Author Archive for Emily Tao – Page 2

Five Things You Should Know Before Submitting Your Application

For you applicants submitting in the next few days (Early Action for Fall 2019 is November 1st!), here are some last-minute application tips. Our Admissions Committee reads many applications during the admissions process, which means they notice when people make similar mistakes in the applications. Here are some general application tips for before you submit:

  1. Proofread. Make sure little things like, say, the name of the school, is spelled correctly. And if you’ve looked over your application hundreds of times, get a friend or family member to look it over.  A fresh pair of eyes can really help.
  2. We do not need your official test scores at the time of application submission. There is a place to self-report your scores on the application. Once you have been accepted, we will ask for your official report, but if you have submitted unofficial scores to us there is no need to contact our office to see if we have received a report for ETS.
  3. Answer the (required) essay questions. Some schools may offer an “additional information” question as an option to address special circumstances that may have affected your grades, scores or professional history. While this is one way to use this question, we really want to get to know all our applicants on a personal level, which is why answering the prompt – especially for the second essay – is required. (SIPA’s application does have an Optional Essay, which you can use to share that additional information.)
  4. We do not have a minimum GRE/GMAT score or GPA. SIPA is a competitive program and we encourage our applicants to do their best in the admissions process. But there’s no cutoff for GRE/GMAT scores or GPA, because many of our students are several years out of undergrad and have honed skills they may not have had five or ten years ago. The one exception to this is our hard rule in English proficiency tests (TOEFL/IELTS/PTE). As SIPA classes are taught in English there is a minimum level of proficiency necessary to participate and contribute. You can view the cutoff and preferred scores for the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE here.
  5. Do not waste words in your essays. It is hard enough to confine your professional experiences and goals to a 400-word limit, so you need to be strategic about the way you write. Do not waste essay space rehashing information that is available elsewhere in your application, for example your name or the grades you received as an undergraduate. In addition, we want to hear from you, not Gandhi or John F. Kennedy. If you choose to include a quotation in your personal statement make sure that it is necessary and supports your personal story.

We can’t wait to read your applications — good luck!

Reworked from this 2013 post.

Payne International Development Fellowship Program now accepting applications

The Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2019 Fellowship for Graduate Studies. The application deadline is December 21, 2018.

The Payne Fellowship, administered by Howard University, seeks to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Candidates must be graduating seniors or college graduates with strong academic records and a desire to promote positive change in the world. Applicants with any undergraduate major are welcome to apply. Selected fellows will receive support for graduate school and will have a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service.

Program Benefits

  • An orientation to the Program and the Foreign Service at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in May
  • Two summer internships, one working on international issues in D.C. in summer 2019 and one overseas at a USAID Mission in summer 2020
  • Up to $22,000 annually toward tuition and mandatory fees for a two-year master’s degree at a U.S. institution
  • $16,000 stipend for each academic year for room, board, books, and other education-related expenses
  • $10,000 per year for stipend, housing, transportation and related expenses for summer internships
  • Mentoring throughout the duration of the fellowship and during early employment at USAID
  • Employment in USAID Foreign Service for those who successfully complete the program and meet Foreign Service entry requirements, in accordance with applicable law and USAID policy, with each Payne Fellow committing to a minimum of five years of service.

Eligibility requirements

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Seeking admission to graduate school in fall 2019 for a two-year program in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service at a U.S.-based institution
  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application

Learn more about the Payne Fellowship on their website.

About USAID Foreign Service

USAID Foreign Service Officers work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times, including poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism. They are part of a corps of officers who have worked for more than fifty years to make lasting improvements to the lives of millions of people around the globe. USAID Foreign Service Officers are stationed in Washington and in more than 75 countries in five regions worldwide – Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Eurasia, Asia, and the Middle East. They work alongside colleagues from other U.S. government agencies to achieve our country’s foreign policy objectives in democracy and governance, economic growth and trade, peace and security, education and health, conflict mitigation and humanitarian response.

We’ll be in the U.S. PNW soon — and a Spring application deadline reminder

The Columbia SIPA admissions team is still traveling to attend various graduate school fairs around the world. We’ve met a lot of fantastic future candidates and are looking forward to talking to more of you!

If you’re unsure if you want to come to these (free!) grad fairs, remember that Just a few minutes of conversation could lead to an opportunity that’ll change the course of your career. Keep up with us on our Off-Campus Recruitment Events calendar.

And a reminder for you Spring applicants that the application deadline is October 15th, 11:59pm ET. If you have any final questions, you should reach out to us at the Office of Admissions on Monday. Best of luck!

Camille Laurente MIA ’16 Defines “Interdisciplinary”

We often talk about SIPA’s interdisciplinary curriculum as a major benefit of our program for candidates. SIPA alumni go into government, international affairs, and policy positions (see: Eric Garcetti, Bill de Blasio), and many also do work that exemplify “interdisciplinary.”

Camille Laurente MIA ’16, is the creator and host of Sincerely, Hueman, a podcast that tells the “remarkable, diverse tales of advocates, philanthropists and everyday people who started local and global movements for social good.”

Formerly a corporate lawyer, Camille credits SIPA with expanding her perspective on how to use media as a tool for social good. Camille specialized in Technology, Media and Communications, an area for those interested in digital technology and writing skills among many other, well, interdisciplinary fields. We hope that readers of this blog are familiar with the numerous real-world examples of the intersection of media, communications, and policy (as well as advocacy, public affairs, and international organizations, just to name a few).

Sincerely, Hueman is now on Season 2, and its already caught the attention of Bill Gates. (You can listen to that episode here.) You can find Sincerely, Hueman wherever you get your podcasts. If you’re part of the Columbia University / SIPA community and are interested in connecting with Camille and her company, check out Hueman Group Media.

If you’re interested in learning more about SIPA’s interdisciplinary curriculum, you can come to an info session or find us at a city near you. If you’re sure that SIPA will help you where you need to go, remember that our 2019 application is open.

Program Assistant Introduction: Dylan Hoey

Introducing our final new Program Assistant this semester, Dylan Hoey.

Dylan Hoey is a second-year MPA student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy and specializing in Technology, Media and Communications. In 2017, he graduated from Claremont McKenna College, where he earned a dual degree in Government and History. Prior to SIPA, Dylan worked for his Congresswoman and interned with refugee resettlement organizations in Chicago and Istanbul. He was recently awarded the U.S. State Department’s Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship, and after graduating will join the U.S. Foreign Service.

Dylan ultimately decided to attend SIPA because he valued Columbia’s commitment to diversity and SIPA’s strengths as a leading school for international affairs and urban studies. While at SIPA, Dylan has primarily taken classes on good governance and urban leadership in the hopes that he can one day assist developing nations in the fight against corruption.

What do you hope to gain from earning a Master’s degree from SIPA?

As an undergrad, I attended a liberal arts college that pushed its students to become critical thinkers and strong writers. Naturally, I majored in Government and History, and like many of my peers, I shied away from heavy quantitative coursework. Coming into SIPA, I wanted to take more practical government classes, to supplement my background in political philosophy and theory. I also decided that I wanted to push myself by taking more rigorous economics and management courses. I hope to leave SIPA with a deeper understanding of international politics and institutions while also gaining proficiency in Stata, GIS, and other programs that are commonly used in the world of government and policy.

What are some exciting things about your concentration?

As an Urban and Social Policy concentrator, my favorite thing about our concentration is the diversity. Most of us come from urban backgrounds and we love cities, as places of professional and academic interest and as social environments. Although we are a relatively small concentration, the community is tight-knit and we all know each other. Due to SIPA’s location, we also attract some of the world’s leaders in urban leadership and development. I’ve had the opportunity to take classes with a former Mayor of Philadelphia, New York State’s Secretary of Housing, and other world-renowned economists and researchers in urban governance. If you want to run for office, or work for local or federal government, USP is a great concentration to choose!

How did you find the core curriculum at SIPA?

Admittedly, I was intimidated by Columbia’s core curriculum. There was even a time I considered not applying, as I didn’t think I had the quantitative background to be successful at SIPA. That being said, I have really enjoyed my core classes and I think they equip students with the skills needed to be competitive, and ultimately successful, in government and public sector work. While macro and microeconomics were certainly difficult at times, there are two tracks offered; a lower division course that is more conceptual and a higher division for those who are comfortable with math. In retrospect, I can say that they filled gaps in my previous knowledge of world politics and economics. My management course provided me with a better understanding of how bureaucracies function, and how workers respond to incentives; however, it also made me think critically about my leadership style, and my potential strengths and weaknesses. Out of all the core classes, my favorite has been Politics of Policymaking, which is required for all MPA students; it was undoubtedly the most in-depth class I had ever taken on comparative institutions and policy creation. I enjoyed it so much I ended up taking another course with the professor the following semester and have since remained in touch!

What advice do you have for current applicants?

I recommend that students reflect on what they want in their career, and really consider if SIPA, or graduate school in general, is the experience they need to accomplish their professional and personal goals. I like to think of an application like a narrative that has led the applicant to a fork in the road; the sum of their academic, professional and personal experiences has led them to this moment and now graduate school is the next natural step in the journey. If you can think of your desire to attend SIPA in these terms, then you will likely have a strong application. Most importantly, you must be honest with yourself about what is best for you, and your reasons for applying.

What was the most challenging aspect of the application process?

Definitely the personal essays. Essentially, you have to condense everything – your desire to attend SIPA, the essence of the most transformative moments or experiences in your life, and your professional career – into a few essay and short prompt responses. That being said, going off of my earlier advice, I would encourage all applicants to really think about their own life and experiences as if you were a character in your own story. Perhaps even create a list of the moments or experience you feel most nostalgic about, even if they seem irrelevant or trivial. In doing so, you may discover what really motivates you and how specific experiences made you the person you are. You can weave these into your essays, in a way that humanizes you and makes you standout to the people reading your application.

What do you think makes a good SIPA student?

In my opinion, the best students at SIPA are the ones who have a genuine desire to learn and are interested in solving complex problems with the help of others. They value collaboration, diversity, breadth of opinion, and are rigorous in their studies. They also seek out opportunities to form relationships with other communities, and most likely have a strong sense of what is right, which informs their commitment to making the world a better place. While they may not know what they want to do, they know they want to be leaders in whatever field they end up in, because of their work ethic and their commitment to something outside of themselves.  Sometimes class isn’t fun; it’s the middle of the semester, it’s cold, you’re studying for midterms. But if you’re a naturally curious and dedicated person, the prospect of learning more, of becoming a more well-rounded individual; these things will ultimately sustain you.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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