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can i get into these schools? if not where?


bbq555

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i have a 3.7 GPA in criminal justice

most likely will obtain a GRE score between 1150-1300

president of a fraternity with various other positions

affiliated with 2 other organizations

3 months interning for a big city police agency

lots of community service

3 well written letters of recomendations

Do I have a chance for getting accepted to a masters program in public admin. or public affairs to:

columbia

UC berkley

carnegie mellon

columbia

cornell

harvard

washington

new york university

University of Texas

if not, any recomendations on where i should apply?

thanks

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Just a couple of pieces of advice to help hone the focus of your applications:

Things that will help: GPA, internship, strong LORs

Things that probably won't have an impact on the admissions committee: fraternal presidency, organization memberships, community service (unless these memberships and services are closely related to the field of criminal justice). At the undergraduate application stage, committees are looking for "well-rounded" individuals; at the graduate level, they are looking for well-focused individuals.

If you do intend to apply to these schools, spend your summer learning how to succeed on the GRE test. You will need a strong score to pass basic cut-offs (closer to 1300 than 1150), and an even stronger score if you need funding (1300-1500), especially at the schools you've listed.

May I ask, what do you hope to do with your advanced degree? The schools you have listed (with the exception of U Washington, with which I am not familiar) are highly focused on academic work, so if your hope is to research and write on CJ-related topics for academic journals, these schools would be good for you. Also, I just quickly popped over to Cornell.edu to check out their graduate programs, and I don't see anything in CJ. Are you sure all of these schools offer advanced degrees in your field, or are you planning to go into a related field (government, social engineering, etc)?

If your intention is a specialized vocation in the CJ field, or perhaps the facilitation of upward mobility within your career, you should probably talk to your current professors or even professionals who hold the kind of jobs you would like to have.

A lot of my reply probably sounds like discouragement, which is certainly not my intention! I would simply want to make sure, if I were in your position, that I was on the right path before you spend your time, energy, and financial resources (!) on grad-school application. Believe me, the process demands so much of each of them, especially those financial resources!!!!

Best of luck!

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He mentioned that he was interested in pursuing public administration at the graduate level, and all of those schools have well regarded mpa programs, and all are competitive. With mpa/mpp programs work experience is a huge factor a lot of times, as it is a professional degree. Applicants straight out of undergrad are not nearly as competitive, especially for funding, as those with work experience. Unless you are absolutely certain of what you want to study at the graduate level, and/or have some other compelling reason for attending, I would strongly recommend getting some experience working with an organization that fits your career ambitions, then apply to mpa programs.

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I would suggest getting involved with AmeriCorps. They have many criminal justice/re-entry programs. Here's one that I found quickly.

https://my1.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do;jsessionid=c0a8060e30d752a26a8c5b904deb9b9fcbe5147c0e3a.e3uLc3qRa3yOe34PbxaSc3iTbNr0n6jAmljGr5XDqQLvpAe?fromSearch=true&id=1341&SID=c0a8060f30d61b3715c2bdf44db5ae099e6b42904443

AmeriCorps is also highly regarded among many schools, providing an education award that many universities will match. Look into it, especially if you have time before applying to grad school. Good luck!

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He mentioned that he was interested in pursuing public administration at the graduate level, and all of those schools have well regarded mpa programs, and all are competitive.

Sorry! Turns out I'm a goofball...One too many speed-reading classes... :roll:

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i have a 3.7 GPA in criminal justice

most likely will obtain a GRE score between 1150-1300

president of a fraternity with various other positions

affiliated with 2 other organizations

3 months interning for a big city police agency

lots of community service

3 well written letters of recommendation

Do I have a chance for getting accepted to a masters program in public admin. or public affairs to:

columbia

UC berkley

carnegie mellon

columbia

cornell

harvard

washington

new york university

University of Texas

if not, any recommendations on where i should apply?

thanks

I found the "brutally honest" approach most useful early in my process, so I hope you won't mind if I give you the same.

My immediate impressions:

* Your list is very ambitious for someone without work experience and an unremarkable GRE.

* Criminal Justice isn't a quantitatively rigorous discipline. You could struggle to deal with the Econ/Finance elements you will encounter in an MPA program.

* You still have a lot to learn about the whole process. It's a game and you need to learn to sell yourself more effectively.

Some questions I would need answered to say more about your chances:

* People who matriculate to Harvard, NYU, and Berkley et al are generally very strong applicants. Good grades are assumed - what else distinguishes you?

* What is the tier and type of your undergrad college? How difficult was your undergrad major?

* What are the two organizations you are affiliated with? Do they intersect with your professional goals?

* How well known are your LoR writers in the field? I saw a thread on GradCafe that asked how many letter writers had Wikipedia pages. At the very least 2 of 3 should be professors of yours and with GRE numbers like those you list the LoRs probably need to be stunning.

* What drew you to MPA? < most important by far

From the information you have given I would think you would struggle to get into most (if not all) of those programs. They are all highly ranked and draw great applicants. In short, I think you need to lower your sights. Check out http://naspaa.org/ for a list of other accredited MPA programs.

All applicants have weakpoints (in your case the GRE score), but what worries me most about your application package is the lack of anything that pops out at me. What makes you special? If I were on a committee I'd be tempted to see your life story as a guy who wants to be a police officer who applied to grad school on a whim when the economy got rough.

PS - I'd be interested in how you came up with that list. Those programs are all well regarded but have little else in common. Before I can recommend other schools I need to know where your academic interests lie.

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In short, I think you need to lower your sights.

bbq555 - This is a point a disagree with here. Undoubtedly top tier schools are competitive, but they aren't looking to train a bunch of clones either. What's important in the application process is how well you can sell yourself. Ask yourself: "What do you bring to program that sets you apart from the rest and how is a particular program going to help you achieve your career goals?" This should be reflected in your statement of purpose/letter of intent. My recommendation would be to highlight those accomplishments that make you unique. For example, as president of your fraternity did you organize community charity events? If so, emphasize your role in that event and the benefits it had in the community. Schools including Harvard Kennedy School, NYU Wagner, etc. are looking for a diverse group of individuals and if you choose to apply to any of the school on your list, just be sure to let them know how you'll contribute to the overall diversity of their program.

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Granted, I'm a first-time applicant for this coming cycle, and I really don't know anything beside what I've been told. But what I do know is that stats are a very, very small part of the game--they're markers, benchmarks, things that are useful but far, far from the be all end all. In short, I don't know whether you can get into these schools, and I don't know if anyone can tell you, either. I think people can tell you whether or not the stats are qualifying or prohibitive, and other posters have spoken to this--not to mention I'm sure your professors, advisers, grad school admissions counselors, etc., can answer your questions to that effect. But the real question is: are there people at these schools you want to work with who you think would want to work with you? When my undergraduate thesis adviser applied to grad school, he got into the highest-ranked program in the field, but was rejected by a state school that he'd applied to as a safety--it was a school ranked below 75 on all of the rankings lists, but, most importantly, it was a school that didn't have any professors he was interested in. And, as a result, I imagine they weren't all that interested in him, either. His stats were obviously great; they qualified him for great programs; but, while numbers and lists of accomplishments are important, they're not enough for any of us to give a remotely accurate answer to your question. And honestly, I don't know if anyone can give any answers except for the admissions committees. Which isn't comforting, I know--and believe me, I'm nervous as hell about whether or not I'm qualified for my dream programs, too--but it's what I've come to understand as true.

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When my undergraduate thesis adviser applied to grad school, he got into the highest-ranked program in the field, but was rejected by a state school that he'd applied to as a safety--it was a school ranked below 75 on all of the rankings lists, but, most importantly, it was a school that didn't have any professors he was interested in. And, as a result, I imagine they weren't all that interested in him, either. His stats were obviously great; they qualified him for great programs; but, while numbers and lists of accomplishments are important, they're not enough for any of us to give a remotely accurate answer to your question. And honestly, I don't know if anyone can give any answers except for the admissions committees. Which isn't comforting, I know--and believe me, I'm nervous as hell about whether or not I'm qualified for my dream programs, too--but it's what I've come to understand as true.

This here: #1 fact about applying to schools with a research focus (ie. PhD, MA, MS).

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Having good scores is important, but its not the only thing that matters. Your GPA is high enough to offset a lower GRE score, although a 1300 is certainly respectable enough to get you into good schools, despite what people are saying. Since you're applying to MPA programs and not MPP, there will be less of a focus on your quantitative background. But, of course, its good to either have classes in statistics/finance/math, or do well on the GRE math section.

As far as LOR's go, try to get them from people who you have a strong relationship with. Professors/teachers are always good, but if you're heavily involved in, say, community service, and you have a supervisor or the director of the organization who could speak well to your qualifications, that would be good too. My LOR's were from a variety of backgrounds (not all faculty) and I had different relationships with them, but as a result, the adcom's were able to get a more rounded picture of me. They don't have to be uber famous professors with wikipedia pages, its more important that they are genuine, can speak well to your strengths, and can effectively convince the adcom's that you are right for a program.

Its also extremely important, especially for the schools that you are applying to, to have a developed sense of why you're interested in obtaining an MPA degree, and what experience's you've had that strengthen you as a candidate. You don't have to have worked in politics to get into the programs you're interested in. I, for example, work in direct human services (I'm an entry level counselor in a youth shelter), I interned with Amnesty International one summer, and I did a lot of advocacy work at my undergraduate campus regarding LGBTQA issues. None of them were directly related to policy, but through those experiences I was able to develop an overall desire to get into public service. In many ways, through those experiences, I was able to see how policy affected the work that I could do and that made me interested in moving beyond advocacy and into policy. I'm also applying to MPP/MPA programs and I've had a lot of success. Granted, your programs are generally more competitive than the programs I applied to, but the basic principles apply no matter where you are applying.

Top tier schools are looking for well-rounded candidates, and some schools in particular (like Harvard) are looking for candidates who are strongly interested in public service. If you can use your community service, internships, or even fraternity membership to show how you've developed your interest in in public service, you would certainly be a competitive candidate.

I think the most important thing to emphasis is; having good scores, recommendations, SOP, etc, will never hurt your chances, but even if part of your application is weaker in some areas, that doesn't necessarily exclude you. Try to strengthen as many areas of your application as possible. You don't have to have the best scores, the most reputable LOR's, but find something in your experiences that makes you stand out, makes you a little different than other candidates. And definitely, definitely, spend a lot of time on your SOP, its really the best way to sell yourself. Don't write something generic, find an interesting angle to present your case in.

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