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2016 Results Thread

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Hi there, 

Long time user, first time caller. I haven't seen this up yet, so I thought I'd start it seeing as most notifications should have come in by now. Mainly posting in case this is cathartic/informative for new admits/prospective applicants, but not gonna lie, also curious to see what the competition looked like ;) In any case, I'm sure everyone deserves a job well done!

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.)

Schools Applied To:

Schools Admitted To:

Schools Rejected From:

Still Waiting:

Undergraduate institution:

Undergraduate GPA:

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):

Undergraduate Major:

GRE Quantitative Score:

GRE Verbal Score:

GRE AW Score:

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):

Years of Work Experience:

Describe Relevant Work Experience:

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):

Other:

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3 hours ago, YayPublicPolicy said:

Hi there, 

Long time user, first time caller. I haven't seen this up yet, so I thought I'd start it seeing as most notifications should have come in by now. Mainly posting in case this is cathartic/informative for new admits/prospective applicants, but not gonna lie, also curious to see what the competition looked like ;) In any case, I'm sure everyone deserves a job well done!

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) MPA

Schools Applied To: Indiana University Bloomington, Washington Evans, American University, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Oregon, Georgia State

Schools Admitted To: Still waiting to hear back from Minnesota, but I've been accepted to all others. Significant money from Washington Evans and American University so far, and hoping for a similar offer from IUB in the coming days.

Schools Rejected From: N/A

Still Waiting: Minnesota

Undergraduate institution: Satellite campus of a very famous university

Undergraduate GPA: 1.8 gpa first school (more about this later), 3.9 gpa second school.

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 3.95

Undergraduate Major: Philosophy

GRE Quantitative Score: 155

GRE Verbal Score: 168

GRE AW Score: 4.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2

Years of Work Experience: 0

Describe Relevant Work Experience: It is nonexistent.

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I made sure to talk a lot about some particular public service-y goals I have related to helping the disabled. (I'm disabled myself, so it comes from that sort of "I've learned how to help these people through experience" place.)

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I wasn't part of this process, but I have the impression that they were strong.

Other: W/r/t GPA stuff: Had major injury problems early in undergrad, flamed out of my first big school because of constant surgeries and rehab. Chose to attend a smaller satellite campus of another school while I got healthy. It ended up being a great choice for me, and I was really able to get involved.

I wish I had believed in myself enough to apply to better schools. My big three are Washington-Evans, American University, and Indiana-Bloomington, and I couldn't be happier with that group. But the smaller schools put me in a strange position where I was good enough to attend, but not outstanding enough to snag any of the tiny amounts of funding they give. If I could do it again, I would have applied to some of the other moderate-cost programs, like Syracuse. (Still not a believer in high-cost programs like SIPA and HKS, though.)

 

Edited by aslabchu

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7 hours ago, YayPublicPolicy said:

Hi there, 

Long time user, first time caller. I haven't seen this up yet, so I thought I'd start it seeing as most notifications should have come in by now. Mainly posting in case this is cathartic/informative for new admits/prospective applicants, but not gonna lie, also curious to see what the competition looked like ;) In any case, I'm sure everyone deserves a job well done!

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) IA/IR

Schools Applied To: Bush School (TAMU), Texas Tech, American

Schools Admitted To: Bush School (TAMU)

Schools Rejected From:

Still Waiting:

Undergraduate institution: Texas A&M

Undergraduate GPA: 3.08

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):

Undergraduate Major: International Studies 

GRE Quantitative Score: 148

GRE Verbal Score: 156

GRE AW Score: 4.0

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 1

Years of Work Experience: 1

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 Congressional internships, 1 with a degree relevant House committee chairman, internship in Spain

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Talked about finding my passion for international affairs and about my work in the House of Representatives. The work experience helped greatly with my SOP as I could talk about the work I had done, not just the work I wanted to do. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I did not get the opportunity to see my LOR's but my 2 educational letters were from professors I took multiple times (with A's) and whom I'd attended events with, my last LOR was from an A&M alum in my first congressional office.

Other: Attended the interview conference and had a great time as I had coincidentally read and could talk about one of the books one my interviewers assigns for his class. Will accept the Bush School offer as it is cost effective with great faculty 

 

Edited by J.Admire

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Program Applied To: MPP, MPA

Schools Applied To: Humphrey (Minnesota), LBJ (Austin), Goldman (Berkeley)

Schools Admitted To: University of Minnesota, UT Austin

Schools Rejected From: Waitlisted at Berkeley

Still Waiting: None

Undergraduate GPA: 3.65

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 3.89

Undergraduate Major: Political Science

GRE Quantitative Score: 152 (48th %)

GRE Verbal Score: 164 (94th %) 

GRE AW Score: 5 (93rd %)

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3

Years of Work Experience: 3

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 3 years at a DC-based nonprofit focusing on campaign finance reform where I moved up the ranks from an executive assistant to senior comms associate. I currently draft all external comms, including op-eds and manuscripts for senators, ambassadors, etc, and help with the strategic visioning of the organization. Was a research assistant for 2 years in undergrad, presented original research at political science conferences, and have been acknowledged in 20+ published works, including 3 books. Was also a White House intern, and a fellow at a prestigious think tank. 

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I was not confident about my SOPs after submitting them, but with the benefit of time, I think they did a good job explaining my personal theory of change and what I would get out of the programs I applied to. Clearly described my vision for post-grad school work and how I could contribute to the school's community. They were all too long though (curse you, schools with no word limit!). And my personal history statement for Berkeley was pretty vapid; for whatever reason, I didn't even think about a much more compelling angle that I used for Minnesota. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Not worried about these at all. My boss wrote one, and he and I conferred on what he would say and how he could strengthen the weaknesses of my application (namely my quant score). The other 2 were from undergrad professors for whom I was a research assistant. One is currently the chair of the department and I'm sure he wrote a strong letter. The other was from my mentor who also attended Goldman (and since I got waitlisted, he sent me an email with a lot of expletives in it about how pissed he was lol). My letters were the strongest part of my application

Other: I wish I had a better quant score, and I'm pretty sure that was my downfall with Berkeley. I have As from undergrad in stats and econ, but just cannot do math standardized tests for the life of me (and I underperformed my practice test scores in quant by 10 points...sigh). Sadly I didn't have time to retake the test and just wanted to be done with the whole thing anyway. I was surprised to be even be waitlisted, and probably wouldn't have attended unless they gave me a lot of funding. Very pleased with these results, and I got strong funding from UT Austin (and some personal outreach by the Dean, which is very flattering and makes me feel like I would do well at the school).

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Program Applied To: MA (IR), MA (Russian/East European/Eurasian studies)

Schools Applied To: SAIS, Georgetown, Elliott

Schools Admitted To: SAIS, Georgetown, Elliott

Schools Rejected From: N/A

Still Waiting:

Undergraduate institution: University of Puerto Rico

Undergraduate GPA: 3.80

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):

Undergraduate Major: Political science, economics

GRE Quantitative Score: 145 I think

GRE Verbal Score: 159

GRE AW Score: 5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2

Years of Work Experience:a little over  a year

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Interned at Department of State (Foreign Service Institute), interned at National Science Foundation, work as an Immigration Services Officer at USCIS. Spent over a year abroad in Moscow, Russia.

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong. I worked for months on them, especially with my writing sample to Georgetown. I am confident in my SOPs as I was admitted with funding to all places I applied to.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Two strong, from an experienced econ professor and from Honors Program Director. One from a Foreign Service Officer, who is a career officer and quite successful in the FS, but who has little experience with graduate schools so I'm not sure how strong his letter was.

Other: Last year all except one of my applications were rejected. This year, they were all accepted. I think my SOP's/writing samples were the most important aspect.... even my horrible GRE quant score didn't scare SAIS away. Work on those SOP's!

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52 minutes ago, kasbah said:

@ZebraFinch, did you apply to Georgetown McCourt or MSFS? Just wondering because I applied to MSFS, but I haven't heard back yet.

SFS Russian, east European and Euroasian studies.

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Program Applied To: MPA, MPP, MAIA

Schools Applied To: JHU SAIS, UW Evans, University of Chicago Harris

Schools Admitted To: All

Schools Rejected From: N/A

Still Waiting: N/A

Undergraduate institution: University of Washington

Undergraduate GPA: 3.54

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):

Undergraduate Major: Business

GRE Quantitative Score: 153

GRE Verbal Score: 151

GRE AW Score: 4.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): N/A (still in undergrad)

Years of Work Experience: internships in summer and part-time job during school year. 

Describe Relevant Work Experience: internship with federal government in DC with guaranteed position after graduation. 

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong. Writing personal essays has always been my strong suit. I'm good at vividly expressing my motivations and drawing off of personal stories. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong. One coworker, one career FSO, and one professor that I studied abroad under and took multiple classes. They sent me copies so I got to read them and they were all really well written and made strong cases for me. 

Other: I am still in total shock that I was accepted to all three schools. I had already started planning out the idea that I would be stuck in Seattle at UW because I thought I was a guaranteed rejection for the other two schools because of a low GRE score (I only took it once during a stressful time in my life and didn't have enough time before deadlines to re-take) and a lack of work experience to balance that out. My internship was very relevant to each of these programs though and a guaranteed position after I graduate from grad school helped show that I would immediately use my degree after completion of any of these programs. Let this be a beacon of hope to others who think they don't have enough work experience or have a low GRE score- I basically have both of those but my LOR's and my SOP saved my application from going to the trash (that's what I think anyway).

Edited by samj2

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On March 15, 2016 at 6:07 AM, YayPublicPolicy said:

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) MPP; various International Development programs with various degree names

Schools Applied To: Columbia SIPA, Carnegie Mellon Heinz MSPPM, Tufts Fletcher, American SIS, Brandeis Heller School

Schools Admitted To: All

Schools Rejected From: None

Still Waiting: Nope

Undergraduate institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Undergraduate GPA: 3.6

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):

Undergraduate Major: Studio Art, Astrophysics

GRE Quantitative Score: 161

GRE Verbal Score: 168

GRE AW Score: 5.0

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3

Years of Work Experience: 3

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 years in Peace Corps teaching high school physics with high involvement in education and diversity groups. Other work experience is largely irrelevant (one year in a small business working in the technical side of the fashion industry plus part-time work as a collegiate rugby coach; some teaching experience in college).

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong. I was somehow able to construct a logical narrative out of my completely all-over-the-place resume. Had a clear progression towards my current desire for a policy/ID degree and specific academic interests and career goals that were tailored towards each institution. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong academic LOR, although professor is in an unrelated field. One strong professional and one average professional. 

Other: I probably have one of the stranger academic backgrounds around, but I think I was able to swing that to my advantage in my SOP by showing how it contributed to my current passion for policy. Peace Corps was obviously a huge contributor to my acceptances but I think my applications were holistically strong. My advanced math background gave me a quantitative edge despite having no economics since high school AP classes, and I also had excellent leadership in college athletics, for what that's worth. I received funding from every school, with the best packages from Heinz and SIS. Fairly certain I will accept the offer from CMU. 

 

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) MA/MSc Development Studies
Schools Applied To: Sussex IDS, SOAS MSc, LSE MSc, JHU SAIS, IHEID
Schools Admitted To: Sussex IDS, SOAS MSc, LSE MSc, JHU SAIS - IDEV ($$)
Schools Rejected From: None yet
Still Waiting: IHEID
Undergraduate institution: Top public university
Undergraduate GPA: 3.79
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 3.85+
Undergraduate Major:  Economics and Spanish
GRE Quantitative Score: 158
GRE Verbal Score: 158
GRE AW Score: 5.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 1.5 years during the time of application
Years of Work Experience: ~2, plus internships, research and volunteer experience during undergrad

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 3 months working in developing country, valuable internships, and research; going into it, I knew why I wanted to attend school so having a list of relevant experiences helped I believe (not anything impressive like internship with UN or anything but grassroots/community level organizations)

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I am thinking it was good; I am not in a position to evaluate myself. But because I knew I wanted to attend grad school and the schools I wanted to apply. I started out with the school with earliest deadline (which was LSE, since it has rolling deadline). 

I started brainstorming/SOP process probably 6-7 months before applications even opened. I knew my schedule would be hectic during Fall/Winter so because I knew why I wanted to go to gradschool, I began writing like 1 paragraph a week (even though it was really crappy). I realized that just getting something on paper (or on your computer screen) helps. Once you have something, you can always work on it and make it better. After completing my LSE SOP (which was also my longest), I just used that as my base and then tweaked it according to each school and each program. I addressed various aspects of schools and why I even thought of attending that school. I think this was a process that worked the best for me.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): My LORs were probably good/strong. I picked 1 professor who I did independent research for (who also happens to be in the same field as me); 2nd professor was my Economics lecturer who I took 2 classes with and did research under as well. For some schools, 3 references were required and I picked my Spanish professor who I'm sure wrote a very good LOR.

My advice is that you start with your professors early (2-3 months before applying); reach out to them, let them know why you're interested in going to grad school. Showing this sort of initiative will work in your favor as you will be taken seriously and they will also remember this when they're writing your LOR. Let them know about deadlines etc. The one thing I did (not sure how helpful it was for my LORs) but I made a cheat sheet of my programs ranked from 1st to last choice; the sheet also said why I wanted to attend that specific institution and the highlights of the program. I think this also made it easier for them to visualize why I was looking at the range of schools. This was sent in addition to my generic SOP, resume, and papers I had written for their class(es).

Another piece of advice: always go over a teacher/professor that knows you better and can speak for your work more than someone who is more famous but doesn't know you as closely. Ultimately, your LOR should reflect your SOP in saying why you should be selected for the program.

Other: I knew I wanted to attend grad school of development studies starting my junior year in undergrad. I started seeking internships/work experience that would help me along this process. As an individual, I am a hard worker but I have never been super successful in terms of getting into top undergrads and landing top internships. Therefore, I wasn't expecting myself to get into the schools I did (for instance, JHU IDEV, LSE, and IHEID are all reach schools for me). I also am not the best test taker so 158/158 isn't a great score in comparison to other folks who have 164+ (even though I studied for the GRE for a solid 6-7 months before taking it). I had low hopes for myself but still applied because I thought I should give it a try. I wasn't even expecting to be admitted to IDEV at JHU (let alone get a fellowship!!); I remember I had almost selected a different concentration because I was like "whats the point?". 

Ultimately, what pushed me through is my determination and desire to pursue higher studies. I thought this showed in my statement as well as LORs. Good luck to future applicants!

(I wouldn't have posted this info on here but gradcafe has been a source of constant information and guide, so I feel like I owe it to this community for all the positive news I have received this month.)

 

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4 hours ago, unagi said:

I wasn't even expecting to be admitted to IDEV at JHU (let alone get a fellowship!!); I remember I had almost selected a different concentration because I was like "whats the point?". 

unagi, I also worried about acceptance into the reach schools that I applied to due to not having a perfect academic background/GRE scores, so I totally relate. That's why, even though I don't know you, I'm glad that you ended up not talking yourself out of applying to SAIS IDEV/the other amazing programs you got into! I hope future applicants understand that applying to public/int'l affairs programs are so much more about the sum of your parts and how well you can relate what you have done to what you want to do in your chosen field than just numbers and fancy internships/work experiences. 

Also thanks to everyone for contributing to this thread! Didn't want to share my profile until I saw that this caught on lol, so here's mine if it's helpful: 

Program Applied To: Public Policy/Public Affairs/International Relations

Schools Applied To: GSPP, HKS, WWS, SAIS, CMU, Ford, Syracuse  

Schools Admitted To: GSPP, HKS, SAIS (IDEV), Ford, Syracuse (MPA/IR), Heinz

Schools Rejected From: WWS

Still Waiting: None

Undergraduate institution: Top 20 LAC

Undergraduate GPA: 3.63

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): I think 3.79 but I'm not sure

Undergraduate Major: Gender Studies with a concentration in IDEV

GRE Quantitative Score: 162

GRE Verbal Score: 161

GRE AW Score: 5.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2+

Years of Work Experience: 2+ of paid non-internship experience

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 years Fulbright ETA; college internships related to community organizing both in US and abroad; long history in volunteering and activism for both domestic and int'l issues; member of nonprofit board. 

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I think I started out in the right place for all my SOPs because I had a very clear idea of how my sustained background in public/community service informs what I want to do in the future and also I have a somewhat unique policy focus that straddles both the domestic and int'l policy world, which I think helped me stand out from the crowd. I also made sure the research each school thoroughly (their classes, profs, their research centers, unique program requirements/what their program is famous for -- like if it's quant or econ heavy, make note of why that would help me -- cool things alums are doing, etc) and made sure to tie my interests with what they were offering. For Berkeley, HKS and WWS (which were my more competitive schools as well as having the earliest deadlines), I got relevant people in my network to read over my stuff (for Berkeley and WWS, I used their peer-reviewing program) and I used their feedback to help me write my other SOPs.  

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I'm guessing quite strong. I got recs from a mentor who was the one who introduced me to activism over a decade ago and has seen how my leadership has developed overtime, a prof (who's now dean) in my undergraduate field of study who knows me reasonably well and I did well in her class, and my supervisor when I was an ETA, who knew me for 2 years and most likely talked about a huge project I initiated with my community my second year. I reached out to them 6 weeks in advance and followed up with them a lot; I also sent them postcards and/or thank you emails after the whole process!  

Other: While there were some small-ish things I wish I did better (i.e. study more for the GRE), I think I did everything I could during application time and now, I don't think I could be more pleased with my pick of the pack. In terms of funding, Ford gave me the universe, CMU was full-tuition + small stipend and nothing from GSPP; still waiting to hear back from the others. Totally thought that my GPA/GRE scores would take me out of the running for HKS and I'm over the moon that it didn't. I took the GRE twice and while they're competitive scores, I know I could have done better if I didn't study last minute. So I definitely urge people to plan ahead if you're concerned about the GRE but also, while it's still important, maybe find solace in the fact that the GRE holds the least weight in admissions considerations? At least that's my understanding of it. Best of luck to everyone who's about to make a really exciting decision! 

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4 hours ago, YayPublicPolicy said:

unagi, I also worried about acceptance into the reach schools that I applied to due to not having a perfect academic background/GRE scores, so I totally relate. That's why, even though I don't know you, I'm glad that you ended up not talking yourself out of applying to SAIS IDEV/the other amazing programs you got into! I hope future applicants understand that applying to public/int'l affairs programs are so much more about the sum of your parts and how well you can relate what you have done to what you want to do in your chosen field than just numbers and fancy internships/work experiences. 

Also thanks to everyone for contributing to this thread! Didn't want to share my profile until I saw that this caught on lol, so here's mine if it's helpful: 

For sure! The whole grad school thing is so daunting but it's much more specialized than undergrad (I know I'm being Miss. Obvious) but I truly think that's what helps. When candidates can demonstrate why they are the best fit for the program, one aspect of their application won't deter great schools.

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Program Applied To: MPA, MPP

Schools Applied To: Duke (Sanford), Virginia (Batten), Georgetown (McCourt), Princeton (WWS), Central European University

Schools Admitted To: Sanford, Batten, McCourt

Schools Rejected From: WWS

Still Waiting: CEU

Undergraduate institution: University of Oregon

Undergraduate GPA: 3.64

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable)

Undergraduate Major: Economics, Music

GRE Quantitative Score: 170

GRE Verbal Score: 161

GRE AW Score: 4.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3

Years of Work Experience: 3

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 1 year Peace Corps Ukraine (TEFL Teacher), 1 year Peace Corps Response Ukraine (TEFL Teacher), Communications Manager for NGO, Research Assistant

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I spent a few months on each, sending each to a few friends to look at and give advice.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): a professor with whom I co-authored a research paper, my Peace Corps country director, and the head of the grants program in Peace Corps Ukraine 

Other: I'm VERY happy about my results. Still waiting to hear from CEU in Budapest, then I will try and negotiate some more funding from each school, which will help me make my final decision.

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Program Applied To: MPP

Schools Applied To: UChicago (Harris), Georgetown (McCourt), UVA (Batten), University of Maryland

Schools Admitted To: All

Schools Rejected From: N/A

Still Waiting: N/A

Undergraduate institution: UNC - Chapel Hill

Undergraduate GPA: 3.52

Undergraduate Major: History, Political Science, Religious Studies minor

GRE Quantitative Score: 155

GRE Verbal Score: 169

GRE AW Score: 4.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 8

Years of Work Experience: 7 - I have a Master's in Teaching from UNC, too which accounts for the missing year.

Describe Relevant Work Experience: I have been a high school social studies teacher for the last seven years.  I am currently teaching AP psychology and AP US History.  

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Each school seemed to have a slightly different SOP so I just tweaked a basic one to meet the requirements for each.  I'm not a person that likes to have other people read my writing, so I pretty much did a lot of reading aloud to see if it sounded decent.  One thing I really did was to be specific in the details I talked about.  I treated it like a cover letter in which I needed to provide examples that proved why I would be a good candidate for admission. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I've been out of school for a while, but I emailed a former grad student that taught three religious studies classes I took.  A majority of my undergrad classes were very large, so I tried to pick someone that actually knew my name, haha.  I had a good relationship with him though, so I'm sure that helped.  Plus he had already written one for me when I applied to the MAT program, so I'm pretty sure he just used that same one.  My principal wrote another one and my mentor teacher wrote the third one.  While my mentor teacher is not actually a higher position than me, he was able to speak to my professional growth over the last seven years.  I'm assuming his was probably the best LOR.  

Other: Take a chance when applying to schools.  I heard back from Chicago first and I was VERY surprised and delighted to get in.  I thought that my work experience would be a hindrance since I was "just a teacher," but I think it was probably a large part of the reason that I was able to get into all four schools.  I focused my SOP and other essays on my experiences as a teacher, my interest in education policy, and specifically my interest in teacher retention and teacher prep programs.  Good luck!

Edited by UNC86

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Program Applied To: Ford (UMich), Harris (UChi), McCourt (Gtown), HKS (Harvard), Sanford (Duke)

Schools Admitted To: All 

Undergraduate institution: Flagship midwest state school

Undergraduate GPA: 3.95

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 4.0

Undergraduate Major: Political Science, Economics; Environmental Economics minor

GRE Quantitative Score: 164

GRE Verbal Score: 169

GRE AW Score: 5.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2

Years of Work Experience: Consulting

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Internships during college at every level of government, after undergrad worked as a consultant

Strength of SOP: I felt really good about them. Spent a lot of time on them and thought they highlighted my strenghts.

Strength of LOR's: 2 well established professors -one I did volunteer work abroad with- and 1 project manager. I thought they would speak well on my behalf

Other: Really happy about being admitted everywhere. However, my funding offers have not been as generous as I might have hoped. Possibly because I worked in the private sector for two years instead of public sector work? Leaning towards HKS just for the name and considering doing JD-MPP. Anyone have thoughts about what I could do to merit more funding?

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Program Applied To: MPA/MPP

Schools Applied To: Columbia SIPA, HKS, Princeton WWS, Berkeley, LSE, NYU

Schools Admitted To: SIPA, HKS, Berkeley, LSE, NYU

Schools Rejected From: Princeton 

Still Waiting: 

Undergraduate institution: Top 50 public state school

Undergraduate GPA: 3.49

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable)

Undergraduate Major: Mechanical Engineering

GRE Quantitative Score: 164

GRE Verbal Score: 161

GRE AW Score: 5.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): Will be 5 years by this fall

Years of Work Experience: 5 years by this fall

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Two large consulting firms, both management consulting and technology consulting. Focus in public sector clientele.

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I think my SOPs were earnest, touching upon some of my personal reasons for pursuing this degree and change in career. Also, I worked in my work experience with almost all of my essays - as a private sector consultant, I've gained a certain perspective on how things work in the public realm. My intended focus in grad school will be on domestic government affairs.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I managed to get recommendations from folks who were important in my career and also widely spread throughout my professional life. I obtained one from a former client at an international multilateral, one from a manager on a state government project, and one from a partner at my old firm who is an HBS alum. 

Other:

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) MPA

Schools Applied To: Georgia State, University of North Texas, Oklahoma State

Schools Admitted To: Georgia State, North Texas

Schools Rejected From: N/A

Still Waiting: OK State

Undergraduate institution: University of Oklahoma

Undergraduate GPA: 3.3

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 3.86

Undergraduate Major: Communication

GRE Quantitative Score: 152

GRE Verbal Score: 155

GRE AW Score: 4.0

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 0

Years of Work Experience: 0

Describe Relevant Work Experience: None

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I talked a lot about what I want to do with my MPA and how I got into the field. It was written over two months and I had three people read it and correct it multiple times. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I want to believe they were strong. One was the chair of my department and a known scholar in Organizational Comm, the other was my former collegiate coach, and my third is experienced in Crisis Communication. 

Other: I chose my schools on if they had an Emergency Management related concentration as that is what I would like to do with my MPA. I am between GSU and UNT, and it is a pretty hard decision for me to make. UNT is financially better, but GSU is supposedly a better program.

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Schools Applied To: UMD SPP (IDEV), AU SIS (IA), GWU ESIA (IA), JHU SAIS (IDEV), GTOWN SFS (IDEV), Tufts Fletcher (MALD)

Schools Admitted To: UMD, AU, GWU ($), SAIS

Schools Rejected From: Georgetown 

Waitlisted: Tufts

Undergraduate institution: Public university in the Mid-Atlantic 

Undergraduate GPA: 3.35

Undergraduate Major: International Affairs; minors in Economics and Spanish

GRE Quantitative Score: 152

GRE Verbal Score: 161

GRE AW Score: 4

Years of Work Experience: 2-3

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Teaching English abroad, internships in international development and microfinance

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Probably the strongest part of my application. I created a narrative that brought together my academic history/interests, time abroad, internships, and goals for the future. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Letters from professors in relevant fields and supervisors. One thing that I found useful, when getting my recommendation from supervisors, was to sit down with them and talk about what I did at the organization, what skills I gained, what I hope to accomplish at graduate school, and where I see myself after graduate school.

Other: If I could go back in time:

1. Study more for the GRE - I studied for about a month, while working 40 hour weeks. So I "studied" an hour or two a day -- which considering the potential effect a score has on funding and admission probably deserves more than that.

2. More work experience - After teaching English abroad for two years I came back to the US and got two internships. This was great for my application, but if I landed a relevant job and worked for another year I probably would have had a much stronger app. Easier said than done though.

 

 

Edited by Pichichi

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Program Applied To: MPP

Schools Applied To: GSPP, HKS, Chicago Harris, Georgetown McCourt, UCLA Luskin, Duke Sanford

Schools Admitted To: GSPP, Chicago Harris, Georgetown McCourt, UCLA Luskin, Duke Sanford

Schools Rejected From: HKS

Still Waiting: N/A

Undergraduate institution: Top Public School

Undergraduate GPA: 3.49

Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): 3.61

Undergraduate Major: Double in Political Science and Urban Planning

GRE Quantitative Score: 162

GRE Verbal Score: 163

GRE AW Score: 4.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2

Years of Work Experience: 2

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Two years teaching at a Title I school through Teach for America

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): They were very strong. I talked about my experience as a teacher in a low income school and how that led to my interest in education policy. They were read by probably a dozen people and were really polished.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I think they were good, but of course I was not involved in this process. One was the executive director of my region of Teach for America, another was a mentor from college, and the third was a professor that I actually had during my teaching credential program (a risky choice since it was away from the field, but I felt they knew me best)

Other: I honestly thought I had no shot of getting into these schools just based on their big name reputations but I think the biggest positive to my application was the way in which I told my story.

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Program Applied To: MA/MIA/MALD

Schools Applied To: American, Columbia, Denver, George Washington, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Tufts

Schools Admitted To: All

Schools Rejected From: None

Undergraduate institution: Big public school in the South

Undergraduate GPA: 3.97

Undergraduate Major: International Affairs, Spanish

GRE Quantitative Score: 153

GRE Verbal Score: 167

GRE AW Score: 5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 5

Years of Work Experience: 5

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 5 years teaching English abroad, two of which were in the Peace Corps in a critical needs language country.

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): They must have been good enough! I tried to tailor the SOP to each school, and had multiple people look at each one. I usually tried to get straight to the point. I connected my Peace Corps experience to my grad school and career goals. For schools that had an "analyze an issue" essay, I tried to use a style similar to the Economist. 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Again, must have been good enough. One was written by a professor who I have remained in contact with since I took his class in 2009, the others are my supervisors. 

Other: Don't count yourself out of any school! And retake the GRE. When I first took it I had a sub-150 quant score. Retaking it may have been worth $40-50,000 in merit aid for me.

Final decision: American University. Though it's hard to turn down such prestigious schools as Georgetown and Johns Hopkins, after talking to people in the State Department and AU alumni, I've decided to "take the money." State Department employees have all told me that university prestige is not a factor in getting hired (not that AU is totally lacking for prestige), and the AU alumni at State that I talked to only had great things to say about the program. Most importantly, I won't have to get into debt for an international affairs degree!!

   
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Edited by irapplicant1776

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On 3/15/2016 at 5:27 AM, aslabchu said:

 

The smallest of bumps. Ending up getting a little more funding out of IUB, and that made them my best offer by just a hair. Because I have a relatively weak resume in terms of work experience, SPEA's Service Corps program seemed like a very attractive option. If I were to go to Washington or AU, I would graduate with just a fraction of the work experience (likely just a summer internship, maybe some GA stuff), and I think it would really hurt me on the job market. Plus, I'm not sure AU or UW would have done much for my career goals, as I want to live and work in the Midwest. No DC or NYC for me. And, of course, Bloomington is pretty cheap as far as major college towns go, and that's very appealing to me.

But those are all the obvious ones. The little thing that swayed me quite a lot was that SPEA doesn't depend on IU or the graduate college to issue their degrees. My understanding is that the greater administration has very little influence on that. And what that means is that if SPEA says your class should count toward your degree, it counts. How this is useful is that SPEA uses faculty advisors, any of whom can sign off on those kinds of changes to your degree program. So if you've got a career plan in mind that might not benefit from the vanilla MPA experience (and you've got a faculty member on board with this), you can chop up the requirements and make them work for you. I think the only stuff that you can't mess with are the core classes, and there are only 5 of those. So you've got about 10-11 classes of wiggle room.

Edited by aslabchu

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4 hours ago, aslabchu said:

The smallest of bumps. Ending up getting a little more funding out of IUB, and that made them my best offer by just a hair. Because I have a relatively weak resume in terms of work experience, SPEA's Service Corps program seemed like a very attractive option. If I were to go to Washington or AU, I would graduate with just a fraction of the work experience (likely just a summer internship, maybe some GA stuff), and I think it would really hurt me on the job market. Plus, I'm not sure AU or UW would have done much for my career goals, as I want to live and work in the Midwest. No DC or NYC for me. And, of course, Bloomington is pretty cheap as far as major college towns go, and that's very appealing to me.

But those are all the obvious ones. The little thing that swayed me quite a lot was that SPEA doesn't depend on IU or the graduate college to issue their degrees. My understanding is that the greater administration has very little influence on that. And what that means is that if SPEA says your class should count toward your degree, it counts. How this is useful is that SPEA uses faculty advisors, any of whom can sign off on those kinds of changes to your degree program. So if you've got a career plan in mind that might not benefit from the vanilla MPA experience (and you've got a faculty member on board with this), you can chop up the requirements and make them work for you. I think the only stuff that you can't mess with are the core classes, and there are only 5 of those. So you've got about 10-11 classes of wiggle room.

I was thinking the same, but my impression from Experience Day was actually that the internships students did were actually more valuable for their future career than the Service Corp work experience.

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10 hours ago, Windmills said:

I was thinking the same, but my impression from Experience Day was actually that the internships students did were actually more valuable for their future career than the Service Corp work experience.

My understanding is that for a decent fraction of the group, the Service Corps assignment actually becomes their internship. Which makes some sense, if you think about it. You're losing this worker who's been there for about 8 months, working for free (from your perspective). Losing them over the summer might mess with the good thing you've got going, so it's not an outlandish idea to pay to keep them on for the summer (and the interns don't have to be paid by the higher Service Corps standard, unfortunately, although they definitely get more hours in the summertime). They won't have to re-adjust after having been somewhere else for a couple of months. And after that, they're back to being free labor for another 9 months,

But that's not to say that the internship isn't super valuable by itself. And in my case, it may well be that a somewhat lesser Service Corps job will put me in a position to qualify for a more meaningful internship that's relevant to my interests. In particular, I'm trying to transition to a new area completely (I'm a teacher, but want to get into life sciences admin type stuff), so getting a foothold with Service Corps might actually help me qualify for that sort of thing. Provided I don't get one of the sadder ones, like manning a kiosk at the Farmer's Market for 12 hours a week.

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On April 6, 2016 at 7:56 AM, aslabchu said:

My understanding is that for a decent fraction of the group, the Service Corps assignment actually becomes their internship. Which makes some sense, if you think about it. You're losing this worker who's been there for about 8 months, working for free (from your perspective). Losing them over the summer might mess with the good thing you've got going, so it's not an outlandish idea to pay to keep them on for the summer (and the interns don't have to be paid by the higher Service Corps standard, unfortunately, although they definitely get more hours in the summertime). They won't have to re-adjust after having been somewhere else for a couple of months. And after that, they're back to being free labor for another 9 months,

But that's not to say that the internship isn't super valuable by itself. And in my case, it may well be that a somewhat lesser Service Corps job will put me in a position to qualify for a more meaningful internship that's relevant to my interests. In particular, I'm trying to transition to a new area completely (I'm a teacher, but want to get into life sciences admin type stuff), so getting a foothold with Service Corps might actually help me qualify for that sort of thing. Provided I don't get one of the sadder ones, like manning a kiosk at the Farmer's Market for 12 hours a week.

Is that actually a possible placement? I'm in the same boat where I'm coming from a different field so guaranteed work experience through the Service Corps in a relevant position will hopefully give me a shot at higher profile summer internships, as you said. I just really hope I don't end up choosing IU for their Service Corp and end up getting placed in a job that I'm not interested in and doesn't build relevant skills.

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