Poli92

This Forum Seems Quiet... Indulge Me while I Read Into It

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I've been lurking and posting on here for four years or so, and as the title suggests, I've noticed that the Government Affairs forum seems way quieter than previous years around this time. 

Has anyone else noticed this? 

Is there some other forum where all the cool kids are talking about grad school now? 

If not... If we think of GradCafe types as being somewhat representative of the more proactive applicants, does this mean that there are fewer proactive applicants this cycle? This could mean good things for everyone applying this year, as the pool may be a bit thinner than recent years. Moreover, this would jive with a number of current conditions, namely:

  • As the labor market has strengthened, those who would have previously applied to grad school may instead be working. 
  • The growth rate in grad school enrollments has been slowing over recent years, we could be entering the first year in which we might see outright declines. 
  • Particularly for those interested in government affairs, concern about Trump's policies (massive proposed State & USAID cuts, PSLF maybe going away) or working in the administration may be convincing people not to apply. 

Or is it possible that everything worth saying on here has already been said? 

At any rate, I'm curious whether others may have noticed this. 

Cheers! 

 

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I noticed this trend as well. I’ve been lurking here for 3 years and it appears that the traffic has been down. I think the points you bring up are all valid. It also seems there has been much discussion recently about the cost of most of these degrees. There are a lot of people saying these degrees are not worth it. I think this slow down in traffic could be people realizing these degrees are not all they are advertised to be. I also wonder if traffic is down across all the grad cafe forums or just this one. But I’m really interested on other people’s thoughts on the matter.

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I could definitely see how the Trump effect might be discouraging folks from applying. I'm personally planning to work in municipal government/advocacy, which is why I still decided to apply despite last year's election. But the prospect of being taxed on my scholarship/fellowships might end up having a big impact on whether or not I can actually go to school. 

The forum has definitely seemed quiet. I wonder if the applicant pool this year might end up being smaller but more competitive. It's possible that fewer people want to enter a risky market where they will have to fight hard to get a job, then fight even harder to do good work. But I also think it's possible that those who are energized to act by the dismal political climate have a deep commitment to public service that would be reflected in their applications. Just a thought!

Either way, I'm hoping for fewer applicants and more $$$ to go around!

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Yeah, I don't think we should necessarily read too much into the lack of forum activity thus far. Perhaps more people are going to apply RD/less apply EA/ED, and the overall numbers don't change too much. And of course the caveat that GradCafe may not be representative of the population. 

The more interesting question may be: if there are fewer people applying this year for govt. programs, what are those people doing? That says a lot about perceptions of the current political and economic climate.

Just my 2 cents.

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I would not be surprised if there is a significant decrease in prospective students because of the new administration. I myself balked and had to think about going into the intelligence community for a time. The national news is not exactly saying the administration loves intelligence and will take my colleagues and I seriously. Took me a little of the emotional roller coaster to come out on the other side with a decision to just do the best I can do and leave it up to Jesus. Also took some emotional roller coaster to just realize that if I do get to brief an administration official, then these people are my boss and should be treated with the utmost respect. I bet the second most people get on an emotional roller coaster for a State job, which are fewer due to the administration's policies, then they will balk and run to the private sector. Defense being a very constrained interest with its own mentality that takes for granted the use of violence.

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Hey all - Agree that this forum has been very quiet this year. I can only speak for my peer group here in D.C., but many of the policy-minded or former Obama politicals are strongly leaning MBA, rather than MPP. There's a real pressing sense of ROI for the degree and with our current administration, it seems like Tech Companies are the new hot place to work. 

I think the reticence is due to a larger trend that's starting to emerge: 

  • Applications to Foreign Service are down 50%, 
  • Latest Tax Bill directly targets grad students and ivy league foundations, and 
  • Aside from Business Schools and select engineering, admission to professional schools (Law school esp) is down significantly as the economy is doing well

Honestly, I think this means good fortune for our applications to competitive programs and scholarships, but I think the lack of crowding should make us pause, if only for a moment, to think about why we're taking the offers. 

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Another possible variable is that, after seeing so much negativity related to government affairs on this forum, prospective students are looking for other, more positive, support groups.

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I was recently at an alumni event for my school, and in the pitch for us to make donations, they mentioned the importance of raising funds for scholarships right now because admissions are down. I think Trump is having a big impact on would-be policy types, in addition to the stronger private sector as other posters have mentioned. So that could be a boon to those of you who are applying now, in terms of admissions and financing. But of course there's the concern about the effect that Trump and his acolytes will have on hiring and funding in the government and related industries.

This is totally anecdotal, but my 24-year-old sister graduated from a less prestigious college than I did with a similar liberal arts degree, and she and the vast majority of her friends are all in career-oriented jobs at the moment, primarily in the private sector. Meanwhile, my friends and I who graduated during the height of the recession were in much worse jobs at that age on average. Personally at 24, I had an admin-level job at a fairly interesting organization that had an unofficial a hiring freeze for most positions for a number of years. Among my college and high school friends, and the admin-level colleagues I had at my aforementioned job, pretty much all of us went back to school for something or another.

Now of course there will always be people who are passionate about policy/IR and will apply for these programs no matter what, but I do think that there were plenty of applicants in recent years who might have chosen other paths if they hadn't found themselves working a dead-end job for 28k in their mid-20s. 

 

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On 12/7/2017 at 10:11 AM, ExponentialDecay said:

 I think that jumping from forum activity to program competitiveness is a big fucking leap

Thus the additional factors I referenced. 

11 hours ago, RealMowgli said:

 

Hey all - Agree that this forum has been very quiet this year. I can only speak for my peer group here in D.C., but many of the policy-minded or former Obama politicals are strongly leaning MBA, rather than MPP. There's a real pressing sense of ROI for the degree and with our current administration, it seems like Tech Companies are the new hot place to work. 

I think the reticence is due to a larger trend that's starting to emerge: 

  • Applications to Foreign Service are down 50%, 
  • Latest Tax Bill directly targets grad students and ivy league foundations, and 
  • Aside from Business Schools and select engineering, admission to professional schools (Law school esp) is down significantly as the economy is doing well

Honestly, I think this means good fortune for our applications to competitive programs and scholarships, but I think the lack of crowding should make us pause, if only for a moment, to think about why we're taking the offers. 

This sort of peer group feedback is another one of the reasons I brought this up. Many of my colleagues (analysts at a rigorously apolitical federal entity) who may have otherwise sought out advanced degrees in public policy or admin are now either dodging grad school altogether or leaning towards much more quantitative, data science-y types of degrees with a higher ROI. 

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