Most applicants apply to several different schools and it is only natural not only to compare the characteristics of those schools, but the admission decisions of those schools.
When decisions go out each year, applicants will often contact our office to discuss their SIPA admission decision. Statements and questions like the following are not uncommon:
- I don’t understand why I was put on the waitlist at SIPA when I was admitted to all of the other schools I applied to. Can you explain why?
- I received a fellowship offer from another school but not from SIPA. Why didn’t I get SIPA fellowship funding?
- SIPA’s letter said that I should get more experience and apply again at a later time but other schools admitted me? Why?
- My decision letter from SIPA said I could benefit from additional English language study but I was admitted to other U.S. programs. Why?
- Why have I heard from other schools but not SIPA?
To offer some insight to these types of concerns… If every single applicant applied to the same exact schools, were read by the exact same committee, and the committees shared the exact same budget then these questions might not exist. Obviously, this is not what happens.
Policy schools are similar in many ways. We have similar core classes, faculty that study, teach, and practice common subjects, and we seek to prepare students for similar careers. However, each school differs in many ways when it comes to shaping an incoming class.
Each school has its own unique Admissions Committee structure. Each school has its own unique applicant pool. Each school has a different fellowship endowment and can choose to use it in different ways. Each school has different donors who set different criteria for awards. Each school has its own time lines.
The reality is each policy school is different in its own way and will make decisions based on its history, goals, preferences and yes, limitations.