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Greetings from Harris! For those of you joining our incoming class in the fall, we know there are a lot of questions about your next steps. If you haven’t read our recent blog post, You’re #InAtHarris! Now What? be sure to take some time to read that carefully; it answers many of your questions about next steps and what you can expect over the summer.

What is a CNET ID?

One of the very first things you need to do once you submit your Admission Reply Form and deposit, securing your place in our incoming class, is to claim your CNET ID. The CNET ID will be your key to accessing a variety of password-protected University systems.

How do I claim my CNET ID?

To claim your CNET ID, you will need your UChicago ID (UCID) number or your social security number. Your UCID was emailed to you shortly after submitting your Admission Reply Form with a subject line of “Harris Public Policy Enrollment Update.” If you are unable to find this email, you may contact Admissions and they will look it up for you.

Once you have your UCID, visit the IT Services website to finish claiming your CNET ID. The website will guide you through the process.

What can I do with my CNET ID?

Here are some of the University systems that require a CNET ID to access:

my.UChicago portal - This is an internal portal for all UChicago students, faculty, staff, and alumni. On this site, you will find useful information regarding University events, financial aid, the bursar's office, and other important news and events happening around campus. It is the centralized place to access nearly all information for University-wide systems, including:

  • Registering for courses
  • Viewing what courses are being offered across the University
  • Updating your contact information (legal name, preferred name, addresses, and phone numbers, etc.)
  • View and pay your tuition bill and see your financial aid information
  • View any holds that you have on your registration and how to resolve them

UChicago Student Employment website - To apply for University-related jobs (both work study and non-work study), this site will be your resource. Please note that most jobs that begin in the fall won’t be posted until mid-to-late summer.

Why is it important to set up my CNET ID?

The Office of Students Affairs at Harris Public Policy will begin to send information in the coming weeks about our pre-orientation and orientation programs, as well as general information and advice to help you prepare for arriving on campus. Your student email address will be the ONLY way they communicate this information to you; therefore, it is very important that you set up your CNET ID and student email address in a timely manner.

As a reminder, the admitted student website and Pre-Enrollment Checklist contain many of the important dates you need to be aware of.

Admissions will continue to communicate with you via the email address listed in your application file should there be any outstanding issues as you complete your transition to a Harris student. If you change your contact information at any point in time, please notify the Office of Admissions immediately. We don’t want you to miss out on any important details in the weeks leading up to your arrival on campus.

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Hello readers! The last quarter has finally started for those of us in our second year here at Harris. I wanted to share my last spring break journey as a student with you!

Over this past spring break, I went to Washington D.C. on the career trek with the Institute of Politics (IOP). It wasn’t quite Miami or Cancun, but it was GREAT! And I LOVED IT!

Why did you join the IOP Career Trek to DC?

I spent last summer interning at the World Bank in D.C. That experience deepened my passion for international development policy and I wanted to explore my career options in that field. I knew I could do that by participating in Career Trek. The trip was also fully funded by IOP, so I applied and got in!

IOP Career Trek participants visit the NPR studios.

What did you do during Career Trek?

For about three days, we visited many organizations including the Senate Office, Human Rights Watch, Urban Institute, and NPR. Even though I am pursuing a career in international development, it was a great opportunity to see what other options are available for my career in the long term.

It was really helpful that each site visit ended with a chance to ask questions and get a feel for the kind of work environment each organization offers. This allowed me firsthand insight into whether or not that organization was the type of place I would want to work for in the future.

We also attended an event at Georgetown University featuring Eric Holder, former Attorney General of the United States where gerrymandering was discussed.

​​​What were your favorite things about Career Trek?

Most of the students who came on the Trek are interested in getting involved in U.S. or international politics. One of the UChicago alumni we met with currently works in President Obama’s personal office. It was really interesting to hear about her career journey, beginning as an intern at the White House, to her current role as a researcher in his personal office. Her story resonated, particularly because of her success at a young age through hard work and building connections.

Another thing I really liked about the Trek, and was grateful to the IOP organizers for including in the program, was the flexibility. Even though the official schedule was hectic, IOP organizers allowed some discretionary time to visit other organizations that were of interest to me.

During my time in D.C., I was able to meet with my former supervisors at the World Bank, professors from George Washington University where I did my study abroad during undergrad, and several colleagues whom I worked with in D.C.

Apart from the Career Trek, I also loved being in Washington D.C. again. There are so many interesting opportunities happening all the time around the field of policy, including policy debates, speaker events, and international forums just to name a few.

Sally Park, Class of 2018, holds the report she helped compile at the Global Food Security Symposium 2018.

I ended my trip to D.C. by meeting up with some colleagues from my current internship at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs for the 2018 Global Food Security Symposium.

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During this past spring break, I participated in a nine-day trip to China sponsored by the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF). I was one of 20 graduate students chosen to participate in this special immersion program focusing on themes of economic reform and global security.

Kwak was chosen along with 19 other graduate students for a sponsored nine-day trip to China courtesy of CUSEF.

My travel cohort consisted of graduate students not only from Harris, but also the Law School and Social Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, not only to connect with a diverse group of graduate students from other divisions, but also to fully contextualize China’s rapid rise as a global economic power and to consider its challenges for future growth. It was also an interesting time to be in China because of the National People’s Congress and President Xi Jinping was re-elected at the tail end of the trip.

My cohort traveled to three different cities in China — Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai. Each city had a unique itinerary planned, which was primarily focused on back-to-back meetings with government ministries, established businesses, and technology start-ups. Two students were chosen to lead the discussions during each meeting, which ensured active participation from the entire group. Some of the government agencies we visited in Beijing were the Ministry of Finance and Environmental Protection Ministry, where we received a comprehensive overview of each government agency’s history and role in stewarding China’s plan for growth. We also spent some time at the People’s Bank of China to learn more about Chinese fiscal policy. In Shenzhen, we visited some key technology companies such as SenseTime and Huawei. Finally, in Shanghai, we met with some diverse organizations such as the Shanghai Religious and Ethnic Affairs Committee, Ctrip, Shanghai Institute for International Studies, and Baosight.

Many of our meetings and discussions were based on learning more about the organizations and their impact on business or policy goals, so it was eye-opening to attend a wide range of meetings throughout different regions in China.

Since the goal of our trip was to learn more about economic reform and security in China, there was little time left to explore each city during the day. However, I was still able to enjoy how each city had a distinct character unto its own. Beijing, being the capital city, is very politically focused; Shenzhen is a young city in southern China that is rapidly growing its technology and innovation sector, and taking advantage of its designation as a special economic zone; Shanghai is a diverse international city that has historically served as a major financial hub of China and still serves that role today.

Kwak along with her travel companions visit the Great Wall in China.

Overall, the trip made a lasting impression on me. The program was challenging and informative; many of the topics discussed were complex yet organic.

I feel that some of the friendships and connections I was able to make on the trip will last beyond my graduate studies at Harris and I’m eager to continue exploring my interest in China for years to come.

 

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In honor of National Service Recognition Day on April 3, the Harris community came together to honor students, faculty, and staff who are current or former military service members, and those who volunteered from programs in AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and Teach for America.

One of those participants was Ashley Aue, whose stepping stone to public service came while working on conservation efforts in Colorado’s state and national parks.

Ashley Aue, Class of 2019.

Aue, then an undergraduate, served in AmeriCorps State and National in the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. Her work taught her flexibility and problem solving, particularly when the unexpected happened.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, Aue’s Colorado team was deployed to Mississippi to assist with relief efforts.

Aue, Class of 2019 in the MPP program, shared her service story with Harris students, faculty, and staff at the dinner event at the University of Chicago.

As Aue glanced around the room, she was surprised to see the number of Harris colleagues who had also served. Though she had no idea, she said she also feels at home.

Most recently, Aue lived in Guatemala where she founded Asociación Abriendo Caminos (Pathways), an organization that works with individuals with intellectual disabilities to teach job and life skills.

She chose Harris because she wanted to learn more about how to make services more efficient and sustainable. She says her service background is an asset in the classroom.

“What I can bring to other peers is to take concepts and offer practical examples of where they could be used in the workplace,” she says, emphasizing the transferable nature of the Harris toolkit to real-world work experiences.

Other students shared how their service opportunity instilled a passion for public service and a desire to return to graduate school to learn new skills and broaden their networks.

Ausannette Garcia-Goyette served in the Peace Corps and helped to build teaching capacity in the municipality of Chongqing, China. She taught under-resourced rural teachers who would go on to teach low-income children.

Once she finished her service she wanted to maintain her connection to China and began working for an NGO where she focused on reaching the youngest children first in order to improve societal outcomes.

Ausannette Garcia-Goyette, Class of 2019, poses with students during her time with the Peace Corps in Chongqing, China.

“Starting early creates the greatest opportunities for making a difference,” she says.

Among the many lessons the Peace Corps instilled in her, Garcia-Goyette says she learned cross-cultural communication which allowed her to communicate and understand people from backgrounds that were different than her own.

“A big part of being in Peace Corps is you’re thrown in to a situation with not a lot of resources,” she says. “So the idea of being a self-starter, being resourceful, and starting from scratch are valuable skills that serve you well in any setting.”

 

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Whichever degree program you choose to pursue, you’ll have the support and tools to succeed – and it’s not too early to start thinking about what your student experience will be like and what you can start doing over the summer to be ready on day one of class.

I’m sure you are eager to know what your course schedule and academic experience will look like. Your schedule will be finalized in early September, but you can plan on taking required courses in the Core during your first two quarters at Harris.

The most successful Harris students treat their coursework like a full-time job. Plan on being available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for core courses, and other co-curricular obligations such as TA sessions, class activities, as well as time for a trip or two to the Pub with classmates or attending some of the engaging speaker events hosted throughout the year.

Be sure to also check out the academic calendar to find out when each academic quarter begins and ends, and other key dates throughout the academic year that will help you plan your year. And more importantly, know when to make your spring break plans!

The most important thing you can do over the summer is to begin preparing for the math exams on the first day of Welcome Week. The exams ensure students have the quantitative skills necessary for the statistics and microeconomics courses in the Core.

All incoming graduate-level students (with the exception of MACRM students) need to take and self-report scores for the algebra and calculus self-assessments over the summer. The self-assessments will give you a sense of how much preparation you need for the math exams, identify topics you should focus on, and help determine if attending Math Camp is right for you.

If you have not used mathematical skills recently, you may find it beneficial to enroll in a college-level algebra or calculus course at a local college or through online course platforms, such as Khan Academy.  You know yourself best and will be able to determine how much additional preparation you need for the math exams.

In addition to brushing up on your math skills, I also strongly suggest all incoming students familiarize themselves with programming and coding. While at Harris, you will use Stata, a statistical software package, and R, a programming language very often. Many governmental organizations, consulting firms, NGOs, and start-ups use these programs for policy analysis. Understanding how to use them will be critical in your career and be a helpful addition to your resume.

You’ll be introduced to Stata and R during orientation and in your courses, but in the meantime, you should start to explore these tools. That way, you will already know the basics of how to navigate them once you begin classes in the fall.  

By attending Harris, you’ll be given the tools to transform policy for good. But first, there are a few important steps you’ll want to take. Stay ahead of the curve and bookmark the pre-enrollment checklist – it has every deadline and important date you need to know.  Also, check out the admitted student portal which has tons of usual information. Be sure to check it out frequently as it will be updated over the summer as we get closer to the start of orientation!

Finally, be sure to claim your UChicago email and network ID as soon as possible! The Day One Orientation team will start reaching out to your new email with valuable information starting early May.

From the moment you arrive at Harris, you’ll start acquiring real-world policy experience and building valuable, long-term relationships with future government, nonprofit, business, and civic leaders. You will not only learn how to drive social change— you’ll take the wheel on day one.

I look forward to seeing you this fall!

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Greetings from Harris! 

We are so pleased to welcome you to our community this fall. We know the process of applying to graduate school can be overwhelming, so we wanted to provide you a month-by-month breakdown of what you can expect over the next few months. 

Or, download a simplified New International Student Checklist.

March

During the month of March spend some time learning as much as you can about Harris. Take advantage of the resources below:

April

During the month of April, continue familiarizing yourself with all the University of Chicago and Harris has to offer, but also learn about the visa interview process and the documents you will need to submit in the month of May: 

May

Finish and submit important documentation for the University of Chicago:
  • Complete your FRS form and submit the documents required for an I-20 (F Visa) or DS-2019 (J Visa)
  • Allow 1-2 weeks for OIA to review your documents – the OIA reviews documents in the order they are received. No expedite requests will be granted
  • The OIA will notify you by e-mail if your documents are incomplete
  • OIA will contact you once your documents are ready to be sent
  • Be on the lookout for events and webinars that will be helpful to you

June

Prepare for your visa interview and make sure you are aware of deadlines and communications being sent from [email protected]

July

We hope your visa interview goes well. Stay connected with Harris and your future classmates: 
  • Wow! Time is going by quickly – I thought this blog post would never end! 
  • Have you connected with other students arriving using Facebook or other social media? We’re getting so excited to meet everyone. 
  • Let us know how your visa interview goes 
  • Plan all the fun things you will do in Chicago once you arrive

August

Students begin arriving on campus and participating in pre-orientation programs: 

September

You are finally here and classes begin:
  • Welcome Week – September 24- September 28 
  • First Week of Classes – October 1 

IMPORTANT MESSAGES:

  • Do not book your travel until you have your immigration documents confirming your Program Start Date. Program Start Dates cannot be adjusted based on travel needs. 
  • Read all of the information on the OIA website. We understand it is very detailed and probably a little overwhelming, but it is your best resource for important information.
  • When it comes to immigration policies - always, always, always follow the advice of our talented OIA staff. 
  • Remember, your case is unique. If “a friend” gives you advice or experiences a different process than you, we can only discuss your case.
  • Most importantly, it is our hope that you have a smooth arrival into the United States. Following all of the detailed instructions above will help with that, but remember we are always here to help. Email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.
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The AmeriCorps Pledge: “I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier. I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground. Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.”

I took the AmeriCorps pledge in the summer of 2009, as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. Nearly a decade after my year of Service, I can honestly say I’ve lived the motto, and my career has been greatly influenced by my year of Service. I’ve had the pleasure of completing an AmeriCorps Service year, directing an AmeriCorps program, and currently serve as a Commissioner on the Serve Illinois Commission, which oversees all aspects of program administration and training for the AmeriCorps program in Illinois.

Harris values national service and understands that you're dedicated to continue making an impact.

Successful careers are built on solid personal and interpersonal skills. Like many of my fellow AmeriCorps alumni, the service year provided me with the opportunities to gain and strengthen the marketable skills you don’t find on a resume. AmeriCorps members are dedicated to making a social impact. Through service, young people who are mission-oriented and work well on diverse teams, learn to persevere through challenges and how to take initiative, making them adaptable and resourceful.

This year, the Harris Public Policy is home to 30 alumni of National Service. These students have served in various AmeriCorps programs: VISTA, State, and National, and Teach For America. They all bring the foundation of their service year(s) to their studies. At Harris, our faculty help students turn their passion for doing good into proven social impact. They develop the skills needed to ask the hard questions, follow the evidence to the answers, and make a real and lasting impact. AmeriCorps alumni are able to combine a rigorous education at a world-class institution with their hands-on experience gained through national service. Harris graduates are able to take their applied academic skills and combine them with the critical-thinking skills gained through national service for practical use in the workplace.

Today, there are more than 500 Employers of National Service, an initiative launched by President Obama in 2014. Employers include companies like Accenture, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Morningstar, Save the Children, The Aspen Institute, and many more across all sectors. In Harris Public Policy’s 2016 Career Outcomes report, 97 percent of reporting Harris students secured employment after six months. These students were employed at many of the organizations signed up for the Employers of National Service initiative. As Director of Career Development at Harris, I’m proud to be able to guide my fellow AmeriCorps alums to a career path that values their service experience, rigorous education, and passion. 

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Admitted Student Day has come and gone in the blink of an eye and I’m sure it was just as overwhelming and exciting for you as it was for me. In between chatting with all the newly admitted students, I found time to reflect on what it was like attending ASD again as a first-year student and a member of Team Harris.

Team Harris and many other current students shared their perspective and advice at Admitted Student Day.

As an admitted student last year, I remember feeling anxious, but excited to get a taste of what it meant to be a Harris student. Aside from the warm opening remarks that set the tone for the day, I recall Ethan Bueno de Mesquita’s mini-lecture that gave insight into his Analytical Politics course. He highlighted from the course material what it meant to move beyond wanting to do good for the greatest amount of people and actually doing good with effective policy implementation. Having now taken this class, I recognize how Admitted Student Day, and his presentation, was an accurate representation of what my first quarter of the core would be like. I also had a better understanding of his lecture better this time around! Ethan’s class remains one of my favorites to date.

My favorite part of Admitted Student Day, both this year and last, was the happy hour with current students. It is the perfect ending to what may feel like an overwhelming day. I greatly enjoyed meeting you individually and offering a down-to-earth perspective. Hopefully, it relieved some of your stress, especially regarding Harris’ academic rigor.

I realize that there is a mystique surrounding the core that creates anxiety. I remember bombarding current students with questions like, Am I going to make it through the core? Am I going to crash and burn? What’s a derivative?! Hearing the same questions makes me laugh because I understand how you’re feeling because I was in this position the same time last year.

Students were able to network, meet faculty and current students, and tour campus during Admitted Student Day this year.

Although easier said than done, my best advice is to not let the fear of the core prevent you from enjoying your Harris experience. I spent too much time during my first year looking for reassurance that I would make it through. Sometimes I lost sight of the big picture and had to remind myself of why I sought out an MPP degree in the first place.  

I survived the core and lived to tell the tale - and so will you. 

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Greetings from Harris! 

Our entire Admissions Team is buzzing about the excitement of meeting so many Admitted Students on Friday. We hope you had a chance to visit Harris on Friday, and even stop by the much talked about Seminary Co-op Bookstore. :)

As promised in the past, and discussed on Friday, our Application for Review of Scholarship Award is now open. You may access the form here. Some helpful tips when completing this form:

  • Please provide new information when completing this form - information that was not included in your original Harris application
  • New information can include a variety of items such as updated transcripts, new test scores, or information on other programs you are considering 
  • Please allow our team two weeks to respond to requests - if you need to hear back sooner there is an area on the form where you can indicate the date when you need a final decision from Harris 
  • We encourage you to only submit this request once, and recommend you have all relevant information before submitting the form

Thank you! Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions. 

-Jenny

 

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The acceptance email from Harris changed everything. At the time I was working on developing a business model for a Chilean company. I was under a lot of pressure. And I wasn’t sure I was doing what I really wanted to do. The simple word “congratulations” on a maroon colored piece of paper magically healed me.   

Harris is “THE school’” to me. My undergraduate degree was in Economics, so I was looking for a public policy program with an element of Econ. I knew I would focus a lot of my graduate work on economic policy, but a degree specific to economic policy would limit my career options. However, with an MPP degree, I have the flexibility to apply for jobs in other policy areas, such as international relations. The MPP program is a great fit for me because it opens possibilities for more career options.

One of my favorite things about the Harris MPP is that we are allowed to choose up to six courses outside of Harris. When I began applying to graduate schools, I thought I might later apply for a doctoral program, so finding a program that allows students to choose electives that open possibilities for pursuing different paths was important to me. The Master of Public Policy (MPP) at Harris allows you to do just that. I could utilize these opportunities to take courses from the Economics department or School of Social Service Administration, for example.

I always wanted to gain more action-based academic experience. I was looking for “hands-on” learning opportunities to analyze, develop, advocate for, and help drive the execution of effective policy solutions in a real-world context. I wanted to engage with real issues and help actual client organizations.

That’s why I was so excited about Harris Policy Labs. In Policy Labs, second-year Harris students work in teams to tackle issues faced by clients operating in a variety of policy areas across the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. We participated in projects related to improving school choice, analyzing outpatient clinic care, and creating an innovative tool to analyze labor standards. We also created an analytic framework for the University of Chicago Medicine's new trauma center.

I was also on team Chapin Hall/CHA to form the basis of a new initiative by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The goal was to engage and support rising ninth graders and their families in choosing the best fit and high-quality high schools. We received advice from faculty throughout the entire process, from how to greet clients, to how to deliver final presentations and white papers.

The course was intense but very fulfilling. And it helps that the faculty at UChicago are very friendly and responsive to emails.

When I first came to Harris, I was interested in many different concentrations and professional roles. I had no idea which one would be the best fit for me. Between the exciting summer internships, intense but rewarding RA positions, and projects with my fellow Harristas, I was able to discover what I am good at and most enjoy doing.

I will continue to explore the world with my passion for policy, but now with a much clearer direction.

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As we look forward to welcoming prospective students to campus throughout the Spring, our Admissions team wanted to share their favorite spots around the University and our Hyde Park neighborhood. Check out some of our recommendations the next time you are in town! 

Ranjan Daniels, Associate Dean of Student Recruitment and Global Outreach

Ranjan recommends that visiting students eat at the Medici on 57th—his favorite spot in Hyde Park—because of the diverse mix of people and the stellar milkshakes.

Jenny Erickson, Director of Recruitment

“I always refer students to my favorite bookstores on campus: 57th Street Books, The Seminary Co-op Bookstore, and the UChicago Bookstore. Stopping at all three gives you a nice little walk of campus. If I’m going to stop for lunch, my new favorite place is Pret a Manger on University Ave. They have a nice variety of healthy snacks to eat and there are lots of places to stop on the way if you want to check out some of the buildings on campus.”

Jamia Jowers, Associate Director of Recruitment

“I love Hyde Park. There is something for everyone. After work, I stop by Hyde Park Records because I enjoy listening to good music on vinyl. They also come in handy if you are DJ’ing! On the weekends, I take the family to the Museum of Science and Industry and afterward we go to 57th street beach. For date night my husband and I like to take in views at Promontory Point or Osaka Gardens and then have dinner and enjoy live entertainment on the balcony of the Promontory. Whether it’s ‘hearth to table’, or if you’re looking for something more robust like Porkchop, Harper Court & Hyde Park has you covered.”

Devon Reber, Associate Director of Recruitment, Evening Program

I enjoy picking up lunch from one of the food trucks on Ellis Ave. and taking a walk around Rockefeller Chapel.

Shilin Liu, Student Recruitment and International Partnerships Manager

“I like to start my day with a 20-minute still meditation or group yoga at Rockefeller Chapel, swing by the Plein Air cafe to have a delicious and healthy sandwich, and then spend the afternoon reading at the Seminary Co-op bookstore next to it. I like to end my day back at Rockefeller with the Tea and Pipes free concert.”

Alyssa Szynal, Assistant Director of Recruitment

"The Sanctuary Café is one of my favorite places on campus – it’s perfect when I need a quiet place to work and a strong cup of coffee or tea. I also enjoy exploring the Oriental Institute museum; the mummies alone make it worth visiting. And of course, the Pub is a classic campus hangout, whether you go to compete at trivia night or just to chill out after a long day on campus."

Emma Richardson, Recruitment Specialist

“My ideal day is strolling through the Quad up to 57th street, where I can grab a slice of my favorite pepperoni pizza from Medici’s on 57th and stop by the famous Powell’s Bookstore to grab a new book to read during my commute to work.”

Andy Wolanski, Recruitment Specialist

"As a brand-new staff member at Harris, I’ve been busy exploring and getting to know the campus. I think my favorite thing to do so far is to walk through the main quad (I’m a sucker for pretty buildings) and then grab a delicious lunch from one of the many food trucks parked on Ellis Ave! I’m super excited to venture out more into Hyde Park during the spring and summer months and experience the neighborhood."

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My name is Andy Wolanski and I recently joined the Harris School of Public Policy as a Student Recruitment Specialist. I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to contributing to the recruitment team’s awesome efforts in attracting a wonderfully diverse and talented pool of students! Before I begin reading and evaluating applications, I wanted to briefly introduce myself.

I’m so lucky to have been offered this position at Harris because it combines two of my core professional interests: higher education and public policy. Before coming to the University of Chicago, I worked at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University as a Program Coordinator for the Learning Sciences graduate programs. It’s there that I developed a strong appreciation for the many eccentricities of higher education administration. Specifically, I was able to get a good sense of how the admissions and recruitment process works. I quickly realized how rewarding it is to sit down with prospective students and learn about their backgrounds, their interests, and their plans to help change society for the better. The energy exerted by prospective students can be contagious! I recently caught the grad school bug myself and started the part-time Master of Liberal Arts program at Johns Hopkins University.

During my deployment to Afghanistan in 2011

Prior to my position at Northwestern, I received my B.A in Political Science from DePaul University using the G.I. Bill that I earned from five years of service in the United States Air Force. In the military, I served as a Satellite Communications Technician as well as an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Technician during a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. My years in the military, as well as my experiences at DePaul, sparked my interest in political science and public policy; an interest that has only grown over the years.

In my free time (which has become increasingly rare!), I love traveling with my partner of seven years, running, discussing politics with friends, and soaking up the sights and sounds of this wonderful city.

To close, even after a short period of time on the job, I know I made the right choice in coming to the University of Chicago and the Harris School of Public Policy. I’ve admired both from afar for many years. But now I’m here! Great things are happening on a daily basis at Harris and I’m a lucky guy to be able to experience them firsthand.

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Thanks to our Team Harris Ambassador, Tiffany Kwak (MPP'18) for this post! 

To celebrate the Institute of Politics’ five year anniversary, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the University of Chicago on Wednesday, February 7 for an in-depth discussion about public service and current issues in global politics.

I was excited to get the chance to listen to PM Trudeau speak, as I worked on a group project last spring on Canadian fiscal federalism for the State and Local Finance course with Paula Worthington.

Here are my top five takeaways from Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit:

  1. A life of public service kept calling out to Prime Minister Trudeau, who initially desired a career in teaching and education over politics. He made an inspiring analogy: in the same the way that teachers have the capacity to empower their students to be the best they can be, politicians also wield incredible potential to similarly empower citizens’ lives.

  2. Trade is an incredibly important (and tricky) issue to Trudeau. Trudeau highlighted that the United State’s number of trade exports to Canada trumps its exports to countries like the U.K., China, and Japan. As such, it’s vital that trade relations amongst North American countries are fortified.

  3. Trudeau stressed the importance of diversity. He talked about the “Canadian Mosaic” and also discussed policies Canada is enacting to protect the interests of indigenous races and other marginalized groups.

  4. It is vital that we keep younger generations interested in politics and public service because our voices are so important in shaping outcomes not just for ourselves, but for future generations. Trudeau acknowledged that young people today value intelligent and rational debate about what is happening in the world but may be turned off by partisan politics.

  5. Finally, Trudeau emphasized that it is important to draw agents of change from young people who are not fearful of it. He ended his remarks on a positive note, encouraging the crowd to be continually inspired by both what we hope to be and what we hope to do in the world.

After his remarks, Trudeau and IOP Director David Axelrod held a lively Q&A discussion with the crowd. Trudeau received a standing ovation and even took the time to shake students’ hands as he was leaving the venue.

It was an inspiring night that many of us will not forget.

Interested in watching the discussion? Head over to the IOP website.

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On decision release day, Laurel Harnett was a bundle of excitement and nerves. Little did she know, so was the entire Admissions staff. There is a buzz in the atmosphere that you can feel. So much so that staff from other divisions will stop by the Admission’s offices and listen in on the calls, smiles on their faces, basking in the true joyfulness that envelopes the entire Harris community on that day. Calling admitted students, many of whom they have come to know over the course of a year, to tell them they have been accepted to Harris brings a level of satisfaction and happiness that is very personal to each member of the recruitment team.

We thought it would be fun to get both sides of the story. Here, Laurel shares her memories of that day, followed by our Director of Student Recruitment, Jenny Erickson’s recollection of her experience calling Laurel and how much decision release day means to the Office of Admissions here at Harris.

Laurel’s take on that day:

In the Fall of 2016, I was not only preparing to graduate early with my undergraduate degree in December, but I was also simultaneously applying for the Harris School of Public Policy’s early action application deadline in November, which isn’t recommended if you’re looking to keep your stress level down. I knew that I would attend graduate school, but had no solid plan as to where I would go or what I would study.  I was a Criminal Justice major and my passions came to life with child welfare and juvenile justice issues, but I wasn’t exactly sure how that would play out in a career - until I heard about Harris. During an elective Social Policy course, I remember my professor referencing Harris as being the "premiere institution" where the brightest students go to do amazing policy work and affect real change. I should have been paying attention in class, but instead I immediately began researching Harris and found Irving B. Harris’ legacy, which read, “…Irving B Harris’ true passion was improving the lives of children through innovative solutions to wide-ranging social problems.”  I thought…FINALLY, a place where I can continue my studies and gain the skills to create change for children and families. Now all I needed to do was convince myself, and the admissions team, that I was worthy of a UChicago education.

I was nervous on decision day because I didn't have my usual Dunkin' Donuts coffee in hand when I arrived at work. Who needs coffee when your heart is already racing, am I right?  When I arrived at the State of Illinois building, I made it known to everyone in my division that today was the day. I also made it very clear that I was not to be relied on to do any meaningful work because I would be FAR too busy refreshing my email to see the status of my application. My boss, who wrote one of my letters of recommendation, just chuckled.

Right before lunch (that I didn't plan on eating because, you know, *nerves*) I received a phone call with a "773" area code. This rudely interrupted my obsessive email refreshing! When I realized this could be someone from UChicago, I thought, "Wow, are they really going to reject me over the phone?!" Nevertheless, I answered with a low volume office voice in an attempt to sound professional, but mainly to mask my anxious vocal chords. On the other line was the ever-peppy, yet reassuring voice of Jenny Erickson, Director of Admissions at Harris.

 "Hi this is Jenny calling from the Harris School of..." I swear my heart fell into my stomach, but I needed to pick it back up and collect myself. After her sincere congratulations on my acceptance to Harris and between my "thank yous" and "oh my Gods," Jenny asked who I would notify first. To be honest, I needed to process this myself. I made it to the big leagues, the "premiere institution."

The following Sunday, I graduated from Lewis University. Instead of a graduation party celebrating my achievement, I rewarded myself with a Harris School of Public Policy sweatshirt and car decal, which is proudly displayed on my back window. Happy Graduation to me! The excitement I've had since decision day has continued throughout my Harris experience. Not only do I walk into Harris feeling honored to be here, but Harris makes me feel like they are honored to have me.

Jenny’s take on that day:

My first ever event at Harris was a meet and greet with a few of our alumni at the Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF). Shortly after we completed set-up, while I was pacing nervously and trying to enjoy the view over the lake, our first student walked in. Since she was the first to arrive at the event and it gave us time to chat; usually at Admissions Events we only have a few minutes to get to know each student. I was thankful to have some additional time to spend with Laurel; Laurel was one of those students who radiates a passion for public policy. It was my impression that she had planned to arrive early so she would be sure to have time to spend with staff and share her interest in Harris. Before writing this post, I reviewed the notes I had taken after the event and I reference Laurel’s passion for policy and her work experience in the social work sector that helped her realize she wanted to make larger changes at a policy level. Usually our notes are written in quick shorthand; occasionally from the back of an Uber on our way to the next event. So, when you see a paragraph of notes, you know the conversation had left quite an impression.

As other students began to arrive Laurel and I ended our conversation, but she was one of the students I would work very closely with in the coming weeks leading up to the Early Action deadline. I remember jumping at the chance to call Laurel, making sure my colleagues all knew that I had been working with her and wanted to be the one to tell her the exciting news.

I wondered – would she be surprised? Who would she tell first?

I dialed her number; my anticipation of her responses increasing my excitement.

It rang.

And rang.

Talk about anti-climactic! I’d been waiting days to make this call!

Just as I thought it would flip over to voicemail, I heard Laurel’s voice answer. I shared the good news with her and welcomed her to Harris. Making that call is still one of my favorite moments from last year.

I’m not sure if Laurel remembers that we first met at IFF, but I think it’s helpful for students to know how much all the conversations, essay statements, and applications stay with us. I think students often underestimate the impact they have on the Admissions team.

When you meet with students who you know are not going to shy away from the hard questions; who demonstrate they are eager to pursue the education they know will allow them to make changes in their community; who are some of the brightest and most talented students you have met; of course, these students impact our team. It’s why we send Slack messages to each other at 11:30 p.m. on a Sunday night when an international student we’ve been working with confirms they are attending Harris. Or why we forward an email to other members of our team when a student sends us a written response confirming their acceptance and sharing why they selected Harris from the many offers they had.

We know that our students are going to have an impact, and it’s why we take pride in our students, and remember their acceptance calls over a year later. The next few weeks we’ll be reading and discussing Round One applications – but you can bet we are all looking forward to decision release day and connecting with our admitted students.

Watch our video of the 2018 Early Action admitted student calls. Oh the feels!

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We understand that finances are a major concern for most students. The Office of Admissions has gathered the below information to help you during your decision-making process. We will also continue to host webinars during the next few weeks to help answer your questions. Please review the important dates below concerning financial aid for admitted students and the FAQ specifically about funding your education at Harris.

Timeline:

Mark your calendar for these important dates concerning your admission to Harris.
  • Mid-February – we plan to release admission decisions and merit-based scholarships for Round One Applications. Early Action decisions and scholarships have already been released.
  • March 2 – we will host Admitted Students Day at Ida Noyes Hall. We encourage all admitted students to register as space is limited. We will provide travel reimbursements for up to $300 for hotel and airfare after the event for admitted students who attend the Admitted Students Day.
  • March 5 – we will open the Scholarship Reconsideration Form for students who would like to request a review of their merit-based scholarship. Students can complete the form and submit additional information they would like reviewed. Further instructions will be available when the form is open. We plan to review forms and provide updated decisions every two weeks. Students who need a decision earlier due to the requirements of a third-party scholarship (World Bank, Naval Academy) can email [email protected] detailing the third-party scholarship they are applying to and the deadline for that scholarship.
  • April 16 – deposit deadline for Early Action and Round One. Our goal is for students to have all the necessary information so they may feel confident in their graduate school decision.

Quick Links:

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Still have questions? Email Admissions or attend an upcoming webinar to have them answered.

I’ve already been admitted to Harris, what should I be doing now?

Great question! In addition to learning more about career opportunities through our Career Development Outcomes Report and attend our webinar with Career Development on February 13 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (Central), we also encourage you to work on completing your FAFSA. Visit this page for more information on the FAFSA, including the FAFSA code. Please direct all FAFSA-related inquiries to our Student Loan Administration (SLA) and they will be happy to help guide you through the process. You may find information on SLA here

I understand the form to request a review of my scholarship will not be available until March, but what information should I be preparing to submit?

Students are required to complete a short essay confirming why they would like their scholarship reviewed, as well as additional information such as updated transcripts, test scores, resumes, letters of recommendation, or other scholarship offers.

I do not currently have any additional offers or updated information, but I’m very eager to have my scholarship reconsidered now. Can I instead submit two essays?

Careful consideration went into each merit-based scholarship awarded to incoming students. Students requesting additional scholarship funds must have new or updated information they are sharing with Admissions. We will not review requests before March unless students must meet the requirements of a third-party scholarship, or have an earlier deposit deadline at an alternative school. We encourage you to also review third-party funding sources for funds. You can read more about Third-Party funding here.

I’m interested in applying for additional scholarships. Do you have any recommendations on scholarships I should apply for?

We strongly encourage students seeking additional aid to review the information on Third Party funding. You can find information on the Harris website and the UChicago website.

Can you confirm the total cost of tuition at Harris?

Tuition for each division at UChicago is listed on the Bursar’s office website. The rates for Harris can be found here. Harris rates are for all graduate programs offered at Harris – including the MSCAPP, MACRM, and MSESP. The current cost for three courses (the typical amount taken each quarter) is $15,780.00. Students complete three quarters a year, for a total tuition of $47,340. Please note, tuition typically increases 3-5% each year. The 2018-2019 updated tuition is not usually received until June and the other fees are updated later in the Summer. Students who take more or less than three courses can see the different tuition amounts here. Students should also review the terms of their scholarship and how it may fluctuate if taking less than three courses.

What are the additional expenses I can expect beyond tuition?

We encourage students to view the Housing and Dining Rates, and Graduate Quarterly Fees and Occasional Fees at bottom of the page here. Information on Student Health Insurance can be found here; students who have coverage can waive this fee. This includes quarterly student life fees of $388 and a lifetime-transcript fee of $75. Please view all of the listed fees. The University calculates an average cost of living and uses the formula to determine loan eligibility. You can find more information on the Estimated Cost of Attendance website. 

I understand the cost of tuition and additional fees, but what should I expect to pay for housing and personal expenses?

This can vary largely and depends on each student’s personal choices. Some students may choose to live in high-cost of living areas throughout the city, and personal expenses vary greatly based on each student’s lifestyle. International students will receive confirmation of the estimated costs needed for their I-20 documents in late Spring.

I am applying for the CONACYT scholarship. What important information do I need to know?

Students from Mexico who apply to Harris are considered for the CONACYT scholarship. Mexico's National Council on Science and Technology and Harris offer up to 15 full scholarships for Mexican nationals per year who have been admitted into the MPP or PhD programs at Harris. If you believe you may qualify for this program we encourage you to review the information on their website.

What if I am a joint degree student? How will that work?

If you are enrolled in a joint degree program, your scholarship is pro-rated in the final year of study for the number of courses required to complete the Harris School degree. The scholarship is awarded only when in residence at the Harris School. Your scholarship may also be pro-rated and revised depending on the joint program you are pursuing and the tuition you are paying. Please contact the Office of Admissions for more information. 

I have the Segal award and am eligible for the match. I received a merit-based scholarship from Harris. Does this include my Segal Match?

When awarding merit-based scholarships we review the student’s application confirming they have received the Segal. Students are then awarded the maximum amount they would be eligible for based on their service. Any additional scholarship funding the student receives is additional merit award. In short, the current merit amount listed on each’s students award letter includes both the Segal match and any additional merit the student was considered for. 

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It was late and I was at work, I think on a Thursday or a Friday. Busy season at work was picking up and spring was showing its first signs. I was thinking about what to eat for dinner, and I received a notification that my application status had changed. This is it, I thought. I took a deep breath, signed into my Harris admissions account, and clicked the link to view the posted letter. A few seconds passed and I saw the word - Accepted - and I read on.

My graduate school admissions journey had finally ended. I was relieved.

My research into graduate programs prompted me to really question what my career goals were in the short- and long-term and what I really wanted to be doing. I initially thought about going to law school, but I knew that my career interest in law had changed since the time I graduated college and that the tempo of law school and the legal profession was not for me.

I was close to taking the dive into applying for urban planning programs but came across information about graduate programs in public policy. Intrigued, I contacted some alumni from my undergraduate program who had knowledge of Harris. I conducted other outside research into what public policy programs were all about. I decided to apply to public policy programs over urban planning programs because of the quantitative bent to most policy programs; much of policy informs planning, and I wanted to mold my public policy experience to become versatile enough to work with both government officials and in urban planning spheres.

I only applied to four graduate programs in total - three public policy programs and one public administration program. After visiting the different schools during admitted student days, I was thoroughly impressed with each program and the weight of making a final decision became heavier than I initially anticipated.

Ultimately, I chose Harris because it was the most academically challenging and in a city that I loved. The students I met here were honest and down-to-earth, which was an added bonus. There is a lot of work to be done in Chicago in terms of policy and planning, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. 

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Evidence-Based Research & You

The Dean of the Harris School of Public Policy, Katherine Baicker sat down with Phil Ponce on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight to discuss the role that Evidence-Based Research plays in health care policy. During this talk, Dean Baicker laid out the framework for what Evidence-Based Research is, is not, and why policy analysts should care.

Evidence-Based Research is:

  • Rich with data points that analyze the real world and not just theory;
  • A way to analyze theories and ask more questions;
  • An opportunity to re-evaluate current policies, systems, and approaches across all sectors and make improvements where necessary;
  • A tool to inform policymakers to create comprehensive and thorough policy.

Evidence-Based Research is not:

  • A solution or an answer to a policy problem;
  • A way to insert your personal values about the way the world should work;
  • An opportunity to politicize a viewpoint or stance on a topic.

Used properly, Evidence-Based Research is a powerful tool that policy professionals can use to glean best practices and inform future policy implementation.

Watch the full interview.

Muddying the Water: Why Context Matters

Policy making is as much about using research and data, as it is about understanding the context in which an agenda is set. By understanding context, you get a better sense of what has been done already, what needs to be done in the future, and what resources and tactics you need to get there.

In the article “Why Trump's Offshore Drilling Expansion Won't Be So 'Yuge',” Sam Ori, the Executive Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) cautions readers against forgetting context as it relates to politics. In the case of the Trump administration, they find themselves in similar predicaments where they make bold policy promises, but don’t necessarily have the context or creativity to roll out their changes effectively. Ori’s article focuses on the current administration’s promise of expanding offshore drilling. Although the quality of the policy is debatable, the implementation could actually be counterproductive to its intended goals.

  • Trump’s offshore drilling plan deviates from at least three previous administrations’ approaches to offshore drilling, including lease sales down the entire east and west coasts. Many of these states are against drilling off their shores and have worked with previous administrations to limit such activity.
  • Since many states have legal jurisdiction over the waters nearest to their shores, any pipelines built to bring resources onshore would likely require state approval.
  • Companies could theoretically avoid the use of pipelines by engineering other forms of technology, however, states also have authority under existing laws to delay the leasing process well past the change of administrations.
  • Researchers estimate that the most lucrative areas are located near an Air Force base where live training is routinely conducted. Further, political actors including the Governor and the U.S. Senator for this region have successfully opposed past drilling efforts.
  • A stall in the leasing process combined with the need to use alternative forms of technology and the political fallout that occur, might be cost and resource prohibitive for some companies, prompting them to conduct business elsewhere.

Without proper context, policymakers find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. The policy that they worked so hard to craft, can not only end up a lemon but also do the exact opposite of its intentions.

Read Sam Ori’s entire article on Forbes. 

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I’m often asked which school I prefer: Booth or Harris. My answer is usually elusive, narrowly avoiding clichés about apples and oranges. Well, it’s the combination of both degrees that has been so powerful. My experience as a dual degree student has been cohesive and uniquely enriching, drawing on assets at each school. In particular, the educational fit and community between the schools has shaped my experience...

Read the entire post on The Booth Experience.

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When I decided to apply to grad school, I was conflicted about the choice.

I was in my fourth year of teaching and had finally found some semblance of a groove. I no longer worked on lesson plans into the wee hours of the night out of necessity, I had figured out how to fix every jam in the copy machine (trust me, this is huge), and most importantly, I was learning to enjoy all the little moments and opportunities with my kiddos. I, therefore, found myself in a tricky predicament when the thought of applying to grad school began creeping into my mind. Do I leave the comforts of my career and, more importantly, the work that I believe in so much in order to develop a skillset that would enhance my efforts in the communities I care so deeply about? In what felt like the most covert of operations, (trust me, children have a way of finding things out about you) I began applying to grad school just to “see what would happen.”

I knew that Harris would release their decisions on February 17, and when that day came I was a nervous wreck! I was checking my email every chance I could to the point my phone battery was about to die and it wasn’t even lunch!

My students had just come back from dance class and sat down for a snack break before our math lesson. I happened to have my phone out to record some of them showing off their dance moves when it rang. It was an unfamiliar number, but it read “Chicago, IL.” My heart sunk. I was expecting an email, not a phone call. Was there a problem with my application? Did they not receive my transcripts? I hushed the class and did something I would normally never do. I answered the phone.

“Hi Asia, this is Ranjan Daniels from Harris.” He sounded serious.

“Hi, Ranjan. How are you?” I sounded scared.

“I’m well. I am calling students that we’re excited about offering admissions to. Congratulations.”

This time the seriousness wasn’t so scary, but welcome. I am sure more was said, but by this point, the rock in my stomach had turned into butterflies. I was so excited that I was not only breathless but a little teary. It had happened!

The moment didn’t last long as I turned around and saw 25 pairs of eyes staring me dead in my face. I hadn’t planned on telling them anything until I had made a final decision, but here I was, potentially crying in front of them and I felt that they deserved to know about the phone call I just received. I explained that everything was ok and that I wanted to share something special with them.

Unprepared, I explained to them that I had applied to go back to school outside of New York and the phone call I just received was to let me know that I had been accepted. I explained to them that with college, after they accept you, you have to decide if you are actually going to go, but I haven’t made a final decision yet. After a couple minutes of answering questions and showing them pictures of the University of Chicago in relation to our home in Harlem, I asked them how they felt and what they thought. One of my fourth graders looked at me and said, “I’m going to miss you, and maybe we can be friends on Facebook, but I think you should follow your dreams.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard more sage advice. 

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One of the most interesting classes I have taken thus far is Analytical Politics I, taught by professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita. From analyzing a simple game of chicken all the way to terrorist attacks on airports, I learned not only how to use quantitative models and game theory to determine how people make decisions in response to others, but also to analyze the resulting impacts on the greater good.

This class was challenging because the material was brand new and not traditionally taught in my undergraduate setting, but the professors for this course are very engaging and in tune with their students. Ethan especially took the time to restate unfamiliar concepts and recognized when our faces were blank stares of confusion! However, with a little help from my friends, the Harper Library, and endless dry erase boards and markers, I was soon able to grasp the concepts and identify real-life social dilemmas around me.

Although this is a required course for first-year students, this is definitely one that all students from many policy interests can get excited about. As a future policy practitioner, I now have the foundational skills to analyze policies that may improve social welfare and, more importantly, how to address those whose welfare was not improved after the policy was implemented. My experience with this class was great and I look forward to expanding these skills in AP II this quarter!