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Difference between top programs & mid-level


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I am currently in the process of deciding between Syracuse and University of Kentucky for my MPA. Syracuse's Maxwell School is obviously among the top programs, but Kentucky has a good ranking as well. UK offered tuition + more, yet Syracuse only offered $10k of the total $53k for their program.

 

This leads to my question: How big is the gap between the top programs and other schools? Is it worth the large amount of debt in order to get the well known degree and more opportunities or is it a better decision to follow the money and end with a slightly less spectacular degree?

 

I appreciate any insight!

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I'd take the offer from the University of Kentucky. First of all, the difference between their rankings isn't that big to where it would warrant such a horrible deal from Syracuse. They're offering to pay for your tuition and give you extra cash -- which is an amazing offer from a top 20 school!

 

Maybe it would require further consideration if Kentucky was around ~#50 or so, but for such a small difference in prestige I wouldn't throw myself into the depths of student loans.

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Since this field is relatively small, a school beyond the top ten is a big step down in prestige. There simply aren't enough people going for professional degrees in MPP or MPA to allow for a large number of excellent programs. It's true that your school won't matter much for government work, but for other areas, it could have an impact. Your cohort at University of Kentucky is likely to be of a different calibre than at Syracuse. 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Adam, I'm completely with Gradytripp on this one. One thing you are overlooking, however, is that you can attempt to leverage the offer from Kentucky to get more money from Maxwell. It's a delicate process, but it never hurts to ask as long as you are polite, direct, and humble without being beseeching, whiny, or accusatory. I wrote a blog post that outlines how you can ask for more financial aid. Might be helpful!

 

http://theartofapplying.com/sample-email-to-request-more-fellowship-aid/

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  • 4 months later...

Adam, please feel free to PM me about this...happy to share my perspective inasmuch as I have a broader experience than some of the other posters here. Keneisha's point is well taken. Gradytrip's is the usual mantra. Much of your decision should be based on what you ultimately want to do and how much debt you want to incur.

Edited by riverguide
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