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Programs & Schools: HKS (MPP); Princeton WWS; SAIS; Yale Jackson (MA); Columbia SIPA (MA); maybe Georgetown (Security Studies)

Undergraduate Institution:  1. Top 50 private 2. Top 20 private 3. University of Florid

Undergraduate Major:  History and Political Science, Certificate in IR

Undergraduate GPA: 

1st University: 3.8

2nd University 3.71

3rd University (last two years) – 3.97

Note: Awarded Summa for the quality of a thesis (German history, original translations).

 

Study Abroad Experience: Spent a summer in Berlin completing an intensive language course at the intermediate level and conducting research. When back with my thesis advisor for a week in Munich my senior year.

 

GRE: I’ve completed a mock exam with other students in the room, I had little preparation:

V: 170 Q: 155

 

Years of Work Experience: Basically none, I’ve been interning in a Congressional office fulltime since this January.

 

Relevant Course Work: Tons of IR and history classes, too many to list. In terms of quant: Intro Micro + Macro, Stats

 

Language: German (Intermediate at the time I was doing my thesis research – bit rusty now)

 

SOP: Have not started on these yet, however I’m confident in my ability to craft a convincing statement.

 

LORs:  1st from my thesis adviser, a very well-known professor of German history. We had an incredibly close relationship and he was a big fan of my work. 2nd will most likely be from the Congressional office. 3rd I have two tenured IR professors to choose from, one being a prominent feminist IR scholar, the other known more for his work on critiquing contemporary realism – I’d actually appreciate some help in determining which one I should choose.

 

Concerns: A few things stand out to me. First, I’m not sure how schools will view me transferring universities so often. I can easily explain the reason for each, but I don’t think it’s worth wasting precious SOP space to provide an explanation. Next is obviously the work experience and the lack of experience. I’ve found getting a job has been very difficult since graduating, and therefore I lack direction. Lastly, is the Q on my GRE. Columbia SIPA is currently my #1 choice I believe.  

 

Any commentary would be extremely helpful. I’d actually love to take the time to explain my situation more fully and see advice over PMs. I will begin studying for the LSATs once my GRE is completed.

 

Thanks so much for any advice, I really appreciate it. 

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Programs & Schools: HKS (MPP); Princeton WWS; SAIS; Yale Jackson (MA); Columbia SIPA (MA); maybe Georgetown (Security Studies)

Undergraduate Institution:  1. Top 50 private 2. Top 20 private 3. University of Florid

Undergraduate Major:  History and Political Science, Certificate in IR

Undergraduate GPA: 

1st University: 3.8

2nd University 3.71

3rd University (last two years) – 3.97

Note: Awarded Summa for the quality of a thesis (German history, original translations).

 

Study Abroad Experience: Spent a summer in Berlin completing an intensive language course at the intermediate level and conducting research. When back with my thesis advisor for a week in Munich my senior year.

 

GRE: I’ve completed a mock exam with other students in the room, I had little preparation:

V: 170 Q: 155

 

Years of Work Experience: Basically none, I’ve been interning in a Congressional office fulltime since this January.

 

Relevant Course Work: Tons of IR and history classes, too many to list. In terms of quant: Intro Micro + Macro, Stats

 

Language: German (Intermediate at the time I was doing my thesis research – bit rusty now)

 

SOP: Have not started on these yet, however I’m confident in my ability to craft a convincing statement.

 

LORs:  1st from my thesis adviser, a very well-known professor of German history. We had an incredibly close relationship and he was a big fan of my work. 2nd will most likely be from the Congressional office. 3rd I have two tenured IR professors to choose from, one being a prominent feminist IR scholar, the other known more for his work on critiquing contemporary realism – I’d actually appreciate some help in determining which one I should choose.

 

Concerns: A few things stand out to me. First, I’m not sure how schools will view me transferring universities so often. I can easily explain the reason for each, but I don’t think it’s worth wasting precious SOP space to provide an explanation. Next is obviously the work experience and the lack of experience. I’ve found getting a job has been very difficult since graduating, and therefore I lack direction. Lastly, is the Q on my GRE. Columbia SIPA is currently my #1 choice I believe.  

 

Any commentary would be extremely helpful. I’d actually love to take the time to explain my situation more fully and see advice over PMs. I will begin studying for the LSATs once my GRE is completed.

 

Thanks so much for any advice, I really appreciate it. 

 

 

A few questions -- have you graduated yet? And of course, put more work into improving your quant score before you take the actual exam, but I don't know how well the mock exam actually approximates the situation. Your credentials look fine in general, and I think you would have no problem explaining in a subsection of your application (rather than the SOP proper) about your switching undergraduate universities. Plus, you've kept your grades up in all of the, so I think it's hardly going to be an issue for graduate schools. 

 

What I'm really concerned about is a definition of direction. You're going to get the most bang out of your buck not to mention your time investment if you know what you want to do after your degree. Take some time and work experience to figure out what you really want to do AND if you need a degree to do it. Three years of work experience for me were extremely illuminating and directed me onto a different path. This is also true for countless other people you'll encounter on the forum, so it's not that you can't go into grad school right now if you're just graduating, but that work experience can only help you in your situation. You're contemplating several different paths right now: the MPP is very different from Security Studies at Georgetown or even the IR degree, and then the LSAT is worlds away too. It's great to have an articulated range of interests, and you should find a relevant full-time job that explores one of these areas. Maybe the congressional office would be of help in connecting you to that. 

 

Again, your credentials are great and will probably get into some schools, but they may not offer much funding, and more important, it may not be the right thing for you to. Graduate school can be a springboard and launch you to where you want to go, but you need to know the direction or you won't be able to get the job you want afterwards or make the most out of the experience. 

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I had a quick question regarding GPA and how it will be perceived by admissions:

 

My cumulative GPA is unfortunately 3.30, largely due to some poor grades I received taking college classes while still in high school. I've seen some people mention the GPA from their final 60 credit hours in their profile and was wondering if this is an important factor to admissions offices? I did much better in my last 60 credit hours (~3.7) and would benefit from having them focus on that rather than the cumulative GPA which includes classes I shouldn't have been taking at 17 and 18 years old. Thanks for any input!

Edited by MJA87
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I had a quick question regarding GPA and how it will be perceived by admissions:

 

My cumulative GPA is unfortunately 3.30, largely due to some poor grades I received taking college classes while still in high school. I've seen some people mention the GPA from their final 60 credit hours in their profile and was wondering if this is an important factor to admissions offices? I did much better in my last 60 credit hours (~3.7) and would benefit from having them focus on that rather than the cumulative GPA which includes classes I shouldn't have been taking at 17 and 18 years old. Thanks for any input!

A higher GPA in your last 2 years does help a bit. I had a similar GPA, but without the mitigating balance of a trend of improvement. There wasn't a reverse trend, my record just was spotty depending on how much I cared about my workload. If your Bs and Cs (or whatever poorer grades you had) came from higher-level classes, I'm sure schools will consider that. B- in a 3000 level organic chemistry class looks better than a B+ in Sociology 1001, in my opinion. Especially if you have mitigating factors in your personal life, it shouldn't sink your chances too much. 3.30 is certainly no 4.0, but it's still a far cry from 3.0 or 2.9. Balance it out however you can with the other components of your application (GRE/professional experience) and you should be OK.

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Programs of Interest: Johns Hopkins SAIS, LSE, SOAS Development Studies, Columbia SIPA, GWU, Brandeis Heller School for Development Studies, IHEID Development Studies
 
Undergraduate institution: Public Ivy
Undergraduate Degree: BA Economics, Spanish (Certificate in International Economics)
Undergraduate GPA:  3.78+ (3.85+ in the last 2 years of undergrad)
Study Abroad experience: None
 
GRE: Yet to take
Years Out of Undergrad: Currently finishing last quarter of undergraduate
Years of Work Experience: 2.5 years relevant internship during school
Describe Relevant Work Experience:
- 1 year experience interning with social justice organization focused on El Salvador
- 1+ year experience with youth mobilization organization
- Working with a professor, helping with research studying inequality in the US (not international...but it shows my research skills?)
- Will gain more international experience this summer, working abroad
 
Coursework:
Intro/Intermediate Micro/Macro
Applied Econometrics
International trade
International macroeconomics
Developmental Economics
Multivariable calculus (the entire series)
Statistics
Political science
International human rights 
Undergraduate independent research course
 
Languages:
English
Spanish
Hindi
 
Concerns: I'm not sure how I stand in terms of the schools I am interested in....Any feedback will help. I know it's difficult because I haven't taken the GREs yet but any advice/comments are helpful!! Thank you! :)

 

Any advice guys? :(

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Any advice guys? :(

Ok so- obviously your main strength is in your academic background.  That said, you need to knock out your GRE (aim for 160+ on both) to really round that side out.  You don't have any work experience, which isn't a deal breaker.  A lot of people look at their summer internships and say "look at all the things I've done!", but in reality an internship is just an extension of school.  You've also got a lot of the relevant coursework you need. Assuming you want to apply directly after undergrad, you won't be able to add any significant work experience (by significant I mean 2+ years of a full-time position in your field).  That said, you need to focus on those things that you can change.  The essays come to mind.  Do you have a story to tell? Do you have new perspective to give?  Try to focus on what you can contribute to the field rather than why you want to go into the field.  Crush the GRE, your essays, and choose your LORs wisely- and you've got a good shot at it.  

 

This response is just based on what I've read about other people from your background through the boards here.  Personally, I had a much different background, wherein lack of educational pedigree was counteracted with extensive work experience.  There are definitely more qualified people on here to answer your inquiry.

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Any advice guys? :(

Basically I'll echo what Bunsen said: knock out your GREs. Coming straight out of undergrad can limit you, but it won't sink you. Be sure that this is what you want to do, not just postponing the eventual job hunt. If you know you really can do this now, then by crushing the GREs (and writing compelling statements), you have a damned good chance at getting into most of those schools. Your GPA and coursework are great, undergrad institution prestigious enough, and your internship probably puts you ahead of most other undergraduates who are applying. Just keep in mind how much stronger your total package (hehe) will be if you get a year or 2 of professional experience under your belt. 

 

My two cents, at least.

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Ok so- obviously your main strength is in your academic background.  That said, you need to knock out your GRE (aim for 160+ on both) to really round that side out.  You don't have any work experience, which isn't a deal breaker.  A lot of people look at their summer internships and say "look at all the things I've done!", but in reality an internship is just an extension of school.  You've also got a lot of the relevant coursework you need. Assuming you want to apply directly after undergrad, you won't be able to add any significant work experience (by significant I mean 2+ years of a full-time position in your field).  That said, you need to focus on those things that you can change.  The essays come to mind.  Do you have a story to tell? Do you have new perspective to give?  Try to focus on what you can contribute to the field rather than why you want to go into the field.  Crush the GRE, your essays, and choose your LORs wisely- and you've got a good shot at it.  

 

This response is just based on what I've read about other people from your background through the boards here.  Personally, I had a much different background, wherein lack of educational pedigree was counteracted with extensive work experience.  There are definitely more qualified people on here to answer your inquiry.

 

Thank you for your advice! I will definitely be studying for the GREs really hard this summer. I am thinking of applying in 1-2 years so I'm not rushing to apply. During that time, I hope to gain some work experience in my field, which is why I am waiting to apply. Thank you so much for your advice!!

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Basically I'll echo what Bunsen said: knock out your GREs. Coming straight out of undergrad can limit you, but it won't sink you. Be sure that this is what you want to do, not just postponing the eventual job hunt. If you know you really can do this now, then by crushing the GREs (and writing compelling statements), you have a damned good chance at getting into most of those schools. Your GPA and coursework are great, undergrad institution prestigious enough, and your internship probably puts you ahead of most other undergraduates who are applying. Just keep in mind how much stronger your total package (hehe) will be if you get a year or 2 of professional experience under your belt. 

 

My two cents, at least.

Hi pavlik,

 

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I am going to apply in a year or two, so in the mean time I am trying to get some work experience under my belt. I will for sure study for the GREs and hopefully do decent. Because I am going to take my time with applying, I hope I can improve the work-experience part of my application and really get some meat on my personal statement about why I want to attend the respective schools.... Anyways, thank you so much for your advice! I will definitely take it into account! :)

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A few questions -- have you graduated yet? And of course, put more work into improving your quant score before you take the actual exam, but I don't know how well the mock exam actually approximates the situation. Your credentials look fine in general, and I think you would have no problem explaining in a subsection of your application (rather than the SOP proper) about your switching undergraduate universities. Plus, you've kept your grades up in all of the, so I think it's hardly going to be an issue for graduate schools. 

 

What I'm really concerned about is a definition of direction. You're going to get the most bang out of your buck not to mention your time investment if you know what you want to do after your degree. Take some time and work experience to figure out what you really want to do AND if you need a degree to do it. Three years of work experience for me were extremely illuminating and directed me onto a different path. This is also true for countless other people you'll encounter on the forum, so it's not that you can't go into grad school right now if you're just graduating, but that work experience can only help you in your situation. You're contemplating several different paths right now: the MPP is very different from Security Studies at Georgetown or even the IR degree, and then the LSAT is worlds away too. It's great to have an articulated range of interests, and you should find a relevant full-time job that explores one of these areas. Maybe the congressional office would be of help in connecting you to that. 

 

Again, your credentials are great and will probably get into some schools, but they may not offer much funding, and more important, it may not be the right thing for you to. Graduate school can be a springboard and launch you to where you want to go, but you need to know the direction or you won't be able to get the job you want afterwards or make the most out of the experience. 

Thank you so much for the the thoughtful response, I really appreciate it.

 

As for the GRE practice exam, I do believe it's about as close to the real exam as you can get. Wasn't completely sure if it was an ETS one or not, but it administered by one of those test-prep companies. I'll start brushing up on my math as soon as possible.

 

I graduated last summer. Unfortunately the job market has not been particularly kind to me. I've been searching while I intern, but I have yet to find something directly related to IR. If I could easily find a job in a related field I'd take it and work a year or two without a problem, however for most work I'd be interested in an MA is a prerequisite.

 

I'm fairly concerned  that not having any real work experience will put me out of the running for admissions. I'm certain I want to pursue an MA in IR, if just to better my job competitiveness and explore a field that truly interests me. I'm of the thinking that whilst in my program I'll discover a specialized area that I'm passionate about as I already love the discipline more broadly. Maybe I should adjust the schools I'm considering accordingly.

Edited by mauldin
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Hello Everyone, 

 

I have posted and been a part of various forums on Gradcafe, so I am not new. However, I have applied to graduate school for 2014-2015 year and am now biding my time as the admissions season gets underway. My credentials are overall pretty decent, but I bombed the GRE and there were reasons why I could not retake (whether they are good or bad, this is the fact). So here is my profile: 

 

Graduated with honors at the University of Montana in May 2013 (GPA: 3.61)

B.A. in Russian Language and Literature, academic minor in Central and Southwest Asian Studies

 

Senior Seminar Paper and Presentation on the history behind the 2008 August War between Russia and Georgia. I received an A's on the paper, presentation, and in the course (This is also used as a writing sample)

 

Languages: 

Russian (Working proficiency, all modalities) 

Georgian (Rudimentary)

German (Beginner high) 

 

Experience abroad: 

- Study abroad, Saint Petersburg, Russia (full immersion, spring 2012)

- Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Republic of Georgia (following graduation 2013-2014)

 

Distinctions within major:

- ACTR (American Council for Teacher's of Russian) Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate (2013)

- ACTR National Russian Essay Contest nominee (2010, 2011, 2013)

- Departmental scholarships

 

President of the University of Montana Russian Club for two years, active member during my entire undergrad. 

 

LOR:

3 stellar recommendations, all professors, two from the Russian Department and one from the Central and Southwest Asian Studies Department).

 

GRE:

V: (153) Q: (137) (Ouch, I know) W: (3.5) (Ouch, I know)

(The only 'C' grade I received as an undergrad was in math)

(Who the heck knows what went wrong in the writing section as writing is one of my strongest attributes)

 

Other experience:

- 10 years of working at a multicultural summer day camp

- A semester as a volunteer English teacher at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia

- A semester as an English Conversation Tutor for international students at the University of Montana

- A semester as an English Tutor to disadvantaged elementary school students in Missoula, Montana 

- Volunteer for a local political organization in Chicago, Illinois 

- Election Judge in the 2008 Illinois Presidential Primaries 

 

The schools and Master's programs to which I applied: 

- Georgetown University's Center for Russian and East European Studies

- University of Washington's Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies

- Indiana University's Russian and East European Institute

- University of Kansas' Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

 

I have applied for the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) for all four schools.

I have applied for a Pickering Fellowship (full funding for two years of Master's work for those interested in working in the government, particularly the Foreign Service) sponsored by the State Department. 

 

Ultimately, I want to be an expert on the sociocultural implications on politics in the area of Russian and Eurasian studies and how national and ethnic identity play into this theme. Long story short, I would focus on government, geopolitics, security, language, and ethnic studies. I would like to work in the U.S. Federal Government or an international agency that focuses on Russia and Eurasian matters. 

 

My main concern is that I cannot afford graduate school without funding and know that it is hard to get funding in the humanities on a Master's degree and I am wondering how much my GRE scores will impact my chances? 

 

Thank you! 

 

This is very exciting ^_^! Did you apply to Columbia this year too?

Edited by quickjudgement
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Hi all, I am just starting out with this process and have spent the past couple weeks lurking. I am really curious as to how my stats stack up to various MPA programs. Any advice would be helpful at this point!

 

Applying For: MPA/MPP

Schools Considering Applying To: Penn Fels, Johns Hopkins, CMU Heinz, Georgetown, NYU Wagner, UPitt GSPIA, Duke, suggestions??

 

Undergraduate Institution: Temple University Honors Program

Undergraduate Major: Linguistics, minor in Latin American Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 3.63, cum laude

 

GRE score: V: 160 Q: 153 W: 4.5

 

Years out of undergrad: 2 (will be 3)

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 3. During college, I worked as an intern with the start-up of an international non-profit and helped to lead service learning excursions over 2 years. My internship brought me to Nicaragua on multiple occasions for a total of ~4 months during my undergrad career. I chose to study abroad for a semester in Nicaragua as well. My thesis focused on how youth organizations collaborate to strengthen civil society. I am CELTA-certified but I have no teaching experience beyond the month of certification & some volunteering. I am a current AmeriCorps VISTA working on cross-sector collaboration in Philly schools. I coordinate school-based programming, assist in long-term planning, and write grant proposals. I am going to spend the coming year working at a non-profit after my term of service, possibly at the same organization (which is housed under UPenn).

 

Language skills: Proficient Spanish; Negligible French & Italian; 1+ years study of Yucatec Maya

 

Quantitative requirements: Tested out of Statistics with AP Exam scores (does this count?). No calculus or micro/macro. I like math and do not mind taking a course or two to help out my applications.

 

Statement of Purpose:

I am just writing my rough drafts now! I have sufficient time and I have confidence in my writing ability.

 

Strength of LOR: My options: Academic Director in Nicaragua, Director of my sponsor organization for VISTA, Co-Founder of the international non-profit, Director of Temple Honors Program. Who should I ask?

What can I do to make my application as strong as possible before applying?

 

Thank you for your help!

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Hi all, I am just starting out with this process and have spent the past couple weeks lurking. I am really curious as to how my stats stack up to various MPA programs. Any advice would be helpful at this point!

 

Applying For: MPA/MPP

Schools Considering Applying To: Penn Fels, Johns Hopkins, CMU Heinz, Georgetown, NYU Wagner, UPitt GSPIA, Duke, suggestions??

 

Undergraduate Institution: Temple University Honors Program

Undergraduate Major: Linguistics, minor in Latin American Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 3.63, cum laude

 

GRE score: V: 160 Q: 153 W: 4.5

 

Years out of undergrad: 2 (will be 3)

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 3. During college, I worked as an intern with the start-up of an international non-profit and helped to lead service learning excursions over 2 years. My internship brought me to Nicaragua on multiple occasions for a total of ~4 months during my undergrad career. I chose to study abroad for a semester in Nicaragua as well. My thesis focused on how youth organizations collaborate to strengthen civil society. I am CELTA-certified but I have no teaching experience beyond the month of certification & some volunteering. I am a current AmeriCorps VISTA working on cross-sector collaboration in Philly schools. I coordinate school-based programming, assist in long-term planning, and write grant proposals. I am going to spend the coming year working at a non-profit after my term of service, possibly at the same organization (which is housed under UPenn).

 

Language skills: Proficient Spanish; Negligible French & Italian; 1+ years study of Yucatec Maya

 

Quantitative requirements: Tested out of Statistics with AP Exam scores (does this count?). No calculus or micro/macro. I like math and do not mind taking a course or two to help out my applications.

 

Statement of Purpose:

I am just writing my rough drafts now! I have sufficient time and I have confidence in my writing ability.

 

Strength of LOR: My options: Academic Director in Nicaragua, Director of my sponsor organization for VISTA, Co-Founder of the international non-profit, Director of Temple Honors Program. Who should I ask?

What can I do to make my application as strong as possible before applying?

 

Thank you for your help!

Overall, your application is good, but if it were possible to retake the GRE and boost your score a bit, that would help a lot--especially with the lack of background in math. Retaking the test is a pain in the hiney, but studying a bit more and bumping your scores (especially the math) up a few points could translate into getting more funding or into a better school.

 

In terms of schools, I don't know much about some of the ones you applied to, but if you're interesting in Latin American affairs, you may want to consider LBJ at Texas. 

 

I think getting credit for stats via the AP exam is fine--it worked for me, at least--but you may want to look into taking micro/macro at a community college over the summer if possible. I know Duke and Georgetown both require mico, which is why I'm currently taking an evening micro course. Otherwise, I think you have a good shot at the programs, especially if you can tie in your different youth development experiences into a cohesive, compelling narrative in your personal statements (I'm sure you can). 

 

One minor point: make sure the people writing your LoRs actually know you well enough to not use a form letter. The classic example of this is the former congressional intern who asks the senator for a recommendation that is basically worthless because everyone knows it's a form letter, where you could substitute any name in and it would still be OK. It's better to ask someone who actually knows you and has a less prestigious title (program manager instead of executive director, for example) who can add some personality to the letter.

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Overall, your application is good, but if it were possible to retake the GRE and boost your score a bit, that would help a lot--especially with the lack of background in math. Retaking the test is a pain in the hiney, but studying a bit more and bumping your scores (especially the math) up a few points could translate into getting more funding or into a better school.

 

In terms of schools, I don't know much about some of the ones you applied to, but if you're interesting in Latin American affairs, you may want to consider LBJ at Texas. 

 

I think getting credit for stats via the AP exam is fine--it worked for me, at least--but you may want to look into taking micro/macro at a community college over the summer if possible. I know Duke and Georgetown both require mico, which is why I'm currently taking an evening micro course. Otherwise, I think you have a good shot at the programs, especially if you can tie in your different youth development experiences into a cohesive, compelling narrative in your personal statements (I'm sure you can). 

 

One minor point: make sure the people writing your LoRs actually know you well enough to not use a form letter. The classic example of this is the former congressional intern who asks the senator for a recommendation that is basically worthless because everyone knows it's a form letter, where you could substitute any name in and it would still be OK. It's better to ask someone who actually knows you and has a less prestigious title (program manager instead of executive director, for example) who can add some personality to the letter.

 

Pavlik, thank you for your quick response!

 

It is good to have another opinion on what I can improve before the fall. I felt the same about my GRE scores, so I will definitely re-take them. It's a pain, but definitely worth it with regard to acceptance & funding. As for taking macro/micro, I just started looking up courses I can take over the summer. I am glad I still have the time to get them out of the way before applications are due!

 

Regarding the personal statement: my thoughts exactly. I'll be spending countless hours on it in the coming months, but youth development and coordination across sectors are definitely what drive me. 

 

And finally, the organization that I am contracted under as a VISTA is very small, so I work with the Director regularly. This is advice I will heed, though, by not asking the director of the Honors Program. The others on the list have directly seen the work I do and would be more thorough in their LoRs. Again, many thanks & best of luck at Georgetown!

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I'm going to post again, this time in particular for these 4 schools in order: Brown MPP, Penn MPA, Tufts MUEP (M of urban & enviro policy, planning), Brandeis Heller

 

Policy Field Goal for Life: Global Food Security

 

School: State University of New York - one of the 4 flagships

Majors: Economics, International Trade, Geography (3)

GPA: 3.30 Economics GPA: 3.30, International Trade GPA: 3.79, Geography GPA: 3.79

 

Research Experience: 3 years as an Economic Research Assistant in a planning/policy lab working under a $3.96 million grant from the USDA to connect farm viability with food access in the United States

Teaching Experience: Undergraduate TA for ECO 407 Macroeconomic Theory

Work Experience: 

Intern - Center for Strategic and International Studies, Global Food Security Project

Intern - Senator Chuck Schumer (regional)

Intern - Massachusetts House of Representatives, created own legislation for farmers' market grants

Intern - Congressman Joe Kennedy III

Intern - Campus Dining & Shops

Extra-Curriculars: President and Founder of 1 club, Treasurer of largest club on campus ($13,000), Vice President of College Democrats, 2 political simulations (MUN in Toronto, Canada, Model European Union in Brussels, Belgium)

Awards: 1 Scholarship (awarded for leadership on campus), Campus Impact Award, Exemplary Leader Award

LOR's: The head of our research lab who's a nationally award winning professor and researcher (particularly in urban and regional planning), State Representative of Massachusetts, and advisor at CSIS.

Language: I have a language receptive delay, so I'm awful...

 

GRE's are not taken yet.

 

 

Should note...my GPA freshman year was a 3.0. Since then, it's been between a 3.4-3.7 - hence my 3.30. For example...

My intro to macro & micro and calculus courses were low to mid B's. But my upper level macro & micro theories along with 2 econometrics courses (and public sector economics) are all A's. 

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Hey all, I also feel like I'm 1-2 years away from going to grad school. In the meantime, though, I'd like to know what I could do to improve my application. 

 

Applying For: MPA/MPP, concentration in domestic immigration policy

Schools Considering Applying To: Goldman, HKS, Georgetown, WWS (dare2dream), whatever others you recommend

 

Undergraduate Institution: Berkeley

Undergraduate Major: Political Economy

Undergraduate GPA: 3.49 (3.6 something last 2 years)

 

GRE score: None thus far. I'm pretty good at tests though and plan to study a lot. 

 

Years out of undergrad: Probably 5, maybe 4

Years of Relevant Work Experience: During college I worked on several political campaigns. I was a local volunteer coordinator for Hillary Clinton, a campus coordinator for No on Prop 8, and did basic outreach/canvassing for a couple other major campaigns. I had a full-time social justice internships/jobs the summers before my freshman and sophomore years, and served on a youth advisory committee for this same non-profit even in high school. Interned in a govt agency summer before my junior year. Interned at a refugee advocacy group in South America while studying abroad. When I returned, I wrote an independent study thesis on refugee policy in South America and interned at a refugee resettlement non-profit (where I was the only Spanish speaker). 

 

Once graduating, I got a job as a legal assistant/eventual case manager at arguably the best immigration law firm on the west coast, doing a combination of admin and casework stuff, spearheaded office casework of new DACA program. Also volunteered on occasion at free immigration clinics. Now I'm in South America again, working for 6 months at a different refugee advocacy organization on the policy advocacy team. When I get back to the States, I hope to find work at another non-profit doing immigration case management for 1-2 years before starting a grad program. 

 

Language skills: Essentially fluent in Spanish, some Portuguese, one semester French in community college

 

Quantitative requirements: A couple of mediocre (one C+) grades in important classes, including microecon. Also took macro and intro to economics. No college stats (got a 4 on the AP so I didn't need it) or calc (took AP in high school but did not take test), but I'll probably take those and micro in community college if necessary. 

 

Anyway, so I know I have good work experience but my GPA is kinda weak? I honestly wasn't really sure I wanted to go to grad school in undergrad and so I didn't care that much about grades. I also was really into internships, as you can see. 

 

If anyone has any suggestions for schools where I can study domestic immigration policy, that would be much appreciated. Otherwise, any ideas to improve/focus my application are very much welcome. What should my priorities be in taking supplementary classes? Econ/stats/calc/language?
 
Thanks! 
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Hey all, I also feel like I'm 1-2 years away from going to grad school. In the meantime, though, I'd like to know what I could do to improve my application. 

 

Applying For: MPA/MPP, concentration in domestic immigration policy

Schools Considering Applying To: Goldman, HKS, Georgetown, WWS (dare2dream), whatever others you recommend

 

Undergraduate Institution: Berkeley

Undergraduate Major: Political Economy

Undergraduate GPA: 3.49 (3.6 something last 2 years)

 

GRE score: None thus far. I'm pretty good at tests though and plan to study a lot. 

 

Years out of undergrad: Probably 5, maybe 4

Years of Relevant Work Experience: During college I worked on several political campaigns. I was a local volunteer coordinator for Hillary Clinton, a campus coordinator for No on Prop 8, and did basic outreach/canvassing for a couple other major campaigns. I had a full-time social justice internships/jobs the summers before my freshman and sophomore years, and served on a youth advisory committee for this same non-profit even in high school. Interned in a govt agency summer before my junior year. Interned at a refugee advocacy group in South America while studying abroad. When I returned, I wrote an independent study thesis on refugee policy in South America and interned at a refugee resettlement non-profit (where I was the only Spanish speaker). 

 

Once graduating, I got a job as a legal assistant/eventual case manager at arguably the best immigration law firm on the west coast, doing a combination of admin and casework stuff, spearheaded office casework of new DACA program. Also volunteered on occasion at free immigration clinics. Now I'm in South America again, working for 6 months at a different refugee advocacy organization on the policy advocacy team. When I get back to the States, I hope to find work at another non-profit doing immigration case management for 1-2 years before starting a grad program. 

 

Language skills: Essentially fluent in Spanish, some Portuguese, one semester French in community college

 

Quantitative requirements: A couple of mediocre (one C+) grades in important classes, including microecon. Also took macro and intro to economics. No college stats (got a 4 on the AP so I didn't need it) or calc (took AP in high school but did not take test), but I'll probably take those and micro in community college if necessary. 

 

Anyway, so I know I have good work experience but my GPA is kinda weak? I honestly wasn't really sure I wanted to go to grad school in undergrad and so I didn't care that much about grades. I also was really into internships, as you can see. 

 

If anyone has any suggestions for schools where I can study domestic immigration policy, that would be much appreciated. Otherwise, any ideas to improve/focus my application are very much welcome. What should my priorities be in taking supplementary classes? Econ/stats/calc/language?
 
Thanks! 

 

 

Your GPA is great for everywhere but WWS. There, the majority of new students have GPA's of 3.7+, but 1/3 of the students are below that. 

I'd suggest that you retake the microecon. class as you said. Taking stats or calc won't hurt, especially for more quant heavy programs, but it's not necessary at most of them. Schools accept students with a variety of quant backgrounds. Most have alternate tracks for the quant core and a summer math camp for students who need extra help. You need to investigate particular schools more to decide if the extra math work would benefit your application and your time in a MA program.

 

What kind of immigration policy do you want to work on and with who? If you are planning to continue to work with Central and South American groups, I don't see how your Spanish and Portuguese won't be sufficient. Studying languages for their own sake are great personally, but not going to make a difference in your chances if unrelated to your academic goals. For example, I have decent Japanese and Mandarin, but that's unlikely to help me in my applications since I'm not focusing on East Asia. 

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Undergraduate Institution: Emory University

 

Undergraduate Major:  Business - Accounting & Finance; Minor - Italian Studies

 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.50 - Overall; 3.60 - Major GPA

 

GRE: 166 V, 166 Q, 4.5 AW

 

Years of Work Experience: I worked as a consultant for two years with a Big 4 Accounting firm. I currently work (will be two years at application time) as a financial analyst for a healthcare company.

 

I studied abroad in Italy for a semester during college. I’ve also personally travelled extensively (Europe, Africa, South America) since I’ve graduated. 

 

Language: Italian – Moderate (I haven’t used it professionally since I graduated) 

 

LORs:  1 from my boss at the Big 4 firm, 1 from an Italian professor, I don’t really have any other good relationships from college outside of business, so I may get another boss to write one.

 

Coursework : Multivariable Calculus, Micro and Macro, 60+ hours of Finance and Accounting credits

 

Concerns: I am most concerned about my projected level of interest/lack of relevant work experience. The surface level of my application looks like I should be applying for an MBA program. I picked Business as an undergraduate degree because I was concerned about finding a job during the economic downturn. Though I’ve done well with my employment, I am not passionate about my current profession. I am very invested in working for the Foreign Service or a private think tank. I think crafting my Statement of Purpose to tie in my experiences will be a challenge, but I do believe I am a unique candidate, at best.

 

Any thoughts?

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I'm thinking about applying this upcoming year but I'm not sure if I'm ready just yet...

 

Applying for: IR MA's with a focus on security and strategic studies

Prospective schools: John Hopkins, American, University of Pittsburgh, University of Denver

Undergraduate institution: UC Berkeley

Undergraduate major: Sociology

Undergraduate GPA: 3.7 cumulative

GRE: 160v, 148q, 4.5 awa

Work Experience: I'm a fairly recent social science grad so mostly crap/irrelevent jobs. No internships, I do have about a year and a half experience volunteering in a Social Psychology lab (which gave me some graduate level units on my transcript).

Overseas Experience: I taught English in Korea for a year and helped develop new course materials, and I've traveled pretty extensively throughout Oceania and Southeast Asia.

Language: No university level language courses, took a few years of German in high school but thats mostly gone. I did learn to read/write Korean but I can't understand or speak much of it. Thinking about taking a few Spanish classes to gain at least a moderate proficiency before applying.

Quantitative requirements: As you may have guessed from my GRE scores, math isn't exactly my strong point and I did my best to avoid it in college. I did take a basic statistics course  which I did reasonably well on. I have no background at all in economics.

 

Haven't started a statement of purpose yet, but I'm fairly confident that i can get solid LOR's. I've thought about taking a few community college economics courses but I'd rather not invest the time as each of the programs I'm looking at has micro/macroeconomics courses built into the curriculum.

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Hi, everyone. I'm planning to apply to IR programs this coming cycle and was hoping to hear from posters here about how I might best present my experiences and about which schools I might reasonably expect to get into. Thanks!

 

 

Considering applying to: Georgetown (MFS), NYU (IR), SAIS, UCSD (IR/PS), Tufts (IA), Yale Jackson, SIPA--as well as T14 law schools and joint degree programs

 

Undergraduate Institution: Top 20 university

Undergraduate Major: English

Undergraduate GPA: 3.43 overall, 3.72 for major

 

Relevant Undergraduate Coursework: Intro to Macroeconomics (B-), Intro to Microeconomics (B+), Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (Withdrawal); Math: Pre-Calculus (A), First Year Calculus I (B-), First Year Calculus II (B+))

 

I don't think I'm necessarily bad at math, but I did not know how to study for these types of courses back then and it shows in my grades. I'm considering re-taking the economics courses online, if there are any available and it would be beneficial for me to do so (assuming better grades).

 

Graduate Institution: A state school in California (distance program)

Graduate Degree: MA in Humanities (with a "focus" on English)

Graduate GPA: 4.00

*Note: Completed this program while living and working in South Korea because it was one of the few options available to me at the time I started and was affordable. Unfortunately, I completed the program at a very leisurely pace (6 years), taking just one or two courses per semester.

 

Relevant(?) Graduate Coursework: The Individual & Society (A), which looked at different political philosophies, and my thesis, which discussed displacement, transnationalism, adoption, and the immigrant experience in the novels of a Korean-American author

 

GRE Score: 170 V  163 Q  5.0 AW

 

Work Experience: I've been working in South Korea since 2004. I worked for a year as a teacher and six months as an online tutor; enrolled in a full-time Korean program at a university for a year while working freelance as a translation editor for large corporations; and have been working for the past 5-6 years as an editor for an international English testing company and its non-profit subsidiary, which donates a lot of money to universities to help fund their Korean programs/institutes and otherwise tries to promote Korean literature abroad. I edit newsletters, annual reports, presentations, test forms, correspondence, etc., and have also advised on cultural differences in negotiations with international business partners, etc., though in a very limited fashion.

 

Along with my GPA, the above is my biggest concern as none of my work experience feels that substantive and it's hard to come up with a good narrative for my IR candidacy outside of an interest in education policy.

 

Volunteer Experience: I've edited journals and websites for human rights organizations here, including one popular North Korea-focused newspaper, and also tutored North Korean refugees.

 

Language Skills: Korean (Advanced), Italian (Lower Intermediate in spite of lots of undergraduate coursework), Spanish (Lower Intermediate), Japanese (Beginner)

 

 

Overall, I have a lot of experience living overseas, but I worry about how admissions committees will rate my work experience and want to do whatever I can to improve my chances of admission over the next fifteen months. Thanks in advance for any feedback/advice!

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@outofspace- You'll have a strong application if you can link your past experience and interests to a future career in IR. Your GPA is a little low, sure, but I think your GRE makes up for that. As for work experience- remember many of the people that are applying have internships as their only work experience.  Go through the boards and see. An internship carries little/no responsibility and is simply an extension of school.  If you've been working in South Korea for a decade, your experience likely crushes most applicants. Because your experience is diverse, I don't think you'll have any issues finding a good narrative.  Long story short, you're a professional, not a pretender or a student- I feel this weighs heavily with the admissions boards.  

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@outofspace- You'll have a strong application if you can link your past experience and interests to a future career in IR. Your GPA is a little low, sure, but I think your GRE makes up for that. As for work experience- remember many of the people that are applying have internships as their only work experience.  Go through the boards and see. An internship carries little/no responsibility and is simply an extension of school.  If you've been working in South Korea for a decade, your experience likely crushes most applicants. Because your experience is diverse, I don't think you'll have any issues finding a good narrative.  Long story short, you're a professional, not a pretender or a student- I feel this weighs heavily with the admissions boards.  

 

Basically agree. Make a cohesive narrative and I think you'll be a very strong candidate for Georgetown, NYU, Tufts, and SAIS, probably Columbia and Yale as well. The undergraduate math grades you posted aren't great, but they're not heinous either, and if you've been working for the last decade, it's obvious that you've developed and matured since you were 19 or 20 (I should hope so). 

 

ativerson--parts of your application look good, parts are pretty bad, to be blunt. You should strongly consider retaking the GRE to boost your math score by a few points. You have a bit of international experience, but not that much, and not much of a language background. Have you considered doing something like Peace Corps or another short-term abroad experience, whether work or volunteering? Keep in mind who you'll be up against in this field of applicants--people with 2+ years of experience abroad, fluent in 2 or more languages, government or think tank work experience, and so on. I'll plug Peace Corps here, assuming you're a US citizen--it looks great for grad school applications, gives you extensive experience in grassroots int'l development/public diplomacy, language knowledge (obviously some countries' languages may look more impressive on a resume than others, I lucked out with my placement in eastern Ukraine in this regard), 2+ years of experience abroad (and the countless opportunities for travel and enrichment that provides), making a positive impact on the lives of others, and so on. At the very least, I think Peace Corps or an opportunity like it would be a great opportunity for you to move your career forward, if IR is what you want to do.

 

InternationalHopeful--are you interested in MPP/MPA or int'l relations? For MPP/MPA programs, I think you're very competitive if you can explain why you want to move into the public sector. For IR, a bit more explaining might be required, and you may want to look into some way to get a little more int'l experience before you apply (anything from a job/assignment abroad with your company to volunteering with refugees/immigrant communities in your town, if such opportunities exist). 

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Thanks for your encouragement. I'm struggling a bit with how I'm going to bring everything together in my personal statement, but it's good to know that I'm not in a bad position if I can get it taken care of.

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@pavlik

 

I am leaning more towards IR, but may end up applying to MPP/MPA programs and focusing on international policy instead. I do attend foreign relations events as they come up and am a member of a foreign affairs organization. I just have found a harder time getting entry-level work exposure that has a meaningful salary. I plan to frame my SOP to highlight my heavy background in quant and push for programs that value that side of the application.

 

Thanks for the advice.

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