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Applying to: Only schools that do not require the GRE - CU Denver is my most likely acceptance but major stretches, and if I'd like to move, would be Berkeley, NYU, Minnesota - but not sure I want to move, which is why CU is top of my list. I'd move if I had a chance at an Ivy or somewhere like Berkeley.

Undergrad institution: CU Boulder

Undergrad Major: Political Science

Undergrad GPA: 2.9, did terribly my freshman year. I have an unrelated Masters with a 3.75.

Years out of undergrad: 9

Quant Background: taken Calc 1 (A), Micro/Macro (A/B), I'm not great at math. I'd use the degree to learn this aspect.

Relevant Work Experience:  I have worked as an elections official the past 2 years. I manage voter services at the county level and oversee 2+ full-time employees. Previously I managed a youth focused nonprofit for 2 years, and for another 2 years I was a program manager for a nonprofit. Out of college I worked on a successful senate campaign.

GRE: I don’t have interest in taking the GRE unless it propels me to a better school that will get me where I want to go.  

Strength of LOR: I will have 2 very strong ones - an elected official (my boss) and another former elected official and current federal government consultant. I don't have any academic letters. I'm old

Strength of SOP: I think I'll be okay. I'd like to move away from elections work to more policy orientated issues like voter rights and promotion of democratic ideals. I am also interested in political consulting or simply public sector consulting for an organization like Bridgespan.

Extracurriculars/Leadership: Very strong here. I am currently managing all aspects of voter services leading into the 2020 General election. This is everything from voter questions to all of our in-person polling places. I manage 2 full-time employees and hundreds of temporary election workers. I handle projections, budgeting and staffing for my areas of responsibility. Previously I managed a nonprofit and worked as a program manager for 4 years.

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1 hour ago, CYP07 said:

Hi, thanks for this. I have yet to take my GRE but I'm looking at around 165/165. Since most programs has waived the GRE requirement, I am unsure whether to send in scores if they are not exactly a strong aspect of my application. My quantitative skills during undergrad is limited to engineering and architectural math. Mostly physics related mathematics rather than economics. I had one semester of Economics, Taxation and Agrarian Reform -- which included an introductory course into both macro and microeconomics. I am looking to taking separate courses in economics to fulfill certain requirements by some schools.

My goals for getting the degree is to work in multilateral organizations and eventually become a foreign service officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in my country. I am looking to focus on diplomacy and global security given my background in the military -- hoping to focus my study on North Korean affairs. Though it seems that a degree in international affairs might be the best option, I am also leaning towards an MPA or MPP due to the quantitative and analytical nature of the program. With the long term goal of entering the foreign service, I think it would be beneficial to have a deeper background in policy analysis. Though I have heard about Georgetown's MSFS program as being one of the top ranking foreign service programs, as an international student, I am not sure if Washington DC would be as beneficial. Because I have the intent of joining international organizations such as the UN, New York seems more appealing to me -- especially looking at NYU's dual degree in International Relations and Wagner's MPA. One major factor I look to when choosing schools would be the networking opportunities and the alumni network. Other factors I look into is the name and the prestige since as an international student, it carries more weight than it should.

So my thoughts.

1. Don't assume your GRE scores. I have had plenty of people assume they would get so and so score and then end up with much less or higher. When you get, then figure out your competitiveness. As for GREs, I always recommend international students from less common or less standardized matriculating countries (Philippines is one them) to have good GRE scores to come with a great undergraduate academic portfolio. This is because there will always be doubt among the admissions committee about how to best interpret a foreign transcript from a University that they aren't as familiar with. If you come with great GRE scores, you remove that doubt. 

Every year there international students who wash out of American graduate programs due to academic issues or failure to speak English despite having good test scores. Not saying that you a problem with it, but Admissions committee doesn't know you. The more evidence you can bring, the better you are.

2. Otherwise, your academics are solid. Your quant skills are also solid.

3. Your minor gap is lack of work experience. The average person is. 26-27 years old with 3 to 4 years work experience. However, because you are from a more unique country, I think you should be fine.

4. Schools you should be thinking about given your interest in international security + multi-lateral programs (in no order)

a. Harvard HKS MPP

b. Georgetown MSFS

c. Johns Hopkins SAIS

d. Columbia SIPA 

All the other programs are simply not as direct as a route / don't have as strong reputations to get you there.

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4 minutes ago, Lanky said:

Applying to: Only schools that do not require the GRE - CU Denver is my most likely acceptance but major stretches, and if I'd like to move, would be Berkeley, NYU, Minnesota - but not sure I want to move, which is why CU is top of my list. I'd move if I had a chance at an Ivy or somewhere like Berkeley.

Undergrad institution: CU Boulder

Undergrad Major: Political Science

Undergrad GPA: 2.9, did terribly my freshman year. I have an unrelated Masters with a 3.75.

Years out of undergrad: 9

Quant Background: taken Calc 1 (A), Micro/Macro (A/B), I'm not great at math. I'd use the degree to learn this aspect.

Relevant Work Experience:  I have worked as an elections official the past 2 years. I manage voter services at the county level and oversee 2+ full-time employees. Previously I managed a youth focused nonprofit for 2 years, and for another 2 years I was a program manager for a nonprofit. Out of college I worked on a successful senate campaign.

GRE: 165/167/5.5 (Verbal/Quant/AWA)

Strength of LOR: I will have 2 very strong ones - an elected official (my boss) and another former elected official and current federal government consultant. I don't have any academic letters. I'm old

Strength of SOP: I think I'll be okay. I'd like to move away from elections work to more policy orientated issues like voter rights and promotion of democratic ideals. I am also interested in political consulting or simply public sector consulting for an organization like Bridgespan.

Extracurriculars/Leadership: Very strong here. I am currently managing all aspects of voter services leading into the 2020 General election. This is everything from voter questions to all of our in-person polling places. I manage 2 full-time employees and hundreds of temporary election workers. I handle projections, budgeting and staffing for my areas of responsibility. Previously I managed a nonprofit and worked as a program manager for 4 years.

I think you are more competitive than you think you are. Actually the best MPP program in the Denver area is the DU's program IMO. If I were you, I would think about that. Since you are non-profit/local policy guy, I think the only other school it makes sense for you to apply to (granted it would be a bit of a long shot) would be Terry Sanford at Duke.  You are unique enough, that if you explain how you made mistakes in undergrad and have since grown up, you might make it work. Especially since your GRE scores look great.

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30 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

I think you are more competitive than you think you are. Actually the best MPP program in the Denver area is the DU's program IMO. If I were you, I would think about that. Since you are non-profit/local policy guy, I think the only other school it makes sense for you to apply to (granted it would be a bit of a long shot) would be Terry Sanford at Duke.  You are unique enough, that if you explain how you made mistakes in undergrad and have since grown up, you might make it work. Especially since your GRE scores look great.

Oh dang, I haven’t taken the GRE. I missed deleting that section when I copy/pasted. 
 

im not too interested in taking the GRE unless a better program is going to push me to where I want to get. 
 

I will edit the scores out. 

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10 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

So my thoughts.

1. Don't assume your GRE scores. I have had plenty of people assume they would get so and so score and then end up with much less or higher. When you get, then figure out your competitiveness. As for GREs, I always recommend international students from less common or less standardized matriculating countries (Philippines is one them) to have good GRE scores to come with a great undergraduate academic portfolio. This is because there will always be doubt among the admissions committee about how to best interpret a foreign transcript from a University that they aren't as familiar with. If you come with great GRE scores, you remove that doubt. 

Every year there international students who wash out of American graduate programs due to academic issues or failure to speak English despite having good test scores. Not saying that you a problem with it, but Admissions committee doesn't know you. The more evidence you can bring, the better you are.

2. Otherwise, your academics are solid. Your quant skills are also solid.

3. Your minor gap is lack of work experience. The average person is. 26-27 years old with 3 to 4 years work experience. However, because you are from a more unique country, I think you should be fine.

4. Schools you should be thinking about given your interest in international security + multi-lateral programs (in no order)

a. Harvard HKS MPP

b. Georgetown MSFS

c. Johns Hopkins SAIS

d. Columbia SIPA 

All the other programs are simply not as direct as a route / don't have as strong reputations to get you there.

Really appreciate the insight! It kind of sucks that I have to convey my language and academic ability through a standardized measure, but of course, admissions officers need a baseline while reviewing hundreds if not thousands of applications. It has always been a dilemma of mine as a TCK because my primary language is English while my mother tongue is Korean. I am more comfortable with using English in an academic or business setting than the other two languages I use. Fortunately, most universities are waiving the language requirement since my undergrad was done in English. While I was planning to use WES for my transcripts, sending of documents abroad is unlikely as my university registrar is working bare bones.

I think the GRE would be the greatest hurdle in my application since working as a front line worker for the COVID means I'm working round the clock with not much time to spare. I haven't been able to take the time to properly study for the test. I do hope that the optional GRE scores would be a blessing in disguise.

It's funny how you've mentioned that I'm from a more unique country. I've received quite some emails from admissions officers/directors -- not those generic emails from generic email addresses, saying that they were shocked or amazed to see a Korean in their prospective list of applicants noting that they haven't had much representation of South Koreans in their student body and are hoping to see more Koreans in their program. I am hoping that this would somehow translate to a more positive review of my application.

Edited by CYP07
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14 hours ago, CYP07 said:

Really appreciate the insight! It kind of sucks that I have to convey my language and academic ability through a standardized measure, but of course, admissions officers need a baseline while reviewing hundreds if not thousands of applications. It has always been a dilemma of mine as a TCK because my primary language is English while my mother tongue is Korean. I am more comfortable with using English in an academic or business setting than the other two languages I use. Fortunately, most universities are waiving the language requirement since my undergrad was done in English. While I was planning to use WES for my transcripts, sending of documents abroad is unlikely as my university registrar is working bare bones.

I think the GRE would be the greatest hurdle in my application since working as a front line worker for the COVID means I'm working round the clock with not much time to spare. I haven't been able to take the time to properly study for the test. I do hope that the optional GRE scores would be a blessing in disguise.

It's funny how you've mentioned that I'm from a more unique country. I've received quite some emails from admissions officers/directors -- not those generic emails from generic email addresses, saying that they were shocked or amazed to see a Korean in their prospective list of applicants noting that they haven't had much representation of South Koreans in their student body and are hoping to see more Koreans in their program. I am hoping that this would somehow translate to a more positive review of my application.

1. So yes, policy/international relations schools are trying to diversify from their historic international student base of Chinese international students (when I started about 40% of my class was Chinese international students). 

It simply wasn't good for actual diversity of experiences and there were lots of complaints about how the Chinese international students were reluctant to participate in class and diluted the classroom experience. There were lots of other issues that I can go into forever. So what US schools have been trying to is diversify the international student population beyond China - especially since the latest US-China tensions has made it harder to acquire Chinese students.

That being said, because you are South Korean, you automatically are targeted as a diverse student.

2. Chicago Harris MPP

So they are a very very good problem that is very very analytical based. HOWEVER, at the end of the day, they are an MPP program without that much of historic international relations bent (HKS MPP is kind of the exception of MPPs that do outside of international development). Can you hypothetically go work the international space and in multi-lateral organizations - yes, but honestly, the location + alumni base + formal connections are simply not as strong.

Harris is a strong lots of things type MPP, but I would say their biggest strength is domestic policy from an analytical angle. Of course, they do have international elements to the program, but its not nearly robust as the schools I mentioned that focus on IR. 

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Just now, GradSchoolGrad said:

1. So yes, policy/international relations schools are trying to diversify from their historic international student base of Chinese international students (when I started about 40% of my class was Chinese international students). 

It simply wasn't good for actual diversity of experiences and there were lots of complaints about how the Chinese international students were reluctant to participate in class and diluted the classroom experience. There were lots of other issues that I can go into forever. So what US schools have been trying to is diversify the international student population beyond China - especially since the latest US-China tensions has made it harder to acquire Chinese students.

That being said, because you are South Korean, you automatically are targeted as a diverse student.

 

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Applying to: Sacramento State MPPA, San Diego State MPP (Online), and LONG SHOT UChicago Harris MPP

Undergrad institution: CSU, Sacramento

Undergrad Major: Sociology

Undergrad GPA: 3.0 Cumulative. 3.82 Major. Graduated Magna Cum Laude. Was a transfer student and had one bad semester at a shitty community college which really tanked my cumulative gpa. Former College dropout. Went to the University of Houston, had a 3.15 GPA, hated it. Moved back to California and when I moved back I got a job in SF in the fintech industry, 2012 SF it was super easy to get a job anywhere. Wasn't until a few years I decided to finish school and switch careers to water management. I just wanted to finished my degree, which was unrelated to my career, but now I see how important understanding the sociology of communities is to the water resource industry. Public Policy/Administration with an emphasis on environmental policy seems like a great way to tie those two together.

Years out of undergrad: 2

Quant Background: qualitative and quantitative Statistics (A), Research Methods (A). but other than that not much of a quant background

Relevant Work Experience:  I've worked in local government as a water treatment operator and have an unrelated Professional Certificate in Water Resource Management from a local CC.

GRE: Since it's not required, I'm not taking it. I'd rather avoid testing situations that may have groups due to COVID

Strength of LOR: I have two college professors who really liked me and my supervisor and boss. All great people. I'm not sure on the strength, but I know they will all vouch for me being successful wherever I end up.

Strength of SOP: I think its pretty good. I'd like to study environmental policy. Water treatment is a sweet gig, but theres also drawbacks, weird hours (24/7 operations) and often times, we're working with outdated equipment. In my SOP I highlight personal policy concerns such as deferring maintenance to keep rates low due to lack of political will or only making improvements in areas of higher socioeconomic status, global warming, and future conflict and volatility between inhabitants of the still water-rich regions and refugees and migrants who are likely to relocate there.

Extracurriculars/Leadership: Extracurriculars aren't that strong. I work at a water treatment plant. I guess I'm providing a really crucial and important service, but its just a job. I was on the deans list every semester at CSUS and was even a candidate for "outstanding graduating senior" due to academic excellence. I also volunteer with dog rescues, but its unrelated.

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5 hours ago, MrPants said:

Applying to: Sacramento State MPPA, San Diego State MPP (Online), and LONG SHOT UChicago Harris MPP

Undergrad institution: CSU, Sacramento

Undergrad Major: Sociology

Undergrad GPA: 3.0 Cumulative. 3.82 Major. Graduated Magna Cum Laude. Was a transfer student and had one bad semester at a shitty community college which really tanked my cumulative gpa. Former College dropout. Went to the University of Houston, had a 3.15 GPA, hated it. Moved back to California and when I moved back I got a job in SF in the fintech industry, 2012 SF it was super easy to get a job anywhere. Wasn't until a few years I decided to finish school and switch careers to water management. I just wanted to finished my degree, which was unrelated to my career, but now I see how important understanding the sociology of communities is to the water resource industry. Public Policy/Administration with an emphasis on environmental policy seems like a great way to tie those two together.

Years out of undergrad: 2

Quant Background: qualitative and quantitative Statistics (A), Research Methods (A). but other than that not much of a quant background

Relevant Work Experience:  I've worked in local government as a water treatment operator and have an unrelated Professional Certificate in Water Resource Management from a local CC.

GRE: Since it's not required, I'm not taking it. I'd rather avoid testing situations that may have groups due to COVID

Strength of LOR: I have two college professors who really liked me and my supervisor and boss. All great people. I'm not sure on the strength, but I know they will all vouch for me being successful wherever I end up.

Strength of SOP: I think its pretty good. I'd like to study environmental policy. Water treatment is a sweet gig, but theres also drawbacks, weird hours (24/7 operations) and often times, we're working with outdated equipment. In my SOP I highlight personal policy concerns such as deferring maintenance to keep rates low due to lack of political will or only making improvements in areas of higher socioeconomic status, global warming, and future conflict and volatility between inhabitants of the still water-rich regions and refugees and migrants who are likely to relocate there.

Extracurriculars/Leadership: Extracurriculars aren't that strong. I work at a water treatment plant. I guess I'm providing a really crucial and important service, but its just a job. I was on the deans list every semester at CSUS and was even a candidate for "outstanding graduating senior" due to academic excellence. I also volunteer with dog rescues, but its unrelated.

Why Chicago? If you have no desire to leave the West Coast, going to Harris-Chicago doesn't really make sense for you. 

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6 hours ago, MrPants said:

Who said anything about having no desire to leave the west coast? I'm starting to hate California. Chicago is a world class city. It's more affordable than the Bay Area.

Well the indicators were that the main schools you were applying to were on the West Coast. If you are trying to move out of California, I recommend you pick a litany of schools that match where you want to go regionally.

I can't assess your chances with Harris unless I know more about you - as in do you fulfill any other diversity categories? Are you the first in your family to go to college? etc.? Traditionally, especially in a higher application cycle year like this one, the answer is absolutely not. However, you might be unique enough if there is more that you aren't telling, the story could change.

I think if you took the GRE and got amazing scores, your chances might improve decently. I understand the GRE is optional, but that doesn't mean GRE scores no longer have any impact. It just means they are restricted to assess you based upon what you provide. Honestly, there might be significant questions about your ability to graduate, especially since your quant classes are at a basic level vs. they want you to have coming in. Strong GRE scores will offset somewhat. However, not sending GRE scores signals not being able to or unwillingness to rectify a weakness in the application packet.

Not to sound mean, but being a candidate and actually being outstanding graduating senior are two different things. I lost my Student Government election by a few votes once. I don't put that in anything. 

However, strategically, I recommend you pick schools that are more aligned with you future relocation interests. 

One unknown for me is your interest in environmental science. In East Cost and West Coast schools, environmental science interested students are vastly over-represented (not as much as education folks - but not that far behind). I can't speak for Harris and Midwestern schools. One thing to think about is maybe you would be better served seeking an Environment management or related degree rather than an MPP/MPA.

 

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10 hours ago, MrPants said:

Who said anything about having no desire to leave the west coast? I'm starting to hate California. Chicago is a world class city. It's more affordable than the Bay Area.

With your environmental focus, perhaps consider: UCSB Bren School, Michigan SEAS, Duke Nicholas & Yale FES (think it just changed its name). These are some of the top env schools. When I was considering that route, I really liked Duke's joint MPA/MEM type degree.

At least explore these programs. You may well decide an MPA is for you after all, of course! 

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37 minutes ago, EscapingBrexit said:

With your environmental focus, perhaps consider: UCSB Bren School, Michigan SEAS, Duke Nicholas & Yale FES (think it just changed its name). These are some of the top env schools. When I was considering that route, I really liked Duke's joint MPA/MEM type degree.

At least explore these programs. You may well decide an MPA is for you after all, of course! 

I think those are great options, but I don't think @MrPants can get in most of those schools you mentioned. I mean, I am not as familiar on how those schools runs their admissions, but I know the resume of people that come from those programs. Maybe I'm missing something here as I am. not as a familiar, but the person does not seem as competitive. 

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@GradSchoolGrad

@EscapingBrexit

Thank you for the responses. UCSB would be a great school to get into. I used to live in Santa Barbara and it's beautiful there. I appreciate the blunt honesty. Just some more info, I am Hispanic and a first generation college graduate. Although my extended family are all highly educated (schools like Oregon, Notre Dame, Cal, Rice) But I know going to an average, not so academically rigorous school like Sac State doesn't really help in trying to get into a top tier university. 

 

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2 hours ago, MrPants said:

 

@GradSchoolGrad

@EscapingBrexit

Thank you for the responses. UCSB would be a great school to get into. I used to live in Santa Barbara and it's beautiful there. I appreciate the blunt honesty. Just some more info, I am Hispanic and a first generation college graduate. Although my extended family are all highly educated (schools like Oregon, Notre Dame, Cal, Rice) But I know going to an average, not so academically rigorous school like Sac State doesn't really help in trying to get into a top tier university. 

 

Given your latest information. I think that if you redo these 3 things you might a more decent shot at Harris + the better environmental programs

1. Don't apply this year (it is crazy competitive with increased applications)

2. Take the GRE and get amazing scores (90 percentile plus)

3. Get promoted in your job in a leadership / managerial position 

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On 10/8/2020 at 6:46 PM, MrPants said:

 

@GradSchoolGrad

@EscapingBrexit

Thank you for the responses. UCSB would be a great school to get into. I used to live in Santa Barbara and it's beautiful there. I appreciate the blunt honesty. Just some more info, I am Hispanic and a first generation college graduate. Although my extended family are all highly educated (schools like Oregon, Notre Dame, Cal, Rice) But I know going to an average, not so academically rigorous school like Sac State doesn't really help in trying to get into a top tier university. 

 

These are typically referred to as the big 4 environmental management-type programs in the US, and you can't go wrong with them of course, but there quite a few well-regarded programs of this type. You should look through this thread (and I'm sure there will be a 2021 one too): 

It depends on your overall goals, but I think you are in a field at the moment that lends itself well to Environmental Policy. I'm in a similar-ish field, and it would be a natural leap for me too - so it should be for you. I think waiting a year isn't a bad idea, get some new experiences and so on along the way, take the GRE and strengthen your application. It would make you a stronger candidate but that doesn't always fit with life plans and things! If you want to pay in-state tuition, consider UCSB, Berkeley, Davis and elsewhere - they all have good environmental programs. Working in California and Wastewater, I'm naturally drawn to thoughts of the Water Wars and Mono Lake and so on.... a compelling environmental story to weave in to your apps, if it is relevant! Water resource management is so important to California and the entire Southwest region, and will be as the climate changes. 

What are your career goals? What do you actually want to do after you leave the wastewater plant? 

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Hello everyone, I would be happy to hear your advice regarding my profile. I've been considering doing an MPA/MPP for some years but I just keep putting the idea on hold for a variety of reasons (work, family, etc.). A few years ago, I applied to the Oxford MPP (no offer), Cambridge MPhil in Public Policy (accepted, no scholarship) and NUS MPP (accepted, full scholarship) but ended up not accepting any offer. 

I already have a Master's degree (non-US) and my main interest would be to develop my quant/research skills - for this reason I think the US would be the best option. However, I am not sure if my profile is competitive for the programmes I am considering applying to. I prefer the idea of doing a one-year degree, but I am not sure if my years of experience are enough for those mid-level professional programmes (such as the Princeton MPP), I would be happy to hear your advice on that.

I am mainly interested in development/humanitarian policy, with a focus on armed conflict.

Applying to (Considering): Princeton WWS, Harvard KS, Columbia SIPA

Undergrad: Non-US Law degree (5 years) and a 1,5 year Master's degree in Government from Europe

Years out of undergrad: 8 years

Quant Background: I can provide evidence for statistics and research methods classes (from the Master's) and professional experience related to data analysis - not ideal, I know. My idea would be to work on my GRE Quant score to provide more evidence of quant skills.

Relevant Work Experience: I have approximately 4 years of experience in the government, 2,5 years of experience at the UN, and for the last 2 years I have worked in a think tank (approximately 8 years in total)

GPA: This is a bit confusing due to the foreign degrees, but in the undergrad I think it would be something like 3.3 and in the Master's 3.7

GRE: 166/155/5.0 (Verbal/Quant/AWA) - scores from two years ago, I would take the exam again and study to try to improve the Quant score.

International experience: I have worked in 9 countries, both in field and HQ/Regional positions.

Strength of SOP: I have a specific research question that I want to approach during the degree connected to my professional experience. I do consider doing a PhD afterwards, but since I am still not 100% sure, the main idea is strengthening quant skills for accessing other research positions in INGOs or multilateral organizations/developing my own project.

Thank you very much for any feedback!

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8 hours ago, Gilgilauo said:

Hi everyone!

Really sorry about this post.

I am new here on Grad Cafe and working on my applications to graduate school (21 Fall) right now, and I am really nervous. It would be really helpful if you guys could take a look and provide me some feedback on my profile. (This is similar to What are my chances post....I found some links in the pinned post not validated anymore...Again I apologize for this....)

I am currently a senior in UIUC with a crappy GPA of 3.4/4.0 (many Bs, some As, one C) majoring in Astronomy + Physics minoring Math. Here are some details about my profile:

  • Have taken a handful of graduate-level courses. (I have better grades in 4&5 level courses actually.) 
  •  3 Years of research experience. (2 projects)
  • 2 publication. One on PNAS (editor's choice), one ApJ. (not first-author)
  • 1 first-author publication in progress. (may not be done by the application deadline.) will submit to MNRAS
  • 3 recommendations from research-related faculty
  • Nuclear particle physics summer school (FRIB). (can't apply to REU due to citizenship.)
  • No GRE Physics test score due to COVID

I found a faculty in the Harvard Astronomy Department who is taking students, and I am super-interested in his work. I have contacted him and had zoom conversations with him already. (I did not mention my GPA.) I really want to join his group after graduation, but I am deeply worried that my low GPA will deny me from entering a prestigious school like Harvard (Although the professor I am interested in strongly encouraged me to apply). I am wondering that if it is possible for me to be admitted? Also, are there any suggestions that I can look into while still preparing for the application? 

 

Again, I deeply apologize for this potentially annoying post.  

 

PS: the professor I am interested in want me to mention our contact in my PS, how will that impact my application?

Other programs considering (All have faculties in contact):  Princeton/Columbia/Duke/MSU/PeenState/UMich/North Carolina State/Notre Dame/UCSB/UCSC/LMU(Germany,Masters)/University of Tokyo (Masters) 

It will also be great if anyone could provide some suggestions on these programs!

This is the public policy forum, you'll need to look in the physical sciences section.

https://forum.thegradcafe.com/forum/7-physical-sciences/

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On 10/12/2020 at 1:28 PM, legdata said:

Hello everyone, I would be happy to hear your advice regarding my profile. I've been considering doing an MPA/MPP for some years but I just keep putting the idea on hold for a variety of reasons (work, family, etc.). A few years ago, I applied to the Oxford MPP (no offer), Cambridge MPhil in Public Policy (accepted, no scholarship) and NUS MPP (accepted, full scholarship) but ended up not accepting any offer. 

I already have a Master's degree (non-US) and my main interest would be to develop my quant/research skills - for this reason I think the US would be the best option. However, I am not sure if my profile is competitive for the programmes I am considering applying to. I prefer the idea of doing a one-year degree, but I am not sure if my years of experience are enough for those mid-level professional programmes (such as the Princeton MPP), I would be happy to hear your advice on that.

I am mainly interested in development/humanitarian policy, with a focus on armed conflict.

Applying to (Considering): Princeton WWS, Harvard KS, Columbia SIPA

Undergrad: Non-US Law degree (5 years) and a 1,5 year Master's degree in Government from Europe

Years out of undergrad: 8 years

Quant Background: I can provide evidence for statistics and research methods classes (from the Master's) and professional experience related to data analysis - not ideal, I know. My idea would be to work on my GRE Quant score to provide more evidence of quant skills.

Relevant Work Experience: I have approximately 4 years of experience in the government, 2,5 years of experience at the UN, and for the last 2 years I have worked in a think tank (approximately 8 years in total)

GPA: This is a bit confusing due to the foreign degrees, but in the undergrad I think it would be something like 3.3 and in the Master's 3.7

GRE: 166/155/5.0 (Verbal/Quant/AWA) - scores from two years ago, I would take the exam again and study to try to improve the Quant score.

International experience: I have worked in 9 countries, both in field and HQ/Regional positions.

Strength of SOP: I have a specific research question that I want to approach during the degree connected to my professional experience. I do consider doing a PhD afterwards, but since I am still not 100% sure, the main idea is strengthening quant skills for accessing other research positions in INGOs or multilateral organizations/developing my own project.

Thank you very much for any feedback!

I think you are in terrific shape to apply pre-COVID. As I tell everyone, this year will be more competitive than normal - no one knows how much more competitive. So whereas I would normally say you have a good shot previously, I can't be as certain currently.

If you identify:

a. what country you are from

b. what countries the bulk of your career has occured

c. what country you went to school at

That might be able to help me assess how "diverse" you are and possibly give you a better assessment.

That being said, from what you are telling me, it sounds like you are aiming for the wrong degree (or maybe not the best fit).
 

If you want to go full tilt data, I recommend you consider policy focused data master's programs. Some good ones are in:

a. U. Chicago Harris

b. Carnegie Melon - Heinz 

c. Georgetown - McCourt (their Policy Data Master's program is really good... their MPP - I would strongly recommend against)

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4 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

I think you are in terrific shape to apply pre-COVID. As I tell everyone, this year will be more competitive than normal - no one knows how much more competitive. So whereas I would normally say you have a good shot previously, I can't be as certain currently.

If you identify:

a. what country you are from

b. what countries the bulk of your career has occured

c. what country you went to school at

That might be able to help me assess how "diverse" you are and possibly give you a better assessment.

That being said, from what you are telling me, it sounds like you are aiming for the wrong degree (or maybe not the best fit).
 

If you want to go full tilt data, I recommend you consider policy focused data master's programs. Some good ones are in:

a. U. Chicago Harris

b. Carnegie Melon - Heinz 

c. Georgetown - McCourt (their Policy Data Master's program is really good... their MPP - I would strongly recommend against)

@GradSchoolGrad

Thank you very much for your reply, you are completely right! I checked the MS-DSPP and it seems incredible, exactly what I am interested in.

Regarding my background, I am from Latin America and I have worked in a mix of countries in South and Central America, Europe and South and Southeast Asia (I have been stationed both in capital and rural areas). My undergrad is from LATAM and my Master's was a joint programme by three unis (in Rome, Madrid and London).

I wanted to ask you why you don't consider the MPP at Georgetown a good option. I forgot to add to the list, but I considered applying there. I am prioritizing programmes in the DC-NYC region but in case there are any other programmes (besides the one you mentioned) you can think of with this combination of tech/data + humanitarian I would be happy to hear.

Thank you once again!

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6 minutes ago, legdata said:

@GradSchoolGrad

Thank you very much for your reply, you are completely right! I checked the MS-DSPP and it seems incredible, exactly what I am interested in.

Regarding my background, I am from Latin America and I have worked in a mix of countries in South and Central America, Europe and South and Southeast Asia (I have been stationed both in capital and rural areas). My undergrad is from LATAM and my Master's was a joint programme by three unis (in Rome, Madrid and London).

I wanted to ask you why you don't consider the MPP at Georgetown a good option. I forgot to add to the list, but I considered applying there. I am prioritizing programmes in the DC-NYC region but in case there are any other programmes (besides the one you mentioned) you can think of with this combination of tech/data + humanitarian I would be happy to hear.

Thank you once again!

1. I think you are uniquely diverse and that will help you with your admissions in any top tier program. Granted it might be extra competitive this year, I think you should apply for the top programs and see what happens.

2. I still think the Data focused Policy Master's programs are better fit for you than an MPP. FYI, Carnegie Melon Heinz has a DC campus, so I recommend you look into that as well.

3. The MPP program at Georgetown struggles to have a professional culture and has all sorts of programming issues (a lot of people who run it are academic who don't fully appreciate how to prepare their people for the professional job market). Additionally, it has a really bad legacy student culture where you being ambitious is looked down upon because it might make other people feel bad (this is very uniquely American thing in some pockets of America, and sadly it is in McCourt MPP).

In contrast MS-DSPP is ran by Dr. Bailey, who has extensive professional experience and professional collaboration and is simply better suited to support a professional like yourself to achieve career goals. 

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23 minutes ago, legdata said:

@GradSchoolGrad

Thank you very much for your reply, you are completely right! I checked the MS-DSPP and it seems incredible, exactly what I am interested in.

Regarding my background, I am from Latin America and I have worked in a mix of countries in South and Central America, Europe and South and Southeast Asia (I have been stationed both in capital and rural areas). My undergrad is from LATAM and my Master's was a joint programme by three unis (in Rome, Madrid and London).

I wanted to ask you why you don't consider the MPP at Georgetown a good option. I forgot to add to the list, but I considered applying there. I am prioritizing programmes in the DC-NYC region but in case there are any other programmes (besides the one you mentioned) you can think of with this combination of tech/data + humanitarian I would be happy to hear.

Thank you once again!

If you want more details about why McCourt MPP has issues -->
 

 

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1 hour ago, ADaLe said:

Hello, I'm sending out my applications in the general field of political philosophy soon and would appreciate any input regarding whether the schools I chose are too difficult to get into and what chance I should be giving myself / how far I should branch out with second-tier preferences.

Applying to: UCL: MA Legal and Political Theory, Philosophy; KCL: MA Political Economy, Philosophy; LSE: MSc Philosophy and Public Policy, Political Theory; Oxford: BPhil Philosophy, MA Political Theory.

Undergrad: BA Philosophy / Sociology from a strong, but not excellent university in germany (4 years, would've been 3 without covid). Won a small award for my BA thesis in philosophy.

Years out of undergrad: n/a

Relevant Work Experience: Three to four internship in relevant political institutions in germany, one to two of them only prospective, but confirmed. Also three years of on the side non-profit work for roughly 10-20h/week in relatively high positions.

GPA: At time of the application: Roughly 3.6, at completion: Approximately 3.8-3.9

GRE: n/a (not required by the programs)

International experience: Sadly none other than a year in the US in high school.

Strength of SOP: I think that, based on my extracurricular activities, I have good storytelling especially for the more explicitly political programmes; my academic profile and experiences fit the thematic strong points of the respective faculties relatively well, but I don't think I have the strongest arguments for pure academic ability other than grades and LoRs.

Strength of LoRs: Three letters from Professors at my uni that seem to be very interested in writing strong letters and have asked me for material / input / my SoPs to write as good of a LoR as possible.

Thank you very much for any feedback, I'd really appreciate it!

This is for Public Policy related grad programs. Please post in a more appropriate thread.

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23 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

1. I think you are uniquely diverse and that will help you with your admissions in any top tier program. Granted it might be extra competitive this year, I think you should apply for the top programs and see what happens.

2. I still think the Data focused Policy Master's programs are better fit for you than an MPP. FYI, Carnegie Melon Heinz has a DC campus, so I recommend you look into that as well.

3. The MPP program at Georgetown struggles to have a professional culture and has all sorts of programming issues (a lot of people who run it are academic who don't fully appreciate how to prepare their people for the professional job market). Additionally, it has a really bad legacy student culture where you being ambitious is looked down upon because it might make other people feel bad (this is very uniquely American thing in some pockets of America, and sadly it is in McCourt MPP).

In contrast MS-DSPP is ran by Dr. Bailey, who has extensive professional experience and professional collaboration and is simply better suited to support a professional like yourself to achieve career goals. 

@GradSchoolGrad

Thank you a lot, really insightful advice! I will definitely apply to the MS-DSPP.

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