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chocolatecheesecake

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chocolatecheesecake last won the day on May 17 2014

chocolatecheesecake had the most liked content!

About chocolatecheesecake

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    Mocha

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    Durham, NC
  • Application Season
    2014 Fall
  • Program
    Duke Sanford MPP Graduate

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  1. chocolatecheesecake

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

    @Andromeda3921, I suggest you repost in the Sociology forum: https://forum.thegradcafe.com/forum/46-sociology/ The public policy/ public administration/ government affairs degrees are very different, especially because they're terminal professional degrees, not academic ones. We hardly even get PhDs in Public Policy coming to this forum because it's just not as relevant for what they're applying to. I'm sure you can get some good feedback on those forums too. Good luck!
  2. chocolatecheesecake

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

    The good news is that I think you're doing all the right things. Undergrad GPA matters less and less with more and more years of work experience. Three to four years of policy-related work is great. Next, you've taken the UCLA extension courses and gotten As, which proves you've moved past your undergrad GPA. Next, make sure you've got a recommendation from your current or previous employe. If you have a good relationship with any of those extension course professors, consider that too - they can further speak to how serious you are about your schoolwork now. One last piece of advice: if there were extenuating circumstances in undergrad that affected your performance, you should absolutely say so in your application - for example, a serious illness, family issues, economic circumstances, etc. The schools care about that. What I would like to see is now more of a pronounced focus on what you want to study in graduate school. What are your areas of focus? What kind of change are you trying to create, either in government or in the the broader society in India? You have very high aims for your graduate schools, and those schools will pay a lot of attention to what kind of goals you have. Don't just talk about how much you learned over the last few years - talk about what you want to do now that you know much more about implementation than you did as a researcher. Make sure you write very good, focused SOPs that are backed up by your recommenders (they should know what your aspirations are). I also suggest looking more critically at your list of schools, which are all reputable schools. As programs and focuses, they seem kind of all over the place. When you tighten up on your focus, you can better figure out what type of program is going to offer you what you're looking for. Maybe you've had your fill of research, and you actually want to do more group-work and client work to try out more implementation. Or maybe you'll have a job waiting for you back in India, and you really want to spend grad school doing research and high-level statistics and econometrics with excellent professors. You should narrow down the list of schools that can offer you what you want; I recommend applying to six or seven schools as a max. Good luck!
  3. chocolatecheesecake

    Converting Public Policy Masters to PhD

    Agreed. MPPs and PhDs are very different degrees that get you very different places. The MPP is a terminal, professional degree preparing you for analysis-based roles working in government, companies, and non-profits. The policy PhD is an academic degree preparing you for research-based roles in academia, usually at universities, but occasionally also think tanks and foundations. Decide carefully which one is for you. Generally, you can't convert the MPP to a PhD while you're in the middle of your degree. If you decide you want a PhD in the middle of your master's degree, then you finish that MPP and apply for a PhD to start afterwards. In some MPP programs, a very small percent of students go onto do a PhD, usually at the same university. I know of two or three people at Duke who followed that path, and when I was looking into Berkeley Goldman, I found that their PhD track was very limited (5-6 students per cohort) and usually came from their MPP program. It doesn't seem to help to do a MPP before your PhD. If you want the PhD, just go for it.
  4. chocolatecheesecake

    How-tos on negotiating for funding

    If you've already accepted the offer, go straight to the admissions and financial aid people at Georgetown and ask. It'll be a lot more accurate.
  5. TBH, I think you guys are in a hard spot, and I don't know the right course of action. If it was me, I would in good faith share my situation with my top choice school, and let them know that without the money, I can't commit. I'd call and talk to them about this, and see if they offer any solutions to me first. If they don't seem likely to offer solutions, I'd ask if it's possible to delay my decision until a certain date (and give them that date). If they need the deposit to hold the spot, as you mentioned, I'm also fine with potentially letting go of $500. But I'd concentrate on being able to hold my spot without lying to the school. At the same time, I'd contact all the scholarships/ aid programs I'm waiting on and let them know about my situation. It's possible they would be able to tell me that I'm out of the running or maybe still in consideration before the actual release date. You never know until you ask. I'm not sure what to do about the second-favorite schools that you'd want to go to if no aid comes through for your top choice, but the thing to consider is that schools do talk to each other, and may very well try to make sure no students have double-deposited. You don't want to be caught lying by any school you ultimately want to attend. That's why I would be as up front as possible about this situation, but it's awkward to have the conversation with more than one school. Still, see what your top choice says, at least. If you have professors whom you trust or who have written you letters of recommendation, they would be probably good resources for this sort of question. Good luck!
  6. It's probably a bad idea to (potentially) lie to two institutions, one of which it sounds like you really want to go to. It also sounds like you might have a complicated situation or some constraints that keep you from making the decision by the deadline. Could you expand on that? Why do you want to put down deposits at two places? Maybe we can give some constructive suggestions on the overall situation.
  7. chocolatecheesecake

    Curious of possibility...To stats or not to stats

    Also @ReynoldWoodcock, I have two friends who were in the Peace Corps in Indonesia and attended Duke's Sanford School with me. One of them is back in Jakarta working at J-PAL, actually, and another is in DC with one of the big consulting firms. If you're curious and want to ask them some questions, I can definitely hook you up with them. Just PM me your information.
  8. chocolatecheesecake

    Curious of possibility...To stats or not to stats

    On a side note, @3dender, I hope you're going to sign up for Public Expenditures. Bob Conrad is one of the most amazing human beings alive. His class is incredibly funny, useful, challenging, practical, and fun; even when he was called to NYC to help the government of Ukraine patch their budget back together, he insisted on setting up an A/V link so he could Skype his class to us live. This is the kind of knowledgeable and dedicated professor you need in graduate school. (Even if his accent is the thickest Southern drawl I've ever heard.)
  9. chocolatecheesecake

    Decision: Duke MPP vs. La Follette MPA

    K-12 ed policy at the state level depends very much on the state. If you go to Wisconsin, chances are you'll end up working with their system and be in a position to go into the Department of Education afterwards. During my time at Duke, I met quite a few alums in the Department of Public Instruction in North Carolina, and some of my friends had internships there between the two years. When you're done at Sanford, you can get into basically any part of NC state government that you want - the Sanford network is big enough that we have people everywhere. (And that's really not an exaggeration.) So I'm sure the opportunity exists there - it's just, where do you want to work after graduation?
  10. chocolatecheesecake

    Is MSPPM a STEM degree?

    You need to call the admissions office and ask the school right away. Don't rely on any secondhand information you find on this forum - go straight to the school. They'll be able to give you the most accurate up-to-date info about something this important.
  11. chocolatecheesecake

    HKS vs. WWS

    I highly suggest you go to the Admitted Students Weekend for both schools. It sounds like you'll be saving a lot of cash these next two years, so spend a little now, maybe? If you really can't go, make sure you talk to at least two or three current students from both schools in depth to understand the differences and what you're really looking for. The admissions department should be falling over themselves to recommend current students to you, preferably from your home country or at least greater geographical area. They both have diverse enough pools of students to be able to do so. Current students will also give you the straight talk, so don't worry about biased information. If for some reason they can't, I can refer you to friends who are current students at both places (although they are Americans). Lastly, my two cents is that Harvard has a very large cohort which I personally don't like as much, and quite a few of their students when I met them were straight out of undergrad, which I don't consider to be a strength. I think Princeton's cohort has a higher average age, which I think makes for better classroom discussion and cohort experiences. That's what I care about, but figure out what matters to you, and then talk to these students to figure out which school can best offer it to you.
  12. chocolatecheesecake

    How-tos on negotiating for funding

    As I wrote in the other thread, "It's just like any other negotiation - you may not get what you ask for, and you may not get anything, but it's always worth it to ask. I originally asked them to match the offer that USC made, but even though they didn't, it saved me $10K overall." My gut response is not to go back to re-negotiate this. You made your ask, they made their decision (and gave you some). Ball's now in your court to accept or go somewhere else. If you kept pushing the issue, it could seem really impolite from the school's perspective. Remember that the decision-makers are usually people who are intimately familiar with the program, and likely to be people you see on a regular basis and develop a professional relationship with, not some nameless financial aid admin at the university that you'll never see in your two years. Besides, they're unlikely to have new resources to consider redistributing at this point. Overall, I suggest you weigh the offer against other factors (remember that cost of living in Chicago is pretty darn low compared to other cities like DC/ NYC/ SF/ LA), and make your decision.
  13. chocolatecheesecake

    How-tos on negotiating for funding

    I wrote a pretty comprehensive response about how to negotiate funding here, with some thoughts on strategies - take a look. Others have chimed in on school-specific threads about how to negotiate with them. You should search around with your particular school in mind. To respond to your specific questions: You should email the admissions team directly. They may ask for proof of counter offers, and you should be prepared to share it. You should email them as soon as you've made a decision about who you want to ask for more money from (see my other post), whether it's just one school or multiple. Asking earlier makes it clear that they're your top priority. Plus it's pretty chaotic hearing back from 300 accepted students, so I imagine your request will be a little less likely to get lost in the email inbox. How to word it depends on how you feel about this school (ideally, it's your top choice) and what leverage/ competing offers you have. What I'll provide is the email I wrote back in the day, along with the response I got from Duke (with names and amounts redacted). Please don't copy it verbatim; that's just lazy. Rewrite this in your voice: My email: "My name is -----, and I am an admitted MPP student for fall 2014. My thanks to you and the other members of the admissions and financial aid team who have worked on our admission packages this spring! I am writing in hope you can help me adjust my fellowship package from Duke. I have been granted a $[amount] fellowship for the first year with a $[amount] assistantship in the second semester. Duke’s program is a better fit for me, but I have been accepted to USC’s program as well, and they have offered me a $[amount] merit scholarship. I would prefer to attend Duke, but it is currently out of financial range for me. I would need a larger fellowship amount of at least $[amount] in order to afford tuition. Is it possible to request this increase? I very much appreciate your help and advice on this situation and an understanding of the timeline involved in making this request, as the deadline to enroll is about a month away. Please let me know if you need any additional information. My FAFSA has been filed and processed. Thank you for all your consideration and help." Duke's response: "Congratulations again on your admission! Closer to our April 15 deadline, we will re-evaluate our funding status to determine whether there is the possibility of reassigning any scholarship awards that are declined. We have added you to our scholarship reconsideration list, though please note that students who receive additional funding typically do not receive more than a few thousand more per year than their original award offer. Students requesting additional funding often send documentation of their competing offers. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. We hope you will be enrolling with us this fall!" If other people have negotiated successfully with some useful scripts and emails, please share! I think it's useful for everyone to share freely our experience with this kind of negotiation.
  14. chocolatecheesecake

    Sanford MPP Fall 2018

    Sorry for the late response! I am happy to talk a little about the culture and politics. The politics in Durham are decidedly progressive and on campus, dominated by fairly left-leaning viewpoints. You'll find that in most of the universities here, as well as most cities and towns in North Carolina (Chapel Hill of course, Raleigh, Charlotte). There are a lot of grassroots organizations at Duke and in Durham I've seen running jail bond campaigns, for example. They may not be as far left-leaning as you, but it's pretty progressive in general. At Sanford, there is a quiet group of folks who are here to study national security and have a military background; some are still serving and go between Durham and Fort Bragg quite often. I met the first people I ever knew who served as Marines and in the intelligence service. Most of them have a right-leaning perspective, but they're quiet about it. There are also a handful of libertarians. I had some really thoughtful and interesting conversations with the military crowd, and it was a good respectful learning experience. Historically, it's important to remember the blue enclaves in the state are surrounded by fairly deep red counties, though the atmosphere has changed since McCrory left as Governor and Roy Cooper stepped in. At Duke, you'll still find yourself at a historical Southern institution with plenty of history and baggage. The perspective I took and I think might be helpful was that while Durham can't hope to compete with Berkeley (and few places can) in terms of awareness and activism, there are a lot of people trying to make a difference in the Triangle area, and bringing your voice to the discussion happening at Duke can make a bigger difference than you think.
  15. chocolatecheesecake

    Which MPP programs have the best funding?

    Oh, yeah. It's just like any other negotiation - you may not get what you ask for, and you may not get anything, but it's always worth it to ask. I originally asked them to match the offer that USC made, but even if it didn't, it saved me $10K overall. I don't know how Harris would respond - maybe other students have successfully bargained with them in the past and can attest to that.
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