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SIPA Admitted Students’ Day 2019

Last week we held our annual open house for the newly admitted MIA, MPA and MPA-DP incoming Class, Admitted Students’ Day 2019. While it was fantastic for us to meet many of the names behind the emails and calls, it was especially great for the admitted students to meet each other and the larger SIPA community, including faculty, alumni and current students.

Admitted students get a lot of specialized content to better inform them of what SIPA offers as a policy graduate school. This includes Faculty Webinars like this one with Vice Dean Scott Barrett,  and additional ones with Professor Tamar Mitts and and upcoming webinar with Professor Dipali Mukhopadhyay. While we can only share the first webinar, you can learn more about Professor Mitts’s work in big data within counterrorism here,  and Professor Mukhopadyay’s work in rebuilding countries post-conflict here.

Admitted students have also been meeting up with alumni all over the world, most recently in Washington, D.C.

Overheard at this D.C. meetup? “I was on the fence but after tonight I’m sold. I can see how close the alum are and it’s great y’all came here to answer questions.”

I encourage every person interested in SIPA, admitted student or thinking of applying in a bit, to directly connect with SIPA as much as possible. This might be connecting with SIPA alumni and/or current students, but it can also include researching what courses are available, or visiting classes in the fall and spring semesters. Finding out if a graduate school is right for you can be time-consuming, so it’s never bad to start early.

It was great meeting all of the admitted students last week – we hope you had fun – and we look forward to seeing the Class of 2021 in the fall.

Your Frequently Asked Questions, Answered by Current SIPA Students!

Hello! The Admissions team would like to say congratulations to all Admitted Students! We have been receiving a lot of questions on a variety of topics, from housing options to SIPA’s quantitative coursework. We decided to compile our answers to some of your most frequently asked questions. Feel free to drop other questions in the comment!

What is SIPA’s quantitative coursework like? Will I be able to pass macro/micro economics?

Samantha: The quantitative coursework for the core courses at SIPA consist of three courses: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Quantitative Analysis (statistics). Usually students take Micro in the fall semester, and Macro in the spring semester. However, Quant can be taken in any of the four semesters, but most students complete it in either of their first two. The workload is going to be a bit heavy, as you have homework, recitation, lecture and exams for all of these quantitative courses, but it’s all doable. You don’t need to be an expert in either of the three areas in order to do well in them, but getting in some practice before hand can’t hurt. In order to prepare yourself for the coursework I recommend completing the summer math tutorial SIPA provides, as well as attending the Math Boot-camp during orientation. However, If you’re still panicked about the fact that you’re going to see numbers and have instantaneously forgotten all the math(s) you’ve ever learned, remember you are going to be ok and I guarantee you will pass.

Julia: I would also say that the weekly homework are done in groups so some of the stress is shared. Many students don’t have an economics or statistics background (like me!) so you won’t be alone! The professors are also very approachable and helpful if you are struggling.

What is the SIPA community like as a whole? Or for a specific concentration?
Dylan: The SIPA community is generally very open and welcoming. Before arriving at SIPA, I assumed that most people would be very competitive and serious. While everyone here cares about their academics and career, I have found the opposite to be true; in general, people are very supportive and friendly. I think one of the other benefits of having such huge incoming classes is that you are always meeting new students. So on top of it being a friendly, collaborative environment, I’ve never really felt like I lacked opportunities to meet new people.

I’d say most people end up befriending people within their concentration. Makes sense right? You take a lot of classes with them, you probably end up at the same events, and you naturally share a lot of similar interests. As a USP concentrator, I met most of my USP friends my first semester and we’ve remained close since then.

What is the recruitment/job-hunt like at SIPA? Does the Office of Career Services, or SIPA in general, support students?

Julia: SIPA students have very diverse interests, so there isn’t a standard way students go through the internship or job search. When I was looking for my summer internship last year, I used the Office of Career Services internship database, which is a detailed account of all the internships previous students have done, to give me an idea what I could be interested in doing. I then applied for internships through the job/internship portal on SIPAlink. I would also say the info sessions that OCS organize are helpful as well. I just went to an ACLU panel discussion last week that was inspiring and exactly I needed to motivate me in my current job search!

What is something you wish you knew about SIPA before attending?
Dylan: I wish I knew more about cross-registration and dual-degree options at SIPA. That was more me not doing my due diligence on researching SIPA’s program offerings before attending, but it is something all students can do if they prepare in advance.

What has been the best/worst part of your time at SIPA?
Dylan: The best part has been developing my interest in anti-corruption policy and journalism. I came from a very theory focused Political Science background, and SIPA was the first place where I was able to really dive into policy.

Worst time has definitely been the quantitative coursework. I appreciate it and I begrudgingly recognize its importance. But it can be an enormous pain! That being said, everyone who comes to SIPA will pass the core quantitative classes. Do not fear!!

Julia: My best time was traveling with other Seeples on student trips. Last summer I went to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and this winter break I went to Israel. It’s a great way to learn more about the politics and history of the region, but also spend quality time with your fellow Seeples.

What are the housing options like in the Columbia area? How much can I expect to pay and where should I generally look?

Samantha: I would say that most students who do not get Columbia student housing generally live near or north of campus. Most of us live in shared apartments in Morningside Heights, Harlem, and Washington Heights. Living with roommates helps keep the cost down, and living near or north of campus is 1. Convenient and 2. More affordable. While rents vary, I say students usually pay anywhere from $900-$1500 a month in rent. The farther north you go from campus the less expensive apartments become, so if you’re looking to cut costs I recommend looking uptown. The benefit of living near campus is that it is close enough for you to walk to, so you wouldn’t have to pay for transit expenses to get to school like you might need to if you live further north.

How do you manage time between classes and internships/work?

Dylan: This is a hard question to answer because it really depends on the classes I’m taking and the way assignments are structured for each class. Some weeks, I’ll have no assignments due besides reading for class. During those weeks, I obviously attend classes, work around 15 hours at SIPA Admissions as a program assistant, and do my readings either in the afternoon after classes or in between classes while I’m still on campus.

Other weeks, it’ll feel like my professors conspired to absolutely slam me with assignments. In those cases, I’ll usually plan on working 11am – 5/6pm-ish on weekends (at least) and then work in the afternoons after classes are finished and in between classes. If I’m particularly stressed with my program assistantship work, I may ask to take a few hours off and make them up at a later date. Most SIPA jobs are understanding and flexible with students.

A Foodie’s Guide to Columbia University’s Food Scene

One of the greatest things about Columbia’s campus is that it is essentially a foodie’s paradise. There’s several different cuisines nearby, from Ethiopian to Mexican and from mass-produced burgers with fries to locally-sourced vegan friendly meals. Columbia offers a smörgåsbord of food options.

Massawa (121st and Amsterdam)

Massawa is an Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant boasting flavorful and shareable meals, all scooped up with a handful of injera, a sour bread served with all meals. The restaurant holds an impressive menu with several types of meats and vegetables. Meals can be vegetarian friendly also. It’s also a perfect place for a date for those planning. The quiet, dim-lit environment sets a romantic, conversational mood perfect for a first-date or a long-term couple. Meals range from $15-$25 per person including tip.

Shake Shack (116th and Broadway)

You might have heard of Shake Shack if you’re from the Northeast, but for those who don’t know, it’s a franchise burger that rivals the well-known West Coast chain In-n-Out Burgers and the broader burger chain Five Guys Burgers. However, Shake Shack is more than just burgers. They’re also known for their concretes, an ice cream concoction with a few different toppings and flavors mixed in. Shake Shack is often a filled with students looking for a quick bite between classes. A meal costs about $10-$15 dollars, no tip required.

Community (Between 112th and 113th on Broadway)

With an American-eclectic menu that features seasonal, local, organic food whenever possible, Community is a popular place for those who are food conscious. While the restaurant isn’t just for vegetarians, almost all of their meals can be made for vegetarians by request. One of their most popular items on their breakfast menu are their blueberry pancakes, a must-try for all newcomers. It’s also a great place for a Sunday brunch so bring your friends and enjoy a meal on their patio. Average meals range from $13-$20 without tip.

Jin Ramen (Broadway and Tiemann Place)

This is not your microwavable ramen. Though a little bit of a walk from campus, Jim Ramen is one of the Columbia community’s most popular restaurants, boasting several types of ramen noodle bowls. Also a great place for a date because nothing is cuter than watching your boo slurp up noodles. For meals, you can go classic with a soy sauce ramen or go different with a green coconut thai curry ramen bowl. Either way, you’ll love what you’re eating. Meals are around $12 – $18.

Strokos (114th and Amsterdam)

If you’re looking for something quick and pretty cheap, Strokos is the way to go. It’s a gourmet deli serving dozens upon dozens of options, from pizza to salad to sandwiches to chicken and vegetables. The place also has enough room there for studying so you’ll usually find several students eating with their laptops. Stop by Strokos and get a meal for usually under $10.

Oaxaca Taqueria (Between 122nd and 123rd on Amsterdam)

As a lover of tacos, I must say Oaxaca Taqueria does an amazing job at making the signature Mexican meal. You can get three tacos for around $10 and they have a little under a dozen of different styles of tacos. My favorites are the classic carnitas tacos and the savory Korean taco. It’s a casual place so you can either eat there or take it to go. Either way, you won’t regret it.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of who you are going to be.”

This post was originally going to be titled “Spring Break, Capstone Workshops, and Rangel Fellows,” but I can’t top that quote from longtime congressman Charles Rangel. Now retired, he spoke to 12 SIPA Rangel Fellowship recipients last month. The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program is a U.S. State Department initiative that encourages diversity and excellence among foreign service officers.

Our alumni network of Rangel Fellows has accomplished amazing things, and we hold them in high regard. Check out the summary of the Rangel Fellowship meeting at SIPA here. (You might recognize Kier Joy in that photo, who was featured in this video!)

If you’re wondering why SIPA didn’t have any class visits this week, it’s because it was spring recess at Columbia University. Many SIPA students are using this week has an opportunity to work on their Capstone Workshops, traveling all around the world to meet with their clients. A signature of the SIPA curriculum, the Capstone Workshop has small teams of students working on essentially live consulting projects, where they apply the theory they learn in the classroom to real-world issues. We’ve featured multiple capstone workshops on the blog and can’t wait to see what our current students have worked on so extensively this week.

Wishing everyone a happy spring!

Why SIPA? New York City is where the world comes together.

Decisions came out earlier this week, and we’re excited to welcome our admitted students to Columbia SIPA. Admitted students will have a multitude of global events and webinars to get more information about what it’s like to be at SIPA. (To our Fall 2019 applicants, regardless of your decision, check back with the blog next week for next steps to consider.)

Congratulations again to all of the admitted students. We leave you with this video featuring Kier Joy MIA ’19.

Happy weekend, everyone.

"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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