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  1. I appreciate both of your thoughtful responses, as you both confirmed aspects of how I've felt throughout the process. Thank you both for taking the time to offer thoughts.
  2. Hi all, I'm preparing my application materials to so I can be admitted into the Fall 2020 cohort for a public policy program. Over the past year, my girlfriend of 3+ years and I meticulously looked at areas that would accommodate both her job prospects and my desire to attend a strong policy school. Throughout the course of the year, we identified numerous locations that we felt suited both of our needs, with the intention we would likely stay in the area after I graduated. Lately, however, our options have seemed limited. Several of the areas we originally agreed upon no longer fit the criteria for my SO. This limited my potential school choices from four to just one. Additionally, I found other areas for us to consider, but she and I did not agree on these new locations either. To be honest, I don't mind the lone location we agree on - the school is great and I enjoyed visiting the city. But it felt very limiting, and I can't help feeling a bit worried I am missing out by not even applying or considering these other locations. If anyone on this forum had to navigate with a SO throughout the application process, I'd love to hear your perspectives.
  3. Thanks for the response, @Moods! I greatly appreciate it. And yes, 500 is a bit short. Though to be fair, I think eliminating the contractions would get me just a hair above(like 508 or something).
  4. Hi all, I'm currently writing a SOP for a Master's Degree in Public Policy (MPP). Some of the schools I'm looking at have a word limit for their SOP, while many have a simple two page cap. For the SOPs with word caps (500 or less), I used contractions a handful of times to stay below the word cap. Two of LOR reviewed my SOPs, and had conflicting views. One advised me to get rid of every contraction to make the writing a little more professional - the other said it was fine, given that the prompts usually wanted me to describe myself in my own voice, and I demonstrate strong writing with the flow. I'm leaning towards getting rid of the contractions for the SOPs where I have enough page space, but the 500 words or less cap makes it a little difficult. I'd just appreciate a third opinion. Thank you!
  5. Hello all! I'm having trouble deciding who would be the best 3rd LOR for my application for MPP programs. My first LOR would be my academic adviser/professor, who taught me 4 classes in my discipline, helped me publish academic papers, and we've stayed in touch to work on projects since I graduated over 2 years ago. My second LOR will be another professor who taught me several times (5), along with helping me get internships. I also worked as a research assistant for him and was a member of his undergraduate policy think-tank, leading to a policy report being published. We also stay in touch! They both know me exceptionally well, and I met them my first year of undergrad. Both in terms of academic ability and involvement outside of class, I think they'd write stellar letters. I often put them as references for jobs. But then there is the 3rd LOR. I will confess, I have a good problem to have, because I have 3 people in mind, but am struggling to identify who would be best. 1. Supervisor from Policy Internship my senior year of college Pros: He understands my work, helped me publish the policy report I mentioned above, and we've stayed good friends working on political campaigns since then. Con: I don't feel like he'll add anything new, but will confirm what the other 2 LOR say. 2. Supervisor from Campaign Internship Pros: Saw me purely in a work environment talking about the policies I cared about. We still stay in touch, despite the campaign being almost 5 years ago. She also gave a raving review for a job reference 5 months ago, and my employer cited her as a reason. Cons: She does not have an impression of my academic side, and while she has fond memories of our campaign together, I wonder if the committee would prefer someone who I've collaborated with professional more recently than that. 3. The President of my College Pros: He saw my leadership potential on campus and we stay in touch frequently. Con: All 3 of my references would be from my college, and I feel that I need to diversify the institutions I'm citing from. I'm definitely leaning towards #2 right now, but I think I'd like to address my cons before making a final decision. Any feedback would be appreciated!
  6. Hi everyone! I've been starting my grad school search process with the goal of applying in 2019 for the Fall 2020 cycle. The reason I'm thinking ahead is my girlfriend is in law school until Spring of 2020, but will obviously be looking at jobs earlier than that. Therefore, we wanted to decide this year which programs/locations to focus on. Here's the info: Schools I am Considering: Minnesota (Humphrey - MPP), Wisconsin (LaFollette - MPA), Georgia (MPA), Georgia State (MPP) and New Mexico (MPP) Interests: Interests in Health Policy, State & Local Government, and Social Policy. Undergrad Institution: Top 50 Liberal Arts College Undergraduate GPA: 3.64 (3.9 for just my major) Years since Undergrad: 3 upon applying Undergraduate Major: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (with Distinction) GRE: 160V, 156Q, and 5 on AWA. Quantitative Courses: Intro to Microeconomics (B), Advanced Micro - Calc Based (B), Cal 1 (C...Freshmen year), Research Methods (A), Statistics (A). Also did an independent study where I used STATA and R to conduct multivariate analysis on a published paper. Familiar with GIS due to a policy report published in college as well. Age: 25 Languages: English, Elementary Spanish. Awards, Publications, Etc: Published policy report on juvenile justice Two upcoming political science papers on political polarization to be submitted for publication and will be released through a policy think tank as memos. Won the President's Medal at my college (an award for a senior for engaged citizenship and academic excellence). Work Experience: Random Research Assistantships during college (probably a year total). 1 year as a paid part time employee my senior year of college as a Research Assistant for a Disability Rights Organization. 1 year working for a research organization on public health and healthcare policies. 2 years with a policy division in the Mayor's Office (NYC), working with health and human services nonprofits and city funding. Think budgets and program evaluation. LORs: My college advisor and another professor from the Politics departments each have offered to write LORs. I had both for 4 classes, and had them as references for my job interviews and they are reliable. For a 3rd LOR, I am considering the President of my College, since he and I have kept in touch and he's familiar with my work. All of my employers, both current and previous, has offered as well - I just know some programs aren't really interested in those. I also was involved with community organizing and political campaigns all 4 years of college, and I keep in regular touch with them, so I may consider asking them as well. SOPs: I haven't started yet, given that I am not applying this year. Based upon the current prompts (and I realize they may change next year), I would want to delineate how I became interested in policy, and my goals for pursuing a career in public service by working for the government and improving agencies. I intend to weave in my experiences of being on the ground in diverse areas to hear how system issues translate into problems for real people (grew up in Chicago, went to school in Arkansas, have worked in DC and NYC), and combine it with the experience I have working in those systems as both an advocate and an employee. Concerns: I'm concerned about 3 parts right now: 1. Who to consider for the 3rd LOR - academic, work, or just someone who knows my extra-curricular life (volunteering, campaign work, etc). 2. You can see the schools I'm interested in are all public institutions, and I'm debating if I should work for an additional year in the state to qualify for in-state tuition before applying, or if I would be competitive enough to get financial aid or at least a waiver for the out-of-state rates. 3. I've moved around a lot but I intend to stay in the state I go to grad school in. While I know I'm sincere and will do my best to convey this to admissions, I still can't help but feel a nagging sense that it could be a red flag for some schools. I grew up in Chicago but then chose to attend school in the South to get a different perspective of the country. I then picked DC to see the policy world, but then moved to NYC to live with my SO while she completed law school. Anyone who has experience bouncing around a lot have any words of comfort? I greatly appreciate any advice or thoughts people have. Open to suggestions on other programs, but pretty set on moving back to either the Midwest or South. Thank you in advance!
  7. I'll have three years. Thanks! I probably will.
  8. That makes sense. Thank you!
  9. Thank you for the response! I appreciate the answer.
  10. Hi all, I took the GRE for the first time, and my scores were a bit all over the place. I got a 158V, 150Q, and a 5 on the AWA. I'm thinking about applying for a MPA or MPP program during next year's cycle. I am aware my Verbal and AWA scores are solid, but my Quantitative score seems low. I am debating re-taking the GRE sometime this summer, in hopes of improving the score. However, I've read online that if you have a strong application everywhere else, it may not be worth the time and money. The reason I ask is that I've been in the workforce and have used STATA, R, and Python for 3 years each. My undergraduate GPA was 3.64, with core policy classes being above 3.90. I've taken advanced analysis courses as well. I realize there are other components to an application, but I am not applying this year. I'm just debating if it's worth the investment to bring up the Quant score, or if my real-world experience with the kind of quantitative programming involved in public policy would be a sufficient substitute to persuade schools. I know the answer will be different based upon the prestige of the program, so feel free to draw you would consider "the line" if some programs would brush me off. Thanks in advance, happy to provide more context.
  11. Thank you so much for the response! I appreciate your feedback.
  12. Hi all, (I posted this in the law forum as well, so thanks for your patience if you saw this there) I'm looking into a joint degree program where I would walk away with both a MPA and a JD. Most of the schools I am looking at say the program will take a total of 4 years, with one program saying it will only take 3.5. I am aware that since I'd be in school for a longer period of time, I will accrue more debt than if I elected to pursue just one of these degrees. My question is for people who have or are currently enrolled in a dual degree program (mostly looking at MPA/MPP/JD) about how does your financial aid differ compared to just being enrolled at one school? Many thanks in advance, I appreciate any answers or additional guidance.
  13. Hi all, I'm looking into a joint degree program where I would walk away with both a MPA and a JD. Most of the schools I am looking at say the program will take a total of 4 years, with one program saying it will only take 3.5. I am aware that since I'd be in school for a longer period of time, I will accrue more debt than if I elected to pursue just one of these degrees. My question is for people who have or are currently enrolled in a dual degree program (mostly looking at MPA/MPP/JD) about how does your financial aid differ compared to just being enrolled at one school? Many thanks in advance, I appreciate any answers or additional guidance.
  14. Thanks for the responses so far! I don't particularly want to stay in DC because while it is beautiful and has plenty to do, it just isn't my city. I'd prefer to relocate anyways and then attend a school I like in an area I prefer. I am not 100% opposed to DC schools, but they aren't my preference.
  15. This is my first time posting so here it goes: I'm hoping to apply to graduate school next cycle (2018, entering fall 2019) and I've started the process of looking at graduate schools for public policy. This will be my second year of working since undergraduate, and I think after three years of solid work, I'll be ready to take the next step. My GPA in undergrad over all was a 3.64 and I graduated with distinction. My degree was an Interdisciplinary program involving Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Some of my coursework involved calculus, statistics, research methods, and advanced microeconomics. I have not taken the GRE yet, but I intend to in the spring or summer of 2018. I worked for a disability protection and advocacy group my entire senior year of college, and now I currently work for a non-profit research group focusing on public health issues. I know that healthcare policy is my area of interest, with particular focus in areas such as Medicaid, rural health systems/access, and mental health treatment. I do have other tangential interests, such as juvenile justice and opioid addiction, but they are not my primary areas of focus at work. When I've evaluated schools, I have looked at general requirements, the type of jobs that graduates get, and the centers offered by the program. Additionally I look at the price and funding opportunities, along with the location. I'll be honest, I've moved around in my life, so the idea of finding a school and staying in that state (or at least in the region) is very appealing to me. Being a native of the Midwest and then attending school in the South, I have a certain proclivity to those areas, though I currently live in DC (I wouldn't want to attend school here though). Some schools that have caught my eye are the following: 1. University of Minnesota (Humphrey) 2. University of Wisconsin (LaFollette) 3. Duke (Sanford) 4. Carnegie Mellon (Heinz) 5. Georgia State University 6. Georgia Tech University I'm open to other suggestions and thoughts about the schools above, but I am most interested in what else I should think about when evaluating a program and what type of questions I should be asking. Any advice would be appreciated, since I know all of you are quite thoughtful! If you need me to clarify anything, please let me know.
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