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Hi everyone - I just wanted some advice on what to do here. I'm applying for an MA in International Affairs and I got into the other three schools to which I applied (Florida State, Florida, and Syracuse). I got partial funding for both Florida State and Florida, no funding at Syracuse. My top choice is SIS at American University. Today I got my decision and it was the following:

"The committee saw great potential in your application, but is not able to admit you at this time. However, the committee has recommended that you take some courses at SIS in the fall as a non-degree student and then re-apply for admission into the graduate program in the spring.  I would be happy to talk through this pathway with you if that would be helpful. I wanted to personally send you this email notification since I know that you are very enthusiastic about SIS and may have some follow up questions about how to proceed. Essentially, the faculty review committee would like to see evidence of your success in some graduate level classes as another piece of information in order to better ensure your success in the program. Let me know if you would like to talk through the options in more detail."

I just want to get some reactions out of it. This is basically like being admitted in a provisional status? Has anyone gone through a similar process? AU is my top choice and is a far better school than either Florida or Florida State for my given field - is it worth forgoing those admissions offers and give AU a shot? I'm just feeling a whole lot of things at the moment hahaha. I would appreciate the advice!

 

 

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Reach out to the DGS and ask her these questions. Is this provisional or merely a chance to improve your app for next year? Will there be opportunities for funding? What was missing from your app that made them want you to "prove" yourself. 

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4 hours ago, bhr said:

Reach out to the DGS and ask her these questions. Is this provisional or merely a chance to improve your app for next year? Will there be opportunities for funding? What was missing from your app that made them want you to "prove" yourself. 

I had a terrible first two semesters in college due to personal circumstances. I failed classes due to absences, not because my classwork. I had many B+'s and A-'s that were turned to F's All this was explained in my addendum. However, it's mathematically impossible to graduate with anything above a 3.1. (long story short, I came in freshman year with 45 credits of AP, cutting my GPA recovery time by 3 semesters.)

get why a top program would try to do this. On paper, I'm a much weaker candidate than the rest of the pool. I get it. But I'm taking this as a lifeline to prove myself.

Am I being naive and blinded just because it's my top choice? That's what mostly concerns me.

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5 hours ago, El Jefe said:

I had a terrible first two semesters in college due to personal circumstances. I failed classes due to absences, not because my classwork. I had many B+'s and A-'s that were turned to F's All this was explained in my addendum. However, it's mathematically impossible to graduate with anything above a 3.1. (long story short, I came in freshman year with 45 credits of AP, cutting my GPA recovery time by 3 semesters.)

get why a top program would try to do this. On paper, I'm a much weaker candidate than the rest of the pool. I get it. But I'm taking this as a lifeline to prove myself.

Am I being naive and blinded just because it's my top choice? That's what mostly concerns me.

Do you have any work experience? Sometimes explaining things like this in an addendum sounds like you're making excuses.. because they really have no proof that this is the truth.

Taking graduate level courses and succeeding is a way to show you've moved beyond whatever tendencies that prevented you from succeeding, and it's a pretty common thing for people to do in order to improve their applications. I've not heard of the university inviting people to take those classes at their institution before, but its doesnt seem that strange to me...

I don't think it would hurt that much to take the classes, (but also reapply to a bunch of other places to try to get more money). You should probably revise your addendum in that case to say something along the lines of (my irresponsibility during my freshman year resulted in these bad grades... here's how I've shown I am more responsible now and can handle graduate work).

But I would also advise getting work experience if you dont have any. That would also improve your chances at getting funding.

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But taking and doing well in grad classes doesn't mean that much. Getting an A in a grad class is no big deal. There are many grad classes where you can get an A literally by just showing up most days. Getting an A in an undergrad class is much harder (usually). If you're barely a 3.0+ student, the fact is you're not the best out there, and I don't think it's worth the risk. Besides, this is AU you're talking about chasing, not UCLA or Harvard.

Keep in mind when you take non-degree classes, you get no health insurance through the school, and you get no financial aid. If it's not an in-state school, things get very expensive. Would you have to move to DC and find housing to do this (which is very expensive in DC)?

The fact that UF and FSU are offering partial funding, have already admitted you, and Gainesville/TLH are pretty cheap to live in make the right choice pretty clear. What happens when you chase your dream, do well, and still don't get in, because oh, well, "the applicants were even more competitive this year." They're leading you on, and I don't think you should buy a positive spin on a rejection. They don't believe in you, plain and simple. If I applied to a job and they said "you're not good enough, but if you come work for us for free for a year, we'll consider hiring you on," there's no chance in hell I'd seriously consider it. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A bird in each hand is worth even more.

Now I did take some non-degree classes to prepare my applications. Mostly undergrad classes, but a couple grad classes as well. One of them was pretty easy to get an A, but the other was quite hard. The intro class was a harder weedout class, whereas the advanced seminar-style class was easy, grades-wise. Taking the advanced grad class helped me show interest in my desired subfield, but getting an A in it didn't really mean anything. I did this because I was switching fields and needed some background to get in. If I had majored in the same field in undergrad, I wouldn't have taken non-degree classes.

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48 minutes ago, svent said:

If you're barely a 3.0+ student, the fact is you're not the best out there, and I don't think it's worth the risk.

svent makes a good point.. I wasn't careful enough in reading.

7 hours ago, El Jefe said:

it's mathematically impossible to graduate with anything above a 3.1.

So OP hasn't graduated yet. And if I read this correctly OP would need a 4.0 in the final semester to get that 3.1, so it's probable that OP has a GPA below 3.0. American isn't known for being very selective, so I'm more optimistic that OP could get in with a couple good grades... That being said, that is a lot of debt incurred by attending SIS.

Still, foregoing the other two schools may yet pay off for OP. I am a big proponent of going to work for a couple years before doing a graduate degree in IR. You can apply again and then weigh all your options after considering funding. You'll probably get more funding with interesting WE.. And your GPA will matter less.

And understanding, hopefully, what kind of jobs are actually out there, you can consider the schools' employment percentages, salary data, where their graduates work, and what they do (and how much debt you'd still incur) and see if it's in line with your goals first. I doubt that UF/FSU would make worse financial offers if OP has a better application. And OP would maybe have done more financial planning and saved money to pay for grad school.

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Yes, I graduated last semester with a 3.15 from Florida State. Last two semesters were 4.0s. GRE was 163V 151Q 5.5A. I'm currently working living in DC working at the Washington Post's political division through the rest of the primary cycle.

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6 minutes ago, El Jefe said:

Yes, I graduated last semester with a 3.15 from Florida State. Last two semesters were 4.0s. GRE was 163V 151Q 5.5A. I'm currently working living in DC working at the Washington Post's political division through the rest of the primary cycle.

Sorry for being presumptuous! 

Have you considered continued work for a while before returning?

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5 minutes ago, monocle said:

Sorry for being presumptuous! 

Have you considered continued work for a while before returning?

I would prefer not to only because I really do want to get school out of the way. I would love to have the opportunity to settle down a bit and all.

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Nothing above a 3.15. Missed the last 5 there. My apologies.

It's not that I don't want to go to UF/FSU. AU is my top choice and I'm enticed by any opportunity given to go there.

The way I see it is this: they're asking me to take two classes before reapplying for the spring (that in itself shows their willingness to give me another chance given that SIS has a policy of waiting two semesters after a rejection to reapply). If I don't get into AU the second time around, I can still transfer those credits to another institution. Given that FSU is my undergrad institution and that my major was IA so I know the entire faculty really well, I'm trying to see if I can defer my admission offer.

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Do what you want. I would weigh the risk of burning bridges at FSU, especially given that your LOR writers are (I assume) from FSU. I'm probably a bit older and more cynical, but I would just take my best offer during this cycle, and not sit around letting certain schools play games with me.

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4 minutes ago, GradSchoolTruther said:

Why the heck would you even consider paying your own way at Syracuse and not take a partially funded offer? What do you hope to get from attending AU?

I'm not particularly considering Syracuse. Only mentioned it because I got in. At this very moment, it's FSU vs AU for me.

AU offers me the chance to stay in DC and work my ever-growing professional network I've built through WashPo. It allows me to have access to a more well-rounded education, given that I'd able to go to all the AU events and be active in the IR community in Washington. AU also has a much better alumni network in the IR community than FSU.

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In a way, it sounds like you've already made a decision to take your chances with AU.

However, there is some wisdom with what others are saying... You already have a partially funded offer that you are willing to risk for only a chance of getting in at AU next cycle. And if that chance doesn't turn into reality, you're losing out on your current offers. Right now it looks like you're making assumptions based on a relatively vague statement AU gave you. After all, it's possible they will see some progress but that the school will still have more competitive applications next year. So I would suggest directly contacting the DGS as bhr suggested and asking very pointed questions about this, such as finding out a general acceptance rate on those who first did those courses vs those who are applying without them.

And don't forget that at this moment it's really not FSU vs. AU. It's an already guaranteed acceptance with partial funding at FSU vs. only a possibility of an acceptance at AU next cycle.

 

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2 minutes ago, marycaryne said:

In a way, it sounds like you've already made a decision to take your chances with AU.

However, there is some wisdom with what others are saying... You already have a partially funded offer that you are willing to risk for only a chance of getting in at AU next cycle. And if that chance doesn't turn into reality, you're losing out on your current offers. Right now it looks like you're making assumptions based on a relatively vague statement AU gave you. After all, it's possible they will see some progress but that the school will still have more competitive applications next year. So I would suggest directly contacting the DGS as bhr suggested and asking very pointed questions about this, such as finding out a general acceptance rate on those who first did those courses vs those who are applying without them.

And don't forget that at this moment it's really not FSU vs. AU. It's an already guaranteed acceptance with partial funding at FSU vs. only a possibility of an acceptance at AU next cycle.

 

I would be lying if I said I'm not leaning towards AU. However, I truly do not intend to make my decision until April 15th. I'm just turning to the forums to see what others have to say, so I definitely appreciate it the responses!

I have a meeting set up on Monday with the DGS to discuss all of this. I was thinking of giving Tallahassee a call and see what they say about a possible deferment if I pay a deposit - is that a bad idea?

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You can always work as an intern for State, a member of Congress, or a think tank to build your network while getting a funded master's. That network won't be of much use as a part-time non-degree seeking student. How would you support yourself in DC, plus pay tuition?

Ask about a deferment, but don't offer to pay money. That will come up if a deferment is an option.

Edited by GradSchoolTruther
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If AU is willing to have you take 1-2 courses, the cost isn't absurd, you're living in a cheap place given the area, and the courses are offered at a time when you could still have full-time employment after your WaPo gig is up...that honestly sounds like a fine situation to me. If they want you to take a full slate, that's too much and too expensive—I'm thinking night class or weekends. Do not do anything that would prevent you from having a job to pay for the classes! 

As another option, you could defer a year (FSU)/reapply next cycle (American) and, if you found a paying job, take 1-2 evening/weekend courses both semesters. You could do that either at American or another local university, some of which might have more classes timed to work with a professional schedule. Given that you're employed somewhere prestigious right now, you should be able to find employment somewhere else in DC that could build your resume as much or more than either school options you've got right now. (Unless I am badly misunderstanding the field!) Now, if you end up in one of the many extremely inegalitarian prestigious but unpaid internships around the city, DO NOT pay for classes alongside your work, that's too much money, but I hope you can find something paid.

Anyway, I think some of the more "NO" responses were based on the assumption you'd have to move to DC to pursue this plan, which I agree would have been absurd. But since you're there already, if you can fit it around a job, it could be fine.

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I'm a bit torn. One the one hand (and I'm saying this as an FSU alum), I think an MA in International Affairs from AU (where I will also probably go, btw) will give you a lot better career prospects than an IA degree from FSU. AU is an APSIA member and is in DC. I don't think you can meet many people working in the IA field in Tallahassee. On the other hand, AU is so expensive. If they don't think you're good enough to accept now, I doubt they would give you much funding after passing a couple classes. Personally, I would never pay sticker price for an MA at any school. Would you?

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1 hour ago, knp said:

If AU is willing to have you take 1-2 courses, the cost isn't absurd, you're living in a cheap place given the area, and the courses are offered at a time when you could still have full-time employment after your WaPo gig is up...that honestly sounds like a fine situation to me. If they want you to take a full slate, that's too much and too expensive—I'm thinking night class or weekends. Do not do anything that would prevent you from having a job to pay for the classes! 

As another option, you could defer a year (FSU)/reapply next cycle (American) and, if you found a paying job, take 1-2 evening/weekend courses both semesters. You could do that either at American or another local university, some of which might have more classes timed to work with a professional schedule. Given that you're employed somewhere prestigious right now, you should be able to find employment somewhere else in DC that could build your resume as much or more than either school options you've got right now. (Unless I am badly misunderstanding the field!) Now, if you end up in one of the many extremely inegalitarian prestigious but unpaid internships around the city, DO NOT pay for classes alongside your work, that's too much money, but I hope you can find something paid.

Anyway, I think some of the more "NO" responses were based on the assumption you'd have to move to DC to pursue this plan, which I agree would have been absurd. But since you're there already, if you can fit it around a job, it could be fine.

What I quoted in my first post was the e-mail from the DGS. Now, here's the portion of the official letter that speaks about the classes. It seems as though they're only asking me to take two courses.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 10.20.45 PM.png

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Okay, so let me throw it all out there.

1) I graduated last semester from Florida State.

2) I am currently living in Washington D.C and have a full-time job. My parents have an apartment in the city, meaning cost living in DC is zero. Part of the reason AU is my top choice is that it would allow me to stay in Washington, keep my job, stay at a place that doesn't cost me a penny while I save up and am able to move into a place of my own for the long-term. In that sense, moving back to Tallahassee would cost me more than staying in DC considering 1) I'd have to pay rent and 2) I can almost guarantee I wouldn't find a job that pays what WashPo is paying.

3) I'm not in need of any health care insurance through the university or any of the additional benefits of being a student.

4) The cost of two classes would be roughly $9,000. That's how much it would cost me to attempt to prove myself to AU. $9000.

5) I would risk losing my funded opportunities at both Florida State and Florida. Risk, key word.

6) AU is my top choice. I've gone in and chatted with the DGS before and I've maintained a really good relationship with her. She offered to help me navigate through all the options to put me in the best position to be admitted in the spring.

Edited by El Jefe
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56 minutes ago, El Jefe said:

Okay, so let me throw it all out there.

1) I graduated last semester from Florida State.

2) I am currently living in Washington D.C and have a full-time job. My parents have an apartment in the city, meaning cost living in DC is zero. Part of the reason AU is my top choice is that it would allow me to stay in Washington, keep my job, stay at a place that doesn't cost me a penny while I save up and am able to move into a place of my own for the long-term. In that sense, moving back to Tallahassee would cost me more than staying in DC considering 1) I'd have to pay rent and 2) I can almost guarantee I wouldn't find a job that pays what WashPo is paying.

3) I'm not in need of any health care insurance through the university or any of the additional benefits of being a student.

4) The cost of two classes would be roughly $9,000. That's how much it would cost me to attempt to prove myself to AU. $9000.

5) I would risk losing my funded opportunities at both Florida State and Florida. Risk, key word.

6) AU is my top choice. I've gone in and chatted with the DGS before and I've maintained a really good relationship with her. She offered to help me navigate through all the options to put me in the best position to be admitted in the spring.

In addition to the risk you mention in #5, I would also add that same word to #4. It would cost you $9000 and you'd still have that risk you won't be accepted.

Honestly, it is a tough decision from my perspective. AU is obviously the ideal place to be, but having to spend thousands of dollars for only a possibility to be accepted next year and turn down guaranteed funding elsewhere would definitely give me pause. But if your chances of getting in as a result of taking those classes are quite high, it might be worth it. Then again, @irapplicant1776 brings up a good point that a couple of classes may not make much of a difference in how much you're offered in funding, if anything, even if you are accepted. So then you'd have a decision to make about how you'd pay for it if you did get accepted. There's a lot of pros and cons to be weighed here and I wish you the best of luck with it!

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The wording in that image you posted makes me a little nervous. It sounds like you feel it's the right move, but I would hesitate to take such a risk. I do understand your desire to stay in DC and build your network, however.

Let me tell you this from personal experience. I spent a couple years between my Math undergrad and CS grad (starting this fall) explaining to people I met that I was a student, but then had to go on this long explanation "well I was a Math major but have to take some CS classes to get my pre-reqs in so I can apply to schools in the fall blah blah." It was extremely annoying after explaining it the first few times and made meeting new people awkward. It made networking even more awkward, and I'm sure glad I'm just about done with this stage of not being a real student.

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