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Worth Applying to HKS/WW on Short Notice


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Hey all,

So I would like to apply to HKS and WWS, however, don't know if I should given that 2 weeks will not be enough to make my SOP super top notch. Yes I started this process a bit late. I actually didn't know I would be graduating next June. Stats and bio below. Thanks a bunch for the insight.

Schools Applying To: MPP/MPAs - Berekeley (Goldman), Brown (Taubman), Chicago (Harris), Columbia (SIPA), Cornell (CIPA), Georgetown (GSFS), Johns Hopkins (SAIS), Penn (Fels), UCLA (Luskin), USC (Price) - Considering Harvard (KSG) and Princeton (WWS) but I doubt 3.6 GPA and 2 weeks to make this SOP awesome enough is sufficient to be completely honest - insight here would be helpful.

Undergraduate institution: Los Angeles Pierce College ---> transferred to University of Southern California (USC) - Fight On! - on full academic scholarship

Undergraduate GPA: ~3.6 (depending on how this semester shakes out it could bump up to around 3.74+)

Undergraduate Majors: Philosophy, Politics, and Law (PPL - modeled after Oxford's PPE program)

Study Abroad: None

GRE: Taking it in 2 weeks but every test I've taken at puts me at the following - 162-167 (Q), 159-164 (V), 5-6 (W)

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): None but I worked for 4 years after high school before deciding to go to college (see below)

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 6 years of full-time work, see below for full explanation

Describe Relevant Work Experience: A bit lengthy, I'll try to be brief:

1. Co-Founder and Operations Director, 2006-Present, uFish: Started a nonprofit program (uFish) my senior year of high school. Program is a 10 week curriculum aimed at the job training, employment, and life skills education of at-risk and homeless youths in Los Angeles (15-27 yrs old). In my 6 years as co-founder and Operations Director, over 250 kids have gained employment and at least 135 could be identified as no longer being impoverished or at-risk. At uFish, we have partnered with the Salvation Army, Pointe Hope Foundation, Homeboy Industries, People for Parks, and the Sheila Kar Foundation for projects and collaborations. I was homeless as a kid after my parents' divorce - goal is for it to not happen to anyone ever again.

2. President and Executive Director - Students for Obama, California: Students for Obama is the official student wing of the Obama for America re-election campaign. I was a volunteer, then bumped to Political Director, and then Executive Director since July 2011. Over 8000 members, over 70K new voter registrees in CA, raised over $192K towards the President's campaign. (Stoked about the election results of course).

3. Presidential Delegate to the Democratic National Convention 2012 from Congressional District 30 - Was voted as a delegate through normal means election last year. Went to the DNC in Charlotte and chaired the platform writing committee. One of the better experiences of my life.

4. Political Editor at Sonic Eclectic Magazine - first just a contributing writer, then political columnist, and now political editor.

Languages: English (native), Farsi (Advanced), French (Intermediate), Spanish (Intermediate)

Quant: Economics (Macro and Micro), probably taking Calculus next semester.

Strength of SOP: My SOP should be good, I suppose. I'm a fairly good writer, however I have not committed an incredible amount of time to it, or had it edited by super-qualified people. I'm focusing more on being direct and honest about my life, my work, and my goals - all of which are fairly straightforward.

Strength of LOR (be honest, describe the process, etc): 1 from Salvation Army Director (non-profit insight), 1 from a Philosophy Professor (academic insight), and 1 from the Executive Director of OFA-CA (Obama for America) (political/community organizing insight)

Also if anyone has any comments, concerns, insight on schools I probably will not be getting into, or really anything at all - I am very open to any criticism or information from people who inevitably have a fair amount of experience with this process.

Thank you!

Edited by Thelongshot
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My instinct would be to go for HKS but not for WWS. The Princeton MPP program is explicitly mid-career, and even its MPA program has a much higher suggested age and duration of work experience than HKS. Especially since WWS also requires a four-page policy memo, I think your effort is better concentrated on the one rushed application.

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Thanks for the advice. I highly doubt I'll even be applying to HKS - probably out of league with a 3.2 USC GPA (even with the 3.5 Cum). I'll be aiming moreso for SIPA, CIPA, Luskin, Price, Harris, GSFS, and Fels. I think my work experience can eek me into most of those. Maybe lol

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