Archive for quantitative

Quantitative Coursework at SIPA: Yes, you will pass

I remember when I first looked at the core requirements for SIPA:
Microeconomics
Macroeconomics
Quantitative Analysis

I saw those three classes and I immediately thought “Am I cut out for this?”

For context, I attended a small liberal arts college where I majored in Government and History. During my four years of undergrad, I took one math course and one science course. My internships didn’t require much of a quantitative background, so I graduated with only a basic understanding of Excel and organizational databases. Yet, I still decided to apply. When I was admitted, my anxiety did not get better. Instead, it got worse. I kept worrying that I was going to have some sort of reverse “Eureka!” moment while sitting in Microeconomics, where I finally realized I was incapable of doing graduate level math.

Alas, that did not happen; I managed to get through Micro and Macro my first year and even received high grades in both classes!

For anyone who is worried about the Quant requirements, please do not stress. It is possible to succeed in these courses! And no, SIPA students are not all math whizzes or kids who act like they don’t get math but are secretly really good at it. I’d say a majority of newly admitted SIPA students come in with a similar background as myself.

So in terms of what you can expect, here’s a rough breakdown.

Micro/Macro:

Both entry level economics courses are mandatory for all SIPA MPA/MIA students. There are two ‘levels’ to the courses. The upper division classes are for students who are comfortable with calculus or are really willing to challenge themselves, by learning how to pick up the calculus concepts as they go. Students who either concentrate in International Finance and Economic Policy or want to take higher level economics/trade/finance courses all take the upper division micro/macro courses.

I took the lower level options for both Micro and Macro. Both classes have a fair share of math, but is is mostly arithmetic and geometry. Most of it is all conceptual and the class really is about understanding when to use the right formulas/approach to a question. Believe or not, the math becomes easier over time; the hard part, is again, knowing when to use what.

Whether you enroll in the lower or upper level courses, you will have your main two hour class, recitation, which is an extra class taught by teaching assistants, and a weekly group problem set.

Thankfully, students have access to teaching assistants who offer office hours pretty much every day of the week. These office hours last around two hours and they’re an excellent opportunity to go over concepts and to ask questions you may have on problem sets.

I was diligent about staying on top of my work, so I would go to class, recitation, and office hours every week. Add on top of that the time I spent on the homework and I probably ended up spending roughly ten or more hours a week on Micro/Macro.

However, when you are working with these ideas for hours every week, you really start to pick it up. If you put the time in, you will learn it; trust me!

Quantitative Analysis (Quant):

I am currently in Quant 1 now. Quant is essentially statistics. You have one weekly lecture, a ‘lab’ which is effectively a recitation, and a weekly problem set. The class mostly covers the formulas and theory behind Stats, while the labs tend to focus on interpreting and using STATA, a program for statistics that helps researchers organize and analyze data.

I have found Quant to be a bit harder than Micro/Macro. That being said, if you attend class, lab, office hours and work on the problem set, it’s almost impossible to walk away without feeling like you have some sort of grasp on the topic.

For the more ambitious students

In all likelihood, I won’t be taking anymore quantitative courses at SIPA after I knock out my requirements. However, I have known plenty of students that have gone on to complete the upper division courses, including some friends of mine who were equally as worried about Micro and Macro!

For students interested in learning more about Statistics, you can take Quant 2 and Quant 3, as well as other modeling and research methods courses.

For students interested in higher level economics courses, be mindful that some courses require that you take upper level Macro/Micro; this is typically because these classes use calculus and other advanced methods that are not covered in the lower level introductory courses.

However, there are plenty of upper level courses that do not have rerequisites that cover international trade, game theory, cost-benefit analysis, budgeting and financial markets.

The Point Is, Don’t Psych Yourself Out

If you are currently applying to SIPA or were recently admitted, you are capable of doing well in SIPA’s quantitative courses. These courses are a veritable rite of passage here and everyone experiences it together. By your second year, Micro/Macro will be a distant memory and you’ll joke with your peers about how stressed you all were. So to all future Seeples out there, good luck!

A Quantitative/Language Resume Breakdown

While the application requirement of a standard resume is explicit and plausible, the requirement on a quantitative/language resume seems confusing. What is it? Why do we need it? And how to prepare for a successful one? This blog will walk you through the preparation of a Quantitative/Language Resume, and provide you with some tips to help you create a strong one. Read More →

Mathematics? Language? A resume?

Even Albert Einstein said: “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”

Our perceptions of our skills tend to skew left, and when we think about our math ability, we reflect on our confidence, and not our actual skills.

The SIPA Admissions office understands that applicants will have varied quantitative backgrounds and skills. We have designed an application that best allows you to demonstrate your quantitative competencies through the quantitative/language resume. Here, you can highlight experiences that have strengthened your math, economics, and statistics skills.

The core curriculum at SIPA requires the completion of rigorous quantitative courses and we want to make sure applicants provide as much information as possible about their quantitative aptitude, experience, and capabilities. This can include coursework in mathematics, statistics, economics, engineering, natural or computer science, etc. as well as the use of quantitative methods in a professional environment (paid, volunteer, or intern work is acceptable).

Perhaps you have worked as an accountant, bookkeeper, or balanced budgets in your professional experiences. Perhaps you served as treasurer of a student organization or used quantitative skills in a volunteer opportunity. These are experiences that you can include in the additional resume.

Is there an ideal quantitative background SIPA is looking for in an applicant?

Recently, we’ve received many questions about what makes an ideal quantitative background for a hopeful candidate.  While SIPA does not have a rigid answer, the Admissions Committee looks for evidence of a candidate’s ability to undertake quantitative coursework at the graduate level. Most successful applicants have completed at least two courses in economics (macro and microeconomics). Applicants lacking a quantitative background are encouraged to consider enrolling in mathematics courses above all else.

While the Admissions Committee does not require that each applicant have experience in all three areas (economics, statistics, and mathematics) to be admitted, extensive coursework in these areas definitely strengthens one’s chances of gaining favorable admission consideration.

For more on quantitative questions, check out our Frequently Asked Questions pages.

 

My Application is Complete – Now What?

So your application is submitted and all materials have been received (i.e. complete), now you have some free time to start preparing for school in the fall. What should I do? Good question! We have compiled a list of things you can do while you wait for an admissions decision from SIPA and other policy schools. Please remember, these are only some suggestions that we think would be helpful while waiting for admission decisions…

Keep updated with current events:

Policy courses at SIPA will introduce both old and new policy events that will be analyzed and dissected. Take for example, the Columbia University expansion in New York City – it’s been discussed in multiple classes, most recently “Policy Implementation” with Professor Kristina Ford. Keeping yourself updated with current events at the local, federal and foreign events will help you understand concepts and contribute to class discussions.

Suggested sites:

Review quantitative courses:

SIPA students are expected to learn how to read and analyze policy papers heavy with quantitative information. In fact, three of the core classes for MIA and MPA are under the economics and statistics department. Having an understanding of the basics in economics and statistics will only help you succeed in the classroom. Lastly, brushing on some math will help during the ever-popular Math Camp.  Students can take courses at their local Community College over the Summer and or take free online classes, also known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). To get you started, here are some links we found by doing a simple Google search on the topic:

*Side note… if you are thinking about applying to SIPA in the future, courses taken to strengthen your quantitative background/skills on your application should be taken at an accredited (or international equivalent) university for a grade.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Looking for other ways to get prepared?  Nonprofits in your local community deal with everyday issues (homelessness, higher education access, foreign aid, etc), volunteering with them will give you a unique perspective of how nonprofits tackle some of some the most pressing problems. The experience will provide you with an understanding of different management styles that will be essential in the classroom. So, where can I find volunteer opportunities? Below are some sites we found to be useful:

  • idealist
  • Check your local city for volunteer opportunities, for example NYC

External Funding Search:

Although the application deadline has passed, funding season is still open. You should always be looking into funding opportunities beyond SIPA fellowships and loans. Our Financial Aid Department has compiled a list of external funding opportunities for incoming and continuing students. The advance search option allows you to search by category (i.e. human right, Urban policy) and by application deadline.

Buy a Coat!:

Thinking of making the brave move from warmer climates to the (U.S.) northeast? It’s the perfect time to buy a winter coat – many stores are gearing up for Spring and will be having last minute sales on winter coats.

Take these suggestions with a grain of salt – good luck with admission decisions!

Ready To Talk About Resumes?

The two-part resume section of SIPA’s application is your chance to show us all of your skills and what you have been doing academically and professionally. The resumes are a critical element of the application; it is where we will be able to determine if you meet the basic qualifications to become a member of the SIPA community.

The Basics

We require all of our applicants to submit two separate resumes. These are broken down into:

  • The Traditional Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)

This is what people generally think of when they hear the word “resume.” This document includes but is not limited to:

  • Positions held (employment and internships)- including specific dates
  • Academic degrees and other academic achievements
  • Volunteer, public service, political work completed
  • Memberships in honorary societies and awards for service or leadership
  • Extracurricular activities and particularly if an MIA applicant-foreign travel undertaken, including purpose and length of stay

Please note that in other countries, C.V’s are generally more personalized. They may include marital status, nationality, or even a picture. You should avoid including this information on your resume for SIPA.

How Should It Be Formatted?

We like white space! Please make it legible for us to read, and use a professional, legible font. 11 point font is a good place to start. Use bold text for headings. Make sure a full page is used up before heading to the next page.

Just remember…

No graphics or non-standard fonts, please! You’ll be safe if you stick with Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman.

And Now, The Quantitative Resume

This second résumé will focus exclusively on your background in quantitative methods and language learning/ability. Because SIPA’s core curriculum includes economics, statistics and financial management, it is important for the admissions committee to look at your previous experiences and successes in quantitative classes.

  • On this resume, please be as detailed as possible. We want to know more about these classes and what you learned in them. What was the content of the class? Tell us.
  • Proficiency in a second language is a graduation requirement of the MIA program but is not a requirement of the MPA program (unless an MPA student chooses to major in Economic and Political Development).  Proficiency is defined as the ability to use a second language at an intermediate level.  Academically this is defined as the ability to achieve a grade of “B” or better in an intermediate level 2 language course.
  • If you have been out of school for a while, do not feel compelled to spend hours and hours trying to search for old syllabus or text book titles/authors.  The point of the résumé is not to put you through some sort of time trial, it is meant to provide information on the core learning from the course/experience.  The example résumé was borrowed from an applicant that applied to SIPA while still in college, and is meant to only be a sample.  Simply provide as much information as you can and you will be fine.
  • One question you might have is, “If the course is listed on my transcripts or noted in another part of my application, is it necessary to include it in the Quantitative/Language  résumé?” The answer is yes.  It is okay to be redundant or to include the same information that might be listed in another part of the application in this section.  Seeing the information twice, but in more detailed format in the résumé portion, is what the Committee is seeking to achieve.

 

"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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