While graduate school applications can be a stressful process, we are here to help. Having been through the application process recently, here are my top tips for a smooth application process and my favorite SIPA blog posts on applications!
- Take some time to reflect – Think carefully about your personal and professional journey and consider your goals and aspirations. Is a graduate degree the best way to get you there? This is not only an important step in deciding whether graduate school is right for you, but your reflections can be written down and incorporated into your personal statement. This blog post on personal essays from former SIPA PA Dylan Hoey helped me find my ‘cornerstone’ when I applied a few years back.
- Plan ahead and start early – From transcripts to letters of recommendations to exam scores and beyond, the application requires various moving parts. Starting early gives you time to follow up. Especially because things tend to take longer than anticipated. For example, when writing my personal statement, I drafted it multiple times, let it sit for a week, then came back to it with fresh eyes. For help creating your application timeline, be sure to check out this post from Nabila Hassan and this post from Stuart Caudill, both SIPA graduates and former Admissions Program Assistants. When I was applying, I found their advice to be very helpful!
- Stay organized – Because there are a lot of pieces to keep track of, staying organized helps a lot. Read the How to Apply page carefully and make note of deadlines and application requirements. I recommend creating a folder on your computer for graduate school applications and using it to track your applications. Also, I found it helpful to create an application checklist on Excel with deadlines, components of applications, and notes.
- Do your research – Take time to read through our website, learn about our programs, student life, and faculty. There is plenty of helpful information on our website and in our blog. Definitely start by looking there, and be sure to reach out if you have any questions. SIPA also offers online information sessions which can be an interactive way to learn more about programs offered at SIPA. Researching schools is beneficial for several reasons: First, this will help you decide if you want to invest time and resources to apply in the first place. Second, it will also help you while writing your personal statement. Knowledge about the school and its unique features can be incorporated into your essay, especially when writing about how a degree at SIPA fits into your career journey.
- Proofread Your Essay – Make sure to read and reread your personal statement, ask a friend or family member to proofread it, then reread it again! You don’t want to submit your application, and later realize that you wrote the wrong school name in your personal statement!
- Follow the Prompt – While on the topic of the essay, it is very important to read the prompt carefully and respond to the question that is being asked. Each school’s essay is slightly different, so keep this in mind when putting together your personal statement.
- Meet Deadlines – Make note of deadlines, listed on the “Deadlines” tab of our How to Apply page. Note that if you are applying for a fall start, there is a separate deadline for SIPA fellowship consideration. If you want to be considered for scholarships, make sure to apply by that date!
That’s all I have for you! My next post will cover favorite SIPA blog posts for the most helpful blog articles that helped me with my application.