Preparing for Georgetown MSFS

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.

Scholarship

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.

Scholarly Prep

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.

The Area

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.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Preparing for Georgetown MSFS

  1. Fatima

    Hi! I came across your site while researching the msfs program. I just got my ‘almost-rejection’ letter from them (I got waitlisted), and since this has been my dream school for somewhere close to forever, I can’t even tell you how excited I am, although I’m trying not to give myself too much false hope since I don’t know the size of the waitlist.

    Your post was published in 2007, so I’m assuming you’ve already graduated. I was wondering if you know anyone who got in off of the waitlist, and what the likelihood is that I will be able accepted for the fall. Also, what are the statistics for acceptance? I was able to find very little online. How many people apply, how many are accepted and how many are waitlisted?

    This is turning into a really long story about my life, but I have a backup Georgetown program (an MA program in international law) that I deferred from last year that I would go to if I were to not get in the msfs program (I’m afraid I’m going to jinx it even typing that! :S). So, regardless of what happens I plan on going to Georgetown for the fall, which means that I also need to figure out how I would pay for it. I know you said you got a scholarship, but isn’t the tuition close to $40k? How were you able to pay that in full, plus rent and living expenses? What would my options be in terms of finances?

    I would really appreciate it if you could email me even a very brief response to these questions. It would really help to talk to someone who’s been through the program!

    Thanks!

  2. Andrea

    Hi Ben,
    I came across your blog while searching for Georgetown fellowships. I have just received my admission to MSFS and am now trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for it! If you can chat offline I’d be so grateful to hear your advice on finding funding and such. I’d also love to hear how your experience was at MSFS since it looks like I will be taking on a LOT of debt if I attend in the fall. I’m so excited and honored to have been accepted to this program but really worried about how I will finance it!

  3. Claire

    Andrea- I also just received my acceptance letter, and don’t know how I will afford tuition and living expenses! Your thoughts are mine exactly..

  4. Andrea

    Claire – let’s chat offline. Email me! andrea.e.rodriguez@gmail.com. I looked at student loan repayment schedules this morning and don’t know how I will afford it either :(

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