The words you long to hear…

The first batch of decisions went out today.

You see in your inbox that there is an email from the SIPA Admissions Office.  You open it and follow the prompts to learn your status on your application.

You sit back as you read the words, Congratulations!!! You’ve been admitted to SIPA!

A sigh of relief and now the happy yet nervous jitters comes over you.  What do you do now?  Once you have taken some time to celebrate, consider these suggestions:

Thank those who helped you: While you did the lion’s share of the work, there are others who helped with your application and probably gave you lots of encouragement and support along the way.  Show your appreciation to family, friends, recommenders, or anyone who has assisted you in the application process.

Read thoroughly any admitted student information you are sent:  In your admissions letter you will be provided with information on how to access the “new student Welcome page”.  It is through this page where you will find all the necessary information about how to prepare for life at SIPA as well as how to join the many SIPA community gatherings happening near you.  But most importantly, in the Welcome page, there are a few time sensitive actions that need to be taken if you plan to enroll at SIPA.   Missing a deadline can make a difference, and can sometimes result in you not being able to register for classes. Throughout the summer, you will also receive newsletters about upcoming events including the mandatory Orientation.

Talk to your new classmates:  You will be invited to join the new student forum, created for you. This is a way to establish communication with other admitted and current students.  Getting to know some of your future fellow classmates before you enroll is always helpful.  You may even find your future roommate and best friend through these interactions.

One of the many benefits of coming to SIPA is that you are exposed to so many people from around the world, here in New York and  wherever you decide to go afterwards.  But it begins now.  Once you are admitted, you will begin to receive invitations to meet up with current students and alumni in cities around the world, we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity — This is an excellent way to get the students’ and alumni perspectives of SIPA.  It is also a great networking opportunity.

Schedule a campus visit: If you have not visited us before, you may want to make some time for a New York City trip.  You’ll find a number of newly admitted students boarding a plane, a bus, or a train and making their way to New York for the Admitted Students’ Day on April 8th.  Mark your calendar and come join us for the day.

You can also schedule time to sit and observe a class at SIPA (if you come before May 9) or just walk through our beautiful campus located in a major metropolitan city — It’s hard to believe it once you step foot through the iron gates.  Needless to say, if you visit us, you will definitely meet students, faculty, and staff.  You may also set up an impromptu meeting with admissions staff if you have any questions, as no appointment is needed. Directions and travel information may be found on the SIPA page.

Prepare to relocate: SIPA can help, but you will need to do a lot on your own.  Some campus housing is available, but do not wait until the last minute to inquire and apply. Campus housing is limited and priority is given to international students who are relocating from overseas.  We suggest completing the housing form as soon possible.  You may do this through the new student Welcome page.  The Office of University Housing can also provide guidance on the right neighborhoods for you to reside if you want a little more freedom and opt for the off-campus housing option.

Start working on your financial plan: Even if you are not relocating geographically, there is a lot to consider in this time-consuming process. Make sure to read all financial aid materials that you receive; especially make sure you are clear about your scholarship/ fellowship offer and if the award is for one year or two years of study.  If you need loan assistance, complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and be very careful to educate yourself about all that is involved before you sign any promissory notes (we have staff to assist you sipa_finaid@columbia.edu ). The FAFSA is for US Citizens and US Permanent Residents only so don’t complete it if you are an international student.  (See our FAFSA post.)

It may seem elementary, but it is amazing how many incoming students make false assumptions about the length of their non-loan-based financial aid. Be sure you have all the facts about tuition costs and financial aid before you enroll—you do not want any financial surprises.

Keep a list of suggestions: You will be exposed to the good and for some, not so good experiences before enrolling (at whatever school you choose). While things are fresh in your mind, make a list of suggestions and compliments to share with us before you enroll.  SIPA Admissions staff members are always looking for ways to improve our services.

Good luck with your decision and may you choose SIPA!