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The 'Am I competitive' thread - READ ME BEFORE POSTING

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Program/Institution: MPA Public Administration with Emphasis in Emergency Management (UC Denver, University of South Carolina, George Mason University, Univerity of North Carolina at Charlotte) / MS Disaster Science and Management (University of Delaware)

Interests: Emergency Management, Public Policy, GIS 

Undergrad Institution: Largest minority school in Puerto Rico

Undergraduate Major: Information and Journalism, minor in Geography

Undergraduate GPA: 3.05 (3.50 in major, 3.85 in minor)

Quantitative Courses: All maths up to Calculus II, Intro to Quantitative Methods in Geography (Got an A here) 

GRE: ): low... 151V, 147Q 3.5. A lot of my programs did not require my GRE scores atleast. 

Age: 22

Years of Work Experience:  Multiple research Experience in my school (3 research projects with the Department of Geography using GIS) and REU experience working on emergency management plans, and currently researching in a Atmospheric Chem. lab. 5 conference poster presentationes, 1 oral presentation, one paper from my REU. 

Undergraduate Activities: Mentoring freshman students, A lot of community service hours recollecting disaster relief items for local and international entities, visiting childrens hospitals and orphanages, writing for school paper and other student papers, student counselor for field trips in the Geogrpahy department. 

Languages: Fluent in English and Spanish. 

LORs: One from my REU mentor, one from my main mentor in the Geography research projects and one from a mentor/professor for my intro public service course. Very strong letters from all of them. 

Concerns: I have a lot of activities and research experience in my CV but I'm extremely concerned my GPA and GRE score would drag me down anyways. I did address in my SOP the reasons of why my GPA was like that, that was a main reason why I got into my REU. 

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Program/Institution: MPA -  Public Administration

Applying to: Northeastern, Suffolk, UMass Boston, Brown, Syracuse, UConn, and Brandeis.  #1 choice is Brown because I live in RI so it would be super convenient. And to put it simply - it's Brown.  If Brown doesn't happen, which I wouldn't be shocked, my next picks are UMass Boston and UConn.  

Interests: Education policy, unemployment insurance(weird interest, I know), health care reform

Undergrad Institution:  local school, phenomenal school but is not really well known.    
Undergraduate Major: Dual Major: Political Science & Public Administration, Minor: Geography

Undergraduate GPA: 3.72 

Quantitative Courses: Methodology in Political Science (got the highest score in the class)

GRE: ): 155V, 150Q.  My AW isn't in yet, but the last time I took the GRE I got 4.5 on the AW.  Not where I wanted to be but a lot better than where I started (first time I took the GRE I got 148 on both Verbal and Quant.  

Age: 26

Years of Work Experience:  I worked in banking for about 5 years prior to quitting and going back to school.  I've interned for a Congress member in both DC and here in RI.  Prior to that, I interned for a city planning office. Currently, I'm interning for a governmental agency dealing with unemployment insurance.  

Undergraduate Activities: Secretary of Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honor Society), a member of Political Science Club, helped a professor with a research project for arts and humanities funding.  

Languages: Fluent in English, can speak very very basic Spanish.  

LORs: Very strong letters from the chair of my department, former dean of the college and current professor, and a professor who also runs the MPA program at the local university who I had for a couple of classes.    

Concerns: I'm nervous that my GRE scores aren't where they should be and that my undergraduate institution will hold me back.  It really is a phenomenal school, but it doesn't have name recognition.  

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Has anyone here applied to GWU for MPP? or well heard back from them. My application is under review. 

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Program: MPP

Schools Applying To:  Harvard - Kennedy, Duke - Sanford, Georgetown - McCourt, Chicago - Harris, Michigan - Ford, Texas - LBJ

Interests: education policy, social policy, economic inequality / policy

Undergrad Institution: top 100 liberal arts college

Undergraduate GPA: 3.54, major GPA 3.76

Undergraduate Major: History

GRE: 162V (90th %), 160Q (76th %), 4.5W (82nd %)

Quantitative Courses: Intro to Microeconomics (A+), Statistics (B), Intro to Computer Science (A), Calc I (C+)

Years of Work Experience: 5.5

Age: 27

Languages: English

Work Experience: Teach For America alumnus, taught middle school social studies for two years. Then worked in administration and operations at a high performing non-profit charter school network (I was part of 4 person leadership team that founded an elementary school) for two years. Recruiter with Teach For America for past year and a half. Solid quantitative results in each role.

LORs: I anticipate they'll be strong -- one from my current manager at TFA, and two from former teammates that I managed.

SOPs: Addressed my identity as a straight, white male and how I seek to advocate for / raise the voices of those that do not share my identities of privilege through the skills and experience I would gain through an MPP program.

Concerns: I have a number of concerns about my competitiveness.

  • Lack of quantitative background: I took some introductory STEM-related courses in college and have mixed results from those classes. That, combined with my middling GRE quant score, gives me pause about my chances.
  • Undergraduate record is not outstanding. Low-ish GPA from a decently respected but relatively unknown liberal arts school.
  • No foreign language fluency. I used have very basic Spanish proficiency but I am no longer confident even listing it at a low level now.
  • No academic letters of recommendation. I was close with some of my history professors in college but thought I was too far removed from undergrad for them to be able to speak to my current credentials and experience.
  • Only real professional experience is in education. I have interests and passions beyond education, thus part of the reason I'm looking to branch out with an MPP, but no policy experience in different realms.

Would love feedback on my potential competitiveness (especially from you @Connie @ TheArtofApplying and @chocolatecheesecake!) as I anxiously await decisions on admissions and funding!

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Program/Institution: (All MPA/MSPPMs) NYU, GW, American, CMU, Pitt, UNC

Interests: City/Non-Profit Management

Undergrad Institution: US News Top 25 Liberal Arts College

Undergraduate Major: B.A. in Political Science + Geography (double major with separate capstones)

Undergraduate Concentration: Urban Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 3.64

Quantitative Courses: Research Methods for Social Sciences, Intro to Econ, Intro to GIS

GRE: 160 verbal, 160 quant, 4.5 written

Undergrad Activities: RA for 2 years, organized large-scale speaker events, student body representative, ran political science honor society (including planning academic conferences), revamped campus policies for dorms and meal plans.

Undergrad Awards: Writing in social sciences, significant scholarship for women involved in the political science department, various recognitions for leadership/involvement on campus.

Age: 24

Years of Work Experience: Will be at 2 by the time I leave this job for grad school. I am a research assistant at a large policy research organization, and I use both quant and qual research methods in my work.

SOP: Shares story of my interest in urban management, coming about due to involvement in city government/politics while in high school and interest in making cities livable and beneficial for all people.

Languages: English. Conversational French and Hebrew, but nothing I plan to use in a career.

LORs: Two current supervisors I work with directly on a daily/weekly basis and one Political Science professor, who I wrote a capstone under and took many courses with.

Concerns: I want to be in a program where I can work/intern while at school, preferably in a city government role. I'm curious about what my odds are for scholarships/assistantships at these schools as well.

Thanks for your time and thoughts!

Edited by impatientlywaiting26
added info

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I would love to get some feedback on my profile. I'm a journalist that has spent 4-5 years covering energy and infrastructure development internationally. Check it out:

Program/Institution interests: SAIS, SIPA, NYU IR, Georgetown MSFS, Fletcher, GWU Elliott, American SIS

Interests: energy policy and politics; infrastructure development/finance  

Undergrad Institution: Top 25 Private University, US

Undergraduate Major: B.A. Economics; B.A. Philosophy

Undergraduate GPA: 3.75

Quant courses: As in Calc I, Calc II, Calc III, Economics Statistics, Econometrics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics

GRE/GMAT: I scored a 720 on the GMAT (95%ile); however, my quant score was on the lower side at 43 (~55%ile).

Age: 26

Years of work experience: 5 (by the time I apply). My first job was as a reporter at a subsidiary of the Financial Times; I wrote about US-China trade and the energy sector. I then took a gig at an energy intelligence service covering oil politics, transportation and the federal government politics/public policy; then I took a senior roleat a start-up energy/industrial/infrastructure-focused intelligence and data provider. As part of my work I have traveled extensively in China and India; I’ve also made trips to Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Mexico City and a few other international destinations.

Foreign language proficiency: elementary French. I'd like to learn Chinese.

LORS: one from a SIPA grad, another from a well-respected energy consultant in DC, a third from a dean at my undergrad institution.

Concerns: My GMAT quant is a little low. Is it necessary to retake the test or do my college grades and work experience make up for it?

 

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On 2/10/2017 at 3:48 AM, dwestlakeg said:

Program: MPP

Schools Applying To:  Harvard - Kennedy, Duke - Sanford, Georgetown - McCourt, Chicago - Harris, Michigan - Ford, Texas - LBJ

Interests: education policy, social policy, economic inequality / policy

Undergrad Institution: top 100 liberal arts college

Undergraduate GPA: 3.54, major GPA 3.76

Undergraduate Major: History

GRE: 162V (90th %), 160Q (76th %), 4.5W (82nd %)

Quantitative Courses: Intro to Microeconomics (A+), Statistics (B), Intro to Computer Science (A), Calc I (C+)

Years of Work Experience: 5.5

Age: 27

Languages: English

Work Experience: Teach For America alumnus, taught middle school social studies for two years. Then worked in administration and operations at a high performing non-profit charter school network (I was part of 4 person leadership team that founded an elementary school) for two years. Recruiter with Teach For America for past year and a half. Solid quantitative results in each role.

LORs: I anticipate they'll be strong -- one from my current manager at TFA, and two from former teammates that I managed.

SOPs: Addressed my identity as a straight, white male and how I seek to advocate for / raise the voices of those that do not share my identities of privilege through the skills and experience I would gain through an MPP program.

Concerns: I have a number of concerns about my competitiveness.

  • Lack of quantitative background: I took some introductory STEM-related courses in college and have mixed results from those classes. That, combined with my middling GRE quant score, gives me pause about my chances.
  • Undergraduate record is not outstanding. Low-ish GPA from a decently respected but relatively unknown liberal arts school.
  • No foreign language fluency. I used have very basic Spanish proficiency but I am no longer confident even listing it at a low level now.
  • No academic letters of recommendation. I was close with some of my history professors in college but thought I was too far removed from undergrad for them to be able to speak to my current credentials and experience.
  • Only real professional experience is in education. I have interests and passions beyond education, thus part of the reason I'm looking to branch out with an MPP, but no policy experience in different realms.

Would love feedback on my potential competitiveness (especially from you @Connie @ TheArtofApplying and @chocolatecheesecake!) as I anxiously await decisions on admissions and funding!

@dwestlakeg: Thanks for reaching out! I hope I can help give some context to your recommendation. First of all, I think you check almost all the boxes for a really competitive applicant to the above schools. You've done your research well, and your interests are very well-suited for those schools. I'll address your concerns one by one:

  1. You do not need a strong quant background to perform well, although it can help with funding. Many classmates will not have had any statistics or economics in undergrad, and the first semester or two of both subjects is designed for pure novices. You usually need to take a pre-requisite, but it's simply because the courses move so fast and cover so much material. They still start at the very beginning by introducing basic supply and demand curves/ defining mean, median, mode. Your GRE quant score is also better than middling!
  2. Your undergraduate record matters less the further you are from it, and you have 5.5 strong years of work experience to back it up. Not that a 3.54 counts as a low-ish GPA. I'd be more worried if you had below a 3. 
  3. If you're interested in domestic policy, you probably don't need a competency in a foreign language. It can only be a plus, but no adcom will ding you for it.
  4. No academic letters is probably something I would counsel you to remedy if you had a Time-Turner. When I applied, I decided to take two grad-level MPA classes at the university I was working at, and garnered a rec from that professor. Many people take that same route. However, the academic letters mostly speak to your academic performance, and if it's strong otherwise (looks like it from your GPA and your GRE scores), this won't detract very much. If you had a low GPA, though, then it'd be essential to get a professor to speak to how hard you tried or how far you progressed.
  5. So you don't have experience beyond education but want to study policy for other related fields like inequality and social policy. This is not really a problem, as you'll find out, because that's the case for everyone. Many of my classmates were in fact looking to transition/pivot to another field or area after a few years working in one field. It's a super common misconception that if you don't have the direct service or policy experience in a particular field, you won't be qualified to study this in policy school. I wrote something similar in another response you should read, but essentially, you'll be fine. I myself wrote an SOP very similar to yours, and it all worked out. =) 

Final tip: you should be very competitive for most of these schools, and when you get the offers, make sure to identify your favorites and leverage those financial aid packages to get more money! 

--
Connie, Admissions Consultant for The Art of Applying
Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, MPP'2016
--

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Hi everyone,

I'd really appreciate your inputs!
Program/Institution: Gergetown MPP (McCourt), HKS (MPP), WWS(MPA), Chicago Harris (MPP), CMU Heinz College (MSPPM-DC track), Duke Sanford (MPP)

Interests: Economic Policy Analysis, International Development, M&E

Undergrad Institution: Top 15 Liberal Art Colleges

Undergraduate Major: B.A. Political Science, Economics, Cert. in English Lit

Undergraduate GPA: 3.5

Quantitative Courses: 10 courses in economics including econometrics + stats, calculus 2, multi cal, linear algebra

GRE: V: 163 Q: 159 AW: 4

Age: 26

Years of Work Experience: 2.5 years at a large-non profit organization that allowed me to have international field work experience, working on a variety of projects from agr to education, etc. 1 year at an intl org (think UN, WB, IMF). Have held a variety of roles including data analytics and project and budget management. 

Languages: English, French (intermediate), Chinese (elementary), Thai (native)

LORs: One from my current manager of 2 years, one from executive but worked with me very closely, and one from my econ professor. I believe they are all very strong!
Personal statement: Talk about my experience growing up in a poor part of a developing country, early engagement in public policy (led a non-profit org), my observation during my work about the lack of communication between technical people and management and how i seek to bridge the gap. I should have put in more time but I was having a long and hectic international assignment...really regretted it now.

Concerns: Low GRE and GPAs, lack of work experience. 

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I've posted in this thread before and received good feedback, but I had a pertinent question that I didn't want to start a new thread for, and couldn't find an appropriate thread to put it in.

Results have gone out for the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Insitute (PPIA JSI) fellowships, and I initially was an alternate select at Carnegie Mellon (which is a fancier way of saying "waitlisted").  Well, today I learned that everyone took their fellowship and nobody dropped, so I won't be bumped up to primary select.

My question is this: is it kosher to list an alternate selection on your resume/CV or grad school app?  Thanks.

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Good afternoon everyone! 

I was wondering if I could get some feedback on my chances of admission to the universities I applied to?

Program/Institution: MAIR programs at Syracuse, UVA, Boston College, and UMASS Boston

Interests: Eastern Europe/ Russia, Nationalism

Undergraduate Institution: Small, unknown state school.

Undergraduate major: Political Science/ Legal Studies

Undergraduate GPA: 2.9 Cumulative, 3.4 for my major GPAs. GPA has an upward trend. Had a few rocky semesters in the beginning of college.

Quantitative courses: Study abroad program in Bosnia (B+)

GRE scores: 160V; 155Q; 5AW

Age: 23

Work experience: Have had an internship with a prosecutor but no highly relevant work experience. Graduated in May 2016.

Languages: French (Intermediate) Russian (beginner) Serbo-Croatian (beginner) 

LORs: My letters of recommendation are very strong and comprehensive. 2 From Professors of Legal Studies and one from my IR professor.

Personal Statement: I talk about how my experience in Bosnia ultimately motivated me to study IR and focus on nationalism in Eastern Europe.

Concerns: I am worried about my low GPA and my lack of relevant work experience.
 

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Hi everybody,

I would love to hear your opinions about my profile.

 

Program/Institution interests: Harvard Kennedy School MPP Program

Interests: Social Development/Social Entrepreneurship

Undergrad Institution: Top school in Mexico

Undergraduate Major: B.S. in Marketing/Finance

GPA: 82/100

Grad Institution: University of Texas McCombs School of Business

Master's Degree: MBA (Top 20 US), Concentration in Entrepreneurship, VP of the LatAm MBA Association and President of the Football Club

GPA: 3.2

Quant courses: Advanced calculus, Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Finance. (Grad level and Undergrad level)

GMAT: 730 Q65% V98%

Age: 33

Years of work experience: 6, currently a Social Enterprise Advisor for a State Secretariat of Social Development in Mexico - I developed a Social Start-up Incubator while in Business School and have been working on it with the Mexican government since graduation. Prior professional experience revolves around developing start-ups and business consulting. No public-sector experience before BS.

Foreign language proficiency: Spanish (Native)

LORS: Strong. Two from previous bosses (both wrote wonders about me, but one is also a big shot in both business and politics in Mexico) and one of my MBA professors (Harvard PhD, he was the first person to encourage me to apply).

Essays:

1.            How being forced to leave my home country (because of rampant drug violence/kidnappings) was a wake-up call and led me to focus on advancing social mobility in Mexico. Steps that I've taken toward my goal, and what would be next for me after Harvard to expand the current state-wide initiative I lead nationally. Overall, I think is a very compelling story.

2.            How HKS' curriculum addresses specific gaps in my education/network. I related courses/the SPE to problems I am currently facing - mostly how business strategy knowledge/experience is not extensive enough to cover policy implications and how the school's network in would help me bypass partisanships to expand my incubator project.

Concerns: I am an atypical applicant - my background is not the usual for Mexicans (most are Economists) and I am above the average age by some years. I also feel my GMAT scored is unbalanced and my grades are not spectacular by any means.

 

Thanks!

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Program/Institution: HKS, Goldman, Harris, WWS, Ford, Price, Evans, Sanford, Luskin. Really anything that offers heavier quant option, even better if they have an econ development/finance concentration 

Interests: International/domestic economic development 

Undergrad Institution: Top 30 USNWR National 

Undergraduate Major: B.A Econ

Undergraduate Minor: Portuguese

Undergraduate GPA: 3.66, Last 60 credits around 3.8

Quantitative Courses: Intermed. Micro/Macro (As), Stats for Scientists (A), Intro Econometrics (A), Advanced Econometrics (B+), Calc I (C+)

GRE: Prepping, practice test scores are high (>90th percentile quant,qual), but who knows.

Age: 23, 24 by fall 2018 application deadlines

Years of Work Experience: By time I send in application I will have 1 year as a federal economist for Dept. of Commerce, 4 months internship in House of Reps, 2 months as a staffer on a Presidential campaign, 4 months education research non profit internship, 1 year restaurant experience. Overall 2 w/o the restaurant, 2.5 w/ restaurant (unsure if I should include or not)

Also did half a year (summer + school semester) studying public economics at a Brazilian university

Languages: Native English, advanced Portuguese, intermediate French, intermediate Spanish 

LORs: Most likely two bosses and a professor however I haven't contacted them yet 

Concerns: I'm young, and funding is an issue. I'm concerned if I apply now, I may sneak by in some admissions, but won't receive any substantive funding. I guess my question is two fold: am I competitive for the schools listed above (obviously HKS Goldman WWS etc. are reaches, but I think I have at least a shot), and if so, would waiting a year and getting an extra year of work experience necessarily equate to more funding? I'm pretty debt averse and I'm pretty unwilling to take out huge amounts of debt for a MPP. Another concern is that C+ in Calculus. I took it first semester freshman year. Is it worth it to retake? I know calc - I've had to use it in my stats classes, but just performed poorly freshman year.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Edited by jph093

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Program/Institution: Georgetown SSP

Interests: National Security, Technology 

Undergrad Institution: Cal U

Undergraduate Major: BA in Arabic Language and Culture

Undergraduate GPA: 4.0

GRE: 150V, 145Q, 3.0AW (Embarrassing! Took it right when I got back from deployment. Had no chance to re-take. Bummer) 

Age: 24

Years of Work Experience: Military - 6 years total; 4 years in the Intelligence Community/Special Operations; One deployment; Study-abroad in Morocco

Languages: Native Spanish, Fluent Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic), Beginner Levantine Dialect

LORs: 1 - Professor at Defense Language Institute who I'm still in contact with (Military Language school that I attended to learn Arabic)

2 - Professor during my undergrad who I worked closely with

3 - Supervisor/Manager (in civilian terms) during my time working in the Intel community

1 & 3 sent me a copy after they submitted and I was blown away by both. They knew me both on a professional and personal level, which is why I chose them instead of some commander who didn't know me at all. 

Concerns: Obviously the low GRE scores. I'll admit, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been when preparing to apply. Just a mix of the op-tempo at work and other obligations made it difficult but still shouldn't be an excuse. I've seen other people in similar situations with stellar backgrounds/scores, so kudos to you! Luckily I was accepted into another program in NOVA, Georgetown was just a long shot. I'll be happy regardless of the outcome! 

Appreciate any feedback! Don't mind if you're straight with me. In fact, I'd prefer that. Ha! 

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Hey all,

 

I am thinking about applying a number of MPP programs (hoping for top 20). 

Institution: GW

Undergraduate Major: Political Science

Undergraduate GPA: 2.92

GRE: 161V, 155Q, 4.5W 

Age: 27

Years of Work Experience: 5

Internships: Merrill Lynch, Gov. Affairs firm, foreign affairs non profit organization

Employment: 1 Year has fundraising consultant 

2.5 years on Capitol Hill (intern 6 months, staff assistant 2 years)

1 Year as a regulatory Analyst in the private sector 

LOR: Personal from a Member of Congress (drove him for 2.5 years it's the least he could do)

You guys think I have a shot at a top 10 program?

I realize that my GPA is low, I had a bit too much fun in college (additionally dealt with a very difficult time within my family my Sophomore and Junior year- illness and death in the immediate family).

I'm seeing a lot of intern experience here from Capitol Hill but not too much staff experience.  Staff Assistant is a broad term, I was very hands on in my office from a policy standpoint.   I played a substantial role in formulating a response and generating policy initiatives surrounding a nationally known disaster that occurred in my bosses district, which I plan elaborate on in my essay.  I received an offer from a well known firm last fall in the private sector and couldn't say no.   I would consider myself a policy "wonk." I'm a hell of a networker. 

Edited by levee343
age

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On 3/13/2017 at 1:49 PM, levee343 said:

Hey all,

 

I am thinking about applying a number of MPP programs (hoping for top 20). 

Institution: GW

Undergraduate Major: Political Science

Undergraduate GPA: 2.92

GRE: 161V, 155Q, 4.5W 

Age: 27

Years of Work Experience: 5

Internships: Merrill Lynch, Gov. Affairs firm, foreign affairs non profit organization

Employment: 1 Year has fundraising consultant 

2.5 years on Capitol Hill (intern 6 months, staff assistant 2 years)

1 Year as a regulatory Analyst in the private sector 

LOR: Personal from a Member of Congress (drove him for 2.5 years it's the least he could do)

You guys think I have a shot at a top 10 program?

I realize that my GPA is low, I had a bit too much fun in college (additionally dealt with a very difficult time within my family my Sophomore and Junior year- illness and death in the immediate family).

I'm seeing a lot of intern experience here from Capitol Hill but not too much staff experience.  Staff Assistant is a broad term, I was very hands on in my office from a policy standpoint.   I played a substantial role in formulating a response and generating policy initiatives surrounding a nationally known disaster that occurred in my bosses district, which I plan elaborate on in my essay.  I received an offer from a well known firm last fall in the private sector and couldn't say no.   I would consider myself a policy "wonk." I'm a hell of a networker. 

I think your GRE scores could play an important role. If you're applying for Fall 2018 you have plenty of time to boost them. I myself regret not taking the test again to increase my quant from 158. It could have meant much better funding. If you received poor grades in quant classes, you might take a class as well to show that you can succeed under better circumstances. Your work experience sounds fantastic and your letters of rec will play an important role too. If you have the money, you might also talk to a consultant about how best to "frame" your grades. There are plenty of opportunities as part of the application process to explain. Depending on what your definition of "Top 10" is, you definitely have a shot! Hope my advice isn't too rote. 

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On 3/7/2017 at 3:01 PM, jph093 said:

Program/Institution: HKS, Goldman, Harris, WWS, Ford, Price, Evans, Sanford, Luskin. Really anything that offers heavier quant option, even better if they have an econ development/finance concentration 

Interests: International/domestic economic development 

Undergrad Institution: Top 30 USNWR National 

Undergraduate Major: B.A Econ

Undergraduate Minor: Portuguese

Undergraduate GPA: 3.66, Last 60 credits around 3.8

Quantitative Courses: Intermed. Micro/Macro (As), Stats for Scientists (A), Intro Econometrics (A), Advanced Econometrics (B+), Calc I (C+)

GRE: Prepping, practice test scores are high (>90th percentile quant,qual), but who knows.

Age: 23, 24 by fall 2018 application deadlines

Years of Work Experience: By time I send in application I will have 1 year as a federal economist for Dept. of Commerce, 4 months internship in House of Reps, 2 months as a staffer on a Presidential campaign, 4 months education research non profit internship, 1 year restaurant experience. Overall 2 w/o the restaurant, 2.5 w/ restaurant (unsure if I should include or not)

Also did half a year (summer + school semester) studying public economics at a Brazilian university

Languages: Native English, advanced Portuguese, intermediate French, intermediate Spanish 

LORs: Most likely two bosses and a professor however I haven't contacted them yet 

Concerns: I'm young, and funding is an issue. I'm concerned if I apply now, I may sneak by in some admissions, but won't receive any substantive funding. I guess my question is two fold: am I competitive for the schools listed above (obviously HKS Goldman WWS etc. are reaches, but I think I have at least a shot), and if so, would waiting a year and getting an extra year of work experience necessarily equate to more funding? I'm pretty debt averse and I'm pretty unwilling to take out huge amounts of debt for a MPP. Another concern is that C+ in Calculus. I took it first semester freshman year. Is it worth it to retake? I know calc - I've had to use it in my stats classes, but just performed poorly freshman year.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Hey @jph093, I'm almost 24, have less experience than you (I've worked at the same nonprofit for almost 2 years), and I studied sociology in undergrad (arguably less useful for policy schools than econ). Otherwise, I have pretty similar stats to yours, except that the last time I took calculus or anything heavily quantitative was in high school lol. I got in everywhere I applied except HKS (waitlist). That includes Price, La Follette, Wagner, Goldman, Heller, and Trachtenberg. I got a full ride to Price and La Follette (UW Madison), half tuition at Heller, and I'm negotiating with the other schools so I'll likely still get something from at least one of them. I've also heard that it's not too hard to get a graduate student assistant position at Goldman, which covers either 25% or 50% of tuition. So don't underestimate yourself ^_^

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2 hours ago, emilyf413 said:

Hey @jph093, I'm almost 24, have less experience than you (I've worked at the same nonprofit for almost 2 years), and I studied sociology in undergrad (arguably less useful for policy schools than econ). Otherwise, I have pretty similar stats to yours, except that the last time I took calculus or anything heavily quantitative was in high school lol. I got in everywhere I applied except HKS (waitlist). That includes Price, La Follette, Wagner, Goldman, Heller, and Trachtenberg. I got a full ride to Price and La Follette (UW Madison), half tuition at Heller, and I'm negotiating with the other schools so I'll likely still get something from at least one of them. I've also heard that it's not too hard to get a graduate student assistant position at Goldman, which covers either 25% or 50% of tuition. So don't underestimate yourself ^_^

@emilyf413 what school are you leaning towards? I also got a full ride to Price and am having trouble justifying the cost of Goldman (I'm in state), thought I relaly want to attend.

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2 hours ago, emilyf413 said:

Hey @jph093, I'm almost 24, have less experience than you (I've worked at the same nonprofit for almost 2 years), and I studied sociology in undergrad (arguably less useful for policy schools than econ). Otherwise, I have pretty similar stats to yours, except that the last time I took calculus or anything heavily quantitative was in high school lol. I got in everywhere I applied except HKS (waitlist). That includes Price, La Follette, Wagner, Goldman, Heller, and Trachtenberg. I got a full ride to Price and La Follette (UW Madison), half tuition at Heller, and I'm negotiating with the other schools so I'll likely still get something from at least one of them. I've also heard that it's not too hard to get a graduate student assistant position at Goldman, which covers either 25% or 50% of tuition. So don't underestimate yourself ^_^

Thanks! This is relieving to hear. And congrats on your results - it sounds like you have some great options. 

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2 hours ago, coffeewalk said:

@emilyf413 what school are you leaning towards? I also got a full ride to Price and am having trouble justifying the cost of Goldman (I'm in state), thought I relaly want to attend.

@coffeewalk TBH I'm leaning towards Madison because I would have health insurance and rent paid automatically (and that's before finding an assistantship!). Also, my partner is seriously considering Madison for a different program. And  Madison just seems a lot more livable than LA. Although I'm coming from NYC, which is a hard place to live in its own way, I really don't know how I'd get around in a city that's not walkable or has great public transport and basically looks like a maze of superhighways. I've heard that you can make do in LA without a car, but it just seems very intimidating. Then again, I've never been...

Also, Madison has a special research center for poverty issues, which is my main focus for grad school. But I'm still not 100% -- Price is more prestigious and I really like their program as well...

Finally, I went to an admitted students' event for Price in New York, and I got a weird vibe. When I talked to some Madison alums about finding jobs outside of the Midwest, they said that it wouldn't be the easiest thing but that it was definitely doable. But when I talked to some Price students, they basically said that if I went to Price I'd have great job prospects on the West Coast but would never find anything outside the coast. Very weird..

I emailed Goldman about funding, but I've decided I'm not going to consider a school unless I get at least 50% tuition.

What have been your thoughts so far?

Edited by emilyf413

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@emilyf413 I am just deciding between Price and Goldman. I also got into Harris but ruled it out. I live in LA and really like it here, but Goldman has such a great reputation and the GSI position make it more affordable. But not more affordable than free... I'm also considering my partner which makes things harder as well.

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Program/Institution: Berkeley Goldman (top choice), HKS, UChicago Harris, Georgetown McCourt
Interests: Environmental/Energy policy

Undergrad Institution: Top 15 liberal arts college

Undergraduate Major: B.A. Science, Technology & Society (super liberal arts, multidisciplinary major - took a lot of environmental studies, sociology and computer science classes)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.70, Last 60 credits around 3.85

Quantitative Courses: Intro Micro (A-) Intro Macro (B) Single-variable calc (B), 5 computer science classes (All As/A-s)

GRE: 161 V, 161 Q, 4.5 AW

Age: 22, turning 23 soon-ish

Years of Work Experience: 1 but not very relevant. hard to find jobs in US on an international student visa (1 yr OPT) - interning for ACLU right now, part time job doing renewable energy outreach (but it's more like canvassing), had previous internships in environmental nonprofits

Languages: Native English, intermediate French, beginner Indonesian

LORs: 3 professors (probably pretty good recs)

Additional Note: This year, I applied and was admitted to Michigan Ford, UCLA Luskin, Wisconsin LaFollette, GWU Trachtenberg and UW Evans this year but am not going to attend any

Concerns: I'm turning down the schools I got into this year because I applied too hastily, didn't get funding (in the middle of a green card application so I won't be international next year), I love California so Berkeley is my dream. I have pretty good grades and decent test scores (I'll probably retake the GREs this summer), but I'm worried about my severe lack of experience. I'm going to be in Indonesia this summer, hopefully doing a policy-related internships. But my resume is basically all internships and no full time jobs (except in like customer service, which I don't even wanna include). But getting into Michigan and other schools made me hopeful. I would love any advice. Is it worth it to turn down Michigan to risk getting into any of the above schools? And would it be possible to turn down Michigan, but reapply next year? 

I would love some advice. Thanks so much

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Program/ Institution: Syracuse Maxwell(Top Choice), UPitt, Tufts, UGA, GTECH

Undergrad Institution: Senior Military College

Undergraduate Major: B.A International Affairs, Minor in Leadership and Russian

Undergraduate GPA: 3.2 (This part worries me)

Quantitative Course:   Microecon (A) Macroecon (B) Statistics (B) Calc (B-)

GRE: 166V 160Q 4.5 AW  

Age: 23ish

 Years of Work Experience: I have been in the national guard for 4 years as a CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Nuclear) enlisted men. I am commissioning into the National Guard as a Chemical officer in May.  4 month internship with NATO. 5 month internship with the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta. Study Abroad/Internship in Izmir, Turkey with a regional IGO. I plan on working this year with a manufacturing company as a international project coordinator, however much of the experience will be administrative and not government or policy.

Languages: Native English, intermediate Turkish (getting better all the time), intermediate/beginner German

LORs:  2 professors, 1 CO from Army, and Internship supervisor just in case 

Concerns: I have a low GPA, and I know this is going to hurt me in terms of funding. What can I do to increase the chance of acceptance and from there funding. I am planning on taking grad classes from a large public university near my new job this year. What classes could help me? Syracuse is my dream school because of the MPP/MIA program and the length of the program, however I am also interested in just IA programs. The program also has a chance of going to Boğaziçi Üniversitesi for a semester which would be amazing. Do I have a chance of any funding? Should I work a few more years to gather experience?

Edited by mww0866

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Program/ Institution: Hong Kong University (Master of International and Public Affairs), National Chengchi University Taipei (Masters in International Studies of Masters in Asia-Pacific Studies), National University of Singapore (Masters in International Affairs). Any other decent IR programs in the region that would be worth considering?

Undergrad Institution: Well-regarded US private university

Undergraduate Major: B.A International Business Management, Minor in Marketing

Undergraduate GPA: 3.95, Summa cum Laude (4.0 scale)

Quantitative Course:   Microecon (A) Macroecon (A) Statistics (A) Calc (A), all undergrad

GRE: Have not taken yet. GRE is an optional requirement at 2 of the aforementioned universities. Uncertain how having or not having this would impact my application.

Age: ~25

Years of Work Experience: I have worked in a business operations capacity in the high-tech sector for 5 years full-time. 3 years of this were spent at a rapidly-growing startup, and the past 2 years were spent at a blue chip, globally renowned tech firm. Both of my roles were global in nature, and the past 2 years I have spent based at our regional headquarters in Asia. I intend on continuing to live and work in Asia for several more years, and hope to keep a focus on the Asia-Pacific region for the rest of my professional career.

Languages: Native English, beginner-intermediate Mandarin (continuously taking classes)

LORs:  1 from University president, 2 from previous International Affairs / Business professors, 1 from VP at previous employer

Concerns: I will be taking 1 year off (starting in a few months) before applying to grad schools late this year and early next year. During that time, I will be taking Mandarin classes full-time, building a travel / international relations-related company that I've been working on as a side project for some time, and publishing a couple of books on Amazon (these will be directly related to international relations and the field I'll be pursuing in grad school). I will also be traveling throughout the Asia-Pacific region, while building my writing and research portfolio. I also plan on visiting each of these campuses and meeting with the admissions staff in person before applying.

My concern - will taking a year "off" of work before applying to grad school negatively impact my chances of admission, giving how I'll be using my time over the next year?

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Program: public policy + analysis

Schools Applying To:  Chicago Harris (MSCAPP) and Carnegie Mellon Heinz (MSPPM, data analytics track)

Interests: education policy & issues in economic development, particularly in rural areas

Undergrad Institution: top public state university (also completed an MS in ed at a top program)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.76 (master's GPA was 3.94)

Undergraduate Major: History

GRE: 163V (92%), 168Q (95%)

Quantitative Courses: Microeconomics my freshman year of college (B-) -- this is a big worry of mine since the only quant course I took was also the lowest grade I earned in college....

Years of Work Experience: 4

Age: 26

Languages: English, French (intermediate)

Work Experience: AmeriCorps, Teach For America, and Fulbright ETA; taught math and computer science (so, even though I was totally unqualified to teach any of this, I now have a LOT of quant experience)

LORs:  one from my former manager at TFA, one from my thesis advisor from my master's degree

SOPs: Wanting to discuss how I got interested in CS and how I want to actually study it so I can use it to study/influence policy changes; I've always been interested in public policy, but after self-studying and teaching CS I really want to incorporate it into a policy program

Concerns: I'm definitely worried about not having a lot of undergrad quant experience but I feel like having taught math/CS since then kind of makes up for it; I also recognize that education is not the most valued or respected field, but I'm really ready to move out of the classroom. I don't want these schools to see me as "just a teacher" since I don't have any real policy experience I have a number of concerns about my competitiveness. 

I'd really appreciate feedback about whether a former teacher has the right qualifications for these two particular programs (as well as any others you'd recommend)!! If I ought to go back and take a stats or another economics course, I'd definitely do that too!

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On 4/6/2017 at 4:04 PM, yoh_rrg said:

Program: public policy + analysis

Schools Applying To:  Chicago Harris (MSCAPP) and Carnegie Mellon Heinz (MSPPM, data analytics track)

Interests: education policy & issues in economic development, particularly in rural areas

Undergrad Institution: top public state university (also completed an MS in ed at a top program)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.76 (master's GPA was 3.94)

Undergraduate Major: History

GRE: 163V (92%), 168Q (95%)

Quantitative Courses: Microeconomics my freshman year of college (B-) -- this is a big worry of mine since the only quant course I took was also the lowest grade I earned in college....

Years of Work Experience: 4

Age: 26

Languages: English, French (intermediate)

Work Experience: AmeriCorps, Teach For America, and Fulbright ETA; taught math and computer science (so, even though I was totally unqualified to teach any of this, I now have a LOT of quant experience)

LORs:  one from my former manager at TFA, one from my thesis advisor from my master's degree

SOPs: Wanting to discuss how I got interested in CS and how I want to actually study it so I can use it to study/influence policy changes; I've always been interested in public policy, but after self-studying and teaching CS I really want to incorporate it into a policy program

Concerns: I'm definitely worried about not having a lot of undergrad quant experience but I feel like having taught math/CS since then kind of makes up for it; I also recognize that education is not the most valued or respected field, but I'm really ready to move out of the classroom. I don't want these schools to see me as "just a teacher" since I don't have any real policy experience I have a number of concerns about my competitiveness. 

I'd really appreciate feedback about whether a former teacher has the right qualifications for these two particular programs (as well as any others you'd recommend)!! If I ought to go back and take a stats or another economics course, I'd definitely do that too!

I am a second year corps member with a very similar academic profile (with similarly horrendous quant course background) to you and I was admitted to Duke Sanford, Berkeley GSPP, Carnegie Mellon Heinz (MSPPM-DC), and Georgetown McCourt. I am unfamiliar with UChicago, but you definitely have a strong shot at Carnegie Mellon. I did not apply to the data analytics track, but the DC track, and I still got an 80% fellowship despite my weak quant background. Obviously taking a microeconomics or statistics course before you apply will strengthen your application but with strong SOPs and LORs, you already have a good shot :)

To be honest, I think you are underestimating teaching experience. It is public service after all-- work experience that many public policy schools value. 

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