Processing and reading applications gives a whole new perspective on the admissions process. When you’re going over hundreds of papers in a day it’s hard to understand why people make the same mistakes with their applications over and over. At the same time it wasn’t that long ago when I was an applicant myself and I remember the pressure, conflicting instructions from different schools and competing advice from friends and colleagues. If you are finishing up your application for the February 5th deadline, here are some tips and answers to frequently asked question to help the process go more smoothly on your end as well as ours.
1) We do not need your official score reports from the TOEFL or GRE/GMAT. There is a place to self-report your scores on the application. Once you have been accepted, we will ask for your official report, but if you have submitted unofficial scores to us there is no need to contact our office to see if we have received a report for ETS.
2) You must answer the second essay question. We recognize that many schools offer an “additional information” question as an option to address special circumstances that may have affected your grades, scores or professional history. While this is one way to use this question, we really want to get to know all our applicants on a personal level, which is why the question is required. For suggestions on what types of information to include, you can read my earlier blog post here.
3) We do not have a minimum GRE score or GPA. SIPA is a competitive program so you are encouraged to put your best foot forward in your application. However, there is no floor under which we will not consider your application. This is because many of our students are several years out of undergrad and have had time to mature or hone skills they may not have had five or ten years ago. The one exception to this is our hard rule of at least a 100 score on the TOEFL (or 7.0 on the IELTS). As SIPA classes are taught in English there is a minimum level of proficiency necessary to participate and contribute.
4) We do not consider supplemental materials. While we all admire the family pictures, PhD theses and audio visual aids that are sent into the admissions office every season, we do not consider them as part of your application. We realize that other schools, particularly those in other countries, have differing policies, but please do not waste time producing or shipping these materials on our account. We have thousands of applications to consider and so for the sake of our time as well as fairness to other applicants, we consider all of the required application materials and nothing more.
5) Do not waste words in your essays. It is hard enough to confine your professional experiences and goals to a 600-word limit, so you need to be strategic about the way you write. Do not waste essay space rehashing information that is available elsewhere in your application, for example your name or the grades you received as an undergraduate. In addition, we want to hear from you, not Gandhi or John F. Kennedy. If you choose to include a quotation in your personal statement make sure that it is necessary and supports your personal story.
I can’t wait to read your applications. Good Luck!