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    2013 Fall
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ridofme's Achievements


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  1. The majority of people in this field go to grad school unfunded. Schools typically give 20-40% of students some kind of aid, but that could be 8k/year. There will be others who come in on outside fellowships (Pickering, Rangel, aid from foreign governments or foundations for international students). But most people either rely on the bank of mom & dad or massive student loans.
  2. Also, no idea what Mia's background or perspective is, but I would be careful to take the opinion of someone who is either majorly complaining about or majorly advocating for any specific school. Of course if 10 people say "this school is a waste of time/money" or "this school helped me achieve my dreams!!!" then that's something to consider, but I can think of a few big complainers from my program and I think some of their grievances where more based on their negative attitudes/senses of entitlement than the program itself.
  3. I think concentrations within a school can matter in terms of the resources you're given access to once you're there, especially in a larger program. For example, different programs might have different levels of funding for study or career trips, professional advising, speakers, scholarships, summer internships, etc. They also might have professors/staff who are more or less helpful, friendly, open to student interaction, connected to potential employers...All of this can affect your experience at the school, and can help or hinder you when job-hunting.
  4. If your only goal is to get into consulting, go MBA or dual degree. Having graduated in May from a top 5 program this year, I do have classmates who went straight to big consulting firms, but it was a LOT harder than my friends who did MBAs. Big consultancies do not come to recruit at IR/PP schools, so you will have to network like crazy, all based on your own initiative. Of the handful of my friends who "made it" to big firms, almost all either did consulting before grad school or have very specific technical/quant backgrounds, or both. The only exception I can think of is a 30-something vet who is doing security stuff at Deloitte now. Also, the starting salaries are typically much lower if you're non-MBA (think 80-95 instead of 120+). Unless money is no object to you and you simply want the education, there is absolutely NO reason to do an MPP/MIA if your sole goal is to get into consulting (other than "development consulting," where you're luckily to get 50k/year).
  5. Assuming you keep your upward trajectory, I would not be concerned at all. My final GPA was close to your target for the end of your degree, and I got into a bunch of schools with funding offers, all of which were more competitive programs than Albany. And while my grades followed an upward trajectory over time, I did get a few bad marks in classes relevant to my major. I think you'll find that the amount of grade inflation really varies across colleges and programs, and grad schools know this. They will not mistake a C in Organic Chem with a C in Intro to Writing Composition.
  6. Yes, the problem with abroad programs through U.S. institutions is that you still have to pay the U.S. tuition. Although perhaps cost of living will be lower if you're in Singapore or Italy.
  7. Not to knock the collective wisdom of these here fora (on which I relied perhaps a bit too much during the application process), but I think that saying one school is more like to give aid than another is a dubious supposition, WWS excepted. After I got my various acceptances and aid offers last spring, I spoke to a number of these schools' financial aid offices. They all said that something like 25-40% of accepted students get aid offers - which could mean 5k or a full-ride. I myself ended up getting a very nice offer from a school that gradcafe would have you believe gives no aid. I got lower offers from schools that are considered "generous" here. Of course, these are also just anecdotes. I think the likelihood of any individual school giving you aid is based on where you stand in relation to their applicants and how their endowment is doing that year, rather than their general propensity to give aid. I remember that a lot of people seemed to be getting full rides from UT-Austin last spring, but that's probably because gradcafe-ers were at the top of their applicant pool. I highly doubt that they have more aid dollars to offer than, say, U of Chicago or Georgetown (although I could be wrong). If I were you, I would call your target schools and ask things like how many students get aid, what the average amount of aid is, and the average amount of debt that students graduate with. Some of this info will be posted on their websites, but not all of it. But don't not apply to a school because it's known as being stingy. To address your second question - I did have pretty high GREs (stellar verbal/writing, above average quant).
  8. I can't speak to the relative strength of UMD's program, but I would say that in almost any scenario, I would recommend working for a bit before going to graduate school. There's nothing like working full-time to help crystallize what you want/don't want out of a career and life in general. Plus if you can get into UMD now without full-time work experience, then you could probably get into an even better program - possibly with funding - in a couple of years. Good luck.
  9. I think it's worth applying. I know I was certainly surprised at acceptances (and funding) I got from schools whose stated average GPAs were higher than mine. I had a good GRE score, good languages, and am a few years out of undergrad, and I think that helped balance it. Do you have a solid GPA and decent work experience? Did you take some econ or quant courses and do well in them? If not, then maybe you can take a math or econ course at a local community college and ace it, just to show that you have the aptitude but perhaps don't test so well.
  10. Thank you for sharing your experience. How many years ago did you graduate, and did you have trouble finding a job in your intended field? Would you say your situation is typical of others in your cohort? Do you think that the big name East Coast schools are more valuable because of their prestige or location? What region was your school in, what region are you in now, and wherever you are geographically, are you there by choice?
  11. I would not mention it, especially considering it was your freshman year and your retook the course. And really - don't sweat it. I have personal experience in this arena with a very positive outcome. PM me for details if you would like.
  12. It's hard to answer your questions without more information. 1) How long is the "gap" you are trying to explain away, and how recent? A 5-month gap in 2006 is a different beast than an 18-month gap in 2011 and 2012. 2) Were you doing anything productive during the gap? You mention studying English and Spanish -- was this formal- or self-study? If you were enrolled in classes, then this time period would not necessarily constitute a gap. I would avoid mentioning any of this in your statement of purpose. If you feel you really need to address it (for example, if it was a long, recent gap in which you weren't taking any classes/volunteering, etc.), then I would write a very brief statement as an addendum, and keep it to-the-point.
  13. I'm sorry your question hasn't gotten a response - I'm really just here to bump it up. On GC we hear a lot from applicants, recent admits, and occasionally current students. It would be good to hear more from those who are 3-10 years out, to see what directions their lives have taken. (I've really enjoyed reading the thread with the current FSO, for example). I think that would help resolve a lot of the questions people have on this forum about job prospects, finances, job satisfaction, the "value" of these degrees, etc.
  14. Based on your stated objectives - proving your economics/quant aptitude for applications - I would definitely go with a "live" course. This could be an online course through a community college. You don't have to shell out a ton of cash, but this way you can send a transcript, as noted. Also, a few applications had me fill out sections specifically detailing my previous economics/stats/math courses, by listing course names, the semester(s) taken, grade received, etc. This would, of course, be impossible if you did not officially enroll in a course. One could use this opportunity criticize the entire education accreditation system, in which a low-level online CC course is considered more "legit" than a free course from MIT, but for better or worse, this is the game that we have chosen to play. Good luck!
  15. Haha! I will just join the chorus and say that I think that quant scores (and GREs) affect funding more than anything else. I would aim to crack 150 if possible, but it seems like people get in with a range of scores, especially if all the other parts of one's app are solid. Did you take any quantitative courses in undergrad? If not, maybe take stats, econ, or calc class at a local community college or online.
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