On August 2, I sat for my Comprehensive Exam at California State University, Northridge.
It was the last act in my pursuit of a Masters in Public Administration (MPA), specializing in Nonprofit Management. Working three jobs, it took me 2.5 years to complete the 12-course program. I was definitely not a typical MPA student…I was more the misguided business student, surrounded by the men and women running Los Angeles’ nonprofits, the Assessors Office, DMVs, Social Security Administration offices, free health clinics, police departments, and city governments. If/when I ever need help in these areas, fortunately, I now have an in.
The “Comp Exam” had two parts: General Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. Each MPA candidate was given three hours in a computer lab to write an essay on each topic. After attending the CSUN prep courses, I learned the general expectation was for each student to write approximately 2 pages per hour, resulting in a decent 6-page essay, on each topic.
After my first 3 hours had passed, I printed a 3.25 page essay. I watched with horror as my friends stood patiently as their 10-12 page essays printed. After my second 3 hours had passed, I printed a confident 6 page essay. Again, I watched as 8…10…12 page essays engulfed mine.
A few weeks later, I received the results: I passed! My 3.25 page essay went up against the same giant as the 12 page essays and accomplished the same result.
Some of us are 3.25 page people and others need 12 pages. As long as we’re all still accomplishing what needs to get done, it doesn’t matter all that much how we get there.
As for me, though, spare me the extra pages. If I have questions, or need more information, I promise, I will ask for it.