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Fall 2016 Admissions Cycle

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Guest SIPA_MPA18

I know it's a long way away (maybe not so long for others), but I wanted to see who here is applying for Fall 2016 admission. If you've been following the 2015 discussions, you probably already know which programs draw most of the attention. I had two schools in mind at first but my eyes were opened to the merits of the other top programs after stumbling upon GradCafe and keeping abreast of the 2015 cycle discussions!

I'll try to spur some discussion by answering these questions I keep asking myself.

What are your goals?

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

1. My goals are a bit conflicted at the moment. All my experience is at the federal and international level (military). If I choose that route I want to focus on domestic security policies and strategic communication. However, I have a strong belief in being engaged in local strategic issues and policies even though I have little professional experience at that level.

2. Duke Sanford and Columbia SIPA are my top two choices. Sanford's MPP program primarily because of the combination of small program size, the pragmatic focus with real-world clientele and projects, the friendliness of the admissions staff and its location in the Triangle of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. There are so many different opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration in that area at all levels of government. Minor drawback is the distance from DC (RDU is a nice airport though).

SIPA's MPA program is my next choice due to its outstanding reputation and faculty, the depth of the program with the required concentration and specializations, and it's NYC location. The large class size and supposed impersonal nature (what are others' experiences?) of the SIPA staff are my major drawbacks. It would offer so many great networking opportunities though.

3. Mainly just browsing the program websites and GradCafe forums. I did make a spreadsheet to help organize and compare different facets of each program. Might visit top 3 programs before applying if I get the chance.

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I've been looking forward to a thread for Fall 2016 applicants. I've been preparing to this cycle for what feels like the past two years!

 

My goals: to conduct effective social policy research within social inequalities and poverty. I'm currently gaining direct work experience to that effect at a national non-profit. I could see myself going into the fed route at HHS, or working with another organization similar to my current employer. 

 

Favorite programs: Princeton WWS, Duke Sanford, and Michigan Ford. I'm also applying to UT-Austin LBJ and Washington Evans for their dual degrees with an MSW. Although I currently live and work in DC, I REALLY want to get back out of it (I relocated straight from FL once I finished undergrad). Out of the five programs that I plan to apply to, none of them are in the DMV metro area. I figure if I could always return to DC if I truly needed to for work.

 

What I've done: I've had a spreadsheet of program comparisons that I've continually updated for the past 2 years--program information, cost of living, average weather, tax rates, anything I could think to add to help me make informed decisions. It's helped me narrow down from my original listing of 18 schools but whenever I start looking at it, I start to question whether I should apply to another school or two.

 

As for the applications, I took the GRE last year before I graduated, but now I'm preparing to take it again by the end of summer to strengthen my chances of fellowship offers. Need to reach back out to undergrad professors once more, and start drafting an SOP over the summer as well.

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here here!

An international student from China

Studying environmental engineering in undergraduate but wish to turn to MPA/MPP in 2016 fall~~

Pretty good GRE and TOEFL score.. but my intern experience are not in the public sectors....

really looking forward to HKS, Yale, SIPA, Stanford.... wish to know how much possibility I've got through communication here~!!!

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I might as well chime in here.

 

What are your goals?

 

Conduct research and analysis on the role of multilateral security arrangements in U.S. Foreign Policy and international organizations. Currently helping build a non-profit on intelligence education. (Heavily research based) Hoping to be able to join Americorps this summer so I can learn non-profit and public service management skills. Ultimately want to be able to build a network in D.C. and land a job in the foreign policy apparatus that focuses on security, rule of law and/or geopolitics. 

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

 

Programs: American SIS, Syracuse Maxwell, GWU Elliott, Pitt GSPIA are the ones I am strongly looking at. If I enroll into Americorps, I might try my luck at Princeton WWS, Columbia SIPA and a few others since my application fee would be waved.

 

Ultimately, I am highly targeting Syracuse Maxwell and American SIS since they have good programs that put emphasis on the role security plays in international governance and is not so exclusive to just US National Security Policy. Additionally, I really like how their programs are set up so that students can build a strong network in DC and gain policy based experience.

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

 

Funny enough, the schools I am placing the most value on are more affordable than the elite expensive schools. I went through an application cycle a year back but got no funding. Now that I have more work and policy experience, I have been able to better identify what it is I want to go into and have a clearer picture of my career goals. After doing more research into other programs, I was able to identify my top two schools I wanted to attend based on what the program offered academically and professionally. 

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Namaste, from India! Good to see the Fall 2016 aspirants coming together. 

 

What are your goals?

Short term: Getting best in the industry exposure to development practices (mainly quantitative research) across the globe by associating with International NPOs. While experimenting with subjects like 'Religion' and 'Development' to add some taste in life.
Long term: Working with organizations like UN, World Bank for tackling challenges in developing and 3rd world countries.

Some time in the future: Working on a community farm where we grow our food while the birds sing merry and deers hop after coming from delivering a guest lecture at the Ivy league university. Phew!

 

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

MPA / MPP is what I feel will give me an opportunity to build an educational background and networking opportunity to work out what I learn. More focussed on praxis than theoretical aspects of development. Hoping to take up something related to study of religion and theology.
 

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

Document: Started noting the +ves and -ves on the forum about courses and colleges.
                   Starting with an Excel sheet marking scores-universities admitted and scholarships. 
Networking: Prodding alumni and students of the universities in target.
              

Looking forward to next few months of sharing information, concerns and results :)

 

Cheers! 

Edited by irman_abhinav

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What are your goals?

Goal is to get into 1-year masters program to help launch my career in international development, non-profit work.

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

I think LSE MSc Political Economy of Late Development and IHEID MSc Development Studies fits my passions/plans the most. I mostly want a masters degree because I want to get a good position within the development world. With my undergraduate degree in Economics, I think I have a foundation but am having a hard time getting jobs that I want. :\ In addition to that, I also want to get the degree to keep doors open for PhD or research in my future as that may be something I am interested in.

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

I have researched different programs and just by volunteering and interning in different organizations, I know what my passion is. And with that in mind, I think LSE or IHEID would be the best fit for me. I'm not sure if I can get in so it's nerve racking knowing what I want so clearly but possibly not getting it. :( But I will give it my best shot!!

 

Also, I have taken the GRE once before and scored 158q 158v and 5.5aw. I am applying to LSE, IHEID, SAIS, Georgetown, GWU, and Brandeis. Should I study more and retake the test? Not sure how much I can improve because I did study a lot...please advice would help! I have a 3.79 GPA and 3+ years of relevant volunteer/intern experience (plus some international). Thank you!

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What are your goals?

I'd like to end up doing analysis or strategic planning for urban/social policy in the US, with an emphasis on economic development. That could be at an NGO, city-level government, a public-private partnership, a foundation... I'm not really sure yet. A definite goal during grad school is to find out more what the day-to-day of those positions would look like a bit better.

 

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

So far, it's a mix of MPA/MPP/MUP programs. The one downside of snooping all the past discussions on GradCafe, for me at least, is that so many people seem to have an international focus. Which is great! But it means that I often have to take those recommendations with a grain of salt since they don't line up with my interests (probably a good idea for forum-reading anyway). I spent a good part of my undergrad working and studying abroad, and I'd love to keep that breadth in my grad studies, but I also know that I'm a lot more interested in living and working with communities in the US. I'm looking programs that have and emphasis on building strong skills for quantitative analysis, but don't necessarily require you to have an extensive background (read: calculus) already. Also, I would like a pony.
 

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

I've been taking some pre-reqs through UCLA's online extension, and I've gone to some info sessions in my area. Plus, to echo a lot of people here already: All The Spreadsheets. I've got a sheet with application requirements and deadlines, one where I can keep track of professors who look interesting, student groups alumni who are doing things I think are cool, alumni who I might have a school/work overlap with and could potentially prod for opinions...

 

I've also found it really helpful to look at the classes and put together a potential 2-yr track for myself. I'm 100% sure that would be subject to change once you get there, but it's a good way to imagine what your experience would be like at different programs. It helped me eliminate some programs that seemed cool in general, but that I realized wouldn't actually get me the things I wanted to learn most. Also, it feels great to get excited about programs that have classes you're dying to take, especially while slogging through all this lovely application prep.

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What are your goals?

Short term: Apply to a MPA/MPP school and gain a lot of experience/networking opportunities through my internships. I hope to stay or move back to the west coast and work as either a budget analyst in the city manager's office or as a line staff supervisor at a nonprofit. Also, I'm hoping my fiance will be cool with the idea of me not working for two years.

 

Long term: I would like to be an administrator for the city or a socioeconomic nonprofit. I am also invested in the idea that I will stumble upon a mysterious bag filled with a lot of money in an abandoned parking lot OR I turn out to be the sole heir to an infamous Filipino business tycoon.

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

Well per my signature I would be happy if I get accepted to any of the schools in my signature. What's important to me is funding, internship opportunities, and location. I can live with myself if I'm accepted to a more quant heavy program (GSPP, FSPP). I'm hoping to stay in the area where I will be graduating. Otherwise we'll be moving to Portland or Seattle because I really like gourmet food, artisan coffee, and craft beer (hipster this, hipster that) and I really don't want to live in Los Angeles anymore.

 

As far as fit is concerned it would probably be a toss up between Portland, Oregon, and Washington Evans as those programs are not as quant heavy and are in cities where we want to end up anyway.

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

Ask my fiance if this school was cool with her and she verifies this by saying "yes" or gives me a scathing look implying "no I will not move that far away unless you get a boat load of money from them so think again mister."

 

All jokes aside I have been browsing Cafegrad, pestering my seniors on their grad school decisions, and researching schools non-stop for the past three years.

Edited by Forever In Debt

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Hello! Another international applicant here, looking at MPA/MPP programmes in Europe and the US

 

What are your goals?
In the short-medium term I'd like to work on public policy issues either at the EU, in my national civil service or third sector. Particularly interested in migration policy and housing/homelessness (and their intersection).

 

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

 

Well I'm hoping that looking on here will help out a bit with that! So far I'm definitely looking at LSE and Sciences Po because of their international focus, as well as the Erasmus Mundus MAPP at CEU and EPoG at Paris 13.

 

When it comes to the US I'm a total novice as I only know the schools by their reputation internationally, so at the minute I'm just doing a lot of research. I've got a list of about 10 (the usual famous ones, plus a few that I've heard good things about about on here like Tufts and Duke) that I'm hoping to narrow to 4-5.

 

I don't have a lot of work experience though I do have multiple languages and a bit of voluntary experience, so I'm trying to find out which programmes align with that profile.

 

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

I've narrowed down my European choices by looking at the streams and options they offer - I also have a strong preference towards two year programmes rather than one year.

Edited by CalmDownDeer

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Hello, yet another 2016 applicant here.

 

What are your goals?

 

  • Short Term: Right now, my goal is to get work experience in either the public or private sector doing work involving health policy. I already have some experience over the past year, but I'd like some more direct experience in policy/budget work, administration, and/or Health IT before making a jump to grad school.
  • Long Term: I'd like to do strategic planning or policy administration involving health policy. My main problem is that I need to better define what my precice interests are (health insurance vs public health, domestic vs international, etc.)

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

 

My big qualifier right now is that the program be at a university that also has a good public health program so I can at least take a few classes and at most get a MPP/MPH. Schools that really stand out in this regard are John Hopkins, University of Michigan, Cornell, and CM Heinz. Havard and Princeton are also on the board due to prestege, but they're long-shots
 

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

 

Besides the aformentioned stuff with the public health schools, I'm trying to keep myself on the east coast for a myriad of reasons, so no Goldman for me. I'm also studying for the GRE, which I plan on taking in the fall and am beginning to proad at these schools for what scholarships and such they offer.

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I wanted to bump this topic for any other Fall 2016 applicants lurking around! Also, I have an update to my original post...

Favorite programs: I have (again and again and again) changed my list of programs to focus on dual MPP/MSW degree options. This will be my definitive list for the rest of the application cycle:
UCLA
University Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Texas - Austin
University of Washington

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?: Princeton, Duke and Cornell have excellent MPP/MPA programs, but I realized that having the MSW education is really important to me so I chucked the schools that didn't have the option! Now I'm on to sending out my GRE scores, securing my last LOR, and getting my resume and SOPs critiqued.

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Guest SIPA_MPA18

I wanted to update my original post since I have had a few months to stew and work on applications!

Goals

Short term goals: I really want to find a community organization that focuses on connecting people in need with empowerment resources. Immigrants and Veterans are the two populations that I feel are neglected and often need help getting on their feet in new communities. 

Long term goals: Work in the consulting industry in a public-private partnership that focuses efforts on immigration policy development and enforcement. Specifically, improving the federal, state, and local partnerships that are currently out of sync and lead to unfair immigration enforcement. 

Top Programs:

The 3 Programs I am applying to are:

Duke Sanford MPP

Columbia SIPA MPA

NYU Wagner MPA

What have I done up to this point?

I have visited campuses this summer that narrowed down my list of schools I wanted to apply to. My wife and I eliminated DC-area schools just because we decided we didn't want to live in that area. NYC has always been a dream city for us so Columbia and NYU are at the top of our list. Not to mention, their programs are fantastic, but we got to meet with admissions office staff for each of them and came away impressed. Duke Sanford is also a finalist due to the merits of their program, the small size and the curriculum structure. Their admissions staff was also excellent. 

I've finished my SOPs and I'm securing my LORs now. I may retake the GRE to bump up my quant score but I'm taking a local microeconomics class to satisfy the prerequisites. 

Going through the SOP writing and editing process really made me focus my goals and find something that I am truly passionate about. I definitely was operating way too broad and couldn't narrow my research interests down before I started writing SOPs. I've gone through countless edits that has really brought my SOPs into focus so they all complement one another. 

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Going through the SOP writing and editing process really made me focus my goals and find something that I am truly passionate about. I definitely was operating way too broad and couldn't narrow my research interests down before I started writing SOPs. I've gone through countless edits that has really brought my SOPs into focus so they all complement one another. 

I've honestly been putting this step off for too long. I feel certain about my research areas and can attest to them thanks to my work experience, but I really need to stop putting my thoughts down onto paper. Plus, I also need to write separate SOPs for social work programs and they'll be looking for completely different sets of answers from me. I've organized and read all the different essay prompts, just need to hop to it!

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Longtime lurker finally coming out of the shadows. 

Top Programs: 

Georgetown McCourt; UChicago Harris; Princeton WWS; NYU Wagner; Harvard HKS; George Washington Trachtenburg

Top Programs:

Recent graduate with several internships plus AmeriCorps volunteer position.

Here's a question for the group: how many programs is everyone applying to? I wonder if I am being a bit too ambitious with 12 schools on my final list...

 

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Longtime lurker finally coming out of the shadows. 

Top Programs: 

Georgetown McCourt; UChicago Harris; Princeton WWS; NYU Wagner; Harvard HKS; George Washington Trachtenburg

Top Programs:

Recent graduate with several internships plus AmeriCorps volunteer position.

Here's a question for the group: how many programs is everyone applying to? I wonder if I am being a bit too ambitious with 12 schools on my final list...

 

I am now thinking of applying to about ~5 schools at the most.  I am considering taking out Columbia SIPA and NYU Wagner from my list because I am from the southeast and the thought of living in NYC is terrifying as hell 

 

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Here's a question for the group: how many programs is everyone applying to? I wonder if I am being a bit too ambitious with 12 schools on my final list...

I narrowed down my list in intervals. First I had a master list of 16 schools with no intention of applying to all of them. Then I narrowed that list down to 8 and kept revolving one or two programs until I decided to focus on a dual degree option.

So now I have 6 schools on my final list, but it amounts to 12 separate applications.

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What are your goals?

I have a strong interest in foreign policy and national security-particularly issues like grand strategy, terrorism, etc. I have done several internships related to this subject while in college and after I had graduated. Since then I've been working in politics in various roles such as research. I am based in the DC area. I would like to work as a political consultant on international issues or as an advisor to a candiate on this subject matter. Likewise I am also interested in working on Capitol Hill. 

At grad school I just want to focus more in depth on these subjects and take advantage of summer/semester programs where I get to practice them.

I have not taken the GRE yet which I need to do by spring at the latest if I am to make Fall 2016. I am also very worried about quant since my background is very weak in this area. I know with the GRE my verbal and writing scores should be very strong but I know I'll get clobbered on the quant part. I graduated college in 2014 with a hair away from a 3.5.

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

Programs: Georgetown SSP, George Mason MA in International Security,American SIS, GWU Elliot School, Kings College London War Studies, LSE International Relations, St. Andrews International Security, Syracuse Maxwell, Stanford, Princeton WWS, Yale Jackson, University of Chicago, Duke MPP, Michigan Ford School, Denver Korbel,, and Texas A&M Bush School.

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

I used to have a rough list with about 25+ schools on it, however, I've narrowed that down to around 15 or so at most.

Top picks: Georgetown SSP, KCL War Studies, LSE International Relations, George Mason International Security, Duke Sanford, GWU Elliot, and American SIS.

Need to take the GRE in spring of 2016.

Edited by Kevin1990

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@RCtheSS and @sp108 - I'm somewhere between the two of you as far as number of programs. I'm looking at seven programs these days: CMU Heinz, NYU Wagner, Columbia SIPA, HKS, WWS, USC, U Penn SP2 (They've got a new Data Analytics focus to their MSSP degree that looks super interesting).

In the past few weeks, I've been totally surprised by how much of my "working on apps" time has been taken up by emails... emails to LOR writers, emails to admissions reps, emails to students. I guess it makes sense, but I'd been so worried about getting my SOP together, it didn't even occur to me that I'd be putting in so many hours in Gmail.

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Agh, I had Penn's MSSP degree on my list for the longest time! And now they have a Data Analytics focus? I may need to take a quadruple look... d'oh!

I'm a PPIA Fellow and receive application fee waivers to members of PPIA's consortium schools, which unfortunately Penn is not part of. 

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I'm not sure if this belongs in government affairs or interdisciplinary! I think its both but I'll like to post here. 

My goals are to eventually become a museum director for a science museum. I would like to be the director for community outreach and organize conferences, lectures, etc. My undergraduate degree is in geology and hopefully I graduate this year ha. My past experience includes, Student Museum Manager for two years, two volunteer positions at museums for a summer, and will have completed two summer internships at a well respected museum. I've gone on excavations and have been promoted from volunteer positions to my current job and my summer internship. I've also been a work study who has helped tutor some people in geology courses, not an official TA though. I've set up labs and grade papers. I've also organized lectures for visiting professors and have done community outreach for local schools.

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?The programs that are the best fit are museum studies programs and non-profit management. I doubt I'll get a PHD since I just need a masters for my career goals.  My lowest grades have been physics, chemistry, and math. I think this will matter since I'm getting a masters that isn't a "hard science" and I feel like the programs I'm applying too won't care about those classes. In my geology courses, I've only gotten two Cs. The rest have been As and Bs. I'm applying to University of Kansas, Texas Tech University, University of Oregon, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, University of Washington, and CU-Boulder.

I've narrowed it down by looking at cost and the programs themselves. I originally had around 10 schools but a lot of them weren't affordable. I also got a lot of positive feedback from these schools so that helps too! I've submitted three applications so far!

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What are your goals?

I have a strong interest in foreign policy and national security-particularly issues like grand strategy, terrorism, etc. I have done several internships related to this subject while in college and after I had graduated. Since then I've been working in politics in various roles such as research. I am based in the DC area. I would like to work as a political consultant on international issues or as an advisor to a candiate on this subject matter. Likewise I am also interested in working on Capitol Hill. 

At grad school I just want to focus more in depth on these subjects and take advantage of summer/semester programs where I get to practice them.

I have not taken the GRE yet which I need to do by spring at the latest if I am to make Fall 2016. I am also very worried about quant since my background is very weak in this area. I know with the GRE my verbal and writing scores should be very strong but I know I'll get clobbered on the quant part. I graduated college in 2014 with a hair away from a 3.5.

What programs best fit your passions / desires / plans and why?

Programs: Georgetown SSP, George Mason MA in International Security,American SIS, GWU Elliot School, Kings College London War Studies, LSE International Relations, St. Andrews International Security, Syracuse Maxwell, Stanford, Princeton WWS, Yale Jackson, University of Chicago, Duke MPP, Michigan Ford School, Denver Korbel,, and Texas A&M Bush School.

What have you done up to this point to narrow down your choices?

I used to have a rough list with about 25+ schools on it, however, I've narrowed that down to around 15 or so at most.

Top picks: Georgetown SSP, KCL War Studies, LSE International Relations, George Mason International Security, Duke Sanford, GWU Elliot, and American SIS.

Need to take the GRE in spring of 2016.

Hi Kevin1990,

I noticed that you have the Bush School in your list... the deadline for applications is January 15th, 2016. So you'd need to take the GRE before that if you hope to get a scholarship. All students at the Bush School receive a scholarship and therefore in-state tuition rates, but if you don't apply before January 15th with all materials they can't guarantee any funding will be left. If you have any questions don't hesitate to PM me - I'm a current student at the Bush School!

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Guest SIPA_MPA18

Just a bit of an update - and hopefully give anybody struggling with their applications some tips and maybe even some peace of mind!

I submitted my three applications early, though SIPA is the only one with a formal Early Admissions deadline (Nov 2)! I'm requesting early decisions from all three because of my military separation timeline and requirements. I need to know and make a decision as early as possible. Unfortunately, that may mean I can't wait for funding to determine where I end up, but I'll just have to pray that God sends me where I really need to be.

It is such a relief being done with everything! My advice to y'all:

  • First and foremost, get your apps done as early as you can and focus on something else! I had countless revisions of my SOP/essays, resume, and quadruple-checking the application questions to make sure I had checked every block and filled in every blank I had to (and some optional ones). Especially with my essays, it comes to a point where you can always find something to change depending on your mood that day and how you interpret what you wrote. Eventually you just have to be happy with it and say "I'm done!" Be sure to proofread for spelling, grammar and formatting. I caught so many little errors that made the quadruple checking of each application before I hit submit worth it. 
  • Don't wait until the last day to press submit. I ran into a few technical issues with the submissions and had to have the admissions office and/or tech support look at my file to find out what was wrong. In one case, I was missing a couple block checks and another was a technical issue that didn't get resolved for about three days. Bottom line, give yourself a buffer. The closer you get to the deadline, the busier the admissions office will be and you risk not getting the help you need in time.
  • If you're struggling with focus for your essays like I did at first, start now if you haven't already and give yourself a few weeks to really refine your thoughts. If you wait until the last minute, you might not paint the picture you really want or need.

I ended up taking the GRE once more but didn't get a ton of time to study for it nor did I put much more effort into it. My final scores ended up as: 159V, 154Q, 5.0AW. I was hoping for a better Quant but I suck at standardized tests so I definitely tried to explain my comfort level with math in my optional essays and quant resume. 

If anyone has any questions, I will try my best to answer them! Good luck!

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Congrats on finishing your applications! 

Last week I secured my final LOR, so this week is my deadline to send all letter writers my relevant application materials. I have been focusing on my MSW applications up to this point since most of their deadlines fall between December 1-15. However, I have drafted an outline for my MPP essays and feel fairly confident in the structure. 

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Howdy all. I'm going to eschew the questions because I'm in a weirdly narrow situation--I'm only applying to one program, the 1-year MA in International Relations at UChicago, as part of a joint degree program - I'm already a grad student here. I submitted back in September because, you know, classes started then. So now I get to hang out until March, I guess. 

So yeah, if anyone's applying to/excited about Chicago - hi!! I'm really excited about the chance to potentially get some great formal training in research and putting together a potentially-publishable paper; I met with one of the program preceptors last week and had a great chat about that. I'm very much hoping that the fact that I'm already enrolled at another division here at the University helps with admissions. (Though if anyone has any numbers on Chicago CIR...)

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Does anyone know of graduate programs that provide lots of funding to all admitted applicants? The only ones I know of are Princeton WWS and Notre Dame Kroc, but the former is ridiculously selective and the latter won't be accepting applications for the 2016 cycle.

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