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mppbluedevil13

The (un)official Duke Sanford MPP Thread!

66 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, 3dender said:

I feel you on this and have the same thought re: anxiety. . . then again if we can't get a B in our Community College Econ course, we probably don't deserve Sanford anyway, amirite?

Yeah, you're so right 😀

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, sleeplesswithcoffee said:

How was the Open House?!

It was great! -- the best out of three that I've attended (American and Chicago-Harris being the other two).  It was a great combination of high quality faculty/students and laid-back, welcoming vibe, with what feels like will be a lot of personalized attention (due to the smaller program size).

Caveat: I was already pretty sure I was going to decide on Sanford, and was just making sure I didn't absolutely hate it upon visiting for Open House.  This only took about an hour to figure out, after which I was more concerned with discovering exactly how the program will work for me.  In other words, I probably wasn't as critical as other students.

One of the cool things about the event was that they had specific Office Hours times set where we could meet with various administrators and faculty.  I used this window in an attempt to negotiate my funding (she appeared to be soft-promising about $5k/yr extra to anyone who asked), and to meet with the director of the program, Mac McCorkle, to discuss specific faculty and courses I should seek out in order to supplement my area of interest (political reform).  In hindsight it feels really cool that I was able to talk with the very director about our aligned interests -- he had even sought me out earlier to introduce himself when I let another administrator know about my area of interest.  Another comment I appreciated during this meeting was that after I confessed to being a little nervous about the MicroEcon pre-req I have to take this summer, he basically told me I didn't need to worry about it -- that "We'll be able to figure that out no matter what" (paraphrase).

The other big takeaway from the event that faculty, current students and alumni kept referencing was the outstanding network of Duke alumni, and their tight-knit loyalty to other alumni.  I'm sure many of the most prestigious programs have a similar thing going, but it was impressive to hear stories about people getting internships/jobs with basically nothing more than a phone call to a Sanford alum.  They even claimed that professionals in DC talk about the "Duke Mafia".  And while this network appears to be strongest in DC and the east coast, there were still stories about people getting connected on the west coast as well (I didn't hear anyone ask about internationally).

One last anecdote that I at least appreciated, though it may have surprised/bothered others: the Career Development Dean, Donna Dyer, bluntly told west coasters, "If you're coming from California, and you're asking me how helpful the Sanford degree will be in California, why wouldn't you just go to school in California?  They have great ones there!"  I highly value honesty.

In closing, the big takeaways were personalization, network, and rigor.  I talked to probably a dozen other admitted students and they all had varying degrees of favorable reactions, with most of them either certain on attending Sanford, or down to a close decision between Sanford and another prestigious program.

Edited by 3dender

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@3dender Thanks for your detailed reply!

It sure sounds like they do possess the advantages that you would hope come with choosing a small, high-caliber school. And everyone I've seen in the Admitted Student FB group seems really qualified and nice so I can only imagine the cohort would feel tight-knit also. I love how the director approached you after hearing from another admin about your area of interest! 

Two questions: Could you tell me what led to your rigor takeaway and was there any discussion about safety in Durham? I know you might be able to answer the second question because you live close to Duke - it's a pretty important concern for me and I won't be able to assess it firsthand before the school year starts.

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, sleeplesswithcoffee said:

Two questions: Could you tell me what led to your rigor takeaway and was there any discussion about safety in Durham? I know you might be able to answer the second question because you live close to Duke - it's a pretty important concern for me and I won't be able to assess it firsthand before the school year starts.

As for rigor, they have a definite academic focus (whereas some programs, especially the DC ones, appear to prefer more fieldwork).  You have to take at least 12 credits per semester, classes are during the day, and there's no specific time set aside to get an internship/job for experience (though I heard that some students are nevertheless able to do 10ish hours of this work if they really bust tail).  This doesn't bother me but I've spoken with many people who are attracted to some DC programs because they'll be able to take night classes and work at the same time.  Beyond the amount of courses necessary, I had a distinct impression that the work was tough and time-consuming (albeit do-able).  If you've been talking to current students via FB you have probably heard something similar.

As for safety in Durham, I really don't see anything to worry about.  I'm not sure where you're coming from, but it's probably on the safer side of the spectrum of small-medium cities.  Even 10-15 years ago when it was "rougher," there was really very little to worry about.  Since then, gentrification has been rapidly underway.  But anywhere you'll go as a Duke student -- campus, downtown, music venues/bars -- is perfectly safe.  I've spent a fair amount of time over the last 15 years hanging out in Durham (including less affluent neighborhoods), and I've never felt unsafe.

Edited by 3dender

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Has anyone heard back from Jessica/Admissions after requesting additional funding?

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1 hour ago, QK91 said:

Has anyone heard back from Jessica/Admissions after requesting additional funding?

I heard back only to hear that she will be letting people know on the 13th or 14th.  You could try emailing her to see if she'll tell you earlier I guess. . .

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Thanks @3dender! I was on the admitted students online chat today and Izzi let us know that we will hear back by the end of the day on Friday. Fingers crossed! 

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I was told the same thing re by the end of the day Friday from Jessica.

I missed the chat tonight, but was going to ask what people's thoughts/experience are with potentially getting more funding after accepting and the deadline (say if others decline and then more funds become available). I think I am going to accept Sanford, but my other top choice upped my scholarship to where the difference is quite a bit so I'm a bit concerned about the whole financing situation.

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I got my email about my updated offer letter last night around 7pm eastern. Offered an additional $5k per year.

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Same here, @LizaBee and @dollybird. Submitted my deposit yesterday, I'm headed to Durham this fall! Anyone else decide on Sanford?

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I mailed my deposit yesterday as well, so I'll be heading there this fall.

Congrats everyone (no matter where you go)! I know this decision requires alot of debating and thinking.

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14 hours ago, dwestlakeg said:

Same here, @LizaBee and @dollybird. Submitted my deposit yesterday, I'm headed to Durham this fall! Anyone else decide on Sanford?

Thanks, all. Headed to CMU. Congrats to everyone for their success. Application/decision season is over and it's for real now! Cheers. 

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Look what happens - I leave for a month, and come back to see so many people decided on Duke! That's pretty much the most exciting thing. 

This fall, please stay active on GradCafé when the application season comes around again! I think the best thing about Sanford is the community there - it is so strong, vivid, tight-knit, and I miss it all the time now that I've graduated. I like to play up the network, the curriculum, the quant focus, even the weather. But what really made it an amazing two years was the people I studied with and argued with and learned from every day. And I think that's the hardest thing for prospective students to glean from all the online stats and rankings.

So I hope that if you like what you find at Sanford, or if you have valid critiques about it (I certainly have many), please pass on that information here, and in other places, to help people understand what they're getting themselves into. This is a great resource, and we can all pitch in to keep it that way. Congratulations, and have fun in Durham next year! 

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