Jump to content
bac

Decision time: share your dilemma

Recommended Posts

Like many around here, I've got some tough decisions to make over the next month, so now almost all of the acceptances/rejections have come out (*shakes fist at UCLA Luskin*) I thought I'd start a thread where folks can post what schools they are deciding between and what circumstances they are considering, as well as any other factors that are being considered.

I'll lead off:

Coming from:
New York, NY

Deciding between: 
USC (Price School), MPP - 50% tuition
UT-Austin (LBJ School), MPAff - No $$
The New School (Milano School), MPUP - 75% tuition

Other factors:
We just found out my wife is pregnant, so moving to the other side of the country and probably giving up her top-of-the-line healthcare and the country's most generous maternity leave is not necessarily appealing. She may be able to do her job from LA or Austin, but we don't know yet. Deferment for a year is a real possibility if they'd grant it for this reason.

How I'm leaning:
I'm very much leaning towards USC or UT - it might just take another year. I probably have USC's program marginally ahead of UT's, but I reckon living in Austin would be better, particularly with a dog and a baby on the way. The financial offer from USC brings USC to around the same cost over two years as UT with no funding. Both also have the option of doing a double degree with urban/community planning, which appeals, though USC's is within the same school so might be easier to organize. I really don't know how to split them, and I can't get back out to LA and Austin for their respective admitted student days.

Edited by bac
Accidentally posted before finishing post

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for starting this thread! I appreciate how interactive this place is so maybe some can give insights into our dilemmas of decisions.

 

Coming from: 1 year out of undergrad with a lot of research experience in East Asia, currently doing a research grant sponsored by the US government in South Korea. I want to work for the federal government and thanks to the grant I have noncompetitive eligibility to hopefully make that a little more possible. 

 

Deciding between: SIPA-International Security Studies ($0), SAIS- Korean Studies ($$), ESIA- International Affairs ($), SIS- Comparative and Regional Studies (TBD) ; waitlisted at MSFS 

 

I definitely dont want to be in debt after I graduate from grad school but I’m contemplating trying my luck at negotiating money from SIPA because of my offers at SAIS and ESIA. I think I’m leaning toward going to a DC school just for the opportunity to have access to government internships, networking opportunities, etc. But I of course would really appreciate all of your insights into what may be a good fit considering my background.

 

As of now I’m leaning towards Hopkins just because money, its great name, and location in DC. Looking forward to your thoughts!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also hope we can get this thread going! I've been completely in my head these last few weeks trying to decide which school to choose, and I even wonder if I should choose one at all. The amount of loans I expect to take out, even with some funding, just boggles my mind. If anyone has an opinion about this, I would appreciate hearing it.

Coming from:
Bay Area, California; but I am currently doing a Fulbright overseas until July. I plan to study Social Policy, specifically education and welfare policy. I hope to work in nonprofits/public sector or research think tank after graduation.

Deciding between: 

  • Duke (Sanford), MPP - $32k + $4k assistantship
  • U Chicago (Harris), MPP - $25k
  • Carnegie Mellon (Heinz), MSPPM - 50% tuition
  • USC (Price), MPP - 50% tuition
  • George Washington (Trachtenberg), MPA - $20k
  • UT-Austin (LBJ School), MPAff - No $$

Other factors:
Unfortunately, since I am overseas, I won't be able to attend any Admitted Student Days. Honestly, my biggest deciding factor is minimizing debt, but I almost want someone to convince me otherwise. I have no family support and little savings, and I expect to take out the full cost (minus scholarships) in loans. I am still trying to negotiate funding for some schools, but it doesn't look too promising.

Since this is my second time applying, with marginal increases in funding, I am considering pushing off graduate school until maybe years down the line, but I expect it to be more expensive, more competitive, and perhaps I won't get as much funding.

How I'm leaning:
I believe these schools all have strong MPP/MPA programs, and each appeal to me for different reasons. Harris appeals to me for its name and transferability across the U.S.; Heinz for it's strong quant/data science curriculum; Price for it's location on the West Coast (I prefer to be in the Bay Area post-grad); Trachtenberg for it's location and network in DC (where there are more orgs/nonprofits/gov't jobs); and Duke, obviously, for the stronger funding package. With no funding, I don't plan to attend LBJ.

If anyone can provide some insight on comparing these programs, or whether these funding packages are competitive, or if you've visited these schools and especially liked/disliked them, or pretty much any opinion at all, I'd appreciate hearing it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MPA/MPP Applicant said:

I also hope we can get this thread going! I've been completely in my head these last few weeks trying to decide which school to choose, and I even wonder if I should choose one at all. The amount of loans I expect to take out, even with some funding, just boggles my mind. If anyone has an opinion about this, I would appreciate hearing it.

Coming from:
Bay Area, California; but I am currently doing a Fulbright overseas until July. I plan to study Social Policy, specifically education and welfare policy. I hope to work in nonprofits/public sector or research think tank after graduation.

Deciding between: 

  • Duke (Sanford), MPP - $32k + $4k assistantship
  • U Chicago (Harris), MPP - $25k
  • Carnegie Mellon (Heinz), MSPPM - 50% tuition
  • USC (Price), MPP - 50% tuition
  • George Washington (Trachtenberg), MPA - $20k
  • UT-Austin (LBJ School), MPAff - No $$

Other factors:
Unfortunately, since I am overseas, I won't be able to attend any Admitted Student Days. Honestly, my biggest deciding factor is minimizing debt, but I almost want someone to convince me otherwise. I have no family support and little savings, and I expect to take out the full cost (minus scholarships) in loans. I am still trying to negotiate funding for some schools, but it doesn't look too promising.

Since this is my second time applying, with marginal increases in funding, I am considering pushing off graduate school until maybe years down the line, but I expect it to be more expensive, more competitive, and perhaps I won't get as much funding.

How I'm leaning:
I believe these schools all have strong MPP/MPA programs, and each appeal to me for different reasons. Harris appeals to me for its name and transferability across the U.S.; Heinz for it's strong quant/data science curriculum; Price for it's location on the West Coast (I prefer to be in the Bay Area post-grad); Trachtenberg for it's location and network in DC (where there are more orgs/nonprofits/gov't jobs); and Duke, obviously, for the stronger funding package. With no funding, I don't plan to attend LBJ.

If anyone can provide some insight on comparing these programs, or whether these funding packages are competitive, or if you've visited these schools and especially liked/disliked them, or pretty much any opinion at all, I'd appreciate hearing it!

Hi! You look like you have a great profile. I second your thought that minimizing debt should be your top priority. Just a thought, have you submitted the aid reconsideration form to Harris? Given your offer elsewhere, especially Duke, there is a good chance Harris can up their offer. Getting 25k from Harris is no small feat!! You could specify an amount you're looking for (10k seems appropriate), and see what they are wiling to give. 

I live in the Chicago area. It's not super expensive (rent near hyde park is very manageable), compared to the west coast. Plus Harris has a super strong domestic policy program. If there's anything specific to Chicago you would like to know, feel free to message me and I'll try to find the answer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, MPA/MPP Applicant said:

If anyone can provide some insight on comparing these programs, or whether these funding packages are competitive, or if you've visited these schools and especially liked/disliked them, or pretty much any opinion at all, I'd appreciate hearing it!

Hey! Seems like we had a lot of target programs/offers that were similar.

I'd say this about timing/funding: your offers aren't going to be better in the future, and if you're using a grad program to advance your career and presumably earn more money down the line, the earlier you make that investment, the better. The odds of getting a full ride anywhere in the calibre of schools you've applied to is low, and you did well to get the financial offers you did - I'd take it.

In terms of your offers, approach it from a process of elimination. Narrowing the field is going to make it easier to make a final call. If you're looking at going back to the Bay Area after you've finished your masters, then there is little point going to GWU - their whole advantage is setting you up to stay in DC after graduation. I wouldn't knock out LBJ because they didn't offer you any money; the cost of LBJ at full sticker price is actually a few thousand dollars cheaper than USC Price at half price. But if you think USC is a better school, then that would knock LBJ out. 

On the surface, Price would seem like a logical option for you. They have strong ties to Sacramento and you can do some of your program there, which is more likely to set you up with relevant networks for post-graduation if you return to the Bay Area. Plus you're a hour and $100 bucks flight away, doing the LA-SF run is simpler than ay of your other options.

That's my two cents. And hell, maybe I'll see you there at USC if that's the way I lean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, sdb12014 said:

Thank you for starting this thread! I appreciate how interactive this place is so maybe some can give insights into our dilemmas of decisions.

 

Coming from: 1 year out of undergrad with a lot of research experience in East Asia, currently doing a research grant sponsored by the US government in South Korea. I want to work for the federal government and thanks to the grant I have noncompetitive eligibility to hopefully make that a little more possible. 

 

Deciding between: SIPA-International Security Studies ($0), SAIS- Korean Studies ($$), ESIA- International Affairs ($), SIS- Comparative and Regional Studies (TBD) ; waitlisted at MSFS 

 

I definitely dont want to be in debt after I graduate from grad school but I’m contemplating trying my luck at negotiating money from SIPA because of my offers at SAIS and ESIA. I think I’m leaning toward going to a DC school just for the opportunity to have access to government internships, networking opportunities, etc. But I of course would really appreciate all of your insights into what may be a good fit considering my background.

 

As of now I’m leaning towards Hopkins just because money, its great name, and location in DC. Looking forward to your thoughts!

Seems like you have some great options, congrats 😃 I've visited both SAIS and SIPA and loved them both. I'd definitely encourage you to try negotiating with SIPA if they're one of your top choices because I've heard of people being successful negotiating with them in past years. But either SAIS or GW (or SIS if you get funding) would be great!

I'm not sure which would be better for East Asia studies, but if you got more funding from SAIS/if the cost of attendance there is less or about the same, I'd personally pick SAIS over ESIA or SIS. It's more prestigious and I got a good sense of community there when I visited (I haven't been to American but GW feels like a commuter school without much of a community feel. But their evening class schedule allows for interning/working full time, so if you're interested in that, it could be a great fit). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, MPA/MPP Applicant said:

If anyone can provide some insight on comparing these programs, or whether these funding packages are competitive, or if you've visited these schools and especially liked/disliked them, or pretty much any opinion at all, I'd appreciate hearing it!

Forgot to mention, of your offers I visited three last year: GWU, UT and USC. 

All three went up in my estimation after visiting, and all three were programs I ended up applying to. 

GWU:
 - Very central in DC, a city I used to live in and love
 - Doesn't feel very campus-y, if that makes sense. Feels more like the NYC colleges in lower Manhattan which blend in with the rest of the city, as opposed to USC and UT which are very much their own environment
 - Their big advantage is proximity and ties to the DC institutions. Internships and job opportunities in federal or DC government both during the program and after would be on offer, and also all of the issues-based groups, unions and non-profits have either their HQ or an office in the city
 - Modern feel, many new buildings and classrooms, does not feel run down in the least
 - May not be a factor for you, but not much in the way of college sports or identity compared to some of the other schools. They have a mediocre basketball team, but at least you're in a city with five pro teams so if that's your bag, you'll be fine
 - Hope you like cold winters and humid as hell summers

UT:
 - Huge campus, dominates both the northern end of the city geographically, but really dominates the psyche of Austin as a whole. The Longhorns culture is real
 - The LBJ School is very modern inside, probably outside of Harvard KS has the best facilities I visited
 - Will be cheaper to live in than LA, DC and probably Pittsburgh
 - Being in a state capital, has a lot of opportunities for internship and work, and the city has a stronger than expected community/non-profit group sector
 - I like the school, loved the city. But that's a very personal thing
 - Hot weather

USC:
 - The most beautiful campus I visited, Berkeley included. Man, it's stunning
 - For LA, it's very accessible. Has a rail stop, is easily accessible by car, and is very central to downtown while maintaining a true campus feel (reminds me of most Australian universities in that way)
 - I was impressed by their links to power in California, they're right amongst it with the political set
 - Modern facilities and feel, the buildings look old and beautiful, but the inside is new and shiny
 - I think the faculty was, outside of Harvard and Berkeley, the most impressive of the schools that I applied to
 - Has the strong combo of college and pro sports
 - LA weather
 - Felt the most professional and easiest to deal with administratively, both when I was visiting last year and since the offer was made

If you have any other specific questions about my visits to the three, hit me up privately.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad we're starting up this thread! Could definitely use some advice if anyone has thoughts they want to share:

Coming from: 

Living in DC, where I've been working for two years at a small nonprofit. I studied politics and Arabic in undergrad and spent a year and a half living in the Middle East studying Arabic (a summer and fall study abroad in college, then a post-grad year in Morocco). I love studying Middle East politics but want to expand my expertise and learn more about other regions of the world. I'd love to continue either learning Arabic or picking up a new language, but that's not the top priority for me.

Hoping for a grad school that can help me transition from admin support positions to a more policy-focused position, ideally working on human rights advocacy or conflict prevention/resolution. I think I want to work in DC again after graduation, but I'm also open to NYC or other cities!

Deciding between:

  • Princeton WWS: Full tuition + $29k/year stipend (COA: free)
  • Harvard Kennedy School: Full tuition + $10k/year stipend (COA: $17k/year)
  • Johns Hopkins SAIS: 75% tuition scholarship (COA: $30-35k/year) **I emailed yesterday to try to leverage my WWS and HKS offers into more money, so we'll see how that goes**
  • (Columbia SIPA: with an external fellowship, the COA will be around $22k/year, but the fellowship's not guaranteed for the second year. So even though I like the idea of being in NYC for two years, I think it's too much of a financial risk, so SIPA is tentatively off the table for me.)

How I'm leaning:

Either Princeton or Harvard at this point. SAIS was my top choice for a long time, especially because I'd spend the first year in Italy and I really love the idea of living abroad (for a limited time) again. But compared to Princeton and Harvard, I don't think I can justify the cost differential to go to SAIS (I can afford it with savings, a part time job, and some family support, so I wouldn't have debt. But if I went to another school I could keep that savings for the future). If SAIS comes back to me with significantly more funding, it might still be on the table.

Reasons to choose Princeton would be money, prestige, a small intimate cohort and small class sizes, and the degree to which WWS seems to really value their students and invest in their success. Reasons to choose Harvard would be its location in a city (so I could do part time internships more easily during the year and explore different work environments), the much larger selection of classes (and there's a ton of courses in human rights advocacy, which is super appealing to me), and the fact that if for any reason I wanted to move out of public policy/international relations, the Harvard name might be useful. 

I'm planning to go to both schools' admitted students days/weekends, but in the meantime what do you guys think? Is it worth paying more money to have a city location and a larger selection of interesting/career-relevant classes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is exactly the thread I need at the moment. Thanks for starting it OP. 

Coming from: 5 years of professional experience in public relations and 2 years of volunteer experience with a climate policy group in Southeast Asia. Looking to get into international climate change and energy policy, and to pick up data analysis skills. 

Deciding between: Duke Nicholas School, MEM (~20% tuition ); UCSB Bren School, MESM (still waiting for funding info); UCSD GPS, MPP (full tuition)  

Other factors: Duke is my #1 choice but the most expensive so I was quite disappointed at getting a low amount of funding. UCSB is a solid #2 choice. I’m sure I would be happy there. I was not considering UCSD before the full tuition scholarship news came in. I can’t ignore that now.

I have two dilemmas:

1. I want to attend a program that is focused on the environment. I am concerned that the MPP at UCSD GPS would be too broad and won't have the depth that UCSB and Duke offer. Is it worth paying to attend one of the environmental management programs? Or should I just take the money and attend the MPP program? Money is not a huge issue right now but of course it's always great to save as much as possible. 

2. If I opt to attend one of the environmental management programs, is Duke Nicholas worth the extra money over UCSB Bren? Bren would be ~$15k cheaper, and could cost even less when funding info comes in. I am drawn to Duke for it's stronger focus on international climate issues and energy, with a stronger network in DC. While UCSB has a strong career center for California/West Coast, their DC/East Coast network is not strong. 

How I'm leaning: I would need to hear some amazing things about the energy/environmental specialization at UCSD GPS to get me excited about that program. And I really want to attend Duke. But if I am not able to negotiate for more funding, I may have to attend UCSB Bren and work my butt off to network to get me to DC post-graduation. 

Really hope someone can share their thoughts and experiences. Thanks. 🙏

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming from: Rural Utah outside Park City. Born and raised East Coast, however. Currently working municipal and county government.  Have ~3 years experience in state and municipal level government work.  Academic focus was on foreign policy, which is what I want my grad school focus to be as well.  My undergrad was a dual degree in Poli Sci and Ling from Ohio State. 

 

Deciding Between: 

- UT LBJ School DC Program MPAff (fully funded with 10k stipend)

- UW Evans School MPA (60% funding and possibility of going to HKUST for MPP in year two)

- Tufts Fletcher School MALD (~25% funding)

- Columbia SIPA MPA (0 funding; could theoretically cut costs if I do my second year in London or Tokyo for a second degree) 

- Brown Watson MPA (funding TBA but I’m expecting a good deal)

- Cornell CIPA MPA (haven’t been accepted yet but I’d assume I will be)

 

Other factors: Money is important-ish for me. I have some contacts in DC that really emphasize getting a top school degree. I also think that I may want to go into a PhD program after my masters. Ideally it would be at a top level institution for foreign policy if possible. For the time being I want to work in DC dealing with IR to an extent.

 

How I’m Leaning: Man it’s kind of a tough decision given how much funding Im getting from UT. But I worry that their program just isnt as IR focused as SIPA and Fletcher, both of which are some of the top programs in the world. I’ve had a long conversation with a professor at UT who was very interested in my municipal work and was quite positive about my questions concerning PhD options after the degree, but again I think the lack of international focus might hurt me.  Name recognition is also good but not great.  I worry that having two state schools from the Midwest and the South might raise an eyebrow or two.

 

UW is too regional from what I’ve seen, and despite it being a fantastic school, I think I’d rather stay on the East Coast. Money is nice but I think between UW and UT, Texas wins.  

 

Between Fletcher and SIPA, I think Fletcher wins in every way except the fact that it doesn’t have that Ivy Name. It also is a slightly lesser location job-wise, but I’d much rather live in Boston than NYC. I’m originally from NJ so I’ve experienced the city scene enough to not really care. 

 

So as of now I think I’m between Texas and Columbia/Tufts. I plan on appealing funding at both places once I get my funding offers from Brown and/or Cornell. I’d like to be able to cut down my payments to sub-6 figures. Debt is a worry, but I do have a decent savings so it wouldn’t be disasterous. 

 

Thoughts?  Someone convince me that Fletcher is just better than SIPA please lol. That Ivy name just stands out - especially if I ever end up going private and/or have a career change at some point. But $150k+ in total payment seems obscene.  Also, do any of you think I can leverage that UT offer to get extra funding from Tufts or SIPA. Finally, if I get into Cornell with a full ride, how competitive would that offer be?  

Edited by HoboPresident

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, somewhatslightlydazed said:

Glad we're starting up this thread! Could definitely use some advice if anyone has thoughts they want to share:

Coming from: 

Living in DC, where I've been working for two years at a small nonprofit. I studied politics and Arabic in undergrad and spent a year and a half living in the Middle East studying Arabic (a summer and fall study abroad in college, then a post-grad year in Morocco). I love studying Middle East politics but want to expand my expertise and learn more about other regions of the world. I'd love to continue either learning Arabic or picking up a new language, but that's not the top priority for me.

Hoping for a grad school that can help me transition from admin support positions to a more policy-focused position, ideally working on human rights advocacy or conflict prevention/resolution. I think I want to work in DC again after graduation, but I'm also open to NYC or other cities!

Deciding between:

  • Princeton WWS: Full tuition + $29k/year stipend (COA: free)
  • Harvard Kennedy School: Full tuition + $10k/year stipend (COA: $17k/year)
  • Johns Hopkins SAIS: 75% tuition scholarship (COA: $30-35k/year) **I emailed yesterday to try to leverage my WWS and HKS offers into more money, so we'll see how that goes**
  • (Columbia SIPA: with an external fellowship, the COA will be around $22k/year, but the fellowship's not guaranteed for the second year. So even though I like the idea of being in NYC for two years, I think it's too much of a financial risk, so SIPA is tentatively off the table for me.)

How I'm leaning:

Either Princeton or Harvard at this point. SAIS was my top choice for a long time, especially because I'd spend the first year in Italy and I really love the idea of living abroad (for a limited time) again. But compared to Princeton and Harvard, I don't think I can justify the cost differential to go to SAIS (I can afford it with savings, a part time job, and some family support, so I wouldn't have debt. But if I went to another school I could keep that savings for the future). If SAIS comes back to me with significantly more funding, it might still be on the table.

Reasons to choose Princeton would be money, prestige, a small intimate cohort and small class sizes, and the degree to which WWS seems to really value their students and invest in their success. Reasons to choose Harvard would be its location in a city (so I could do part time internships more easily during the year and explore different work environments), the much larger selection of classes (and there's a ton of courses in human rights advocacy, which is super appealing to me), and the fact that if for any reason I wanted to move out of public policy/international relations, the Harvard name might be useful. 

I'm planning to go to both schools' admitted students days/weekends, but in the meantime what do you guys think? Is it worth paying more money to have a city location and a larger selection of interesting/career-relevant classes?

I’d go to Princeton if I were you. It’s considered by some to be the best public policy school in the world, and you get to go there for free. It’s a no-brainer.

The only real competition is Harvard. But you still have to spend some money to go there, so WWS just seems more economical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, everyone! Thank you for starting this thread. I would also appreciate some advice on my situation.

Coming from: 

A developing country where I currently work for the foreign affairs ministry.

I’m hoping to pursue a career in international development, preferably in international organizations such as the UN or World Bank.

Deciding between:

  • Harvard Kennedy SchoolMPP - International and Global Affairs (COA: $85k/year)
  • Notre Dame Keough School: Master of Global Affairs - Sustainable Development (COA: free)

How I'm leaning:

It’s tough. Notre Dame is giving me a full-ride. But the Keough School is relatively new and untested, and I haven’t seen much discussion about the quality or reputation of the school in these forums.

On the other hand, the Kennedy School is well-established, and the Harvard brand name speaks for itself. Unfortunately, there is no way I could afford it besides going into debt.

For now, I’m leaning towards Notre Dame for practical reasons. But I don’t want to look back at this moment 10, 20 years from now, and regret that I passed up the chance to go to Harvard.

Is the difference in quality between these two schools big enough to justify going into debt?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, bac said:

Like many around here, I've got some tough decisions to make over the next month, so now almost all of the acceptances/rejections have come out (*shakes fist at UCLA Luskin*) I thought I'd start a thread where folks can post what schools they are deciding between and what circumstances they are considering, as well as any other factors that are being considered.

I'll lead off:

Coming from:
New York, NY

Deciding between: 
USC (Price School), MPP - 50% tuition
UT-Austin (LBJ School), MPAff - No $$
The New School (Milano School), MPUP - 75% tuition

Other factors:
We just found out my wife is pregnant, so moving to the other side of the country and probably giving up her top-of-the-line healthcare and the country's most generous maternity leave is not necessarily appealing. She may be able to do her job from LA or Austin, but we don't know yet. Deferment for a year is a real possibility if they'd grant it for this reason.

How I'm leaning:
I'm very much leaning towards USC or UT - it might just take another year. I probably have USC's program marginally ahead of UT's, but I reckon living in Austin would be better, particularly with a dog and a baby on the way. The financial offer from USC brings USC to around the same cost over two years as UT with no funding. Both also have the option of doing a double degree with urban/community planning, which appeals, though USC's is within the same school so might be easier to organize. I really don't know how to split them, and I can't get back out to LA and Austin for their respective admitted student days.

Do you know of the logistics of deferring? Or deferring while keeping funding? I’m also debating USC vs LBJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great idea! 

Coming from: New England (Boston) but have lived in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Alabama (family moved a lot). 

Deciding between: 

Duke University (Sanford), MPP - 50% tuition
University of Michigan (Ford), MPP - Full tuition + fees, $20K yearly stipend 

Other factors:
Accepted into UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA program with full funding. They have a partnership with Duke so I would be able to complete a joint MBA/MPP program. I was waitlisted at Michigan's MBA program with no guarantee of funding. My ultimate goal is to work in a role that combines my passions for communicating and creating engaging content, politics, and history to influence permanent societal change. 
I have also asked Duke if they can match my Michigan funding offer; not sure how realistic it is they will say yes. 

I intend to focus my studies on health / healthcare - areas in which both programs are strong. I prefer a program that emphasizes practical application (which both seem to do?) vs theory. I am also trying to reduce the amount of debt I graduate with. 

How I'm leaning:
Previously was all-in for Ford (especially with such an attractive funding offer, one that I was absolutely NOT expecting). However, Duke has been very high touch and personalized. I've received multiple emails from them from their Director of Admissions, Dean of Career Services, a professor, and contacted by their Student Ambassadors. Ford has been a lot more quiet - although they have been super responsive when I have emailed them directly with questions. I'm not sure if the difference in communication style is due to the difference in class size (Ford cohort is twice as large as Duke's) and style (Duke being a private institution vs. Ford being public). 

I also know if I attend Michigan I would have access to all their department courses (interdisciplinary study is highly encouraged) and centers of excellence, such as the Sanger Institute that hosts Crisis Simulations (would be helpful from a PR perspective when negative publicity blows up in any situation) and additional Leadership Development programs. Not to say that I could not do this at Duke but it is a fairly newer phenomenon at Duke.   

Am I reading too much into Duke's communication style vs. Ford? Should Duke match my Michigan offer, what is the best way to proceed? I realize I very blessed to be in this position, but I am super torn between both programs. 

Edited by TalkPoliticsToMe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Spurs said:

Hi, everyone! Thank you for starting this thread. I would also appreciate some advice on my situation.

Coming from: 

A developing country where I currently work for the foreign affairs ministry.

 I’m hoping to pursue a career in international development, preferably in international organizations such as the UN or World Bank.

Deciding between:

  • Harvard Kennedy SchoolMPP - International and Global Affairs (COA: $85k/year)
  • Notre Dame Keough School: Master of Global Affairs - Sustainable Development (COA: free)

 How I'm leaning:

It’s tough. Notre Dame is giving me a full-ride. But the Keough School is relatively new and untested, and I haven’t seen much discussion about the quality or reputation of the school in these forums.

 On the other hand, the Kennedy School is well-established, and the Harvard brand name speaks for itself. Unfortunately, there is no way I could afford it besides going into debt.

 For now, I’m leaning towards Notre Dame for practical reasons. But I don’t want to look back at this moment 10, 20 years from now, and regret that I passed up the chance to go to Harvard.

 Is the difference in quality between these two schools big enough to justify going into debt?

I'm in a very similar boat to you. I'm deciding between the Keough School with a full ride and Yale Jackson, which has offered me 50%. While it's easy to quantify the difference in COA, it's much harder to quantify the outcomes. I wish I had some advice to offer, but I'm going through the same struggles and haven't come up with an answer yet. Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, spidy said:

I'm in a very similar boat to you. I'm deciding between the Keough School with a full ride and Yale Jackson, which has offered me 50%. While it's easy to quantify the difference in COA, it's much harder to quantify the outcomes. I wish I had some advice to offer, but I'm going through the same struggles and haven't come up with an answer yet. Good luck!

Which way are you leaning?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Spurs said:

Hi, everyone! Thank you for starting this thread. I would also appreciate some advice on my situation.

Coming from: 

A developing country where I currently work for the foreign affairs ministry.

I’m hoping to pursue a career in international development, preferably in international organizations such as the UN or World Bank.

Deciding between:

  • Harvard Kennedy SchoolMPP - International and Global Affairs (COA: $85k/year)
  • Notre Dame Keough School: Master of Global Affairs - Sustainable Development (COA: free)

How I'm leaning:

It’s tough. Notre Dame is giving me a full-ride. But the Keough School is relatively new and untested, and I haven’t seen much discussion about the quality or reputation of the school in these forums.

On the other hand, the Kennedy School is well-established, and the Harvard brand name speaks for itself. Unfortunately, there is no way I could afford it besides going into debt.

For now, I’m leaning towards Notre Dame for practical reasons. But I don’t want to look back at this moment 10, 20 years from now, and regret that I passed up the chance to go to Harvard.

Is the difference in quality between these two schools big enough to justify going into debt?

Are you planning on staying in the U.S. after graduating? If you're planning on going back to your home country, then HKS will obviously have better name recognition but you'll have to take into consideration paying off your debt from there. If you're planning to stay in the U.S., then high debt + visa sponsorship (if you need it) will limit your options too. 

I don't know much about hiring at the UN, but having worked briefly for the World Bank (in Mexico but I believe hiring practices are similar in D.C.), and I think it's important that you know many young professionals working for the bank work as short term consultants (STCs). Because they are contractors, STCs don't get benefits and there is a bit of job insecurity because you won't know whether or when you'll join another project after the one you're working on concludes. Getting a permanent position at the WB is difficult (the young professionals program is the most obvious pathway though). If you want to work for the WB after graduating, it might be stressful to navigate this with a lot of debt. However, if you're not stressing about money, I think these positions can be really rewarding. Personally, I think you could get your foot in the door from Keough if you secure a summer internship at the WB and then leverage those connections to find a (likely STC) position after graduating. Often, these positions go unadvertised, so it's all about your connections (so network! regardless of which school you attend). It might be worthwhile to check with the career services at Keough to see if any students interned at the WB or UN over the summer. Additionally, you might want to investigate whether the faculty at Keough have connections to these organizations and whether they're invested in helping their students find jobs after graduating.

If your heart is still set on HKS, remember that they have a loan repayment assistance program, so you might want to reach out to a financial aid advisor at HKS to see how much that can offset your debt based on your career goals.

Good luck wherever you decide!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/16/2019 at 8:26 PM, cactus_taco said:

Hi! You look like you have a great profile. I second your thought that minimizing debt should be your top priority. Just a thought, have you submitted the aid reconsideration form to Harris? Given your offer elsewhere, especially Duke, there is a good chance Harris can up their offer. Getting 25k from Harris is no small feat!! You could specify an amount you're looking for (10k seems appropriate), and see what they are wiling to give. 

I live in the Chicago area. It's not super expensive (rent near hyde park is very manageable), compared to the west coast. Plus Harris has a super strong domestic policy program. If there's anything specific to Chicago you would like to know, feel free to message me and I'll try to find the answer. 

Thank you for your response @cactus_taco! I actually deferred my Harris app last year, so I had an earlier deadline this cycle to update my application for scholarship reconsideration. Therefore, I have technically already been considered for more funding (though prior to Duke's offer) and was given $5k more ($20k to $25k). I was told by Admissions that they generally don't allow a second reconsideration, but that they would pass this new offer along and see what they can do. (Fingers crossed!) I also asked for 10k more, but they seemed doubtful that they could increase it by that much.

 

 

On 3/16/2019 at 10:52 PM, bac said:

Hey! Seems like we had a lot of target programs/offers that were similar.

I'd say this about timing/funding: your offers aren't going to be better in the future, and if you're using a grad program to advance your career and presumably earn more money down the line, the earlier you make that investment, the better. The odds of getting a full ride anywhere in the calibre of schools you've applied to is low, and you did well to get the financial offers you did - I'd take it.

In terms of your offers, approach it from a process of elimination. Narrowing the field is going to make it easier to make a final call. If you're looking at going back to the Bay Area after you've finished your masters, then there is little point going to GWU - their whole advantage is setting you up to stay in DC after graduation. I wouldn't knock out LBJ because they didn't offer you any money; the cost of LBJ at full sticker price is actually a few thousand dollars cheaper than USC Price at half price. But if you think USC is a better school, then that would knock LBJ out. 

On the surface, Price would seem like a logical option for you. They have strong ties to Sacramento and you can do some of your program there, which is more likely to set you up with relevant networks for post-graduation if you return to the Bay Area. Plus you're a hour and $100 bucks flight away, doing the LA-SF run is simpler than ay of your other options.

That's my two cents. And hell, maybe I'll see you there at USC if that's the way I lean.

Thanks @bac! I appreciate your insight and follow-up about school visits. I do agree that the odds of getting more funding later on is pretty low, especially since I've already had a hard time getting relevant work experience without a master's degree. (A catch-22 indeed.)

I did visit GWU last year (though not during Admitted Student Day) and wasn't that impressed, though mostly because of the equally unenthused students I received a tour from/talked to. LBJ's appeal is that I can possibly live with family in Austin to reduce costs, but I do think that USC is a better school. On the other hand, while Price's location fits better with where I'd like to live, I can't seem to stay in one place for one reason or another, so Harris's name appeals to me for it's supposed attractiveness to employers across the U.S. (though this may be overstated). Basically, I'm a ball of undecided angst!

Since we have similar target programs and offers, I'm definitely interested in your personal thought process and ultimate decision later, if you're willing to share!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all and congratulations on your offers first! Thanks also for this thread - any advice would be much appreciated, I've been losing sleep over this.

Coming from: currently in a developing country in Asia, with several years of work experience in policy/think-tanks/non-profits. Only shot at grad school is if COA is free. 

Choosing between: WWS MPA (full tuition++ - COA free), Stanford FSI MIP (full tuition++ - COA free), SIPA (full tuition), SAIS (full tuition) plus some others with less funding. 

How I'm leaning: Torn between WWS and FSI. I won't be able to attend admit day for either. I was leaning towards FSI initially (small cohort, great funding, international networks, good location - but relatively new and less known public affairs program I feel). But also struggling to write off WWS (rigorous, focused policy program, world-renown, top notch peers - but domestic public service bent). I don't plan to remain in the US after grad school, and am hoping for a break in consulting, think tanks or govt back home. 

Would appreciate any insight/advice, especially on the following:

1. Will WWS MPA serve foreign students as well as US domestic students in terms of professional connections and networks outside the US?

2. Any feedback on FSI's redesigned program? It was previously Stanford's IPS program. t's got a far greater IR component that WWS's MPA, but I'm more interested in quant, economics, and political economy than general IR. 

Thanks and best wishes to you all! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, madrid said:

Do you know of the logistics of deferring? Or deferring while keeping funding? I’m also debating USC vs LBJ

Good question. I am going to approach both schools this week to ask about the process and mechanisms, and what it would mean for USC re: funding. 

 

2 hours ago, MPA/MPP Applicant said:

Since we have similar target programs and offers, I'm definitely interested in your personal thought process and ultimate decision later, if you're willing to share!:)

Of course.

 

14 hours ago, TalkPoliticsToMe said:

Deciding between: 

Duke University (Sanford), MPP - 50% tuition
University of Michigan (Ford), MPP - Full tuition + fees, $20K yearly stipend 

Michigan was your top pick and they are ponying up for a free ride? Get on the horse and take that ride.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming from:
Massachusetts

Deciding between: 
Johns Hopkins SAIS 
Columbia University SIPA
Georgetown University

Other factors:
I'll be deferring my studies to 2020, as I will be pursuing a Fulbright grant during the 2019-2020 academic year. This kind of throws a wrench in some funding offers, but the Fulbright is priceless for a career in international affairs. Plus, maybe I'll get a better offer from whichever program I defer once I have a Fulbright under my belt.

How I'm leaning:
As I'm looking to work in D.C. (specifically in U.S.-China and U.S.-East Asia policy), I'm leaning towards SAIS (their general MA program) and Georgetown (M.A. Asian Studies). They are also my most affordable options, having received no aid from SIPA. Deciding between them, however, is difficult. Whereas SAIS' program is more well-known and prepares its students with the proper analytical tools needed for policy work, Georgetown's program is both a better fit for me and would allow me to dive deep into the political affairs of the region.

Edited by homesicksub

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming from:

Indiana (B.A. in Poli Sci from Purdue)

Deciding between: 
USC (Price School), MPL - 50% tuition
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Taubman School), MURP - $5k remission a year.
NYU (Wagner School), MUP - $10k remission per year. 

Other factors:
Haven't heard back from UCLA (Luskin School), MURP but others have. I find it likely that I will either get a rejection or a no funding offer next week.

No employer backing but I'm just supporting myself during this. These were the only schools I applied to. 

How I'm leaning:

Mainly towards USC, but it's difficult. I almost want to wait and widen my search. USC's offer is very generous, but I also have to take the high cost of living into account. I am hoping to negotiate with them in early April for a full Merit Scholarship instead of just a half. UofM's cost of living is much lower and their GA positions are well paid, which is attractive, but they aren't guaranteed so that is hard. NYC's financial aid office has been a bit curt to me during this process and while that shouldn't turn me off, it still has a bit. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, islandsmile18 said:

Hi all and congratulations on your offers first! Thanks also for this thread - any advice would be much appreciated, I've been losing sleep over this.

Coming from: currently in a developing country in Asia, with several years of work experience in policy/think-tanks/non-profits. Only shot at grad school is if COA is free. 

Choosing between: WWS MPA (full tuition++ - COA free), Stanford FSI MIP (full tuition++ - COA free), SIPA (full tuition), SAIS (full tuition) plus some others with less funding. 

How I'm leaning: Torn between WWS and FSI. I won't be able to attend admit day for either. I was leaning towards FSI initially (small cohort, great funding, international networks, good location - but relatively new and less known public affairs program I feel). But also struggling to write off WWS (rigorous, focused policy program, world-renown, top notch peers - but domestic public service bent). I don't plan to remain in the US after grad school, and am hoping for a break in consulting, think tanks or govt back home. 

Would appreciate any insight/advice, especially on the following:

1. Will WWS MPA serve foreign students as well as US domestic students in terms of professional connections and networks outside the US?

2. Any feedback on FSI's redesigned program? It was previously Stanford's IPS program. t's got a far greater IR component that WWS's MPA, but I'm more interested in quant, economics, and political economy than general IR. 

Thanks and best wishes to you all! 

Hi! Great choices. I share your concern about WWS, as I myself am trying to decide on the best place to go for a career outside the US (I didn't apply to Stanford. My other option is the kennedy's MPA/ID). Looking at your pros and cons, I think wws should get more credit for funding and cohort. maybe there is such a thing as too small of a cohort?? Every single student/alum from the wws mpa program tells me the community/individual attention is one of the best part of the education. I would also add that given the relative new nature of the stanford program, it has a weaker alumni base - which is a distinct disadvantage for networking. Though I think wws is a bit domestic-heavy, the selection of policy workshops, the fields of studies (3/4 are non-domestic), and career placement all suggest a high level of emphasis on international work.  One of my goals going into the hosting weekend is to learn a bit more about the strength of its international coursework, and its "reach" outside the US (in terms of alum presence).  

Hopefully someone else familiar with stanford can comment more specifically about the program!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

Edited by acerbicb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, homesicksub said:

Coming from:
Massachusetts

Deciding between: 
Johns Hopkins SAIS 
Columbia University SIPA
Georgetown University

Other factors:
I'll be deferring my studies to 2020, as I will be pursuing a Fulbright grant during the 2019-2020 academic year. This kind of throws a wrench in some funding offers, but the Fulbright is priceless for a career in international affairs. Plus, maybe I'll get a better offer from whichever program I defer once I have a Fulbright under my belt.

How I'm leaning:
As I'm looking to work in D.C. (specifically in U.S.-China and U.S.-East Asia policy), I'm leaning towards SAIS (their general MA program) and Georgetown (M.A. Asian Studies). They are also my most affordable options, having received no aid from SIPA. Deciding between them, however, is difficult. Whereas SAIS' program is more well-known and prepares its students with the proper analytical tools needed for policy work, Georgetown's program is both a better fit for me and would allow me to dive deep into the political affairs of the region.

I think you answered yourself when you stated “Georgetown is both a better fit for me and would allow me to dive deep into the political affairs of the region.” :) 

Unless the funding you received from Georgetown is substantially different than SAIS, go to Georgetown. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.