The Dec. 15 Round 1 application deadline for priority funding for the 2019–20 academic year at the LBJ School of Public Affairs is fast approaching, and the March 15 Round 2 deadline isn't far behind.
You may still have questions about life at the LBJ School, so we encourage you to visit us in Austin, Texas — a state capital that is home to all political stripes, a vibrant live music and arts scene, breakfast tacos and stunning outdoor settings.
Sam Lee, a first-year Master of Global Policy Studies (MGPS) student at the LBJ School, said his visit to the school was a turning point for him.
Lee visited LBJ School during Admitted Students Weekend, an event for newly accepted students to visit Austin and meet with faculty and current students before finalizing their graduate school decisions.
We spoke with him about why his visit to LBJ made all the difference. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Q: Why was Admitted Students Weekend a deciding factor? What stood out to you?
SL: After I attended my first Admitted Students Weekend at another school, I realized that in all my research there was something I had failed to consider: my cohort. I had been so consumed with distinguished faculty, school reputation, internships placements, etc., that I completely overlooked the value of having bright and dynamic classmates. At the first Admitted Students Weekend, I did not have one engaging conversation with any of the other prospective students, and I immediately felt out of place.
But when I got to LBJ, I instantly knew that I was going to thrive here. The school has the outstanding faculty, the fancy rankings and impressive internship placements, but it is also filled with dynamic students that push and support each other both in and out of the classroom. These are the people that I spend the most time with, and these are the people from whom I have learned the most.
"The school has the outstanding faculty, the fancy rankings and impressive internship placements, but it is also filled with dynamic students that push and support each other both in and out of the classroom." —Sam Lee
Q: Would you recommend a prospective student visit the school before deciding? Why?
SL: Absolutely. There is no substitute for it. Sitting in on a class, meeting your prospective cohort and really learning all that the school has to offer can only be done in-person.
Q: Was there value in meeting with your graduate adviser during Admitted Students Weekend?
SL: Incredibly! Dr. Redei was able to better elucidate the curriculum and point me in the direction of certain staff members that are doing research in my field. It was through my meeting with Dr. Redei that I found out about the yearlong Central American migration PRP class, which ended up weighing heavily in my decision to attend LBJ.
"I was also given access to some of the top policymakers in Texas, and in the U.S., who engaged with me personally seeing that I was representing LBJ."
Q: What do you consider your most memorable experience/highlight during your first semester?
SL: Attending the Texas Tribune Festival on behalf of LBJ's social media team was by far the most memorable experience I have had so far this semester. The policy world is so multifaceted, and it opened my eyes to the various ways I can get involved in the field post-graduation. I was also given access to some of the top policymakers in Texas, and in the U.S., who engaged with me personally seeing that I was representing LBJ.
Favorite panel of the festival so far: "Will Congress Ever Come Together on Immigration?" An intelligent and civil conversation that reached across the isle in both directions. We need more politicians like @WillHurd and @aguilarpete. #Tribfest2018 #LBJatTTF— Sam M. Lee (@SamMichaelLee) Sept. 29, 2018
On voter confidence “It doesn’t matter if the system is hacked [the system has back ups] it’s about whether or not social media spreads doubt about hacking” - @TravisCoClerk #TribFest18 #LBJatTTF @LBJSchoolAlumni pic.twitter.com/M1OJ6o6Cis— Sam M. Lee (@SamMichaelLee) Sept. 28, 2018
Q: Is there anything you want to add?
SL: If you're not with LBJ, how can you go all the way? (T-shirts coming soon.) But in all seriousness, school is just one part of the equation. Austin is a fun, thriving city, and the only way to really experience that is by coming to visit. Austin in the fastest-growing major city in the U.S., and it's for a reason!