Archive for News

Meeting current and future students, preparing for graduation, and a “Stealthy Starbucks”

While it’s slowing down a little bit for the Admissions and Financial Aid office, we’re still busy with everything happening on campus. Students and faculty are wrapping up finals, and the Class of 2019 is preparing for graduation — SIPA’s is this weekend, and the Columbia University-wide Commencement is next Wednesday.

You may have noticed that we’ve had a number of guest posts from SIPA students on the blog, talking about everything from student life to projects they worked on — we’ll keep this up so that you can continue to get a full student perspective.

A few updates:

  • I got the pleasure of meeting a group of Marist College students a few weeks ago, whose guidance counselor is herself a SIPA alum! Not all of the students were planning on applying immediately after graduation, but as I told them: If coming to SIPA is your goal, connect with us at Admissions sooner rather than later. It’s helpful to have time to learn and prepare for the application process instead of rushing last-minute while juggling everything else going on in your life.

  • A friendly reminder that the Yellow Ribbon Program is open for the 19/20 academic year. The application is available here under “The Yellow Ribbon Program.” For more information, please email sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.
  • SIPA alumni gave some advice for incoming students last year. I think it’s still relevant today in figuring out how to navigate any graduate school system.
  • And finally, a bit of light reading as we head into the end of the week: “At CIA Starbucks, even the baristas are covert”

If you’re a blog reader and are interested in a topic that we haven’t covered, feel free to email or submit an idea. Two recent posts were based on suggestions by readers like you.

Congratulations to Rep. Elissa Slotkin MIA ’03

Yesterday the 116th U.S. Congress was sworn in, and it’s one of the most diverse groups ever, including the largest number of female members in Congress with more than 100 women in the U.S. House alone.

Elle.com featured 35 new women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives back in November, including SIPA alum Elissa Slotkin MIA ’03. You can watch Elle’s “We the People: Your Freshmen Congresswomen Recite the Preamble to the Constitution” here. In the accompanying article here. Rep. Slotkin states:

“This polarization and vitriol has been imported from Washington, and Michiganders can’t stand it. Michiganders didn’t use to fight about politics; we fought about sports. Women are refusing to stay silent when they see something contravening core values. They were the first and loudest to push me to do more, to heal the community.”

We’re closing early today and will be back on January 2, 2019!

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is closing early today at 2:30pm for the Christmas holidays. Our office will be closed through next week and back open on January 2, 2019, at 9am ET.

Don’t forget, our general deadline, with SIPA fellowship aid consideration, is at 11:59 PM ET on January 5th. The video essay is only available after you submit your application and pay the application fee, and will appear in your Applicant Status page once those steps are completed. I hope you can find some downtime during the holidays to work towards completing the application. (I truly mean this — every year we see that people do everything in the application up until the video essay. They’re just two minutes from being done with completing it, which is so frustrating!) We really do look forward to reading your applications.

Until then, all of us at SIPA Admissions wish you happy holidays, a fantastic 2019, and best of luck with all of your end-of-the-year activities.

P.S. Columbia University is exceptionally pretty in the winter! Follow @columbia.sipa on Instagram for more beautiful photos and some 2018 highlights.

Straus Historical Society Scholarship

The SIPA Office of Financial Aid is pleased to announce that SIPA is one of the few schools whose students have been selected to apply for a scholarship from the Straus Historical Society.

This scholarship will be awarded for the fall 2019 semester and supports students whose professional goal is in the field of public service. $5,000 will be awarded to a qualified student who has been accepted to or is currently enrolled in a program leading to such a career. Applicants must be U.S. citizens. The award will be based on academic achievement as well as an essay of 500 -1000 words that describes a social problem the applicant considers important and offers ideas on steps that might be taken to meet that problem.

Visit their website for more information. The application deadline is January 31, 2019. A transcript must accompany the application; applicants who have yet to enroll at Columbia or whose fall 2018 grades will not be complete by the time of the application may alternately submit a copy of their undergraduate transcript.

Jumping from NYC to DC; My advice to students who want to work outside of NYC

Note from Admissions: Congratulations to the eight SIPA students selected to join the Presidential Management Fellows Class of 2019! Only ~8.7 percent of applicants were selected to become finalists in this prestigious U.S. government development program for 2019. We thought this would be a good opportunity to check in with other SIPA students who are heading to Washington D.C.


When I first considered applying to the State Department’s Pickering Fellowship, I was unsure whether it was worth my time. I assumed that students from D.C. studying International Affairs would have a considerable advantage, since I attended a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles where I studied History and Government. However, when speaking with alumni of the fellowship, I was told that my non-D.C. background could help my application for the State Department and other employers throughout my career. After receiving the fellowship, and having worked in D.C., I would agree with this sentiment.

Ultimately, I believe that employers look for talent and people with new and interesting ideas, regardless of where an applicant is from. Therefore, I would urge anyone considering SIPA to apply, even if they want to pursue a career in D.C. afterwards; here at SIPA, you’ll learn and grow in ways that will make you competitive for any job in any city.

SIPA’s greatest resource is New York City. As a student of policy, you will have endless opportunities to engage with experts and leading organizations in your field who are working in arguably the world’s most dynamic city. Because of SIPA’s location, you will also have access to world class faculty and students who are pursuing careers in everything from finance to humanitarian work.

SIPA also offers a very holistic curriculum and attracts students from the around the world who want to study in a global city. I can honestly say that I have learned as much from my peers as I have from my classes.

In turn, you may actually have an advantage over students who are in D.C. or any other city, partly because of everything that SIPA students are exposed to in New York.

Personally, I know of many students who are fully committed to working in D.C. after graduating, myself included. Many of these students use their summer in between their first and second year to pursue an internship in DC, as an opportunity to build a relationship with a potential employer and to get an idea of what they would ideally like to do full-time.

SIPA has relationships with almost every major organization in D.C. and therefore students are made aware of internship and full-time job opportunities available in D.C. all the time. Almost any employer in D.C. will recognize Columbia University and SIPA, and you will not be at a disadvantage during the recruiting process.

In terms of community in D.C., SIPA students end up all over; some work for the State Department, some work for think tanks like The Brookings Institution, and others end up at NGOs like Human Rights Campaign. Since SIPA’s Office of Career Services has strong relationships with alumni and organizations with heavy SIPA representation, it is easy to get in contact with alumni, who are always happy to offer advice or maybe even an opportunity at an interview.

I always tell people, living and studying in New York is never a bad choice. If you are interested in SIPA’s program offerings and think it is a good fit academically and socially, then consider applying/enrolling, even if you don’t plan to be here long-term!

"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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