Archive for decision – Page 2

Idioms and Admissions: Apples and Oranges

The earliest memory I can seem to muster of the idiom, “That is like comparing apples to oranges” is from high school. I can not remember if it was my personal finance teacher or my cross country coach, but it was one of the two (and comparing those two certainly is like comparing apples to oranges).

I remember being stumped by the idiom at first. I did not understand the context and asked around until some other examples finally brought the point home to me.

While Wikipedia delves into the validity of the usefulness of the idiom, to me the admission decision season provides a scenario where the idiom makes perfect sense.  Most applicants apply to several different schools and it is only natural not only to compare the characteristics of those schools, but the admission decisions of those schools.

When decisions go out each year applicants will often contact our office to discuss their SIPA admission decision. Statements and questions like the following are not uncommon:

  • I don’t understand why I was put on the waitlist at SIPA when I was admitted to all of the other schools I applied to. Can you explain why?
  • I received a fellowship offer from another school but not from SIPA. Why didn’t I get SIPA fellowship funding?
  • SIPA’s letter said that I should get more experience and apply again at a later time but other schools admitted me? Why?
  • My decision letter from SIPA said I could benefit from more quantitative preparation but I was admitted to other similar schools. Why is this the case?
  • My decision letter from SIPA said I could benefit from additional English language study but I was admitted to other U.S. programs. Why?
  • Why have I heard from other schools but not SIPA?

From an administrators point of view statements and questions like these are, well, like comparing apples to oranges.

If it were an apples to apples comparison, every single applicant would have had to apply to the same exact schools, have been read by the exact same committee, and the committees would need to share the exact same budget. Obviously this is not what happens.

Sure policy schools are similar in many ways. We have similar core classes, faculty that study, teach, and practice common subjects, and we seek to prepare students for similar careers. However, each school is quite different in many ways when it comes to shaping an incoming class.

Each school has its own unique Admissions Committee structure. Each school has its own unique applicant pool. Each school has a different fellowship endowment and can choose to use it in different ways. Each school has different donors who set different criteria for awards. Each school has its own time lines.

I am not going to pretend that by reading this entry all of your questions or concerns about admission decisions will be put at ease, but I hope it does provide insight into “the big picture.” Each policy school is different in its own way and will make decisions based on its history, goals, preferences and yes, limitations.

Thus, comparing a decision from one school to another is often like comparing apples to oranges.  I will attempt to address many of the questions posted in future entries, but for now I just wanted to provide a bit brief insight into the process from the prospective of someone on the other side of the process.



Inching Along

I know there are still many applicants anxious to receive an admission decision and the Admissions Committee is moving steadily along.  The first big “burst” of decisions that were sent (approximately 65% were sent out last Monday) represented hundreds of hours of review.  Even with over 7 weeks of meetings the Committee still needs additional time to complete the process.  As I have stated before, a lot of this has to do with the simple act of scheduling.  Getting Committee members together is a task in itself.

Since Monday of this week we have sent out another 10% of decisions so we have crept up to the 75% mark.  We are still deliberating on all three classes of admission offers:  admit, waitlist, and those we will be unable to offer admission to.

I’ll keep this entry short so I can get back to the file review process . . .

Decision Follow Up Notes

A few questions have come in since we started to release decisions yesterday and I wanted to take an entry to address some of the common inquiries.  Many of the questions have had to do with whether the decisions we sent out in the first batch were limited to a particular category of admission status.  The answer to this question is both yes and no.

The first batch of decisions we sent out included MIA and MPA applicants from all three categories that I commented on in recent posts:  waitlist candidates, admitted candidates, and candidates not admitted to the program.  It is true however that the Admissions Committee is still meeting to discuss scholarship offers and thus the first batch of decisions did not include any candidates offered a first-year scholarship award.

I should also note that no MPA-DP decisions have been posted yet.  The Committee that reviews MPA-DP candidates is still meeting but decisions should go out very soon.

Related to the topic of scholarships, some have asked how we will notify candidates that applied for the International Fellows Program (IFP) if they were selected.  If a candidate has been chosen as an International Fellow this information will be included in the admission letter.  To say it another way, if no information about the IFP program is present in the admission letter this means a candidate has not been chosen for the program.

Some questions asked were also about whether the decisions sent in the first batch were related to country of origin or citizenship.  The answer to that question is no.  The decisions we sent or will send in the future are not divided by country of origin or citizenship.

The question was also posed of whether decisions are released in alphabetical order.  The answer to that is most definitely no.

For those waiting, I know it is hard, but again our process is a bit complex and the availability of Committee members has a direct impact on how fast we can make final decisions.  We appreciate your patience as we work as quickly as we are able to make final decisions.  When decisions are made we will post them to the system and an email will be sent to the email address listed on the application.

Admission Decisions Update – Read Carefully

As the title of this entry indicates, I hope you will read this message carefully as I explain where we are in the application review process.  My goal is to answer questions you might have, assuage any fears, and give you the detailed information you need regarding the release of decisions.

First, as I have stated before on the blog, we do not publish all of our admission decisions on a single day.  We would love to be able to publish all decisions at the same time, however the structure of our Committee and the coordination involved causes us to spend more time on some applications than others.  How long it takes to review a file is largely dependent upon scheduling and coordination among the Committee members and it should not be a cause of concern if you have to wait longer than some other individuals to receive a decision.

I know this is easy for me to say since I am not the one waiting to receive a decision, however because of the coordination required, neither I nor my staff can tell you the exact date when you will receive your decision.  Our goal is to release decisions as soon as possible, but if you email or call with this question, our answer will be that we are working as quickly as we are able and you will be notified by email once a decision has been posted.

I am happy to share that the Committee has finalized decisions for approximately 65% of those in the applicant pool.

Decisions for this group will be posted between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM today (New York City Time) – March 7th.

As stated in a recent post, you will know that your decision is ready to view when you receive an email with the following subject heading: SIPA Admissions Decision Notification

The process of releasing decisions can now be described as “rolling” in the sense that as decisions are finalized and approved by the Committee, we will post them and send out email notifications each day.  There will be no standard time window like the one mentioned above, the emails will be sent based on when decisions are posted and ready.  As hard as it is to wait, we kindly ask for your patience as we work as quickly as we are able.

If your admission decision is favorable, I ask that you pay special attention to the Welcome Page that is referenced in the admission letter.  Admitted applicants are likely to have many, many questions and the purpose of the Welcome Page is to provide answers.

The Welcome Page contains information on a variety of topics including, but not limited to:  housing, Admitted Student Day, Orientation, visa processing for international students, and happy hours/events taking place for admitted candidates in various cities around the world.

Thank you for your attention and we look forward to rolling decisions out as they are finalized.

Admission Decisions Category #3: Not Admitted

The final category of admission decision is always the most difficult – those we are unable to admit. As you have gathered by now, admission to SIPA is competitive.  We field applications from around 100 countries each year and the pool is very “deep” with talent and potential.

We seek to admit candidates that clearly demonstrate the ability to handle our rigorous curriculum and who are able to articulate their professional goals and how a SIPA education will help to achieve the stated goals.  It is also true that most of those admitted to SIPA have accumulated full-time work and life experience since graduating from college.

The Admissions Committee is quite aware that there are number of variables associated with differences in culture and education systems.  In some countries for example, it is normal for a student to go directly from college into a graduate program and then on to full-time employment.   We also understand that some students spend considerable time completing internships during their course of study (or participate in extended leaves to work or intern) and that yes, this does constitute professional development.

However, one the greatest strengths of SIPA is the interaction that takes place between students in the program – interaction flavored by experience that can only be gained over time.  I could try to elaborate with details from my own background (I entered graduate school at age 28 after working for 5 years) but rather than do that, let me quote an alumna of SIPA that did come straight out of college into our program, Olutayo Akingbe.  Below is a question we asked her along with her response:

What was the most challenging part of your SIPA experience?

I would have to say that being very young (21 when I entered SIPA) while my colleagues were years older than me was a challenge for me. I didn’t have the work experience, or the life experience, that a lot of my classmates could bring to the table that enriched class discussion.

I turned the challenge into my advantage by using it as an opportunity to learn from the experience of my classmates but in hindsight, I wish I had a little more world experience before attending SIPA. I think I would have gotten more out of my education in the end.

On the topic of rejection, I will offer some personal thoughts.  It is never easy for me to sign off on a rejection letter, but I take some solace in the fact that I know I would not be where I am today without having experienced rejection of my own.

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 had hoped for; even though at the time I received it I was dismayed.

When I think about it a bit more, some of my greatest “failures” have turned into success stories.  I played soccer most of my young life but did not make the team in high school.  I was devastated but a friend recruited me to run cross country and I ended up getting a distance running scholarship in college.  Shortly before moving to New York I had applied for what I thought was the perfect job for me on the west coast.  The school took a pass on me and a short time later the door opened for me to move to New York which was the best thing that has happened for me professionally.

I share these stories to provide encouragement.  Life is full of twists and turns.  We often grapple to understand why things do not always 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.

We have yet to start sending decisions but stay tuned for updates.

"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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