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

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#521 chocolatecheesecake

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 11:55 PM

 

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


GPA: 3.44

 

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. =)


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#522 heywhynot

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 04:27 AM

Programs Considering: NYU Wagner, Wisconsin La Follette and ???? I am looking for a management, domestic policy focused. PLEASE MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS!

 

Undergraduate Institution: "Public Ivy" in the Midwest

 

Undergraduate Major:  Economics 

 

Undergraduate GPA: 2.75 Overall, 4.0 Economics 

 

Study Abroad: Seoul National University in South Korea + 3 Month UN Internship Abroad after graduation

 

GRE: Verbal: 161 Quant: 166 AWA: 5.0

 

Work Experience:  

6 Months Legislative Researcher in State Leg

1 Year Democratic Campaign Experience in Analytics

6 Months Admin Assistant at left leaning think tank in DC

 

 

Languages: My parents immigrated to US from an Eastern European country (I was born here) and I am fluent in another language. 

 

LORs: Econ Dept Chair from undergrad, Professor I studied abroad with (big shot in policy world), VP of think tank I work for. PS - Those two profs already wrote my LORs for the UN internship

 

Coursework:  Stats, Calc, Lots of Econ, Finance, Public Finance

 

Concerns:  SUB 3.0 GPA! No extracurriculars in college, no academic awards, no "extras" besides volunteer work, no publications, limited research experience

 

Thanks for reading and helping! Looking forward to being active on this board!


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#523 jfdirth

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Posted 13 October 2014 - 06:15 PM

Programs Considering: Harris (Top choice), LaFollette, Ford, Berkeley, Humphrey, and NIU. Looking at Harris' MSCAPP as first choice.

 

Undergraduate Institution: Regional Public University in the Midwest

 

Undergraduate Major:  Political Science, Public Administration, and Sociology

GPA:
My GPA: 3.7 

For my Majors it's: 3.9 for Political Science and 3.8 for Sociology.
GRE score:
I've only taken the GRE once and here are my scores:

 

Q: 163

V: 156

AW: 5

 

The first question I have to anybody that might respond is should I take the GRE again in order to boost my verbal score a little bit? I know that it's a bit lackluster for some of the programs I'm looking to apply to. 

Work experience:
This is my biggest concern as a undergraduate attempting to go straight to an MPP/MPA program from undergrad. I have some work experience that might be viewed as professional but I need some opinion on whether or not admissions at these schools will consider it.

 

I have 3 years as the Legislative Issues Director for my Student Government: Largely a position equivalent to a Legislative Liaison, I talk with legislators on policy issues and inform the Student Senate about current policy going through the legislature.

 

I am also interning with my District Representative on the campaign side. 

 

I've been both a teaching assistant and the research assistant for the Sociology department at my school.

 

Finally, I am a chair of a budget committee for the University that deals with about $1 Million each year and handles budgets and capital projects associated with that funding. 


Quantitative requirements:
I have basic level statistics, intro macro economics, public budgeting, and a research methods class in both Sociology and Political Science/Public Administration at my school.


LORs:

 

Nothing I am too concerned about, I have a good deal of professors I can look to for LORs plus the Congressman I am interning with if all goes well. Also some other elected officials I have a great work relationship with as well. 

 

Concerns:

 

My chief concern is the piece on professional work experience, something that I will evidently lack if I want to get into a program right after my undergraduate.

 

Further, my verbal GRE score seems a bit lackluster for a top ten program but that might be me being too pessimistic. 

 

A final but a lesser concern is my undergraduate institution, since I don't come from a flagship state university or high caliber private school, does that impact the decision making process at all? 

Thanks to anyone in advance.
 


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#524 MJA87

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Posted 13 October 2014 - 06:25 PM

 

Programs Considering: Harris (Top choice), LaFollette, Ford, Berkeley, Humphrey, and NIU. Looking at Harris' MSCAPP as first choice.

 

Undergraduate Institution: Regional Public University in the Midwest

 

Undergraduate Major:  Political Science, Public Administration, and Sociology

GPA:
My GPA: 3.7 

For my Majors it's: 3.9 for Political Science and 3.8 for Sociology.
GRE score:
I've only taken the GRE once and here are my scores:

 

Q: 163

V: 156

AW: 5

 

The first question I have to anybody that might respond is should I take the GRE again in order to boost my verbal score a little bit? I know that it's a bit lackluster for some of the programs I'm looking to apply to. 

Work experience:
This is my biggest concern as a undergraduate attempting to go straight to an MPP/MPA program from undergrad. I have some work experience that might be viewed as professional but I need some opinion on whether or not admissions at these schools will consider it.

 

I have 3 years as the Legislative Issues Director for my Student Government: Largely a position equivalent to a Legislative Liaison, I talk with legislators on policy issues and inform the Student Senate about current policy going through the legislature.

 

I am also interning with my District Representative on the campaign side. 

 

I've been both a teaching assistant and the research assistant for the Sociology department at my school.

 

Finally, I am a chair of a budget committee for the University that deals with about $1 Million each year and handles budgets and capital projects associated with that funding. 

Quantitative requirements:
I have basic level statistics, intro macro economics, public budgeting, and a research methods class in both Sociology and Political Science/Public Administration at my school.


LORs:

 

Nothing I am too concerned about, I have a good deal of professors I can look to for LORs plus the Congressman I am interning with if all goes well. Also some other elected officials I have a great work relationship with as well. 

 

Concerns:

 

My chief concern is the piece on professional work experience, something that I will evidently lack if I want to get into a program right after my undergraduate.

 

Further, my verbal GRE score seems a bit lackluster for a top ten program but that might be me being too pessimistic. 

 

A final but a lesser concern is my undergraduate institution, since I don't come from a flagship state university or high caliber private school, does that impact the decision making process at all? 

Thanks to anyone in advance.
 

 

 

I don't have much to say about what your chances are as I'm a first time applicant myself, however your measurables look very good. I would caution you about getting a LOR from an elected official unless you worked directly with them for a good amount of time, otherwise the chance that you'll get a form letter is pretty high. It's my understanding that a more sincere/descriptive letter that shows a true understanding of your work from a lesser position is much better than a generic letter from a big name (like an elected official).


Edited by MJA87, 13 October 2014 - 06:26 PM.

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#525 Filmore22

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Posted 14 October 2014 - 08:56 PM

Schools: Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, Johns Hopkins, GW Elliot, American, University of Denver, Cal-Berkeley, Syracuse 

 

Career goals: Hope to be an FSO

 

Institution: Top 25 US State school 

 

Major: Poli Sci/ Minor Spanish

GPA: 3.6 (3.79 Major)

Years out of undergrad:  2.5 years

GRE score: 167 V, 155 Q, 5.5 AW (will take again to try to up quant)

Work experience: At the time of application, 2.5 years as a program analyst for large cabinet level agency. 

 

Language skills: Spanish (Proficient)

 

Letters of Recommendation: Current high-level FSO who taught at undergrad institution, tenured professor and director of my half-year long study abroad program in Spain, tenured professor, current Executive Director and current supervisor 

 

Concerns: 

1. Low-quant GRE.

2. Work experience not directly related to international relations/global affairs. I interned senior year and was hired straight out of undergrad to stay with program as an analyst. have extracurriculars e.g., joined foreign policy related professional organizations, tutored LEP but afraid its not strong enough. 

3. LOR: believe I have one strong rec from current FSO that was faculty at undergrad, unsure how strong other recommendations will appear to a selection committee 

 

Am I in over my head with the big-name institutions? 

Thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. 


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#526 occidorient

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Posted 15 October 2014 - 08:49 AM

Schools: Looking to concentrate in international development related programs offered at: JHU-SAIS MA, SIPA MIA, UCSD IRPS MPIA (I welcome additional suggestions)

 

Undergraduate institution: top 60 small liberal arts college

 

Major: East Asian Studies

 

GPA: 3.0 (3.5 major)

 

GRE: 161 verbal; 150 quant; 5.0 writing (am retaking to boost math score)

 

Years out of undergrad: Will have 3 years out of undergrad work experience by matriculation

 

Work experience: diverse, have lived in China for 3 years since finishing undergrad. Taught for two years at a university on a fellowship program while also serving as a research assistant to a partly Chinese govt funded think tank the first year, and a foreign affairs think tank (headquarted in DC, a well-known org) the second year. Currently work as a project manager for a microfinance advisory NGO. In these experiences, I've conducted research and managed projects pertaining to a range of pressing development issues (urbanization, environmental advocacy, climate change, and recently financial inclusion and women's empowerment).

 

Language skills: Mandarin Chinese (professional proficiency), Spanish (professional proficiency), Japanese (advanced proficiency)

 

Quantitative skills: Not much in the way of classroom experience, only took Econ 101 in college. However, have plenty of "real-world" quantitative experience, designing and managing budgets for projects, some light microfinance consulting, etc.

 

LOR: Not really a concern (and also out of the control of any applicant, really). I have two previous supervisors and a former thesis advisor who are all happy to write these.

 

SOP: If there's anything I can do well, I'd like to think it's writing. I'm confident I can write a solid SOP for each program.

 

Concerns:

Frankly, in reviewing the posts of others on this thread, I don't find myself to be numerically up to par with other applicants (i.e. GPA woes). I also do not have much of a formal economics background, which most IR programs favor. This all makes me lose hope a little bit. With all of that said, however, I believe my work experience is quite dynamic, and I've worked in fields of increasing relevance to development professionals. I also recently have gained a lot of "field" experience in managing a particular project, and am developing the skills necessary for a career in development (grant writing, m&e, budget design, project management).  I'd like to identify a few other schools to apply to, but at the same time, I don't want to be stuck writing a dozen distinct applications while also managing my professional life. I also believe grad school is only worth it if you go to the right school in the right place. DC and NY offer obvious professional benefits given their locations, and are proximate to the kinds of organizations I'd like to work for. San Diego is less so, but their curriculum directs particular focus to the Asia-Pacific region, an area where I have both interest and extensive professional and linguistic experience. It helps that UCSD is cheaper and closer to home as well.

 

So. Am I dreaming here? I would be floored if I could get into SAIS. It is precisely their economics focus that I need to progress in my career. I've had friends and colleagues attend their IDEV program as well, and it sounds like a great program. Does anyone know though why IDEV feels distinctly more competitive than the other concentrations at SAIS?

 

Thanks!


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#527 minnewegian

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 08:46 PM

Schools (haven't yet applied, beginning with my top program): WWS, Sanford, LSE, Hertie School, Georgetown, American, U of M - TC, LBJ

 

Career goals: Join the foreign service or work for an international development organization

 

Undergrad: Small liberal arts college

 

Major: Political Science, German

 

Minor: English Writing


GPA: 3.46

 

Years out of undergrad: will be 3 years oce I matriculate to a program in Fall 2015

GRE scores: 164 V, 161 Q, 5.0 W

Work experience: 1 year teaching English in South Korea. 1 year conducting research in International Law on a Fulbright scholarship (which helped me ultimately decide not to pursue a law degree); I also taught English part-time as part of my research grant agreement. Now in my third year out of school and in addition to extending my teaching contract from last year at a public high school abroad, I am doing three internships: one at a US embassy (finished), one as a remote research intern at a well-known military affairs research center (winter 14-15), and one at a freedom of press institute (spring 15). During college, I also worked in the finance department of an amusement park in the summertime as a junior accountant.

 

Coursework: Calculus, Microecon, Principles of Econ, Intermediate Econ, Accounting... grades were not good. Ranging from D+ to B+. While on my fellowship, I did get As in an Intro to Quant Methods in Social Sciences and another social science research design class.

 

Language skills: German (C2), Korean (A1)


Statement of Purpose: I have loads of stories to tell, but so far my narrative seems detatched from my goals in applying for policy analysis programs.    

 

Letters of Recommendation: I'm strategizing based on the programs which letters of rec go where. So far I have one reference from an internship and three professors. Two of the professors knew my work well in my senior year and one wrote me a letter of rec already for my Fulbright. One was a professor I had in my quant courses while on my Fellowship.    

 

Concerns:

-Dat GPA. LSE says they recommend a minimum of 3.5 and after looking at the top program stats, this seems standard.

-Relevant experience? I've got a lot going on. On paper, I don't think my choices have made a lot of sense. 

-I am retaking the GRE, with the hopes that I can just get myself into the next percentile just to help a little, but who knows, right?

 

 

Basically, any advice would be greatly appreciated! Any other suggestions for programs I should look at? I've already nixed JHU, GW, GMU, UMich, Harris, Georgia Tech, SIPA, Korbel for a variety of reasons.


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#528 wetheplants

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 04:56 PM

Schools: Cambridge (MPhil Medieval/Early Modern Studies), Oxford (Either Medieval or Early Modern), St. Andrews (Medieval or Early Modern), Yale MA in English, Columbia MA in English.... maybe also Dartmouth, UChicago, UPenn? I really need more recommendations for American schools! :D

 

Undergraduate institution: Colby College

 

Major: English  (Concentration in Creative Writing: so extra classes for creative writing on top of regular lit requirements)
Minor: Theater and Dance

 

GPA: 3.63 for both general and major. Graduated with honors and distinction in the major

 

GRE: haven't taken it yet =[ Next month I guess.

 

Years out of undergrad: On my second.

 

Work experience: Few teaching related posts, not full teacher positions. Just started job as a high school sub.
HOWEVER I produced a short play I wrote in an Off-Broadway competition in NYC and was a Finalist for Best Play. Also one other NYC performance and a staged reading. (Could count this as an extracurricular or actually just working for myself.)
Worked as a research assistant for three years during undergrad.

 

Language skills: French (basic), Latin (low basic, need brushing up), Old English (moderate)

 

Coursework: Dante, Fairy Tales, Arthurian Lit, Two Old English classes, LOTS of creative writing, both poetry and fiction, Theater theory classes, Theater Design...

 

LOR: Three potential candidates: One not so famous prof, but only medieval teacher at Colby, likes me a lot and did independent study with him.
Chair of Theater and Dance Department - worked as a research assistant for him (he was also my boss because I got PAID!). Worked as an Associate Designer with him on a project. He really likes me, he basically recruited me for the theater program. Also took classes with him.
Jenny Boylan, who is a NYT Bestselling Author, has been on Oprah, and is now co-chair of GLAADs board of director's.... so she's pretty famous. I took like 5 classes with her. However, I'm not applying for MFA programs and I've only done creative work for her, so not sure if I should include her or not if I only need two?

 

Concerns:

I really need recommendations for more programs!! Also, who should I nominate for my references? The UK schools only want two.
Also, is my GPA going to hurt me? Looking at my transcript its pretty clear I'm getting high grades almost all the time. Got one B in critical theory with the hardest prof in the department, but usually pretty solid!!

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#529 Fall2015

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Posted 19 October 2014 - 10:38 PM

Programs:
Kennedy (MPP), Fletcher (MALD), SAIS (MA), Georgetown (SFS), Berkeley Goldman (MPP), SIPA (MIA or MPA) -- in order of choice

GPA:
3.5 from a less known small private college

GRE score:
155 (v), 156 (q), 4 (awl) 

Work experience:
3 years of work experience

experience abroad: .5 year UN internship in China

consulting experience: 1 yr

World Bank: 2 yrs

Language skills:
Chinese English Japanese

Quantitative requirements:
Very minimal.  Statistis.  Professional experience did not involve much quant work 

Overseas experience (work, study and teaching):
Grew up in developing countries 

Work experience/summer course abroad

Statement of Purpose & LoR:
working on this

 

Area of Concern:

GRE!!! Is this acceptable?

Lack of quant experience 

I do think I have a good story to present for the SoP which aligns with my upbringing and professional experience.  Is it still difficult to overlook the low GRE score, lack of quant experience, and coming from a not-so-prestigious under grad institution? 

 

Thank you for your feedback in advance! 

 

 


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#530 lsaiki87

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 09:58 AM

 

Area of Concern:

GRE!!! Is this acceptable?

Lack of quant experience 

I do think I have a good story to present for the SoP which aligns with my upbringing and professional experience.  Is it still difficult to overlook the low GRE score, lack of quant experience, and coming from a not-so-prestigious under grad institution? 

 

Thank you for your feedback in advance! 

 

Hi Fall2015. I am a current student at SAIS and I wanted to give you some background on how they handle the admissions process since I just went through it earlier this year.

 

Quick question first - Are you an international student? (I ask because I see that you have a lot of foreign experience and grew up in developing countries. Although you might just be an American who moved around a lot...) If you are an international student, GRE scores are not required (although highly encouraged) for non-U.S. applicants if they apply directly through the SAIS Europe campus. Scores are required, however, if you apply through the DC campus or are a U.S. citizen. (I'm not a U.S.-citizen and when I asked about this, Admissions told me that standardized testing doesn't paint them a complete picture of a student -- and even more so in the case of international students who have no experience with these types of tests. For this reason, they require doing personal interviews of international students who apply to SAIS Bologna instead).

 

In the case that you are a U.S. citizen, or you only wish to apply to the DC campus, here are somethings to think about:

While your scores do fall a little under the typical SAIS average, I have to admit that my GRE scores were not amazing either and I got into every school to which I applied (SIPA, MSFS, SAIS). I did have a really high GPA, but I feel that we tend to put too much emphasis on the GRE and fail to realize that our personal narratives, work experience, and letters of rec probably matter more than our standardized scores (obviously, if you can retake the GREs and boost your scores it can make you more competitive). Your background and experience definitely fit in with the SAIS profile and I think that if you work really hard and produce an amazing SoP to go along with very strong letters of rec, you shouldn't have any problem with admissions. 

 

As for the lack of quant experience - there are a lot of people at SAIS who don't have much of a background in quant either (this wasn't the case for me because I studied econ during undergrad). In any case, SAIS is known for GIVING you the quant background, not necessarily demanding it of you upon arrival. To help people catch up, they offer pre-term, math review classes, pre-calc and calculus modules, etc. All of these things are extremely helpful, even for those who have a quant background but haven't worked heavily with numbers since graduation (like me, haha). Those who have also have the option to place out of all these classes.

 

And don't worry about not coming in from an Ivy League or a "not-so-prestigious" university... I didn't either, like I mentioned before, I got into every school to which I applied.

 

Hope this helps and best of luck on your applications!


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#531 CafeB

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Posted 21 October 2014 - 09:14 AM

Reposting with GRE scores (just took it today). Feedback appreciated. 

 

Schools: HKS MPP, WWS MPP, Chicago Harris MPP, Georgetown MSFS, Korbel MA IS, Duke Sanford MPP, Maxwell MAIR/MPA, Michigan Ford MPP, Fletcher 

 

Career goals: Work in political risk analysis and intelligence after grad school and work as a foreign policy advisor in my home country, eventually. 

 

Institution: Top 5 Universities in Bangladesh

 

Major: Eng Lit (but lots of econ courses as I wanted to do a dual major)

GPA: 3.2 cumulative (worked full-time during university and most semesters are 3.5-4 but a few 2.75-3.0)

GRE score: 148 Quant 162 Verbal

Work experience: Total 13 years. 2 years part-time when finishing high-school teaching English and History, 4 years of university working in advertising and marketing. 2 years after finishing university in CSR consulting and PR  handling MNCs as clients. Last 6 years in international development working for INGO. Would have lived abroad for almost 5 years by the time I start school, with 7 years of international work related to public communications, mobilization and policy advocacy. I used to write a lot of op-eds, so have been published nationally and internationally, with the BBC quoting one of my articles last year.

 

Coursework: Took intro and intermediate courses in micro and macro econ and applied maths in uni. Grades between A to B-. 

 

Language skills: English (non-native speaker but only language I've ever studied in), Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, basic Thai

 

Overseas experience (work, study and teaching): 7 years in international development by next fall. Have worked with Asian and African countries on social campaigning. Last 4 years living and working in S.E Asia (I'm Bangladeshi), covering Australia, Asia and Middle-East. 

Statement of Purpose: Working on it. 

 

Extra Essays: Such a long list! Struggling to keep track.

 

Letters of Recommendation: Two professors (one of them is a lecturer because he never finished his Phd. will use one or the other), one ex-boss (number 2 at INGO) and current boss. Work recommendations should be great (as expected for someone who prioritized work over studies, always). 

 

Concerns: GPA is quite awful really. Haven't done any applied math in over 10 years. GRE quant score is pretty low at 148. Schools assured me that they take a holistic approach to admission and funding decision, but this is a major area of concern for me, especially for WWS, Harris, Duke and HKS where they seem to really need you to have good quant.


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#532 cs_nits

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Posted 21 October 2014 - 10:59 AM

Reposting:

 

Hello Everyone,

 

Really need some help? A little bit about the background first because that is making my choice a little complex. I completed my engineering in the year 2006 from quite a decent college in India. Worked two and a half years in the software industry (in a reputed out sourcing firm) though always wanted to move towards the development sector. So, took a call and have been working in the development sector in rural India for the past 5.5 years (and plan to continue till I move out for higher studies)

 

Target Schools:  Elliot School of International Affairs, Boston University: Global Development Policy, Cornell University Graduate School, Brandies University: The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, The Earth Institute Columbia University: MS in Sustainable Management, Sanford-Duke Center for International Development, UC Berkeley 's Master of Development Practice, Princeton: Widrow Wilson School, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

 

Career Goals: Working with the government to shape more inclusive policies for the rural poor.

 

Undergraduate Institution: National Institute of Technology (NIT)
 

GPA: Cumulative Performance Index (CPI) of 6.82 out of 10. It is a first class in India but is an average score by any standards.  
 

Majors: Electrical Engineering

 

GRE Score: 163V, 163Q.  AWA-4.5

TOEFL: 108

Work Experience: 

I work in an organization called PRADAN which works through field teams in rural India, primarily in the Central Indian belt. We work primarily with India’s indigenous people (Adhivasis) and I right now based in one of the field teams. The below have been my areas of work in the last five years:

 

 a. Mobilizing marginalized (and extremely poor rural communities) communities around Self Help Group for saving and credit (micro finance). Working with the community around working of schemes and programs at the decentralized level viz. Gram Sabhas (village governance), NREGA (rural employment guarantee act), PDS (Public Distribution System: subsidized ration and all) etc

 b. Sustainable agriculture in poverty pockets. We are currently working with more than 4000 families in 150 villages in one of the most interior pockets in India on scientific agricultural practices. I have been quite active in reviving indigenous paddy seeds in the area along with promoting organic farming through System of Root Intensification (SRI) method with the communities.

 

c. Watershed approach to irrigation infrastructure in poverty pockets. I have done the Integrated Natural Resource (INRM) planning in several villages with the community along with its implementation.

 

d. I am also the anchor of the Gender Equality Project under UN Women of my team. (Eight of the fifty PRADAN field level teams are currently involved in the project)  

 

I have worked extensively in the Meo Muslim Community in Alwar, Rajasthan on social mobilization through SHGs and livelihood enhancement through watershed programme. Currently I am working with the Adhivasi Gond tribes and PVTG Baiga on aspects of social mobilization through SHG, governance, gender, water shed management and sustainable agriculture in one of the poorest pockets in the country.

I have also written a couple of articles on tribes and sustainable farming.

 

Language Skills: English, Hindi, Assamese, Nepali, Working Bengali

Statement of Purpose: WIP

 

Letters of Recommendation:  One academic recommendation. Good LORs from workplace.

 

Concern: My below average CPI or GPA and my engineering background. Will my experience of working in the field with communities offset the GPA factor?  Scholarships?


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#533 Fall2015

Fall2015

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Posted 21 October 2014 - 02:17 PM

Hi Fall2015. I am a current student at SAIS and I wanted to give you some background on how they handle the admissions process since I just went through it earlier this year.

 

Quick question first - Are you an international student? (I ask because I see that you have a lot of foreign experience and grew up in developing countries. Although you might just be an American who moved around a lot...) If you are an international student, GRE scores are not required (although highly encouraged) for non-U.S. applicants if they apply directly through the SAIS Europe campus. Scores are required, however, if you apply through the DC campus or are a U.S. citizen. (I'm not a U.S.-citizen and when I asked about this, Admissions told me that standardized testing doesn't paint them a complete picture of a student -- and even more so in the case of international students who have no experience with these types of tests. For this reason, they require doing personal interviews of international students who apply to SAIS Bologna instead).

 

In the case that you are a U.S. citizen, or you only wish to apply to the DC campus, here are somethings to think about:

While your scores do fall a little under the typical SAIS average, I have to admit that my GRE scores were not amazing either and I got into every school to which I applied (SIPA, MSFS, SAIS). I did have a really high GPA, but I feel that we tend to put too much emphasis on the GRE and fail to realize that our personal narratives, work experience, and letters of rec probably matter more than our standardized scores (obviously, if you can retake the GREs and boost your scores it can make you more competitive). Your background and experience definitely fit in with the SAIS profile and I think that if you work really hard and produce an amazing SoP to go along with very strong letters of rec, you shouldn't have any problem with admissions. 

 

As for the lack of quant experience - there are a lot of people at SAIS who don't have much of a background in quant either (this wasn't the case for me because I studied econ during undergrad). In any case, SAIS is known for GIVING you the quant background, not necessarily demanding it of you upon arrival. To help people catch up, they offer pre-term, math review classes, pre-calc and calculus modules, etc. All of these things are extremely helpful, even for those who have a quant background but haven't worked heavily with numbers since graduation (like me, haha). Those who have also have the option to place out of all these classes.

 

And don't worry about not coming in from an Ivy League or a "not-so-prestigious" university... I didn't either, like I mentioned before, I got into every school to which I applied.

 

Hope this helps and best of luck on your applications!

 

Thank you so much, Isaiki87, for your feedback. Very helpful to hear from a current SAIS student. 

 

I am an international student seeking an MA degree with Nanjing University. Then, to clarify:

1) I went to a university in the US, does that exempt me from taking TOEFL?

2) if I am not taking TOEFL, shouldn't I submit GRE?
3) also, how about scholarships/fellowships? is this tied with your GRE score?

 

would you mind if I message you to ask a few questions re. your admissions package for the other schools and why you decided to choose SAIS in the end? many thanks. 


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#534 lsaiki87

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Posted 23 October 2014 - 02:49 PM

Thank you so much, Isaiki87, for your feedback. Very helpful to hear from a current SAIS student. 

 

I am an international student seeking an MA degree with Nanjing University. Then, to clarify:

1) I went to a university in the US, does that exempt me from taking TOEFL?

2) if I am not taking TOEFL, shouldn't I submit GRE?
3) also, how about scholarships/fellowships? is this tied with your GRE score?

 

would you mind if I message you to ask a few questions re. your admissions package for the other schools and why you decided to choose SAIS in the end? many thanks. 

 

No problem, Fall2015! I wouldn't mind at all if you messaged me. I would be glad to share my experience with SAIS with you and give you more details about the admissions packages that I received from other schools as well as SAIS. I could also try to put you in contact with other students who are in Nanjing.

 

Here are the quick answers to the questions you had:

1) If you graduated from a US university then you are exempt from having to take the TOEFL. This was my case too, thankfully.

2) It is always better to submit your GRE scores if you've taken the exam. I did and I think it actually strengthened my application. Nevertheless, there are some international students who were admitted that did not submit GRE scores (this is typically the case with European students). I think it's really on a case-by-case basis, but if you have taken the exam I would definitely submit your scores.

3) At SAIS, scholarships and fellowships can be tied to GRE scores. This is typically the case when there are two people of equal merit who show the same financial need and have similar backgrounds. If one candidate has solid GRE scores and the other doesn't, they're more likely to receive funding than the other person.

 

Like I mentioned before, I would be more than happy to share all the details regarding the admission packages that I got offered from the three universities if you message me directly.

 

Best of luck! 


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