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Politicalgeek last won the day on June 22 2010

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    PhD Poli Sci

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  1. I would be really honest with the director when you meet. Ask for specific examples of recent grads working in the area of international policy that you're interesting. You might also ask if s/he or the alumni relations director can connect you with alum working in this area. They should be able to do this - if not, be wary. OK, now I'm going to enter into the realm of rumor and reputation: I was also accepted to Wagner and decided not to go because I got into a program I was more interested in. My impression, both from the application process and from what I saw when I was in my MPP program and then, later in DC, is that you are right in your assessment. Wagner is not known for international work, and I don't think that's really what it's trying to do anyway. It's good that you're being so careful about this, since a MPA/MPP is a big time commitment and obviously a lot of debt to get into. You want to be sure it's the right thing for your career. Did you apply to places like SIPA, Fletcher, SAIS, HKS this year? If so, and you didn't get in, I would try to defer at Wagner and reapply to those other schools this year. Now that you've been through the process once, you'll probably do better at it this year. Finally, do you have any international experience? If not, you may want to put grad school off for a few years and do something like Peace Corps. If my class was any indicator, Peace Corps is a really great boost for MPP/MPA admissions chances.
  2. Bumping an old thread to agree with this. I'm applying to PhD programs after 7 years of working in my field, which is closely related to the subfield I'm interested in. I figure that, even if I can't get a good job in academia, I'll be able to go back to my old field. Of course, I will have "lost" 5+ years of climbing the ladder, but I think that if I keep my research closely related to my field, it'll be ok. As a side note: I've seen several people go successfully from getting their PhDs to high-level positions in my field. I think they did this by developing relationships with practitioners while they were in their programs - contributing to blogs, presenting at professional conferences, doing research projects for nonprofits in the field, etc. So even if you do get in, but are not sure you want to go into academia, try using your time while you're in the PhD program building relationships in a non-academic field.
  3. I'd echo everyone else that, no, it doesn't seem like it would really matter for you. I'd say you should probably try to go to the best program in your geographic region, though, because the networking opportunities will probably be helpful. Are you interested in going part-time while you stay at your job?
  4. I'm a Kennedy MPP (07). I loved my experience and think the MPP is a great degree. I'll say your resume is pretty impressive, and you should do well in admissions; definitely don't rule out Kennedy. That said: do you have a compelling reason to go right into grad school? And by compelling, I mean, do you have no other choice because you're on a student visa or something like that? If not, I would strongly recommend that you work for a year or two before applying for grad school. There are a few reasons for this: - An MPP is a professional program and the Kennedy School, at least, uses a lot of real-world cases as the basis for teaching and class discussion. You simply will not get as much out of this education if you don't have real-world work experience to draw from. I saw this time and time again with friends who came in straight out of undergrad. They were extremely smart and hard-working, but they still did not get as much out of the program. - If you've been in school your whole life, it's really easy and tempting to just keep going to school. Which is why it's a good idea to do something different for a while. You will be surprised at how much you change in the first couple of years out of school. For instance, I thought about applying to grad school right out of undergrad. I was going to apply to history PhD programs (my UG major). This would have been a disastrous mistake for me. It wasn't until I was out, and working, that I found what ended up being my professional passion. This isn't to say your interests will definitely change, but it would not be surprising if they did. - My friends who went right in from undergrad had a much harder time finding jobs afterward. And many of them found that they still had to take entry-level jobs when they did get into the workforce. It depends on what you want to do, of course, but unfortunately a lot of public sector employers don't value MPPs as much as we'd like! Also, I really think there's a sort of "grounded" confidence that comes from having had a career before grad school - I knew my degree would only take so far, and I also knew that even if my degree didn't carry me, I had skills that would get me a job. A lot of the straight-from-undergrad kids I saw came in with a lot of confidence but it was very fragile and they were really, really worried about the future. Finally, I wonder why you're interested in a joint JD/MPP. Do you want to practice public interest law or work as a lawyer for the federal government? What interests you about that field? And what do you think you'll get from a MPP that you wouldn't get just from a JD? And if you don't want to practice law, then there's really no reason to get a JD. Also, a joint JD/MPP from private schools will put you $250K in debt. That is a really, really big debt load to start your career with and will make it difficult to do public sector work. I have some regrets about my MPP debt and I really don't know what I'd do if I had twice the debt. Neither MPP or JD programs are good about grants or scholarships. Sorry if I seem overly gloomy or discouraging, I just feel really strongly that it's in most students' best interest to wait.
  5. I know this is not what you asked, but ... do you mind if I ask what area of campaigns you're interested in, and why you applied to this program? I ask because I work in politics (as you can probably guess from my username) and from what I have seen, these programs are completely unnecessary for working in politics and are usually a waste of time and money if you don't already have significant experience. In fact, the debt load you'd likely pick up in such a program would probably make it difficult to take the kind of low-paying entry level jobs that are really necessary for a career in politics. I'm not saying this to be a jerk, but rather to be encouraging - you don't need to go to this school to work in politics! Not at all! In fact, this is an election year, so it should be really easy to get the kind of experience that, at this point, is probably more valuable than a masters. And get paid for it to boot. Anyway, if you have any questions at all about starting a career in politics, please do not hesitate to send me a private message and I'll tell you what I know.
  6. I agree with this. I'm older than most of the people on this board and of the 12 rental apartments and houses I've lived in since I was out on my own, only 2 have had in-unit W/Ds, and 3 of those places didn't even have a washer on-site. I didn't have a washer/dryer in my building during grad school, but honestly, I got a lot of work done in the laundromat. If there's a washer in the basement, it's really not a big deal. Also, lots of W/Ds these days take special laundry cards instead of quarters. I do agree, though, that searching online is frustrating and practically useless. It's also pretty early to be looking for the fall. Is there any way you can do an apartment-hunting trip this summer?
  7. Word to this. I really wish I'd "brushed up" before I did my MPP - I spent the first semester madly playing catch-up. No joke, I strongly recommend reading The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. It's actually the major book I used to study for exams and I ended up learning the concepts pretty well from it.
  8. Well, this is an old question, and I see that you've already made your plans, but for others in the same position - you will most likely not get a job until after you graduate. If you go to school in DC or nearby, you may be able to start applying in the spring, but no one will want to hire you more than a month before you can start. And you *really* have to be in DC to get considered for these jobs - it's all about pounding the pavement. You should also expect to look for at least 6 months before finding a job, especially on the Hill. It may be less, but it's good to be prepared.
  9. After a long and circuitous route that led me from poli sci through organizational behavior, I've finally decided that sociology is probably the best disciplinary "home" for me. But I'm not sure what are the best programs for me to be looking at. Broadly, I'm interested in political sociology and social movements. More specifically, I'm interested in what makes social movements successful at creating change, with a particular interest in social networks and leadership development. Does anyone have any ideas of some good programs for this? I'm looking for second and third tier in addition to the top-10 programs. Thanks in advance!
  10. I have a MPP. Here is what I'd say, based on observations of my classmates' experiences in DC: - If you decide you're primarily interested in policy, you should either get an MPP from a top school (I went to KSG) or a PhD in the field you're primarily interested in (i.e., for working for an IFI, I'd say economics; if you were interested in social policy I'd say sociology or education). Even most of the factulty of policy schools have these sorts of degrees, not policy degrees! - In my experience, masters in poli sci have no advantage over MPPs in Washington. If anything, I think the MPP has a bit of a comparative advantage, because it's more practical, and agencies want people who know how to work in "the real world." But really, it's all about the skills you have to offer - can you do the kind of analysis they need? Write memos in the way they want them written? And so on. Whatever program you choose, make sure you will get the skills you need. - Many of my classmates are now working for the WB, IDB, etc. Actually, I would not be surprised to learn the WB is the single larget employer of KSG grads in DC after the federal govt. A lot of them went through the Masters in Public Administration/International Development (MPA/ID) program which is extremely rigorous (Dani Roderick teaches their core econ class!). That might be a good program to look at. But even outside the MPA/ID, there are a lot of KSG alum (and, I'd guess, alum of other policy schools) working in the IFIs in DC. - In general, I'd say that if you are interested in working in the practical policy arena, you should not get a PhD right out of school. You probably won't need it, and it may even hurt you on the job market (because your PhD makes you too expensive but you don't have the work experience to justify the costs). I actually would even work before getting a masters. Hope this helps!
  11. Politicalgeek

    Seattle, WA

    Good plan! Parking at UW is an expensive pain - you'd end up walking around in the rain anyway! There's a great, separated bike path that goes right though campus, to some of the coolest neighborhoods in Seattle.
  12. Politicalgeek

    Seattle, WA

    Also, I just wanted to add that right now, it's sunny, with just a few wispy clouds in the air, and absolutely gorgeous. Which means I need to get off the internet and go outside!
  13. Politicalgeek

    Seattle, WA

    Yes! To be honest, the rain-all-the-time rep is greatly exaggerated. I've lived here for almost a year, and in my experience, even in the dead of winter, the sun comes out for at least a little bit every day. It will be a shock to your system, but there are very few places that are as sunny as Arizona, so unless you plan to stay there for the rest of your life, it's probably a good idea to get used to some cloudy skies. However, you should make sure to be aware of the issues that people can have with the darker weather, know the symptoms and be prepared to take steps to deal with them if necessary. The two I've heard a lot about are Seasonal Affective Disorder (ie, winter depression) and Vitamin D deficiency. Learn the symptoms and, if you notice them, get yourself to the Student Health center and get treated. Both are easy to treat. I will be completely honest with you here - I have noticed elements of Seattle Freeze. It's not that people are rude or unfriendly, but that it can be difficult to move beyond the friendly stage to actually hanging out and being friends. BUT I don't think that will be a huge issue for you since you'll be in grad school and thus will have a built-in network. And like the weather, I think Seattle Freeze is overrated. I've definitely made friends here! I don't think you're being melodramatic but I just wanted to say that if you do decide to go to UW, you will probably be happiest if you view this as an interesting opportunity to live somewhere different for a while. The climate actually brings lots of stuff to Seattle that you won't get in Arizona (rainforests, rivers full of salmon, amazing produce, lush greenness everywhere, amazing views of the sun bursting out of the clouds over the snow-capped Olympics...) and you might as well do what you can to enjoy it while you're there. Take it as someone who's been through a 2-year masters program - you will be SHOCKED at how quickly those 20 months pass!
  14. To be honest, if you're planning on taking out 100K in loans to do a masters, you probably want to make damned sure you're going to get into the best program you can. As I'm sure you know, ID is a very competitive field, and going to a top program is pretty important. Why not just take the GRE again and get the best score you can, especially your Q score? Also, can you be a bit more specific? What is your work experience, what were you doing in Africa, what area of development are you interested in?
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