Archive for communication

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.

aye carumba!

Application materials continue to come in… flooding our mailboxes.  We receive a lot of paper for an application that allows applicants to upload everything electronically.  These documents will all be processed and uploaded into the applicants’ files.

We continue to respond to emails and voice mails — proudly I can say we are finally all caught up, which means that there are no email/voice mails sitting in our main SIPA Admissions mailbox for more than 24 hours — a huge feat during this BUSY season with messages hitting us day and night.  We are lucky to have super students and admissions counselors responding to them as quickly as they can — because we all know how frustrating it can be to wait for a response when you are trying to decide what to upload into your application.  Hopefully we can stay at this pace for the next few months.

To help us comb through the paper and emails faster, please do not send any additional supplemental materials that we do not require from you.  And again, official documents do not need to be submitted for your application to be reviewed.  You may submit copies.  Official documents are only required if you have been admitted into our program.  Also, it will be helpful if you send us an email attachment with materials, to include your name and the program you are applying in the subject line.  Many thanks.

Reading process has started and is going well with our new application system — Readers seem to be happier; it’s always better to have a happy reader.  Looking forward to getting through some of my reads this week (happily).


The Morningside Post- SIPA’s Student Newspaper

Every institution of higher learning needs a free press, and Columbia University is fortunate enough to have a number of student publications informing and engaging the student community. The Morningside Post, SIPA’s student-run newspaper, is one such news outlet.

Established in 2004, The Morningside Post focuses on covering the SIPA community and Morningside Heights, but also delves into national and international issues of interest to its readers. Last school year, TMP covered TEDxSIPA, the school’s choice of hiring Dean Merit Janow, and Follies, SIPA’s annual comedy show (p.s. you MUST watch this video from last year’s show), as well as the day-to-day happenings inside the International Affairs Building.

TMP’s editors are always looking for new writers, and encourage all members of the SIPA community to get involved in the publication. There are regular writers, op-ed contributors, cartoonists, and photographers that help make the paper run smoothly. Students are always welcome to pitch stories.  A number of TMP writers are involved in the IMAC (international media, advocacy and communication) specialization, and there is also a class students can take that allows you to write for the paper for credit.

The paper has certainly been successful in reaching readers outside of SIPA; some of its articles have been picked up by  The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, International Policy Digest, Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and Global Voices Online. All prospective students should take a look at TMP’s website and get an inside look of what’s happening at SIPA!

Ch ch ch ch ch changes….

As regular readers of this blog already know, we implemented a new application system starting with the fall and summer 2014 cycle. The new online application system (known to us as, Slate) is much more intuitive, sustainable (no hard copies!)  and user friendly (for everyone) but as with any new system, there is a learning curve as the “kinks” are ironed out. We are aware of most of the problems that have come to our attention at this point and we are working to fix these, if they haven’t been addressed already.

You may be thinking that if we have a new system, that means we are transitioning out of the old application system (known to us as, ApplyYourself).  This system will not be accessible after the New Year (January 1, 2014), nor will information stored in it.

We have received quite a few emails and phone calls the past few days from applicants that mistakenly created or continued to work on an application in the old system. In an effort to avoid any panic when clicking “submit” on your application, we strongly advise you to double check that you are completing the correct application in the new (right) system (URL:

If you are re-applying, please note that we will only be able to access materials received within ONE year (i.e. applied to fall 2013) from this fall and/or summer 2014 cycle only.  In other words, you should send a request to carry over previously submitted materials that you wish to reuse for this year’s fall application. Requests should be emailed to: with specific details (your full name, previously used email addresses, the program and term that you previously applied to) and clear information on what materials you wish to carry over (name of referee for recommendation letter for example) so we can locate and match these materials to your new application.

Don’t forget to use descriptive subject lines on email messages to expedite your request!

So as we prepare to go on a mini-holiday break, we leave you with some music motivation, David Bowie, Changes.  Deadlines got you down? Get out from Under Pressure, Queen.

Our advice? Take a minute and dance it out!

SIPA Holiday Hours and Stuff

Finding someone to talk to at SIPA during the winter break may seem like a scavenger hunt.  The halls are a bit quieter but the news broadcast from the television can still be heard echoing through the lobby.  Students and faculty depart after finals to take advantage of the time to visit family and friends or to work on their Capstone project [or books] on another “island” (that is not Manhattan).

However, with application deadlines around the corner, I am sure you are busily working on putting together the strongest application.  During this period if you find yourself wrestling with questions, don’t pull out your hair.  You can still find support in the Admissions Office.   Call (212-854-6216) or write or visit.  We will be here to answer your questions.  Unfortunately, the school kicks us out of the building for a few days so be mindful of our holiday schedule.

SIPA Admissions and Financial Aid Holiday Schedule:

  •   Monday, December 23:  Closing @ 2pm
  •   Tuesday, December 24  & Wednesday, December 25:  CLOSED
  •   Thursday, December 26 & Friday, December 27:  Open 9am – 5pm
  •   Monday, December 30:  Closing @ 2pm
  •   Tuesday, December 31 & Wednesday, January 1:  CLOSED
  •   Regular office schedule resumes Thursday, January 2

If you emailed us recently and have not heard back from our office, please know we are trying our best to respond to all of the email messages we have received “in a timely manner” but there’s A LOT; and more coming in each day as we get closer to the January 6 application deadline [with merit fellowship consideration].

Since we are kind of on the topic of fellowship and deadlines, there is still some confusion to where an applicant can find the “other” scholarship applications (i.e. Lemann, IFP, Harriman, Jayanti, etc.).  After you have submitted your admission application, the scholarship applications will appear.  A separate scholarship application/essay is required for each scholarship opportunity.  The SIPA scholarship applications must be submitted by January 27 so the earlier you submit your admission application, the more time you will have to work on the scholarship applications.  These [SIPA scholarships] are additional opportunities outside of the MERIT fellowship process. All applicants who submit a completed admission application by January 6 are automatically considered for a merit fellowship and no additional application/essay is required.  Our final admission application deadline is February 5 so if SIPA funding is not a concern for you, then you have an additional 4 weeks to pull together your application — so enjoy the holiday festivities.


"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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