Help! Your pressing email questions are answered

It’s up to you: will you be a hard-boiled egg, ready to take the heat…or will you crack under the pressure of pending deadlines?

With the January 5, 2015 application cut-off date almost here, we know that you’re probably freaking out about making the admissions deadline. In fact, we know you are because we receive about 50-70 individual emails Every. Single. Day. (But we don’t mind because that’s what we’re here for!) As always, we’re responding to your emails as quickly as we can, but with the holidays here it can take us some time. (In the last week, we’ve received more than 360 emails! Wow!) So please be patient and bear with us as we get all of your questions answered as fast as we can.

As a holiday treat, we’ve answered some of your most-pressing questions below.

Good luck with your application! And happy holidays!

P.S. Whatever you do, DON’T “crack” under the pressure. We know you’ll get your application in on time.

 

I’d like to speak with an admissions officer while I’m in town. What are your holiday hours?
We’re glad to have you on campus! You can view our office hours here.

Right now I’m facing a lot of financial hardships. Is it possible to waive the application fee?
Unfortunately, the administrative cost of processing applications requires that applicants pay the application fee. Currently, we only waive application fees for applicants with ties to certain organizations with which we have signed agreements. Applicants who have been awarded one of those fellowships from those organizations are eligible for a fee waiver.

My university isn’t listed in the dropdown menu in the Education section. What can I do?
Unfortunately, not all universities are entered into the system. You may enter your institution name manually.

I sent your office my transcripts, have you receive them yet?
It generally takes several days for us to receive snail mail copies of your transcripts. Please don’t panic. Once we have received your materials, we will be matching them with your application for review by the Admissions Committee.  In the meantime, please be assured that we will contact you if any of your documents is missing.  You may call us or email if you need further assistance.

I have a lot of professional experience and I’d like to waive the GRE/GMAT.
 If taking the GRE or GMAT has presented an extreme hardship and you have significant previous academic and/or professional quantitative experience, you may submit a GRE/GMAT waiver. If you believe you meet these requirements, email us to request a GRE/GMAT waiver. It will be forwarded to the committee and you will receive notification of the decision. Each waiver is reviewed on a case by case basis and submission of the waiver does not guarantee approval.

Please be aware that waivers are rarely approved and all actions should be taken to sit for either exam for submission prior to the deadline.  If the exam is not self-reported on the application before the deadline, we cannot guarantee that the application will be reviewed.

I went to a university where everything was taught in English. Do I still have to take the TOEFL/IELTS?
If the language of instruction was English for your four year Bachelor’s or international equivalent, then the TOEFL exam is not required, even as an international applicant.  If you believe you meet these requirements, email us to request a TOEFL/IELTS waiver. It will be forwarded to the committee and you will receive notification of the decision. Each waiver is reviewed on a case by case basis and submission of the waiver does not guarantee approval.

I have a lot of professional experience abroad and understand English very well. Do I still have to take the TOEFL/IELTS?
If taking the TOEFL has presented an extreme hardship and you have significant English language experience, you may submit a TOEFL waiver. If you believe you meet these requirements, email us to request a TOEFL/IELTS waiver. It will be forwarded to the committee and you will receive notification of the decision. Each waiver is reviewed on a case by case basis and submission of the waiver does not guarantee approval.

***Find answers to all of your pressing test questions in this blog post.***

I can’t take the required tests before the January 5, 2015 fellowships deadline. May I still be considered for fellowship?
We have to be fair to other applicants who were able to meet the required deadlines. So unfortunately, we cannot consider your application complete—and therefor eligible for fellowship consideration—if you are missing any required aspects. But keep in mind that you may take the test prior to the deadline, and self-report your GRE scores on the online application. At the end of the GRE, you should have the option to view your Verbal and Quantitative score. Please make note of them to self report your scores. We will receive the Writing scores directly from ETS.

Who should I select to write letters of recommendation?
We typically advise that applicants have at least two professional and one academic letters of reference submitted on their behalf. However, we also accept a relevant combination depending on your professional/work history and academic experience. For instance, three letters from professional recommenders is also acceptable. However, those applicants who have recently graduated should submit at least one letter from a professional or internship/volunteer reference rather than all three academic sources only. Ultimately, it is at your discretion and it is your decision whom you would like to speak on your behalf.

I’m having trouble selecting three recommenders, and my fourth one is a really good one. Can I submit more than three?
Unfortunately, no additional letters beyond the three can be uploaded onto the application system. If you’d like to remove one of your recommenders and replace it with your fourth choice, you may do so before the recommender has started their application.

***Tips on selecting a recommender may be found in this blog post.***

My recommender just told me they made a mistake on their letter. Can I fix it?
Unfortunately, we cannot alter any documents in the application system.  Please have your recommender sent us a revised copy of the letter as an attachment via email.

My recommender never got the email asking them to submit the letter in the first place. Help!
Please ask your recommender to check their spam folder, as sometimes our emails end up there. Also, we have had cases that emails with additional domains (such as country codes like .cn.uk, .jp, etc.) or symbols (hyphens, etc.) have not been receiving the messages either. In any event, each recommender was sent an email from sipa_admission@columbia.edu with the link to submit the reference letter to the system. If they still don’t have the email, contact us to have the email resent to their address.

I’m still missing my recommendation letters. Can I submit my application without those?
Yes! Just make sure everything’s in by the deadline. So feel free to submit your application today, and your recommenders can have until Jan. 5.

If you run into an issue with one of your recommenders, we will accept letters past the deadline, within reason, so that your application can be completed and forwarded for review. Our policy is that we cannot guarantee materials received after deadline will be reviewed, but in situations like that of a recommendation, it is usually fine and should not impact the decision. It is always a good idea to communicate with our office as soon as you become aware of any problems so that we are aware of it and can work with you.