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Move back & work or apply to grad school?


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Hi guys,

I'm working on applying to grad school and I was wondering if you could give me some insight. I graduated double majoring in International Studies & French from 2012-2015 and then had to move back home for family reasons. Since then, I have had essentially no work experience that pertains to what I would like to do for the rest of my life. However, I had a bunch of academic research and work experience for various organizations while in school. I'm at a standstill because I think I should attain some more relevant work experience before going back to school. I'm interested in a variety of programs, most notably in International Development, Urban Planning, and Sociology. I'm reading everywhere than an MPA is a waste of time unless I'm like 30 and have ten years of experience, so the likelihood of getting an MPA is dwindling, but it seems the same way for most Master's degrees?

I have already successfully requested recommendations from three professors and am waiting to ask for a fourth specifically for a PhD.  I'm returning to Colorado next year, which is essentially non-negotiable because that's where I would like to be for the next few years. Given that I can receive in-state tuition for public colleges (CU Denver and CU Boulder) in the area after moving back for a year, would it be in my best interest to just move back there and work, or should I apply to schools this Fall and hope I have some success?

Note: I've already taken the GRE and plan to take it again. The GRE (as it stands) and my lack of work experience (I am just 23, also) are definitely going to be my two weaknesses of my application.

Thanks.

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 an MPA is a waste of time unless I'm like 30 and have ten years of experience

...or until you're ~25 and have 2-4 years of work experience, like most matriculating MPA students?

but it seems the same way for most Master's degrees?

The MBA and MPA are the only two master's programs in this area that require work experience. Academic master's don't care.

I guess I don't really get why you're panicking. You said it yourself - you're only 23. Seriously, it's okay if you're not President of the United States by the time you're 25. If you're not sure what you want to do, take a break, figure that out, travel or work or volunteer or whatever you want in the meantime. Why are you even applying for PhDs if you want an MPA? Panicky applications to a bunch of places you don't really want to be at won't make you any happier or put you on a path to success. Seriously, chill. You've got time.

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49 minutes ago, MattDU said:

I'm mostly panicking because I haven't done anything worthwhile or even relevant since finishing college almost two years ago. But, I really appreciate this reality check.

I couldn't even get a full time job for two years after I graduated undergrad, and two years later got full funding for a decently-ranked program that's a very good fit for me.

Don't panic.

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43 minutes ago, mapiau said:

I couldn't even get a full time job for two years after I graduated undergrad, and two years later got full funding for a decently-ranked program that's a very good fit for me.

Don't panic.

Can I ask what your job experience was after college that led to full funding?

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Hey OP,

I'm not in your area, but wanted to mention that I graduated undergrad in 2012 and didn't go back for my MA until 2015 (I was 25). I was underemployed the entire time I was out of school and not doing much that could go towards academia. The year before I returned to school, I participated as an independent scholar in a conference (co-wrote a paper with my friend) and began as a volunteer content creator/ "professor" for an online fantasy education-based MMORPG. I utilized these experiences in my letter of intent to show that, even though my work experience was lousy towards my grad school aspirations, I was still thinking academically and pursuing academic interests in my own time.

Rather than panicking about the work, if you want an academic masters, see if there are any ways you can participate in a conference, volunteer for work related to your interests, or even do something like start a blog about your research interests. Rather than panicking about the experience you lack, figure out how to leverage what you've done (and add what you can before you submit your apps).

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11 hours ago, MattDU said:

Can I ask what your job experience was after college that led to full funding?

I worked as a program administrator-type at a foundation in my field, but it's wrong to say that this job "led" to me receiving funding. There are a lot of other factors that admissions committees take into account beyond work experience when considering funding.

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14 hours ago, GreenEyedTrombonist said:

Hey OP,

I'm not in your area, but wanted to mention that I graduated undergrad in 2012 and didn't go back for my MA until 2015 (I was 25). I was underemployed the entire time I was out of school and not doing much that could go towards academia. The year before I returned to school, I participated as an independent scholar in a conference (co-wrote a paper with my friend) and began as a volunteer content creator/ "professor" for an online fantasy education-based MMORPG. I utilized these experiences in my letter of intent to show that, even though my work experience was lousy towards my grad school aspirations, I was still thinking academically and pursuing academic interests in my own time.

Rather than panicking about the work, if you want an academic masters, see if there are any ways you can participate in a conference, volunteer for work related to your interests, or even do something like start a blog about your research interests. Rather than panicking about the experience you lack, figure out how to leverage what you've done (and add what you can before you submit your apps).

 

Exactly. Get creative.

Its alright to panic, sometimes panic is a good wake up call that we need to change things up. But don't let it freeze you. Use that energy to moving towards your goals

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