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About acerbicb

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  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    Public Policy Analysis

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  1. Schools/Programs Applying To: Harvard HKS, Princeton WWS Undergraduate institution: Shitty Art School Undergraduate GPA: 3.6Undergraduate Major: Cultural Studies/Critical TheoryGRE Quantitative Score: 142GRE Verbal Score: 162GRE AW Score: 4.5 Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 4Years of Work Experience: 5 (counting internships) Describe Relevant Work Experience: I have a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship under my belt, completed at University of Michigan/Ford School. I've worked in non-profits for 5 years, across public health, education, and housing. Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Unsure of how we're defining "strength." I talk about my childhood struggles with housing instability and immigration as the basis for my commitment to public service. This commitment is then contextualized in my early volunteer work with low income Latino communities, which lead me to pursue a policy fellowship at the University of Michigan that served as a platform to pursue more formal public service work and establish a pathway to an MPP. I reference specific impacts I've made through this public service work: connecting over 100 homeless individuals with mental health services; establishing a $350,000 partnership with a federal agency to provide transitional housing to a vulnerable population; managing the delivery of college access programs to more than 170 youth and families; and securing funding to build 50 units of affordable housing. I basically say that I want to leverage these experiences to pursue work in the program evaluation field. I am pursuing am MPP and filling in/refining skills that are useful to that end: program evaluation, quantitative analysis, etc. Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong LOR from professors that were thesis advisors and with whom I took at least 3 courses with. Professional letters verifying my commitment to public service and the way I implement MPP-type skills at the community level to improve the quality of life of low income people of color. Questions I have: I want to know whether my profile makes me a viable candidate for HKS with good funding, despite a dismal quantitative score on the GRE and no quant courses in college. A couple of notes to this end: - I've already been accepted to Ford ($$$), La Follette ($$$), Rutgers ($$$), Heinz ($$$), and UChicago Harris ($). - The reason my GRE was so low was because I was laid off basically the month I took the GRE and was forced off of psychiatric meds as a result of losing my insurance. I ended up taking the GRE while going through withdrawals for those meds. - The summer fellowship I completed at Ford does include references form professors saying I was a top performer in general, completing graduate coursework microeconomics and statistics modules
  2. I don’t think that a big name is ever worth going tens of thousands deeper into debt. This is especially true when talking about public sector/policy work, which doesn’t yield the kind of return on investment that a top-ranked MBA or JD night. That said, if you feel with confidence that a school is (1) a better fit in terms of curriculum and (2) can effectively place you in a higher paying job that is more aligned with your professional goals, it is worth considering. Just make sure that the specific opportunities you feel that Harvard has for you (i.e. connections to an employer you want to work for) arent available at Duke.
  3. Definitely. I would apply to different schools and I would strategize the applications differently. I didn’t see WWS at Princeton as a viable/competitive option, which led me to experiment with the application as opposed to put my best foot forward in terms of LOR, connecting with the school directly, etc. There’s no guarantee I would have gotten in, obviously, but I am disappointed in that application. I also would have applied to some dual programs, MBA or Information Systems, now knowing that I am interested in analytics and private sector work. I didn’t do so mainly because I didn’t have the capacity to produce double the applications. I think I also didn’t have a detailed understanding of what I wanted to pursue through an MPP. I knew vaguely I wanted Econ and Stats skills that could be applied to analyze housing policy, spatial inequality, and so on. Most top policy schools don’t specialize or even have institutes devoted to housing policy. To this end, I felt like any school was a compromise.
  4. Offers: University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy (MPP) - I have been offered 100% tuition and fees, health insurance, and a $20,000 stipend for both years Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy (MSPPM) - I have been offered 100% tuition and a $6,000 stipend for both years (I am in the process of reaching out to CMU to see if they'd be willing to match Ford's offer) Background: I am a social services professional looking to transition from non-profit program delivery and fundraising to public sector consulting, with a specialization in evaluations, service design, and behavior change. Longer term, I'd also like to position myself to pursue a quantitatively heavy social science Ph.D like Economics or Sociology. My BA was in Cultural Studies at a lackluster art school, which is equivalent to reading a lot of social theory and continental philosophy. Major concerns: Connection to Consulting Firms. Because I don't have a strong background in consulting fields, I want to be at a school with a strong relationship to places like Deloitte, IBM, and McKinsey. (I'm aware that an MBA would put me in a better position... but that's now what I am in the market for right now). Quantitative Focus. I want a school with a quantitative focus that can close the aforementioned skill gap and allow me to be competitive with folks that may have had a more robust undergraduate education. Classes which are interesting to me include program evaluation, applied econometrics, operations research/management science, statistical modeling, and data analysis (e.g. Python, SQL). In other words, whether it is management or analysis, I want a program that provides me a hard, technical approach. Applied and Experiential Learning. I want a school whose curriculum applies the aforementioned courses and methodologies to real world situations, preferably through client projects. Adaptability. I want a degree that will best position me in terms of network and skillset to hop from consulting to public program direction to research.
  5. bumping this to see if anyone has two cents!
  6. Coming from Chicago, IL Deciding Between Carnegie Mellon Heinz: MSPPM - Pittsburgh (Full Tuition + $6k Stipend) University of Michigan Ford: MPP - Policy Analysis (Full Tuition + $20k Stipend) I will be sending Heinz the offer from Ford to see whether they’d be willing to match. Pittsburgh is substantially cheaper than Ann Arbor… though less accessible without a car (I don’t drive). Other Factors There are several factors pulling me towards either school — or deferring either offer for a year. (1) Research vs. Consulting After 5 years of development and fundraising/program coordination in the nonprofit field, I bring my curiosity and project management skills in a new, more interesting line of work… that pays better. To this end, I want to leverage an MPP/MSPPM to enter research (e.g. Mathematica, Urban Labs) or public sector strategic consulting (e.g. IBM, McKinsey, Deloitte). Ford seems like it has stronger connections to the policy research community, especially given in-house institutions. However, I know that McKinsey, IBM, and Deloitte all offer interviews on-site at Heinz and have been recruiting with increasing severity in the past few years. Ford is obviously offering me more money up front… but can I leverage the connections and education at Ford to secure a consulting gig immediately after graduation? I am torn! These two fields seem so disparate to me, like if I do one for a few years I won’t be able to return and do the other. 😞 (2) Curriculum and Analytic Rigor I went to art school and studied what is basically low calorie, Marxist, theoretical sociology — I read a lot of continental philosophy and wrote a meandering thesis. I really want a degree that’s gonna kick me in the ass, but provide the resources to close the analytic/management skill gap. If I do research, I want to be able to work alongside analysts who have been doing this since undergrad, who went to Harvards and Princetons. If I do consulting, I want to be able to analyze, synthesize, and translate data to manage organizational changes and inform management decisions. Operations research/management science, data analytics (e.g. competency in SAS, Python, R, and machine learning), and quantitative analysis (e.g. econometrics, statistical analysis) feel very important to this end. I know that Heinz’ curriculum provides these “straight-out-of-the-box” as part of their core curriculum. Moreover, each Heinz alumni I've interviewed has spoken to how academically challenging Heinz was. Can Ford match them, blow for blow? How difficult would that be to do? Will the difference in training result in different employment opportunities in the long run, given my stated interests? (3) Money and Deferment I am paying off several thousands of dollars in tax debt, medical bills, and academic bills with a upper-lower class salary. I have chronic illnesses that I’m working to get in order. I don’t have a network that can provide consistent financial support (though I am considering a go-fund-me to cover relocation costs). I wonder if deferring these offers for a year would be the best course of action. If I manage to hold down my job, I would be able to pay off my debts within the year. I would be able to get treated for the aforementioned illnesses. I would be able to amass some savings. Lastly, I would be able to take some quant courses so that I won’t have to be taking calculus or basic stats in the course of the program… I’d very much like to put my money/time towards acquiring more specialized skills. Money is also another reason to lean towards Ford... that's a 14k difference. Heinz is located in a more affordable city, but they want me to move a month earlier for Math Camp (without sponsorship), they don't have any computer labs, and I don't know anyone at Heinz. (At Ford I know a few students, faculty, and staff, as I've stayed there a couple months for a fellowship). How I’m leaning Like I said, I’m torn! Severed! Frayed! These are my top two choices. I am leaning towards deferment out of stress and financial insecurity. In terms of schools, I was leaning towards Heinz… but the offer from Ford is very heartening. I think that Heinz is providing the skills I want explicitly, has a connection to the consulting world that is more documented and present than Ford.
  7. I received my rejection email just now. This was my first and weakest application! I feel kinda down, but I know that these processes can be a crapshoot and that the stuff I turned into the other schools was superior in quality. I wonder if they offer feedback?
  8. Just updating! Haven't heard back from WWS, which I assume is a rejection, but am super excited about the offers I've received.
  9. Accepted with max funding I am about to cry 😭😭😭😭
  10. This is a really awesome idea for a resource. I’ve hesrd from several admissions officers that superior offers from comparable schools is the most determining leverage for successful negotiations. If I can piggy back and add some specific questions for discussion: - What kind of offers are relevant as leverage to a specific school? Is it similarly ranked schools? Is it schools with similar programs in terms of academic focus? Location? - How do you negotiate an already superior offer? Say you’ve been given full tuition plus stipend, but want to increase the stipend at one institution based on a superior offer from another. - Is it possible to negotiate without other superior offers? How?
  11. All of them are scheduled for the same date. It’s quite rude.
  12. Rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, but Ford was just announced as the #1 policy analysis program by U.S. news!
  13. YEP! God I wish I could go back and re-submit.
  14. Gotcha! This makes sense. Again, I appreciate you sharing. As someone who sees a future in program/policy evaluation, one of my main concerns with Heinz is the potentially narrow application of the program (e.g. limited to data analysis roles with firms working with big data) and the apparent lack of qualitative research methods — things I was thinking might be more balanced in Harris’ curriculum (at least with my very cursory understanding of these two programs). Your comment really spoke to this line of inquiry!
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