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HELP! Deciding between Tufts MALD, Columbia MIA, or George Washington SPS

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Posted this on a different forum, but posting here also. 

Hey, so I'm having a hard time choosing between Tufts MALD, Columbia MIA, and George Washington SPS. I was hoping someone could give me some advice after hearing my reasoning + pros & cons because I feel stressed with the upcoming enrollment deposit deadlines. Thank you in advance~

Context About Me -

  • I have a fellowship that offers me financial assistance, 2 great internships with the government, and a job straight after graduation in the government. So, technically I don't HAVE to be in DC because I have that fellowship that will make me end up in DC for the summers anyway for my internship.
  • I'm from Texas... so I need information about the city too.¬†
  • I've had an internship in DC before, so honestly, DC is the only one I'm familiar with the area, but I've never visited GW.¬†
  • I visited Tufts for a day, and I really liked it, but again, I don't know Boston.¬†
  • Personal, but I'm a Christian, so I'm gonna be attending a church and need Christian clubs on campus to help keep me sane lol
  • I'm South Asian heritage... so I need some diversity¬†to make me feel not alone¬†
  • I'm 21 (will be 22 as I start grad school), so it makes me wary since I'm also super young and entering grad school

Columbia - 

  • Pros: I like the program? It's an Ivy League
  • Cons: Honestly the biggest negative for me right now is the cost of tuition & cost of living in NYC. I like the program on paper (looking into the International and Security Policy concentration as well as Management specialization), but I don't know if it's worth the debt at the end. I'm appealing for more money, but SIPA didn't offer me additional financial aid in addition to my external fellowship... that means I would need to pay 40k a year. Is it worth the debt? I mean I have a guaranteed job in government after college, so is the name/Ivy League status helpful for someone who already is going to be in the government after college? I've never visited either... I've been to NY before, but I've never seen the campus.¬†

Tufts -

  • Pros: I like the size of the school where you can get to know everyone and can good attention from professors... it'll help with the community aspect. Visiting made me feel good because I got to talk to a couple of students, the admissions dude was nice, and I liked the classes I visited too. I like the ability you have to cross-register and take a few courses at Harvard too for more experience.¬†
  • Cons: I don't know Boston. I'm not good with the cold... so will I survive? It's not DC either, so if I want to do a job to get some experience...¬† it may be hard to find organizations in Boston that are IR/gov related?¬†
  • With my external fellowship + funding Tufts offered me, I only need to pay $5000 per semester if I attend. But, I'm appealing for more because there's no harm in trying.

GW -

  • Pros: I am covered in terms of tuition, which would be amazing considering I have undergrad debt I need to pay off. Big school, so lots of clubs and opportunities to connect/find my people?¬†I know DC (from my 1 semester experience there). Night classes only, so it will help if I want to find a job/internship during the day.¬†
  • Cons: Big school, so I don't know if I'd get a small school attention. Never visited, so I don't know if I would like the campus atmosphere and such.¬†

I think I'm really wary of grad school life since I haven't experienced it yet. I really don't know how it's gonna be different from undergrad, so I need to really be intentional in finding community/my niche. I guess that's why I'm confused? PLEASE HELP!!! 

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GW is the weakest of the three but that doesn't matter as you've got the federal job in hand. If they're offering you a full tuition scholarship, that is *definitely* where you should go. I would recommend picking up some part time work to avoid additional debt beyond what you already owe.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, MoynihanBreakerBurkina said:

TUFTS TUFTS TUFTS!

 

lol I love Fletcher and think OP would thrive there, but a full tuition scholarship really can't be argued with considering the extraordinarily weak job market for graduates of elite international affairs programs.

Edited by went_away

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On 4/10/2019 at 11:22 AM, went_away said:

lol I love Fletcher and think OP would thrive there, but a full tuition scholarship really can't be argued with considering the extraordinarily weak job market for graduates of elite international affairs programs.

This is the first time I've heard someone mention a weak job market for graduates of elite international affairs programs. The employment statistics from these programs seem to be quite strong. I'm curious what is informing your opinion? 

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1 hour ago, aws said:

This is the first time I've heard someone mention a weak job market for graduates of elite international affairs programs. The employment statistics from these programs seem to be quite strong. I'm curious what is informing your opinion? 

It is a long-standing theme of my posts. Just take a look at the history for more info.  Briefly, what sorts of jobs do you expect grads of these programs get, how difficult is it to get those jobs (i.e. how many job openings are there per graduate), and how much do you think they get paid....in short, there aren't many jobs, they don't pay well (at least not for the first several years generally), and an elite master's degree has much less influence than other factors do for your odds of success. Typical jobs for someone 1-2 years out of their MA program (and who had 2-5 years professional experience prior to their degree) are: State Deparment/DoD contractor (though you need a clearance for this - a grueling process many can't get through) making $60-85k, terrible benefits, and awful job security; think tank/NGO type making $40-65k (not enough to live on in DC/NYC) with long hours and so-so benefits; doing World Bank short term contract (STC) working contracts for 3-6 months at a time on subsistence wages and few to no benefits; some kind of "social good" enterprise, same deal as the think tankers.

Things that influence your chances of success MUCH more than any elite grad degree: 

- Veteran's preference (especially former officer) in U.S. federal hiring.

- Studying something useful on the job market in undergrad and having experience in that field (engineering or computer science). Relatedly, having studied anything at all at an ultra elite undergraduate institution (think Harvard/Stanford/Princeton).

- Gaining access to a diversity or eliteness focused U.S. federal hiring program like a Rangel Fellowship or a PMF.

- Having rich and well-connected parents who know how the game played and how to play it for you. This makes a huge difference even if your father wasn't an Ambassador, Admiral or Senator. Just being a retired Colonel can be enough to ensure your offspring get a great job in this field.

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