alan2016

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  1. If you're "highly likely" to secure one for all semesters, why have they not offered it yet? I'd be very wary of an admission's officer's pseudo-promises as their sole job at this point is to get you enrolled. I found the following with a couple quick google searches: This year they're offering 13 fall GSIs and they offered 17 for spring 2017. (Sources: https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/page/2017_Fall_GSPP_ASE_Positions_Listing.pdf and https://gspp.berkeley.edu/assets/uploads/page/2017_Spring_GSPP_ASE_Positions.pdf) That sounds like a lot of spots until you realize there are 95-100 students in the class, and some simple division brings the "highly likely" claim into serious question. Perhaps you have desired skills/background for teaching some sections and that's why the individual made that claim. If not, then make sure you're very comfortable with full tuition, fees, and Bay-area cost of living before attending Berkeley and view this as a hope rather than a likely event. Right now, with no aid offer, you're not a priority for them, but instead a nice funding source to help them make budget. In my opinion, you look to be well credentialed and desired by a lot of schools. Either make Berkeley pay for the privilege of your attendance or take the money and attend one of these other great schools.
  2. As an alum of UVA's program, here are some specifics as to Batten and some more general advice: Cost is certainly one of the most important factors and it is not worth thousands of dollars more to attend a more "prestegious" school to earn this degree, in my opinion. Public Policy school teaches important foundational knowledge and skills, but salaries at this first-professional school are typically quite lower (at least to start) than Law or Business degrees at any prestegious school. Please consider that “Average net price for Batten School M.P.P. students in 2014-15 was $7,004 for in-state students and $12,942 for out-of state students, which equates to a discount rate of 54%.” (http://www.virginia.edu/bov/meetings/'15Mar/March%202015%20Finance%20Book.Final.pdf, page 13). If you have an offer that requires tuition at Batten above this at all, it would be wise to renegotiate or consider attending another school. This also indicates, however, that they're game to dole out money so press for more (up to and including a full ride) if you consider going there at all. I cannot speak to its specific strengths and weaknesses of other programs, but here is some information about UVA's program from my experience and public source data. First, compare the course offerings from public source information for each program, both in total and for policy areas in which you are interested. Batten offers a total of 10 electives for the upcomming fall semester (http://rabi.phys.virginia.edu/mySIS/CS2/page.php?Semester=1178&Type=Group&Group=PPOL) - this is far lower than other programs you're considering. Also, you've expressed an interest in Education Policy, but there are no such courses offered for the fall. In fact, UVA historically teaches one Ed Policy course per year, so you're likely to have precisely three credits in ed policy from that school for your two years of work. Second, class size is important in developing relationships with both professors and classmates. Using the same source, you can anticipate being in classes of 40-50 students for your core courses at UVA. This is way too large and will make building relationships with professors quite difficult. Also along these lines, how are your quantitative skills? I found that many of my classmates struggled in this area and a lecture of 45+ students was not the best learning environment for them. The administration will try to sell you on "well, we don't teach many ed policy courses, but you can always take courses in the education school." It is true that, in theory, you could take classes at “all” of UVA’s professional schools as a Public Policy student, but in practice this can be quite difficult. MBA and Law classes were almost impossible to get into for students not dual-enrolled with these schools. Often their registration processes made it so that Policy students had to forego courses in the Batten school to try (and fail) to get into interesting/relevant Law and MBA courses. The education school is more flexible, but since you're not a student in the ed school enrollment is not guaranteed. Each school is quite territorial and this could result in you missing very interesting/relevant ed policy courses and force you to take courses in areas which you have zero interest. Finally, they will give you a list of end placements for grads that seems very wonderful. It is true that many Batten graduates do end up in renowned organizations, but, at least in my experience, this is almost exclusively a result of individual hard work to obtain these positions. UVA’s Public Policy school has very few pipelines to place or recommend graduates at elite institutions and professors are generally not willing to share professional contacts outside of their favorite students (back to the point about large class sizes making it difficult to make relationships with professors). Expect to cold call and drop resumes via USAjobs or other sites a lot. I also think that location is one of the biggest factors in choosing a school. If your goal is to work in a federal agency you should strongly consider a policy school in/near DC. Likewise, if you want to work in a specific state office, choose a school in or near that state capital. The reason for this is that many agencies offer academic-year internship programs that provide direct access to both experience and non-competitive hiring. Though a few of my classmates were able to take advantage of such offers at UVA, this was definitely the exception and it came at the expense of academic opportunities due to commuting to and working in the DC or Richmond area. Other schools offer multiple night courses that allow students to be more fully engaged in both academic and work life. Overall, my advice to anyone planning to pursue an MPP is as follows: What is your career goal and how will your chosen school get you there? (Have a specific job title/path in mind. This can change, but given the time and money involved it’s important to have a firm idea of what the end state is up front.) Be intentional about your courses, internships, and extracurriculars to reach that goal. Arrange/negotiate your financial aid prior to enrollment. Do not wait for or rely on advertisements of future scholarships or assistantships from the school. Also, if schools advertise research assistant positions, ask how many and with what professors and demand to know the process in hiring (i.e. how do professors select students for these positions and how often are such positions advertised?). Ask the following of admissions officers and demand specific and quantifiable answers: How many students will be in my core classes? How much post-doctoral teaching experience will my professors have? Will my core academic classes be taught by an individual with a terminal degree in the field taught? (schools love to plant fresh-out-of PhD professors to teach core classes while holding back award-winning/experienced teachers to do research. Batten, in particular, has also been known to have individuals without terminal degrees teach core academic classes. This is your time and money, demand the best the school has for it.) Do professors grade and give substantive feedback on assignments (as opposed to graders/TAs—especially course capstone assignments)? This is important as you will have to provide writing samples for many employers. Do professors offer professional contacts to help students get jobs? How? (Yes, you will have to do some work to develop relationships with professors, but you are also investing a significant amount of time and money here. It should not be a tough process to have the people whom you both pay and work hard for academically invest in your success.)
  3. Batten MPP or Georgetown SSP?

    I feel quite compelled to respond to this as I too went to UVA for both undergrad and an MPP. I also contemplated this very decision between Batten and Georgetown a few years ago. First, yes, cost is very important and it is probably not worth hundreds to thousands of dollars more per month to earn this degree. Public Policy school teaches important foundational knowledge and skills, but salaries at this first-professional school are typically quite lower (at least to start) than Law or Business degrees at both institutions. So double the cost should be a necessary deterrent, but consider a few things: First, “Average net price for Batten School M.P.P. students in 2014-15 was $7,004 for in-state students and $12,942 for out-of state students, which equates to a discount rate of 54%.” (http://www.virginia.edu/bov/meetings/'15Mar/March%202015%20Finance%20Book.Final.pdf, page 13). If you have an offer that requires tuition at Batten significantly above this, it would be wise to renegotiate or consider attending another school. Secondly, call Georgetown or go meet with them and explain your situation. It certainly will not hurt your case for more aid and the worst that they can do is say no to more aid. As I did not attend Georgetown, I cannot speak to its specific strengths and weaknesses, but there are some substantive educational differences from just observing public source data. First, from a rough comparison of course offerings, Georgetown offers approximately 40 electives this coming year exclusively in Public Policy (https://myaccess.georgetown.edu/pls/bninbp/bwckschd.p_get_crse_unsec - search public policy). By comparison, Batten offers 18 electives for the same semester (http://rabi.phys.virginia.edu/mySIS/CS2/page.php?Semester=1168&Type=Group&Group=PPOL). Second, class size is important in developing relationships with both professors and classmates. Using the same sources, you can anticipate being in classes of 40-50 students for both Policy Foundations (Leadership) and Research Methods courses at UVA. At Georgetown, Statistical Methods classes are capped at 25 and Public Policy Process courses at 20 students (both of which correspond to enrollment numbers in past semesters per their database). If you value learning from and interacting with faculty directly, this is important. Also along these lines, how are your quantitative skills? I found that many of my classmates struggled in this area and a lecture of 45+ students was not the best learning environment for them. Also, yes, in theory you it is possible to take classes at “all” of UVA’s professional schools as a Public Policy student, but in practice this can be quite difficult. MBA and Law classes were almost impossible to get into for students not dual-enrolled with these schools. Often their registration processes made it so that Policy students had to forego courses in the Batten school to try (and fail) to get into interesting/relevant Law and MBA courses. Other schools are far more flexible, but if you hope to supplement your education from these top flight schools be very aware that it is unlikely to happen. These schools (specifically Law and Darden) are quite territorial and while the data show that student quality is similar across all the various schools they do not see Batten students as being of similar quality. Finally, many Batten graduates do end up in renowned organizations like the ones listed, but, at least in my experience, this is almost exclusively a result of individual hard work to obtain these positions. UVA’s Public Policy school has very few pipelines to place graduates at these institutions. Expect to cold call and drop resumes via USAjobs a lot. I also think that location is a far bigger deal than dean3837 lets on here. If your goal is to work in a federal agency you should strongly consider a policy school in/near DC (to include GMU, American, Maryland, etc.). The reason for this is that many federal agencies offer academic-year internship programs (pathways and non-pathways) that provide direct access to both experience and non-competitive hiring. Though a few of my classmates were able to take advantage of such offers at UVA, this was definitely the exception and it came at the expense of academic opportunities due to commuting to and working in the DC area. If you review the course schedule at Georgetown again, you will notice that many courses are taught in the evenings which allows for further flexibility in work opportunities as well. As obtaining employment in the desired field should be (at least it was for me) the number one goal in graduate studies, this advantage offered by DC-area schools cannot be overlooked. Overall, my advice to anyone planning to pursue an MPP is as follows: · What is your career goal and how will your chosen school get you there? (Have a specific job title/path in mind. This can change, but given the time and money involved it’s important to have a firm idea of what the end state is up front.) · Arrange/negotiate your financial aid prior to enrollment. Do not wait for or rely on advertisements of future scholarships or assistantships from the school. Also, if schools advertise research assistant positions, ask how many and with what professors and demand to know the process in hiring (i.e. how do professors select students for these positions and how often are such positions advertised?). · Ask the following of admissions officers and demand specific and quantifiable answers: o How many students will be in my core classes? o Do professors grade and give substantive feedback on assignments (as opposed to graders/TAs—especially course capstone assignments)? This is important as you will have to provide writing samples for many employers. o Do professors offer professional contacts to help students get jobs? How? (Yes, you will have to do some work to develop relationships with professors, but you are also investing a significant amount of time and money here. It should not be a tough process to have the people whom you both pay and work hard for academically invest in your success.)