The following is a greeting to recently admitted applicants from the MIA Class President, Brian Greer.
First, congratulations on being admitted to SIPA. I am honored that I have the opportunity to share with you some of the experiences I have had at one of the premier international relations/policy schools in the world. Since January of 2011, I have served as president of the MIA class and co-president of the SIPA Student Association.
During your research on International Affairs graduate programs, you probably have read a lot about the great academicians in residence at SIPA and the array of resources available to students at Columbia University. On our Web site and on the admissions blog you probably have heard a lot about New York City and the innumerable opportunities available to SIPA students. But since all that information is easy to find, I would like to tell you about my personal experiences that led to my decision to attend SIPA.
Before I came to SIPA, I was undecided on which school to choose. But soon after admitted student’s day in April, my decision was made. A school with the word “International” in its name should be defined as such – through the diversity of the student body and faculty. SIPA possesses both characteristics. I was astonished at the wide range of international students who were currently enrolled and that had applied. This was very important in my choice of a graduate program as my classmates are the one of the best parts of my program. I wanted to draw on different cultures and experiences that molded individuals from all across the world.
After commencing with my studies, I could not have been more correct about the diversity of this program. My time at SIPA so far as allowed me to meet a vast array of people from different places and differing backgrounds. Specifically, students have worked in the banking sector, foreign governments, microcredit programs, development programs and conflict zones. The knowledge I have gained from my peers, in addition to an engaging classroom experience has created a perfect student experience. Furthermore, as a student at SIPA you have the opportunity to learn about new cultures in one of the greatest cities in world, as New York City continues to have countless things for you to do.
The admissions office makes a point of bringing students to SIPA that are different, but who complement each other and this is what makes the SIPA experience distinct from what might be offered in other programs. Additionally, I have found that the administration is always open to suggestions about how to improve the school. Although in many school settings it may seem like the decisions are made in the Office of the Dean and passed down to the students, at SIPA, the students are regularly asked for feedback about their classes, their career search, and their social life. As a representative of the school, the Deans are always open to listening to the concerns of the student body and do their best to tackle any potential issues. This constant interaction and communication only serves to improve life at SIPA for the student body.
It’s difficult to know what to expect before you start going to a school. For this reason, I encourage you to use the tools the admissions office provides you with to have your questions answered. One of these tools for admitted students is a message board that is made available after admission decisions go out. Another is the Admitted Student Day in April. Interacting with students on the message board and at Admitted Student Day will allow you to talk with people who were in your shoes a year or two before and they can tell you why they made the choice to attend SIPA.
I wish you all the best and hope to see you at SIPA next year!