you'll have to complete them before you begin school anyway, and it will be a big plus for schools to see that you're in the process of doing those courses.
I think the most influential factors on funding are work experience and GRE scores. You're fine in the second area, and I'm sure the first is quite applicable to why you want to do public policy and what you want to achieve in the future. Make sure to weave that into your SOP very thoroughly. I think you're likely to get better funding from private schools than public ones, but that's a very general assessment. I got generous packages from both of my private university choices.
Finally, regarding LORs, make sure you have a good one from work. About professors from undergrad, don't sweat it. I've heard from quite a few that they regularly get requests from people they barely even remember in class, 5-6 years ago. As long as you had a good relationship with that professor during the class you took, and you believe he/she liked you, that's a good basis to request a letter. If you'd rather not chance it with multiple recs, just ask one, and get two professional recommendations -- maybe from someone you volunteer with as well as work with. It's not the best situation to be in, but you can't really do much about it at this point. Worry about the SOP and spinning a good story. Overall, I'd say you're in a decent spot. =)