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GPPI vs Harris


pearl
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i seem to be wavering on my decision and decided to post my thoughts as i'm sure a good number of us are on the same boat.

personally, i feel that the gppi open house was ok, it wasn't over-the-top fabulous but a lot of people seem to have been won over by the wine and crab cakes. however, i was impressed by their career services office and the sample class. fast forward a week. i am admiring the skyline as the plane starts to descend into chicago and think i am going to spend the next 2 years in the city. little did i know that uchicago is NOT the nyu of chicago. the open house at chicago was really intense, which is probably a good indication of how intense the program is going to be.

my interest is in poverty alleviation on an international level, and i feel that harris' focus primarily is on the domestic level. also, a large proportion of the graduates find a career in chicago. for a very quant school, i was surprised that they did not hand out more statistics about employment post-grad. also, i feel that quant is a necessary skill in the public policy arena but doesn't it seem like economics is mixed into every single class? on the pro-side, i really appreciate how the other grad schools within uchicago are open to the harris students.

i guess the bulk of my predicament comes down to this: i feel that georgetown would be a better fit since they offer comparative public policy core classes, have relationships with international organizations, and is less quant than harris. BUT, can you discount the rankings of the schools? thoughts? i must stop stressing and get some zzzzz. thanks!

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Pearl, two comments:

I think you are over-stating the "quant" emphasis. Harris provides a very solid foundation in quantitative methods, but I have not found it excessively quantitative by any means. There are plenty of high-level quantitative courses offered at Harris, but most are electives, not requirements.

You are correct about the pervasiveness of economics here, but I consider that a major plus. As a long-time policy professional, I can assure you that an ability to apply economic reasoning is a huge asset throughout the policy world, including in many areas where you may not presently consider it relevant. In this area, I doubt you will find better training ground than Harris.

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I also attended both open houses and I met a LOT of other people who are choosing between these two schools. It seemed that most people were leaning toward Harris, mainly because they got a much better aid package there. Is anyone leaning toward Georgetown over Harris? Is anyone planning to attend GT over Harris despite getting a lot more aid from Harris? If so, how are you justifying it?

I feel like I have two very good options here. I was really impressed by both open houses and feel like I'll get excellent training at either program.

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Thanks for your response, 33. I emphasize the "quant" aspect as harris was mentioning it at every single sub-event in the open house. it was their main selling point. i can surely see why, their distinguished faculty is comprised mostly of econ professors and poli scientists. gppi was promoting itself as a strong "quant" school as well, but i got the sense that harris' is definitely more analytical. so in that regard, i do agree with you that Harris would provide a solid education but what about the hands-on experience while in school? given the mpp is a professional program, i believe i am paying for an education as well as the network and work experience it will get me. some say that harris is theoretical in their teaching since most students do not practice their skills in the real-world until after graduation. i really am torn between the 2 schools because i can argue strongly for both pros and cons.

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I also attended both open houses and I met a LOT of other people who are choosing between these two schools. It seemed that most people were leaning toward Harris, mainly because they got a much better aid package there. Is anyone leaning toward Georgetown over Harris? Is anyone planning to attend GT over Harris despite getting a lot more aid from Harris? If so, how are you justifying it?

I feel like I have two very good options here. I was really impressed by both open houses and feel like I'll get excellent training at either program.

i met one person who was sure, after having visited harris, that he likes gtown better. i can't really speak for his aid.

Both programs are going to be equally expensive for me, and I'm still undecided, but one big factor in justifying gtown over harris is the professional network. Take a look at the "Areas of Focus" that was in the Harris folder, and then the "2008 Employee Profile" from Gtown. Being the most competitive MPP program in the D.C. area gives the gppi students a leg up as they have the opportunity to work for reputable organizations throughout the school year. Not so much in Hyde Park but, a current harris student told me that when summertime rolls around, they replace the gtown students with kids from harris and ksg. the statement, however, should be taken with a grain of salt.

one can't go wrong with either choice, which is precisely what makes the decision so hard.

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Pearl, I do not know enough about Georgetown to offer an informed comparison. I do recall, however, that another current Harris student who frequently posts on this board ("xxnormajeanxx") took a close look at Georgetown last year. You may wish to check her previous posts.

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piping in --

last year i was choosing between GPPI and Harris and ended up picking Harris even though GPPI gave me quite a bit more in aid. (you'll find students who went the other way too obviously.) The criticisms you have of Harris vs. GPPI are the same that I had -- more theoretical core at Harris, less connection to DC. That said, Harris's strength is it also offers plenty of applied "tools" classes, whereas it seemed like GPPI offered more "topical" classes--which are great for subject knowledge but gave me a sense that they'd be less useful in the long run -- even if they were more "fun" classes in the short run. I also think Harris has a terrific network, even in DC, and there are plenty of students who go to work there (the GAO is Harris's biggest employer - although I guess that does include the small Chicago office) Plenty of students come from DC to go to school at Harris also - and they are your network as well! I just had one of my colleagues forward my resume to an organization in DC. Obviously, you can't do an internship during the year in DC if you're in Chicago -- but there's great opportunities in Chicago as well.

Harris has a very strong focus on poverty, although you're right that it's not necessarily on the international level. But, GPPI is also more focused on social policy than on international development even though it is in washington.

anyway, i'm personally very happy with my choice, and I think both are great schools -- good luck with your decision.

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