2011 Personal Statement Questions

While we likely will not have our application live for another week, the questions/topics we are going ask applicants to respond to as part of the personal statement have been decided and I wanted to share them for your consideration.  I will dedicate some future entries to breaking down the questions and offering some advice so stay tuned.

For spring 2011 and fall 2011 applicants will be asked to compose three responses.  Below you find details and the associated word limits.


First Question (500 Word Maximum)

What distinct impact do you hope to have on the world in the future? Please be as clear as possible about your future goals, the policy/public service issue(s) you are passionate about, and your personal motivation(s). Be sure to include details regarding the features of SIPA that you believe are integral to helping you in your pursuits and what skills you need to develop to achieve a lasting impact.

Second Question/Topic (300 Word Maximum)

Please CHOOSE ONE of these options to write about – do not address both, pick one or the other.

1. Describe a policy issue that has impacted your life, either in a negative or positive way. If given the opportunity to amend the policy, what action would you take and why?

2. Describe a conversation or experience that challenged your beliefs or caused you to reevaluate your perspective on life.

Third Question/Response (200 Word Maximum)

Please share any additional information about yourself that you believe would be of interest to the Admissions Committee. Please focus on information that is not already reflected in the other parts of your application or might not be clear in the information submitted.


One typical question concerning this requirement comes up each year and I will answer it now.  Applicants often ask something along the lines of the following:

“Do I have to follow the format of three questions or can I answer the questions I wish as long as I stay within the overall word limit?”

Answer:  Applicants should follow the instructions and provide responses to each section and follow the word limits.  The Committee has picked the topics/questions for specific purposes and we want each applicant to follow the instructions as given.  So, please pay attention to the word limits and instructions.

Do not follow the logic that 500 + 300 +200 add up to 1,000 so you can freelance one answer as long as it is within the word limit.  This is not what the Committee is looking for.  Following instructions is an important part of the process so stick to the instructions and you will be fine.  More advice in some future entries . . .