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Deciding Between:

Im an international student from India and I now have to decide between HKS and Sanford- both for the MPP.

Harvard Kennedy ($0): A curriculum I really like plus the brand name.

Duke Sanford ($$): Offered a tuition waiver of $32k per year. That was the reason I applied here and got it.

Decision: Can't believe it but I am leaning towards HKS. I feel like being an international student, I need the backing of a big name if in case I don't get a job in America and have to come back to India (or look for another job in Canada, Australia, Africa etc). I don't think with Duke I can leverage the  name outside of the US- I just feel I will be back where I was in India albeit at a slightly better position than when I started out. I feel as if HKS can elevate my career more than Duke. I know I will be in some form of debt for a few years but isn't that a risk worth taking? My family are urging me to take the risk and go to HKS. They are even offering to help me offset some loans but am I crazy here? 

Any thoughts?

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Well my Micro class got cancelled today so in my boredom (I mean sincere altruism) I'll go through and try and add my two cents where I feel I can. As a disclaimer much like most of you in here I am a

Welp lets keep going with this exercise I suppose /: A 66% funding offer from SAIS is one that I would strongly consider as it is a very good middle ground between Notre Dame and Harvard. As fa

Well, given I'm the original poster, I should close the loop I guess!  A lot of soul-searching, discussions with my wife, dialogue and negotiations with USC and UT-Austin, working out logistics a

33 minutes ago, invincible49 said:

Deciding Between:

Im an international student from India and I now have to decide between HKS and Sanford- both for the MPP.

Harvard Kennedy ($0): A curriculum I really like plus the brand name.

Duke Sanford ($$): Offered a tuition waiver of $32k per year. That was the reason I applied here and got it.

Decision: Can't believe it but I am leaning towards HKS. I feel like being an international student, I need the backing of a big name if in case I don't get a job in America and have to come back to India (or look for another job in Canada, Australia, Africa etc). I don't think with Duke I can leverage the  name outside of the US- I just feel I will be back where I was in India albeit at a slightly better position than when I started out. I feel as if HKS can elevate my career more than Duke. I know I will be in some form of debt for a few years but isn't that a risk worth taking? My family are urging me to take the risk and go to HKS. They are even offering to help me offset some loans but am I crazy here? 

Any thoughts?

I don’t think that a big name is ever worth going tens of thousands deeper into debt. This is especially true when talking about public sector/policy work, which doesn’t yield the kind of return on investment that a top-ranked MBA or JD night. That said, if you feel with confidence that a school is (1) a better fit in terms of curriculum and (2) can effectively place you in a higher paying job that is more aligned with your professional goals, it is worth considering.

Just make sure that the specific opportunities you feel that Harvard has for you (i.e. connections to an employer you want to work for) arent available at Duke.

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15 hours ago, tealeaf71 said:

@MPPKollege Has some really great points, but I'll throw in my 2 cents too.

If money is a concern for Heinz and is holding you back... don't hesitate to negotiate. I got my offer up from 80% to 90% tuition. There is a link in an email about financing your education where you can request a scholarship consideration (or email the director of admissions). They have you fill out a spreadsheet with your competing offers, and since you have a better offer, my guess is they will try to close the gap.

Because I live in Pittsburgh, I know several people who are attending/have attended Heinz and they are all public sector focused. Sure, there are probably people interested in consulting, but from my visit in the fall and personal contacts, there are a lot of people who are public service oriented. And to add another data point, I'll probably choose Heinz, and my interests are international development and policy analysis so I'll probably find myself at an NGO or think tank after graduating. Have you visited both schools? I think it can be hard to get an idea of the culture without visiting and talking to a lot of students. If you can't visit a school, I would suggest trying to reach out to several students at each school (always talk to more than one!).

As you said, Heinz is one of the top quant skills schools. And if you're interested in policy analysis, the RAND office is a couple of blocks away. I can't really comment on which school would be better for your PhD goals since I have no idea what PhD you're interested in, but if that is a serious consideration for you, I would suggest looking at the associated gradcafe forum to see what makes a strong applicant. You don't want to get to the end of your master's journey only to realize top Econ PhD programs won't give you a second look if you haven't completed linear algebra or multivariable calculus coursework.

Ultimately, I'm an internet stranger and you know what's best for your career goals and finances. But, the main point I want to make is to seek out more info in these final two weeks! Talk to more students, to professors, to the career services office, the academic affairs office, etc. so you can feel more confident you're making the right choice for you.

Thank you both for your responses. I don't think I outlined my reasoning for leaning towards Wisconsin well—the increased interdisciplinary opportunities of being at a Big Ten research university (which I know well from undergrad) were as big if not bigger of a factor than the whole "culture" thing. Regardless, though, I think I'm convinced to give Heinz another shot in the final weeks here.

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4 hours ago, blahannah said:

@CaliforniaBurritoAreGreat

Im basically doing the same thing as you. Did you request more funding through Harris’ reconsideration form? If so, when did you submit it and then hear back? I feel like I’ve been waiting forever. Thanks!

I submitted St. Patrick's Day Weekend, and heard back exactly two weeks later, so this past Monday! And yes, it was through the reconsideration form.

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On 4/1/2019 at 7:15 PM, acl said:

I did manage to get more funding from LBJ this past week, and they responded fairly quickly, which was nice. I used a more competitive funding offer from another school and asked if they could help close the gap. You may as well ask, and ask soon - good luck! I don't have much knowledge of UCLA, sorry.

Would be interested in hearing your thoughts from your visit to LBJ! 

Hi! Thanks for your reply! Did you contact the LBJ school directly or financial aid? Did you email or call?

I'll keep you posted on this weekend. 

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On 3/21/2019 at 1:04 PM, acv123 said:

it seems like we’re debating between the same top two schools, so interested in knowing which way you end up leaning! Are you planning to visit either? 

If it's not too much to ask, would you be able to write briefly about your thoughts on GSPP and SIPA if you visit them? Just like a sentence on the vibe you got at each place, since we have similar interests in social policy. No pressure though! I won't be able to make it to GSPP's admit day, and SIPA's is a maybe, so I'm gonna be keeping an eye on the forum in general for other's peoples' posts too. @acv123

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Hey everyone! Would love your thoughts on my pending decision of where to go for my Masters of Public Policy. I'm in panic mode right now. 

Deciding Between:

Berkeley Goldman ($0): Two Year, Top 5 for MPP in the US

London School of Economics ($0): One Year, more affordable than Berkeley

National University of Singapore ($$):  Two Year, full ride scholarship with month stipend and travel fees

Decision: I am hoping to do international legal work, and I am currently finishing my J.D. from Berkeley Law.  While Berkeley would be the easiest to attend, originally I was leaning towards LSE to get diversity on my resume, save money, and get international training.  But then, yesterday, that offer from Singapore came out of nowhere (I genuinely thought since they hadn't gotten back to me I hadn't got in). Now I am trying to balance the costs of the schools with their names in the international community.  Is it worth spending more to go LSE for its name and location?  Would Singapore be as impressive on my resume for international employers like the U.N.?  I know very little about Singapore and would love any advice. 

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3 hours ago, pubpolgal said:

If it's not too much to ask, would you be able to write briefly about your thoughts on GSPP and SIPA if you visit them? Just like a sentence on the vibe you got at each place, since we have similar interests in social policy. No pressure though! I won't be able to make it to GSPP's admit day, and SIPA's is a maybe, so I'm gonna be keeping an eye on the forum in general for other's peoples' posts too. @acv123

Yes, definitely! I’m not able to attend GSPP for the admit day, but did have a chance to visit recently and speak to a few curruent students. The campus itself is really beautiful and I do get the feeling that there is a sense of community at GSPP, both among faculty and students. The students I spoke with seemed happy with the program overall, and I get the impression that most students work while attending (which can be a positive or a negative depending on priorities, but makes sense since research or teaching assistants are eligible for tuition reductions along with getting paid salaries). The students seem really busy, but make it work. I also like that there are three key opportunities for students to gain practice experience: through a team client-based course during first year, the summer internship, and through an individual client-consulting requirement during the second year. My concerns have more to do with the overall cost of living in the Bay Area. A good number of students live outside of Berkeley and have to commute to school (which sounds like it can be difficult if you plan on staying on campus until late at night without a car). 

I’m going to Columbia’s admit day on Tuesday and can report more then, but happy to answer any specific questions. 

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Thank you so much @acv123 I really appreciate it! I’ve been concerned about living situation at Berkeley too, I definitely don’t plan on having a car so I’d be relying on the buses/finding somewhere affordable as close to campus as possible.... 

Also their client consulting projects seem fairly unique since most of the schools I looked at only have students do it once, and in groups. So the individual project is interesting!

I’m curious to see if SIPA students feel the same sense of purpose and community that I’ve noticed exists at GSPP.

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On 3/31/2019 at 11:51 AM, Darwinian192 said:

US student, 4 years out from undergrad.

 €50,000 scholarship from SAIS Bologna campus for two years (MAIA). 2 years Fulbright ETA, short term PC  service, internships at UN & Goethe Institut. GPA 3.8, GRE V 162/Q 158/W 5.5. Fluent in German/French, working knowledge Russian/Italian. Age 25. 

 Uncertain if it's better to take the offer or wait and accept a position as a research coordinator at a top business school (HBS) for 1-2 years before trying for Wilson/Jackson or simply combining said coordinator experience with an MBA down the road. 

 A life in Europe/European Affairs is the dream (not huge on quant/IMF/WB work), but this job at HBS just seems too good........... Insight? ??

Your last sentence is important. The SAIS name is great and the education was solid, but I have to say the "life in Europe" was one of my favorite things about the entire experience. First, Bologna is very cheap, so your rent cost is 1/3rd of D.C./NY, and that extra cash goes a long way in travel.

I would stack all of my classes over 3 days and then would have four-day weekends each week. Getting to Bologna Airport is like 5 euro from the train station - which was a 5 minute walk from my apartment - and you can catch a Ryanair for less than 50 euros round-trip to dozens of European cities - I visited 25 countries during my 9 months in Bologna.

I would read about the Cold War in American Foreign Policy Since 1945, and then would fly out to Berlin for a weekend, visiting the Berlin Wall in the day and reading at night. Taking The European Union and its Institutions? Take a weekend trip to Brussels. Studying colonialism and its global implications? London and Paris are right there.

My year in Bologna wasn't solely an education. It felt like my little bildungsroman. I was too old - mid 20s - to be worried about drinking and partying - but also too young to have lost my sense of adventure. So my year felt like a very immersive, interactive learning experience.

That isn't to say that I was the average student. There were certainly people who preferred to learn with a book in the library for 5 hours. But if you learn 'interactively,' then Bologna is a special place.

Also, you're stuck with 150 others in Bologna who speak horrible Italian - though most won't admit it. So there's a bonding born out of necessity because you have no one else to befriend other than your immediate classmates. There's a reason why the Bologna students in their second year in D.C. are attached at the hip. And since 70 percent usually stay in D.C. long-term, you not only have an amazing year of European adventure, but a network in D.C. that can help tremendously - even if geared to certain areas: World Bank, IMF, IADB, ITA, USAID, State [to a lesser extent], OPIC, ITC, etc.

I will say, you didn't detail what you want to do - just what you've done to date. And I can't piece together a narrative based on your paragraphs.

Business School and International Relations are not the same. Before you drop six figures into a program, really plot your path ahead. As great as SAIS Bologna was for me, debt is debt, and accruing debt for something that will not advance your career is a non-starter. Woodrow Wilson, Jackson, SAIS and HBS are also quite distinct. Jackson and SAIS are both in the IR bucket, and offer similar courses, but SAIS is a long-established program with 950 students. Jackson is a fifth the size and is much newer. SAIS has a much better network in D.C., but Jackson is undoubtedly more financially generous. SAIS has more courses, but Jackson has better individualized attention. SAIS is in D.C. and Jackson is in New Haven. Network, location, financing, and curriculum are notable differences, and both schools are different in those respects.

Woodrow Wilson is also completely different - disclaimer: I studied there as a PPIA Fellow - from SAIS, with more of a domestic public service focus than SAIS, which tends to send far more students to the big international organizations, a tranche to State/DOD/Intelligence, a tranche to Treasury, a tranche to the finance industry, and some to the EOP. The SAIS Bologna crew is also disproportionately European, of which many can only stay in the U.S. long-term by finding World Bank/IMF/IO positions in D.C. Which you noted above is something you're not huge on.

And HBS is a completely different chimera. A student who thrives in HBS could be bored by the curriculum at SAIS. If I went to HBS, I'd probably be miserable. Are you just chasing prestige with HBS, or is that something you're actually interested in for your career trajectory?

In any case, I think you need to scope out your path before you make such a life-changing decision to shell out money for a graduate education.

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On 3/21/2019 at 5:13 PM, Mg522 said:

Coming from: Straight from undergrad 

Deciding between: GW, American, SAIS, and Georgetown SSP

GW: $9000 a year 

American $20,000 but only in my second year 

SAIS: $0

Georgetown SSP: $0

How I’m Leaning: I’m leaning towards SAIS or Georgetown 

Being straight from undergrad do you all recommend I take some time off and re-apply in hopes of getting more funding? With no help from my top two schools, I’m not sure whether it makes sense to jump into a pool of debt. I feel like I’m ready to start this Fall, but is graduating in over $80,000 in debt worth it?  Before hearing about funding, my heart was telling me to choose GTown because it involves 0 math, but my mind was telling me to go to SAIS so I can be in a more flexible program. Now, my mind is all over the place. I was so excited last week, but I’m rethinking EVERYTHING.

ADVICE NEEDED!!!! 

I went to SAIS straight from undergrad and chose classes based on sheer interest. Russian Economic Policy in the 90s? That sounds like fun!

Now 3 years out from grad school, I wish I had had a better understanding of the skills I needed. I could have learned 
Russian Economic Policy in the 90s with $1.50 in late fees at the public library - to quote Will Hunting. Not only will you get more funding, you'll also get a more beneficial education.

In hindsight, I would have taken classes in Public Finance, Public Sector Economics, Political Economy of Inequality, Mediation, Conflict Management, U.S. Constitutional Law, Policy Writing, etc. 

Historical courses are way more interesting to me, but you can learn about Belgian Independence on Wikipedia. You can't learn effective policy writing or substantive public finance knowledge on Wikipedia.

That said, if you know for sure you want to join the Federal Government, $80,000 in debt is manageable if you do income-based repayment with the Public Sector Loan Forgiveness Program - what I'm doing. If you want to do private sector, then be a lot more worried about debt since there's no way you can make that disappear in a decade other than paying them off in full.

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On 3/20/2019 at 6:12 PM, amberly said:

(hit enter too early - my bad if anyone saw the unedited version of this post)

I'm going to visit campuses early next month and will probably decide then, but I'd be interested in hearing what you all think

Coming from: ATX. 1 year out of undergrad, with extensive experience living abroad and 2 undergrad internships, but no relevant postgrad work experience. Concentrating in Russian/Eurasian affairs. I'm hoping to eventually become an FSO, but I'm also looking for exposure to a range of career options.

Deciding Between: Georgetown MAERES (20k/year), Johns Hopkins SAIS ($28k/year), UT Austin LBJ MPGS/CREEES (Russian/Eurasian Studies) MA (50% tuition + TAship covering rest of tuition + stipend)

Other Factors: I have family in Austin and would have considerably more support (both financial and intangible) if I stayed here.

How I'm Leaning: Basically I'm making 2 decisions: Georgetown vs SAIS and Georgetown/SAIS vs. LBJ

Georgetown vs. SAIS: Georgetown SFS has been my "dream" graduate school for a long time, and I would love the ability to study Russian/Eurasian politics in-depth in the MAERES program. I've been reading their course listings since my junior year of undergrad. I also feel like SFS is generally more service-oriented, whereas SAIS sometimes seems a little more careerist than I would prefer. (Obviously this is conjecture since I have yet to actually visit either school). On the other hand, SAIS would allow me to spend my first year in Bologna, and I've become more and more attracted to this idea over time. I've lived in Europe before, and this would be a unique opportunity to study international and regional affairs from a European rather than an American perspective--which is very appealing. Regional focus would obviously be less prominent, but I do feel like SAIS in general has a more "international" perspective, and I think that's important to an IR professional. Also--I would be in their flagship MA rather than a smaller regional program, and I've heard that SFS gives less attention/support to the regional studies MA's than MSFS/SSP. Again: conjecture, but I would love to hear anyone's thoughts.

 Georgetown/SAIS vs. LBJ: This is the big $issue$. I feel reasonably confident that I could make it through LBJ with no loans. Moreover, I have family connections at UT (which is why I didn't go there for undergrad...lol), and there are parts of LBJ/MGPS that I'm truly enthusiastic about (i.e. the Strauss Center, TX National Security Review). It would be a great education, and definitely easier...but I also think that I would seriously benefit from being in D.C. I've only lived in the Southern/Midwestern U.S., and while I love Austin, it is not a hub of global diplomacy. I'm just not sure whether that advantage + the caliber of SFS/SAIS as programs is worth the extra cost. I could manage to live on savings for the first year at either school (so only borrowing for tuition), and both SFS and SAIS have indicated that it's possible to gain increased funding for the second year, but I'm not sure how feasible this actually is. Anyone know?

 Ugh, this was a novel. I'd appreciate any advice you have!

Have you considered the UT-Austin in D.C. program? There's a surprisingly big LBJ network in D.C. and the new D.C. program should definitely help on that front.

Don't buy into the "second year funding" snake oil that schools try to sell. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If they wanted to give you two years of funding, they would have done so. To me it just seems like a really underhanded tactic to get people to attend by pulling on their hopes/dreams. 

And you don't need SFS/SAIS to become an FSO. You can meet all of the 13 Dimensions in Austin. I don't think SFS/SAIS are worth six figures extra for an FSO career path.

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On 4/3/2019 at 9:37 AM, invincible49 said:

Deciding Between:

Im an international student from India and I now have to decide between HKS and Sanford- both for the MPP.

Harvard Kennedy ($0): A curriculum I really like plus the brand name.

Duke Sanford ($$): Offered a tuition waiver of $32k per year. That was the reason I applied here and got it.

Decision: Can't believe it but I am leaning towards HKS. I feel like being an international student, I need the backing of a big name if in case I don't get a job in America and have to come back to India (or look for another job in Canada, Australia, Africa etc). I don't think with Duke I can leverage the  name outside of the US- I just feel I will be back where I was in India albeit at a slightly better position than when I started out. I feel as if HKS can elevate my career more than Duke. I know I will be in some form of debt for a few years but isn't that a risk worth taking? My family are urging me to take the risk and go to HKS. They are even offering to help me offset some loans but am I crazy here? 

Any thoughts?

I would be hesitant of going into debt for a MPP or MPA, especially when a school like Sanford is offering you a generous package.

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An update from my previous post (including updated offers). If anyone has any insight on this, I would really appreciate hearing it!

Coming fromBay Area, California; but I am currently doing a Fulbright overseas until July. I have about 2 years of nonprofit internship experience + Fulbright. 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 [COA: $36k/year]
  • U Chicago (Harris), MPP - $30k (updated) [COA: $47k/year]
  • UT-Austin (LBJ School), MPAff - reduced to in-state tuition (updated) [COA: $34k/year, but could be $19k/year if I lived with family]
  • Carnegie Mellon (Heinz), MSPPM - 55% tuition, ~27k (updated) [COA: $46k/year]
  • USC (Price), MPP - 50% tuition [COA: $49k/year]
  • George Washington (Trachtenberg), MPA - $20k [COA: $44k/year]

*COL portion taken from College Board to be consistent

Other Factors: Minimizing debt is my biggest factor, and others seem to echo the same concern. Since I am unsure about where I expect to work after graduating (I plan to follow my partner's med school decision later), I hope to choose a program that has a large national network. My goal is to build up my limited quantitative background, though I feel that I can do that at any of these programs. As an update, Harris and Heinz increased their offers marginally, and LBJ offered in-state tuition which kind of threw a wrench in my lean toward Duke (since I may be able to live with family in Austin, reducing my COA at LBJ to ~$19k/year).

How I'm Leaning: 

I think all of the programs offer strong/sufficient quant curriculums so I'm not too worried about that. But again, each program appeals to me for different reasons. I like Duke's small cohort and connections to DC. Harris's name and large network may allow flexibility if I have to up and move somewhere random for my partner. Austin has a much nicer price tag if I decide to live with family (albeit with a 1+ hour daily commute).

I decided to eliminate Price, Trachtenberg, and Heinz from consideration at those price points, since I can't even fathom affording that amount in loans. Though Price offers a stronger network in CA which I had mentioned an interest in post-grad, I don't really want to throw all my eggs in one basket for that reason alone since I may decide to live elsewhere. I feel I can justify Harris's COA for its supposed prestige in policy analysis (and again, regional transferability). Let me know if I'm completely mistaken about my assumptions!

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend any Admitted Student Days, so if anyone went to any (esp. Sanford, Harris, and LBJ), I would appreciate hearing your impression of the schools/programs/cities!

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Long time lurker, first-time poster. Thank you to everyone on this site. It's been an incredibly useful resource!

Coming from:
U.S.

Deciding between:

Fletcher MALD (some $)

Syracuse Maxwell MAIR (more $, about 2/3 the total cost of Fletcher)

Hertie School of Governance in Berlin (some $, less than half the total cost of Fletcher)

Johns Hopkins SAIS Bologna First Year (no $. Probably not going)

Background:  Just under 2 years of international experience in the Netherlands (study abroad) and Vietnam (ESL Teacher). Currently working as a consultant, but hoping to combine the international and private sector experience with the MA to pivot towards IR related work. Ultimately, my career goal is to join the Foreign Service, but I'm open to other opportunities like Political Risk/International Development (especially considering the long, unpredictable process of FS hiring).

Deciding Factors:
Like many, I'm balancing prestige, fit, location, and best career opportunities with the total cost of attendance.

How I'm leaning:
I've essentially eliminated SAIS because it seems to be in the same tier as Fletcher and I received more money from the latter. They're pretty different programs overall (SAIS having an econ tilt, in DC, having the Bologna option), but it seems they would produce similar career opportunities. However, I'm open to arguments for SAIS over Fletcher with funding.

 

Overall, I have two decisions to make: 1) School in the U.S. or Berlin 2) If U.S., which school.

 

1) The benefits of Hertie seem clear: being in Berlin and all of its history, language immersion (I have some German skills now and would come out close to fluent after 2 years there), international student body, studying post-Soviet States in a prime location, VERY cheap cost of living, and cheapest tuition. The cons are mostly that it's unclear how helpful the degree is back in the U.S. (doesn't have the same name recognition/vast American Alumni network as Fletcher) and it seems very difficult for Americans to be hired in the EU over EU citizens. Would love to hear some thoughts on this. It seems like going overseas would still provide great education and experiences, but I'd be sacrificing some hiring opportunity.

 

2) Between the American schools, I'm leaning Fletcher. It seems to be a more established program than the Maxwell MAIR (granted their MPA is excellent) and has alumni all over the world. Fletcher seems to have great career services and recruiting for the fields I'm interested in. They've also been more helpful throughout the application/decision process than the others. But damn... That price tag. I'm very debt averse and not fully convinced it's worth 20-30k more debt than Maxwell. That being said, if anyone has any insight into the Maxwell MAIR reputation and experience and would like to push me in that direction, I'm all ears as it has been difficult to get in touch with Maxwell alumni.

Thanks in advance, strangers of the internet! I look forward to you influencing the most important decision of my short career.

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11 hours ago, AGReyes said:

Have you considered the UT-Austin in D.C. program? There's a surprisingly big LBJ network in D.C. and the new D.C. program should definitely help on that front.

Don't buy into the "second year funding" snake oil that schools try to sell. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If they wanted to give you two years of funding, they would have done so. To me it just seems like a really underhanded tactic to get people to attend by pulling on their hopes/dreams. 

And you don't need SFS/SAIS to become an FSO. You can meet all of the 13 Dimensions in Austin. I don't think SFS/SAIS are worth six figures extra for an FSO career path.

Agree on everything everyone is saying about debt. Consider your ROI. Grad school is what you make of it. Lots of places have great alumni and DC connections. You need to make the program work for what you want to get out of policy school. That's my attitude. That said, if you really, really want a name, buy the name, and brag about it everywhere.

I didn't go to admitted student day, I did visits on my own. But DC at LBJ is totally different than their 2-year track. It's like an apprenticeship. One LBJ professor told me directly to not do DC. I need time in the ivory tower, so I didn't mind that advice. See what they say at admitted student days, but I got a weird vibe when I mentioned DC track.

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57 minutes ago, A.T. said:

Agree on everything everyone is saying about debt. Consider your ROI. Grad school is what you make of it. Lots of places have great alumni and DC connections. You need to make the program work for what you want to get out of policy school. That's my attitude. That said, if you really, really want a name, buy the name, and brag about it everywhere.

I didn't go to admitted student day, I did visits on my own. But DC at LBJ is totally different than their 2-year track. It's like an apprenticeship. One LBJ professor told me directly to not do DC. I need time in the ivory tower, so I didn't mind that advice. See what they say at admitted student days, but I got a weird vibe when I mentioned DC track.

We had an awesome intern for 6 months in my office who went to the UT Austin in D.C. program and loved it. It's very small and very new, but the cost of tuition is cheap, LBJ is generous, and the school has a good reputation. 

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Coming from I have been working in housing both direct service and community organizing for 5 years. i'm looking to pivot to housing/ urban policy. I currently work full time in DC and have 2 AmeriCorps education awards.  

Deciding Between:  American University ($8,000 yr both years) and George Washington  ($0, but would double my AmeriCorps awards)

Other Factors:  They both seem like good programs. I got the impression there might more fellowship opportunities at GW with tuition  tuition remission. 

How I'm Leaning: I'm really torn. I'm still trying to see about more funding from GW. It's unclear which I would be able to get funding, fellowships, and other opportunities from. 

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On ‎4‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 1:26 AM, BLyles said:

Hi! Thanks for your reply! Did you contact the LBJ school directly or financial aid? Did you email or call?

I'll keep you posted on this weekend. 

Since I was originally award a fellowship, I emailed back the fellowship contact, but I'm sure contacting financial aid would work too.

Great! Can't wait to hear thoughts on the weekend.

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Okay so here's my situation. It's a little heavy, so I'd appreciate honest feedback about this. 

Coming from: 8 years of paralegal experience in various fields (all of them litigation). And as of this past spring, I also just finished an online certificate program in sustainability studies, so I'm looking to pivot to environmental/energy policy. 

Deciding between: CUNY Baruch's MPA program ($1000/year) vs. Georgetown's MPM program ($0). In both of these programs I would still be working part-time in my current job (our firm has an office in DC so it would be a simple matter of transferring to the DC office in the case of Georgetown) and going to school part-time.

Other factors: For me, it's a complicated situation and I now wish I had spoken up about this sooner because I've been internally debating this for weeks on end. There are basically two options under consideration:

  • For Baruch, I'd be paying in-state tuition and overall my tuition costs would be about a third of Georgetown's. I'd basically be graduating with no debt if I used my own savings to cover the difference; I'd still have more than half left over (at this point) when I finish that program. 
  • For Georgetown, even though I have no funding at this point, if I were to defer admissions for another year and continue working, I would be able to cover most (around three quarters or so) of the tuition costs with my savings by that point, if not nearly all of it (with some financial assistance from my parents). However, when the dust settles, I'd basically have far less in savings (putting it mildly). Again, because I'd also be working part-time in DC, my job could cover rent and living expenses while attending the program. 

How I'm leaning: I'm also really, really torn about this. On the one hand, I realize that Georgetown has a better alumni and career network, a more rigorous program, and almost certainly a higher starting salary for graduates compared to Baruch (I also get the feeling that their professional networks and job recruiting prospects are more localized in the NYC area compared to GT too).. On the other hand, with Baruch I'd basically have no student whatsoever, and one really doesn't have to look very far  to see why this would be quite a boon. And while I could hypothetically cover the cost for Georgetown with my own savings and some financial assistance, I also don't think that this is a decision that one should make lightly whatsoever when one's savings are taken into account. 

So I guess my question here is: does a school's brand name really matter that much in public policy in the grand scheme of things? Is it really worth it to attend an elite program at the cost of virtually all my savings at this point (and then some), or attend a state program at the cost of a likely smaller career network, development, etc. and yet not have to worry about finances or debt long-term? I know that for law and business school, rankings matter a great deal and can often be a game changer. Here, however, I'm not so sure.

If pedigree really does make a tangible and non-trivial difference, then I would be more inclined to pick Georgetown. If not, then I'm going with Baruch. Either option would be fine by me one way or another. 

Alternatively, is it possible or advisable to defer one or perhaps both programs for another year if I still need more time to decide? I'm unsure if deferment still constitutes (more or less) a binding contract to attend in a year, but either way even I have serious qualms about this and I'm not even sure if this would be permissible. 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by CipherTrigonal89
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Can someone gut-check if I’m being stupid?

in short - full ride USC versus full ride LBJ and a 31k stipend.

31,000 stipend feels insane to me, and they seem to want me I think, as they emailed me out of the blue to add 11k to my originally generous stipend. 

As a Latina New Yorker I am nervous of never having visited Austin.  And I loved USC’s focus on Latinos and immigration....

I should take the stipend no?

Edited by madrid
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6 hours ago, madrid said:

Can someone gut-check if I’m being stupid?

in short - full ride USC versus full ride LBJ and a 31k stipend.

31,000 stipend feels insane to me, and they seem to want me I think, as they emailed me out of the blue to add 11k to my originally generous stipend. 

As a Latina New Yorker I am nervous of never having visited Austin.  And I loved USC’s focus on Latinos and immigration....

I should take the stipend no?

Really up to you and your need for funding, as well as the program features. If the USC program excites you more (which it seems it does) then I would go with USC and be fine with covering all other expenses. I will say if you want to end up working in LA or California then USC is the way to go. The Trojan network is a real asset in that regard.  

I have never been to Austin but have had several friends visit and two that are there for graduate school (MBA). They all love it so I wouldn’t worry too much about the city itself.

Edited by TalkPoliticsToMe
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Just now, TalkPoliticsToMe said:

Really up to you and your need for funding, as well as the program features. If the USC program excites you more (which it seems it does) then I would go with USC and be fine with covering all other expenses. I will say if you want to end up working in LA or California then USC is the way to go. The Trojan network is a real asset in that regards 

I have never been to Austin but have had several friends visit and two that are there for graduate school (MBA). They all love it so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

either way you can’t go wrong with either institution.

do most people come in with savings, or have parents help them out? I'm a first gen low income background so I'm a little freaked out with the idea of covering 45,000 estimated living expenses for two years at USC, and not sure how others do it or just whip out the loans.. 

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I am an international student living outside of U.S., and therefore I am a bit clueless about what would be the best decision for me specially regarding the financial concerns. I would really appreciate any comments or help.

Coming from:  a developing country in Asia!

Deciding between: Harris MS-CAPP, $25K annual scholarship, COA: $50K tuition + $30K living expenses (annually) vs. defer this and wait for another year and apply to more quant-based programs (this year I only applied to Harris! I know that's silly!)

Other Factors: So I need to pay around $55K out of my pocket per year. So almost my only concern is financial. Here are a few things to consider:

  • I am married and my wife would accompany me.
  • I may get a $3K stipend per quarter from TA/RAs (that's not guaranteed though).
  • I cannot get any kind of loan in U.S. (due to some legal issues).
  • I have a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics, and have competed in competitive programming contests like ACM-ICPC regional contests. So the computational and programming aspects of the MS-CAPP would be easy and at the same time appealing to me (actually my main reason for applying to this program is that it has an interdisciplinary nature combining CS + Math + Humanities; I don't want to pursue pure CS or Math). Further, I have more than 7 years of social and policy work (both voluntary and paid) at university-level and now nation-wide level (in my home country).
  • I have a sibling in US who is a permanent resident and lives with their family; gets a decent salary ($200K+), so I may count on their support (maybe $500-$1000 per month), though it's not guaranteed :)
  • And finally, I can gather at most around $50K from my personal savings and bring them with myself to U.S.

Now, I am not sure whether to accept this offer, or instead defer it and wait for another year applying to more schools offering similar program (like Heinz)? I have heard about the reputation of U of Chicago and Harris, but I am not sure how much that's true and what the career prospects are? I am a pragmatic person, loves working and does not like studying very much, so I expect that I would start a career right after graduating, hopefully in a decent corporation or organization with a focus on data science aspects of policy.

Thanks in advance for any help/comment/advice.

Edited by Tooday
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2 minutes ago, madrid said:

do most people come in with savings, or have parents help them out? I'm a first gen low income background so I'm a little freaked out with the idea of covering 45,000 estimated living expenses for two years at USC, and not sure how others do it or just whip out the loans.. 

Honestly no idea. I share the same concerns as you (although not first gen or low income) so a large part (85%) of my decision was related to funding. I think if USC is where your heart is I would call admissions and see if there’s anyway they can match or offer you an equally compelling stipend like LBJ. That will at least remove any “what if” scenarios from plaguing your mind.

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