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ILAR

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  1. Program Applied To (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): MPP Schools Applied To: Georgia State University (Andrew Young), University of Texas (LBJ School), and University of Minnesota (Humphrey School) Schools Admitted To: Georgia State (Invited to Interview for Full Tuition and $10,000 stipend - Did not Receive), University of Texas (In-State Tuition and 75% Tuition Reduction), University of Minnesota (In-State Tuition and 50% Tuition Reduction) Schools Rejected From: None Still Waiting: None Undergraduate Institution: Small, Liberal Arts College in the South Undergraduate GPA: 3.64 out of 4.0 Undergraduate Major: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) GRE Quantitative/Verbal/AW Scores: Q: 156 V: 160 AW: 5.5 Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): Three Years of Work Experience: Three, plus internships that probably boosted resume by another year. Describe Relevant Work Experience: Worked for a research organization straight out of college, then went to work in local government at both a city agency and then city council. Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I think my experience in both research and applied policymaking allowed me to describe my professional interests while conveying what originally got me involved in public service. I lucked out because two of my three programs allowed extensive SOPs of two pages or more, so I didn’t feel constrained by any page limit. After writing solid drafts, I had to wean it down to 500 words for the Humphrey School, which was challenging. Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I had two professors from undergrad write letters, and both of them knew me very well because I had four classes with each of them. One understood my desire to learn more quantitative skills and improve my research abilities, while the other could attest to my leadership. Both also focused on my personality and passion for the subject matter as well. The third recommender was a former supervisor from an internship from college, and she spoke to my passion for public service. Very blessed to have stayed in contact with all three individuals over the years! Other: I didn’t just want to find a graduate program, as I have moved around a lot in my life (Illinois to Arkansas to Washington DC to New York). My goal was to find a place where I could not only receive a stellar education, but have career opportunities after I graduated in a place where I could be happy in my personal life. All of this was being balanced with a significant other who is graduating law school next month, so we had to balance both our interests. In the end, the Humphrey School and Minneapolis offered that equilibrium. The institution originally gave me an in-state tuition reduction, but after negotiating with other offers, I was able to receive a $10k award (50% of a year’s tuition) on top of that, making it affordable based on my personal financial attitudes/constraints about paying for graduate school.
  2. Seems like the LBJ School offers additional funding to a limited number of students around early to mid-April right before the decision deadline to entice students. A quick perusing of last year's thread suggested funding offers were enhanced between April 6th-12th. Best of luck to everyone!
  3. Hi all, I applied for a Master's program at School X, and the financial aid package was decent, but not enough for me to attend. I received a generous financial aid package from another program, School Y, and I decided to use it as leverage to appeal for more aid at School X. What is an appropriate timeline for me to wait for a decision before following up? I have to make a decision on a program no later than April 15th, and I realize the Coronavirus probably will create delays in hearing back. Any insight would be appreciated!
  4. I also received a financial aid package last week, and unfortunately, the funding wasn't sufficient (they gave me an in-state tuition waiver). I am most likely attending the LBJ School in Austin, TX, since they gave me a generous aid package.
  5. Hi all, Haven't seen a thread started for the Humphrey School yet, but it seems anyone who applied before the January 15 priority deadline has already heard back with an admissions decision. However, funding packages won't be released until "mid-March," and no later than March 15th. Fingers crossed over the next two weeks!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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!
  10. 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!
  11. 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!
  12. I'll have three years. Thanks! I probably will.
  13. That makes sense. Thank you!
  14. Thank you for the response! I appreciate the answer.
  15. 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.
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