Saturday, April 11, 2009

Impression: The K School

This is sketchy because it was typed after-the-fact from handwritten notes. All quotes are approximate.

MPP Presentation
"[The Kennedy School has] a nasty habit of radically changing people's directions..."
"You meet people who have been practicing pediatric dentistry in camps... and then you realize they're not superhuman and begin to think, 'I could do that too...'"
"We want to give you the ability to invade other peoples' institutions and analyze them with confidence."

Fall - 4/5 courses are core (micro, ethics, stats, management) - use #5 to "test your hunch" re: policy concentration
Spring 3.5/5 are core (politics, econ2, stats2, spring exercise)
2nd year is for PAC; no more core
18 credits total required, max 6 per term, max 4 total outside K school - no preferential bidding on that 6th class, so it had better not be anything very popular.

Advisers are assigned, though with regard to academic interests and background

K school is going on the common calendar, January session will be available.
No language courses at the K school - get them from the Yard.

How involved do students get to be with faculty research/interests? As involved as you want - go get research assistantships, course assistantships - get in touch, volunteer yourself. There are 120 course assistants needed any given semester, and while many more go to 2nd years (because nearly all CAs have to have taken and done well in the course first), there are still plenty, plenty of options.

Class sizes? Ethics has five sections, so about 40 each. Quant has four sections of about 50 each. Management has 5, but they vary from 20-60 apiece because of the relative popularity of their "flavors." There is one course with 90 students, but 60 is an informal cap.

Work? Sure, but 10, maybe 15 hours/week max.

Ethics debate
Developing criteria for decision-making
Joke about drinking and throwing darts to choose school - "complex algorithm" for selection
Look at where your school options will put you in two years.

Student Panel
PAE - 40 pages, "no spacing rules"
sometimes what the school wants and what the client wants aren't the same, and one guy is writing two versions of the exercise to address this. The client focus keeps it practical, but then again it's still an academic exercise, and this can be a fine/difficult balance.
TA, CA, RA - lots of options, CA pays $15.75/hr, good way to build relationships with profs. The handful who work at the Yard make more money ($7000/semester) but have more stress.
"We're all trying to save the world in our own little way." Much more a collaborative environment than a competitive one.
"We get away with a lot of things because of the Harvard name. It's a personal choice whether you want to have that branding on you."
"The best and the brightest" was used unironically, though only once.

Political Advocacy and Leadership
"PAL 110 isn't designed so that if I hold you up in a dark alleyway and demand to know the differnce between a one-member district and a multi-member district, you know the answer. It's so if you get parachuted into some other country and asked to draft a constitution, you can be like, 'This is nothing!'"

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this darling. Very sweet and considerate of you!

Anonymous said...

Can you explain the "4 max outside of K school?" Is that total out of 18 or max 4 per semester?

dan said...

Anon: I'm pretty sure that is 4 total classes out of 18. If you were taking 4 per semester it wouldn't really be an HKS degree, now would it?
;)

Care to clarify this comment (who said it and what did s/he mean?):
"We get away with a lot of things because of the Harvard name. It's a personal choice whether you want to have that branding on you."

Kyle said...

Oh my God, you actually updated your blog! That's even less frequent an occurrence than me updating mine.

Kyle said...

Also, five courses a semester in graduate school seems ridiculous to me. Have I just been on the quarter system too long?

KEP said...

Kyle - I wouldn't call these blog posts, but I'd been taking notes at these days and am sharing them with others who couldn't attend. What better place to host them?

Dan - it was in a student panel, where a girl was discussing the pros and cons of the Harvard name. I think that she meant that it opens doors and offers a lot of privileges, while acknowledging that there are also downsides. She was specifically working on a program where other schools might have been stronger (she was shaping her own program at the K school to sort of fit the requirements she wanted), but as someone not from the US, she felt that the Harvard name was the one that would translate back to home and still resonate. The school has leverage, and students both use and abuse it in their own ways.