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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!

Inspiration to Action

There is an expression you might have heard, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”  Well for me, it was the reverse – March certainly went out like a lion for me.  I was spread in a couple of different directions and found it hard to keep up over the last few weeks.  I am not complaining though, far from it, I would not trade my experience for anything.

SIPA applicants are a truly exceptional group of people.  I must admit that sometimes I find myself in awe as I read resume’s and personal statements.  It is inspiring to see the commitment level our applicants display.  Each year when I review applications I find myself energized about the next generation of leaders who will formulate policies that will impact domestic and international relations.

The inspiration from reading applications, mixed with some old fashioned networking, led my wife and I on a recent trip to New Orleans to help rebuild the home of a Police Officer who lost her home in Hurricane Katrina.  A friend of a friend just happens to be the CNN Hero of the Year for 2008Liz McCartney went to New Orleans after Katrina to help out and what she saw inspired her to move there and start the St. Bernard Project.  The organization is dedicated to helping those in St. Bernard Parish who lost their homes rebuild.

One of the main reasons I felt inspired to post this entry is that the St. Bernard Project is expanding and has paid internship positions.  Many applicants will ask me what kind of work they can do to help improve their application to SIPA.  There is no one right answer, but if you are interested in public policy this certainly would be a great opportunity.  You can find more information about positions on the St. Bernard Web site.

Below in the center, holding the piece of dry wall signed by everyone, is the owner of the home.  We ended up working with a group of undergraduate students from Ohio State who spent their spring break volunteering.  Also involved were a father and daughter from Washington, D.C.

"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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