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George Mason University

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Date: Nov 26 2002
Major: Public Policy (This Major's Salary over time)
This is my opinion on George Mason University.

The undergraduate student populace is average (I base this on conversations I had with many of them during my two-year program). The graduate schools, on the other hand, are innovative; and I rank the graduate student population as above average, and some are simply brilliant. Given the disparities between the graduate and undergraduate student populations, it seems at times as if GMU is running parallel institutions.

GMU states that it has three campuses: Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William. The truth is that the Fairfax campus is the main campus, while Arlington and Prince William are mere satellites.

The Fairfax campus has two libraries, the dorms, the sports complexes, and the majority of the academic programs (undergrad, grad, and doctorate). The Arlington campus is urban and houses the law school, a law library, and a few graduate programs (including my own); the Prince William’s campus specializes in biotechnology.

A note on libraries: GMU shares it’s libraries with George Washington University, American University, Catholic University, University of Maryland-College Park, UDC, and Marymount University. Therefore, if you cannot find a book at GMU, you can go to any of the above-listed colleges. Georgetown University does not have an agreement with GMU.

Undergraduates wishing to be smack in the middle of DC action or near it will be disappointed. Nearly all undergrads live on the very suburban Fairfax campus; and the City of Fairfax is NO college town! Don’t expect a huge array of pubs and cafes to hangout like one would find in Williamsburg, Princeton, or Syracuse. And off campus housing is expensive! The DC-metro areas is preposterously expensive. A one-bedroom apartment averages around $1200 without utilities. The good news: those wishing to go to DC on the weekends can take GMU’s free shuttle to the metro station.

The program I graduate from, Master of Arts in International Transactions (now know as International Commerce and Policy) is an interdisciplinary degree geared for those wishing to working in government, international business, or NGOs. This program was originally part of the International Institute (it has since been dissolved). The original institute’s staff was small, specialized, and caring. They guided their students in their studies and career paths. In my opinion, they did an excellent job in tying all the academic stuff with the real work.

During my second year, the program was transferred to the School of Public Policy (SPP), then, Institute of Public Policy. My experience with SPP has been somewhat negative. I found the professors quite despondent, unsupportive, and at times downright mean. It was shocking to see the cultural differences between departments and hands off approach of SPP’s professors. But let me reiterate: my experience with the SPP only shows one view and I would encourage anyone wishing to apply to the school to find other students and get their opinions.

The degree has proven to be a double-edged sword. After graduation, degree-in-hand, I found it hard to find employment with the federal government (stating not enough work experience), private sectors employers, NGOs and international organanizations because many did not know what the degree meant, or simply dismissed me as ‘overqualified’. I consider my master’s degree an expensive waste of time; the degree has not served me in the workplace. I credit my career advancement to professional development courses I took in programming, web design, and project management at the local community college and basic, on-the-job training.

My experience notwithstanding, a GMU degree is highly regarded in Virginia and in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The GMU degree I believe, despite some employers being perplexed by my major, has given me an advantage over others just because of the name recognition.

Despite my negative experience, the School of Public Policy overall ranks pretty high in the region. GMU’s masters in public administration and public finance are outstanding (I took some courses, so I know); and GMU’s law school is in the top 50 nationally; and GMU has an excellent staff that including two Nobel winners in economics.

Finally, GMU is cheap! It is a real bargain when compared to other school in the DC area (even for out-of-stater).

Thus, I would recommend GMU to anyone interested in the University, whether at the undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate levels.

 
Responses
commentUniversity life is really tough because you need to pass ever subject and the way we need to spend in the class. The jambstudents share how university life spend.
responsePenn State has a many chances that make you successful in many ways. Here you can make the most of it but to do it you have to ask yourself this question that how can you do it and what exactly you want to do? No one is going to hand you anything you want freely. PSU is the best option you have and with some hard work you can get good grades. However, I need online resume help but the whole website is valuable for the all level of the students.
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