Archive for Application Tips – Page 2

Checking in as we count down to January 5th

There’s about 10 days until the January 5th application deadline, and I wanted to check in on how you’re doing.

Hopefully you’ve gotten your test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation squared away, as well as having the bones of your personal state and short essay together. Not there yet? Definitely follow up with your people again. Sometimes things fall through the crack, especially since we all get busy towards the end of the year. Revisit your essays with fresh eyes, and double-check that you answered the prompt. Take a step back to rethink thinks if you’re stuck.

Will you be writing an Optional Essay? It’s not necessary, just another avenue to address in more detail an aspect of your application. And as you know, the application requires a CV – not the standard one-page resume you’d use for a job application – as well as a quantitative/language resume. If you’re still unsure about what to include, read this breakdown here.

If you’re all the way at the end: Did you write “Colombia” or “Columbia”? And remember that the video essay is only available after you submit your application and pay the fee! You’re just two minutes away from the finish line.

Remember, if you’re really unsure about something, the Admissions office is your resource through this process. Reach out to us, especially if you can’t find the answer from a reputable source. We’re honest with you in that this process is competitive, but don’t throw away your shot by not even trying! Do your best to ensure your application can give an accurate picture of not just who you are, but who you want to be after SIPA.

As always, we’re wishing you the best of luck, and we look forward to reading your applications. And don’t forget to take time for self-care. (New York Therapy Dogs and SIPA Office of Student Affairs teamed up to bring some self-care-in-dog form to SIPA students during finals week this year.)

Energy & Environment Concentration Q&A

We’re just about halfway through our SIPA Concentration Webinar Series, where each Concentration Director gives an overview of their area of study, what they look for in strong SIPA candidates, and answer questions about their concentration. Professor David Sandalow and Concentration Manager Elora Ditton took the time to answer some extra questions about the Energy & Environment concentration from prospective students:

Q: Do you think the policy nature of the program would be valuable to someone who does not want to commit to only in the public sector? Are there any components of the program that address business concepts in energy and how they interact with policy?
A: Absolutely. Our graduates are equally employed by the private and public sectors. Particularly when studying energy and environment, it’s important to consider policy, business, technology and science and the interactions of these sectors. As such, our curriculum focuses on giving students a comprehensive understanding of how all the key stakeholders interact, while giving students the flexibility to cater the curriculum to their specific interests.

A handful of EE students come into the program looking for employment in the private sector, specific to energy. These students tend to take courses on financial modeling and markets related to energy, and intern at financial institutions or consulting firms.

With this said, you can’t work in energy and not know the regulatory policies that affect business decisions, and similarly, you can’t work in policy and not consider markets or the financial tools needed to fund projects/infrastructure. Considering this, though we are a policy school, many courses apply concepts from business/finance to energy issues.

Q: What are some of the career outcomes of SIPA EE graduates? Especially some of the climate policy graduates – do you see the majority of them working in NGOs, industry, finance, directly in governments, or some combination of these post-graduation?
A: A mix, particularly since we offer a broad range of courses which allows students to tweak the curriculum based on their career objectives.

For example, if a student knew they wanted to work in energy finance, we have a lot of courses specific to this (e.g. corporate finance, renewable energy project finance, international energy finance), so many of the students who go down this track end up in private sector jobs. If a student wants to focus in climate policy, we have equally the number of courses and opportunities here (e.g. climate change policy, environmental conflict resolution, environmental economics). These students might apply to be EDF fellows for an internship and may end up in local/federal government and/or NGO positions post-SIPA.

In other words, where students end up post-SIPA is largely determined by what their focus is during their time here. A benefit of SIPA EE is that we have the courses/curriculum to support a broad range of interests and outcomes. It also depends on if students are trying to stay in the U.S. or are going to work internationally (particularly for placement in government and the political landscape for climate policy).

Here are a few examples of recent employers: Rystad Energy, NYSERDA, International Finance Corporation, Connecticut Green Bank, Lazard, Bloomberg, Citibank, UNDP, The World Bank, Deloitte, Accenture, McKinsey & Company, ICF, ConEdison, GE, PG & E, EDF, the Earth Institute, the Nature Conservancy, WWF, ExxonMobil, CohnReznick Capital, Powerbridge, US DOE, USDS, and more…

Q: Hi there, can you talk about how the EE concentration would vary from the MPA-DP program? How does it break down within the MPA and MIA tracks? On a different note, I notice many policy professionals have a law degree. Please convince me that SIPA is a better option! Thanks so much!
A: The MPA-DP program is going to give you more exposure to hard sciences while EE focuses more on quantitative skills (e.g. economics, financial modeling, etc.). There will be more flexibility to fine-tune the curriculum to your interests in the MIA/MPA track whereas the DP curriculum is pretty set.

MIA/MPA gives you tools to design, incentivize, implement, and assess policies so you have more flexibility in application of the degree over a law degree, which is going to give you a very specific skill set. It really depends on your career goals and what you think makes the most sense for you.

Also, you can take law classes as a SIPA student! Environmental Law, for example, counts towards our EE policy requirement.

Q: Can you talk about SIPA Energy and Environment concentration as it relates specifically to energy in international development?
A: SIPA in general offers many courses in international economic and political development, and in EE, you will consider sustainability and other geopolitical and security issues related to energy and the environment.

Q: Is it difficult to catch up in SIPA for the Science and engineering part? I have not been exposed to professional undergraduate environment and energy knowledge.
A: Nope! We have many career switchers where this is their first exposure to energy and/or environment. Our classes are designed to give you the basic technical and topical foundation to address energy and environment with a policy and/or business application. With that said, since we are a policy school, though some of our courses expose you to science and technology, none of our courses are solely in the hard sciences or engineering (though you have access to these types of courses through the other schools at Columbia).


Two Admissions reminders for you Fall 2019 applicants:

1. It’s less than a month until the January 5th application deadline, and we have a few more admissions information sessions before then:

2. For those who want to hear straight from the Concentration Directors, here are the final webinars coming up:

Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule and Post Roundup

In observance of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will be closed starting tomorrow, November 21, at 2pm ET, and will be closed Thursday and Friday. We’ll reopen as usual on Monday, November 26.

While we’re out, we’ll leave you with some resources to help you out with your application. Here’s a roundup of the most popular blog posts from the last few days:

  • How NOT to write your personal statement – The essay topics will change but the advice won’t. Advice highlight: “There’s nothing that upsets people more than when someone asks a question they could’ve easily found the answer to with a 30-second Google search.”
  • Here’s a few Do’s and Don’ts on Your SIPA Application – Some good overall pointers as you go along preparing for applications. Advice highlight: “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.”
  • What’s in an App: admissions video essay – Remember, the video essay will be available to you after you finish the rest of the application and pay the application fee. Advice highlight: “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.”
  • Preparation for grad school app – Past student (and now alum!) Nancy Leeds shares advice she wished she’d received when going through the process that you’re going through now. Advice highlight: “Visit the campus. Trying to distinguish between schools from their websites and viewbooks is kind of like online dating – you won’t get a real feel for them until you meet them in person.”

We hope you all have a chance to share a meal with your loved ones this week, be it family or friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

A mid-November check-in: Snow, Virtual Info Sessions, Application Tips

Winter is Coming

It was the first snow of the season yesterday! Here’s a snapshot courtesy of first-year student @luzangil.

Unfortunately due to the snow causing transit issues, we did have to postpone the Diversity Spotlight event arranged with the SIPA Students of Color (SSOC). I’m so happy to see the level of interest in this event, and we’re so sorry for the inconvenience. Everyone will be notified once it’s rescheduled; in the meantime, learn a little more about SSOC’s most recent Identity @ SIPA panel.

Register for our Virtual Information Sessions

While we let everyone know about events on-campus here in NYC in case they’re able to attend, we’re aware that many of you are busy or live further away. With that, we have multiple virtual information sessions coming up that you should register for.

An exciting addition to these virtual events: SIPA’s Concentration Directors will be talking about their unique concentrations and what they look for in program candidates. There’ll be a chance for Q&A at the end, and this is a great way to get a detailed look at the nuances of what each concentration offers.

Application Tips

Finally, for those of you working on your Fall 2019 applications, here are blog posts addressing some common questions we’ve been receiving lately:

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.

"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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