Questions from an Admitted Student

To all of you who have been accepted to Maxwell, CONGRATS! I’m sure you are all anxious, excited, and a bit nervous, I know that I was. I was recently talking to an accepted student who had a lot of questions. I’m sure you all have very similar questions. I have posted the questions and my corresponding answers. What other questions do you have? Please comment here and I will answer them as best I can.

1. How will the summer sessions work? I understand they will have classes every day. When will I be able to register for classes? How is the best way to do that, particularly because I won’t be in Syracuse probably until mid-June.
Summer session will start the first week in July. You will have a colloquium the first week, a great introduction to meeting classmates and hearing from alumni, faculty, and professors. You will have Public Administration and Democracy (PA&D), a great overview class that goes over the seeds of Public Administration, some of its founding principles, and delves into where the field is heading. You will have class Mon. through Fri. from 9AM to 12PM, with a healthy amount of reading each day. That class will run for 3 weeks, and then you will start Public Budgeting with the same Mon.-Fri., 9-noon schedule.

You won’t enroll for fall classes until you arrive on campus, so no need to fret over that matter!
2. When looking at the academic calendar, I see there is a Winter Intercession but then it says something about it being optional. What is that?
Intercession is absolutely optional. Some students (definitely not me) choose to take a class during winter break to lighten their spring course load, but it is not required. Also, they suggest against 5 classes in your fall semester, but I had no problems and it makes sense if you assume to be traveling for interviews and trips in the spring.
3. I will likely take the Environmental Policy concentration. I have already taken two online classes with American Public University System. What are the procedures for possibly getting credit for previous academic work? Do you recommend doing that? How do you like that concentration? What are you going to do with it afterward?
 I am not sure how transferring credits would work, I would contact Nell. Her e-mail is She can help you a lot more on how that would work/if it can work. Those classes might be able to be applied to a certificate or an additional concentration if you desire.

I am currently in environmental economics with Prof. Wilcoxen. The guy is a genius, and deeply committed to students understanding his models. It’s a very interesting spin on environmental topics you probably understand. You will also have access to SUNY-ESF classes. ESF is a great environmental science school with lots of great professors, especially for policy classes!
As far as afterwards, I have been branching out greatly in my job search; City management, NGOs, private environmental firms, public agencies, you name it I’ve probably sent something out. I am very excited about an upcoming assessment from the NY/NJ Port Authority for a leadership fellow program they have. They have a crazy amount of environmental initiatives so it is a great place, but I never would have known that without branching out. Hopefully some more opportunities coming!
4. What are the academic credit breakdowns for the summer sessions and semesters? How heavy is the load? How intense is the homework and the reading? I was great in undergraduate but it’s been quite some time since I’ve been a full time student so I’m a little anxious! 🙂 In a good way, I suppose!
The breakdown is as follows: 7 credits in 1st summer session (Colloquium, PA&D, and Public Budgeting), 27 credits (at least) in fall and spring semesters (with required classes of Intro. to Stats, Managerial Economics, Public Organizations & Management, Quantitative Analysis, ), and 6 credits in the 2nd summer session.

The Masters is 40 credit hours in 12-months, you’ll start the first week in July and graduate the last week in June. I think the course load is very manageable and everyone is dedicated to helping you succeed. Lot’s of people have 20 hour per week GAships and have lots of time to socialize, go to talks, have interviews, etc. I understand your concern with getting back into your academic swing, but the summer session gives you a great running start and the faculty are great.
5. What I’m really trying to plan right now is where I’m going to live. I have been poring over Craigslist and OrangeHousing. Unfortunately, I have pets so that limits some of the options. Do you have any suggestions on where I can or should live? I have been looking downtown. Do you think it’s crazy to walk a mile to the school? Are there any grad students now who live in places that have pets that I might be able to take over? If I do live far away, how is the parking on campus?
Housing is abundant and cheap. No exaggeration, I pay $340 per month. You will pay a bit of a premium, in terms of space and money, to live downtown. Lot’s of landlords will work with you on your pets, but they might charge you rent for them (nothing too bad in my experience). I would suggest forgoing downtown to be closer to campus. The convenience for nightlife will be cancelled out by the horrific parking on campus and in Syracuse as well as the winter month walks. Most grad students live in the Westcott area. I would stay within the square of Genesse, Meadowbrook, Colvin, and Comstock or roughly that area. The classifieds on the Daily Orange ( will probably be a better resource for you.

You can wait quite some time and the listserv for the incoming class will have many students looking for roommates and the like. I’m sure you can find something with some classmates. Parking on campus is BAD, to put it nicely. Driving to South Campus to park ($80 a semester) and riding a bus to campus is a viable option though.
Enjoy the weekend everyone, I look forward to your questions and comments!

Potpourri of Syracuse Tips

As I sit inside preparing for the impending “snowmageddon” I am having a tough time deciding what to blog about. Thus, I give you a menagerie of some tricks I have learned in my time in Syracuse.

Parking – I get asked about this very often. Parking on campus is difficult and there are kiosks with parking attendants at every entrance. However, if you are driving to campus on the weekend (and there is no event at the Carrier Dome) you can probably park at main campus. Other than that you can purchase a parking pass for south campus (around $80 per semester), park at Manley Fieldhouse and catch a bus to main campus. I have my own system for parking on campus, which is probably not approved for this blog, that I prefer to not write down but saves me from buying a parking pass, paying parking tickets, or having to park on public roads. Feel free to ask me about it in person!

Parking Part 2 – This is regarding parking in Syracuse (not the University). Alternate street parking is a huge pain and the police are VERY good at finding cars parked illegally. So my first advice is to not chance it, at least when it comes to alternate street parking. Specifically for Marshall Street, the meter attendants get off of work at 5PM so you do not need to pay them from 5PM to 9AM. This is helpful if you would like to leave your car down there and avoid walking to the bars (though it won’t help you getting back!). Finally, and most importantly is this tidbit: Syracuse will boot any vehicle with 3 or more tickets. Most people, if they get a ticket, will not pay the ticket until they get a 3rd and immediatelly pay it off. Any car with 3 tickets that parks on city streets is fair game for booting. The city has yet to perfect getting people to pay their first 2, however.

Student Legal Services – Get a speeding ticket? Open container? Noise violation? Student Legal Services can help you for free! As part of your student fee you are entitled to use attorneys dedicated to helping students! I have friends who have recouped entire security deposits from landlords, gotten speeding tickets removed, and had their leases reviewed before signing. If you have any legal troubles as a student you should contact them first!

Health Services – Another service brought to you by your student fee. They specialize in getting you handled quickly and they are great for any cold, flu, or other minor ailments. They also have a pharmacy that can continually fill your prescriptions. You can also schedule an appointment with a nutritionist, get x-rays, or stitches.


This is a small glimpse into some of the great services that the University offers. I encourage you to seek out any other services you need through the University since they probably already have a solution for you. Feel free to contact me about any of this information. Have a great weekend!

The Truth About Syracuse Weather

I was looking at a typical 10-day forecast today while procrastinating on this blog post and decided I would talk about this topic a bit more since there is a lot of misinformation. I pulled up this quote from a prospective student regarding his thoughts on coming to Syracuse. “Cons: The city of Syracuse is cold as hell.”

I don’t think Syracuse is actually colder than any other Northeast city, speaking from my Massachusetts/New England bias. If you do some hunting, which I can spare you here, Syracuse tends to be 10 degrees colder than New York City on average during the winter months. However, I don’t think most people are afraid of the cold, but rather the snow. The quick version is that it snows here, sometimes a lot. I was a senior at Syracuse for the 2010-2011 winter where Syracuse accumulated 179 inches of snow. This also happened to keep a quite impressive streak of “Golden Snowball” victories intact for Syracuse.

I know what you are thinking, “how did you live? You must be amazing!” Well, not quite. There was a lot of snow, but it really doesn’t effect much of your daily life. If I had to go grocery shopping, I went. If I had to go to class, I went (or as much as any undergard can hope to). Syracuse is a world-class snow plowing machine! Besides, there is always the off chance that you can have a snow day!

Ultimately, weather will probably be low on most students’ lists for graduate school. It also provides an instant talking point with anyone. “I went to Syracuse.” “Oh wow it is so snowy up there I’m going to give you this job right now!” It most likely won’t go like that, but there is always a chance. As always, please contact me if you have any questions or comments!