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About cactus_taco

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  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    Public Policy/Affairs

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  1. Hopefully this posts helps out future applicants! Program Applied To: MPA Schools Applied To: Princeton (WWS MPA), Harvard (Kennedy MPA/ID), UChicago (Harris MPP), SAIS MA IDEV Schools Admitted To: WWS (full tuition + partial stipend), HKS (full tuition + outside stipend), Harris (10k), SAIS (38k) Schools Rejected From: N/A Undergraduate institution: Ivy Undergraduate GPA: 3.6 -3.7 Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): Undergraduate Major: Economics GRE Quantitative Score: 164 GRE Verbal Score: 166 GRE AW Score: 6 Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): Years of Work Experience: 5 Describe Relevant Work Experience: 3 year domestic work experience in consulting, 2 year international grassroots level development work. several internships during college abroad. Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): This is key! My biggest advise to future applicants is to take time to craft a compelling story. Have a story arch, tying together your background, work experience, reason for applying to grad school, and future career aspirations. The HKS blog has some useful tips (e.g. front load your thesis, use clear language). It's better to have a narrower interest than broad. Try to channel the aspirations of the people/sector/region you are passionate about - it makes your essay bigger than your own story. Also, start brainstorming a couple of month before the deadline. If you are applying to multiple schools, compare the prompts of each program and see how many "unique" essays you need to write. For the personal/diversity essay, try to focus on one aspect of who you are because the word limit is pretty harsh. For the memo, there are plenty of resources online. I didn't use any foot notes, and wrote in memo form. It's much better to write on a familiar topic than an impressive one. Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): 1 current supervisor, 1 past supervisor, 1 professor. It's important to start this process several month before the deadline too! I found it very useful to write a "talking points" documents to each of my recommenders. I suggested a key theme for each person (slightly different for each, but complementary), and wrote several personal characteristics and provided supporting examples. This is a good opportunity to cover for your weakness. For example, I didn't take many math courses in college, so I noted to my recommenders to highlight my analytical skills (and provided examples). Start with an intro email asking if they would write you a compelling letter. then follow up with your information (talking points, your essay, deadlines etc. try to not overwhelm them with too much info). I don't know how the forms compare across schools, but I heard from my recommenders that HKS , Harris, WWS were pretty similar. Other: Grad school application process is heart-wrenchingly stressful. My biggest advice: believe in yourself and go for it. I didn't think I would be competitive for the ID program (my scores and GPA are average at best), and I didn't feel that my profile was extraordinary enough to get into WWS. But I believed in my story. I tried my best to share my experiences, the voices of those who I want to support, and why going to school was going to help me help them. So, go for it! Apply to HKS, WWS if those are your dream. These elite institutions are not made for just elite people. You belong there too. Decision: I had a disappointing set of interactions with Harris admissions. SAIS was great in doing outreach, asking 2 profs and 1 student to call me (btw, no funding to attend open house). WWS made me feel very special and at home (they offered to pay for your ticket up to 600 to attend the open house, but only from/to the same destination). HKS ID ultimately was the best fit for me (stingy with funding for open house in many ways vs WWS..). I personally felt the ID program gave me the right level of rigor, environment, and international focus. While I loved the other admitted students at WWS, I felt that HKS provided more growth opportunities. In case future applicants are wondering - WWS sent a congrats email 2 days before the official announcement, HKS sent an "there's an update to your application..." email where you could click and see the decision in the portal. For both, the financial aid came a bit later (same day/next). Good luck!
  2. Perhaps I am wrong! I'm basing my judgement on representation of current MPAs and admitted students, as well as conversation with advisors (on who used to teach there). The sense I got was that, within field 2 (international development), most "international" jobs are still US-based (mostly DC and NY). @meshoome I am fully funded at both. I am a new american/immigrant, with domestic and international experience. This is my personal opinion and I urge you to speak with others: I was also concerned that the ID crowd would be a bit "stuffy" or "elite", and I loved the public service ethos of the wws. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I visited. Everyone I spoke with seemed down to earth, and critically interested in promoting the public good. Several people I spoke with were funded via extra funding (e.g. japan/WB, host country). There was, however, a fair bit of people coming in from ibanking and management consulting (mostly joint degrees), but even these had career aspirations to apply their skills to a developing context (e.g. impact investing). Honestly, the biggest difference in vibe was an intellectual and geographical one. I loved how the students at hks thought critically about what they were being taught in the class, and discussed the merits of different lenses of thinking. Perhaps this was more apparent at HKS because everything in the curriculum was directly related to development (and that's what excites me). The students at WWS were also brilliant, kind, and social. But I felt more comfortable and inspired by the international-nature of the students at HKS. When I say domestic circles, I mean careers focused internationally but based in U.S. offices. For example, the world bank headquarters in D.C. or Gates in Seattle. Perhaps this is the goal for many, but I am more attracted to field work/offices and getting closer to the people I am supporting. I feel like I'm really talking down the woo. It really is a fantastic program. I have a rather specific career interest, so I'm leaning HKS. I guess, it really comes down to how much tolerance you have for debt, and if you can find something interesting to do for a year. I know you can easily defer your ID offer and look for funding. You might do some research and see if you can find a cool job. 65K is a lot still. On the other hand, an ID alum said no one he knew has ever regretted going there, so.. Best of luck!
  3. A nugget of info on admissions sent in thank you letters to references: 121 admits, over 70% with 4 or more years of work experience. Hope someone on the waitlist is getting my spot!
  4. Hi! Tough choice. What are you hoping to get out of a graduate program? I am asking because I'm wondering if you need to go to grad school or can go directly into consulting. Maybe if you are lacking in quant skills, I can see how Harris can really help you out. It might help to think about what skills you can gain only in a school vs. on the job. With your background, you might already be competitive for a consulting gig (you could start in general management, and then move into their public sector practice, which would open up your options). But if you are set on grad school (for the network, added degree if you ever want to work for UN/USAID types), I think you should also consider how the added year "fit" into your narrative. If you pivot back to the private sector, it might be harder to convince the policy schools you belong there vs. a MBA (which does not give much funding). You may consider doing something more "public" oriented in this upcoming year if you wish to increase your competitiveness. Perhaps a think tank? a field research/analyst position (like givedirectly, IDinsight?) If you are kinda lost as to why/if you want to go to grad school, AND you can handle the debt, maybe you should just go... you can for sure still find a high payer job with a harris degree, and the network can set you up with new opportunities. A year post-degree is probably more valuable than a year before - so it's good to get through school asap! You can also explore outside scholarships for year 2. Hope some of this makes sense.
  5. Hi, wanted to chime in as I am an admit to both of the programs and attended both visiting days. 1. I got a very strong sense that if you are admitted, you can handle the math. The entire first year is focused on core training. There is no need to spend another year of your life learning what you will be learning at hks (many students with strong Econ backgrounds found the first year redundant). I got the sense that the learning environment is very supportive and everyone gets through. 2. I got the sense that WWS is very focused on preparing students for domestic policy circles, meaning jobs in domestic policy or IR/idev jobs out of US organizations (gates, usaid). No professor from the idev field showed up at the hosting weekend, which was kind of disappointing. In contrast, hks is a hotbed of dev practitioners and academics. Honestly besides the money, wws doesn’t appear to have an advantage over mpa/id- both are small, tight knit, quant-y, with mpa/id being way more international and stronger in its ID curriculum (plus ability to take classes at MIT, HBS). 3. How much does money matter? Can you find something meaningful to do for a year while you look for funding - and would it increase your chance of getting funding? If so, sure! Otherwise, honestly if your parents can afford it (and won’t mind), you might be better off starting the program now and save this extra year for (hopefully more exciting/valuable) work experience after you graduate. 4. Are you thinking of applying directly to ph.d? If so, the added one year research exp makes sense. Otherwise, there might be less reason to wait another year (if funding is not a huge concern).
  6. I bet many mpa/id ers have sponsorship from their governments. I’m 50-50 between this and another program. Will decide soon though
  7. I think you should send in your request now and ask to meet in person during the visit day. That way they have time to review it, and they know for sure you’re serious about them! And if in the meantime someone ups their offer, all the more leverage to use that to get more money at your first choice.
  8. Hi! Great choices. I share your concern about WWS, as I myself am trying to decide on the best place to go for a career outside the US (I didn't apply to Stanford. My other option is the kennedy's MPA/ID). Looking at your pros and cons, I think wws should get more credit for funding and cohort. maybe there is such a thing as too small of a cohort?? Every single student/alum from the wws mpa program tells me the community/individual attention is one of the best part of the education. I would also add that given the relative new nature of the stanford program, it has a weaker alumni base - which is a distinct disadvantage for networking. Though I think wws is a bit domestic-heavy, the selection of policy workshops, the fields of studies (3/4 are non-domestic), and career placement all suggest a high level of emphasis on international work. One of my goals going into the hosting weekend is to learn a bit more about the strength of its international coursework, and its "reach" outside the US (in terms of alum presence). Hopefully someone else familiar with stanford can comment more specifically about the program!
  9. Hi! You look like you have a great profile. I second your thought that minimizing debt should be your top priority. Just a thought, have you submitted the aid reconsideration form to Harris? Given your offer elsewhere, especially Duke, there is a good chance Harris can up their offer. Getting 25k from Harris is no small feat!! You could specify an amount you're looking for (10k seems appropriate), and see what they are wiling to give. I live in the Chicago area. It's not super expensive (rent near hyde park is very manageable), compared to the west coast. Plus Harris has a super strong domestic policy program. If there's anything specific to Chicago you would like to know, feel free to message me and I'll try to find the answer.
  10. Do we know when the wws programming starts on Saturday? In a similar situation, but going up to Boston instead for the mpa/id visit day on Monday. Friends tell me taking the train is the way to go. I’ll be at sais too on Wednesday, but have not hear much about their open house. Happy to travel together with others on the same schedule!
  11. Anyone going to the hks mpa/Id open house on Monday?
  12. Wow I got the public service scholarship! I am befuddled... and puts it in real competiton with wws. can’t wait for the open house!
  13. In for MPA ID as well! Wow, dream news after getting news from wws yesterday
  14. Okay, thanks for the explanation!
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