Jump to content
bac

Decision time: share your dilemma

Recommended Posts

Guest ke7312

Coming from:
undergrad (Big Ten)

Deciding between: 
La Follette (UW-Madison) MPA: full tuition plus stipend

Harris (UChicago) MPP: ~10%

Heinz (Carnegie Mellon) MSPPM: 50%

Evans (UW-Seattle) MPA: ~60%

Other factors:
I'm still waiting on a potential scholarship offer from Brown's Watson Institute, but I think it's likely to be inconsequential. Unless they surprise me, I'm unlikely to attend there. Got into Ford and Trachtenberg with no funding, but already declined Trachtenberg, and at Ford's price point I'd rather just go to Harris. I'm from the Chicago area, and I have pretty strong qualitative experience and little quantitative experience. My career goals are think tank or NGO research/writing, and my policy interests include environmental policy, social policy, and policy analysis. There's a small possibility I'd pursue a PhD down the line.

How I'm leaning:
I'm looking for a Harris/Heinz type public policy program in terms of quantitative training, but I like Harris's curriculum, campus, and location a lot better. However, at this moment, my leanings are in the order shown above. That La Follette scholarship offer is really difficult to pass up, even though the curriculum and location aren't really what I'm looking for. However, I would have easy access to research opportunities at La Follette that I might not get anywhere else (I'd like to get involved in research wherever I go), and the program seems good at preparing students for employment. Heinz is sort of my compromise option at the moment, but I was scared by their job placement numbers (the number of students unemployed after 6 months was higher than any of my other options, according to published data). I'd be pretty likely to choose Harris at Heinz's price. Evans is sort of a wild card, mostly based on geography and price, but I'm unlikely to choose it (their degree is public administration, not public affairs like La Follette, which is even further from what I'm looking for).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, TalkPoliticsToMe said:

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. 

Ah, sometimes the answer is right in front of you. I'm definitely leaning most heavily towards Georgetown, as the funding should be pretty identical between the two. I'm just going to take some time to speak with professors in the field to make sure that this would be the right degree program.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ke7312
9 hours ago, MPA/MPP Applicant said:

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.

 

 

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!:)

In your position I'd probably take GWU off the table. You have good offers from two schools within driving distance of DC (Heinz and Sanford), and you were unimpressed with GWU upon visiting. Honestly, as someone who applied to Trachtenberg but never visited, I was pretty unimpressed with the school based on their website and whatnot. I only applied because I wanted a DC option (and I was scrambling as I made a late switch from considering information science to public policy programs), but it turns out Heinz is sort of a DC option itself.

In my investigation of the Heinz job placement data, it seemed like DC was the second-most popular location for Heinz students to end up after Pittsburgh, and a close second at that (though, as stated above, I do have concerns about their placement rate). I imagine Sanford is similar, though I don't really know.

Also, what kind of program are you looking for? I know Harris and Heinz are very quant-y and policy focused, though Heinz has more of a management focus and Harris seems to have a reputation for being more intense. If you're looking for think tanks and nonprofit research like I am, those programs seem ideal. I really don't know much about the rest of your list, but LBJ seems somewhat similar to La Follette on its face (Master of Public Affairs in a state capital/college town at a large public university). The advantages of La Follette seem to be heavy integration with the state capital (great if you have public sector goals) and the opportunity to interact with a massive public research university (including extensive research opportunities), but the curriculum itself seems to be less focused on quantitative policy skills than public policy programs like Heinz/Harris. Curriculum is probably something to consider in a situation like yours where the cost of attendance seems nearly the same everywhere.

Edited by ke7312

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ke7312
On 3/16/2019 at 1:28 PM, hammyc said:

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. 🙏

If you think the career boost (in either salary, the influence of your position, job location, or whatever else) you'd get from going to Duke is worth the financial burden, you might want to consider it. I don't really know the field well enough to say. Hopefully UCSB will come through for you as a compromise option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, tealeaf71 said:

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!

Hi @tealeaf71! Thanks for your very helpful reply.

I don't think I'll be able to do a summer internship at the World Bank because the Keough School's curriculum already comes with a summer field placement.

Would it be possible to do an internship at the WB after graduation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming from4 years of professional experience in local government, federal government, and now the non-profit/international development sector. My work has primarily focused on poverty alleviation, community and economic development, and gender equality. I've lived in DC for a total of 6 years including undergrad.

Deciding Between: 

Have been admitted to several programs but narrowed down to:

- Michigan Ford: Full scholarship, health care coverage, and cost of living stipend each semester

- Harvard Kennedy: "Deferred conditional admission" to enroll in 2020 rather than this year, provided I take another round of college-level economics and statistics

Other factors: Remaining undergraduate debt that I'm on track to pay off in ~9 months. The cost of the econ and stats courses is a big consideration. I'm also looking to shift back into domestic policy and politics after spending the last few years in the international sphere, so network is incredibly important to me.

I'm visiting Michigan in a few weeks to get a feel for Ann Arbor, but from what I've researched, I love the program, its wide array of research centers, and its social policy curriculum.

Had I simply been rejected from HKS, my decision would be made. The fact that they've left the door open to enter to program in a year makes it harder to turn down the opportunity. As is the case for many policy professionals, HKS is my dream school.

How I’m Leaning: 

Head: Michigan

Heart: Harvard

Wallet: Michigan

 

Edited by kraeblossom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/17/2019 at 12:38 PM, Spurs said:

Which way are you leaning?

Probably Yale. I think any more money from Yale would make it a definite yes, but for now it's still a maybe. I'm waiting to hear back from some Keough School students about their experiences, too, which will help me to make up my mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming fromFinishing up 2 years of Peace Corps Service, joined immediately after obtaining my bachelors. 

Deciding Between: 

Narrowed down to

- Duke Sanford- MPP: $32,000 off tuition for both years, plus $4,000 TAship. Tuition and fees would be about $36,000 for the two years plus living expenses. 

- UCSD GPS - MIA: Full tuition, including fees, plus $1300 stipend per month during the academic year. Stipend wouldnt fully cover living expenses but help tremendously and could be covered easily with savings. 

Other factors: 

UCSD: My sister lives SoCal and it would be a lot easier for my parents and her to spend time together (see them 1-2 times a year now), a focus on China which I am really interested in, and beautiful weather.  However, the class sizes are larger and most graduates go into the private sector (I want to do public)

Duke: Pay for a new laptop and internship over the summer, seems like a tight knit group due to smaller class size, good connections to DC. However, far away from family even if its only another two years (with a tougher time getting out to the west coast later)

How I’m Leaning: 

Head: UCSD

Heart: Duke

Wallet: UCSD

What do you think? I know Duke is worth the debt but is it worth going into debt when I can get paid to go back to school?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/15/2019 at 10:32 PM, 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.

I feel bad that you started a great thread and I didn't notice anyone dug into your question.

Off top, congrats on your future child. It might be best for you to defer to next year, and even reapply if they don't let you, take advantage of great healthcare through the pregnancy and get the sleepless nights out of the way before starting grad school.

I know nothing about the New School so I'll leave that be. If planning really appeals to you then you should lean USC, they have one of the best planning programs in the entire country. I'm biased being from Texas but, I'd rather live in Austin for the cost of living, lack of smog, etc. but if it's just for two years then neither is a bad decision. A lot of people on this board are pretty DC focused and I think UT goes a little farther there. Both schools have powerhouse alumni networks, USC's is maybe a bit stronger overall.

 

TL/DR: Wait till next year. Next year decide how much you care about urban planning and where you want to work afterwards. If you really want to do planning, USC, if you want to live in the South, Midwest, or D.C., USC. Realistically you're not going to lose with either option

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Thirteen said:

Coming fromFinishing up 2 years of Peace Corps Service, joined immediately after obtaining my bachelors. 

Deciding Between: 

Narrowed down to

- Duke Sanford- MPP: $32,000 off tuition for both years, plus $4,000 TAship. Tuition and fees would be about $36,000 for the two years plus living expenses. 

- UCSD GPS - MIA: Full tuition, including fees, plus $1300 stipend per month during the academic year. Stipend wouldnt fully cover living expenses but help tremendously and could be covered easily with savings. 

Other factors: 

UCSD: My sister lives SoCal and it would be a lot easier for my parents and her to spend time together (see them 1-2 times a year now), a focus on China which I am really interested in, and beautiful weather.  However, the class sizes are larger and most graduates go into the private sector (I want to do public)

Duke: Pay for a new laptop and internship over the summer, seems like a tight knit group due to smaller class size, good connections to DC. However, far away from family even if its only another two years (with a tougher time getting out to the west coast later)

How I’m Leaning: 

Head: UCSD

Heart: Duke

Wallet: UCSD

What do you think? I know Duke is worth the debt but is it worth going into debt when I can get paid to go back to school?

Have you end Duke your offer from UCSD to see if they'll match it or at least increase their funding offer to get closer to UCSD's? That seems like the next step to me.

If Duke doesn't increase their funding, I think you should go with UCSD. They have a great East Asia focus, which sounds like something you want, and they're a really highly-regarded program that's offering you a lot of money to attend. And even if a lot of their grads go into the private sector, I'd argue that you'll have an easier time going into the public sector through going there than through going to Duke. If you graduate from Duke with significant debt, it's going to be hard for you to take low-paying public sector jobs when there are private sector ones that'll help you pay down your debt faster. Graduating with no debt will make it much less stressful for you to take the most interesting job regardless of the salary (to a certain extent).

Hope this helps a bit :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming from:
A good local government job in Houston, TX

Deciding between: 
CMU (Heinz), MSPPM (Pittsburgh) - 65% or $34,230 total tuition
UT-Austin (LBJ School), MPAff - No $$ or $23,120 total tuition
Cornell (CIPA), MPA - 50% or $35,736 total tuition

Other factors:
I want to get into local government or local government consulting. I feel like Cornell helps on the local government side, but CMU is better on the consulting side. I'm also afraid of losing my CMU scholarship if I can't handle the data analysis stuff, I took one SPSS class in undergrad and got an A, but I don't think it was half as challenging.

How I'm leaning:
It feels like a two horse race between CMU and Cornell. UT is a great option, but I think I'm ready to leave Texas, won't really need loans for any program and don't really have a desire to go to D.C. I went to Cornell's open house and was amazed by how great staff/faculty was and the camaraderie between the cohort, I'll be going to CMU on April 5th.

I feel like it's going to come down to head vs. heart. Head being between CMU and UT, heart being with Cornell 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ke7312
5 minutes ago, SketchesOfSpain said:

Coming from:
A good local government job in Houston, TX

Deciding between: 
CMU (Heinz), MSPPM (Pittsburgh) - 65% or $34,230 total tuition
UT-Austin (LBJ School), MPAff - No $$ or $23,120 total tuition
Cornell (CIPA), MPA - 50% or $35,736 total tuition

Other factors:
I want to get into local government or local government consulting. I feel like Cornell helps on the local government side, but CMU is better on the consulting side. I'm also afraid of losing my CMU scholarship if I can't handle the data analysis stuff, I took one SPSS class in undergrad and got an A, but I don't think it was half as challenging.

How I'm leaning:
It feels like a two horse race between CMU and Cornell. UT is a great option, but I think I'm ready to leave Texas, won't really need loans for any program and don't really have a desire to go to D.C. I went to Cornell's open house and was amazed by how great staff/faculty was and the camaraderie between the cohort, I'll be going to CMU on April 5th.

I feel like it's going to come down to head vs. heart. Head being between CMU and UT, heart being with Cornell 

I think UT-Austin being in a state capital should be a consideration for you since you're looking for public sector work. Again, I can only speak for La Follette, but they have major connections to the local state capitol, which is really ideal for public sector experience.

Share this post


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

Hi @tealeaf71! Thanks for your very helpful reply.

I don't think I'll be able to do a summer internship at the World Bank because the Keough School's curriculum already comes with a summer field placement.

Would it be possible to do an internship at the WB after graduation?

Ah sorry, I assumed you'd be able to find your own summer internship. I'm not sure if you can intern after graduating, you might have to dig around on the WB website to see if they have enrollment requirements. Internships aren't the only pathway though, I joined a WB project because a professor I had worked for was collaborating on research there. 

Another thing you might want to look into is how strong Notre Dame's ties to D.C. are. Good D.C. connections will certainly be helpful if you're looking for a WB position after graduating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming From: Data Scientist in market research. Academic background in education policy. 

Deciding Between:

  • HKS ($0  - total tuition expected to pay ~100K)
  • Harris ($20/year scholarship  - total tuition expected to pay ~60K)
  • Heinz MSPPM DC Track (65% scholarship - total tuition expected to pay ~34K) 
  • McCourt MPP (50% scholarship - total tuition expected to pay~56K)

Other Factors: I want a program that is both quantitative and leadership oriented and that allows me to take classes / do research that has a national and international focus. 

How I'm leaning: In my heart, I want to go to HKS. It is my dream school and I don't want to pass up on that experience because of $$. However, I don't want to be limited in my post-grad opportunities because of student loan payments and $100K is A LOT of money. I'm negotiating with Harris to see if I can get a better offer (using my Duke offer of 32K / year + 4K apprenticeship) and I'm leaning away from McCourt and Heinz completely. So really it's going to come down to Harris or HKS and my willingness to take on student loans for the school I really want. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming From: Arlington, VA/ Washington, DC

Deciding Between: 

  • SAIS ($13,000 per year, total tuition expect to pay ~$80,000) (Additionally accepted to complete the first year at SAIS Bologna, Italy)
  • Georgetown SSP (No $$ - total tuition expected to pay ~$100,000)
  • George Mason University International Security program (Measly $1,500, total tuition expected to pay ~$25,000)

Other factors: I'm currently working full time with the IMF with decent salary and benefits and working on a high-level project, expected to last until May 2020 in the institution. If I went to SAIS I would have to quit my position, whereas the other two I could potentially continue to work full-time and go to school in the evenings. Other ding against SAIS is if I left for Bologna, Italy I would have to pay normal rent, whereas I am living with a long-term partner in Arlington with relatively cheap rent costs. (But Bologna would be so cool). Ideal move would be to the Foreign Service upon graduation. 

How i'm leaning: I've all but deleted GMU from my mind, as it is my undergraduate institution and I do not want to go back, but it's such a cheap program that I could potentially pay off some of the fees while working full-time while studying. 

HELP. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gunna hop in on this threat because I have been experiencing the same ambivalence as a lot of you guys over the past few weeks. I'm torn between SAIS and Columbia SIPA.

SAIS MA-IR pros: Full Tuition, small cohort, first year in Italy, Economics core which would provide much needed quantitative aptitude.

SAIS cons: The degree is a bit more narrow than the SIPA degree

 

Columbia MPA Pros: An MPA is a more versatile degree which may work out being more marketable in the long run

Columbia Cons: I only got in 50% tuition fellowships, leaving 50k in loans

I suppose my question is, is Columbia worth the debt and is an MPA a better return on investment than a Master's in International Relations. No matter how much I sleep on it, I can't seem to decide.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Mesutt said:

Coming From: Arlington, VA/ Washington, DC

Deciding Between: 

  • SAIS ($13,000 per year, total tuition expect to pay ~$80,000) (Additionally accepted to complete the first year at SAIS Bologna, Italy)
  • Georgetown SSP (No $$ - total tuition expected to pay ~$100,000)
  • George Mason University International Security program (Measly $1,500, total tuition expected to pay ~$25,000)

Other factors: I'm currently working full time with the IMF with decent salary and benefits and working on a high-level project, expected to last until May 2020 in the institution. If I went to SAIS I would have to quit my position, whereas the other two I could potentially continue to work full-time and go to school in the evenings. Other ding against SAIS is if I left for Bologna, Italy I would have to pay normal rent, whereas I am living with a long-term partner in Arlington with relatively cheap rent costs. (But Bologna would be so cool). Ideal move would be to the Foreign Service upon graduation. 

How i'm leaning: I've all but deleted GMU from my mind, as it is my undergraduate institution and I do not want to go back, but it's such a cheap program that I could potentially pay off some of the fees while working full-time while studying. 

HELP. 

I think either SAIS or Georgetown could be good options for you - I was originally going to say SAIS is better because it's $20k less, but if you're able to balance working full time with attending Georgetown, that sounds like it could be the better financial decision (though exhausting). Have you tried leveraging your financial aid from SAIS to see if Georgetown can offer you any funding? That might help make it more affordable.

Also, if you're leaning towards SAIS, one note about housing costs: even if you would no longer be splitting rent with a partner, you might still be paying less than you are now - when I visited the Bologna campus and met with students, the ones with their own apartments were only paying around 600 euros (~$700)/month. People splitting apartments with roommates were paying more like 300-400 euros month, so you could save some money there.

One other option would be just waiting another year and applying again next year as your IMF work is wrapping up. Gaining another year of experience could make you more competitive for merit funding (and give you time to save more money). But if you're set on beginning grad school next year, I think any of your options could work out well!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, lolo94 said:

Coming From: Data Scientist in market research. Academic background in education policy. 

Deciding Between:

  • HKS ($0  - total tuition expected to pay ~100K)
  • Harris ($20/year scholarship  - total tuition expected to pay ~60K)
  • Heinz MSPPM DC Track (65% scholarship - total tuition expected to pay ~34K) 
  • McCourt MPP (50% scholarship - total tuition expected to pay~56K)

Other Factors: I want a program that is both quantitative and leadership oriented and that allows me to take classes / do research that has a national and international focus. 

How I'm leaning: In my heart, I want to go to HKS. It is my dream school and I don't want to pass up on that experience because of $$. However, I don't want to be limited in my post-grad opportunities because of student loan payments and $100K is A LOT of money. I'm negotiating with Harris to see if I can get a better offer (using my Duke offer of 32K / year + 4K apprenticeship) and I'm leaning away from McCourt and Heinz completely. So really it's going to come down to Harris or HKS and my willingness to take on student loans for the school I really want. 

@lolo94 I'm in a similar boat! The appeal of the HKS brand and network just feels so hard to ignore. It doesn't help that I've heard mixed advice from HKS alumni -- one telling me it's a "lifelong ticket," another reinforcing that the program is great but "I'll be paying for it forever," and finally, one telling me it is absolutely the right choice to take my money and run (an unexpected full ride to Ford!) But one thing she said may also help -- that there are creative ways to connect to the HKS community and alums without being a student, if you happen to have connections to graduates or current students. Food for thought.

Would love to see how this plays out for you and your thought process. Best of luck!

Edited by kraeblossom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hiya everyone! I've got some conundrums. First and foremost, has anyone applied to a Boren Fellowship prior to beginning their graduate studies? I am worried about the notification deadline and graduate school commitment deadlines.

Coming From: Washington, D.C.; Finishing up undergrad at George Mason University and an internship at Brookings. I have intermediate Korean skills and hope to focus on US-Korea relations as well as the Korean peninsula conflict in my graduate studies. 

Deciding Between:

Georgetown SFS/MASIA: No $, applying for FLAS to cover ~25% of tuition. 

UH Asian Studies: Waiting for aid, exp. 30% out of state tuition covered. Applied late (see below), so my chances for full funding would be increased if I established in-state residency beforehand.

UNC-Chapel Hill Global Studies: Full tuition/Teaching Assistantship package

Other Factors: My long term S/O just got stationed at a military base in Hawaii, hence my application to the UH Masters. I've also applied to a Boren Fellowship which I am still waiting to hear back from. I am worried about money vs. opportunity cost... even though I've spent a significant amount of time in DC already and am ready to leave. To pass up the Georgetown opportunity is almost too much... but the opportunities of strategic analytical work and Korean studies resources in Hawaii are nothing to be scoffed at.

How I'm Leaning: My heart's in Hawaii, but I'm not sure if the funding will be enough to justify it. I also need to hear back from Boren before I can make any final decisions... but we aren't expected to hear back until mid-april. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was considering just making a desperate post asking people for help with my dilemma, but this thread exists, so here goes nothing!

Coming from: DC, about 1.5 years out of undergrad with internship experience at think tanks and a current job as a program assistant (mostly communications work, which I enjoy) at a civil rights nonprofit. I want to focus on racial and economic justice (yes, broad, I know) and social policy. 

Deciding between: Columbia SIPA (MPA) and Berkeley Goldman (MPP)

Other factors: I'm in the midst of an existential crisis where I'm unsure if I want to do data-driven policy analysis as a career, so SIPA's MPA is enticing as it would allow me to take a handful of journalism classes (as part of my "technology, media, and communications" specialization) and fewer quantitatively rigorous courses (which I'm not scared of, but might be bored by). SIPA also allows students to take what seems like twice as many electives as Goldman, which is a major plus for me.

How I'm leaning: I'm very slightly leaning toward Berkeley because it seems like a MUCH better place to live than NYC (more calm, surrounded by nature, better quality housing probably) and because their faculty seems incomparable, especially with their focus on poverty and inequality. The institution itself is more progressive (something I value) as well.

I know nobody but myself can solve my career crisis, but anyone got thoughts on the two programs as a whole and how they compare? Thank you in advance! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Hannahbanana212 said:

Hiya everyone! I've got some conundrums. First and foremost, has anyone applied to a Boren Fellowship prior to beginning their graduate studies? I am worried about the notification deadline and graduate school commitment deadlines.

Hey! So I don't have experience with the Boren Fellowship but I did complete a Boren Scholarship program at the end of undergrad, and while it funded a really cool opportunity for me, I'm not sure if I'd recommend it. In my experience and that of a few dozen Boren alumni I've talked to, NSEP really over-plays the amount of support they give you in the federal job search and the degree to which having Boren's hiring authorities (Schedule A and NDAA'13) helps you get hired. I have multiple friends who are considering paying back their $20k loans because it's so difficult to meet the service requirement right now (though to be fair, for some of them this is because my cohort applied in early 2016 under the assumption that we'd get to serve under the Clinton Administration, and now many federal jobs are no longer nearly as appealing). It worked out fine for me in the end - my nonprofit job got approved as tier 3 service - but it was a stressful process and if I had to do it again, I might have skipped Boren.

Obviously everyone's experiences are different, and it might absolutely be the right call for you! I just personally feel like I was misled about the opportunities that Boren would open up for me, and I wish someone had warned me about the downsides before I committed to it. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to discuss my Boren experiences more :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, somewhatslightlydazed said:

Hey! So I don't have experience with the Boren Fellowship but I did complete a Boren Scholarship program at the end of undergrad, and while it funded a really cool opportunity for me, I'm not sure if I'd recommend it. In my experience and that of a few dozen Boren alumni I've talked to, NSEP really over-plays the amount of support they give you in the federal job search and the degree to which having Boren's hiring authorities (Schedule A and NDAA'13) helps you get hired. I have multiple friends who are considering paying back their $20k loans because it's so difficult to meet the service requirement right now (though to be fair, for some of them this is because my cohort applied in early 2016 under the assumption that we'd get to serve under the Clinton Administration, and now many federal jobs are no longer nearly as appealing). It worked out fine for me in the end - my nonprofit job got approved as tier 3 service - but it was a stressful process and if I had to do it again, I might have skipped Boren.

Obviously everyone's experiences are different, and it might absolutely be the right call for you! I just personally feel like I was misled about the opportunities that Boren would open up for me, and I wish someone had warned me about the downsides before I committed to it. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to discuss my Boren experiences more :) 

Thanks! This is a perspective i hadnt heard before. I may message you soon :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey guys! Need some advice on which school to choose-since three of them have slightly different programs. I will be graduating from my undergrad in May and heading straight to masters so figuring this all out has been confusing enough. 

My three schools/programs: 

NYU Masters in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybersecurity 

George Mason Masters in International Security 

American Masters in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Studies 

 

Ideally would like to be in D.C. but it is hard to pass up NYU. Just looking for pros and cons of both. Received a deans fellowship at George Mason as well. Not quite sure what I would specifically like to do with my masters (so I know that's difficult to tell me exactly what school), but I am looking for a program that has the best program to lead me down a path of networking and employment after graduation. Leaning more towards doing counterintelligence. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Longtime lurker on the forum and have been following along intently. Finally created an account...

Coming from: California with a mix of professional experiences in nonprofit and government

Deciding between:  MPA programs

  • USC: Price School- (50% tuition)
  • Texas A&M: Bush School- (full tuition)
  • University of Washington: Evans (~60% tuition)
  • George Washington: Trachtenberg (~50% tuition)

Other factors: Interested in a career in local government. Looking to specialize in public management/leadership related concentrations This decision has been made more difficult because I am currently in a full-time job that I enjoy that is tangentially related to government/public affairs but is not directly related to local government.  I am not as interested in quant-heavy programs but recognize this as an area of growth. Not being in too much debt is important to me. 

How I'm leaning:

Fairly undecided at this point. Throughout the process I tried not to get set on a favorite in case funding did not pan out. In retrospect this may have backfired in making this an easy choice. I did not make what I consider the best decision when choosing my undergrad institution so I have some anxiety that I am not going to make a good decision or let some factor overwhelm my decision making. Going to USC would allow me to continue my current job, at least for now. Living in D.C has been a long term goal of mine but I am not sure if it is the best place to focus on local government. Texas A&M is very appealing with the cost and student support. I am planning to visit a few of the remaining programs to make my decision. I don't quite have impostor syndrome but I am worried about chickening out and convincing myself not to go to grad school. Trying to keep the eye on the prize and to remain as motivated as when I wrote my applications. I am not sure if anyone feels the same way. It has been reassuring to see the thought processes of others on this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, pubpolgal said:

I was considering just making a desperate post asking people for help with my dilemma, but this thread exists, so here goes nothing!

Coming from: DC, about 1.5 years out of undergrad with internship experience at think tanks and a current job as a program assistant (mostly communications work, which I enjoy) at a civil rights nonprofit. I want to focus on racial and economic justice (yes, broad, I know) and social policy. 

Deciding between: Columbia SIPA (MPA) and Berkeley Goldman (MPP)

Other factors: I'm in the midst of an existential crisis where I'm unsure if I want to do data-driven policy analysis as a career, so SIPA's MPA is enticing as it would allow me to take a handful of journalism classes (as part of my "technology, media, and communications" specialization) and fewer quantitatively rigorous courses (which I'm not scared of, but might be bored by). SIPA also allows students to take what seems like twice as many electives as Goldman, which is a major plus for me.

How I'm leaning: I'm very slightly leaning toward Berkeley because it seems like a MUCH better place to live than NYC (more calm, surrounded by nature, better quality housing probably) and because their faculty seems incomparable, especially with their focus on poverty and inequality. The institution itself is more progressive (something I value) as well.

I know nobody but myself can solve my career crisis, but anyone got thoughts on the two programs as a whole and how they compare? Thank you in advance! 

Hi there! Congrats on your acceptances! While I can't help you with your career crisis, I can certainly empathize, as I was in your exact position 1.5 years out of college. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do and it was very stressful at times. You are already on a great track, though (I worked in retail for 3 years out of college, so kudos to you!). I am also interested in the same policy areas as you :). 

Regarding Goldman vs SIPA, I can speak to the quality of life question as I went to college in NYC and currently live in the Bay Area. Insanely enough, living in Berkeley will be more expensive than NYC. However expensive you anticipate the Bay to be, it is even more expensive than that! Berkeley is very urban and quite challenging to navigate (no parking EVER). However, there is a ton of nature and even more nature about 2 hours away; it is an exceedingly beautiful surrounding area. The area of NYC that Columbia is in is actually pretty peaceful for Manhattan and has some quality housing options, while Berkeley is experiencing a housing crisis. I know people who attend who have two other people in their bedroom. Another good thing about the Columbia neighborhood is that everything you need is in walking distance, so you might not feel the hustle and bustle as much as you'd expect from NYC. Maybe most importantly, though, if you are interested in racial justice, Berkeley will be an exciting community for you: there is a lot of campus activism and myriad nonprofits in the East Bay focused on civil rights. 

Hope this helps!

Edited by usernamesmakemeanxious

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.