Here goes; one very confused Brit.
Program: Masters of International Affairs/ Global Affairs and similar programs
Schools Applying To: Yale Jackson is my first choice. Joint second are Fletcher at Tufts and Johns Hopkins SAIS. Following that Columbia and after that I'm a bit lost. Having said that, I don't mind reapplying next year with more choices and just seeing how I do this year as I'm in a job I love in the sector.
Interests: Primarily the intersection of conflict and international development; because of my professional experience in remedial/ aid work I am more interested in transitional development and policy work which has geared me towards my course choices.
Undergrad Institution: University of Oxford
Undergraduate GPA: N/A (UK University) 2:1 (with exhibition for exemplary performance). For those who don't know UK qualifications; 1:0 degree is the best you can get, about 20% get this at Oxford and everyone else gets a 2:1. Less than that is an issue. I was borderline 2:1-1:0 so I was awarded an exhibition.
Undergraduate Major: Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin- yes, I know, weirdly irrelevant. IR isn't even a course I could do at undergrad in the UK).
GRE: 156Q/ 166V / AWA unknown but predicted 6.
Quantitative Courses: Not an option at undergrad level. I plan on taking a macro and micro economics course before application and register for an international development economics course pre-applications.
Languages: English (native), French (professional), German (high proficiency but rusty), Arabic (intermediate but rusty), strong aptitude for languages in situ (Mongolian, Bengali and Hebrew)
University internships: 3 months as presenter/ journalist in TV station/newspaper in Mongolia, 3 months in development charity in Dhaka, 2 months in UK House of Commons, 3 months as analyst in political risk consultancies in London, 2 months as campaigns assistant at refugee scholar's NGO.
Post University: 6 months as refugee caseworker for Amnesty International, Israel and a grassroots, women's development refugee charity, 6 months as a refugee caseworker/ co-ordinator for a UK NGO assisting refugee minors with access to legal asylum in UK, 2 months as a consultant in innovative, humanitarian refugee camp in Greece. Just started a new position with UK NGO working on international infrastructure growth.
My experience abroad includes 5 countries, 5 languages and almost two years.
Professional skills thus range from; project management, communications, fundraising, research and analysis, M&E, individual services. Left behind best practices handbook in Greece for the camp and in Israel for immigration services. Commissioned for a political risk profile on Mongolia.
LORs: Options: definitely one/two from my Oxford tutors (which I know will be glowing as I have exemplars for other positions), I have a banked reference from the Israel director at Amnesty International Israel which I know is strong, but could seek references from my directors at the women's grassroot charity in Israel and the UK NGO for refugee minors.
SOPs: I haven't started it yet and honestly, will require a whole lot more research on how to angle myself because this is all uncharted territory.
Publications and Honors: Publications: a few published articles in the Mongolian newspaper, several online I can supply links to for an international conflict website, undergraduate thesis (which no one will want to read because it’s about Ancient Greek mythology and feminism.)
Honors: Exhibition at Oxford for the borderline 1.0/2.1. Not sure what else qualifies as an honor. Editor of the Oxford University IR magazine Sir for a semester (the appointments last 1 semester) plus a number of other extra-curric activities to a high level.
Concerns: Many and various.
1) GRE Q score: 156 is sub-par. People have referenced an unofficial cutoff score of 160 so perhaps I should retake. Given I abandoned maths 10 years ago at 15, I was happy with a jump from 30th to 62nd percentile in 3 months but I think I could do exponentially better over the next month- but I don’t know whether its worth the time and grief which could be spent elsewhere. Is it worth retaking?
2) Economics: as my quant score shows, maths isn’t my strong suit. A lot of courses have a heavy quant emphasis which I’d like to avoid but recognise is necessary. It’s why I’m taking the extra online courses (CC courses aren’t a thing here). How would they look? How important are they?
3) Yale Jackson is apparently very, very competitive. The other’s aren’t exactly a breeze. I’m not really sure how US schools weight their applications and how important my GRE score will be in the grand scheme of things.
4) Mostly, just a bit confused about the whole thing and where I should even be aiming.
Thanks- all input appreciated.