Author Archive for Julia Chung

SIPA’S SDG Fellows Team Win 2018 Geneva Challenge!

Do you remember a few weeks ago I wrote, in this blog post here, about how SIPA’s SDG Fellows team (Alonso Flores MPA-EPD ’19, Nigora Isamiddinova MPA-DP ’19, Jessica Arnold MIA ’19, Nitasha Nair MPA ’19, and Ji Qi MPA-DP ’19) made it to the finals of the 2018 Geneva Challenge? Well I am very happy to say that they won first place!

SIPA’s classroom provides an opportunity for you to meet other classmates with various interests and skill sets and collaborate on projects that address some of the worlds’ most pressing and complex issues. Sometimes those collaborations in classroom can lead to solutions implemented out in the real world. The Geneva Challenge is one of the many opportunities at SIPA where students can implement what you learn in the classroom in the real world.

The SIPA team, DASH – Data Analytics for Sustainable Herding, aims to map and analyze the changes in migration patterns, seasonality, and urban and agricultural development using data from satellites, mobile telecommunications, and GPS- enabled systems. It will create a blueprint for utilizing big data and applying machine learning and AI for better policy-making in the in the Sahel region, where competition for increasingly scarce natural resources is driving a rise in conflicts between pastoralists and farmers.

In the award ceremony, the jury explained their decision to award the SSDG Fellows team first place: “The jury believes that this is an excellent and innovative solution. The proposal is well researched and authors a detailed and accurate contextualization. The real-time forecasting model using big data analytics and artificial intelligence techniques is a very ambitious tool to develop that could indeed have a wide and positive impact on the region. The project is also well thought out in terms of needs assessment, risk analysis, and implementation. The team has already taken further steps by having discussions with relevant government agencies by assessing institutional frameworks through laboratory projects.”

The Geneva Challenge, launched in 2014, is an international contest for graduate students that aims to find innovative and pragmatic solutions to a designated international development problem. This year, there were 66 project entries submitted by 258 students from all over the world. Of those projects, 15 teams were chosen as semi-finalists. A jury then selected five finalist teams, one per continent, to defend their project at the the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. Other prize winners this year included teams from BRAC University, ETH Zürich, Kenyatta University, and the University of Buenos Aires.

You can learn more about the MPA-Development Practice program that the SDG Fellows team is a part of here. Don’t forget that the January 5 deadline to apply for MPA-DP, MIA and MPA programs is coming up!

SIPA’S SDG Fellows Team are Geneva Challenge Finalists!

Congrats to SIPA’s SDG Fellows team (Alonso Flores MPA-EPD ’19, Nigora Isamiddinova MPA-DP ’19, Jessica Arnold MIA ’19, Nitasha Nair MPA ’19, and Ji Qi MPA-DP ’19) who have advanced to the finals of the 2018 Geneva Challenge. Their project, DASH – Data Analytics for Sustainable Herding, aims to map and analyze the changes in migration patterns, seasonality, and urban and agricultural development using data from satellites, mobile telecommunications, and GPS- enabled systems. It will create a blueprint for utilizing big data and applying machine learning and AI for better policy-making under deep uncertainty.

Launched in 2014, the Advancing Development Goals International Students Contest, or more commonly known as the Geneva Challenge, is an international contest for graduate students that aims to find innovative and pragmatic solutions to a designated international development problem. Every year five finalist teams, one from each continent, is invited to an oral presentation in Geneva where they defend their solutions to a jury and the public. This year the subject is climate change.

SIPA students have a history of partaking in the Geneva Challenge. Previously, a team of recent SIPA graduates (Olga Abilova MIA ’15, David Braha MIA ’15, Isabela Cunha MIA ’15, and Jessica Dalton, a master’s degree candidate at Columbia’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights) were selected as finalists for the 2015 Geneva Challenge on migration.

Wish Alonso, Nigora, Jessica, Nitasha, and Ji luck as they defend their project on November 27!

Decoding SIPA Courses for Prospective Students

When I was looking at graduate schools, I wanted to know what my course load would look like and what electives I would be able to take. I didn’t want to be stuck taking two years of core classes and I wanted to make sure there were elective classes that suited my interests. Here’s the guide for past-Julia on how to decipher SIPA’s courses.

All students must fulfill their “core requirement” courses which include Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Quantitative Analysis I, Financial Management, and Management. Students will also need to take a Professional Development course, internship, and complete a capstone project which usually takes place second year, last semester.

Students can take up to 18 credits per semester, though most take around 16 credits. You can view sample course schedules in each Concentration’s “Sample Path” or “Sample Program” tab (Eg: Energy and Environment’s sample path, Economic and Political Development’s sample program)

All prospective students can find SIPA’s list of courses here. You can then filter for semester as well as degree programs, concentrations, and specializations if you click “advanced search criteria”. Clicking on the blue plus button on the left of the course title, you will be able to find the course description, professor, and time/location of class.

Key notes on searching for classes:

  • Students who are in the MPA and MIA program are blocked from registering for EMPA courses (Executive MPA program)
  • There are 3 credit courses and 1.5 credit courses. 1.5 credit courses are usually half-semester courses or courses that are completed in two weekends.
  • Enrolled students will be able to find past course syllabus and evaluations.
  • Not all courses are offered every semester or every year.

As you’re completing your application for SIPA, take a look at the courses we have to offer, and if you can, sign up to sit in on one or two!

Note from Admissions: As Julia mentioned, class visits are open. You can sit in on up to two SIPA classes and get a feel for the classroom experience and community. Sign up soon as seats are first come, first serve.

4 Tips to Ace the GRE

Julia Chung is born and raised in New Jersey, but hopes to be considered an honorary New Yorker. She is a second year MPA student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy and specializing in Technology, Media, and Communications. After graduating from Vassar College with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Asian Studies, Julia worked at various nonprofits in New York City on issues including housing, immigration, education, and civic engagement.

Taking the GRE can be a daunting experience! Here are some tips to help get through the studying and exam taking process!

  1. Know what you know and don’t know

After you do your initial practice exam, look at your results. Which section did you do better on? Which type of question in each section did you do better on? If you’re stellar on math, but struggle in reading comprehension, spend more time on reading comprehension and just do some refreshers for math. If you aced geometry, but bombed probability, you know what to focus on. We’re all busy folks so you don’t need to go through the whole 3,000 pages of the GRE prep book if you don’t need to. Focus on what you know and don’t know!

  1. Make your own vocabulary flash cards

Don’t just buy or print out pre-made flash cards. One of the best ways to remember vocabulary is actually taking the time to think about the definition in your own words. Also write down alliterations, synonyms, or personal associations to help remember the word. The more ways you think about the word, the better! Below is my example of a flash card:

Additionally, when studying your flash cards, try to learn 10-30 new words each day on top of reviewing older flash cards. Split your older flash cards into two piles: the cards you always get right and the ones that you sometimes struggle with. Review the former once a week and the latter pile every other day.

  1. Plan so there aren’t any surprises on exam day

Take some practice exams leading up to the exam. The exams are long and you may need to get used to sitting and thinking for five hours straight. But also consider taking the practice exam during the time you scheduled for the exam. For example, if you schedule the exam to be at 8AM, take the practice exam also at 8AM. This can help you know how your brain works at that time (eg: my brain doesn’t naturally function at its prime so early in the morning so it needs some training).

What I also like to do is find reviews of the test center on Yelp or Google reviews before signing up for the exam. Do people say it’s loud and they couldn’t concentrate? Was the bathroom too far so they couldn’t take a break? Was there no parking? Of course take each review with a grain of salt, but sometimes it’s good to know so there aren’t any surprises!

Pro tip: you can bring your own disposable ear plugs to the test!

  1. Take a break the night before the exam

At this point there’s nothing more you can do! So let your brain relax and just swim in all the vocabulary words. Bring a snack to the exam, take a deep breath, and have fun. It’ll be over in four hours!

And don’t forget, when you complete the exam, you have five schools you can send your scores to for free! If you’re set on SIPA, send it to 2161. It costs $27 to send it later, so don’t get too excited and just leave!

Please note that SIPA admissions does not have a “minimum GRE/GMAT score.” The admissions committee reviews applications holistically, taking all application materials into consideration, including academic record, letters of recommendation, personal and professional life experience, among other qualifications.

Note from Admissions: SIPA requires either the GRE or the GMAT as an admissions requirement.

"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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