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

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Hi All, I'm hoping to get some insight on programs. I have been teetering between MPA and MPH programs for the past few years and finding a program that offers a happy medium would be ideal. I am looking for a pretty interdisciplinary program, but I plan on working in stakeholders engagement, facilitating multi-sector partnership, coalition building, and collective impact projects. 

Applying to: NYU Wagner MPA and Boston Univ MPH, any other recommendations? 

Undergrad Institution: UC Irvine

Undergrad GPA: 3.5 with lower grades in calculus courses 

Undergrad Major: Public Health Policy, BA

GRE: Haven't taken it yet, but projected to be around 50% percentile. Standardized testing is not my strong suit. 

Age: 24, though I will be 25 by the time the Fall 2019 semester starts. 

Work Experience: Student government in college and served on advisory board (1 year), community engagement and health policy at University of California, San Francisco (2 years), department of public health (1 year)

LORs:  Good! 1 from college professor who nominated me for community service and engagement award when graduating. 1 from Department of Family Medicine Chair at UCSF.  1 from Executive Director of CBO and co-chair of ethnicity-based coalition. 

Essays: haven't written them yet.  

Thoughts: I am feeling pretty late in the game in terms of meeting Fall 2019 deadlines. Priority deadlines for both of these programs are in December, though they have rolling admissions up until April/ May. I am hoping to get everything in by February, with NYU being my first choice. Reading all of these posts is giving me a sense of imposter syndrome, so I am wondering if I should postpone to applying in Spring 2020? Also, math is really not a strong suit and it may be reflected when I take the GRE later this month. What other programs would you recommend for an interdisciplinary program? These programs are fairly different, but they have aspects of management, finance, needs assessment, and policy. Though my background is in health, I have always focused on more upstream interventions. I have reached that stage in my life, where I am ready and really willing to move out of San Francisco. 

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On 11/28/2018 at 12:44 PM, bigdreamer2018 said:

I've heard that the quant score matters more in many MPP programs. My scores are 160Q//154V. I think the 160 is an OK benchmark for quant based on my research here, but I'm a bit concerned about my verbal. Any thoughts there?

I'm a native English speaker and I've actually worked at a nationally ranked new publication and have been a published author...but I clearly seemed to have cracked on the verbal exam. Do you think this will be a major roadblock at HKS, SIPA, Harris etc?

For what it's worth, I went to an admissions presentation with Matt Clemons from HKS a few months ago. He told the group that 70th percentile was the cut-off where if stops being a concern. HKS is usually pretty good about mumbo jumbo "we look at the application holistically" gobbledygook, so I was a bit surprised how direct the GRE guidance was.

154V is 65th percentile, below that cut-off.

I don't think it's a major negative in that it will kill your application. But it is definitely a negative mark. The only question is does the rest of your application mitigate the concern raised by your low GRE V score, or magnify it? To the extent you can tout your publications, that's a mitigating factor. But the best form of mitigation is removing the negative mark completely. 

The benefit for you is that the GRE score is the easiest part of your application to strengthen. All of the other posters here with 3.2 GPAs HAVE to mitigate their GPAs because the GPA is a cumulative reflection of performance and even nudging it up to a 3.3 GPA - for those still in college - can be difficult. Your GRE is a one-off performance indicator. All you need is a good test day and you're golden.

My recommendation is you study and try the exam again.

That said, people do overestimate the impact that one black mark can have on admission. In a pool of 500 applicants, most will have a black mark somewhere. Even the perfect candidate has to take a gamble on his/her LORs.

Where black marks hit is your funding topline. To be competitive for the full-rides and the half-rides you need to be a spotless, coruscating gem.

This is double the case for HKS, SIPA and Harris, which aren't renown for their financial generosity.

Edited by AGReyes

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On 11/27/2018 at 4:56 PM, VirgilRVA said:

Hey everyone! I think we understand the song and dance of this thread. Here's my profile:

Undergrad: Virginia Commonwealth University

UGGPA: 3.0

GRE: 165Q/ 162V/ 4.5aw

Language & Travel: Fluent Russian, extensive world travel and worked abroad

 LoR: 1- Very strong Prof, Upenn & MIT alum, CDC contributor

 2- Very strong ProfSAIS alum

 3- Good letter, Less notable alum

 4- Strong professional letter, Retired Colonel working in Pentagon (Army Strategy)

 Papers/Research: Poli Sci Student Journals (2)

 -Presented at MPSA annual conference (2)

-Presented panel at NPSA annual conference (2)

-Various articles on post-communist politics in think tanks and foreign policy magazines (4)

Professional: 3 years US Army (Infantry and Intelligence Analyst)

-2 winters in Ukraine, working with  (Azov) Volunteer militiamen. 

-2 Years co-owning private intelligence firm (OSINT) (few paying clients)

-3 month internship with Institute on Counter Terror in Tel Aviv

Various?: President of Model UN 2 years

-Various Army schools

-Counter Terror Certificate from Institute on Counter Terror (Tel Aviv)

I'm really bothered by my GPA. I'm getting ready to spend the year doing a few grad courses in statistics and economics. I've been told that my professional background is unique and can make me a competitive candidate but I'm very concerned about my undergrad school and GPA.

I'm planning on applying to SIPA, HKS, SAIS, WWS, and SIS. But should I bother with the UGGPA? Should I be tempering my expectations?

My concerns about your GPA aren't erased by your GRE scores, but they are definitely eased by it.

So the bad news is, yes, your GPA is a black mark. The good news is that your GRE scores are a plus. You'll drag down the GPA average for most of these schools, but you'll also raise their GRE average. So, in the end, the two might be seen as a wash.

Outside of that, your experiences are a major plus and definitely make you competitive at these schools. Which isn't to say you are favored at any of them, but simply that you should definitely apply because your GPA alone isn't going to determine whether you get in. Your GPA is the only discernible black mark I see and you should never back away from applying based on one black mark. 

Two or three black marks and that's when the Admissions Committees probably start to feel heartburn, and I'd say you're in the danger zone.

That said, I would add a few safeties. From an IR perspective, you are applying to four of the five top programs in the world. And SIS is Top Ten as well. Even those with 170/170 GREs, 5 years of work experience, a 3.99 GPA with summa and PBK and tearjerk SOPs should hedge their bets.

To answer another question, your undergrad school will have zero - none - zilch impact on your application. My UG was in a non-flagship state school and I ultimately was accepted, and graduated from, one of the "top-tier" schools on your list.

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On 11/30/2018 at 7:19 AM, spidy said:

I've finally finished all of my applications (just waiting on a couple of recommendations) so I'd like to hear what people think about my chances!

Applying to: Keough School at Notre Dame (International Peace Studies), Jackson Institute at Yale, Kroc School at University of San Diego

Undergrad Institution: Large public (Big 10)

 Undergrad GPA: 4.0

 Undergrad Major: History and Middle Eastern Studies with minors in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages & Literatures

 GRE: 168V / 162Q / 5.0

 Work Experience: Fulbright ETA (1 year), Peace Corps (2 years), 1 year with an intercultural education nonprofit

 Language: Strong Turkish and Georgian skills (not fluent), ~2 years living in each country

LORs: Pretty good, I hope. 2 from professors (1 I had a seminar with; other led a yearlong, small fellowship I was a part of), 1 from my supervisor in Peace Corps

SOP: Relatively happy with it, it improved at each school I applied to.

Thoughts: I'm worried about a) my lack of coursework in economics (hoping to take some courses in the summer prior to matriculation if I get in, or for next year's applications if I'm unsuccessful) and b) my lack of a super clear career plan. I think my intellectual interests are clear (studying the causes of ethnic conflict and ways to prevent it) and my studies/work experience combine well with it to paint a picture of who I am, what I want to study, and how I'm qualified to do so, but I wasn't super specific about a career path in my essays. I'm a bit worried that that will hurt me, but I'm hoping for the best! I only decided to apply to three programs as they all offer good funding and they were all a good fit for me: small cohorts and ability to focus on peace studies.

  

Excellent GPA, great GREs, great work experience, and you are confident about LORs/SOPs. So I'd say you have as good of a chance as anybody.

I can't see how "lack of economics coursework" is enough to significantly impair your chances. Worst case you get in and have to take some refresher econ courses.

I can't say I've heard of the Kroc School, but you are definitely competitive at Keough/Jackson. 

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On 12/8/2018 at 11:35 PM, AGReyes said:

Excellent GPA, great GREs, great work experience, and you are confident about LORs/SOPs. So I'd say you have as good of a chance as anybody.

I can't see how "lack of economics coursework" is enough to significantly impair your chances. Worst case you get in and have to take some refresher econ courses.

I can't say I've heard of the Kroc School, but you are definitely competitive at Keough/Jackson. 

Thank you very much for your feedback, I really appreciate it! Of course, my opinions on my LORs/SOPs could be totally off, and the only opinions that really matter are those of the adcomm members, but your comment has assuaged me a bit all the same.

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Hello, all. Just trying to get an idea of my competitiveness, especially given that I'm a little bit of an nontraditional student very much trying to switch gears from my current career. My goals are to work in US foreign policy/aid (Think USAID or State Dept) on policy work, largely related to migration, human security, and national security. Alternatively, working on those similar topics for an international government/nongovernmental agency (think UN or International Organization for Migration).

Applying to: UT-Austin LBJ; A&M Bush School; George Washington University; American U in DC; Georgetown WSFS; Johns Hopkins SAIS; Columbia (not sure which yet, kind of confusing programs); NYU Global Affairs; University of Denver Korbel School; The New School; Seton Hall University; also thinking about some of the other New York/DC/New Jersey schools and, maybe, Ivies (Princeton seems very appealing given their history of public service jobs; Jackson at Yale seems like a very good fit for my interests also).

Undergrad: BA International Studies, History Minor from a middle of the road state school, at one of the larger urban campuses (not its flagship campus). However, it was over the course of six years as I was working full time during my entire undergrad career. I also attended another school for a semester, but could not make it work with work and funding so I withdrew and returned to my original school.

GPA: 3.68/4.0. Consistent Dean's List. Granted Latin honors (not sure what level cum laude or magna cum laude yet) for undergraduate research thesis.

Quant: Almost none. Some Macro/Micro economics, but nothing past that. Nothing was required and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I grew up.

GRE: V-162, Q-149, AWA-5.5

Language: Intermediate Spanish

Work Experience: Nine years as a paramedic, doing 911 emergency ambulance type stuff. Did a lot of teaching through there. The city I am in is rather large and multicultural, so there was a lot of exposure to all types/nationalities of people who I served. I also interned and then had a year-long contractor job at a local nonprofit working on a local/international social justice issue. I have been working with that organization for two years now.

LOR: Two from professors, they tell me they will be "glowing", one from the nonprofit I have worked with.

SoP: Work in progress. I'm trying to explain my lack of quant and international experience. I think I can make a good case for the latter, but the quant I just have to make up for prior to matriculation. Seems many places offer this opportunity and I will make that clear in my SoP.

Thoughts: Weak on quant. Weak on international work experience. But a fair amount of international travel.

Thanks for any thoughts! Or any suggestions for programs that might be a good fit.

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Hi all,

I feel like I have a decent idea of where I stand, but always welcome more feedback.

Applying to: MPP/MPA programs. Schools: HKS, WWS, Maxwell (Syracuse), Heller School at Brandeis University, Cornell, Ford School at Michigan, Wagner School at NYU

Undergrad: BA in Political Science and Spanish at decent (top-40) liberal arts college

GPA: 3.36 - not great

Quant: Not much - took one introductory econ course as a sophomore, got a B-. Got an A in a 'Math and Politics' course that was in the Math department, but probably too light to hold much weight for this. Currently finishing up an undergrad level Stats course, and expecting to get an A or A-, which I hope helps.

GRE: V-163 / Q-163 / 5.5 Writing

Language: Proficient in Spanish

Work Experience: Just under 4 years of work experience, all nonprofit; 1 year in postgrad volunteer corps (social services), 1 year at a health policy and advocacy org, 1.5 years and counting in philanthropy. 

LOR: Should be pretty good I think, most emphasizing my critical thinking, research, writing, and commitment to public service. One from professor, one from former boss in health policy, and a 3rd from personal contact who works in social policy, who I haven't worked but who knows me very well on a personal level. 

SOP: Relatively strong I think, focusing on genuine and demonstrable commitment to public service, with a clear case as to how these programs would help me achieve my goals

Thoughts: So-so GPA and lack of quant experience are my biggest issues, which I know make me a pretty long shot at HKS or WWS. I'm hopeful that my GRE scores and anticipated 'A' in Stats course help alleviate those concerns. I think my commitment to public service is strong, and the programs I'm applying to all seem to value that. 

Any and all thoughts welcome. Thanks!

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Hi all,

Applying to: HKS (mpp); Yale Jackson Institute; Stanford IPS

GRE: 162/162/3.5; TOEFL 106; GPA: 3.7 ; Bachelor in Political Science (from a decent university in China, but not on very top)

Very strong recommendations (one letter from a Harvard alumni, one letter from a famous scholar trained in the US, and one from my undergraduate mentor)

nearly 4 years' amazing working experience in a government-sponsored think tank, mentored by a top scholar: coauthored two policy articles submitted for top leaders in China, Singapore and Hong Kong; interviewed with quotes by WSJ through telephone in English for several times; published three single authored articles on a policy journal in English, where one article was intensively cited by an editorial piece on WSJ; single authored one book chapter in English, coauthored three another book chapters in English (authors in the books were quite famous in academia, several come from Cornell, Princeton, Harvard and Oxbridge); columnist bilingually for several top newspapers in East Asia; invited three times by a TV program as a youngest speaker and debated there regarding regional issues with a former secretary of an Asian country's president and with a senior research fellow of Stanford; coauthored a policy article submitted to a forum hosted by China's central government, and several HKS professors attended the forum; presented three papers in English at international conferences, where one conference was co-orgainzed by a research institution of Harvard; provides policy consultancies for a think tank serving Hong Kong Government; One single authored academic article is under external peer-review by a SSCI journal (already passed through editorial review).

Commitment to public service is quite good; Research area greatly fits in with HKS.

Quantitative experience is good, and I learned some statistics, caculus, linear algebra and MATLAB/Python/R/STATA programming; essays were organized as a story connecting my experiences; career goal is to be a "public intellectual".

Shortcomings:  (1) GRE/Toefl writing scores suck (22 in TOEFL writing). Hopefully so many English publications could help, otherwise my other materials of application would not be reviewed simply because the below-requirement writing score (already stated in optional essay); (2) two nightmare typos in JFK essay, including a spelling error of the name of a harvard institution.

Welcome all invaluable feedback. Thanks.

Edited by Benjamin Shuai

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Hi. My first time using this thing, so hopefully someone can help me out.

Applying to: Programs focused on international development: Fordham IPED, GWU Elliott School, Institute of Int'l & Dev Studies of Geneva, American University MS Development Management, Brandeis Heller School 

Undergrad: BA in Political Science received from top (#1) Public University (and on the top 20 list of all national universities)

GPA: 3.55 from this university. (But I transferred from another low-level school with a 3.9 GPA)

Grad school: Took graduate coursework on the side (receiving 33 of 36 units required for a degree) at mediocre program- 3.94 GPA

Quant: Not much other than statistics and biostatistics-type classes. 

GRE: V- 162, Q- 155 (worried about this- should I be?) Writing- 4.5

Language: Proficient in French

Work Experience:  2 years in irrelevant government position; 3 years in US Peace Corps service; minor projects in other countries. A lot of volunteer experience in do-good kinds of programs (social services, community health projects, etc)

LOR: I hope they will be good- 2 academic and 1 work supervisor. Really don't know how good they will be, but at least 2 of them should be pretty good/great.

SOP: Concerned- I mostly talked about how my past experience leads me here. Maybe too fluffy with "dreams of doing good" blabla. It was all genuine but now looking at them make me feel like maybe I overdid it.

Thoughts: Not sure if my GRE scores are good enough. Especially Quant. I'm really hoping for fellowships/scholarships because I can't afford these programs on my own. Some programs don't require GRE- should I just not include them then? Or will they help?

Any input?

 

Thanks in advance

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2 hours ago, madamsirleaf said:

Hi. My first time using this thing, so hopefully someone can help me out.

Applying to: Programs focused on international development: Fordham IPED, GWU Elliott School, Institute of Int'l & Dev Studies of Geneva, American University MS Development Management, Brandeis Heller School 

Undergrad: BA in Political Science received from top (#1) Public University (and on the top 20 list of all national universities)

GPA: 3.55 from this university. (But I transferred from another low-level school with a 3.9 GPA)

Grad school: Took graduate coursework on the side (receiving 33 of 36 units required for a degree) at mediocre program- 3.94 GPA

Quant: Not much other than statistics and biostatistics-type classes. 

GRE: V- 162, Q- 155 (worried about this- should I be?) Writing- 4.5

Language: Proficient in French

Work Experience:  2 years in irrelevant government position; 3 years in US Peace Corps service; minor projects in other countries. A lot of volunteer experience in do-good kinds of programs (social services, community health projects, etc)

LOR: I hope they will be good- 2 academic and 1 work supervisor. Really don't know how good they will be, but at least 2 of them should be pretty good/great.

SOP: Concerned- I mostly talked about how my past experience leads me here. Maybe too fluffy with "dreams of doing good" blabla. It was all genuine but now looking at them make me feel like maybe I overdid it.

Thoughts: Not sure if my GRE scores are good enough. Especially Quant. I'm really hoping for fellowships/scholarships because I can't afford these programs on my own. Some programs don't require GRE- should I just not include them then? Or will they help?

Any input?

 

Thanks in advance

Also forgot to mention I spent my first 10 years in China, so I speak Mandarin (but not Chinese). 

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Hi all, I made a previous post but forgot to include some information. Im applying to grad school soon and wanted to see my chances at some schools.

Intended MA: Public Policy/Public Admin OR Global Affairs

Undergrad: UW-Madison, BA Political Science

GPA: 3.72

Experience: 3 internships, 2 with state senators and 1 in DC

Letters of Rec; 1 from my advisor, 1 from a professor who is a U Chicago Alum, potentially 1 from a state senator

GRE: Have not taken yet, I expect to do moderately well. Take this with a grain of salt lol

Statement of Purpose: I have researched these schools, professors, and have a clear career path

Schools: UT Austin(LBJ), U Chicago(Harris), UCLA(Luskin), Northwestern(Public Policy), Notre Dame(Global Affairs), Temple(My safety?), UW Madison(Lafollete), maybe an Ivy or 2.

Career Goals: Policy Analyst, Consulting Firm, possibly run for office.

Why I chose these schools: My advisor and the career center at my university helped me pick them.

 If y'all could chance me for these schools or recommend any others, I would so appreciate it. 

If any more info is needed, I can supply it.

I know im missing GRE scores, im taking the exam this summer. I just want to get a better idea based on my current profile. 

 

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On 12/1/2018 at 3:50 PM, eyesclosed said:

Hi All, I'm hoping to get some insight on programs. I have been teetering between MPA and MPH programs for the past few years and finding a program that offers a happy medium would be ideal. I am looking for a pretty interdisciplinary program, but I plan on working in stakeholders engagement, facilitating multi-sector partnership, coalition building, and collective impact projects. 

Applying to: NYU Wagner MPA and Boston Univ MPH, any other recommendations? 

Undergrad Institution: UC Irvine

Undergrad GPA: 3.5 with lower grades in calculus courses 

Undergrad Major: Public Health Policy, BA

GRE: Haven't taken it yet, but projected to be around 50% percentile. Standardized testing is not my strong suit. 

Age: 24, though I will be 25 by the time the Fall 2019 semester starts. 

Work Experience: Student government in college and served on advisory board (1 year), community engagement and health policy at University of California, San Francisco (2 years), department of public health (1 year)

LORs:  Good! 1 from college professor who nominated me for community service and engagement award when graduating. 1 from Department of Family Medicine Chair at UCSF.  1 from Executive Director of CBO and co-chair of ethnicity-based coalition. 

Essays: haven't written them yet.  

Thoughts: I am feeling pretty late in the game in terms of meeting Fall 2019 deadlines. Priority deadlines for both of these programs are in December, though they have rolling admissions up until April/ May. I am hoping to get everything in by February, with NYU being my first choice. Reading all of these posts is giving me a sense of imposter syndrome, so I am wondering if I should postpone to applying in Spring 2020? Also, math is really not a strong suit and it may be reflected when I take the GRE later this month. What other programs would you recommend for an interdisciplinary program? These programs are fairly different, but they have aspects of management, finance, needs assessment, and policy. Though my background is in health, I have always focused on more upstream interventions. I have reached that stage in my life, where I am ready and really willing to move out of San Francisco. 

Updated GRE Score: 153V 154Q

So glad that's over with!! what a relief 

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3 hours ago, eyesclosed said:

Updated GRE Score: 153V 154Q

So glad that's over with!! what a relief 

@eyesclosed - Can't speak to the MPH, but I know that MPA programs do look for some evidence of quantitative ability. You mentioned lower grades in calculus, so that combined with middling quant GRE score might give them some concern (although depends on what you mean by lower; C- would be more concerning than a B-). Not necessarily a dealbreaker, but just a factor they'll look at. If you have anything quantitative in your background that would help ease those concerns, definitely highlight that. 

Edited by BK297

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Figured I'd toss my hat in here to see if people had any thoughts...

Applying to: GWU Elliott SPS, Georgetown SSP, Columbia SIPA and Fletcher MALD

Undergrad Institution: University of Pittsburgh 

Undergrad GPA: 3.93/4.00

Undergrad Major: Political Science, B.A., with micro and macro econ + stats and STATA training classes. As in all math related college courses. 

GRE: weak spot, 157 V, 152 Q, and 4.5 writing 

Age: 29

Work Experience: 5 years as a U.S. special operator, including training as a Combat SCUBA Diver, HALO jumper, JTAC — things like that. Combat deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. 3 years as a military affairs/national security journalist for publication in DC. 

6 month internship with U.S. Senator from my home state and was my college delegate to the US Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference (included a thesis and round table debate) ... if that counts for anything. 1 year helping teach English at college to foreign students. 

LORs:  Probably will have one from college professor and two from work supervisors.

SOP: Spent time working with elite Afghan partner forces and have an essay crafted around that experience. 

GRE was mediocre. Probably because I've been out of school for so long, but I'm also a crap test taker. Would really prefer not retaking. I also want to stay in journalism, reporting on military/defense/natsec. I'm not sure if that's really what good grad schools in security/mpp fields want, though. 

Any thoughts on chances? I'm most interested in GWU and GT in order to stay in DC and keep working while attending evening classes. 

Edited by Marrow_Flynn

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Hi all,

Just made an account as I'm planning to apply to MPP programs and MAIA programs in 2019. I have some concerns about my application though which I'm wondering if anyone could potentially address.

The first is my undergraduate GPA. I went to a strong public school, and had difficult classes (BA in Politics and Philosophy, and BS in Computer Science) but I slacked off a lot back then. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life and felt disillusioned by the prospect of a career in a field I wasn't in love with. I also went through a nasty breakup which combined tanked my GPA and brought it down to a 2.9. I know, yikes. 

Since then though I have cleaned up my act, matured quite a bit and have been a member of the workforce, and am a high performer in my job. Which brings me to my second concern, currently, I work in the private sector, for a bank, a big crappy corporate bank. While the name carries some prestige and I do have a strong understanding in economics due to it ( I worked on the creation of a robo-advisement investment platform and a product to get high net worth people to pump money into charity), it's still a bank. The obvious question I'm sure in many people's minds is why, and the answer is I was never happy with it, but don't have any fiscal support and had to make ends meet at 21. Still, I'm worried it will raise questions about commitment to public service, and about the level of relevance schools may see it as having. I've volunteered all throughout the years working there and long before it, and the advisors of a couple of these volunteering programs have agreed to write recommendations. Will it be a problem though, and how would you go about addressing it in you statement of purpose?

Other than that I should have an overall decentish application. I have a good deal of economics knowledge and background, and am not bad at math. 

GRE: 165 Verbal 161 Quant  Still waiting on AWA (Is the Quant too low? Should I retake it for a higher quant?)

I've taught english in Costa Rica, volunteered doing the same and teaching civics courses,  did Model UN all throughout college, and have plenty of classes from undergrad in latin american politics, Chinese economics, and cybersecurity and antiterrorism.

I have interests in a number of programs and am hoping to get a sense if I stand a chance.

 

Thanks everyone

 

 

 

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Applying to: GWU Elliott School, Georgetown MSFS, SIPA MIA, JHU SAIS, Fletcher MALD, American SIS

Undergrad Institution: Top-10 national university (US)

Undergrad GPA: 3.64/4.00 (Magna cum laude at my school, a bit worried that this is competitive for admission but not so competitive for funding. My decision to go for a math minor was probably good for employability out of undergrad but resulted in a couple of lower grades in my last year).

Undergrad Major: Dual-degree BA International Studies (focus: Chinese including lots of language study, one semester of IR coursework taken in Mandarin at a top Chinese university, and some other experience in China) // BS Economics (lots of coursework on the intersection between business and public policy), with a minor in math.

GRE: 170 V, (99th %ile) 164 Q, (86th %ile) and 5.5 writing (98th %ile)

Age: 26

Work Experience: 4+ years as a management consultant, of which 2 years have been abroad based in Singapore (project work done across 6 countries in total) and about 1 year has been for government clients. I can show solid progression (2 promotions and increasing responsibility) and a good research/analysis/writing/problem solving toolkit from this work experience, but I worry that there will be questions about my commitment to public service based on the fact that all my work experience is private sector and the majority of it has been for clients in banking/insurance (Note that this is also a big part of why I want to go to grad school in the first instance).

LORs:  One from college professor (UG thesis advisor) and two from work supervisors (1 in US, 1 abroad who I worked with on a high-profile government project). All 3 of these people know me well, so I'm confident they should be good letters. I was also very clear with my recommendation writers what the story I'm trying to tell to admissions committees is and how I think my work with them supports that story.

SOP: Crafted this around bringing skills developed as a consultant to bear on some of the problems I studied as an undergrad and moving towards a career in foreign policy. I made sure to include some material on the relevance of my working in lots of different international contexts and for government clients on public policy problems. I think it's a good essay overall.

Questions for the group:

1) I think this profile is reasonably competitive for admission, but what about for funding for those programs? I'm concerned about the financial implications of this grad degree, and having some funding would go a long way towards alleviating those concerns.

2) If this admissions cycle doesn't work out the way I want it to, I am open to the idea of staying at my job in Singapore for another year (or doing something else) and trying again. If it comes to that, are there any actions you guys think I could take to make myself more competitive?

Thanks for your help--even if there are no replies to this it's good to post what I'm confident in vs. worried about ?.

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21 hours ago, JustOneQuickQ said:

Applying to: GWU Elliott School, Georgetown MSFS, SIPA MIA, JHU SAIS, Fletcher MALD, American SIS

Undergrad Institution: Top-10 national university (US)

Undergrad GPA: 3.64/4.00 (Magna cum laude at my school, a bit worried that this is competitive for admission but not so competitive for funding. My decision to go for a math minor was probably good for employability out of undergrad but resulted in a couple of lower grades in my last year).

Undergrad Major: Dual-degree BA International Studies (focus: Chinese including lots of language study, one semester of IR coursework taken in Mandarin at a top Chinese university, and some other experience in China) // BS Economics (lots of coursework on the intersection between business and public policy), with a minor in math.

 GRE: 170 V, (99th %ile) 164 Q, (86th %ile) and 5.5 writing (98th %ile)

Age: 26

Work Experience: 4+ years as a management consultant, of which 2 years have been abroad based in Singapore (project work done across 6 countries in total) and about 1 year has been for government clients. I can show solid progression (2 promotions and increasing responsibility) and a good research/analysis/writing/problem solving toolkit from this work experience, but I worry that there will be questions about my commitment to public service based on the fact that all my work experience is private sector and the majority of it has been for clients in banking/insurance (Note that this is also a big part of why I want to go to grad school in the first instance).

 LORs:  One from college professor (UG thesis advisor) and two from work supervisors (1 in US, 1 abroad who I worked with on a high-profile government project). All 3 of these people know me well, so I'm confident they should be good letters. I was also very clear with my recommendation writers what the story I'm trying to tell to admissions committees is and how I think my work with them supports that story.

SOP: Crafted this around bringing skills developed as a consultant to bear on some of the problems I studied as an undergrad and moving towards a career in foreign policy. I made sure to include some material on the relevance of my working in lots of different international contexts and for government clients on public policy problems. I think it's a good essay overall.

Questions for the group:

1) I think this profile is reasonably competitive for admission, but what about for funding for those programs? I'm concerned about the financial implications of this grad degree, and having some funding would go a long way towards alleviating those concerns.

2) If this admissions cycle doesn't work out the way I want it to, I am open to the idea of staying at my job in Singapore for another year (or doing something else) and trying again. If it comes to that, are there any actions you guys think I could take to make myself more competitive?

Thanks for your help--even if there are no replies to this it's good to post what I'm confident in vs. worried about ?.

I would have to imagine that with those GREs, WE, SOP, etc., as well as how widely you're applying, you will receive substantial funding from somewhere. I think many of us (myself included) would love to apply with that background. Good luck!

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3 hours ago, spidy said:

I would have to imagine that with those GREs, WE, SOP, etc., as well as how widely you're applying, you will receive substantial funding from somewhere. I think many of us (myself included) would love to apply with that background. Good luck!

Thanks very much, and good luck to you as well!

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On 1/2/2019 at 4:13 AM, JustOneQuickQ said:

Applying to: GWU Elliott School, Georgetown MSFS, SIPA MIA, JHU SAIS, Fletcher MALD, American SIS

Undergrad Institution: Top-10 national university (US)

Undergrad GPA: 3.64/4.00 (Magna cum laude at my school, a bit worried that this is competitive for admission but not so competitive for funding. My decision to go for a math minor was probably good for employability out of undergrad but resulted in a couple of lower grades in my last year).

Undergrad Major: Dual-degree BA International Studies (focus: Chinese including lots of language study, one semester of IR coursework taken in Mandarin at a top Chinese university, and some other experience in China) // BS Economics (lots of coursework on the intersection between business and public policy), with a minor in math.

GRE: 170 V, (99th %ile) 164 Q, (86th %ile) and 5.5 writing (98th %ile)

Age: 26

Work Experience: 4+ years as a management consultant, of which 2 years have been abroad based in Singapore (project work done across 6 countries in total) and about 1 year has been for government clients. I can show solid progression (2 promotions and increasing responsibility) and a good research/analysis/writing/problem solving toolkit from this work experience, but I worry that there will be questions about my commitment to public service based on the fact that all my work experience is private sector and the majority of it has been for clients in banking/insurance (Note that this is also a big part of why I want to go to grad school in the first instance).

LORs:  One from college professor (UG thesis advisor) and two from work supervisors (1 in US, 1 abroad who I worked with on a high-profile government project). All 3 of these people know me well, so I'm confident they should be good letters. I was also very clear with my recommendation writers what the story I'm trying to tell to admissions committees is and how I think my work with them supports that story.

SOP: Crafted this around bringing skills developed as a consultant to bear on some of the problems I studied as an undergrad and moving towards a career in foreign policy. I made sure to include some material on the relevance of my working in lots of different international contexts and for government clients on public policy problems. I think it's a good essay overall.

Questions for the group:

1) I think this profile is reasonably competitive for admission, but what about for funding for those programs? I'm concerned about the financial implications of this grad degree, and having some funding would go a long way towards alleviating those concerns.

2) If this admissions cycle doesn't work out the way I want it to, I am open to the idea of staying at my job in Singapore for another year (or doing something else) and trying again. If it comes to that, are there any actions you guys think I could take to make myself more competitive?

Thanks for your help--even if there are no replies to this it's good to post what I'm confident in vs. worried about ?.

Yeah, you shouldn't worry. Looks real competitive to me, especially for Fletcher, American, and even SIPA fin aid

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Hey everyone! I have been going back and forth for a couple of years over whether or not I should leave the workforce and go back to school, and have finally settled on returning to get my masters beginning in 2020. I obviously have some time to prepare, but I wanted to get your thoughts on my potential prospects and any advice you may have.

I have settled on pivoting a little from the education world (at least in terms of direct work with students) and so I am interested in MPP programs, with a strong interest in Data Science/Analytics tracks as I would like to get into public policy around urban education or social policy utilizing data.

Applying to: Harris MSCAPP, Heinz MSPPM (Data Analytics), Syracuse Maxwell MPA (Data Analytics), Duke Sanford, HKS

Undergrad Institution: Large Public State School (top 50)

Undergrad GPA: 3.5/3.8

Undergrad Major: Psychology and Biology, Neuroscience Concentration*; Was manager at a research lab for 2 years of undergrad, analyzing experiment data

GRE: Haven’t taken yet**

Age: Early 30s

Work Experience: 10+ years

  1. 3 Years: Finance (Private Sector) - Small Family Business, worked with CFO
  2. 8 Years: Education - 
  • 4 Years Teaching Science (Teach for America)
  • 4 Years Ed Administration (High-Performing Charter School Organization) – Coaching/Managing Teachers/Analyzing school/network data and coming up with action plans for improvement
  • Sporadic consulting gigs with TFA

Language: English and Spanish

LORs:

  • Principal (Direct Manager last 4 years)
  • Senior Member (Direct Manager before Principal for 2 years)
  • CEO of a fellowship I'm currently apart of

SOP: Prepping it now. Focusing on my experience in urban ed for close to a decade and realizing I want to broaden my impact by utilizing my skills to change policy. I have worked with analyzing big data (student, teacher, school level) but not yet creating (coding for it).      

Thoughts: I'm worried about:

*) I graduated undergrad so long ago, will this Major combo be a detriment to my app? I figure my work experience should be more important at this point but I could be wrong.

**) I have been flipping through different threads on here but couldn't find a solid answer: what is the best program for me to use to prep for the GRE? Magoosh? I've seen many disparage using Kaplan but didn't want to just settle if someone knows other programs. Also, with the profile, would I need above 320 to have a chance?

 

Am I aiming too high? Feedback appreciated!

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2 hours ago, edu216 said:

 **) I have been flipping through different threads on here but couldn't find a solid answer: what is the best program for me to use to prep for the GRE? Magoosh? I've seen many disparage using Kaplan but didn't want to just settle if someone knows other programs. Also, with the profile, would I need above 320 to have a chance?

I don't know about the other aspects of your post but I do HIGHLY recommend Magoosh. They were not only the cheapest but I found their lesson videos, questions and their study plans to be extremely effective. I used it for three months, tried to follow one of their study plan as much as I could and got 323. I'm not the brightest so I do believe with some time (and you have plenty) you can get a 320 too.

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On 12/30/2018 at 4:13 AM, MPP/MAIRHopeful2019 said:

Hi all,

Just made an account as I'm planning to apply to MPP programs and MAIA programs in 2019. I have some concerns about my application though which I'm wondering if anyone could potentially address.

The first is my undergraduate GPA. I went to a strong public school, and had difficult classes (BA in Politics and Philosophy, and BS in Computer Science) but I slacked off a lot back then. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life and felt disillusioned by the prospect of a career in a field I wasn't in love with. I also went through a nasty breakup which combined tanked my GPA and brought it down to a 2.9. I know, yikes. 

Since then though I have cleaned up my act, matured quite a bit and have been a member of the workforce, and am a high performer in my job. Which brings me to my second concern, currently, I work in the private sector, for a bank, a big crappy corporate bank. While the name carries some prestige and I do have a strong understanding in economics due to it ( I worked on the creation of a robo-advisement investment platform and a product to get high net worth people to pump money into charity), it's still a bank. The obvious question I'm sure in many people's minds is why, and the answer is I was never happy with it, but don't have any fiscal support and had to make ends meet at 21. Still, I'm worried it will raise questions about commitment to public service, and about the level of relevance schools may see it as having. I've volunteered all throughout the years working there and long before it, and the advisors of a couple of these volunteering programs have agreed to write recommendations. Will it be a problem though, and how would you go about addressing it in you statement of purpose?

Other than that I should have an overall decentish application. I have a good deal of economics knowledge and background, and am not bad at math. 

GRE: 165 Verbal 161 Quant  Still waiting on AWA (Is the Quant too low? Should I retake it for a higher quant?)

I've taught english in Costa Rica, volunteered doing the same and teaching civics courses,  did Model UN all throughout college, and have plenty of classes from undergrad in latin american politics, Chinese economics, and cybersecurity and antiterrorism.

I have interests in a number of programs and am hoping to get a sense if I stand a chance.

 

Thanks everyone

 

 

 

The obvious question in my mind is, do you know what you're getting into? What is it that you think we do here, hold hands and sing kumbayah? Banks and big corps are the biggest players in this arena, second only to governments (and that's only in certain areas). If you have a disdain for corporations, don't go to public policy school, quit your job, go work at a small-time NGO or get a humanities PhD, and you will find yourself in excellent company. If you're ready to join us in the real world, your banking experience will be extremely valuable. But think carefully about whether you can see yourself advancing the same interests for half the money.

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Hi everyone.

I'm going to keep this short.

Applying to: Duke Nicholas for Water Resources Management

Undergrad Institution: Ivy League (top 8 in us)

Undergrad GPA: 3.59 (3.6?) No honors or thesis unfortunately

Undergrad Major: Poli Sci*; Have taken stats, calc (didn't do well lol), econ, and physics. Haven't taken chem. Didn't do research because by the time I felt ready to (junior year), my work study funding was cut (in my major basically only research positions offered were as work study jobs)

GRE: Haven’t taken yet, but let's say 164+ 

Age: 22 will be 23 when applying. 1.5 years out of school by then

Work Experience: ~1 year of relevant experience with Americorps. Had a hard time finding a job at first, but managed to get a conservation based job focused on GIS

internships: State Dept, Congress, Local govt 

Language: English and Intermediate French

LORs:

  • Professor of Cultural Studies 
  • Americorps supervisor
  • Volunteer Supervisor

SOP: I'm sure everyone has great statements so mine will be no different.    

I'm worried about my weak recommendations and lack of job and research experience. What do you guys think? I'm thinking of trying to get a paper published before I apply. 

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17 hours ago, Newunnewme said:

Hi everyone.

I'm going to keep this short.

Applying to: Duke Nicholas for Water Resources Management

Undergrad Institution: Ivy League (top 8 in us)

Undergrad GPA: 3.59 (3.6?) No honors or thesis unfortunately

Undergrad Major: Poli Sci*; Have taken stats, calc (didn't do well lol), econ, and physics. Haven't taken chem. Didn't do research because by the time I felt ready to (junior year), my work study funding was cut (in my major basically only research positions offered were as work study jobs)

GRE: Haven’t taken yet, but let's say 164+ 

Age: 22 will be 23 when applying. 1.5 years out of school by then

Work Experience: ~1 year of relevant experience with Americorps. Had a hard time finding a job at first, but managed to get a conservation based job focused on GIS

internships: State Dept, Congress, Local govt 

Language: English and Intermediate French

LORs:

  • Professor of Cultural Studies 
  • Americorps supervisor
  • Volunteer Supervisor

SOP: I'm sure everyone has great statements so mine will be no different.    

I'm worried about my weak recommendations and lack of job and research experience. What do you guys think? I'm thinking of trying to get a paper published before I apply. 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with your profile, are you applying for 2019 admission? If so I'm not sure if you have time to take the gre and getting your scores in on time unless you're taking it tomorrow and Duke is lenient with the scores coming in after the deadline. If you're looking at 2020 then I think you're looking good. I wouldn't assume a gre score however. While I do think most people can score in the ballpark of 320 or better with the right prep, trying to predict a high score will just put more pressure on you and set you up for disappointment on the off chance that you don't reach it. In the first place I don't think a 164+ on both sections is necessary for Duke although a higher score never hurts. I would also recommend applying to more schools since applying to just one can always be risky business even though I think you have a competitive profile for Duke. I would recommend applying to other schools like CMU Heinz that offer scholarships to people that did an amerocorps stint just for the sake of negotiating your funding. 

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5 hours ago, Guesswho said:

While there is nothing inherently wrong with your profile, are you applying for 2019 admission? If so I'm not sure if you have time to take the gre and getting your scores in on time unless you're taking it tomorrow and Duke is lenient with the scores coming in after the deadline. If you're looking at 2020 then I think you're looking good. I wouldn't assume a gre score however. While I do think most people can score in the ballpark of 320 or better with the right prep, trying to predict a high score will just put more pressure on you and set you up for disappointment on the off chance that you don't reach it. In the first place I don't think a 164+ on both sections is necessary for Duke although a higher score never hurts. I would also recommend applying to more schools since applying to just one can always be risky business even though I think you have a competitive profile for Duke. I would recommend applying to other schools like CMU Heinz that offer scholarships to people that did an amerocorps stint just for the sake of negotiating your funding. 

Thanks! I'm applying for 2020, but I'm just trying to get a feel of what I need to do/improve upon. The high GRE Target is mainly for scholarships (and because I feel like my academics are weak in general? But maybe it's just because of the school I went to). The reason I only put Duke was because to be honest that is the only place I saw myself going out of the "Big 4" for environmental management. Their classes are ridiculously amazing. But I hadn't even checked out Heinz or really given much thought to perks Americorps might get me, so thanks for that. I appreciate it!

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