Deciding to leave one’s state for school can be a scary decision. This week I sat down with Adelaide Hurlbert, a fellow graduate assistant in my cohort, to pick her brain about why she chose to make the move.
Adelaide is originally from Inman, South Carolina. Inman is a small town, and she knew that wherever she ended up going for higher education she wanted that “small town feel.” Adelaide decided to go out of state for her undergraduate degree and chose Ursinus College in Collegeville Pennsylvania because it offered a strong gymnastics program. Even though this was far from South Carolina, she enjoyed her undergraduate experience and the surrounding area.
“The school itself was so small it felt like its own community, and then Collegeville was another small town.” she said of Ursinus. “It wasn’t a huge culture shock going from one to another.”
Her positive experience branching out for undergrad meant that when she was ready to look for master’s programs, out-of-state schools were on the table. She had majored in Media and Communications at Ursinus and was looking to compliment this skill set with more quantitative and management capacities.
With these goals in mind, she attended a grad school info fair to begin her search, a strategy she highly recommends.
“It’s far less confusing to sit down face to face with someone and discuss my options, rather than sifting through a bunch of overwhelming information on a website.”
We here at Admissions heartily agree, and in fact it was at the Idealist fair in Philadelphia where Adelaide met Kara Pangburn, our Director of Admissions. Kara discussed her educational goals with her one on one, then told her about some brand new program concentrations here at Rockefeller.
“I just felt like when I met Kara, this was it. This was a good match! I just want to go here!”
Of course as most of us know from applying to undergraduate institutions, only one college on the short list becomes where we actually attend. Adelaide finally decided on Rockefeller College because they offered her a competitive funding package and its location in the State Capitol is a great place to locate internships and jobs. She also caught wind of our fantastic career services office, which ultimately set Rockefeller apart from any in-state considerations.
It’s been about 7 weeks since the semester started, and so I felt I had to ask whether or not Rockefeller was meeting her expectations. Adelaide reports that indeed, her graduate education is everything she hoped it would be so far.
“I especially love the small class size,” she highlighted. “U Albany is a big university but Rockefeller is a small, comfortable learning environment. It feels like a small town within a big city and I still have the close knit feel that I appreciated at Ursinis. Also, there’s Dunkin Donuts everywhere. And loads of coffee places!”
Lastly, I asked Adelaide if she had any advice for the grad school search.
“I think it’s just as important to visit your grad school campuses as it is to visit your undergraduate campuses. Also, keep an open mind. Don’t limit yourself to one state or think you can’t hack living away from home. It’s not as daunting as it sounds.”
(PS—if anyone feels like taking Adelaide’s advice and visiting Rockefeller College, follow the link below and fill out an online tour request form. We’d love to meet you!)
Andrea Natali hails from Milan, Italy and completed the MPA in May 2015 through a double-degree program with Bocconi University. He concentrated in Public Economics and Finance and interned at the NYS Assembly in the Education Committee.
Sciences Po in Paris; Hertie School in Berlin; Rockefeller College in Albany. This was the choice I was faced with in December 2013, and I picked Albany. My name is Andrea and I come from Milan, Italy. What is wrong with me? Why on earth would I pick Albany over two major European capitals? Let me give you my 2 cents.
- The MPA is something different: An MPA is the public counterpart of the MBA. It is a highly professionalized graduate program that provides you with the tools to be effective in the public sector. The quality of instruction is excellent, and many of your classmates are already working in their desired fields. In Italy, the MPA hasn’t really “caught on.” There is no comparable program in my home country, and so Rockefeller’s MPA was an unmatched opportunity.
- A flexible curriculum that meets diverse needs. Rockefeller’s MPA program offers great flexibility in terms of electives. You can follow the offered concentrations and pick among the selected classes or design a path with your advisor tailored to your needs; coming from Italy, that’s what I found most useful. The traditional concentrations focus on U.S. State and local government, but for someone like me who won’t be remaining in the U.S., this was not ideal. Thanks to the college’s commitment to diversity, I was able to create a more internationally focused concentration relevant to my career goals.
- The most bang for your buck: Rockefeller College’s MPA is one of the top 20 programs in the country and tuition is relatively inexpensive. The cost of living in Albany is also extremely affordable and this had a huge impact on my decision to study here. You can take public transportation for free as a student and find nice housing close to campus for about $500 that includes all the amenities. The college also offers some support in the housing search for International students. Most importantly, Rockefeller College WILL find you a paid internship and, often, a job. Period. Jennifer Maclaughlin – the director of Career Services – is incredibly talented and passionate at what she does, and she gets results.
- The Empire State: Albany is strategically located in New York State. You can get to Boston in about three hours with Greyhound, and it’s about $50 for a roundtrip. New York City is easily reachable in 2/3 hours with Megabus (~$30 roundtrip, but if you book in advance you might end up paying $1 per ticket)! Montreal is only a 3-hour drive. So if you like big cities, you’re served. But that’s not all. Upstate New York is beautiful, and you should trust me since I’m Italian. The amount of wilderness I’ve seen in New York is unparalleled. Lake Ontario is not a lake, it’s a frigging ocean. The Adirondacks and the Catskills are great for hiking.
There is, unfortunately, a caveat.
Winter is brutal. From mid-December to late March, Albany is probably one of the coldest places you have lived. As you settle in though, you’ll learn the tricks that have helped thousands of students before you survive the season.
Bottom line, Rockefeller is a good investment. Albany is a nice place to live and although the program is challenging, you will emerge well poised to handle a burdensome workload, an internship/job and a social life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Making the big decision… It’s not too late to take advantage of opportunities to learn more about Rockefeller!
Congratulations to all of our admitted graduate students! With the April 15th funding deadline just around the corner, we know many of you are trying to gather as much information as you can to help you make your final decision! It’s not too late to take advantage of the following opportunities to learn more about Rockefeller College!
The Rock Mob & Admitted Student Reception
In our recent communications and social media posts, you may have been hearing a lot about the Rock Mob. What’s a Rock Mob? It’s a gathering and photo shoot of 100+ Rockefeller College alumni, current and accepted students and faculty. It was a blast last year, so we’re doing it again this Wednesday, April 8th on the steps of the NYS Capitol! Immediately following the photo shoot, we will be hosting an Admitted Student Reception at the City Beer Hall in downtown Albany. If you are an admitted graduate student who would like to attend, but forgot to RSVP, please email me at email@example.com and I will make sure to add you to our RSVP list! For more details about the Rock Mob & Admitted Student Reception, please visit: http://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/rockmob.shtml
Connect with alumni in your area
Can’t make it to the Rock Mob but want to talk to an alum about his/her Rockefeller College experience and the great value of a Rockefeller degree? We would be happy to schedule a coffee chat between you and an alum in your area. If you would like to schedule a coffee chat, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will work with Andrea Lomanto, our Director of Alumni Relations, to find an alum who would be willing to meet with you at a local coffeehouse. In the event there is not an alum in your area, we would be happy to schedule a Skype or telephone chat.
Individual Campus Visits
You can schedule an individual visit to campus at any time by filling out a Rockefeller College Campus Visit Request at http://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/visit.shtml or by emailing us at email@example.com.
Of course, if you have any questions about our graduate programs, or being a student at Rockefeller, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a pretty cool job. I get to work with alumni of Rockefeller College every day. I plan fun alumni events, and coordinate alumni volunteer opportunities. Those events and volunteer opportunities involve connecting alumni with our students in any number of ways. Our alumni love it because they have the opportunity to give something back to the College…for free. Our students love it because at minimum, they receive great advice from well-connected professionals. And at best, those alumni-student encounters result in students landing awesome internships, job interviews and, actual, salary-paying jobs!
The beauty of Rockefeller’s alumni network is that it is at every single student’s fingertips. The network is not accessible only to some ultra-exclusive insider’s club. Here at Rockefeller, a student — any student — needs only to call me up, email me, drop by my office or show up at an event or panel to get face-time with alumni who are ready, willing and able to chat about career aspirations, who they know in the student’s field of interest, and the best way to chart a course in that direction.
So, the accessibility and strength of the alumni network is yet another factor to consider when choosing a graduate program. Find out if, as a student, you will have ample opportunity to interact with alumni. It is vital that you do.
Allow me to toot the Rockefeller College horn for a moment. We have countless alumni panels, luncheons, classroom visits and special events to offer our students. And for those students interested in one-on-one time with an alum, no problem. I can play match-maker for you, connecting you with alumni doing whatever it is you hope to do someday. We can arrange for a face-to-face meeting, informational interview or job shadowing.
Alumni are wonderfully generous and eager to share their wisdom. Students who take advantage of this will be light years ahead of those that do not. Access to alumni is crucial and will surely provide you with great insights and opportunities, so make sure that you tap into that network early and often!
So, I posted on Facebook the other day asking my friends for suggestions to help me write a blog post about why living in Upstate New York in the winter isn’t so horrible. They had some great ideas and opinions to offer, so I thought I’d just share their thoughts with you. It’s only about 7 degrees here today, but take heart: if you’re thinking about moving to the Albany area from warmer climes, there are plenty of reasons to love NY in the winter!
Erin: The Saranac Lake ice castle!
Frank: As someone who moved to upstate NY for the weather, it’s not that bad. Plus, Albany actually has a fantastic snow removal system. As someone who has lived in 9 different cities/states, all of which experience snow issues, Albany is able to remove snow fast allowing for me to not be “trapped.” I could go skiing, snowboarding, and tubing at Gore; I could go ice skating at the park right next to my apartment; I had massive snowball fights in Washington Park; and with the cold weather comes a lot of indoor trade shows and festivals.
Renee: I can’t believe Frank left out the most important selling point. Should we be faced with a zombie apocalypse, the ice and snow would clearly slow them down.
Christina: Snow bums love it here! The best way to de-stress from college work is a good snowboard run! And ask my brother about snow shoeing through Albany. It is fun!
Nikki: I agree with Christina! In addition, if you drive 1/2-2 hours in almost any direction, you can hit a major city, a major historical landmark, or incredible natural beauty. This is one of the best areas for microbreweries and wineries due to the climate, plus apple, pumpkin, and berry picking.
Stacy: Gorgeous fall weather and scenery, which means you can wear cute boots and scarfs!
Marcy: I miss having 4 seasons. Believe it or not, 80 and sunny gets old. Upstate NY summers have variety. Not 94 every day. The fall is crisp and the leaves are beautiful. And Christmas isn’t the same without snow and cold weather! It’s so beautiful.