Congrats on taking the first steps toward crafting a SIPA application! Crafting an application can be a daunting task. With many moving parts, getting settled can be challenging. However, the current Program Assistants (PAs) and I are here to share our tips with how to prepare a strong application.

Here are my top 3 tips for having a manageable application process.

  1. Stay Organized.

There are multiple parts of the application ranging from personal statements, to test scores, recommenders, and such. Having a physical or online space to house your application materials will centralize the process and make it more manageable. When I applied to SIPA, I made an Excel spreadsheet tracker denoting financial aid deadlines to watch out for, recommenders to contact, and other important details. I’d constantly update and refer to this sheet to stay on track. I also made a Google Drive folder housing all my application materials for organization. Staying organized will help you stay on top of your application, rather than it being on top of you.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

My fellow Program Assistant, Sevita Rama, had a great post about her experience applying to SIPA and noted how finding a study buddy was important. I think it’s equally important to reach out to friends and mentors you trust to ask them for feedback, guidance, and help. Asking for help can sometimes be difficult, especially when you’re sharing deeply personal writing. But know that there are many people who are invested in your success and want to help. Just be sure to ask sooner rather than later and give the person who’s helping you ample time to review your work or give them advance notice of a call you want to set up to get feedback.

  1. Research SIPA’s Program well

Make sure you’ve thoroughly read SIPA’s website and you understand what will be a good concentration and specialization for you. Articulating how SIPA’s program is a good fit for you and how you are a good fit for SIPA shows that you’ve researched our program well and understand why this is a good match. Don’t forget that academics are only one part of the SIPA experience. What about extracurriculars on and off campus? Opportunities within the university-at-large to leverage or make your education more interdisciplinary. Insights like these in your application dive deeper into you and why SIPA and Columbia are good fits for you.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Keep checking out our blog for more posts from our PA’s, links to virtual lectures from faculty, and other helpful tips along the admissions process. Stay well and healthy!