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  1. MattDU

    Advice: Should I retake the GRE?

    I would advise anyone looking to apply to a competitive grad program to at least get a 4 on writing. It's a very formulaic process that mostly follows that you make good arguments and counter arguments in a five paragraph format with solid spelling and grammar, so there should be no reason why you can't do it (especially if English is your first language.) For a Master's program in statistics, you should definitely shoot for mid to high 160s in quant. Verbal isn't as big of a deal but reaching the 160 threshold definitely wouldn't hurt you at all.
  2. If you have until next year, you can definitely study your way into the 150s. Had you studied much this time around? I have a friend that matriculated into the UNC MPH program with a high 150s verbal and a low 150s quant score. She had a similar, if not a slightly lower GPA and is an alum of one of the other schools on your list, for reference.
  3. MattDU

    Test in 3 days. I KNOW I'm going to bomb.

    Just looking at your profile and everything you have to offer, I don't think your GRE score will prevent you from getting into at least the latter three of the five schools you mentioned in your post. However, if you want to use the funds, I think upping your verbal score a couple of points and getting your quant score to the 50th percentile will be valuable. Also, less than a 4 on the writing section would be a bit worrisome to me for a PhD candidate. If you look up the various formulas for writing the GRE essays, a 4.5 or better is easily achievable. I scored a 5 on writing simply by using a common five-paragraph essay format (intro, 3 body paragraphs, conclusion), taking mostly a stance of disagreement on the issue essay with one or two counterarguments interspersed, and then just crazily debunking the argument in the argument essay to the point of attacking the prompt, haha. I went back and checked for any grammar/spelling errors and made sure not to repeat any words more than a couple times. That should definitely get you where you want to be writing wise. I wish I could offer more tips for the other sections, but our scores are closely mirrored (higher quant, lower verbal for me). Hope this helps!
  4. Can I ask what your job experience was after college that led to full funding?
  5. I'm mostly panicking because I haven't done anything worthwhile or even relevant since finishing college almost two years ago. But, I really appreciate this reality check.
  6. Hi guys, I'm working on applying to grad school and I was wondering if you could give me some insight. I graduated double majoring in International Studies & French from 2012-2015 and then had to move back home for family reasons. Since then, I have had essentially no work experience that pertains to what I would like to do for the rest of my life. However, I had a bunch of academic research and work experience for various organizations while in school. I'm at a standstill because I think I should attain some more relevant work experience before going back to school. I'm interested in a variety of programs, most notably in International Development, Urban Planning, and Sociology. I'm reading everywhere than an MPA is a waste of time unless I'm like 30 and have ten years of experience, so the likelihood of getting an MPA is dwindling, but it seems the same way for most Master's degrees? I have already successfully requested recommendations from three professors and am waiting to ask for a fourth specifically for a PhD. I'm returning to Colorado next year, which is essentially non-negotiable because that's where I would like to be for the next few years. Given that I can receive in-state tuition for public colleges (CU Denver and CU Boulder) in the area after moving back for a year, would it be in my best interest to just move back there and work, or should I apply to schools this Fall and hope I have some success? Note: I've already taken the GRE and plan to take it again. The GRE (as it stands) and my lack of work experience (I am just 23, also) are definitely going to be my two weaknesses of my application. Thanks.
  7. I was definitely considering that, but I'd be lying to you if I said making money wasn't a primary concern, which obviously complicates things more. To be honest, I knew that there were a few Africa/Francophone-focused NGOs in Denver, which would've been my primary motivation to stay in Denver if not for my situation. I also did notice more remote opportunities from DC, so I'll definitely consult those. I think my next step is to physically go to all the universities' relevant departments and consult them with ideas. I greatly appreciate the input from everyone! Feel free to chime in further if anything has been left unsaid.
  8. So, I've recently graduated from the University of Denver, double-majoring in International Studies (concentration in international organizations, human rights, and security) and French and was slated to stay there until August, try to continue my conflict resolution research and find another part-time job in the interim. There was no funding left for me in the Winter/Spring, as I was paid through the department over the summer, and then earned my pay through work-study. However, I'm returning home to North Carolina for the foreseeable future because neither of my parents are in good health (mother needs a transplant, father isn't in good enough health to take care of her), and job prospects in my areas of interest (International Studies/French, Public Policy/Sociology) are no better or worse in the two respective areas, at least at first glance. Am I looking for a clean slate? No, but I'd like to know what sort of opportunities I should be looking for now that I'm back home in North Carolina, where I wasn't really looking until as recently as this month. Thus far, I've held a research intern position with an agribusiness IT start-up researching statistics on coffee cooperatives in Central, South, and North America. While studying abroad in Brussels, I interned for the platform for all youth organizations in the European Union and wrote many letters to members of parliament aiding in the resurfacing of the youth intergroup. Other jobs before/during/after that included blogging for the admissions department at my school, and acting as a research and events assistant for an up-and-coming department where I held important administrative duties. Most relevantly and recently, I held a research position on non-violent and violent campaigns under the supervision of one of the most prominent global thinkers in foreign policy. I've held other minor positions, but nothing else really relevant to my career goals. I aspire to be a foreign service officer, or to work in diplomacy in some capacity, but for that to be my sole dream job is unrealistic because it is a very hard job to attain. Without studying or prepping for it, I took the test last February and narrowly missed the cut. I was recently rejected from the Princeton in Africa program, but considering who I was up against, I wasn't exactly surprised. I'm considering finish my application for a teaching assistantship in France this coming fall, but I'm not sure how fruitful that will be, though I want to continue using my French for as long as I can. Lastly, what I'm here for: I would like to pursue grad school in 3-5 years time, only after I have done enough to consider myself qualified and have figured out more or less what I want to do. I feel like soul-searching will be difficult unless I go off the grid or do something unique. At first glance, I'm not entirely sure how good I look on paper compared to others. That isn't all that matters, but it sure helps when looking for jobs and schools. I don't really know what to look for that will give me leverage, but also obviously fulfill some sort of purpose and give me some enjoyment. Everything that I seem qualified for sounds very robotic, boring, drone-esque. Should I be seeking out opportunities at the colleges here after Christmas? Should I continue to apply for overseas opportunities? I know I want to work internationally, so that seems like the best idea, but I know I'll be here for at least a short while (6 months?) before I can commit to anything serious and far away. Also, maintaining communication with professors seems daunting from so far away. Are email updates to see how they're doing enough to maintain rapport? I don't want to seem needy, haha. Hope this garners some sort of response, and I'll be happy to clarify anything as I typed this out without much thought to its structure. If somebody in the Triangle area wants to chime in and make suggestions, that would be amazing.

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