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Am I competitive???

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(post edited to be more succint and ask specific questions)

An MPA brings all my interests and ambitions together but I worry that my application will not be competitive for entrance into top schools. What follows is an overview of my qualifications/weaknesses. I am especially interested in your perspectives regarding how military experience may be evaluated, how much going to no name schools hurts me, and whether the overall qualifications seem competitive.

Strengths: Pretty good GPA ~3.8 cumulative with over a 4.0 for the last 90 credits. 700 on Q in my first practice test and 670 V (I just started studying and will be able to study full time until I take the test in 4wks, aiming at 740-Q, 700-V, and 5.0 on the writing... but just assume 700Q, 650V, and 4.5AW to be safe).

Weaknesses: UG Institutions not top notch, little work experience in policy setting, only 1 econ class and no calc/stats classes, and my work experience came during college rather than after (except the internship which I completed over my final term).

Not Sure: Army experience 5yrs as a Russian Language Analyst (3 of those at NSA), Began a faith-based garden project to feed homeless and disaffected youth (2yrs ago, taken up most of my time since), volunteer work with a faith organization in Baltimore and DC doing homeless outreach 1yr. 1 month stint studying Russian abroad at private lang school (good marks).

Things which I hope might help: 3 month internship on local CBPR project aimed at lowering childhood obesity, Biblical Studies, military experience, and Russian fluency as diversity.

UG Institutions attended include: Defense Language Institute A.A. of Russian (3.6 GPA), Bible College in DC area B.A. in Biblical Studies (3.97 GPA), and University of Oregon B.A. in Intl Studies (4.05 GPA).

I am looking to concentrate on social policy, urban policy, or possibly IR and have a stong interest in NGO's/Non-proftis. Some of the schools I am looking at are Carnegie Mellon, Syracuse, Indiana (Bloomington), GW, and NYU (as well as some of the others, I am still working on narrowing it down by which schools are the best fit).

Do these qualifications seem competitive? Which schools might be more likely to accept me without a heavy quantitative background (I know Carnegie Mellon offers the possibility of a summer institute to help incoming students lacking in Q skills/experience)? Should I wait a year while I take a couple econ classes and gain more experience?

Thanks for any input,


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