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Something like this please. Links to previous years versions of this thread: 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014.

 

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.)  
Schools Applied To:  
Schools Admitted To:  
Schools Rejected From:  
Still Waiting:  
Undergraduate institution:  
Undergraduate GPA:  
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  
Undergraduate Major:  
GRE Quantitative Score:  
GRE Verbal Score:  
GRE AW Score:  
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  
Years of Work Experience:  
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  
Other:

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): MPP/MPA, MIA: SIPA
Schools Applied To: HKS, SIPA, WWS, Chicago Harris, NYU Wagner 
Schools Admitted To: SIPA, Harris (both early)
Schools Rejected From:  
Still Waiting:  HKS, WWS, Wagner
Undergraduate institution:  Top 10 LAC
Undergraduate GPA:  Around 3.5
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  Strong upward trend in past two semesters.
Undergraduate Major:  Economics, regional language
GRE Quantitative Score:  161
GRE Verbal Score:  166
GRE AW Score:  4.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  0
Years of Work Experience:  0
Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 congressional internships in DC (1 committee in area of interest)
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Excellent, had a few typos for EAs but I got in because I think my thought/enthusiasm showed. Having a plan (even tentative) and mission is good. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Excellent. Committee staff and college prof.
Other: I didn't think I'd get in anywhere from undergrad, but I'm quite pleased with how things have turned out so far. I plan on Harris unless something changes and love the University of Chicago! 

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Program Applied To: MPP
Schools Applied To:  UCSD GPS; GWU Trachtenberg; A&M Bush School; Maryland SPP;
Schools Admitted To:  GWU Trachtenberg
Schools Rejected  From:  
Still Waiting:  UCSD; A&M; Maryland;
Undergraduate institution:  
Undergraduate GPA:  3.95
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  
Undergraduate Major:  Political Science
GRE Quantitative Score:  151
GRE Verbal Score:  164
GRE AW Score:  4.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  1
Years of Work Experience:  2
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  Worked 2 years for the Foreign Policy Committee of my country's Parliment
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Medium
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Strong
Other: Fulbright Scholarship for a grad degree in the U.S.; Currently a grad student in IR at a top 10 university in Europe.

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) : 4 MPP's/1 MPA
Schools Applied To:  Harris, Heinz, Sanford, La Follette(MPA), Loyola (safety, free app)
Schools Admitted To:  Harris (small scholarship), La Follette (full tuition first year, also nominated for a fellowship which would be full tuition+stipend but won't find out until late march/early april), Loyola
Schools Rejected From:  
Still Waiting:  Heinz, Sanford
Undergraduate institution:  2nd tier state university
Undergraduate GPA:  3.80
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  3.9
Undergraduate Major:  Economics
GRE Quantitative Score:  158, 69th percentile (regrettable time management, left the final 2 questions blank, didn't want to fork over another $205 to retake it, excuses excuses)
GRE Verbal Score:  162, 91st percentile
GRE AW Score: 5.0, 93rd percentile
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  0
Years of Work Experience:  0
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Internship for regional planning group doing economic studies, internship for US Senator's state office, research assistant for my school's state policy lab
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Relatively strong, discussed how my internships informed my decision and had clear goals for what I want to use the degree for (this is especially important if you're straight out of undergrad like me), made specific references to the school I was applying to
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong: 2 from econ professors, one from intern coordinator at senator's office
Other: I think my biggest strengths in my application come from the fact that I had these experiences while also being a starting student athlete at my university, shows dedication to public service and ability to handle a very heavy schedule. Also helps to be an econ wonk, especially for applying to Harris. I did not expect to be admitted to Harris, much less be offered funding. However, the cost of tuition remaining plus the cost of living in Chicago may put it out of reach. Waiting to hear from Heinz and Sanford. One of my recommenders is a CMU alum which might benefit me. I have my doubts about getting in to Sanford, just a gut feeling, but I assume I'll find out in the next month or so. 

S/O to @lackey, glad to see another econ major straight out of undergrad. Best of luck hearing back from those last three you are waiting on, I am rooting for you. 

Edited by mppapp2018

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4 hours ago, mppapp2018 said:

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) : 4 MPP's/1 MPA
Schools Applied To:  Harris, Heinz, Sanford, La Follette(MPA), Loyola (safety, free app)
Schools Admitted To:  Harris (small scholarship), La Follette (full tuition first year, also nominated for a fellowship which would be full tuition+stipend but won't find out until late march/early april), Loyola
Schools Rejected From:  
Still Waiting:  Heinz, Sanford
Undergraduate institution:  2nd tier state university
Undergraduate GPA:  3.80
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  3.9
Undergraduate Major:  Economics
GRE Quantitative Score:  158, 69th percentile (regrettable time management, left the final 2 questions blank, didn't want to fork over another $205 to retake it, excuses excuses)
GRE Verbal Score:  162, 91st percentile
GRE AW Score: 5.0, 93rd percentile
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  0
Years of Work Experience:  0
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Internship for regional planning group doing economic studies, internship for US Senator's state office, research assistant for my school's state policy lab
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Relatively strong, discussed how my internships informed my decision and had clear goals for what I want to use the degree for (this is especially important if you're straight out of undergrad like me), made specific references to the school I was applying to
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong: 2 from econ professors, one from intern coordinator at senator's office
Other: I think my biggest strengths in my application come from the fact that I had these experiences while also being a starting student athlete at my university, shows dedication to public service and ability to handle a very heavy schedule. Also helps to be an econ wonk, especially for applying to Harris. I did not expect to be admitted to Harris, much less be offered funding. However, the cost of tuition remaining plus the cost of living in Chicago may put it out of reach. Waiting to hear from Heinz and Sanford. One of my recommenders is a CMU alum which might benefit me. I have my doubts about getting in to Sanford, just a gut feeling, but I assume I'll find out in the next month or so. 

S/O to @lackey, glad to see another econ major straight out of undergrad. Best of luck hearing back from those last three you are waiting on, I am rooting for you. 

Thanks for the encouragement! Love the econ major and Senate internship (did one in DC)! I'm happy you got into Harris too. I'll be at admitted students day so hopefully we'll run into each other!

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): MPP/MPA
Schools Applied To: Princeton WWS, Chicago Harris, NYU Wagner, CMU Heinz, USC Price, Berkeley GSPP
Schools Admitted To: Harris ($), Price (?)
Schools Rejected From:  
Still Waiting:  All others
Undergraduate institution:  Top 5 public
Undergraduate GPA:  3.6
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  I would guess that it was a bit higher like a 3.7, lots of credit for independent research
Undergraduate Major: Political Science & Arabic/Islamic Studies
GRE Quantitative Score:  157
GRE Verbal Score:  164
GRE AW Score:  5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  5
Years of Work Experience:  5
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Leadership position in a nonprofit organization
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Quite strong I think. Very specific about academic interests and career objectives in a fairly narrow field. I wrote about the faculty members and research centers I want to work with. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Excellent, current boss and two high ranking professors who know me personally
 

Anxiously waiting news from the other schools! 

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.)  MPP, MPA, MSPPM
Schools Applied To: Heinz, La Follette, American, Harris, Batten, McCourt
Schools Admitted To:  Heinz (50%), American (Still waiting until March 15-?)
Schools Waitlisted: Batten, La Follette, McCourt

Schools Rejected From:  Harris
Still Waiting: none
Undergraduate institution:  Mid-tier private university in Pittsburgh (I promise the Pittsburgh part is important)
Undergraduate GPA:  3.43
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 3.7
Undergraduate Major: Journalism and Political Science
GRE Quantitative Score: 148 (30%) - more on this in other 
GRE Verbal Score: 152 (54%)
GRE AW Score:  4.0 (60%)
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  3
Years of Work Experience: 3 
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Teach for America 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Probably why I was waitlisted at some schools I should have heard no from (*cough* Wisconsin). I got to talk about experiences in my classroom and how different policy initiatives would help my students. It was also the best part of my Heinz application, as I was able to talk about how I began my journey towards educational equity and research in Pittsburgh and how I wanted to study policy there as a result.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Very very good. My TFA supervisor, my publications board advisor, and a professor/advisor from my college newspaper days. I also had my policy professor from college able to write letters for Harris and La Follette, but not for all due to federal government work taking over. 
Other: My Heinz admission requires me to take summer math courses through QSSP. I also had a panic attack the day of my GRE and was open with admissions offices regarding it, and my willingness to take more quant classes over the summers. Ultimately, I’ll attend Heinz due to financial aid and the program, plus the fact that Pittsburgh is my home away from home. 

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Program Applied To: quant focused MPA/MPP programs (is there even a difference?)
Schools Applied To:  Harris, SAIS, SIPA, GW
Schools Admitted To:  Harris MACRM ($), SAIS IDEV ($$$), SIPA MPADP (0), GW (0)
Schools Rejected From:  none
Still Waiting:  none
Undergraduate institution: T20 LAC, international student
Undergraduate GPA:  3.5
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  ??
Undergraduate Major:  Economics and a fun liberal arts major
GRE Quantitative Score:  160
GRE Verbal Score:  166
GRE AW Score:  5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  3
Years of Work Experience:  3
Describe Relevant Work Experience: 1 year as economics RA in institutional economics, IO work the last two years
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I started by introducing the policy area I'm interested in with some anecdote about my work or personal life, then I talked about why that policy area is important for international economic development and the direction I see it going in in the future. At that point I also talked about where I see instrument design in that area going based on my work experiences and how that influences my career plans post-MA in terms of what kind of organization I want to work at in what capacity. In the space remaining I talked about why [school X], but the idea was to show fit throughout the essay rather than to tack on "oh btw I find Prof Y super fascinating and want to be a member of student org Z" at the end. Because my programs had wildly differing word counts, prompts, and supplemental essay requirements, I ended up writing a separate SOP for each school. I estimate that ~2/3 of each SOP is unique to each school. I found that, once I got all my ideas out and organized in a 1000-word monster doc, customizing the SOP wasn't difficult at all, and each consecutive one was better than the last. But I had a pretty well-formed idea of where I'm going in this career when I went in.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  2 from undergrad advisers, 1 from current boss. I realized too late that someone with my amount of work experience is supposed to have 2 work, 1 academic >.< I suspect my LORs were pretty strong, but if I did the process again, I'd pick different people and I'd have my application mostly ready by the time I contacted them. It's really important to give your recommenders a brief for the points their letter should emphasize so that it reinforces the narrative you're creating in your application. The best I could do for mine was a resume and an abstract of my SOP.
Other: I pulled out of applying for the HKS MPAID at the last minute because I didn't feel like I was competitive enough and now I'm majorly regretting it. SAIS was my first choice out of this batch, but the MPAID would've been my firstest choice. I'm contemplating asking SAIS to defer and trying again next year, this time with HKS/WWS/Yale. I also regret not talking to my colleagues about my process more, because it turns out that everyone is super excited to get me in touch with alumni/professors/admissions offices. I think I would've benefitted a lot from shopping my application around for opinions - and I didn't even post in the chances thread! Additionally, through the process of coming up with my SOP and now, thinking about where to go for grad school has made me think that I haven't learned everything I can from my current situation. I feel like I need to hone in better on what policy I want to do and develop some basic networking skills in order to take full advantage of this generous opportunity I now have. But overall I'm happy and I see my funded offers as proof of readiness for the field, because from where I sit, being able to construct a compelling narrative for why your program warrants scarce public funds is 90% of the job.

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Program Applied To: International Relations  
Schools Applied To:  Georgetown/SFS, Notre Dame/Keough, Stanford/Ford Dorsey, Tufts/Fletcher, Chicago/CIR
Schools Admitted To:  Georgetown/SFS, Notre Dame/Keough, Stanford/Ford Dorsey, Chicago/CIR
Schools Rejected From:  NA
Still Waiting:  Tufts/Fletcher
Undergraduate institution:  Small liberal arts college
Undergraduate GPA:  4.0
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA:  NA
Undergraduate Major:  Great Books program comparable to a double major in philosophy and theology with a double minor in math and science
GRE Quantitative Score:  164
GRE Verbal Score:  169
GRE AW Score:  5.0
Years Out of Undergrad:  0
Years of Work Experience:  7
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  State Department internship; 7 years training full time and competing internationally in an Olympic sport (I think I made a good case that an athlete works for the federation he or she represents, with clear expectations for job performance and goals to be met.  Participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics implied that those expectations were met and those goals were achieved.)
Strength of SOP: Quite good.  It took me about 6 weeks to write and polish it.  I was fortunate to have a clear trajectory to my story: Exposure to multiple cultures and participation in the Olympic Movement led to an interest in the field.  My faith gave a humanitarian bent to my interest (explicit in the Notre Dame application, implied in the others).  My subsequent Great Books education, with its focus on what it means to be human, provided the necessary intellectual foundation.  The result was a calling to work in the field in some humanitarian capacity.
Strength of LOR's:  Good.  A Great Books curriculum means no courses in international relations or economics.  My LORs were from philosophy, theology, and science professors.  The upside is that the college and class sizes are both small, so my professors knew me extremely well and could write in detail about my intellect, academic ability, and character
Other:  

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5 minutes ago, SochiGirl said:

Program Applied To: International Relations  
Schools Applied To:  Georgetown/SFS, Notre Dame/Keough, Stanford/Ford Dorsey, Tufts/Fletcher, Chicago/CIR
Schools Admitted To:  Georgetown/SFS, Notre Dame/Keough, Stanford/Ford Dorsey, Chicago/CIR
Schools Rejected From:  NA
Still Waiting:  Tufts/Fletcher
Undergraduate institution:  Small liberal arts college
Undergraduate GPA:  4.0
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA:  NA
Undergraduate Major:  Great Books program comparable to a double major in philosophy and theology with a double minor in math and science
GRE Quantitative Score:  164
GRE Verbal Score:  169
GRE AW Score:  5.0
Years Out of Undergrad:  0
Years of Work Experience:  7
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  State Department internship; 7 years training full time and competing internationally in an Olympic sport (I think I made a good case that an athlete works for the federation he or she represents, with clear expectations for job performance and goals to be met.  Participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics implied that those expectations were met and those goals were achieved.)
Strength of SOP: Quite good.  It took me about 6 weeks to write and polish it.  I was fortunate to have a clear trajectory to my story: Exposure to multiple cultures and participation in the Olympic Movement led to an interest in the field.  My faith gave a humanitarian bent to my interest (explicit in the Notre Dame application, implied in the others).  My subsequent Great Books education, with its focus on what it means to be human, provided the necessary intellectual foundation.  The result was a calling to work in the field in some humanitarian capacity.
Strength of LOR's:  Good.  A Great Books curriculum means no courses in international relations or economics.  My LORs were from philosophy, theology, and science professors.  The upside is that the college and class sizes are both small, so my professors knew me extremely well and could write in detail about my intellect, academic ability, and character
Other:  

What a great cycle and background! So you're also straight out of college but basically trained full time throughout your education, right? I hope funding worked out for you. I attend a LAC as well but they are very progressive so they threw out the emphasis on classics a while ago (something I would have liked in the curriculum). Is there any reason you didn't apply to HKS or WWS?

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I trained full time and started college after I retired in 2014.  Both HKS and WWS are heavily focused on public policy, and I am more interested in working for NGOs providing humanitarian aid or promoting religious freedom, preferably in Eastern Europe.  The programs I applied to seemed like a better fit.

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7 minutes ago, SochiGirl said:

I trained full time and started college after I retired in 2014.  Both HKS and WWS are heavily focused on public policy, and I am more interested in working for NGOs providing humanitarian aid or promoting religious freedom, preferably in Eastern Europe.  The programs I applied to seemed like a better fit.

That makes sense. I'm researching religious freedom in Eastern Europe this summer and am very excited to learn more about it.

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.)  
Schools Applied To:  Tufts/Graduate Institute, Geneva, HKS, WWS, Sciences Po
Schools Admitted To:  
Schools Rejected From:  
Still Waiting:  waiting for all
Undergraduate institution:  
Undergraduate GPA:  3.9
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  
Undergraduate Major: Law
GRE Quantitative Score:  158
GRE Verbal Score:  158
GRE AW Score:  5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  4.5
Years of Work Experience:  4.5
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  litigating lawyer/founder of a non profit organisation working towards development of under privileged children.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): pretty good
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  strong
Other:

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Program Applied To: MPP, MS-CAPP at Harris

Schools Applied To:  Chicago Harris MS-CAPP, CMU Heinz (MSPPM-DA track), Berkeley, Duke, Michigan, Princeton (MPA)

Schools Admitted To:  Harris MS-CAPP (~45% tuition), CMU Heinz DA track (90% tuition), Berkeley ($0), Duke (~90% tuition), Michigan (50% tuition)

Schools Rejected From:  

Still Waiting:  waitlisted for WWS

Undergraduate institution:  small liberal arts college

Undergraduate GPA:  3.9

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  3.9

Undergraduate Major:  Sociology, minors in Women’s Studies & Religion

GRE Quantitative Score:  170 (97%)

GRE Verbal Score:  169 (99%)

GRE AW Score:  4.5 (82%)

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  7 by start of program

Years of Work Experience:  6 paid, 1 volunteer

Describe Relevant Work Experience:  3 years as a Data Analyst/Manager at a local education nonprofit, 2 years as a Program Manager in refugee resettlement (2 previous years as an adult education teacher in refugee resettlement, one of which was as an AmeriCorps volunteer)

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I went through a lot of revisions and sent it to several people for suggestions, including one person who had been on the admissions committee as a student at WWS. I think it was pretty good, but of course I probably could have been more explicit about each specific school. I focused on my passion for data for social good, which I think influenced my admissions at Harris and CMU in particular.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I chose two professional and one academic, as I’ve been out of undergrad almost 7 years. My current boss showed me the one he submitted, which was very kind, and I’m sure the other two were glowing as well (that is why we choose those people, right?!). My former professor/advisor said that he was sure I would get in anywhere I wanted and be successful.

Other: Because of my interest in data and quantitative analysis, I’m deciding between Harris and Heinz. I obviously have more funding at Heinz, but I loved Harris when I visited (MS-CAPP in particular). I’m trying to convince myself that Heinz would be a similarly fantastic experience, and will visit in April to confirm that! ?

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Program Applied To: MIR/MIA
Schools Applied To:  Elliott, SIPA, SAIS, Walsh MSFS, Walsh SSP
Schools Admitted To:  Elliott ($), SAIS, (0), Walsh SSP (?)
Schools Rejected From:  SIPA
Schools Waitlisted From:  Walsh MSFS
Still Waiting:  N/A
Undergraduate institution:  USC (#21 in US)
Undergraduate GPA:  3.72
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  approx. 3.8
Undergraduate Major:  International Relations, concentrations: foreign policy analysis, European regional relations
GRE Quantitative Score:  162
GRE Verbal Score:  157
GRE AW Score:  5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  2
Years of Work Experience:  1.2 years full-time, 1 year part-time
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  1 year combined part-time IR research during undergrad; 6 months field organizer on Clinton campaign in battleground state.  Since then I've been working as a clerk in corporate law, which is not particularly relevant.  That was my biggest fear during the application process- that I wouldn't have enough relevant experience.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I focused on my relevant experience in research, especially while studying abroad at Sciences Po Paris during Charlie Hebdo.  I then spent the last paragraph specifically addressing aspects of the program that I appreciated and would utilize, should I be admitted.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I didn't get to read any of them, but the writers were very strong.  2 were former professors-- one was the Vice Dean of our College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences (and is very well-known in the IR field for his publications).  Another was a French professor who helped me conduct research on Algerian non-state actors in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo.  My final LOR was from a former advisor when I did summer research at a Brussels thinktank, which I considered my "professional" LOR.  All 3 knew me very very well.
Other:  I can't believe I got into SSP, and with funding!  It was by far my first choice, especially given how personal and kind they were to me during the application process.  Since I want to work for a 3-letter agency one day, it's perfect for my career.  I'll find out Friday how much funding I get, which is critical.

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Program Applied To: MIA
Schools Applied To: American University, George Washington, JHU-SAIS, UCSD-GPS
Schools Admitted To: American (no funding) GW (10k a year), JHU (no funding), UCSD-GPS (full scholarship including fees) 
Schools Waitlisted: none

Schools Rejected From:  none
Still Waiting: none
Undergraduate institution:  Tulane University
Undergraduate GPA:  ~3.3

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): ~3.5
Undergraduate Major: History and Asian Studies
GRE Quantitative Score: 156 
GRE Verbal Score: 167 
GRE AW Score:  4.5 
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  3
Years of Work Experience: 3 
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Teaching in China, Internship for education non-profit, various cross-cultural and ESL volunteer groups 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Fairly strong I think. Spent a lot of time on it, had lots of people look over it and give advice. I didn't have that much relevant work experience to draw on but I have a ton of international experience and I think I showed my knowledge and interest in the field effectively. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Honestly not really sure. I didn't get to read them but one of them was written by a professor I stayed in touch with frequently since undergrad and I believe he wrote a very personal recommendation. Another was written by a professor I wasn't very close to but whom I think still wrote a strong rec. The last one was written by my teaching coordinator and I think it was fairly generic but he could testify to my unique experiences in China. 
Other: Solid Chinese language skills 

In the end I think I'm going to end up at UCSD. Johns Hopkins was my top choice but just don't think I can swing it financially without any help. 

 

 

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I found this forum so immensely helpful during my application process (including someone's keen eye noticing one school's unusual resume structure roughly 24 hours before the due date), so I hope something I share can help future applicants like others have helped me :)

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.)  MSPPM, MPA, MSCAPP
Schools Applied To:  Carnegie Mellon Heinz (MSPPM-DA), UChicago Harris (MSCAPP), and Princeton WWS (MPA)
Schools Admitted To:  
Harris ($), Heinz ($$), and WWS ($$$$)
Schools Rejected From:  None
Still Waiting:  None
Undergraduate institution:  Huge State School
Undergraduate GPA:  3.76
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  ??
Undergraduate Major:  History & French
GRE Quantitative Score:  168
GRE Verbal Score:  163
GRE AW Score:  4.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  5
Years of Work Experience:  5
Describe Relevant Work Experience: AmeriCorps, TFA, Fulbright ETA, and some summer fellowships; I have been a teacher for the last 5 years which is obviously considered public service although not particularly relevant to my interests as stated in my application; obviously my work experience led me to this even if I'm trying to go in a different direction
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  For Harris, I don't think it was great (with only 300 words, I felt like they barely knew anything about me), but I worked for basically a full month editing every day and getting feedback from family and friends on the one for Princeton. I literally wrote down the six things they said they were looking for in the application instructions and structured my SOP to answers those questions while weaving a narrative about how my career trajectory led me here. I was really proud of the result and obviously it paid off. My Heinz SOP was a pared down version of that one, so still pretty solid. It helps that I am essentially working part time this year (Fulbright ETAs are limited to 24 hours classroom time each week) so even though I decided pretty late to apply (around November 15th), I was able to put in many hours of work to perfect it.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I only saw two of them but they were both extremely kind and I think complimented my SOP well by helping show what I've managed to accomplish beyond teaching. I had one from my mentor from my first graduate program and two from mentors at the school where I taught.
Other: I spent a lot of time narrowing down my list of schools I wanted to apply to and I feel like it was exactly right. The only benefit of applying to more schools might have been to try to use them to negotiate funding, but I think it helped me to really focus in on the programs I was excited about and would actually want to attend. There weren't 10 programs I loved, there were only 3, and by focusing on those 3 I was able to perfect my statements and not feel guilty about the workload I was putting on my recommenders. Overall, happy with the result!

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Really appreciated this forum during applications - thank you all for the help and insight! 

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) MPP 
Schools Applied To:  SIPA, Harris, McCourt, Elliott
Schools Admitted To:  McCourt ($$), Elliott ($$)
Schools Rejected From:  SIPA
Still Waiting:  Harris (waitlisted)
Undergraduate institution: Top-15 University 
Undergraduate GPA: 3.596
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): N/A
Undergraduate Major:  History and Political Science double major
GRE Quantitative Score:  155
GRE Verbal Score:  163
GRE AW Score:  5.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  1
Years of Work Experience:  1
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  Currently consulting for a non-profit women's organization and interned in undergrad for a Congressional campaign, U.S. Congresswomen, and a large non-profit in their political advocacy department.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Got much better by the time I submitted the last application (McCourt). I definitely think the strength of my SOP helped off-set my low Quant score and lead to a scholarships with both of my acceptances. If I had started sooner and had that final product when I was applying to the earlier deadline schools (SIPA and Harris) it may have made a difference in my application results. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Very good. They were submitted by my current supervisor who was able to discuss the relevance of my current position and two professors from undergrad who supervised extensive projects I completed.
Other: I was very content with the number of schools I applied to and happy that I started researching programs during the summer to narrow them down. It took me three tries for the GRE and still only had a mediocre Quant score, so I hope this is proof to students in a similar situation that you can be successful even with that on your application. I also got a lot of use out of Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher and highly recommend it for anyone working on their applications. He has a lot of good advice about essay structure and ideas along with several very good sample essays from competitive applicants. I'm planning to attend McCourt unless Harris throws a wrench in that plan! Good luck to all and hope to see some of you in D.C. in the fall! 

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Hello all,

Now that almost all the results are out and you guys know where you might be heading, please please please do contribute to this thread. I'm sure GradCafe was great for when you guys applied so please do give back. It would be extremely helpful for people like me who's applying in November this year.

Congratulations to everyone! 

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): MPP/MPA
Schools Applied To: HKS, SIPA, Harris, Wagner 
Schools Admitted To: All  
Undergraduate institution:  Large state school in the Southwest 
Undergraduate GPA:  3.65
Undergraduate Major:  Russian & International Relations
GRE Quantitative Score:  160
GRE Verbal Score:  164
GRE AW Score:  4.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  9
Years of Work Experience:  9
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Air Force Intel Officer, a lot of international experience
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I didn’t feel great about my chances at HKS until their ADCOM lead commented on how so many people quote Gandhi and use single spacing for their essays. Tailor your SOP for each school, connect your past w/your goals and hit on how each school can help you succeed. Be specific.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Excellent. NGA GS-type (former HKS fellow), supervisor, and Russian prof from Middlebury who also happened to teach at Columbia
Other: Struggling between SIPA and HKS, but leaning towards SIPA as my focus is international and they gave me $$. Very happy to be near the application process finish line and can’t wait to start the program.

Edited by Tk2356

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11 minutes ago, Tk2356 said:


Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc)I didn’t feel great about my chances at HKS until their ADCOM lead commented on how so many people quote Gandhi and use single spacing for their essays. Tailor your SOP for each school, connect your past w/your goals and hit on how each school can help you succeed. Be specific.
 

Could you please elaborate on that a little?

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@invincible49 I believe Matt mentioned it in one of the HKS Admission Blog posts. He said the Gandhi quote thing was one of his pet peeves... “I’d be admitting you — not Gandhi.” The single spacing comment came from the HKS admissions Twitter account. Basically, read the instructions thoroughly and follow them to the T. It will be appreciated I’m sure.

Edited by Tk2356

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2 hours ago, invincible49 said:

Hello all,

Now that almost all the results are out and you guys know where you might be heading, please please please do contribute to this thread. I'm sure GradCafe was great for when you guys applied so please do give back. It would be extremely helpful for people like me who's applying in November this year.

Congratulations to everyone! 

You're right. Thanks for this comment. Gradcafe has been there for me throughout the years. It's helped me receive the Fulbright and get into my dream school on a full ride. I'll add to the thread now.

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.)  MPP
Schools Applied To: Harvard Kennedy School
Schools Admitted To: Harvard Kennedy School


Undergraduate Institution:  State School in the South
Undergraduate GPA:  3.78
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 3.9
Undergraduate Major: International Studies
GRE Quantitative Score: 144 (more on this in other)
GRE Verbal Score: 158 
GRE AW Score:  4.0

 

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 7
Years of Work Experience: I graduated in 2011, but I've often held down multiple roles at one time. From running political campaigns while doing private sector work to working on a ballot initiative while serving as a policy analyst...I've often leveraged positions I'm in to get additional experiences outside of work. Sometimes it's of the paid variety, but often I did the work for free. Ultimately, it's all invaluable on your resume. So if you count those experiences separately, about 10 years. I did count them separately with my HKS application and obviously they seemed to have sided with me lol. It's not frou frou stuff neither. You have to demonstrate that you're doing more than just showing up or it's pointless to list the experiences imho.
Describe Relevant Work Experience: I've done some stuff...within the U.S., I was a policy analyst, ran multiple campaigns, and had some private sector experience. Internationally, I've been a Fulbright, German Chancellor Fellow, and worked for the State Department. I was on track to become a diplomat, but during my Fulbright year I noticed some troubling things. So I had an about face and came back to my home state to do some work. Through luck and a strong network, I was able to get involved in public policy. I pushed and passed legislation, but wasn't moving the needle fast enough...so I ventured back abroad as a GCF. Now I'm back implementing my research within my home state at a pretty high level.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I'm going to be pretty descriptive here so that I hopefully convey the elements that went into what I think was the main reason I got into HKS. I also realize that a lot of this profile could easily give me away haha. Oh well, I want ya'll to get in, so I'm going to just be real. In looking back on everything now, I've lived a crazy life. I talked about it a little, but immediately contextualized it around what I care about and how the recalibration of my career focus has allowed that former pathway to enhance my work. I specifically focused the essay around a lady I once worked with and her plight. How I saw first hand that the system can gobble you up and spit you back out with nothing to show for it. I didn't hold back at all. I then talked about what I need from HKS to prevent that situation from ever happening again. The other essay I talked about a person who was able to benefit from some legislation I helped pass. I talked about the process of getting it done. The data analysis. The lobbying. Winning and what it meant for thousands of kids in my state. Big stuff! Then I talked about the unexpected consequences that followed as a result. How I could never have envisioned them occurring back then, but that now I could see why I needed more training to mitigate this moving forward. With the diversity essay, I talked about the decision to work in my home state instead of becoming a diplomat. I framed it around coming back to my community and the reaction that caused. I finished with the perspective I would bring to the school as a result.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I had 3 Professional LORs. I'd simply been out of school too long to even think about getting an academic one. However, I took part in the Maryland Leadership Institute (I think it's now defunct, but HKS recruited from there) which is a high-level Summer quant/leadership program that a bunch of fellowship programs used to send their participants. You're required to upload that transcript and, thankfully, I did really well and the organizers wrote a very positive letter...so even though it's from years ago, I'd say it was a proxy academic LOR. One of my LORs wrote a really powerful letter for me. He also mentioned how he'd supervised someone who had just graduated from HKS and that he could attest to my quantitative abilities because we essentially had the same job. I'm sure that was clutch as well. The other two I didn't read.
Other: So those scores! I remember folks saying "Oh, if you don't score X and Y they won't even review your application. BULLSHIT. I hope folks who read this moving forward can see that while those scores are important...they definitely aren't decisive. Now, I did have all of the quant coursework (micro, macro, stats, calculus, quantitative seminar, thesis) in college and completed them with honors credit. My quantitative resume was like 4 pages long if I remember correctly. Further, I work with data often at work and in multi-faceted ways too. I've done that both within the U.S. and as a Research Fellow internationally. I can do the stuff, but I am not a good test taker at all. Couple all of that with the fact I'd been out of school for awhile, and there's probably no chance in Hell I'd have a shot at doing well with that test unless I could study for it full-time which, as I've indicated, is damn near impossible given everything else I do. I think the AdCom saw that as well. I obviously DON'T recommend you take the path I did lol. Please score as high as you can
! I just want to be forthright in all of this to show that HKS really does look at your entire application. They won't trash you because of a damn random score on a high-stakes test. Hell, I was abroad for my test and was sick. I noted all of this in my additional info section and let it go. I also received a full ride, so they obviously value everything in spite of! I'm passionate about this particular part because I'm convinced many high quality candidates won't apply because they'll believe this idea that you have to score at a certain level. Matt says they'd like to see you score within a certain range, true, but he also says they'll look throughout your application for evidence you can handle the quant in spite of your score. Believe that and make your case. 

A piece of advice. I think I stood out because I was vulnerable and made my essays personal. Don't make your narrative mechanistic. Don't just check boxes. Let your story shine through. I'm saying this because I highly doubt you could read my essays and know exactly what I want to do. That said, you will know WHY I do what I do WHO the people are I work to uplift and HOW I could do many things if I had the tools needed to do my work at a higher level. You will know from my words that I'm committed to what I do every single fiber of my being. Just saying "I want to be X in Y years" would never encapsulate what I'm trying to accomplish. No random title job at fancy institute would be indicative of this journey I'm on, ya know? I think my profile shows a life time of service on paper, but I think my essays also show what motivates me and drives me to do the work that I do. No single element of my resume has a frivolous aspect to it. I've been lucky to do some really cool stuff, yet everything I've done has been strategically aligned with my heart.

Let your friends and family help craft your narrative too. Let them look over crappy drafts and give advice. Let them learn things they may not have known about you, which could make you uncomfortable. Use every resource possible. Let the process consume you. Don't take every piece of advice, however. Your message won't resonate with everyone. That's okay! Ignore that part of their criticism and instead make sure your subject-verb agreement is on point.

Do a much better job of managing the process than I did though. I've always wanted to go to HKS, but you wouldn't know that by how close I was to the dang deadline. Frantically typing with a minute to go close. Start early! The only school I applied to in the end was Harvard because I just didn't have time with everything else I had going on, but all of this was because I didn't start the process early enough. I didn't think I'd ultimately get in at all, so this was going to be a trial run. I was already planning how to rewrite my essays even! Lo and behold...I'm going to my dream school next year on a full-ride Presidential Scholarship!

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From beginning to study for the GRE's to writing the admissions essays -- I can't even begin to state how helpful Gradcafe has been (as a long time lurker!).  Now that the process is finally coming to a close for me, I feel like I NEED to pass it forward.  Message me if you have any questions about the process -- more than happy to try and help in whatever way I can!

Program Applied To: MPA/MPP
Schools Applied To:  HKS, SIPA, McCourt
Schools Admitted To: HKS, SIPA ($$), McCourt ($$)
Schools Rejected From:  N/A
Schools Waitlisted From:  N/A
Undergraduate institution:  top 15 national university
Undergraduate GPA:  3.76
Undergraduate Major:  Government, East Asian Politics
GRE Quantitative Score:  163
GRE Verbal Score:  166
GRE AW Score:  5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  4
Years of Work Experience:  4
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  Worked in a think tank for a year and a half before moving over to a large political media company, where I currently work -- primarily in communications & media relations.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I focused my essays around the HKS app. My first essay emphasized my experiences working at a political media company during the 2016 campaign and how frankly pissed I was at how blatantly ignored Asian American voters were during the entire election cycle -- and how the media didn't help amplify the importance of AAPI votes at all.  My second essay focused on the experiences of working at the media company after Trump became president and how his attacks on the media and press have affected our abilities to do our job on a daily basis.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Sadly didn't get to read any of them, but I got three recommendations -- one from my current boss, one from a previous supervisor, and another from a relatively prominent reporter who I worked with extensively at the media company. Honestly, I was a little worried that I didn't include an academic reference, since I just didn't have any strong ties to my college professors etc.  But thankfully, that didn't seem to matter too much in the end!
Other:  Struggling between choosing between HKS (with no scholarship + tons of loans) and SIPA (which is actually a lot more expensive than Harvard but gave me a bit in scholarships).  Can't really complain though, since I'm beyond grateful this process worked out well and is now close to over!

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