Today, I took the plunge and made a final decision on graduate school. I will attend the London School of Economics for the MPA International Development program and pursue a dual degree with Sciences Po Paris the following year.
It seems silly to make a decision before I have all the admissions results. Yet, I know what I want. All along, I have been after an European perspective for my graduate study. I applied to U.S. schools only to have options in case my mind changed. So far, the mind is where it was, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere regarding this matter.
I was really mulling over the EPP program at Sciences Po for its cheaper price tag. But after a serious pro/con list, there was no doubt that the Dual Degree MPA is the best program. The ultimate decision force came in the email from a girl who’s a current student at the Sciences Po EPP program. I contacted her a few weeks ago after finding her in one of the groups on Facebook. She had asked my background and where else I’ve applied in order to provide objective guidance.
Her reply today indicated that I should choose other programs over EPP for several reasons: the program is pretty new, and not very organized. While Sciences Po is known for international diversity, the program itself has yet encompass that element. Furthermore, the course content for this program is supposedly very PhD driven, and lack coherence between the partner institutions.
Those are the reasons why EPP at ScPo isn’t for me. Now, let’s talk about why MPA from LSE/ScPo IS for me.
- the MPA Intl Deverlopment stream fits my background. The coursework that I would take during the first year at LSE would provide econ-based policy courses that are transferable between private & public sectors, thus opening lots of doors.
- the LSE reputation is hard to compete among the schools I’ve applied to. LSE covers Europe, Asia and the U.S. Sciences Po covers France, Europe and former French colonies. With this dual degree, I’d have most of the world covered.
- 2nd year MPA at Sciences Po offers an interesting capstone project where students act as consultants to real firms instead of a dissertation, which is far more appealing to me. Sciences Po also plans several study-trips that allow students to have a practical experience.
There are also several personal reasons for why LSE/ScPo MPA is better: I have better contacts in London for a steady part-time job; I know London well as a city and it will ease my transition after Peace Corps; living in Paris for a year is something I’ve wanted to do, etc.
Personal insights weigh a great deal and thanks to social media, I was able to make an important decision. I’m excited for this next step! Courses will be challenging but I think I am ready for this stimulus of my mind after two years of intellectual vacation.