reid7793 Posted April 15, 2019 Share Posted April 15, 2019 Long time lurker, I am greatly indebted to this forum. Here's my journey: Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) MPP & Data Science Schools Applied To: U Chicago (Harris MSCAPP), Carnegie Mellon (Heinz MSPPM DA Track), Georgetown McCourt (DSPP), Harvard (Kennedy MPP), LSE (1st choice: Applied Social Data Science, 2nd choice: MPA)Schools Admitted To: Harris($$ out of $$$$$), Heinz ($$$), McCourt ($), LSE (2nd choice- $?) Schools Rejected From: Kennedy, LSE (1st choice)Still Waiting: - Undergraduate institution: Large state schoolUndergraduate GPA: 3.70 / 4.0Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): Undergraduate Majors: International Development & FrenchGRE Quantitative Score: 161GRE Verbal Score: 163GRE AW Score: 4.5Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): almost 4Years of Work Experience: 2.5 + 1 year volunteeringDescribe Relevant Work Experience: 2.5 years working at an International Organization in DC in project management. 1 year studying & volunteering in Middle Eastern country Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I took a lot of time to sit down, write, and edit my SOPs. My goal was to get into a Data Science MPP so I connected any experiences or classes I had from my quantitatively lacking background to a potential career in Data Science applied to Public Policy. I also wrote about my experiences volunteering as a teacher in this Middle Eastern country to emphasize how well-equipped I might be to properly approach and understand educational policy issues in that region. I wrote about a statistics class I took in undergrad in which we used R as well as a Computer Science class where we focused on formula writing in Excel and Access. I completed the Data Scientist with Python certificate with DataCamp Online to prove my seriousness about a programming-heavy master program. I got started on the SOPs early and spent something around 3 or 4 months on them, which is way more than necessary - I felt I had to write to perfect essays to compensate for my lack of quantitative courses /experience as well as a GRE quant that wouldn't necessarily blow the socks off the admissions committee. I had about 3 friends who are in a similar line of work or had been admitted to some of these programs to review my SOPs and got useful feedback. In the end mostly, I just needed their confirmation that what I was writing was sound and not out of left field, which was the case. Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Reached out to two professors, and my supervisor and a colleague from my job. One professor is well-known in the political science field and could write to my analytical thinking/writing abilities (more for the policy side of the program), my other professor was my international development and statistics professor who I knew well on a personal level (I had him write to the Data Science side of things as I had learned R in his class). My supervisor had served as a Minister in her home country and I believe made a strong case for me, and I was able to see the final letter from my colleague who is a mid-career economist, in which she made a strong case for my character and professional competency. I had been discussing these letter with my professors since my last year of undergrad and had planned the professional letters before I quit my job to go abroad and volunteer, and I believe they were all solid letters based on my admission results. Other: In the end I picked Harris over Heinz despite getting a better offer from the latter. The decision came down to my preference for the city of Chicago, the overall prestige of U Chicago as an institution, and my perception of Harris as a better fit. Heinz really gave me a run for my money with their scholarship offer and their reputation for analytics, but I still went for the (arguably) more multidisciplinary Harris. These Data Science/Public Policy programs are newer and aren't as talked about on this forum, so I feel I owe it to the community to post my results for posterity. For me, I wanted to undertake a program such as the CAPP for I saw more abundant job prospects, higher salaries, and as a way to distinguish myself as a young professional and have desired skills which would allow me to put up with less of the grunt work dumped on young professionals and those with more generalist degrees. Definitely do negotiate your aid as well - Heinz increased my aid offer 10% and Harris increased their offer by $5k - but also keep your expectations in check about a scholarship increase. I did not negotiate with Georgetown for after some conversations with students and faculty, I felt McCourt wasn't right for me, and DC is quite expensive. I stressed my quant GRE score a lot and considered retaking the test many times. However based on my experience and from the results on this thread, if you can tell a good story, it seems 160Q is acceptable and you won't miss out on big money. Of course take my word with a grain of salt. I think I was able to convey a unique story given my professional experience (from a big IO in DC to small NGOs in the Middle East) and I believe that made the difference with the ADCOMs. I'll be taking on some debt with this degree, but I feel fairly confident given Harris' and Heinz's career outcome reports' salaries that I should be able to pay my loans off in a few years or less. Applying for grad school has been a multi-year process with LORs, taking the GRE, taking night classes to fill perceived gaps in my quant background (I recommend checking out Grad School USA for this), and finally actually completing the application, and this has been one of the most difficult undertakings of my life so far. I'm very happy with where everything has led me and I have no regrets. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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