Now that I’ve officially decided on attending Georgetown MSFS (Master of Science in Foreign Service), I’ve been getting more and more excited about starting classes there and have been poring over every single shred of information I can find about it.
When I checked my e-mail at the hostel we stayed in in Alice Springs, I discovered that the head of admissions at MSFS, Eleanor Monte Jones, offered me a $10k scholarship for this school year! This is probably one of the best parts of being the director, when they can go back and offer students money that’s been freed up by other accepted students declining to attend.
This was perfect! I figure the way this came about was through some rustling of the reeds in the background… First I had e-mailed Eleanor and explained my situation: while I really wanted to do the MSFS program, I was also being offered $8k/year with no debt (Texas pays tuition for veterans) from UT Austin LBJ. So while it shouldn’t have been about money, in this situation it clearly was. She wrote back very encouragingly and patiently and offered her own anecdotes about friends of hers and their decisions. It was very helpful and I ended up accepting admission before flying to Australia.
But I had also run across a guy named David Martinez on the UT Austin LBJ online forums. We started e-mailing and as it turns out he’s a superstar ex-Peace Corps guy who went to Bolivia (same as my family friends’ son Michael Klein) and did amazing things like develop standard operating procedures for waste management and a computer curriculum for school children. He got into UT Austin LBJ, Georgetown MSFS, Harvard MPA/ID, Princeton WWS, etc. etc. etc. He e-mailed me first because he was interested in studying Arabic so I pointed him towards the materials I used to learn.
It came up that he was most excited about Harvard but Princeton offers all its students free admission. He ended up taking Harvard (mainly for the name and the public policy program I think) and said he would write Eleanor recommending that I receive the half-tuition scholarship they offered him.
Eleanor wrote him and said that was the first time she’d seen someone recommend his money to someone else!
Then I received my offer! The $10k covers the $7.3k-ish amount I was expected to pay outright, which is good. I’m taking out Stafford, Perkins, and Graduate PLUS loans on most of the rest. Statistically MSFS only offers funding to 15% of its 1st years so I think I’m in pretty good company somehow! Here, here, to David Martinez who will accomplish great things.
Finding Others Online
I did a search for MSFS on Flickr and found two people. One is a graduating student who is 2nd year grad editor-in-chief at the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and she was very helpful in passing along advice Eleanor gave her: “Be zen.” She’s going into the Foreign Service. I also found photos from the MSFS Spring Ball, which showed students dressed in their finest.
I’m really looking forward to meeting all the people! MSFS is known for its small class sizes, made up of 65% females and 35% international students. So it will be a rather diverse group of people from all over. As I get older I tend to absorb more and more details about people to figure them out and discover their formulae — I’m hoping our class will further the world positively in large increments.
I also found someone’s blog and she sounds like she’s always writing three papers while reading a shitload of essays and books. So I’m going to have my work cut out for me but luckily I’m better about not procrastinating now. I’m a little worried professors will make me re-write papers a lot since I’ve never really written very academic research before but we’ll see.
Georgetown seems to have the best online statistics of former classes out of all the related schools. It has extensive data on where students were employed after graduation, with almost complete employment consistently every year.
I enrolled for macro- and micro- economics at the local community college. Because I’m a veteran I only had to pay $8 for some campus fees. Nice! The books however cost about $80 each which is robbery and aren’t covered by the exemption.
The classes last a month, from May 30th to July 3rd or something like that. I think I scheduled from 8AM to about 1PM.
I applied to Big Brother, Big Sister, as well as the Salvation Army (to examine casework for Katrina victim families). We’ll see how that goes.
There’s a whole slew of policy books (mainly about Iraq) that I want to read before classes begin since I won’t have time after that. Also I’ll be eligible for academic discounts for The Economist, which is normally pretty expensive but 75% off for students. I could probably find dozens of copies laying around the school though since it seems to be the reading material of choice for policy wonks.
I have to study up on my Arabic since I take a proficiency exam during orientation. I know my Arabic’s rusty but I seem to be able to recall a large amount of it even still, meaning that I have actually acquired some degree of fluency and it’s engrained in me at least a little bit.
I’m reading a book about how suburban sprawl is destroying community and it mentions the Georgetown neighborhood often as being an example of how a community is supported by good design. I visited Georgetown twice in the past, walking through some of the surrounding neighborhoods and I felt it was very cozy, liveable, and communal. Beautiful in many parts. When I go back there, it will be with open eyes and I want to examine it with the book in mind. For my family I want us to live in a strong community.