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Hello, I am sorry to be yet another annoying newbie on this site pestering members about chances. However, I've been out of school for a few years and I am wondering if I am being unrealistic about my prospects. For personal and financial reasons I do not plan to apply to any programs not in the top 10-15, and I am wondering if it is worth to spend the money for the cycle if my chances are completely slim. If anyone in comparative has experience with the last cycle or two, please share your opinion. If you can suggest ways to improve for next year please let me know. I feel that my main issue with working full time and travelling a lot is not having direct constant exposure to research in the field. I am not sure how to fix that. Programs of Interest: Comparative Programs (with Eurasia regional focus/research faculty) Type of Undergrad Institution: Large Private East Coast Research University Major(s)/Minor(s): Economics/IR double major —Undergraduate Thesis Undergrad GPA: 3.6 (cum laude) MA: Ivy League Regional Studies MA (2 years)/No GPA calculated but decent grades – Graduate Thesis GRE: V: 160, Q: 160, W: 5.5 (have been studying to improve, will retake in a month) Any Special Courses: · Math (2 semesters of Calculus, statistics, econometrics)—planning to take linear algebra in the fall (was not mandatory in undergrad). Will try to take game theory too. · Advanced Comparative Politics and History Courses both from undergrad (4) and grad (8). Languages: 2 Regionally relevant languages (at full fluency) Teaching: Teaching fellow for 4 semesters as MA student. Was a TA for courses in Political Science (comparative) and Economic History. (excellent reviews from proffs and students) Letters of Recommendation: I think should be good? BA thesis Advisor ( Tenured History/IR proff), one MA Poli Sci Proff (tenured at top 5 department), MA thesis advisor (who is no longer in academia). Research Experience: · Besides BA and MA thesis mostly archival research from undergraduate. Unfortunately no published papers in field of interest. · One summer research experience after graduate school cleaning and organizing data for a university political research lab. · Political Think tank research experience. · Couple of book reviews in academic journals. Other: Currently work in international development non-profit (3 years), same regional focus as research interest. SoP: Struggling to articulate a single focus, but am drawing on international development experience and MA research. Thank you in advance for any insight.