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About PolyWonk

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    2013 Fall
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  1. I know it's been a week or so since this topic, but I figure I'd put my 2 cents in. I differ from the others, because I encourage you to wait. So, my situation is/was almost identical to yours. I went straight from undergrad into a 1 year MA program. I really wanted to apply for PhD programs in that year, but my MA program flat out stated to every student in that they would not support any application for PhD programs until after we had graduated. (One person went ahead and did it with recommendations from his undergrad. He got in, and he's now doing his PhD somewhere in the world.) They also made it clear that they would support us fully once we had graduated. After doing a 1 year MA program, I see why they said they would not help us. First, a 1 year MA is intense. If you plan on being successful in both school and applications I would suggest waiting. You should focus your energy on making connections with faculty and advisers, other students and (sorry to be cheesy) yourself. Develop your research interests. Ask faculty to put you in contact with people within the university and at other schools who share your research interests. I was able to do all of this, and most of it was an unintentional benefit of being "all in" with regards to my program. 1 year isn't that much time to do all this. Take full advantage of the resources that your program and university will offer you in that short time. And enjoy it! Before you know it, the program will be over. The first response here, Zabius, went through an unfortunate situation that many people deal with especially in a 1 year MA program. Dealing with advisers is a tough thing, and in a program that is only 1 year, it's even more difficult. You will be asked to find a person to support you before you feel like you even know any professors. Take Zabius' story to heart, and find someone who will (hopefully) give you more support. This is important, because this person will likely be one of your letter writers. Waiting will give them the time to get to know you as a student and a researcher, and (perhaps more importantly) give you the time to choose advisers/LOR writers wisely. A word of advice... many people will go for the "flashy" names at the university. Big name, tenured, full professors who will be recognizable to phd admissions committees. Personally, I picked a fairly fresh PhD to be my adviser. This person had much more time for me, and was more familiar with what I was going through because they had just finished the process themself. I think these are the BEST advisers, generally speaking. My adviser works with the big names. They are an up and comer in the field. We shared research interests. Most importantly, they had time to get to know me, and were committed to helping my reach my MA goals and my future PhD goals. This was key. Now, I would say with an adviser such as mine, it was important to get a big name on my side as well. So I found a "flashy" faculty member with a recognizable name as a secondary adviser. Someone well known in the field, with similar research interests. This person didn't have as much time for me, but we had a working relationship to the point were I felt comfortable asking for a letter from them later. These two professors (and one from undergrad) wrote my letters for me. This is the kind of thing that you cannot ascertain within the first few weeks at your program. And between the restrictions of your program length and the speed and intensity of the PhD application process, you would only have that few weeks to find people to write you letters. And I believe that letters from your MA program are crucial to your application. For this reason alone, I would say wait. Also, the best writing sample you can submit for your PhD applications is your MA thesis (or other capstone MA project). And that won't be done until after most applications are due. This shows your ability to follow through with research, think critically, apply methods skills and, basically, be a successful student. It's one of the few parts of the application process that is in your control. Personally, I think it's best to finish this before applying. Now to the year off. At first I thought that I would find a full time job in this year off. But like other posters have mentioned, it's hard to get a job when they know that you will only stay for a year. I ended up moving home to save money. I spent this year doing part time work for an NGO in a field that I am interested in. Doesn't pay well, but it was great on my application! I also used this time to live out my dream to travel around the world. With the money I've saved living at home (and some of my savings, to my parents' dismay), I was able to travel a lot. And most importantly, I had the advantage of committing completely to my PhD applications. I basically took the month of November off to specifically to work on my PhD applications. I applied to MA programs during my senior year of undergrad, and honestly, it wasn't that hard. PhD applications are a another whole ballgame, and I would advise you to not try to do this when completing a 1 year MA. This is just my opinion, but I hope this helps! Whatever you choose will work out fine... honestly, you're ahead of the game simply for seeking out advice. Good luck!
  2. Ditto... I still can't believe my luck. I'm almost afraid to say it and jinx it!
  3. SAIS PhD Worth It?

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/graduate-school/468440-sais-phd.html I don't know much about it, but I found these two forums helpful in gathering info when I was thinking about applying.
  4. Just how much I sat on GradCafe...
  5. Rejected? Maybe this is why...

    Honestly, this goes to show the fickleness of the admissions process... knowing people like her exist helps me feel a little less bad about all my rejections. I'll just pretend she rejected me from all those schools
  6. This isn't meant to be super negative... I just had an... interesting... experience with one school. I emailed them on the Friday before April 15th to get my decision because I had heard absolutely nothing! That got me thinking, there are some things about this process that are truly annoying. The waiting, the writing, the repetitiveness and monotony of parts of the applications... What irked you the most? Things that bothered me the most: 1. Spending a bunch of $$, then not hearing anything from a school. (UNC, amirite?) 2. Filling in my work history AND submitting my resume 3. Turning in my app, THEN finding all the typos
  7. In economics they always say, look at the opportunity cost. Now I'm no economist, but I don't think there is a high cost if you pursue the MA. You're not going into debt to do it, which is more than most people can say! They want you, and the are willing to pay for the value that they think you will add to their program! That means something! Let's say you can't find a great job after your MA. If, when your finished, you end up in another un-enriching job in another sweet but no-name little town, you won't have really sacrificed anything, and you would have satisfied all the what-ifs that plague you now... Go for it! That's my opinion. And you're right... somebody here sounds a little world-weary (or bitter).
  8. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC

    I can't be of much help, since I myself am foreign to the area. I was actually wondering if you could post a link to the report you're talking about. I would love to have something like that to refer to...
  9. Haven't heard back from UNC since an interview... I've already decided on another school, but I do think it's a little upsetting. Maryland, I heard from on March 7th... that's rude weird that they haven't contacted you. I know that in some cases there can be mixups with applications. Have you had any sort of contact with them?
  10. Best of luck to you at VTech! You can come into policy work & policy research from any discipline, and if it's right, you'll make it back!
  11. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC

    Did you walk, bike or drive to campus?
  12. You're very welcome Yeah, I noticed that. But in a world of so much ambiguity, when it comes to rankings I figure that the ranked "quality" of the master's programs reflects (to a [small] degree) the quality of professors, resources and hopefully opportunity that one can find there. I thought about this a lot, because rankings for policy programs are few and far between, and many of them left me more confused about where to apply than before I saw them. What do you guys think?
  13. http://chronicle.com/article/NRC-Rankings-Overview-Public/124706/ http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-public-affairs-schools/public-affairs-rankings/page+2 I don't know about the quality of these rankings, but UDelaware is on them.