At this point most prospective students have already accepted their offers. If you are an incoming student, Mazel Tov! After the long application and decision-making process I remember how good it felt to have a decision. There are still a few folks who have gotten decision extensions or who have (against protocol and inter-institutional agreement) put down deposits at more than one school. Here are a couple of tips to help make it easier to decide:
Go where your heart is. I know that is an extremely cheesy thing to say and I of all people am not sentimental about grad school, but you should go where you feel you belong. Sure SIPA has superior faculty, the largest course selection, Ivy League name recognition and access to the resources of New York City, but we want people here who will take advantage of these things. If (what I somewhat biasedly would deem) the obvious superiority of SIPA doesn’t do it for you the last thing we want is for you to come here and be unhappy. On the flip side, if you feel SIPA is the right place for you but external pressures like family or a slight difference in funding are making you hesitate, I would encourage you to bite the bullet and come to Columbia. I will tell you that I am financing my entire SIPA education myself, save for my job in the admissions office, and I have not regretted it for one moment.
Plan your life here. Go on our course catalog and compare it to others. What classes would you take? What skills do you need to propel you forward? What kind of clubs would you join? Where do you want to go home to an apartment at night? What special programs stand out that you would like to take advantage of? You can check out career service histories and see where students have gotten internships. Envision your full life, academic, social, extracurricular at both schools and see which future feels brightest to you.
Talk to current students. I talked to students at the two schools I was deciding between when I chose SIPA and it was a huge part of what sealed the deal for why I’m here. I am AT the admissions office and I would love to talk to you about my SIPA experience, the good, the bad and the ugly. Seriously I have a lot of work study hours to work off and it beats the heck out of filing things. I have seen a lot of rumors floating around about our accepted students’ google group, some of which I can corroborate and most of which I can dispel. I sincerely think that SIPA is the best foreign policy education you can get and will provide you with the most opportunity, but I also recognize that it’s not the best fit for everyone and I promise to be very honest in talking that through with you. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find a time to coordinate with a current student or you can just call the office, we are around most days.
However you make your decision, it is important that you make it soon. Schools are waiting on decisions about funding so that they can make sure scholarships are allocated to students who truly want to be here. You also will need to start looking for apartments, filling out your FAFSA and planning your move for this exciting next chapter! When it comes to choosing between top tier public policy schools there is no bad decisions. (There are only better decisions, and that’s SIPA.)
In all sincerity promising to give you my unbiased opinions if you call,