What’s in an App: admissions video essay

The holidays are just around the corner! You know what that means. You have a little under 2 months to apply to our general deadline with SIPA fellowship aid consideration on January 5, 2018. I’m excited to bring a new series to you this month about our application process – What’s in an App. Since I know many of y’all are in the thick of preparing your stellar applications, this series of blog posts will hopefully answer your burning questions and provide helpful tips about the different components of our application. We’ll be covering a different part of the application every week for the remainder of November – just in time for January 5th! Let’s get started.

Today’s post is about the – wait for it – video essay. Now, this may seem daunting and stressful; however, it’s only one part of the review process. This isn’t the be-all-end-all deciding factor for your admissions decision. This component provides the Admissions Committee a sense of who you are in person as well as your thought process and how you respond to questions. We’re not able to conduct in-person interviews because of the high volume of apps we receive each year, so this video response is extremely valuable to the committee and our evaluation process. In it’s second year now, the video response is fully integrated into our online application. We’ve made a significant change to the accessibility of the video essay this year – it is only available AFTER you submit your application and pay the app fee. Once this is done, you’ll be able to see the video prompt in your Applicant Status page. That being said, you’ll need to manage your time well and submit your application well in advance in order to access this section and test your connection, webcam, mic, etc. to ensure everything is working properly.

How does it work? We have a great video (and transcript) from a prior post, explaining how to access your video essay here. Remember, you can only access this through your Applicant Status page once you submit your application and pay the app fee, but otherwise, the process remains the same. You’ll review the instructions for the video, receive a randomized test question, have 60 seconds to think of a response, then another 60 seconds to verbally communicate this. Keep in mind, you won’t be allowed to resubmit a response. Once you have recorded your response, it is automatically uploaded to your application.

What type of questions will I encounter? Our questions run the gamut, from general background, to behavioral to policy related questions. These do not require extensive research beyond reading about current events/affairs in international affairs and policy. Also, there are no right or wrong answers. So breathe, relax, and tackle this response with confidence.

What if I experience any technical difficulties during my video response? If you experience any issues during your recording, please reach out to us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu or call at 212-854-6216. Our regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM EST. Keep in mind, our general deadline is at 11:59 PM EST; so please plan ahead, allow time to test your audio capabilities, and contact us during regular office hours to troubleshoot any issues.