Archive for Admissions – Page 2

Why I Chose to Apply to SIPA

Note from Admissions: The Spring application deadline is coming up, and we hope applicants feel like they’re making good progress with the admissions process. Current student Dylan Hoey has been in your position and reflects on why he applied to SIPA in the first place. 

We encourage you to reach out to us at the Admissions office if you have any questions about the application or just want to talk it over. And if you want to talk to Dylan or other SIPA students about their experience, we can make that happen.


Rodin’s “The Thinker” outside Philosophy Hall [Wikimedia Commons]

During undergrad, like most first year students, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. At first I was confident that environmental science was the right choice. Within a semester, I was disabused of that idea. After taking an amazing introduction to international relations course, I thought I had settled on international relations. When my second year started, I changed my mind once again and declared as a Government and History dual major, which finally stuck. While I had formally decided on a major, my interest in other subjects did not wane. Thanks to a great liberal arts education, I was able to dabble in almost every major subject, from religious studies to mathematics. Throughout my undergraduate career, I developed an interest in urban studies, post-colonial history and theory, continental philosophy, and film, amongst others.

In turn, when I decided to apply to graduate school, I knew I wanted to be at a place that engaged all of these interests, while also providing me with a central skill set that would allow me to be successful in any industry. I knew that my ideal school would be in a large city, with plenty of extracurricular opportunities to pursue my interest in the arts. Naturally, that narrowed my list of schools down quite considerably.

SIPA had always been on my radar just based off its name recognition, but when I researched more into its curriculum and Columbia’s own resources, I became more and more interested in applying. First of all, I appreciated that SIPA stresses both theory and ‘practical’ applications of course material. As a future U.S. diplomat, I valued SIPA’s diversity, which is unrivaled. I also liked that SIPA has a distinctly international focus, with an emphasis on urban politics and culture. When I looked through SIPA’s course offerings and faculty, I was similarly impressed by the broad array of fields and disciplines represented. I remember also coming across a couple ‘superstar’ professors, including former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. On more comprehensive faculty lists outside of SIPA, I saw that one of my favorite authors, Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, was also listed as a member of Columbia’s faculty. Another search led me to discover that leading Indian post-colonial theorist Gayatri Spivak was a resident faculty member.

When I looked at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ website, I found that the events section was full of film series that I was interested, including a few where the directors themselves were there to answer questions. At the Journalism School, I saw Jelani Cobb, one of the New Yorker’s most prolific and insightful contributors, listed as a professor. While I was certainly drawn in by SIPA’s course offerings, I really fell in love with the idea of Columbia being a place of such great academic diversity. I knew that at SIPA I would receive a world-class education in policy analysis and public management; I had no doubts about that. But I relished the idea of being on a campus where it would be easy to meet people engaged in other fields, and to pursue a truly holistic education. When it was time to finally apply, I was excited at the prospect of enrolling at SIPA, an excitement that has never left me, even as a second year student now.

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.  

What’s in an App? Quant Resume

SIPA requires applicants to furnish a professional and quantitative resume. This blog post offers guidance on creating a quantitative resume, including tips on making the most of this component of your application.

You may be wondering “What is a quantitative resume?” For our Office, a quantitative resume is a tool that helps the Committee evaluate a candidate’s previous quantitative background. The coursework at SIPA is notably quant-heavy; four of the eight (or nine for MIAs) Core courses are quantitative in nature. We want to ensure our students are in the best shape to tackle SIPA’s quantitative coursework.

Forget me not

Many applicants are surprised to learn about the quantitative resume requirement for all applicants. Instructions on completing the resume are found within the Application Portal. There’s even a sample quantitative resume for you to follow. This two-column format is preferred, as it helps our readers assess each applicant uniformly. An application lacking a quantitative resume is incomplete, preventing the Committee to arrive at a well-informed decision. Don’t forget the quant resume!

Be consistent

No component in your application sits in isolation. In fact, the Committee considers all parts of your application to gain a greater sense of who you are. That said, make sure your quantitative resume supports the other components found in your application. Engineers, mathematicians, economists, scientists, and other general nerds coming from a rigorous quantitative background should have a longer-than-average quantitative resume. That’s cool! Perhaps the less numerically-gifted will have shorter resumes. That’s cool, too! These resumes help showcase who you are. Own it!

Also, check for consistency when reporting grades on the resume. It’s a bit odd when an applicant reports earning a B in microeconomics, but the transcript indicates earning a C.

The Devil is in the Detail

When it comes to the quantitative resume, we know we’re asking a lot. From short descriptions of the course down to the textbook one used, we value the work and detail poured into your resume. These details help establish a baseline understanding of the concepts covered in class, and can easily be found in the course syllabus. There is no need to copy and paste the entire document; just the textbooks and a few lines about the topics taught will suffice. If locating your syllabus proves truly difficult, find a syllabus of the current equivalent course taught at your institution. We truly appreciate the legwork put forth to complete this resume, and we hope it will pay off upon matriculation into SIPA.

"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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