Archive for Application Tips – Page 2

Three Tips for Efficient Communication with our Office

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is meant to be a resource for you as you go through the admissions process. Help us help you stay efficient in getting information by following these three tips for communicating with our office:

  1. Use the same name and email address each time. Whether communicating with us or opening an application, consistency is important for us to search and recall past communications to help you get what you need.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the Admissions FAQs. Have you ever been asked a question that the asker could have done a quick internet search to find the answer? We have! We love to speak with people and help them out, but we can get backlogged with questions that are clearly answered on the Frequently Asked Questions page. Those are questions that we collect directly from applicants like you, so chances are that you’ll find the answer to your question more quickly that way. (But we do answer all emails sent to our office, in case you’re wondering.)
  3. General professional email etiquette will speed things up. This includes using descriptive subject lines in emails, including your contact information in your email signature, and avoiding long emails. “Long” emails can be subjective, but if for example, we receive an email with multiple detailed questions, it’ll take us longer to dig through it. With that, you can consider breaking them into separate emails over a short period of time to allow us to respond more efficiently.

    Another email etiquette tip? Avoid copying multiple parties on the same email. I know when I see four other people copied on an email sent to me, I may just let someone else answer the email first, or it’ll spawn more emails itself as we all check who is going to take point on it. If you’re unsure who the email should go to, trust that the person you send it to will direct it to the right place!

Remember, we’re here to help you, and we love when you help us help you.

Congrats to the Class of 2018, and Looking Ahead

We love this photo of the SIPA Class of 2018 at the university-wide commencement on Wednesday (photo credit to recent grad Yashshri Soman!). Each school has their own graduation ceremony throughout Commencement Week, and on Wednesday all of the schools gathered on Columbia’s South Lawn. For SIPA, 736 students from 68 countries earned degrees across all of our programs.

For those of you who can see yourself in the sea of blue in a few years, the Fall 2019 application will go live in August. The application itself is a whole process, and we know that many of you are preparing for it now. To help you think through it, here’s a roundup of posts to help you as you approach the written portions of the application:

  • What’s in an App: Personal Statement – For some in the Admissions Committee, the personal statement sets the tone for the rest of the application – it’s your SIPA raison d’etre. But, the personal statement has a 400-word limit – how do you get all that important information down in a limited capacity? (We actually advise applicants not to waste words quoting others, but I think French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s quote is pretty apt: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”)
  • How to plan for your recommendation letters – This is difficult to tackle last minute, so get some info on who you should ask, how you should ask them, and what should go into a letter.
  • What’s in an App: Optional Essay – Is the optional essay really worth doing? This post covers specific ways in how this essay can further your application.
  • Some advice on the optional essay prompt – I’ve seen some skeptical quizzical expressions when I tell applicants that the optional essay truly is optional. Here’s some more general information on common questions we get about the optional essay.

For those of you thinking about applying for the Fall 2019 cycle (or beyond!), I hope that this gives you a good foundation as you start getting your materials together. We’ll notify y’all when the application goes live in August.

And a few reminders before we sign off:

  • A reminder to our Fall 2018 waitlisted candidates that final decisions will roll out by mid-July. Candidates will receive an email as soon as there is an update.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program Scholarship application opened on Monday, May 14th. You can learn more about eligibility and requirements here – we encourage you to apply soon, as funding is given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Make sure you stay involved with us before the application cycle opens in August 2018 – our information session calendar will list on-campus and virtual sessions, and we’ll add more off-campus events here throughout the summer and fall.

Our top ten posts of 2017

Happy New Year everyone! It’s 2018. Can you believe it?! Here’s a look at our top 10 blog posts from 2017. With a couple of days left before our general deadline this Friday, Jan. 5th, we have some last tips for you to submit an outstanding SIPA application as well as insight to our community.

#10: Tips on the short essay policy question

#9: How NOT to write your personal statement

#8: When you’ll receive your admission decision

#7: A Quantitative/Language resume breakdown

#6: What’s with the GRE/GMAT and TOEFL/IELTS?

#5: The best cafes on campus (because, well, food is important)

#4: What Fall 2016 admitted students should know going forward

#3: Top 10 tips for communicating with us

#2: Next steps for Fall 2017 admitted students

And drum roll please….

The #1 blog post of 2017 was: How to access (and prepare for) the admissions video essay

We hope you’ve enjoyed time with your loved ones during the holidays. Good luck on the application!

We are closing early today at 1 PM!

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will close early today for the Christmas holiday, December 25 and 26,  at 1 PM EST. We will re-open on Wednesday, December 27 at 9 AM EST. We hope everyone travels safe and enjoys the break.

Don’t forget, our general deadline, with SIPA fellowship aid consideration, is at 11:59 PM EST on January 5th. The video essay is only available after you submit your application and pay the app fee; it’ll appear in your Applicant Status page once those steps are completed. As a refresher, make sure to check out our series of application tips that were posted earlier this year.

Do’s and Don’t on your SIPA application

What’s in an App: personal statement

What’s in an App: optional essay

What’s in an App: admissions video essay

What’s in an App: professional resume

In addition, we have info on the top criteria that we look for in an ideal applicant – professional, relevant experience; strong quantitative aptitude; and commitment to the field of international affairs or policy. This next deadline is important, especially if you’re looking to be considered for SIPA fellowship aid; both domestic and international populations are considered for this funding. There are also external funding resources you can explore; other sites like apsia.org, fastweb.com, scholarship.com, etc. will be helpful. We encourage you to review this info and start early with your financial planning. Good luck on the application! Happy Holidays!

Here’s a Few Do’s and Don’ts on Your SIPA Application

We know you’re in the thick of preparing your applications. Here are a few pointers on how to apply. Remember, our next deadline is coming up fast on January 5th, 2018. Don’t miss out on SIPA fellowship aid consideration and submit your app by this date. We are also in the process of reviewing our Early Action applications; decisions will be released by early January!

Do’s

1. Take your time on creating the Quantitative Resume

This part of the SIPA application may seem like a chore, but it’s important for the admissions committee to really understand the applicant’s quantitative background. You can also use this section to showcase any research that you have done, professional work or classes that you have taken to bolster your quantitative background. My best advice is take your time on this section and make sure it is polished!

2. Take advantage of the Optional Essay

Applicants often ask if it is crucial to fill out this section of the application…..and the answer is it all depends. If you have anything that you are concerned about on your application, like your GRE Scores, a low GPA, or not having enough work experience, this is where you can really take the time to explain yourself. The admissions committee will not make any assumptions on your application and this is the opportunity that you have to fill in those gaps or red flags.

Don’ts

1. Avoid having a vague Personal Essay Statement

This is the one section of your application you will be able to show your personality and convey your goals post-graduate school. The more confident and specific you can be in your personal statement the better it will be for you to tell your story. I would say avoid listing all of your accomplishments from your resume – because believe it or not, it happens and it’s not compelling to read.

2. Make sure you address your essays and tailor personal statements to SIPA and not another school

We understand that most applicants are also applying to other graduate programs in addition to SIPA, however, it is important applicants are diligent and address their essay to the correct school. The last thing that you want to happen is to submit a very generic essay and then address it to the wrong school.  

"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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