Jump to content
FujiShe

Open House Impressions

Recommended Posts

It seems every schools admitted students day was this weekend.

Anyone with insightful thoughts? Did they sway you or make you decide to reject?

 

I was at Dukes and I think they sealed the deal for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, FujiShe said:

I was at Dukes and I think they sealed the deal for me.

What did you like in particular about Duke? Trying to decide between Sanford, Harris, and LBJ, but unfortunately I wasn't able to attend any Admitted Student Days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just felt it had a really personal touch. At this level, I feel all the schools are offering relatively similar career outcomes and training, I was mostly interested in the "vibe." It just seems VERY personal, with professors already knowing our names before our nametags were on. It was a nice, little touch.

 

I'd love to hear about Harris' day if anyone has any info!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I attended the GWU Elliott Open House on Friday - It was really helpful and provided great direction for me.

I have the SAIS Open House this coming week … 

After that I will make a decision really fast since GWU (fellowship wise) wants me to make a decision by April 15.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I went to Ford Spring Preview - happy to address further questions and/or hear the perspectives from others that attended Ford as well. 

I will be attending Ford this fall for the following reasons: 

Faculty: This was the biggest factor in my decision and one that I was not prioritizing going into Spring Preview. However, the Faculty Panel and lunch changed my tune. The faculty at Ford are doing very cool things and were quite approachable. The Director of Academics shared with us that all Ford Faculty are evaluated not only on research and teaching but also service. As such there seems to be a lot of opportunities to get involved in on the ground projects with faculty, and that faculty address real world issues in real time pertaining to their fields of focus. Many faculty also have appointments in other schools which brings a different lens to instruction.  

Curriculum Flexibility: My impression at Ford is that the program follows a “choose your own adventure” approach, although they do have formalized tracks should students seek a more structured route. This was important to me as I am unsure of which policy area I would like to pursue; currently leaning towards health policy but I have several areas of interest. I tis also heavily encouraged to take courses in other departments. Michigan makes it easy to cross-enroll and they pride themselves on that. Additionally, Ford leadership is invested in revamping their curriculum--they seek feedback from Ford alumni on ways they can improve the program. That is one the reasons why they rolled out formalized tracks. They are also evaluating ways they can reinvent how they teach econ to graduate students in a way that is more applicable for professional settings. 

Geographic Spread: I was worried initially that Ford's imprint in DC metro and west coast would be limited due to their Midwestern location. These are the two areas that I see myself post-graduation. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that DC has the largest base of Ford alumni and California is within the top 6 locations in which Ford graduates gravitate towards. The others in the Top 6: Michigan, D.C., International, California, New York, and Illinois. This is based on roughly 4 years of both internship and FT data that was shared by Ford's Graduate Career Services staff. 

Dean and Program Funding: The Dean has an extensive background in policy, politics, and law. He has worked in the administrations for two Presidents, including management of special task force and headed up an an agency. As such, he is very much attune to what the MPP is, its value, and importance of forming connections on the Hill. From what students shared he has also increased the amount of donations the Ford School received. This has allowed them to do things like open up the new Diplomacy Center (Weiser) and further invest in international opportunities for students. He also makes himself available to students by offering office hours once a month. He also came by to greet students throughout the day and wish us congratulations. 

Other things to keep in mind: 

Facilities: underwhelming relative to other graduate schools on campus (e.g. Law School, Business School, School of Public Health). It is definitely an older building with less focus on natural light and spaces to congregate for group work. etc. 

Policy vs. Adminstration: the Ford School is definitely policy-centric as opposed to management/administration centric. Something to keep in mind for anyone more interested in managing an agency or other public/NGO entity vs. policy making. 

Students:  It was hard to gage the incoming class as most folks were still considering multiple offers (from Harris, HKS, Sanford, and Columbia were the ones most frequently mentioned. I also met a young people there (defined as individuals with two or fewer years of experience), but again, this may have been random coincidence and not truly representative of the incoming class. The individuals I interacted with left me feeling underwhelmed but again that may have been a bad draw of who I interacted with. 

Thus, I spent majority of my time interacting with the current cohorts and faculty to understand who the Ford student is. The students were friendly, a mix of extroverts and introverts, and very honest. I met military members and students with families. A professor described the ideal Ford student as "a realist that is optimistic about addressing social problems" while another said simply "they genuinely care about doing good in the world."

Cost of Attendance: Faculty, alumni, and current students were very upfront about money. Faculty I interacted with stressed the importance of funding and taking that into the decision making process--even if that meant they would have to decline Ford. I was amazed how open people were about this. There were a lot of alumni who attended Ford with no funding, but have since been advocating the school provide heavier tuition assistance. However they enjoyed their experience and did not regret attending. Similarly, there were also Ford students who turned down funding elsewhere to attend but they were able to justify their rationale. 

Diversity & Inclusion: Ford (and University of Michigan as an institution) is very aware they have issues with diversity & inclusion and are actively working to make faculty and the student body more inclusive. The Dean was very transparent about their efforts, as were the students. I'm used to being in spaces lacking diversity so this was refreshing to hear and glad the Dean addressed it head on as part of his opening. 

Edited by TalkPoliticsToMe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was hoping someone would start this thread.

 

Carnegie Mellon impressions in a nut shell:

The dangerously overworked reputation is just undergrads, students were honest in the difficulty of workload (especially the first semester) but there is collaboration among the cohort.

I wasn't impressed with career services.

Campus was beautiful but I would've liked to see more discussion about quality of life things i.e. sports clubs.

 

Cornell impressions in a nut shell:

Cohort camaraderie was incredible, and even camaraderie with staff and professors. Someone in my group said, "You can't all be lying" because the idea of a CIPA family was parroted so often, even without staff present.

Career services was going to go the extra mile for you.

Ithaca is really small, and very remote.

I'll elaborate or answer specific questions if anyone is interested. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/6/2019 at 8:59 PM, FujiShe said:

I just felt it had a really personal touch. At this level, I feel all the schools are offering relatively similar career outcomes and training, I was mostly interested in the "vibe." It just seems VERY personal, with professors already knowing our names before our nametags were on. It was a nice, little touch.

 

I'd love to hear about Harris' day if anyone has any info!

I was net positive about Harris as a whole, and very positive on my particular program (CAPP)  

Cons: Full group parts had the staff in full sales mode, which was annoying.  Ranjan Daniels, the head admissions guy, would like filibuster through questions he didn't like (debt ones, basically), which really bugged me.  The class is really large, especially for the MPP, which seems to make it harder to form relationships with professors.

Pros:

- The admissions staff you interacted with during the process clearly remembered you and your concerns, which was appreciated.

- Professors clearly cared about teaching

- Current students seemed to genuinely enjoy each other and the atmosphere of the program.  Honest about what is challenging and which challenges are rewarding or frustrating.

- CAPP faculty panel was refreshingly honest and open.  Professors were extremely forward about what you get, trade offs you will make regarding cs knowledge or policy area expertise, etc.

- I liked a lot of the other admitted students a lot.

Share this post


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

I was net positive about Harris as a whole, and very positive on my particular program (CAPP)  

Cons: Full group parts had the staff in full sales mode, which was annoying.  Ranjan Daniels, the head admissions guy, would like filibuster through questions he didn't like (debt ones, basically), which really bugged me.  The class is really large, especially for the MPP, which seems to make it harder to form relationships with professors.

Pros:

- The admissions staff you interacted with during the process clearly remembered you and your concerns, which was appreciated.

- Professors clearly cared about teaching

- Current students seemed to genuinely enjoy each other and the atmosphere of the program.  Honest about what is challenging and which challenges are rewarding or frustrating.

- CAPP faculty panel was refreshingly honest and open.  Professors were extremely forward about what you get, trade offs you will make regarding cs knowledge or policy area expertise, etc.

- I liked a lot of the other admitted students a lot.

Hey, 

So based on your impressions, have you confirmed your decision to go to harris?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my Heinz review. Stealing the format from @TalkPoliticsToMe because I think it's great.

 

Faculty: Although the faculty interaction was somewhat limited, I came away immensely impressed with the ones we saw. There was a session where two professors (Dr. Branstetter and Dr. Haviland) gave small ~30 minute lectures on their work and had a Q&A panel afterwards. They were incredibly engaging and their work was fascinating. They clearly demonstrated Heinz's commitment to positioning itself as the intersection of technology and policy. One of the examples is a multi-million dollar study that's about to begin on the use of AI to help deliver individualized learning to students from disadvantaged students. We also interacted with a professor who was in charge of my program (the MSPPM DA track), who was funny and insightful, although we didn't get to talk much about her work. She's the kind of professor whose class I look forward to taking.

Curriculum Flexibility: This was an area whose value underestimated significantly before the weekend, particularly from the DA track. The DA track is very regimented and honestly allows for very few non-technical electives (maybe 3-4 classes over the course of the two years). This made me a little jealous of the non-DA track and their ability to spread their wings a lot more. Of course, this is offset by the quality of the technical electives. They were exciting and covered all of the types of analytics tools/technologies that I might want. The presentation also emphasized that you can test out of some of the core courses during orientation to make more room for electives. This is definitely something that I'm going to more actively pursue so that I can hopefully build a little more flexibility into my personal curriculum.

Geographic Spread: Very wide geographic spread. At one point they asked people to raise their hand if it was their first time in Pittsburgh and I would guess that 80+% of the admitted students fell in that category. I would say from anecdotal experience that the distribution was weighted more heavily to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, but definitely met people from California and Texas, as well as overseas.

Program Funding: This seems to be a strong point for the program, as evidenced by the generous scholarships Heinz seems to give out and its well funded research centers. Things like the Block Center, Traffic 21, and Metro 21 were all very clearly well supported and have plenty of on-going initiatives. (They did resort to giving us only two drink tickets at the happy hour though, but that may not have been exclusively for budgetary reasons).

Other things to keep in mind: 

Facilities: I liked the Heinz building (Hamburg Hall). There are definitely places that have received a bit more love and care than others, but nothing was bad. They had some cool collaborative spaces and meeting areas, but don't expect anything crazy. I did appreciate that none of the classrooms felt out-dated, which hasn't always been my experience at policy schools. Quick comparisons to other policy schools I visited: pretty comparable to Sanford but bigger, nicer than HKS imo.

Policy vs. Adminstration: Didn't really get a gauge on this, honestly. I think Heinz envisions itself more as an institution that trains specific skills rather than trying to fit in a "policy or administration" box.

Students: I experienced a similar situation to TalkPolitics to me, in which I met a wide range of people. There were those that were bright, engaging, and fun to interact with and there were those that were the opposite. I've been thinking on this and can't get a particularly good descriptor. I might say that the current students did seem to be a little more self-involved than I would have preferred. They didn't seem to be overly active in student organizations and things and many of them didn't seem to make a proactive effort throughout the weekend to try and encourage students to come to Heinz.

Cost of Attendance: Definitely one of Heinz's strongest points. Pittsburgh was incredibly affordable and every year they seem to be relatively affordable with scholarships. Most admitted students that I met and talked with were deciding between minuscule scholarships from Harris or relatively generous ones from Heinz. They seemed conflicted all weekend and most didn't seem to have made up their mind by the end.

Diversity & Inclusion: "Ford (and University of Michigan as an institution) is very aware they have issues with diversity & inclusion and are actively working to make faculty and the student body more inclusive. The Dean was very transparent about their efforts, as were the students." - What TalkPoliticsToMe wrote and could be repeated for Heinz. The very first thing on the agenda was a 15 minute speech by the associate dean. The second was an hour long diversity panel. They clearly want to address this moving forward. However, the panel did seem to indicate that although the university and Heinz seem to be taking the right steps on this, they had only recently begun moving in the right direction. I don't expect them to reverse course (obviously) but the students of diverse backgrounds on the panel clearly felt that there was significant improvements still to be made.

Location: I actually loved Pittsburgh. It was a fantastic city and forgetting CMU, I would consider moving there just to live and work. Of course, I'm a sucker for up-and-coming mid-sized cities. If you're someone who has always lived in NYC or is craving D.C. is going to notice that it's smaller and you might be left wanting to a degree.

Career Services: Like @SketchesOfSpain said, not overly impressed. The career outcomes for Heinz students are obviously impressive, but hard to tell if that's due to anything from the career services office in particular or just CMU's rep that attracts the employers like flies. They weren't bad by any means (offered plenty of resume & interview prep and the like), but nothing that stood out.

ExtracurricularsMaybe one of my bigger disappointments from the weekend. While there are lots of clubs and activities, it didn't feel like a priority for many Heinz students. It felt like most treated them like sampler platters. They would go to a decent number of talks put on my the college, they're probably a part of a couple clubs, and they might have an internships or TA/RA position, but the commitment seemed to be low. They interact with a few college events, they might go to a couple club events per semester, and might do an internship for a semester or so. But I didn't see much of the people getting involved and immersing themselves in one or two things. This is likely just a difference between the undergraduate and graduate experience, but was something that disappointed me a little bit. One of the biggest things I was trying to discern was whether this was because students just don't feel the need to or if they're so focused on school work that they don't make time for it. (I don't know the answer, will check back in a year).

 

Overall, I liked my visit. I found some people I feel that I could vibe with, left with a high degree of certainty that the program will give me the skills that I need/want, remained confident in the career opportunities that I would get, and finished the visit by counting down how long it would be until orientation started. (happy to go into more detail on anything or talk about any other subjects)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just so you know, I'd wager that you can repeat that "Diversity" section for literally every policy program that's not at an HBCU.  It's pretty much an open secret that they all love to talk about diversity way more than they actually practice it.  I'm at Sanford and it's no different (and probably worse in some respects with respect to diversity).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest ke7312

I know this isn't totally relevant to the programs at hand, but I just wanna say this as a Chicago-area native: Pittsburgh is gorgeous. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. It beats almost any other city of its size I've ever seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Visited HKS and WWS this past week - thoughts below!
 

Harvard Kennedy School

Faculty and Classes: I sat in on three classes and really liked all of them. They were larger than many of the classes I've sat in on at other schools (35-50 students in non-core classes; the cores are closer to 70, though some electives get as low as 15-20) but the professors all seemed to handle it well and make sure there was student involvement. We had a sample lecture on ethics in crisis decision making and it was fantastic.

Curriculum: Most of the first year involves the core, but there's still room for at least one elective a semester (and the second year is way more focused on your field of interest and there's a lot of flexibility). All core classes seem like they would be useful.

Geographic Spread: There are a lot of students from all over the country and a good deal of international students, which seems to add a lot to class discussions on international policy.

Facilities: The building is super nice - it used to be 4 or 5 buildings but they recently completed a renovation that connected all of them, which seems like it would be super helpful in the winter. Access to facilities from all other Harvard grad schools, which is a big plus.

Students: The current students were a lot friendlier and down to earth than I honestly expected them to be. They seem super happy with the program and didn't seem to think that the large class sizes (my main reservation about the program) was a negative, instead pointing out that it leads to interesting class discussions because there's such a broad range of experiences.

Cost: HKS is obviously expensive, and some people get generous scholarships but it's not common. The administration was selling the high cost as an "investment," which I wasn't particularly impressed by since they want their students to go into public service, which isn't known for careers that pay enough to cover six-figure debt.

Diversity & Inclusion: The administration didn't really talk about this much, which was disappointing. When I asked current students what they didn't like about the school, pretty much all of them said that the administration didn't value diversity as much as they should.

Location: I grew up a short drive from Cambridge and love the area. It has the advantages of being in/near a city but is relatively quiet, which I really like.

Career Services: There was a panel on careers after HKS and I honestly don't remember much of it, which probably says a lot...

Extracurriculars: I was impressed by the number of student orgs, and it seems like there a ton of opportunities for students to get involved, either through clubs or research. Almost everyone I talked to belonged to at least one org and had been a research assistant for a professor, which seemed super cool. 

Overall Impressions: I really liked the school overall. The size of the student body was the biggest plus and the biggest minus. You get to learn with a super diverse group of people with experience in a bunch of different areas. However, it can be hard to connect with the administration and professors because there are just so many people competing with you for opportunities.
 

Princeton Woodrow Wilson School

Faculty and Classes: I sat in on two classes and really liked both. The econometrics professor did a great job of answering all the students' complex questions, and the Middle East seminar professor was particularly impressive. He has decades of experience in the region but used that to guide a discussion of current and recent events rather than focusing on lecturing.

Curriculum: The first semester is only core classes, and it was a bit of a bummer to hear that there was no room for electives at first. However, there's some space in the second semester, and the entire second year is completely flexible, which was great to hear. One downside is that because it's such a small program, the class selection is more limited than the selection at some other schools. However, they allow students to take classes at Princeton's other graduate programs (or potentially upper-level undergraduate classes) if there's a topic that's not adequately covered at WWS.

Geographic Spread: I met students from across the US and Canada, and a few international students though not as many as I was hoping for.

Facilities: The campus is beautiful and there are a ton of resources for students on campus, which all seemed great. 

Students: I loved all the current students I spoke to. They were super available to talk to us, and they were super open about the things they liked and didn't like about the program, which I appreciated. I felt like I got a really balanced view of the school, which made me more confident about my decision to go!

Cost: WWS gives full rides to all its students, which is fantastic particularly since it puts everyone on similar levels financially and no one has to worry about racking up debt. 

Diversity & Inclusion: The WWS administration talked pretty openly about how there was still a lot to be done in terms of diversity and equity, and the students said similar things about the school still having a long way to go. But I appreciated that the problem was at least talked about openly!

Location: Princeton is a super cute town, but obviously pretty suburban without a whole lot to do. But it seems like both NYC and Philadelphia are super accessible - it seems like it's common for MPA students to spend a day or two a week interning in New York.

Career Services: I was disappointed that career services wasn't represented/given a panel at new admit weekend, but from everything I've heard it seems like they give a lot of planning and financial support for internships and jobs.

Extracurriculars: Because WWS is a small school, there's a relatively small number of student orgs, but there are interesting ones. Plus there are student orgs that are for all Princeton graduate students, which widens the opportunities quite a bit.

Overall Impressions: I really loved the vibe I got at Princeton. Things obviously aren't perfect, but people were great about telling me the issues with the school while still making it clear that they were loving their experiences there. The cohorts seem super close, and all of my experiences over the weekend made me really excited to attend next year!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/6/2019 at 12:43 PM, MPA/MPP Applicant said:

What did you like in particular about Duke? Trying to decide between Sanford, Harris, and LBJ, but unfortunately I wasn't able to attend any Admitted Student Days.

I was also at the Sanford open house so maybe I can chime in on a few points if you haven't decided. If you already have then I suppose this could be useful for future applicants that may come across this post in the future.

I agree with that Fuji said about there being a very personal vibe at the open house. One of Sanford's unique points in comparison to its peers is the smaller class size, and its benefits really showed. I wasn't even going particularly out of my way to talk to other people and I still felt like I ended up chatting with at least a quarter of the people that were there. The smaller open house also allowed just about everyone to talk to the professors and admitted students that were there one on one if they wanted to do so. 

The career services panel that they closed with before the happy hour was one of their strongest selling points imo. I always found it strange in browsing through many old posts on the government affairs forum that Sanford students on this site almost always simply referred to Donna alone when talking about Sanford's career services. By comparison every other school's career services office is just referred to as School X's career services on here from what I can tell. The recurring theme that I saw about Donna on here from former Sanford students, and from the ones I met at the open house constantly reiterated the idea that she is a badass and I would verify those claims after seeing her in person. She was very honest in terms of what she and everyone else in the career services offices could and couldn't do to help students out and I really appreciated that considering how open houses are just constantly giving off a vibe similar to a salesman trying to constantly sell you their product. I also give her bonus points for taking lighthearted jabs at some of the other peer schools which was admittedly funny (don't get offended apparently she's good friends with people at other career service offices >.>). If you check your email and find the admitted students website link that you were given, they recorded some of the open house stuff including the career services panel so I would recommend checking that out when you have some free time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Guesswho said:

I was also at the Sanford open house so maybe I can chime in on a few points if you haven't decided. If you already have then I suppose this could be useful for future applicants that may come across this post in the future.

I agree with that Fuji said about there being a very personal vibe at the open house. One of Sanford's unique points in comparison to its peers is the smaller class size, and its benefits really showed. I wasn't even going particularly out of my way to talk to other people and I still felt like I ended up chatting with at least a quarter of the people that were there. The smaller open house also allowed just about everyone to talk to the professors and admitted students that were there one on one if they wanted to do so. 

The career services panel that they closed with before the happy hour was one of their strongest selling points imo. I always found it strange in browsing through many old posts on the government affairs forum that Sanford students on this site almost always simply referred to Donna alone when talking about Sanford's career services. By comparison every other school's career services office is just referred to as School X's career services on here from what I can tell. The recurring theme that I saw about Donna on here from former Sanford students, and from the ones I met at the open house constantly reiterated the idea that she is a badass and I would verify those claims after seeing her in person. She was very honest in terms of what she and everyone else in the career services offices could and couldn't do to help students out and I really appreciated that considering how open houses are just constantly giving off a vibe similar to a salesman trying to constantly sell you their product. I also give her bonus points for taking lighthearted jabs at some of the other peer schools which was admittedly funny (don't get offended apparently she's good friends with people at other career service offices >.>). If you check your email and find the admitted students website link that you were given, they recorded some of the open house stuff including the career services panel so I would recommend checking that out when you have some free time. 

I haven't decided yet so this is very helpful, thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did anyone attend Georgetown's open house(s)? I went to Duke's on April 5th and really liked it, but I'm still stuck between McCourt and Sanford.

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

×

Important Information

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