Shower taxes and the Army in Alaska

2 10 2013

Last week we talked about incrementalism in Institutions and Values. Incrementalism is the practice of government agencies increasing their budget requests each year. There’s no incentive to decrease spending, and legislators may find it easier to pass slightly larger budgets than to evaluate entire agency budgets anew.

Our army classmate Adam contributed this experience:

While stationed in Fairbanks, (which is a strategic location post Cold War because..? I don’t understand.), Adam’s Stryker Brigade was nearing the end of their budget year. To ensure they spent all of their allocated money, Adam led an $8 million rapid deployment exercise.

Yesterday in class we talked about public hearings. Who’s participated in a public hearing?

Anna, one of our two Chinese students, shared her experience:

As an undergrad in China, she and other students protested a “shower tax”. Students have to insert their card into the shower and are charged for water consumption per second. Uni officials increased the price, and students protested. Students presented their own calculations at a public hearing, and administrators conceded.

We have a pretty diverse cohort, which is wonderful for humanizing what we’re learning in class.
I love school.





Law for Public Administrators

6 09 2013

oh my god, i passed! this is the most exciting 80 i’ve ever gotten in my life. 

Law for Public Administrators is kicking my butt. Professor Szypszak intimidates the hell out of me. i’m pretty sure he gave me credit for my imprecise reply for “what does penumbra refer to regarding Griswold v. Connecticut,” but i don’t care. 

this is the densest material i’ve read in a long time, and i’m happy to be above water.

next quiz, 100.    





i don’t like change.

9 04 2013

leaving north carolina was difficult. now leaving korea feels the same. i fluctuate between being ready to see friends and family and wondering if i’m making the right decision. the same questions surface.

  • is this the right move? 
  • how can i leave people i care about?
  • have i really given this (place) all i could?

the most difficult part of making a decision is that prior period of indecision.
eddie says the best cure for indecision is to freaking make a decision.

i’ve been on-the-fence about coming back to school this fall and delayed acknowledging until this week.

if i want to live and work overseas again, why enroll in a program that will prepare me for economic development in the US? i think this question is fueled by fear of the unknown.

i don’t know yet what i will want to do after two years in school. it may be community development in a small town like Tarboro, or it may be to move abroad for a year or two again. this program will prepare me for both a career in the US, i reason, and university teaching abroad, if that itch surfaces again.

the truth is i love living overseas. i hope to have the opportunity again.
leaving korea is sad, but i guess it’s best to leave the party early.

so i submitted the UNC acceptance tonight and feel better already for making a decision.





out-of-state tuition is too expensive

18 02 2013

so i did a little recon. US News has a WA school in the top 10 best MPA programs in the country. University of Washington in Seattle has an MPA program ranked #9 by US News. For non-WA residents, the MPA costs ~$64,000. that would be a no go.

duke’s program ranks #16, but the deadline was jan 5, and the cost and competitiveness likely prohibitive.
i looked at Portland State University earlier this year, but see now it’s ranked #46 after UNC. nc state is ranked #53. the MPA@UNC virtual program, at $52K, is toooo d@mn expensive. i can dispense now with applying to UNC-Greensboro and NC Central.

other top programs outside of nc, well, the deadlines have all passed, and idk that i would have been accepted or could have afforded them anyway. so, i can reason now UNC is the best US option for me for pursuing an MPA.

i’ll poke around at some international options and then be able to put this puppy to bed and start planning this year.





going back to school

17 02 2013

huzzah. unc accepted me into their mpa program. i didn’t think i’d get in. maybe grad schools are hurting for tuition.

now i have that buyer’s remorse that always surfaces after getting something i want.
woody allen says it best in Annie Hall:

“i would never want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”

i’m excited! i would like to enjoy the good news before ceding to the eternal self-doubt:

  • is this the best path for me?
  • how can i go back to grad school in nc when i’m enjoying living overseas?
  • wouldn’t it be better to attend a different school for my graduate ed?
  • can i transition this education and US experience into international work farther afoot?

tuition costs are not so bad. unc is ~$20K for the program vs. ~$17K for ncsu, not that ncsu has said “yes”. idk yet how i’ll work to live and go to school full-time. i don’t like the idea of student debt, but unc offered a $4K scholarship this year, which brings costs down to ~$17K.

i wish i made decisions more quickly. i admire people who can be all in and pack up their belongings into a station wagon and follow their true love across the country.

my process is deduction through kvetching.
i weighed international studies vs. mpa, deciding on public admin for the greater emphasis on economic development. lately, i’ve thought mpa vs. tesol, but think pursuing a discipline > pursuing an education degree. i could supplement with a TESOL or CELTA cert down the road to teach overseas. today, i’m wondering about nc vs. out-of-state or out-of-country.  the only in-country option that holds any appeal is being in WA to be near my dad. anywhere else would mean out-of-state tuition and no social network. i want to explore these last two options, WA or overseas, to be able to be content with going back to school at UNC.

for now, i’m excited and grateful.





UNC School of Government interview

25 01 2013

i just finished a phone interview with UNC. they work quickly. the application deadline was 1/15. roughly 50% of interviewees are accepted into the MPA program, so i’m no shoo in. but i’m more interested in the MPA program than I was prior to the call.

the interviewers were professional, prepared and gracious. two professors, two students and one graduate hosted. one of the students works part-time as a research assistant at the SoG and part-time at the Triangle J Council of Governments, most recently working in database management. i was glad to hear students have time to sandwich contextual work around their full-time course load. T, W, TH courses leave some time to make a little money the rest of the week. the alumnus said she was about at the same place in her career experience-wise as i am.

i also liked that professor ammons tactfully questioned whether a dual degree made sense. i applied for the MPA / Master of City and Regional Planning, but it might not make sense. three years is a long time to be in school, for age and money one, but also for want of getting this show on the road and doing interesting work.

i’m reenergized this evening about economic development. just like asking students to present what they’ve learned helps them clarify their thoughts, articulating why i want to go to school and work in econdev renewed my mojo.

i can imagine an urban lifestyle for the next two years, learning and working and living like a pauper. it feels fulfilling.





NCCU, maybe not a good choice for grad school

15 01 2013

The UNC MPA application is out the door, and I’ll submit NCSU this week. I believe I ought to explore programs outside of the state and the US for good measure, but my inner naysayer says out-of-state tuition will be prohibitive, and what sense does it make to learn about economic development in an international program, when I want to make a difference in my country.

Should someone be foolish enough to admit me, I can’t believe I’ll be going back to school. For 10 years, I’ve been prostrate with indecision and the feeling of should. I don’t believe in school for school’s sake or for hiding out from work or for delaying decisions. Now I want to go back and get better at what I do. UNC seems to be a training ground for city managers and has an excellent reputation, but I’d rather go there for continuing ed, as I already went there for undergrad. NCSU comes across as more practical. What am I saying? Any school that will look past my 2.65 undergrad years is the school for me.

I’m looking at UNC-G and NCCU for good measure, but NCCU may be a myth.
There are no deadlines or dates on any of their grad school pages. Bad sign?