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About shrimps

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    2016 Fall
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  1. I've spent so much time on this forum in the past year-plus. I can't imagine having tried to navigate this process without all the years of info here. Hope this helps to pay it forward just a bit! Undergraduate School (Name, type, or tier): Top LACUndergraduate GPA: 3.64GRE Scores: 165 V / 163 Q / 5.5 AWPrevious Work Experience (Years, Type): 6 years out of undergrad. I spent the first three years working as a practicing artist and then transitioned into working in arts/service nonprofits.Math/Econ Background: Because I went to a liberal arts school with very loose division requirements, I fulfilled my undergrad quant requirements by taking things like "Chemistry of Tropical Diseases"... which seemed very clever at the time but not so impressive on MPA/MPP apps. Starting the spring before app season, I took Statistics, Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics through UCLA's Online Extension.Foreign Language Background: One of my undergrad majors was a foreign language. I also studied abroad in a language-immersion program and did an extra Middlebury language-pledge summer program, though I haven't done much with it past my first job.Intended Field of Study in Grad School: Urban/Social PolicyLong Term Professional Goals: Working at a grant-making foundation, nonprofit, or local level of government. Schools Applied to & Results: Princeton WWS MPA – full tuition + stipend Harvard KSG MPP – $52k/yr fellowship Columbia SIPA MPA – $30k/yr fellowship NYU Wagner MPA – accepted, no funding Carnegie Mellon Heinz MSPPM – 90% tuition fellowship + work study USC Price MPP – full tuition fellowship U Penn SP2 MSSP + Data Analytics – $8k/yr Ultimate Decision & Why: WWS was my first choice program, and funding was a huge thing for me. Once I got in there, I knew my decision was pretty much made, which I know is very lucky. Advice for Future Applicants: This forum is an incredible resource, so use it! Read back through the decision/wrap-up threads, read back through the school specific threads, read everything, even if it's years old. It's not only a great way to get a better sense of which programs might be a good fit, but also to find out which programs are going to give you funding. Neither CMU or USC had really been on my radar before, but they seemed to offer pretty consistent, generous funding, which was a big part of why I applied there. Reading back through this forum also helped me find the cheapest option for taking the quant classes I needed. There's also a good amount of current/past students who are still active on this board, and they do a great job of not just giving inside info on their programs, but also bringing a realistic perspective on what it can be like to take on a huge amount of debt for grad school. That said, take things with a grain of salt on Grad Cafe, especially when it comes to prestige. Not that things like reputation or alumni networks aren't important (they definitely are), but GC can get a little echo-chambery about the importance and prestige of certain programs that just does not always seem to be born out by in person visits or conversations with current students. Given how expensive a lot of these programs are and how stingy the fancy ones can be with aid, this is a big deal! It's easy to get swept up in how a program is talked about on GC, but definitely cross check that anecdotal reputation against employment stats of recent grads, how well-served by the program current students feel, and campus visits, if you can. Try to look at your application holistically as an Ad Com would. This will help you see gaps you might have that you can close before you apply or at least address in your application. By the time you get to applying, it's a little late to significantly change your undergrad performance or work experience, but you still have the power to think strategically for how you present yourself in other areas. For example, I knew my test scores and academic background might get me through a first read, but that because I was coming from a pretty unconventional background for MPA/MPP programs, there was going to be a much higher burden of proof on my SOPs to answer the obvious questions of "how does this connect?" and "I'm sorry... why do you want to do this again?" Similarly, I took my 3 quant classes not only because it would help prove I was up to the math/econ work, but because it would also underscore that I was serious about changing careers. START EARLY, START EARLY, START EARLY. Lord, there is not enough caps lock in all the world to underscore enough how much I mean this. I decided to apply to MPA programs in November 2014, freaked out about whether I should scramble to send in an app to NYU in the next 2 weeks, ultimately decided against it, and I am so grateful that I took the long approach. My timeline ended up looking like this: January-March: researched possible programs; April - August: took quant classes (and tutored outside of my office job in order to pay for them); September-December: almost exclusively SOP writing. I had already taken my GREs back in 2011, in a rare fit of post-grad responsibility, which was lucky. I didn't get a chance to visit every campus, but I those programs I didn't visit in person, I sought out at the Idealist NYC grad fair, followed up with, and then set up half hour phone conversations with either current students or faculty. Again, I knew a lot of weight was going to rest on my SOPs, so working on those was basically all I did evenings and weekends for 4 months (note: I was very fun and popular during this time). But I think it genuinely took that long for me to find a narrative for myself that really worked and then to fine tune the writing. Also, it was helpful to have rough drafts early, because when my LOR writers asked for an idea of what I'd been up to and what I wanted to do, I could let them get an idea of how I was presenting myself. Remember that at the end of the day, you are the greatest expert on what you want. Sometimes it won't feel like that's the case, and it sounds corny as heck, but it is true. Get as much information as you can, but when it comes time to make the best decision for you and your situation, there's really not much the internet can do. Go with your gut!
  2. @obrien_blue - this is great advice, and the truths you're speaking about yoga pants are A+ great (actually cackled at my desk). Some much needed levity on this forever-Tuesday, in our eternal week of waiting. Congratulations to everyone on their admits, and good luck to all those checking our email all day while coolly trying to not lose all our marbles!
  3. This thread is an awesome idea! Like @monocleI also spent a lot of time looking at employment data - specifically salary distributions, amount of time until grads found a job, and what kind of jobs they ended up at. For example, I think I'll probably end up in the non-profit or private sector, so schools with strong public sector placement or that were very DC-focused didn't have much pull for me. For curriculum, I picked programs that had strong quant and data analysis skills either build into their core courses, or had a lot of electives in those fields and were flexible enough in their core requirements to allow me to take them. Location was also somewhat of a factor - because of my partner's job, it was attractive to stick to mid-to-large cities in the northeast. However, there are so many awesome programs in that area that it didn't really feel like a limitation (especially since again, I'm not looking to head to DC after). And I still applied to USC since LA fit a lot of the same requirements as the NE did for both of us. Most of all, funding is HUGE for me. USC and CMU are both independently great programs that I'm very into, but the fact that they have a good track record for providing funding was a big part of why I applied to those places. I'm still waiting to hear back from more than half the programs I applied to, but since I only applied to places I could actually imagine myself going, I think funding offers will play a major role in my decision making process, more than prestige or the idea of a "dream" program. Not that there's anything wrong with doing so! But at 28 (), I'm on the upper side of the age range of applicants, and after years of working only in nonprofits, I just don't have the same kind of savings to put towards tuition that someone coming from the private sector might. The idea of being able to graduate and enter the job market with very little student debt on the other side is incredibly attractive. I remember how limited I felt in employment choices when I was carrying around undergrad student debt, and I'd love to chose my post-grad job without huge monthly loan payments being a big factor in that decision.
  4. Wow, yeah, same for me. No news, but still - a change! (I feel like I'm watching very stressful paint dry.)
  5. Congratulations, @HS9191! As far as expenses go, CMU has a pretty detailed breakdown of costs for all their programs available here. Hope that helps!
  6. Congrats, @kasbah and @ct9816! I've still never been to Pittsburgh, but I've actually heard some good things about the vibe there (not just from CMU marketing materials, though they do push the "livability" ratings there quite a bit!). I've heard there's a pretty cool art/culture scene, which I suppose makes sense since CMU has a lot of programs along those lines as well. I spent some time in Cleveland last year for work, and was very pleasantly surprised by the city, so fingers crossed the same holds true for this post-industrial, former rust-belt city? Honestly, after so many years living in NYC, the idea of moving somewhere where the cost of living is SO much more manageable is very appealing. That along with the very generous scholarship offer from CMU definitely pushes it up near the top of my list. I'd already resigned myself to probably having to go into a lot of debt for grad school, and the idea that I might be able to graduate with a fairly clean slate is hugely liberating. Plus, I just really like the MSPPM program there - I love that it's quant heavy yet significantly more flexible than some similar programs, so I could really tailor my electives to my specific interests. Still waiting to hear back from the last 4 schools, but going there is a strong possibility!
  7. Congrats on being a semi-finalist for one of Wagner's fancy fellowships - that's a big deal! Glad it sounds like they'll be getting general admissions decisions out soon... I agree, being so close to the window when we'll all hear back has made the waiting exponentially harder, not easier (at all). Bon courage to everyone obsessively checking their email, application websites, and GradCafe these final weeks!
  8. Glad to hear you're excited about the DC track, @AAAAAAAA, hope you hear back great news and soon! I applied to the 2-year Pittsburgh track, but I've heard great things about the DC program as well. After last week's confusing email from Financial Aid, I did indeed get the official email from Admissions this morning telling me to check the application portal, where I found my acceptance letter and more details about funding. Saw a handful of other acceptances for the MSPPM in the GradCafe Results tab, so thought I'd start a 2016 thread for acceptances as we all start to hear back.
  9. Excited to see the CMU acceptances are starting to trickle out - congratulations to everybody who's heard back already! What makes you excited about the program and are you thinking of going?
  10. You'd think, right? Definitely an odd way to do it. To answer your question, yes, I got an email yesterday from Heinz financial aid with instructions on how to review/accept/reduce my offer and an attached financial aid award letter addressed to me and dated Feb. 25. The award had not only my scholarship award, but my federal work study and loan offers as well, which is part of why I think it may be connected to how dang early I did taxes/FAFSA this year. Also, I've been surprised by how much variation there is in how financial aid notifications work program to program - the other two places I've heard back from have alternately told me about merit scholarships in the acceptance letter and sent follow up info in the mail weeks later. Neither of those places told me anything about loans/work study yet, only scholarships. Financial aid at CMU seems to tell you about scholarships and loans all at once, which is why I think it's FAFSA-related. I'm haven't seen anything else on GradCafe about Heinz yet, but I know a lot of people here applied and a lot of them will get awesome scholarship offers, since Heinz is pretty great about those, so I bet they'll start trickling out soon. Hope that all helps - and congratulations! It looks like you've heard back from some great programs plus aid already.
  11. No idea! For what it's worth, that's what mine still says too - no messages in the inbox up top either. I'd imagine that while Admissions and Financial Aid are clearly communicating with each other on decisions, they might not have coordinated their applicant outreach super well, since you usually hear this info in the opposite order.
  12. I think that is definitely a FAFSA thing, so I hope no one else is stressing out! I submitted my FAFSA super early, and I also have heard absolutely nothing from CMU admissions about officially being accepted, but the financial aid dept. sent me my scholarship award letter this afternoon.
  13. Sure! Penn's MSSP program is definitely one of the less well-known/talked about programs on GC (it's also fairly new). I liked that the degree is specifically focused on social policy, and that the college in general has a strong history of placing an emphasis on equity and diversity work. It seemed like a small program where you'd get a lot of personal attention from the institution - which has definitely been confirmed by all my interactions with the AdCom there. The real selling point for me though was that they added the additional Data Analytics certificate this year, which teaches you programming languages like Python, Java, GIS, R, and Strata to work with large data sets. I've been working in nonprofits for a bit now, and there's a real need in the field for better data analytics, especially when it comes to measuring results and securing funding, so the idea of learning some more computer science-y skills sounded awesome. That being said, it's always a little nerve-wracking being in the first cohort of a program, and I do worry a bit about the smaller size of the alumni network. Ultimately, I think a lot of my eventual decision will be made mostly by what my financial aid offers are. I only applied to schools that I thought I'd be genuinely excited to go to if I were accepted, and I'd rather go to a slightly less prestigious one that offered better aid so that when I graduate, I'll (hopefully!) be less tethered by debt when looking at next jobs.
  14. @numeroseven I recently scoured the website for this, and it looks like for those who applied before the 12/15 deadline, all decisions should be out by March 11. After that, it's "rolling." @AlphaStep I did get email confirmations that my application had been received and sent to the committee for review - still, I wouldn't freak out if you didn't get these. I don't know what the deal is with Wagner's application portal, but I can't tell you how much trouble I've had with email notifications (ex. setting up the account in the first place, no notifications for my LORs had been received, so much else). I think AdComs in general are pretty good about letting you know if they've gotten your application but it's missing things. I bet you're fine, but you could also email them directly - at the times that I have, they've always been very good about getting back. Hope that helps!
  15. Big congrats, @kayaker7235 and @RCtheSS!!! Awesome news for both you! Also, A+ GIF usage, this totally made my morning.
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