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Chances for a tier 1 IR program? Wait a year?

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Honest opinions appreciated. I have been accepted to a good IR program in DC, but not a tier 1 school. I applied to Gtown MSFS and was rejected but I didnt apply to SAIS or any other Tier 1 schools. I was wondering if I should attend the program I got into or wait another year and try to get into a top tier 1 IR program (SAIS, Fletcher, SIPA). If I dont have a shot then I dont want to waste a year but if I do then it might be worth it for me. My stats:

I went to a T25 Undergrad and double majored in Politics and Middle Eastern/Islamic Studies with a minor in Judaic Studies. My overall GPA was a 3.242, however my first 3 semesters when I had a hard adjustment period I had GPA of arounds 2.9 whereas my last 5 semesters my GPA was around a 3.4-3.5. Unfortunately I took many of my Politics major requirements in my freshman year and my GPA for my Politics Major is a 2.986, GPA for Middle Eastern Studies is 3.269 and GPA for Judaic studies minor is 3.26. I have had one semester studying abroad in an Arab country, written some articles for local newspaper regarding middle east foreign policy, and have 3 years of Arabic Language study. I am also fluent in Hebrew. Since graduating I have also taken Macro Econ and Micro-Econ at a community college (Both A's)

My GRE scores are 720 Verbal, 680 Math, 5.5 Writing and I have had a few months work experience in a prestigious think tank in Washington DC dealing with Middle East foreign policy issues where I have a good rec from a well known senior fellow (who also teaches at SAIS) and another internship in DC at a think tank dealing with terrorism issues that lasted several months. I also spent one summer during undergrad as a researcher and translator for a study in Israel on Kurdish Jews. My work experience other than that is as an SAT, GRE, and LSAT teacher for a national test prep company (2 years) and a small consulting/recruiting firm that specializes in Israeli non-profit and life-sciences/med device companies (1year).

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I don't think its your numbers that were the problem. This year has yielded some very arbitrary results as far as decisions are concerned. Your Georgetown denial could been to a multitude of reasons: not enough relevant work experience (though your work experience is very interesting), unclear conveyance of your goals, or even ho hum reference letters. Letters don't have to be from well known people to be effective either. Mine certainly were not.

You will have to ask yourself how much will waiting a year and going to another school position you for what you want to do. A year would have passed that could have been spent in the program you were accepted to. I think too much emphasis is put on the school name when all of the schools are strong in their own right. Did the school give you money? If so then why turn that down and risk not getting anything from other schools you are considering?

If I had an offer from a school now, I would take it. Who knows what next year will hold. This one was already bad enough and there are hints that it will only get more competitive.

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The decision that you make ultimately depends on several factors - namely did the school give you any funding and what area of IR do you plan on focusing? If the school that you got into gave you money, and they are fairly well known for what you want to study (ie IDEV at American) then its a no brainer to accept and go this year.

However, with a solid extra year of international work experience supporting a strong SOP that ties your diverse background together you could have a good shot at a tier 1 school, and at the very least squeeze some money out of the school you already got into. I would also see about trying to raise your quant score on the GRE a little if you are shooting for an econ heavy program like SAIS.

Maybe, you could accept at your school and look for a good int

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