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    Hello everybody,

    I'm hoping to apply for a masters at an Ivy College at the start of the academic year 2009. I am currently enrolled at Aberystwyth university history department and know that my average choice of university means I'm going to have to do a lot more work before my application becomes up to scratch.

    My GCSE's are pretty average (although I'm not sure whether these matter.)

    I have 4 A levels - Economics-Grade A Law-Grade B English Lit-Grade B and History-Grade C.

    I'm more than on target to get a first class honours degree and am also involved in a lot of extra curricular activites, namely volunteering with an organisation in the local community and a member of several societies.

    What more can I do to prepare?

    I'm considering taking the SAT's as an addition to my A level's and then obviously the GRE.

    I've also been considering spending next summer at the Harvard Extension School taking an additional Class just to add something to my resume.

    I've also got excellent work experience and have been sponsored by a local IFA firm for the past 2 years to take Financial Planning Exams (although this isn't the area I now want to pursue.)

    Would taking an additional Masters before applying for the Ivy League masters be of any help or will it affect funding or even make me look a bit flaky, can't decide what to do etc?

    Please help! I'm more than willing to put the rest of my life on hold for a year or two to focus on getting through admissions but would just like some advice and input from others to decide whether my plan of action is currently the best.

    Thanks!
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    SAT is useless at this stage - thats for undergrad. just prep for GRE and get over 750. and u shuda done some good ECs whilst at uni
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    (Original post by Barzini)
    and u shuda done some good ECs whilst at uni
    Looks like you missed his (or her) stating:

    (Original post by CAMW86)
    am also involved in a lot of extra curricular activites, namely volunteering with an organisation in the local community and a member of several societies.
    I agree about the SATs; those'll be worthless once you take the GREs.

    I don't know what else you could be doing, but I don't know that field well at all, either. A first and good GRE scores should get you a long way, and I think will make up for your going to a relatively unknown uni. Is this a taught Master's or a research Master's? You'll want to have done some kind of research if it's the latter.

    E-mail someone from admissions at your prospective universities' department and ask what they like to see.
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    Do you want to continue in history? I'm not sure how many genuine history master's programs there are in the U.S. Certainly much more, however, for things like public policy, international relations, and public administration.

    This makes a difference because, for the IR related masters, they tend to let in foreign applicants at much higher rates. But in general, work for a couple more years. Professional experience is often much more important than in U.S. admissions decisions (though again it depends on the program).

    Don't bother with the SATs - just go straight for the GREs. And you don't need a 750 to get in. Anything over 650-700 in each section is fine, even for Ph.D.'s. And get good recs. That's important.

    But more than anything else, put yourself in the admissions committee's shoes. Why would they make an investment in you? What drive/initiative/evidence do you have? How can they know that accepting you will be beneficial for them in the long-term? A prior master's isn't necessarily a bad thing, but generally it's difficult to square with the idea that you have clear goals in mind. This is particularly the case if you are going to do both in the same field.

    But again, if you could give us a little more info about what you're interested in and why, that would help a lot.
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    Thanks for the replies and advice.

    I'd definately consider an IR or Public Policy masters if they were generally more favourable to foreign students. It's the experience and skills learnt from a masters I want rather than actually doing more study into history.

    At the moment I haven't decided whether I want to do a research or taught masters. I've got a while to look at courses before I need to start applying but I haven't really got any preference. If I were to apply for a research based masters then how would I go about getting experience? Trying to get some of my own work published?

    Thanks again.
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    Don't worry about a research v. taught masters: it's kind of meaningless in the U.S., and especially under the IR or policy degrees. If you think of the research/taught divide as one between academic versus career tracks, those programs are pretty much focused on the latter. Depending on the school, however, you'll get some grounding in quantitative analysis (SAIS is particularly noted for its econ focus), but you're not doing...methodology per se. Published pieces will still help, but work experience is highly valued. The average age at a U.S.-based program is generally a bit higher than those in the UK, and that's reflective of a desire on the admissions' part for more experienced students.

    But something else about your response struck me:

    It's the experience and skills learnt from a masters I want rather than actually doing more study into history.

    You'll definitely learn more skills as part of an MPP or MPA as opposed to an IR degree (but generally not as much as in, say, an MBA). However, if what you want are the skills, you can probably get a number of them just by working. In addition, when it comes time for you to write your personal statement, if you're this willing right now to be flexible about what you want to do, it may be not convince the admissions people that you have a firm sense of where you want to go. I think it's often best to think of UK master's degrees as one that preserve flexibility: you're trained as a generalist by and large. The U.S. ones are designed to advance your career, which means you already have goals and jobs in mind. There's obviously flexibility built into the system, there's naturally going to be people changing their minds, but the U.S. committees look a lot more at where you've been professionally and where you want to go.
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    Your college grades and ECs will count for for more than your GCSEs.
 
 
 
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