Throwing my hat in the ring for 2019 matriculation. Any thoughts/pointers would be appreciated
Schools Applying To: WWS, HKS - see below for concerns
Interests: Domestic/urban policy - specifically economic development and government-business policy
Undergrad Institution: Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in biology from top 20 competitive liberal arts college (2010)
Undergraduate GPA: 3.71
Grad Institution: Master's of City Planning from top 3 Ivy League program (2012) with a few fellowships/scholarships thrown in
Graduate GPA: 3.73
GRE: TBD - taking August 2018
Quantitative Courses: calc, micro econ, urban econ, statistics, plenty of science classes, etc. (not worried about my quant experience)
Work Experience: after finishing my master's I worked for 3 years in consulting working on public-private partnership deal structures, public sector real estate redevelopment, and economic development projects. For the past 3 years I've been a civil servant working for DOT in one of their policy offices, focused on real estate projects and some fine-grained accounting and financial analyses projects for some very large federal grant recipients. I also participate in some industry forums on urban revitalization, and volunteer for LGBT organizations.
LORs: TBD but three in total. Likely two from work: 1) my office director, who is an HKS grad and an SES, and 2) my current division chief. Third will probably be from my undergrad thesis advisor/close mentor (biology professor) who supervised my senior thesis.
Concerns: I have arrived at wanting an MPA/MPP degree slowly - if you told me even 1-2 years ago that I'd be considering going back to school I wouldn't believe you. I think the rigor of a policy program would do a lot to catalyze my career; I eventually want to work at the city-level. Reading through the courses, simulations, and curricula available at these programs really excites me.
I have a few concerns. I am a bit nervous that my GRE score will not be super competitive (92%+ percentile) for HKS and WWS because it's been a while since I've had to study for a standardized test. I'm sure lots of us deal with "imposter's syndrome" but it's especially true for me so I need to build my confidence to really sell myself. Also, I am really interested in domestic urban policy, which seems to be less popular among MPA/MPP programs. HKS and WWS both have solid programs focused on that concentration. What are some others? The other constraint is that my husband and I are located in the Northeast and would like to stay in that region. I'm tempted to apply to only 2-4 programs that really fit my interests and see what happens.