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What are my chances of getting into Harvard Kennedy School, Princeton, Goldman School, and USC's MPA Programs?


SeekingMPA
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Hi, 


So, I am seriously considering applying for an MPA in the fall of 2022, but I want to know how realistic my aspirations are. 


As some background on me, I graduated with dual Honor's degrees in Political Science and Anthropology in 2019 as Summa Cum Laude (top 1% of class) from my state school. I also was awarded the undergraduate research scholar for my thesis and working in my Honor college's think tank. I also was awarded many merit scholarships. Before graduating, I was in an array of very competitive law mentorship programs, but I had a change of heart in my senior year and went to the nonprofit world. I have only taken a cold practice GRE, but I got a 159 verbal and 155 quant (I plan to raise these both to the 160s). 


I now work for a nonprofit that serves about 7,000 at-risk kids annually and has a $5m budget. I have increased the fundraising section I am in by over 65%, and my funds account for about 70% of the annual budget now. I also did some specialized campaigns during COVID to fundraise for lost revenue, so no one was laid off or furloughed. Anyhow, it looks like I may be getting a small promotion and begin engaging in all of our government relations within the next six months. I am also going to coauthor a manuscript for publication with a professor I know. 


I want to go to HKS because of its fantastic array of courses and incredible research centers. My state is sort of isolated and would benefit so profoundly from these ideas. I want to restructure advocacy work in my state to empower members of my community and create lasting change. 


All that being said, I genuinely cannot figure out how competitive the acceptance rate is for the MPA at HKS and other schools. I worry my lack of a prestigious alma matter, other advanced degrees, and only four years of work experience will work against me. 


I would appreciate your thoughts so much.

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On 12/15/2020 at 2:29 PM, SeekingMPA said:

Hi, 


So, I am seriously considering applying for an MPA in the fall of 2022, but I want to know how realistic my aspirations are. 


As some background on me, I graduated with dual Honor's degrees in Political Science and Anthropology in 2019 as Summa Cum Laude (top 1% of class) from my state school. I also was awarded the undergraduate research scholar for my thesis and working in my Honor college's think tank. I also was awarded many merit scholarships. Before graduating, I was in an array of very competitive law mentorship programs, but I had a change of heart in my senior year and went to the nonprofit world. I have only taken a cold practice GRE, but I got a 159 verbal and 155 quant (I plan to raise these both to the 160s). 


I now work for a nonprofit that serves about 7,000 at-risk kids annually and has a $5m budget. I have increased the fundraising section I am in by over 65%, and my funds account for about 70% of the annual budget now. I also did some specialized campaigns during COVID to fundraise for lost revenue, so no one was laid off or furloughed. Anyhow, it looks like I may be getting a small promotion and begin engaging in all of our government relations within the next six months. I am also going to coauthor a manuscript for publication with a professor I know. 


I want to go to HKS because of its fantastic array of courses and incredible research centers. My state is sort of isolated and would benefit so profoundly from these ideas. I want to restructure advocacy work in my state to empower members of my community and create lasting change. 


All that being said, I genuinely cannot figure out how competitive the acceptance rate is for the MPA at HKS and other schools. I worry my lack of a prestigious alma matter, other advanced degrees, and only four years of work experience will work against me. 


I would appreciate your thoughts so much.

As the original author of the linked post (which was quite the blast from the past, so thanks heinz!) I would say you're definitely competitive. I would also encourage you to take a look at Princeton's SPIA - the program is fully funded (including a stipend), has unbelievable classmates and camaraderie, and has been immeasurably helpful professionally. It is no exaggeration to say that a very high number of my best friends are SPIA alums who I went to school with.

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