Archive for Admissions – Page 2

Ten Tips on Managing Stress During the Application Process

Thanks to Melanie Pagan, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Wellness at the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) at SIPA, for this post in response to Patricia H. Dean Pagan earned her MSEd in Higher Education Administration at Baruch College’s School of Public and International Affairs and has more than 10 years of experience in higher education supporting undergraduate and graduate students at various institutions including Yale University, Connecticut College and Columbia University. Her pronouns are she/her/hers.

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Applying to graduate school can be as stressful as much as it is exciting. It’s normal for one to experience anxiety at some point of the process but there are ways to manage that stress while (and after) you apply. Here are my ten tips on how to stay relaxed, productive, and positive during the application process.

Tip #1: Start Early!

Graduate school applications can be quite involved. At SIPA, application requirements include a personal statement, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, the GRE/GMAT or TOEFL, and a video essay. Each of these requirements can take some time to complete so starting early can not only help you feel less stressed, but it will allow for any potential bumps in the road that could derail the process.

Tip #2: Get organized.

In addition to starting early, getting organized is key to managing anxiety while applying. Regardless of how many programs you are applying to, there is a lot of information to keep track of. Whether you use pen and paper or digital organization system, my suggestion is to create a grid with each school, their requirements and deadlines. When I applied to master’s programs, I used a notebook where I created a grid with each school’s application components and checked off things as I completed them. I also added deadlines to my calendar on my phone and set reminders for a week and a day before a deadline.

Tip #3: Take Breaks.

Although it may be tempting to spend all your time on your application or power through it due to time restraints, it’s important to take breaks for yourself (and for your application). Rest your eyes of the blue light from your computer screen. Step away from your writing for a bit. This allows you to come back with a fresh perspective. Your best work comes from your best self and taking a break helps. Take a walk, listen to music, dance at home, have dinner with a friend, watch an episode (not the entire series) of your favorite show.

Tip #4: Sleep, Eat, and Stay Active!

When we are stressed, we sometimes neglect the things that our body and mind need like drinking water, sleeping well, eating well, and staying active. In addition to taking breaks, it is important that you participate and maintain healthy habits. Unhealthy behaviors like sleep deprivation, remaining inactive for days at a time and drinking a lot of coffee can lead to burnout, forgetfulness, and loss of creativity.

Tip #5: Seek Support from Friends and Family.

Talk to your support system. Whether is it a friend, a coworker or a family member. Let them know if you feel overwhelmed or stressed. They’ve supported you through other stressful times and they will do so again.

Tip #6: Talk to a Counselor, Advisor or Mentor.

Talking to a professional counselor, trusted advisor or mentor can also be helpful, especially if you do not have someone in your support system who has gone through the graduate school application process. Talk to your therapist, reach out to mentor at work or a college advisor from your undergraduate studies. They can help you with any anxiety that you are experiencing and can share with you any advice they might have.

Tip #7: Limit the Amount of People You Have Look at Your Application.

It’s important to reach out to people you trust to look over your application. They can help you with writing edits, studying for the GRE/GMAT and/or TOEFL/IELTS/PTE or give you feedback on your video essay. However, try to limit how many people you have look over your essays, especially as you are making final edits. It can cause unnecessary stress and lead you to feel overwhelmed right as you are getting ready to hit submit. Additionally, if you have found a GRE or TOEFL study course/books that work well for you, do not look into new programs or testing techniques right before you take the exam. Stick to what you know works and go into the exam room with confidence.

Tip #8: Keep Yourself Occupied While You Wait.

Once you have submitted your application, find ways to keep your mind occupied as you wait for a decision. This was especially important for me when I submitted my graduate school applications. I reached out to friends I hadn’t seen in a while and attended events I had to skip while studying for the GRE. I also started going to the gym more which helped tremendously as endorphins help you feel happy and stay positive.

Tip #9: Resist the Temptation to Constantly Check Your Email (or call the Admission Office)

It is so easy to constantly check your email, especially now that our inbox is literally at out fingertips. One way to help with the temptation of constantly checking your email is to disable email notifications on your phone. This is a general tip I give to anyone trying to have a better work-life balance, but it is also helpful during the waiting period. Admissions offices will mostly likely not email you after business hours, so limit checking your email to that time frame and turn off the notifications that make you run to your phone with every “ping” you hear. This also goes for constantly checking graduate school forums or calling the admissions office repeatedly. Be patient. The admissions office will reach out in due time.

Tip #10: Most Importantly, Remain Positive!

You are smart, capable, and have so much to offer. You will find the right graduate school match and you will go on to be successful in whichever program you pursue. If you shift your thoughts towards gratitude, you will be in a better mood through out the day and sleep better. Stay positive. You got this.

The Columbia SIPA 2020 application is open

Our 2020 application is live. Click here to start your application now.

The application process takes time and effort to fully complete. We recommend the following to stay informed and organized:

1. Subscribe to this Admissions Blog. This blog is continually updated with information from SIPA admissions, students, alumni, and financial aid — all of which will be helpful for this application process (and beyond).

2. Add the application deadlines to your calendar. All materials must be submitted by the deadline to be considered for admission.

MIA, MPA, MPA-DP Program Deadlines
Spring 2020 (MIA/MPA only)
October 15, 2019 at 11:59pm ET

Fall 2020
Early Action Deadline: November 1, 2019 at 11:59pm ET
Fellowship Consideration Deadline: January 5, 2020 at 11:59pm ET
Final Application Deadline: February 5, 2020 at 11:59pm EST

3. Attend an information session or meet the SIPA community off-campusThese sessions are available online and in-person, and the information sessions walk through each piece of the application, as well as best practices and common mistakes. We’re adding more events throughout the next few months, so check back on those calendars.

If you want more advice or need guidance, email us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu with questions. Be sure to read up on the Frequently Asked Questions first so we can be more efficient in helping you.

Click here to get your application started. We look forward to reading your completed application.

Where we’ve been, and where we’ll be

The SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN) hosted a mixer in Lagos last week, and I thought it’d be a good time to update y’all on where SIPA will be the next few weeks. Thanks to Theotis Sharpe MPA-DP ’20 for his work in putting this together – you may remember him from the SIPA Story Slam event he co-organized

As a reminder, the SIPA application will go live this month. While we’ll be providing tips on this blog throughout the process, I encourage you to search through our archives for useful information from people who have gone through this process (or are on the other side of this process!).

There will be a Columbia SIPA Networking Mixer in Accra on August 10, where prospective students, current students, and alumni will connect and discuss what life at the world’s most global policy school is like. RSVP here.

SIPA will be at the upcoming APSIA graduate fairs. These events are an excellent way to meet not just SIPA, but to explore what other international affair and policy schools can offer. In any case, we look forward to meeting you and giving you information on the programs, curriculum, and admissions process.

APSIA Graduate Fair: Atlanta, GA
September 12, 2019, from 6 – 8pm
Register here.

APSIA Graduate Fair: Toronto
September 17, 2019 from 6 – 8pm
Register here.

APSIA Graduate Fair: New York City
September 18, 2019 from 5:15 – 9pm
Register here.

APSIA Graduate Fair: Washington, D.C.
September 19, 2019, from 6 – 8pm
Register here.

We’ll continue updating our recruiting calendar throughout the next few weeks. If you’re in the New York area, I highly encourage you to attend an Information Sessions. Preparation will be helpful as you start your graduate school journey!

Why I Chose SIPA

I remember receiving the email on my decision like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my undergraduate institution’s computer lab, lazily scrolling through my email account, looking for a message a professor sent me earlier that week. Then I saw the subject line from SIPA Admissions; I froze for a second and then clicked on it. I had trouble remembering my account password and after a few anti-climatic minutes of picking my brain for my password, I eventually got into the system. I was greeted by streaming confetti down my screen and an audio clip of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”. I had been accepted.

If I said that letter didn’t factor into my decision I would be lying! But in reality, Columbia was one of my top choices, if not my top. By the end of the admissions cycle, I was debating between two programs. One, an elite urban studies school located in the heart of one of America’s great cities. The other was SIPA. I went back and forth. I made charts and attempted to map my decision, listing pros and cons to every program and institution. I thought about how my degree would be perceived and the name recognition for both. I considered the reach of both programs alumni networks and looked over the biographies of dozens of professors I was interested in taking classes with.

After many days of deliberation, I ultimately decided on SIPA because of something I touched on in an earlier post; that is, out of all my options, SIPA seemed like it would provide the most comprehensive and interdisciplinary education I could find. Both programs are comparable in terms of reputation and both have very strong urban studies programs. However, I felt like SIPA’s ‘global’ and international curriculum provided me with more opportunities to take classes outside of my comfort zone, and to find synergies between my own areas of interest and entirely new subjects. I appreciated that the majority of my peers would be international; I knew that their perspectives in the classroom and outside would be invaluable as a future diplomat. I also liked that SIPA offered numerous opportunities to take classes at many of Columbia’s prestigious graduate schools, including the Journalism School and Teachers College. On a personal level, I relished the opportunity to attend events at these elite institutions and to be able to interact with a range of professors, like Sunil Gulati, the ex head of the U.S. Soccer Federation, to former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Relative to other locations, I knew that access to NYC and its immense social and cultural offerings would also further my education, and my personal growth.

When I fully realized that by attending SIPA I was really gaining access to all that Columbia offers, from its world class libraries to its world class faculty, I came to a decision very quickly. Before I accepted it officially, I played “New York, New York” once more on the acceptance letter portal just for fun and then I made one of the best decisions ever; I clicked the button to begin the enrollment process!

Is this the year you’re applying to graduate school?

Is this the year you’re applying to graduate school? Even if it’s not, we recommend you connect with schools that you’re interested in early on. Graduate school applications can be time-consuming to gather all of the pieces for, especially if you’re juggling several applications on top of your personal and professional life. You also want to make sure that the program you apply to is the best fit for your goals.

Columbia SIPA will be participating in the APSIA Online Grad School fair on July 25. Register today to learn more about what you can do with a SIPA graduate degree – our alumni work in everything from international trade policy to counter-terrorism to social impact investing (and much more).

APSIA stands for the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, a network of schools that demonstrate their excellence in career-focused, graduate-level, international affairs education. APSIA schools generally stress the application of theory to practical uses and are focused on helping students become meaningful agents of change. APSIA has a robust list of relevant Fellowships & Scholarships for those interested in policy and international affair graduate studies.

If you’re in the area, stop by the Summerfest mini graduate fairs coming up this month. SIPA alumni, current students and admissions staff will be here to answer your questions.

Summerfest New York City
July 17 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
International Affairs Building, Columbia University
420 West 118th Street, Room 1501
New York, NY 10027

Summerfest Washington, D.C. (July)
July 24 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
1740 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

As a reminder, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is closing early today and will be closed tomorrow in observance of U.S. Independence Day.

"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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