A follow-up note to recent applicant emails

On Tuesday, the Fall 2016 fellowship application came and went. In the days preceding and the days since, we’ve received hundreds of last-minute visits, calls and emails about the application. Thanks to our Program Assistants, we’re answering the messages in record time. But that doesn’t mean we’ve gotten to all of them yet. To help with the potential email bottleneck, I’m covering some of the common questions we’ve received this week.

Proofread your application
Keep it mind this is your application and you are responsible for submitting a complete, truthful and polished application for admission. Before hitting the Submit Application button, please make sure you preview your application proof. We’ve found that applicants have submitted applications with missing pages, resumes with too wide margins that are cut off in the proof, and even required materials addressed to the wrong school. So look at your application proof carefully before you hit submit. Because once you send it, there are no take backs.

Yes, you read that correctly. We cannot update your application (e.g. add documents) after you’ve submitted it. Thus, you should also review your Application Checklist to ensure everything’s been submitted by the deadline.

screenshot-proofreadapplication

About those e-transcripts
Yes, we only require that applicants submit copies of their transcripts for admission to SIPA. (We only require the official record once you’ve been admitted to the program.) If you decide to upload an “official” digital version provided by a service like eSCRIP-SAFE, keep in mind this is technically still a copy because it was delivered directly to you (which you uploaded), and was not delivered to the Admissions Committee. So while that’s still acceptable, chances are when you upload it we can’t actually read it because we don’t have permission to access it. Thus, when we try to open your transcript, we get a blank page that reads simply, “This page is encrypted,” or something similar. (Hint: You’ll see this too if you proofread your application!) As a work around, applicants should download their transcript as they normally do, print it out, scan it and upload the scan into their application.

Avoid non-credit certificate programs
SIPA appreciates the fact that our students come from various professional and academic backgrounds. And we really like to see it when applicants take the additional step to improve their application by taking additional quantitative coursework they feel they need prior to applying to the program. But we’re finding that some applicants attempt to list certificate programs that were from nonaccredited institutions and/or weren’t graded. If you’re uploading a certificate program as part of your application, please make sure you provide sufficient documentation that outlines the coursework and grades obtained. Afterall, you wouldn’t upload a copy of your college diploma without the transcript, right?

Listing your test scores on the application
While SIPA does allow applicants to submit test scores from multiple exams, you can’t just pick and choose which scores you want to submit, nor can you combine your best scores as a single exam set. That’s what we call submitting inaccurate information. To make sure you’re application is truthful, please record all exam dates (with the matching score dataset) that you’d like the Admissions Committee to review. For example, make sure you complete every field prompt (as pictured below), and do not combine the highest scores from multiple exams under the same test date.

screenshot-toeflscores

Don’t trick us with a blank page
It’s 7:30 p.m., a day before the application deadline. Your application is nearly complete, but you’re missing your TOEFL score report, which ETS still hasn’t emailed you. The real problem is the application system won’t let you submit it until you upload that missing document. So you upload a blank page that says “TOEFL scores to come.” I understand the temptation to bypass this requirement and upload a blank page, but please do not do it. It’s ultimately making more work for everyone involved since you’re telling us your application is complete when it really isn’t. When you submit your application you’ve signed an honor contract. Stick to it, and email us about the problem so we can come to a mutual solution.

Still have questions? Check out “Eloy’s Top 12 Application Questions,” or send us an email at sipa_admission@columbia.edu