Archive for letter

Reminding or Deleting Recommendation Letter Writers

Our online application system makes it easy to send reminder messages to those you have asked to compose letters of recommendation for your application to SIPA.  You can also easily delete a recommender if it turns out they will not be able to submit a letter on your behalf.

All you have to do to perform these actions is to log into the application site with your PIN and password, click on the “Application for Admission” link on the top of the page and then click on the “Recommendations” link on the left menu.

When you click on the “Recommendations” link you will be taken to a new window. Then click on the “Recommendation Provider List” button and you will see the following:

Simply click on the “resend” button and an automated message will go out to the email address you have provided for each recommender yet to submit a letter. Please do note that it is a good idea to let recommenders know to look for an email message Apply Yourself.

If you wish to delete a recommender simply click their name and hit the “Delete” button. After doing this you will then be able to add a new recommender.

When Will I Know?

The most common question we are getting on the phone and via email these days is, “When will I find out about my admission decision?”  In a perfect world I could tell you all the exact date and time, and I could also guarantee that every decision would be published on the same day.  However, we live in the real world and not the perfect world.

The real admission world, just like the real policy world, can be a bit tricky.  With numerous people reading files and some subcommittees meeting to discuss certain applications in more detail, it is a balancing act.

When applications are first completed they are assigned to readers and begin the review journey.  When the readers have made their comments we then compare the comment sheets and break files into groups.  There are three broad groups.  Let me elaborate on the process by describing the following picture –

Pile #1 is representative of applications where there is unanimous agreement among Committee members.  I would say that about 60-65% of applications fall into this group.

Pile #2 represents those where the readers of the file did not entirely agree and they have asked for additional review by a Senior member of the Admissions Committee prior to making a final decision. Approximately 20-25% of applications fall into this category.

Pile #3 represents those who the readers believe should be considered for first year fellowship awards – approximately 15-20%. These files take longer to process because they have to go through additional rounds of meetings.

This is not an exact science and decisions may not go out in this exact order, but this is generally how the process works.  Rather than make the majority of applicants wait until the Committee has reviewed all of the files, we will start to send out decisions as soon as there is agreement.

Our goal is to start sending decisions in the first or second week of March.  When we enter a decision into the system you will receive an email message telling you to log in to the application site to view your decision letter. Thus you will find out your decision on the application Web site.

Admitted applicants will receive a paper copy of the same letter posted on the site a number of weeks later. Applicants who are not admitted will only see the letter on the application Web site; we do not send a paper copy of letters to those who are not admitted. We also do not send a paper copy of the letter to those who are placed on the waitlist.

I hope this provides a bit of insight into the process and please wait to receive an email letting you know when you can view your decision letter on the application site.  I will continue to post updates on this blog so stay tuned.

Waiting is the Hardest Part

I do not think that Tom Petty has a graduate degree, however the chorus to his song “The Waiting” is appropriate this time of year.  The chorus leads off with “The waiting is the hardest part.”  I know that waiting to hear of an admission decision can be hard.  We receive lots of phone calls and emails each day with people eager for more information.

Hundreds of files are still in process and we are working as quickly as we are able.  About half of our decisions have been sent which means we still have a way to go.  As referenced in an entry last week, when a decision has been rendered an email will be sent to the email account you listed when you applied on the online site.  We appeciate your inquires, however we cannot give exact information on when a decision will be rendered.

Hang in there if you have yet hear.

Who is Matt?

If you have been reading this blog you will notice that in every entry thus far the author is listed as “Matt.”  A kind person recently emailed a comment about the blog and indicated they did not know who Matt is.  I guess I never really introduced myself formally on the blog.

My name is Matt Clemons.  My Mom is really the only one who calls me Matthew but I respond to either name.  I am the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid.  I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and in addition to living in New York City have lived in Pusan, South Korea and Santa Clara, California.  What would I be doing if I was not typing this?  I would be riding my bike.  I am an avid cyclist and ride my bike to and from work every day.  I absolutely love my job and higher education in general.

Why should you heed the advice I put on the blog other than the fact that I work at SIPA?  Well, I have been working in higher education since George H.W. Bush was in office, but perhaps of more relevance to you is the fact that I obtained a professional graduate degree and borrowed money and received free money to do so.   So the advice I give is based not only on my work experience, but on my personal experience as a student.  Also of note is that I enrolled in my graduate program at age 28, very close to the average age of a new SIPA student.

I will not bore you with other details about me, but I will share a quick personal story that is always on my mind this time of year.  This is a tough time of year for me because not all admission decisions can be favorable.  It is tough to deny applicants that really have their heart set on something.  That is where my story comes in . . .

Many, many years ago when I was a senior in college (and the walk to classes was uphill both ways) I knew that I wanted to get out of the U.S. for a while after graduating.  I had my heart set on the Peace Corps and enthusiastically submitted my application.  A few months later I got a letter in the mail telling me a story many people hear this time of year: it was a very qualified and deep pool and I did not make the cut.  It was very hard news for me to hear at the time, but looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I still wanted to go overseas so I applied for English teaching jobs in several countries and ended up taking a job in Pusan, South Korea.  I not only had a wonderful time in Korea, I met my wife while teaching.  Looking back, I could not be more thankful that the Peace Corps letter was not the one I was looking for, even though at the time I received it I was dismayed.

I tell this story because it is not easy for me to sign off on deny letters and I always hope that people realize that life is full twists and turns.  We often grapple to understand why things often do not turn out the way we want them to, only later to realize that difficult news opened doors we were later happy to walk through.  Many of you will receive offers of admission and you will come to SIPA and do wonderful things.  I have no doubt that those who do not come to SIPA will also go on to do wonderful things to help make the world a better place.

So, I am the man behind the blog and that is a little bit about me and what is on my mind this time of year.  Back to reading . . . and no, decisions have not started to out yet – more on that next week so stay tuned.

When and How Will I Know?

The Admissions Committee recently started to review files and we are still in the midst of completing the document tracking process for many of the applications that have been submitted. When a file is completed has no bearing on the admission decision and some members of the Committee have yet to commence reading.

I am sure you are interested in knowing how and when admission decisions will be communicated. It is our goal to publish the majority of the decisions in early March. We post decisions to the application site and you simply have to log in to the site with your PIN and password to view your decision letter. An email notification will be sent to you to notify you that your decision is ready to view.

Candidates who are admitted will also receive a paper copy of the acceptance letter a few weeks after the decision is published on the site. Candidates who do not receive favorable admission consideration will only be notified via a letter published on the application site. Paper copies of deny letters are not mailed.

Please understand that not all decisions are posted at the same time. I would say that approximately 80% of the decisions are published on the same day. Approximately 20% of the files take longer to process and as decisions are made, email notifications will be sent out.

Admitted applicants will have the opportunity to take advantage of two unique opportunities to learn more about SIPA. First, we will host a Web based message board. Admitted candidates will have the opportunity to interact with current students concerning a variety of topics on the Web based message board. Second, SIPA will host an Open House on Tuesday, April 14th. The Open House will be on campus and will start at 9:00 A.M. and conclude at 7:00 P.M.

More information about both of these unique opportunities will be available via a specific Web page. Information on how to access this Web page will be included in admission letters. Admitted candidates will have until Monday, April 20th to pay a deposit to secure their place in the fall class.

"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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