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What are my chances?


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Hi. I'm a South Korean, and I'm currently in my final year of undergrad in one of the top 3 schools in Seoul, South Korea.

My scores for the first GRE attempt were V160, Q155, W4.0. My GPA is weaker than my GRE scores, which is currently a 3.2. An excuse that I give myself is that I've lived abroad (Thailand) for more than half of my life, so it took me quite a while to get used to the competitive education system in Korea. I've been struggling for my first 3 years of undergrad, but I've been getting all As for my senior year. I've had work experiences as an intern in several NGOs based in Seoul and am currently an intern at an academic journal. To add some more information about myself, I consider myself a bilingual (Korean and English); speak fair Thai and a little bit of French (hoping to finish A2 before sending my applications). The schools that I want give a shot for 2017 spring or fall are Boston University, George Washington, Johns Hopkins SAIS, NYU, Columbia SIPA, Georgetown, and Princeton.I know that these are very vague information about myself but the questions that I want to ask you guys are:

1. How competitive am I with my current profile?

2. If I improve my GRE scores for my second attempt (maybe by max 5 points?), will they help cover up my low GPA?

3. Based on my profile, which other IR programs would you recommend? 

Thanks guys :)


Edited by ir_ma
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I've tried to convert my school's gpa scale into U.S. GPA with Woodrow Wilson calculator, and it appears that my GPA is 3.48 when converted. Does anyone know how reliable this is?? Also, i didn't mention it, but I want to apply for master programs.

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Hi ir_ma,

Disclaimer: No one can really say what chances you have based on statistics alone, and I would say most of us are probably in the process of applying, and not very experienced with how admissions committee members decide one person over another... BUT I'll humor you and share my opinion about your chances.

I applied to Columbia and NYU MPA programs  straight from undergrad with a 3.5 and perfect GRE scores and was rejected at both. I think partly it was due to my lack of work experience (not internships), but mostly that when we write an application to a professional program like an MPA, the admissions committee is looking for a strong sense of direction. For me, though I have that strong sense of direction, neither my grades nor work experience were able to back it up with evidence.

I would say if you're anything like me, you probably won't be accepted to any of those schools for fall 2017; you should go work for two or three years. Find some kind of project that shows initiative in the field you want to work (rather than some grunt-work entry level position), and start building your narrative that proves an MPA is truly right for you.

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Thank you for your opinion @monocle:) 

Never really gave a serious thought about work experiences since many of my friends here went straight to masters programs in the States. But your opinion does definitely give me a heads up. Also, I'm more interested in the general international affairs rather than public admin. (Not sure if this makes any difference on how much work experience will be valued during the evaluation process.)

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@ir_ma I agree with monocle in that we are also trying to figure out our chances at graduate school admissions.

To address your question: I have very similar GRE scores, language experiences, and probably about the same amount of work experiences (albeit different field). I think you may have an issue with the number of international applicants applying--though from your writing style here, I think you have a much higher chance than some other international students I've seen on here. However, your GPA does fall on the lower range of what admissions expect; however, if you majored in something very difficult like electrical engineering or statistics, it might not look as bad as if you majored in something "easier" like fine arts or sociology.

Let's look at two examples to see where you fall above/below the median/average:

George Washington
X in box symbol Median GPA: 3.4
Checked box symbol GRE Verbal: 78th percentile
Checked box symbol GRE Quantitative: 70th percentile
X in box symbol 5% International Students

X in box symbol Average GPA: 3.6
X in box symbol GRE Quantitative: 160
Checked box symbol 20-30% International Students

This is not to discourage you, but to give you a little glimpse into the answer that you're seeking. I think you still have a great chance if you have a great personal statement and if you present your application in the right light.

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