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

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Hi everyone,

Long time lurker, first time poster here. Long time lurking because I am quite concerned about my chances at getting into any decent top 10 due to my GPA and GRE scores...If someone could give me a realistic opinion that would be really helpful. 

Program: MIA for Fall 2018

Schools Applying To:  Columbia SIPA (Reach), NYU Wagner, GW Elliot, American SIS, MIIS (safety) 

Interests: International Development Management, Project Management/Monitoring and Evaluation/ Organizational change

Undergrad Institution: A top 10 public university (according to US News) 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.16

Undergraduate Major: French and Middle Eastern Studies

GRE: 159V, <145Q (Atrocious I know, retaking in Oct.) 

Quantitative Courses: Currently enrolled in an online Macro econ course (I'm currently abroad)  because I thought it would boost my application since I am clearly terrible at math and haven't taken a math class since junior year of high school. I should have probably taken microecon or stats.

Years of Work Experience: 3 by next year

Age: 25

Languages: 

English (Native), French (Fluent), Cantonese (Native speaking only), obscure very difficult Eastern European language thanks to Peace Corps (limited working proficiency)

If you dropped me in the middle of the country I would survive: Italian (2 years, elementary), Spanish (4 years high school, elementary), Mandarin (picked up minimally due to similarities with Cantonese) 

Studied but pretty much useless in: German, (2 years university), Arabic (2 years university) 

Work Experience: 3 month internship with UNA in DC, TAPIF (Teaching English in France), Peace Corps Volunteer, currently working closely with UNDP especially on monitoring stuff

LORs:  One from a professor who I have yet to reach out to and probably doesn't remember who I am, 2 from local UNDP coordinator and Peace Corps Staff

SOPs: Will outline how I found a more specialized interest in Monitoring and Management/leading projects, maybe address poor math? (see concerns) 

Concerns: Obviously my GPA and GRE are huge points of concern. I went into undergrad as undecided for my major and pursued French and Global studies and a minor in Italian just because. Studied abroad at a political science school in France and found myself really interested in the Middle East and politics. Went back to home uni and switched my second major from GS to ME. I clearly didn't take my studies seriously until I went abroad where a lot changed for me. I have an slight upward trend in my GPA after studying abroad.

I guess it's worth mentioning that I took almost twice the amount of courses per year all 4 years of undergrad than the average student.  I ended up taking 296 units (5 units per language class, 4 per normal class) which is roughly 100-120 more than the average undergrad at my school and my school was on a quarter system. Intellectual curiosity? May be the death of my masters. 

My quant background is incredibly weak, I went to 4 different high schools because I moved a lot as a child and subsequently my math sequence got all messed up. I took Alg. 1 at school 1, Geometry at school 2, and was put into Pre-Calc at my third school in which I got a C and got scared off of math permanently with 0 quant in undergrad. I don't know if this is something I should address in any supplementary essay or not and if it will even be seen as valid. 

I am doing pretty decently in the macro econ class I'm taking and I hope that will show that I am capable of handling math that is relative to the real world because who actually needs to find the volume of a cone ever? Considering taking micro and or stats before submitting applications and I'm retaking the GRE in October. I truly am quite bad at math though and I don't know that I will even break a 150 with tons of studying. 

Columbia is the reach and I hope they take a holistic approach as well as my resume into consideration as I am doing a couple significant projects at the moment through Peace Corps but I would be happy with Wagner or GW. 

 

Thanks! 

Edited by mc3

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1 hour ago, BrokenAsian said:

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker, first time poster here. Long time lurking because I am quite concerned about my chances at getting into any decent top 10 due to my GPA and GRE scores...If someone could give me a realistic opinion that would be really helpful. 

Program: MIA for Fall 2018

Schools Applying To:  Columbia SIPA (Reach), NYU Wagner, GW Elliot, American SIS, MIIS (safety) 

Interests: International Development Management, Project Management/Monitoring and Evaluation/ Organizational change

Undergrad Institution: A top 10 public university (according to US News) 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.16

Undergraduate Major: French and Middle Eastern Studies

GRE: 159V, <145Q (Atrocious I know, retaking in Oct.) 

Quantitative Courses: Currently enrolled in an online Macro econ course (I'm currently abroad)  because I thought it would boost my application since I am clearly terrible at math and haven't taken a math class since junior year of high school. I should have probably taken microecon or stats.

Years of Work Experience: 3 by next year

Age: 25

Languages: 

English (Native), French (Fluent), Cantonese (Native speaking only), obscure very difficult Eastern European language thanks to Peace Corps (limited working proficiency)

If you dropped me in the middle of the country I would survive: Italian (2 years, elementary), Spanish (4 years high school, elementary), Mandarin (picked up minimally due to similarities with Cantonese) 

Studied but pretty much useless in: German, (2 years university), Arabic (2 years university) 

Work Experience: 3 month internship with UNA in DC, TAPIF (Teaching English in France), Peace Corps Volunteer, currently working closely with UNDP especially on monitoring stuff

LORs:  One from a professor who I have yet to reach out to and probably doesn't remember who I am, 2 from local UNDP coordinator and Peace Corps Staff

SOPs: Will outline how I found a more specialized interest in Monitoring and Management/leading projects, maybe address poor math? (see concerns) 

Concerns: Obviously my GPA and GRE are huge points of concern. I went into undergrad as undecided for my major and pursued French and Global studies and a minor in Italian just because. Studied abroad at a political science school in France and found myself really interested in the Middle East and politics. Went back to home uni and switched my second major from GS to ME. I clearly didn't take my studies seriously until I went abroad where a lot changed for me. I have an slight upward trend in my GPA after studying abroad.

I guess it's worth mentioning that I took almost twice the amount of courses per year all 4 years of undergrad than the average student.  I ended up taking 296 units (5 units per language class, 4 per normal class) which is roughly 100-120 more than the average undergrad at my school and my school was on a quarter system. Intellectual curiosity? May be the death of my masters. 

My quant background is incredibly weak, I went to 4 different high schools because I moved a lot as a child and subsequently my math sequence got all messed up. I took Alg. 1 at school 1, Geometry at school 2, and was put into Pre-Calc at my third school in which I got a C and got scared off of math permanently with 0 quant in undergrad. I don't know if this is something I should address in any supplementary essay or not and if it will even be seen as valid. 

I am doing pretty decently in the macro econ class I'm taking and I hope that will show that I am capable of handling math that is relative to the real world because who actually needs to find the volume of a cone ever? Considering taking micro and or stats before submitting applications and I'm retaking the GRE in October. I truly am quite bad at math though and I don't know that I will even break a 150 with tons of studying. 

Columbia is the reach and I hope they take a holistic approach as well as my resume into consideration as I am doing a couple significant projects at the moment through Peace Corps but I would be happy with Wagner or GW. 

 

Thanks! 

I agree with your assessment that the GPA and GRE is quite bad and will hurt your chances. You generally need either one or the other to compensate OR amazing work experience that is several years removed from undergrad. Three years is not enough to be considered far removed and I think you'll have a very hard time getting into the top programs with aid. If aid isn't an issue and you can write a super compelling sop you may have a shot.

Id recommend you study super super hard for the GRE and get those scores as high as possible and focus on your sop. Otherwise I'd be prepared for having to work for a couple more years before applying so that those undergrad grades don't blow your chances. 

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15 hours ago, BrokenAsian said:

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker, first time poster here. Long time lurking because I am quite concerned about my chances at getting into any decent top 10 due to my GPA and GRE scores...If someone could give me a realistic opinion that would be really helpful. 

Program: MIA for Fall 2018

Schools Applying To:  Columbia SIPA (Reach), NYU Wagner, GW Elliot, American SIS, MIIS (safety) 

Interests: International Development Management, Project Management/Monitoring and Evaluation/ Organizational change

Undergrad Institution: A top 10 public university (according to US News) 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.16

Undergraduate Major: French and Middle Eastern Studies

GRE: 159V, <145Q (Atrocious I know, retaking in Oct.) 

Quantitative Courses: Currently enrolled in an online Macro econ course (I'm currently abroad)  because I thought it would boost my application since I am clearly terrible at math and haven't taken a math class since junior year of high school. I should have probably taken microecon or stats.

Years of Work Experience: 3 by next year

Age: 25

Languages: 

English (Native), French (Fluent), Cantonese (Native speaking only), obscure very difficult Eastern European language thanks to Peace Corps (limited working proficiency)

If you dropped me in the middle of the country I would survive: Italian (2 years, elementary), Spanish (4 years high school, elementary), Mandarin (picked up minimally due to similarities with Cantonese) 

Studied but pretty much useless in: German, (2 years university), Arabic (2 years university) 

Work Experience: 3 month internship with UNA in DC, TAPIF (Teaching English in France), Peace Corps Volunteer, currently working closely with UNDP especially on monitoring stuff

LORs:  One from a professor who I have yet to reach out to and probably doesn't remember who I am, 2 from local UNDP coordinator and Peace Corps Staff

SOPs: Will outline how I found a more specialized interest in Monitoring and Management/leading projects, maybe address poor math? (see concerns) 

Concerns: Obviously my GPA and GRE are huge points of concern. I went into undergrad as undecided for my major and pursued French and Global studies and a minor in Italian just because. Studied abroad at a political science school in France and found myself really interested in the Middle East and politics. Went back to home uni and switched my second major from GS to ME. I clearly didn't take my studies seriously until I went abroad where a lot changed for me. I have an slight upward trend in my GPA after studying abroad.

I guess it's worth mentioning that I took almost twice the amount of courses per year all 4 years of undergrad than the average student.  I ended up taking 296 units (5 units per language class, 4 per normal class) which is roughly 100-120 more than the average undergrad at my school and my school was on a quarter system. Intellectual curiosity? May be the death of my masters. 

My quant background is incredibly weak, I went to 4 different high schools because I moved a lot as a child and subsequently my math sequence got all messed up. I took Alg. 1 at school 1, Geometry at school 2, and was put into Pre-Calc at my third school in which I got a C and got scared off of math permanently with 0 quant in undergrad. I don't know if this is something I should address in any supplementary essay or not and if it will even be seen as valid. 

I am doing pretty decently in the macro econ class I'm taking and I hope that will show that I am capable of handling math that is relative to the real world because who actually needs to find the volume of a cone ever? Considering taking micro and or stats before submitting applications and I'm retaking the GRE in October. I truly am quite bad at math though and I don't know that I will even break a 150 with tons of studying. 

Columbia is the reach and I hope they take a holistic approach as well as my resume into consideration as I am doing a couple significant projects at the moment through Peace Corps but I would be happy with Wagner or GW. 

 

Thanks! 

To show that you can do math, you need to get 160+ on the QGRE. You can absolutely achieve this with a couple months' concentrated studying. 90% of the math on the QGRE is pre-calc, it's nothing you can't learn, even just by rote. Taking macroeconomics is nice, but there isn't typically a lot of math in the intro course (by my memory, there was none), and plus, adcoms can't evaluate the quantitativeness of your course as well as they can evaluate your performance on the GRE. You do need to do fairly well on the GRE to offset the GPA, I agree with the other person.

But, if you do so, I think you can apply even higher than what you're targeting. You have a lot of languages, your work experience is pretty good, and if you write good essays and get good letters, you might do pretty well. These programs become a lot less competitive once you start hitting the right metrics.

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Hi everyone! After months of lurking I've decided to post. I would appreciate your honest feedback on what schools I'm actually competitive for, especially in terms of funding. I'm also having a hard time figuring out what schools are safeties, matches, and reaches. Additionally, I have a rocky history with quant courses, so any perspectives on how to improve this part of my application (or any others) would be very appreciated! Thanks! 

Age: 27 by the time of admissions
 
Program: MPA/MPP, focus on domestic social policy and inequality (switching from international development). My dream job is to work in an organization like the Southern Poverty Law Center, Urban Institute, or the Brennan Center for Justice. 
 
School Applying to: U Chicago, UT-Austin, NYU, Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Duke. Maybe Evans? Any other programs I should definitely look into? How many of these are reaches for me?
 
Undergrad Institution: liberal arts, top 50 national universities. I was a part of the honors program.
 
Undergrad GPA: 3.42
 
Degree: BA in Public Policy (mix of sociology, political science, econ) 
 
GRE: 170 Verbal - 161 Quant - 5 Writing
 
Languages: Fluent English, near fluent Spanish (I’ve spoken it all my life but am a little rusty). Dual citizen of a Latin American country
 
Quant Experience: Micro (B), Macro (C+), Research Methods (B+), Intermediate Micro (C+), Stats (C+), Public Sector Econ (A), senior education policy seminar that involved original quantitative research (A), Intro to GIS (Pass). This is clearly the weakest part of my application.
 
Work Experience: 4 years currently, 5 by the time of admissions
  • Will have worked for almost 3 years for the federal government in international development. I’ve had increasing responsibilities doing everything from communications to monitoring/evaluation to event planning to managing small projects/initiatives. I supervise our interns. I’ve been thrown into almost every operational skill (except for budgeting) and have learned so much about the functions of government and program management. 
  • Before that, worked at an international development focused research center at my university doing a combo of research (quant-ish), admin work, communications, and random other projects such as grant writing, events, etc for a year and a half
  • During undergrad, I did an internship abroad doing communications for education unions one summer, and did a combination of research (qual) and volunteering other summers.
Other activities: I held a couple of leadership positions in college and continue to be involved in mentoring through my alumni association. I went on a few domestic and international service trips. I am involved in some activist organizations but not in a leadership position, so not sure how to weave this in besides a narrative. It seems silly to put that in a resume.
 
LORs:
  • Undergrad professor who I am still in touch with and who taught my senior seminar. We still catch up from time to time and he used my final paper that involved quant work as an example for future classes, so that is promising.
  • Undergrad professor who linked me up with the research center job i got out of undergrad, as he directs the research center. We get along really well and I’m hoping this is a half academic, half professional reference.
  • Current boss who is my mentor and huge advocate for me. Her trust in me has allowed me to take on so many projects I had no previous experience in and I know she will sing my praises.
 
Personal Statement: I am a good writer so I’m most confident in this aspect of my application. I’ll have to explain why I want to go from international development to domestic social policy. Inequality spans both, so I think that is how I will tie my narrative together. 
 
Questions/concerns:
 
Obviously some of my quant grades are pretty bad. I feel more confident in quantitative work now, but it was a VERY STEEP learning curve. I always thought I was going to be a journalist, so when I switched my sights to public policy, I psyched myself out and felt like I was inherently bad at econ/quant since I was so confident in my writing/verbal skills. Anyway, I had one semester where I took 3 quant courses and I got C+ in all three. That semester I also prioritized leadership roles more than my studies because I was naive in thinking that in the scheme of things, average grades wouldn’t really matter since grad school wasn’t on my radar. Blah blah long story short I was immature and naive. I figured it out eventually. I’ve applied quant skills capably in research since these miserable grades, but this is still an issue I have to address. 
 
I want to take an additional econ or quant class online as a refresher and to show admissions committees that I can handle the quant workload. Given my grades and the classes I got C+ in, are there any particular classes that you all would recommend I take? At first I was going to take a macro class, but I’ve been told by some people that macro is largely irrelevant to most of the econ courses I’d be taking in grad school. Would others agree with this? If so, I may take stats again.
 
 
 
 

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@Ella16 I am definitely going to try to boost my quant score up but I haven't ruled out trying to get a little more experience either. 

@ExponentialDecay I have looked at other programs and they aren't quite for me... SAIS has too much quant, Fletcher actually didn't have anything close to what I want to pursue at all or at least I couldn't find it in their specializations, Georgetown would be quite a reach. 

 

Thank you both for your input, I really appreciate it!

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Hi everyone, 
 
Program:
Apply for 5 masters (data science/statistics/economics??) and 7-10 PhD programs (Econ/Policy). I plan to apply for a few masters programs as a back up if I do not get into a PhD program.
 
Spring 18 semester (applied/applying for a few programs- might be too late for some) but understand that most programs may have a Fall 18 start and will make those applications.
 
Schools applying: 
Geographical preference: Colorado/Boulder/Denver area (low cost of living for me), however I will apply to other schools throughout USA. A very preliminary PhD list I have includes:
PhD Pol Sci Colorado State (Environmental policy focus)
PhD Energy Economics Colorado School of Mines
PhD Economics University of Colorado Boulder
PhD Engineering and Policy (Cornell)
PhD Public Policy (Indiana SPEA)
PhD Policy UT Austin (LBJ)
Masters statistics/Economics (University of Colorado- Boulder/Denver, Colorado school of mines)
Please suggest some based on my profile. 
 
Undergraduate degree: Electrical Engineering 
 
Undergrad University: (university in top 20 in India)
 
Undergrad CGPA 60/100 (direct approximation for a 4 grade scale would not be appropriate- different schools measure it differently, but I believe 3.0/4 might be close)
 
Grad program: Masters in Public Policy 
 
Grad university: Low ranked state university (+100 rank, relatively newer program in USA)
 
Grad GPA- 3.75/4
 
Quantitative: Strong quant with engineering maths (3+ maths subjects with advanced calculus) and some basic quant classes in policy analysis along with micro/macro economics. B+ and A- grades in quant  in graduate degree. 
 
Recommendations:
University program director, thesis committee chair, boss at federal research lab 
 
Age: 30
 
Relevant Work Experience (6): 
Research work experience in India for about 3 years in a non-profit on climate change, clean energy policy and implementation- local, national and international (researcher)
Full time research work experience in USA for about 2 years in a national research lab on clean energy policy and implementation (research assistant) 
Part time research work experience at OSU on local clean energy policy issues for 2 years as a professors research assistant 
 
Research interests:
Varies but primarily state and local energy policy issues, urban sustainability, climate policies, developing country sustainability challenges (strong experience in this field) have a few publications at the national lab and in india
Interested in the intersection of economics and behavioral sciences, social policy
 
GRE: 155 v/ 157 q/ 4 analytical
 
Goals: Work towards advancing evidence based policy decision making. Improve data skills. Interested in a career in research in either academia or the policy world/government. 
 
Plan: I have approximately 25k in savings to spend on the degree. 
Funding> Prestige is important for me, and funding is key.  
 
Questions: I am debating between a couple of questions and any insights would be helpful. I have read answers to similar questions on the forum and found them to improve my understanding. 
 
1) Any suggestions on college selection strategy/approach to my goals?
2) Is my profile a good fit for Masters (stats/econ/data science) programs?
3) Is my profile a good fit for PhD programs (Econ/Policy)? I don’t have an econ background, but studied 3-4 classes at the graduate level. Is this good enough for an econ program?
4) Suggestions for PhD programs where I might get funding- that is the primary criteria for me. Should I aim for lower ranked universities to ensure a full funding offer. 
5) Should I improve my GRE scores and apply for better schools?
 
Thank you for reading through my profile. Feel free to convey any comments you may have. 
 
 
 
Edited by secondtimegrad

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Program:
Applying for a Masters in Social Work
Applying for the Fall 2018 start date.
---------------------------------------
Schools applying: 

UCLA

CAL

SFSU

CSU Long Beach

CSU Northridge

---------------------------------------

University of California

Undergraduate degree:

Major - History

Minor - Middle Eastern South Asian Studies

---------------------------------------

CGPA

2.9

---------------------------------------

Letters of Recommendation

3 of my Professors have pledged to write me excellent letters of rec

---------------------------------------

Relevant Work Experience

Director of local community organization / 3yrs

Committee for at-risk youth boys camp / 3yrs

Outdoors activities coordinator / 3yrs

Veterans family outreach / 2yrs

Founder/Director minority veterans org / 5yrs

Hurricane Katrina relief effort / 1mo

---------------------------------------

Past Work Experience

Infantryman - U.S. Marines /4 years

Factory worker for a shipping company /2 years

Farm labor /3 yrs

---------------------------------------

Goals:

Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Wish to work with youth or veterans. Low income communities. Work within my own community. Local, state or federal agencies will be fine

---------------------------------------

Funding:

Veterans Administration will cover me costs for the MSW

---------------------------------------

Questions and concerns

My GPA is terrible. I am embarrassed even sharing. How do I look overall? I am a High School dropout as well though I did obtain a GED. This was years ago. Not sure if this is relevant when applying to a social work programs? I hear San Francisco is a difficult school to get into. Should I apply anyways or save myself the trouble. It took me a very long time to get to a university. My time there was not the greatest. I was working through a lot of family issues and struggles relating to my time in the Marine Corps. Therefore I can account for my substandard GPA and grades. But does that matter to someone who is reading over an application?

Thanks for reading this over. Do you think I have a good shot?

 

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Hi everyone,

I appreciate any feedback on my profile. I will apply to top MPP/MPA schools, son obviously I am quiet concerned about competition.

Program: MPP/MPA and TPP at MIT.

Schools Applying To:  UC-Berkeley, Stanford (Joint degree with MS&E), Harvard (MPA2) and MIT (TPP). Any suggestions on additional degrees very welcome.

Interests: Aiming for a future career in public sector, hopefully lock leadership postions. Energy, electricity markets regulation (utilities regulation, electricity market design, etc), industrial organization.

Undergrad Institution: Top 1 engineering university in my country (Chile). 

Undergraduate GPA: Probably near 4 (I dont know the conversion), although I ranked 15 among 400 graduated students.

Undergraduate Major: Industrial Engineering (with strong Electrical Engineering emphasis).

Previous Graduate studies: Did a MSc in Electrical Engineering with emphasys in electricity markets.

GRE: 159V, 167Q ,4 AWA

Quantitative Courses: Finance, Industrial Organization, Micro Economics, Electricity Markets, Operations Research (and more) and all basic calculus and physics associated with an Electrical Engineering degree.

ISI Publications: 1 publication in important ISI journal (Energy Economics journal).

Years of Work Experience: 3 by this year.

Age: 28

Languages: Spanish (native), English (Fluent)

Work Experience: 2 month internship in investment banking, 2 years in renewable energy startup created by Stanford MBAs and 1 year (current job) at Energy Research Center in public university (consulting and research).

LORs:  Former supervisor (Stanford MBA graduate), Current supervisor (Imperial College London PhD on Electricity Markets, active researcher in the area), Former MSc advisor, well-known experienced researcher in electricity markets.

SOPs: Will outline my desire to complement my strong technical formation with MPP tools for a career in the public sector.

Concerns: Degree of competitiveness since im applying to top US schools. If strong quant formation can be judged as a weakness since MPP/MPAs tend to focus more on the social sciences side, especially in UC-Berkeley judging from their program description (although it is something that I am interested in).

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On 7/26/2017 at 0:07 PM, BMouse said:
Program:
Applying for a Masters in Social Work
Applying for the Fall 2018 start date.
---------------------------------------
Schools applying: 

UCLA

CAL

SFSU

CSU Long Beach

CSU Northridge

---------------------------------------

University of California

Undergraduate degree:

Major - History

Minor - Middle Eastern South Asian Studies

---------------------------------------

CGPA

2.9

---------------------------------------

Letters of Recommendation

3 of my Professors have pledged to write me excellent letters of rec

---------------------------------------

Relevant Work Experience

Director of local community organization / 3yrs

Committee for at-risk youth boys camp / 3yrs

Outdoors activities coordinator / 3yrs

Veterans family outreach / 2yrs

Founder/Director minority veterans org / 5yrs

Hurricane Katrina relief effort / 1mo

---------------------------------------

Past Work Experience

Infantryman - U.S. Marines /4 years

Factory worker for a shipping company /2 years

Farm labor /3 yrs

---------------------------------------

Goals:

Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Wish to work with youth or veterans. Low income communities. Work within my own community. Local, state or federal agencies will be fine

---------------------------------------

Funding:

Veterans Administration will cover me costs for the MSW

---------------------------------------

Questions and concerns

My GPA is terrible. I am embarrassed even sharing. How do I look overall? I am a High School dropout as well though I did obtain a GED. This was years ago. Not sure if this is relevant when applying to a social work programs? I hear San Francisco is a difficult school to get into. Should I apply anyways or save myself the trouble. It took me a very long time to get to a university. My time there was not the greatest. I was working through a lot of family issues and struggles relating to my time in the Marine Corps. Therefore I can account for my substandard GPA and grades. But does that matter to someone who is reading over an application?

Thanks for reading this over. Do you think I have a good shot?

 

You'll be fine. They'll probably admit you provisionally on probation with requirements to keep your GPA at a certain level.

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On 8/1/2017 at 9:48 AM, ung said:

...

I can't speak to the competition at the schools you mentioned specifically, but I'd guess you're pretty competitive. For both the MPP and the MPA applications I would really stress your interests in electricity markets and policy, and play up your economics and electricity markets coursework in addition to your engineering background. I don't think this engineering background would be seen as a weakness, especially if you make it clear that you are interested in policy.

Both Stanford and Berkeley Goldman would be good fits -- the Bay Area is a really good area to be in if you are interested in the electricity sector, with a lot of cleantech startups, the California regulatory commission, and the state capital and Cal-ISO fairly close by.

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Hi, I am reposting since I did not get any comments before. Thanks :)

I plan to apply for Policy PhD programs. Also, I plan to apply for a few masters (stats/econ) programs as a back up if I do not get into a PhD program.

Schools applying: 
Geographical preference: Colorado/Boulder/Denver area (low cost of living for me), however, I will apply to other schools throughout USA. A very preliminary PhD list I have includes:
PhD Pol Sci Colorado State (Environmental policy focus)
PhD Energy Economics Colorado School of Mines
PhD Environmental studies (interdisciplinary) University of Colorado Boulder
PhD Public Affairs (UC Denver)
PhD Engineering and Policy (Cornell)
PhD Public Affairs (Indiana SPEA)
PhD Policy UT Austin (LBJ)
PhD Policy University of Kansas
 
Masters: statistics/Economics (University of Colorado- Boulder/Denver, Colorado school of mines)
 
Undergraduate degree: Electrical Engineering 
Undergrad University: (university in top 20 in India- not IIT/IIM/NIT)
Undergrad CGPA 60/100 (2.88/4 as per WES- helps calculates GPAs but I think its an approximation and depends on how universities calculate it)
 
Grad program: Masters in Public Policy 
Grad university: Low ranked state university (+100 rank, relatively newer program in USA but has placed students in Indiana, Cornell, UT Austin amongst a few)
Grad GPA- 3.75/4
 
Quantitative: Strong quant with engineering maths (3+ maths subjects with advanced calculus: grades are A, A-and C ) and some basic quant classes in policy analysis along with micro/macro economics. B+ and A- grades in quant  in graduate degree. 
 
Recommendations (strong letters):
University program director, thesis committee chair, boss at federal research lab 
 
Relevant Work Experience (6): 
Research work experience in India for about 3 years in a non-profit on climate change, clean energy policy, and implementation- local, national and international (researcher)
Full time research work experience in USA for about 2 years in a national research lab on clean energy policy and implementation, looking at markets, local and state policy, utility regulation etc.. published at the lab (research assistant) 
Part time research work experience at OSU on local clean energy policy issues for 2 years as a professors research assistant 
 
Research interests:
Varies but primarily state and local energy policy issues, urban sustainability, climate policies, developing country sustainability challenges (strong experience in this field) have a few publications at the national lab and in India
Interested in the intersection of economics and behavioral sciences, social policy
 
GRE: 155 v/ 157 q/ 4 analytical (will retake to strengthen profile)
 
Goals: Interested in a career in research in the policy world/government. I am not aure about academia yet.  
 
Questions: I am debating between a couple of questions and any insights would be helpful. I have read answers to similar questions on the forum and found them to improve my understanding. 
1) Is my profile a good fit for PhD  Policy programs? what is the range of ranking of institutes I should target to get a funded PhD program? Any suggestions for safety schools?
2) Is my profile a good fit for Masters (stats/econ) programs? Any other program and range of ranking of institutes I should consider? 
 
Thank you for reading through my profile. I look forward to recieve your comments. 
 

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Hi all! I'm from Pakistan and would be very grateful if you could analyze my profile!!

Thanks so much guys

 

Program: MPP/MPA/data analysis+policy degree, Fall 2018

Schools Applying To:  Harvard MPP, Princeton MPA, UChicago MSCAPP, Carnegie Mellon MSPPM DC

Interests: Data-driven policy analysis/ public policy and business development

Undergrad Institution: The no. 1 university (LUMS) in my country (Pakistan), not too highly ranked in the world though.

Undergraduate GPA: 3.04

Undergraduate Major: Management Science (a mix of business and quantitative courses, including business analytics where we were taught basic data warehousing and machine learning)

GRE: V 162 (90th), Q 156 (about 70th), writing 5.0 (93rd)

Quantitative Courses: Calculus 1, Statistics & probability, Quantitative research, Decision Analysis, Business Analytics, Optimization methods in Management Science, Data-driven marketing, Introduction to programming in C++

Years of Work Experience: 2 years by end of July 2018

Age: 23 (next month 24)

Languages: 

English (I'd like to say on the level of native speakers), Urdu (Native), French (Very basic), Punjabi (Basic), Arabic (very basic)

Work Experience: 1 year as a "research and strategy associate" in a non-profit organization in the agriculture, agribusiness and agri-financing industry. The main work of this organization is to catalyze business development in these industries, i.e. it is a business incubator, so to speak, in agriculture and agribusiness. The work it is doing however, is bringing revolutionary change on a national level in my country Pakistan, and I feel that my involvement in it will add a lot of value to my SOPs/essays.

LORs:  1 from my immediate supervisor in the organization, 1 from my main boss who is from Princeton WWS and a former world bank employee, and currently a consultant to the world bank as well as being the strategy advisory of this organization

SOPs: I am confident in my ability to write good SOPs/essays

Concerns: Low GPA (3.04), low quant score on GRE (156), but most of all, only 1 year of work experience as of now (although I feel it is good, relevant experience for a public sector degree). Problem is, Harvard and Princeton have stated on their websites that applicants must have at least 2 years of work experience. I'm banking on the fact that at the time of joining, I will have 2 years of work experience. Also, I will have to rely on scholarships, my max. budget for the entire endeavor of studying in the US for 2 years is only $60k.

One other (important) thing: I want to find work abroad after my degree. Is a policy degree good for this? Or should I look elsewhere? Perhaps in more data-focused degrees, since data science is all the rage these days?

One more thing: I am quitting my current job and going to work for GSK Pakistan in their commercial division for the August 2017-July 2018 period. This is because I want to explore the health care+pharma industry and add an MNC brand name to my CV, for more flexibility in post-grad career opportunities abroad after my masters (that is, keep both the public as well as private sector open)

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On 7/24/2017 at 10:42 PM, gelatinskeleton said:

Hi everyone! After months of lurking I've decided to post. I would appreciate your honest feedback on what schools I'm actually competitive for, especially in terms of funding. I'm also having a hard time figuring out what schools are safeties, matches, and reaches. Additionally, I have a rocky history with quant courses, so any perspectives on how to improve this part of my application (or any others) would be very appreciated! Thanks! 

Age: 27 by the time of admissions
 
Program: MPA/MPP, focus on domestic social policy and inequality (switching from international development). My dream job is to work in an organization like the Southern Poverty Law Center, Urban Institute, or the Brennan Center for Justice. 
 
School Applying to: U Chicago, UT-Austin, NYU, Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Duke. Maybe Evans? Any other programs I should definitely look into? How many of these are reaches for me?
 
Undergrad Institution: liberal arts, top 50 national universities. I was a part of the honors program.
 
Undergrad GPA: 3.42
 
Degree: BA in Public Policy (mix of sociology, political science, econ) 
 
GRE: 170 Verbal - 161 Quant - 5 Writing
 
Languages: Fluent English, near fluent Spanish (I’ve spoken it all my life but am a little rusty). Dual citizen of a Latin American country
 
Quant Experience: Micro (B), Macro (C+), Research Methods (B+), Intermediate Micro (C+), Stats (C+), Public Sector Econ (A), senior education policy seminar that involved original quantitative research (A), Intro to GIS (Pass). This is clearly the weakest part of my application.
 
Work Experience: 4 years currently, 5 by the time of admissions
  • Will have worked for almost 3 years for the federal government in international development. I’ve had increasing responsibilities doing everything from communications to monitoring/evaluation to event planning to managing small projects/initiatives. I supervise our interns. I’ve been thrown into almost every operational skill (except for budgeting) and have learned so much about the functions of government and program management. 
  • Before that, worked at an international development focused research center at my university doing a combo of research (quant-ish), admin work, communications, and random other projects such as grant writing, events, etc for a year and a half
  • During undergrad, I did an internship abroad doing communications for education unions one summer, and did a combination of research (qual) and volunteering other summers.
Other activities: I held a couple of leadership positions in college and continue to be involved in mentoring through my alumni association. I went on a few domestic and international service trips. I am involved in some activist organizations but not in a leadership position, so not sure how to weave this in besides a narrative. It seems silly to put that in a resume.
 
LORs:
  • Undergrad professor who I am still in touch with and who taught my senior seminar. We still catch up from time to time and he used my final paper that involved quant work as an example for future classes, so that is promising.
  • Undergrad professor who linked me up with the research center job i got out of undergrad, as he directs the research center. We get along really well and I’m hoping this is a half academic, half professional reference.
  • Current boss who is my mentor and huge advocate for me. Her trust in me has allowed me to take on so many projects I had no previous experience in and I know she will sing my praises.
 
Personal Statement: I am a good writer so I’m most confident in this aspect of my application. I’ll have to explain why I want to go from international development to domestic social policy. Inequality spans both, so I think that is how I will tie my narrative together. 
 
Questions/concerns:
 
Obviously some of my quant grades are pretty bad. I feel more confident in quantitative work now, but it was a VERY STEEP learning curve. I always thought I was going to be a journalist, so when I switched my sights to public policy, I psyched myself out and felt like I was inherently bad at econ/quant since I was so confident in my writing/verbal skills. Anyway, I had one semester where I took 3 quant courses and I got C+ in all three. That semester I also prioritized leadership roles more than my studies because I was naive in thinking that in the scheme of things, average grades wouldn’t really matter since grad school wasn’t on my radar. Blah blah long story short I was immature and naive. I figured it out eventually. I’ve applied quant skills capably in research since these miserable grades, but this is still an issue I have to address. 
 
I want to take an additional econ or quant class online as a refresher and to show admissions committees that I can handle the quant workload. Given my grades and the classes I got C+ in, are there any particular classes that you all would recommend I take? At first I was going to take a macro class, but I’ve been told by some people that macro is largely irrelevant to most of the econ courses I’d be taking in grad school. Would others agree with this? If so, I may take stats again.
 
 
 
 

Hi all, bumping up my earlier post to see if anyone has any advice/thoughts on my profile. I also would like input on what quant courses I should take to beef up my questionable track record. I think I'm definitely going to take Statistics, but the only online courses I can find have an end date of December 15. A few of my applications will have already been turned in by then.

I also was thinking of taking Micro again, and I could do a self-paced course and be done sooner. I dismissed Macro because someone told me it would not be useful for grad school. Should I take Stats AND an econ class? Should I give macro more thought?

Thanks! 

 

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On 8/11/2017 at 9:14 AM, gelatinskeleton said:

Hi all, bumping up my earlier post to see if anyone has any advice/thoughts on my profile. I also would like input on what quant courses I should take to beef up my questionable track record. I think I'm definitely going to take Statistics, but the only online courses I can find have an end date of December 15. A few of my applications will have already been turned in by then.

I also was thinking of taking Micro again, and I could do a self-paced course and be done sooner. I dismissed Macro because someone told me it would not be useful for grad school. Should I take Stats AND an econ class? Should I give macro more thought?

Thanks! 

 

Hi sorry I don't have any advice on your post, but I am also looking to take a stats class online and was wondering which one you were thinking of taking and whether you knew how good it was? When I asked a couple of the schools I am wanting to apply to if they had any recommendations for good distance-learning schools, they said "oh just take it through your community college"... well my community college is more vocational in nature (no stats being offered this fall) and I have a friend who took a stats class through the state university this summer and she said it was the easiest course she ever took (she earned a 100%). Not that I wouldn't love to earn a 100%, but I also really don't know statistics very well and want a rigorous class!

So if you have ideas about what might be a good one I'd be interested to hear what you were thinking! The one I'm currently leaning towards is through UCLA, but I really have no knowledge of its rigor level and I'm not so stoked about the $600 additional cost compared to my state school...

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Hi all! I'm applying for fall 2018, and I would really appreciate some advice!

Program: MIA-type programs with a security focus

Schools Applying To:  Georgetown MSFS & SSP, American SIS, GWU Elliot, Tufts Fletcher, Uppsala Masters in Peace and Conflict, possibly Columbia SIPA?

Interests: Conflict analysis and security studies, but I'm not sure I want to pigeonhole myself with a security-focused degree

Undergrad Institution: Top 50 university

Undergraduate GPA: 3.75

Undergraduate Major: International Relations, French

GRE: 165 V, 168 Q, 5.0 AWA (no possibility of taking it again because I'm living abroad and not going back to the US again before the end of the year, I hope this is good enough!)

Quantitative Courses: 3 honors calc classes (A, A-, B+), stats for polisci majors (A-), intro to economics (A), intermediate microeconomics (C but taking an intro to micro course online for credit this fall)

Years of Work Experience: 3.5 years, 4 years at submission time

Age: 26

Languages: English (native), French (fluent), random West African language (conversational)

Work Experience: 2 years working in West Africa at a large well-known NGO in the security department, supporting security management and doing analysis of regional issues (terrorism, organized crime, civil conflict). I've worked my way up from an intern to an important member of the office. Before this, I worked with small local NGOs in the same country in various development sectors (health, microfinance) for 1.5 years. I've been living in West Africa for 4 years.

LORs:  1 from my current supervisor who is the director of the security department, but a native French speaker so I'm not sure how to handle that. 1 from a professor in college that I took a couple classes with but probably doesn't remember me so I'll have to do the awkward polite email 5 years later thing. The last I haven't decided, either from another director at my office who worked with me for a bit but is also a native French speaker, or the former director of the office who really liked me and has since moved on to another organization.

SOPs: Haven't written it yet, but will probably write about how my interest in "development" from when I was younger has evolved into an interest in conflict in sub-Saharan Africa, and my experience analyzing the complex conflicts in West Africa during the past few years for work and how that has differed from studying conflict in the classroom.

Concerns: Several.

  • Is this a good range of schools? Am I reaching to high here? I'd like to include at least one school where I know I can get decent scholarships in case nothing else works out.
  • What do I do about LoRs from non-English speakers? I'm guessing if I asked my boss he'd tell me to translate it/edit his English before he sends it in, but that's probably not very kosher. Is there a standard process for this?
  • For my academic LoR, I'm planning on reaching out to an IR professor that I never really got close with but took a few classes from and enjoyed. I could reach out to a French professor that I had a better relationship with, but the coursework wasn't as relevant. Which is more important?

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4 hours ago, doglover5 said:

For my academic LoR, I'm planning on reaching out to an IR professor that I never really got close with but took a few classes from and enjoyed. I could reach out to a French professor that I had a better relationship with, but the coursework wasn't as relevant. Which is more important?

I think reaching out to the French professor who actually knows you is a better idea. The point of an academic LOR is that is written by someone who can speak to the quality of your work. Even if the IR professor agrees to write you a letter, it won't be a very good one if they barely remember you and can't speak to your academic abilities firsthand. Admissions committees see a lot of generic letters from professors who obviously don't have a close connection with the student they're endorsing. If the French professor is familiar with your work, they're likely the better choice.

I think the standard operating procedure for the LOR by a non-English speaker is to have it translated by an official translation service, which can vouch for its accuracy. In any case this is something admissions departments will be able to direct you on.

 

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On 8/12/2017 at 9:26 PM, yoh_rrg said:

Hi sorry I don't have any advice on your post, but I am also looking to take a stats class online and was wondering which one you were thinking of taking and whether you knew how good it was? When I asked a couple of the schools I am wanting to apply to if they had any recommendations for good distance-learning schools, they said "oh just take it through your community college"... well my community college is more vocational in nature (no stats being offered this fall) and I have a friend who took a stats class through the state university this summer and she said it was the easiest course she ever took (she earned a 100%). Not that I wouldn't love to earn a 100%, but I also really don't know statistics very well and want a rigorous class!

So if you have ideas about what might be a good one I'd be interested to hear what you were thinking! The one I'm currently leaning towards is through UCLA, but I really have no knowledge of its rigor level and I'm not so stoked about the $600 additional cost compared to my state school...

Yes, I'm doing UCLA's stats class online! If I do micro or macro as well, I'll go through UT-Austin. I'm not sure about UCLA's stats class rigor, my roommate got an A and didn't try too hard but maybe she is just a math whiz :) 

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Hello! I'm currently preparing to apply for fall 2019, and I would really appreciate some advice!

Program: Most likely, Economics or Applied Economics MA. I'm looking for a program which will 1. prepare me for an Econ PhD (at least a T100 program, I don't need to work at a top-tier research institution) by making up for deficiencies in my undergrad experience and 2. Prepare me for a good policy focused job if I decide I'm not cut out for the PhD route after my Masters.

Schools Applying To: I'll apply to the best schools I think I have a shot at. Something like the Duke MA is likely beyond my reach, but I'm looking strongly at the University of Minnesota MS in Applied Economics and similar programs.

Interests: I have some wide ranging interests, but urban and labor economics are particularly interesting to me

Undergrad Institution: No name liberal arts college (unfortunately)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.72

Undergraduate Major: Economics, Computer Information Systems

GRE: 170 V, 164 Q, 4.5 AWA (will take again if necessary, which I suspect it might be)

Quantitative Courses: Outside of the standard Econ courses (intermediate micro/macro and a basic statistics course, all of which were A's or A-'s I believe), I also took econometrics and Calculus 1 and got an A in those. I know that's inadequate, so I'm preparing for grad school by taking more math courses at the local U (University of Minnesota). Specifically, I plan on at least finishing the calc sequence and taking linear algebra, but hopefully I can do more than just that. I'm assuming I'll get A's or A-'s in those, because, well, I kind of have to.

Years of Work Experience: 1 1/2 years as an Application Developer at a financial services company, and around half a year as a Business Intelligence Specialist at the same company (my current position). Probably not too helpful for my application, as it's mostly reporting and pretty basic work with financial sales data, not any super interesting analysis or research.

Age: 24

LORs:  Here's where it gets dicey. I have 1, maaaaaybe 2 undergrad econ professors who I can get to write for me, but I didn't really do much in the way of research in undergrad so they won't be able to speak to that. I tutored for stats and for intro Econ courses, so one of the professors can mention that, but that's about it (other than just saying I was a bright student). For my third letter, I'll likely have to rely on a former manager, or a third professor who may or may not remember me well. And honestly, even the Econ professors who I'm counting on might not have that much to say (after all, I've been out of their class for a few years, and I don't know how well they'll remember me). 

Concerns: 

  • Lack of research experience. This is probably my biggest weakness, and I have no idea how to remedy it. I'm not in undergrad anymore, I can't easily ask a professor for an RA job, and I also have responsibilities now (I'm getting married soon) which make it much more difficult to immediately upend and move across the country if that's what it takes. Not sure if my goals are achievable if I can't overcome this problem.
  • Shabby letters of recommendation. Not much I can do about this, as it's tied to the first problem with research experience. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll hit it off with a professor at the U through these math courses who can write a letter as well, but I don't know that I can count on that

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Hello, gang! Here's me! 

Program: PhD in Policy, or potentially political science-- still exploring the viability of that. 

Schools Applying To:  UChicago Harris PhD, University of Saskatchewan Public Policy PhD-- where I did my master's, Queen's (Canada) Political Science PhD, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Political Science) PhD, Duke Public Policy PhD

Interests: Long-term policy planning (pension viability, CPP which is like Canadian social security); public finance; measurement and evaluation of policy, particularly in long-term output contexts like infrastructure maintenance or the intended policy outcomes of education systems design. It would depend on the interests of the school in question though.

Undergrad Institution: Top Canadian University, in the Worldwide Top 50

Undergraduate GPA: 3.4

Undergraduate Major: Political Science, Women's Studies

Graduate Institution: Canadian U15, Top 200 Worldwide

Graduate GPA: They calculate it oddly, but 83%, which is an A/A- (4.0/3.7) depending on whose comparison scale you use.

Graduate Major: MPA

GRE: not yet done-- depends on if I seriously look at applying to the USA because it's not needed in Canada

Quantitative Courses: Graduate Quantitative Methods (A), Graduate Statistics (A), Graduate Micro Economics for Policy (A), Graduate Social Economics (quant...ish) (A), undergraduate political economy (A), undergraduate micro (C+ but I think the grad should make up for it)

Years of Work Experience: By time of application, it will be 3.5 (or 4.5 including graduate internship) all in direct policy work in increasingly senior roles

Age: 24, will be 26 at time of application

Languages: English (native), French (fluent), Spanish (functional)

Work Experience: One year policy internship in provincial government: education, one year policy: finance, one year policy: infrastructure.

LORs:  1 from Master's prof under whom I worked as a research assistant and with whom I have kept regular contact. 1 from my Master's with whom I worked on an out-of-university research project. Probably another professor from my Master's with whom I completed a lot of coursework and who is a Canada research chair, but he's frustratingly hard to get a hold of, so I may need an alternate, haha. The first two are entirely in the bag, though.

Publications & Honours:

First Author

1 chapter, political science and gender, in an edited academic volume published by a Harvard visiting scholar

1 journal article, Kyushu University (in English), about immigration policy and international relations-- not super prestigious but it is referred

1 pedagogical article, University of Tennessee, about social policy and gender-- not a referred journal, but nevertheless an academic publication

1 book review, Laurier University, Canadian political subject

 

I also have a few prospective chapters in the hopper. It will depend on if they get accepted or not. One is about education policy and the other is more political science-y. The education one is likely a go, though.

 

Multiple Author

1 Policy Report, published at Undergrad level with an NGO, gender and policy-- multiple author but just shows I've been at it a long time

Acknowledged in 2 journal articles as a research assistant-- not author status but they're in my resume while explaining my research work. Public finance subject.

 

Posters

Finalist, Inter-University Poster Competition at Master's Level. Public finance.

Semi-Finalist, the Same. Public finance and gender.

 

SOPs: In progress, but I'm a ways out yet. 

 

Concerns: 

Lowish undergrad GPA. If you look at my posting history in this very forum, it was the source of some stress during my master's application, haha.

* Don't have a good sense of how Canadian degrees are valued in the USA. Are we good because Canadians speak the same language, or is it seen as sort of poxy by comparison with a US degree? I know the GRE is hugely important (in my practice testing I've top 165+ in verbal and about 158 in quant, so I'm practicing that) but assuming good scores, am I at a relative loss compared to a US applicant? 

* Is it possible to apply for straight political science degrees given my published research and my undergraduate degree, or am I dreaming in technicolour?

* I know my research is a little all over, but it's circling the same policy/gender/public finance drain. I think I can tie them together, though-- will that be an asset or a problem, to have done some varied research?

* How much does American financing tend to be? Do they offer full tuition waivers and stipends? The websites seem cagey. I'd love to get the boost of an American PhD, but not at the costs they so often seem to present. 

 

Edited by worrypower

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Program: PhD with a focus on Security Studies

Schools Applying To:  Balsillie PhD

Interests: Rise of China and Asia-Pacific Security

Undergrad Institution: Uni in Middle East

Undergraduate GPA: 2.8 :(

Undergraduate Major:English Literature

Graduate: M.A. in Indian Studies with IR Thesis, from Iran's top Uni -  3.6 GPA -

GRE: not taken, hence the one school option

Years of Work Experience:2 years

Age: Persian, English (Fluent),

Work Experience: 1 year as junior researcher at a think-tank in Iran working on Asia-pacific security - 1 year of T.A at a New Zealand University teaching Middle East and Asia Pacific Security - guest contributor to an Atlantic Council program - Campaign Manager for a Presidential race

LORs:  2 from my previous professors in Iran, can write very good letters.

Publications: a book chapter in persian in a think-tank book - conference paper and a couple of op-ed for the Atlantic council

SOPs: can write a good one, i also have a pretty much completed PhD proposal at hand.

Concerns:

i'm already in the first year of doing a PhD in Security Studies in New Zealand, but been unhappy because of family reasons, my wife has got severe depression because of the rural way of life here, far away from home and no jobs and education for her (an M.A. costs 30K$ for her) and the job market stinks. so planning to move to Canada where she has relatives and can get scholarships to study - also my current Uni here isnt very high ranked and the academic atmosphere isnt very good either or active- in a department were teaching is more important than research

 

Edited by 30rus

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Looking into graduate schools for Fall 2018 and interested in feedback! 

Program: MPP with international/security policy focus

Schools Applying To:  Columbia SIPA, Georgetown McCourt, Georgetown SFS (debating between the two programs and which is closer to my interests), UChicago Harris, UChicago CIR (similar issue as with Georgetown, but the dual-degree through CIR/Harris vs. Harris), HKS, LSE (possibly), UWisc-Madison LaFollette (possibly), USC Price (possibly)

Interests: Post-Soviet democratic development, national security (esp. relating to Russia), increasing women's political participation in emerging democracies

Undergrad Institution: top 12 US university

Undergraduate GPA: 3.596

Undergraduate Major: History, Political Science (received quantitative research certificate in political science)

GRE: 164V/153Q/5.0W

Age: 23

Work Experience: two Congressional summer internships (one campaign, one DC office), one NGO summer internship (relating to international democratic development), currently working as a consultant for one year at a non-profit (unrelated to academic interests)

LORs: two from professors (who I know very well and supervised my research projects), one from current employer

SOPs: I need to work a lot on this, but I think the goal will be to really emphasize my specific interests and background

Concerns: I'm planning to take the GRE again to boost my quantitative score (it was much lower than the practice tests I've taken in the past, so I'm hopeful it will be better the second time around); my GPA is pretty good, but I had a D the first semester my freshman year in a language class - is it worth writing a statement explaining the situation?; my lack of language experience (fulfilled the undergrad requirement with Italian, but I'm worried that D freshman year [which was in an Arabic class] will hurt me even though my area of focus isn't the Middle East/North Africa); age and only one year of work experience between undergrad and grad school

Any insight on programs (especially the differences between the Georgetown and UChicago programs) as well as any other concerns I didn't list would be especially helpful! Thank you! 

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4 hours ago, virgogrl56 said:

Looking into graduate schools for Fall 2018 and interested in feedback! 

Program: MPP with international/security policy focus

Schools Applying To:  Columbia SIPA, Georgetown McCourt, Georgetown SFS (debating between the two programs and which is closer to my interests), UChicago Harris, UChicago CIR (similar issue as with Georgetown, but the dual-degree through CIR/Harris vs. Harris), HKS, LSE (possibly), UWisc-Madison LaFollette (possibly), USC Price (possibly)

Interests: Post-Soviet democratic development, national security (esp. relating to Russia), increasing women's political participation in emerging democracies

Undergrad Institution: top 12 US university

Undergraduate GPA: 3.596

Undergraduate Major: History, Political Science (received quantitative research certificate in political science)

GRE: 164V/153Q/5.0W

Age: 23

Work Experience: two Congressional summer internships (one campaign, one DC office), one NGO summer internship (relating to international democratic development), currently working as a consultant for one year at a non-profit (unrelated to academic interests)

LORs: two from professors (who I know very well and supervised my research projects), one from current employer

SOPs: I need to work a lot on this, but I think the goal will be to really emphasize my specific interests and background

Concerns: I'm planning to take the GRE again to boost my quantitative score (it was much lower than the practice tests I've taken in the past, so I'm hopeful it will be better the second time around); my GPA is pretty good, but I had a D the first semester my freshman year in a language class - is it worth writing a statement explaining the situation?; my lack of language experience (fulfilled the undergrad requirement with Italian, but I'm worried that D freshman year [which was in an Arabic class] will hurt me even though my area of focus isn't the Middle East/North Africa); age and only one year of work experience between undergrad and grad school

Any insight on programs (especially the differences between the Georgetown and UChicago programs) as well as any other concerns I didn't list would be especially helpful! Thank you! 

Score-wise, your actual problem is the 153 QGRE. It is way too low for many of the programs on your list. Application-wise, your problem is the lack of work experience. Language-wise, your problem is the lack of Russian. 

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Program: MPP - MPAff with cultural policy focus

Schools Applying To:  Chicago Harris, UMich Ford, LBJ School, UCLA Luskin, Columbia SIPA, GWU Elliot, Georgetown McCourt

Interests: Cultural development policy during post-conflict transtition

Undergrad Institution: Best public university of Colombia

Undergraduate GPA: 3.04

Undergraduate Major: Architecture

Quant coursework: Took microeconomics (score of 4.0 out of 5.0) - I have three MOOCs with verified certificates on data analysis, etc.

GRE: 150V - 140Q - 4.0 AW (retaking test in ten days).

TOEFL: 101

Age: 29

Work Experience: 5 years of working experience by fall 2018. I have worked in the public sector as advisor of General Directors of the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, Medellín City planning Dept and now I am leading the culture programatic sector in a presidential campaing.  I have different accomplishments, I was part of Global Shapers of the World Economic Forum, Activist with over 5 years of experience, and so on.

LORs: one from undergrad professor, another from boss at Ministry of Culture, last one from director of programmatic team at the presidential campaign.

SOPs: not written yet.

Concerns: Of course my main concern is the GRE. As I am an architect, the last time I took math was during high school... I have been practicing but I feel it will take a lot of time to be "fluent". I am not a good test taker, neither. I believe that I have the story, the experience and a compelling topic to focus my studies and to be accepted at a top university but I am afraid my GRE + GPA weakens my chances. Please give me your recommendations!

JUANHERRERA_RESUME_2017UP.pdf

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First post here, hope to use some good advice

Program: PhD in Public Policy/Public Administration

Schools Applying To:  UChicago Harris PhD, UGeorgia PA, Duke Public Policy PhD, Georgetown PhD Govt (joint MPP), Syracuse Maxwell Policy PhD, USC Sol Price Policy PhD

Interests: Long-term policy planning, impact of policy uncertainty, sustainability and impact of independent fiscal institutions. It would depend highly on the interests of the schools.

Undergrad Institution: University of London International Programme

Undergraduate GPA: NA, Upper second-class honours

Undergraduate Major: Economics

Graduate Institution: Top 3 Singapore University

Graduate GPA: 3.64/4

Graduate Major: Masters in Applied Economics

GRE: Q162, V161, AWA 4.0

TOEFL: 111

Quantitative Courses: Graduate Econometrics (A), Topics in Advanced Econometrics (A-), Undergrad Math and Stats (Cs under the British system, but here's hoping the grad should make up for it)

Years of Work Experience: 3 years, 2 in private, 1 year doing 2 RA jobs, both in policy work.

Age: 30

Languages: English and Mandarin, fluent.

Work Experience: Two years in private sector that did research projects on SMEs and startups under the advisory of Ministries. One year university-affiliated policy think tank RA, working with firm data. one year policy work on research

LORs:  1 from Master's prof under whom I studied 3 modules with, a former IMF Deputy Director, and with whom I have kept regular contact. 1 from my policy think tank whom I collaborated with on scrutinizing feasbility of databases . Probably another professor from my Master's whom I know quite closely.

Concerns: Been doing a gap year to decide whether a PhD is right for me, and my Economics concentration is a concern for a broader policy PhD, but know that my math is too weak for a Econ PhD.

Also concerned about the value proposition of going to a non-top five school. I was told, even as an international student, that the more prestigious schools will help get me placed in major think tanks/academia positions better.

Also, I've yet to move out of Singapore before. I wonder if some level of East Asia expertise is an innate advantage and do I need to make the case for that in my cover letter?

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6 hours ago, HeronL said:

First post here, hope to use some good advice

Program: PhD in Public Policy/Public Administration

Schools Applying To:  UChicago Harris PhD, UGeorgia PA, Duke Public Policy PhD, Georgetown PhD Govt (joint MPP), Syracuse Maxwell Policy PhD, USC Sol Price Policy PhD

Interests: Long-term policy planning, impact of policy uncertainty, sustainability and impact of independent fiscal institutions. It would depend highly on the interests of the schools.

Undergrad Institution: University of London International Programme

Undergraduate GPA: NA, Upper second-class honours

Undergraduate Major: Economics

Graduate Institution: Top 3 Singapore University

Graduate GPA: 3.64/4

Graduate Major: Masters in Applied Economics

GRE: Q162, V161, AWA 4.0

TOEFL: 111

Quantitative Courses: Graduate Econometrics (A), Topics in Advanced Econometrics (A-), Undergrad Math and Stats (Cs under the British system, but here's hoping the grad should make up for it)

Years of Work Experience: 3 years, 2 in private, 1 year doing 2 RA jobs, both in policy work.

Age: 30

Languages: English and Mandarin, fluent.

Work Experience: Two years in private sector that did research projects on SMEs and startups under the advisory of Ministries. One year university-affiliated policy think tank RA, working with firm data. one year policy work on research

LORs:  1 from Master's prof under whom I studied 3 modules with, a former IMF Deputy Director, and with whom I have kept regular contact. 1 from my policy think tank whom I collaborated with on scrutinizing feasbility of databases . Probably another professor from my Master's whom I know quite closely.

Concerns: Been doing a gap year to decide whether a PhD is right for me, and my Economics concentration is a concern for a broader policy PhD, but know that my math is too weak for a Econ PhD.

Also concerned about the value proposition of going to a non-top five school. I was told, even as an international student, that the more prestigious schools will help get me placed in major think tanks/academia positions better.

Also, I've yet to move out of Singapore before. I wonder if some level of East Asia expertise is an innate advantage and do I need to make the case for that in my cover letter?

I mean, you know best, but if you made it through an econ MA in Singapore, your math is probably not too weak for a mid-ranked econ program, which is still a better value proposition than even the top PhD in public policy. Unless, of course, you don't want to sit comps - which I totally understand (and anyone understands, really). In terms of the work you will be doing, you can do general empirical work in either public policy or a mid-ranked econ PhD.

Of course a better-ranked policy PhD will place you better. That said, how you place will depend heavily on your research agenda and the reputation of your supervisor (and, if you plan to go into industry afterwards - which you should, because academia is a no-go with this degree - work experience in your specialization). If you are planning to basically do economics research, apply to econ programs and save yourself a lot of sweat and tears come job time.

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