Jump to content
HelloItsMe

Would you apply to more of less schools?

Recommended Posts

In hindsight, would you have applied to more or less programs? 

Why or why not?

 

Edited by HelloItsMe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applied to two programs (Ford, Sanford), but if I were to do it over again I would only apply to one more program: Harris. I was looking for dual MBA/MPP programs so that limited my scope quite a bit. I found out about Chicago late in the game and after asking for recommendations for essentially 4 programs felt guilty about asking for additional on top of that with such short notice. However, the funding and acceptances worked in my favor so I don’t have any regrets! 

Applications take a lot of time and energy so I’m glad I kept my pool smaller. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely. I would apply to different schools and I would strategize the applications differently.

I didn’t see WWS at Princeton as a viable/competitive option, which led me to experiment with the application as opposed to put my best foot forward in terms of LOR, connecting with the school directly, etc. There’s no guarantee I would have gotten in, obviously, but I am disappointed in that application.

I also would have applied to some dual programs, MBA or Information Systems, now knowing that I am interested in analytics and private sector work. I didn’t do so mainly because I didn’t have the capacity to produce double the applications.

I think I also didn’t have a detailed understanding of what I wanted to pursue through an MPP. I knew vaguely I wanted Econ and Stats skills that could be applied to analyze housing policy, spatial inequality, and so on. Most top policy schools don’t specialize or even have institutes devoted to housing policy. To this end, I felt like any school was a compromise.

Edited by acerbicb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applied to 8 programs.  It wasn't a financial hardship for me and I'm glad I did.  I don't think extra apps necessarily take all that much more effort.  I.e. the essays are subtly different but if you write out a template you can adapt it to different applications without much extra work.

Take my advice with salt though, because I was so long away from school and so far from policy that I really had no idea of my qualifications.  I even had 4-5 lesser programs (with later deadlines) on deck in case I got rejected from all of my 1st-tier attempts.  Thankfully that ended up being unnecessary.  Hearing back from so many schools of varying quality with varying offers helped clarify my decision-making.

If you already have a good idea how you rate compared to other applicants, applying to more than 4-5 schools is probably not necessary.  You should try to cultivate a more specific idea of what you want with respect to programs, locations, and eventual job.  If you do that thinking up front, applying to less schools will happen organically.

Edited by 3dender

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applied to 10 (in my defense, I needed to have online options) and I would definitely apply to less next time. You need to be honest and ask yourself, "Will I really attend if I get in?"

I could've applied to 5-6 and been in the exact spot I'm at right now. Plus 4-5 less essays to tweak means more time researching and throwing in tidbits for schools you actually care about.

In short 1-2 reach, 2-3 middle and 1-2 safety you'll be fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

100% less. I applied to 10 in total (I know, too much) and it was honestly a result of me having too little confidence in myself. I had 2 reaches, 4 middles, and 4 safeties. In retrospect, I could've easily narrowed that down to 2 reaches, 3 middles, and 2 safeties, but hindsight is 20/20.

I suppose there's also a matter of luck that goes into these things. I'm fortunate that I can say, now that the whole process is over, "oh I have too many options and I should've been more selective," but I could have just as easily gotten into only one or two programs and been grateful I applied to a wide range.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Thanks so far everyone. I plan to apply this year, and am trying to determine if applying to 8+ programs would be too much. I feel that applying to fewer programs will allow me and my LOR writers to focus much more on a great application. But keep the advice coming!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applied to 7 schools and had no idea that the acceptance rate is much higher than for undergrad studies at those same schools. I applied to too many schools that sounded good on paper but weren't located in a city or geographic are in which I would want to live. So, I would encourage you to apply to schools that you don't think you would get in (Harvard or Princeton for lots of applicants) if you would actually attend the schools once accepted, and then apply to schools that will give you a distinct advantage, whether that school offers a specialization in a particular field of public administration/policy, allows you attend because of generous financial aid, or is located in a place that you want to end up after school. Don't go through the headache of applying to schools just to have safeties if you wouldn't actually attend anyway; it isn't worth the time or money. Chances are you will get into more schools than you think you will, by default. That seems to be the consensus around here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applied to 9 schools, and I don't have any regrets. As others are saying, there's not the same need for "safeties" in terms of getting admitted like there is for undergrad. However, funding packages vary widely, and that's where I wanted to hedge my bets and give myself as many chances for scholarships as possible.

I went into the application process thinking that the lower-ranked schools on my list (Middlebury, American, GW) would give me the most funding because the programs themselves were less competitive, and I doubted that I'd get significant funding from schools like SAIS or Harvard, but I decided to throw my hat in the ring anyway to see what would happen. I ended up being really surprised with the results; the less competitive schools gave me relatively little money, and the most competitive programs gave me the most. I may not have originally had Harvard or Princeton at the top of my list (since they're less internationally-focused than the others), but because they both gave me full rides or close, now they're the two programs I'm deciding between and I'm really excited about both options! 

So in my personal experience, I'm glad I applied to a relatively high number of programs because I couldn't predict the results as well as I thought I could, and applying to a lot of schools gave me a lot of chances for good funding packages. Definitely don't apply to schools that you know for sure you wouldn't go to (unless they've waived the application fee and you can reuse essays - I didn't like GW's program but applied because it was free and I figured that if they gave me funding, I could use that as leverage for schools I liked better), but I think it's worth applying to a lot of schools to give yourself the best chance at scholarship money.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applied to 3 schools and I prepared for way more schools than I actually applied for (I found out about U Chicago Harris just before the SIPA deadline and a bit before a few other programs I was considering).  Retrospectively, I would have prepared for even fewer.  I realized while writing my SIPA essays that it really didn't have what I wanted and regretted all that time putting together the quant resume.  My advice is ask yourself very, very seriously if you would go if you got in and if the program would fulfill the reasons for your decision to go to graduate school.  If you're preparing an application for a school just because it is the next down on the list but you wouldn't actually go, don't apply and save your effort for other things that could enhance a future application.

Also, if you have the luxury of being able to visit campus or talk to a current student and/or professor, that can be pretty decisive if you're on the edge about a program. My discussions with current students and/or alumni made a huge difference regarding my opinion of different programs.

Edited by Ellie75

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.