Admissions Blog

Reena's Advice to Structuring Your Application

By Reena Mensingh '24
Posted Dec 01 2023

Note from admissions:

Happy December 1st! Reminder: the 2024 funding deadline for MIA/MPA/MPA-DP/MPA-EPM/MPA-GL is December 20th

In order to receive funding consideration, you must both apply before the December 20th deadline (and ensure all of your materials, including recommendations, are submitted as well), and mark that you would like to be reviewed for funding in your application. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]! Now back to the blog:

If you’re considering pursuing graduate school and you find yourself unsure about structuring your application then this post is made for you!

In the following blog post, I will share valuable insights to assist you in crafting impactful essays, shedding light on how to determine whether graduate school, particularly programs at SIPA, aligns with your personal goals.

Ideally, this summary can connect you with the SIPA community, remind you of your initial choice to be a student, and keep you focused on your evolving end goal. Understanding your place in the SIPA community benefits your application and mitigates any potential imposter syndrome.

Reflecting on the Past

To kickstart your application, I recommend developing a broad chronology to better understand some key points about your personal story, the kind of impact you want to have, and how SIPA features into your personal narrative.

Begin by identifying 3-5 pivotal moments that steered you towards the decision to pursue graduate education. Next narrow your focus to the experiences associated with those moments. For example, consider instances such as taking a specific course and delving into research for an assignment, or pivotal moments during a work experience or internship. Including a broader context for these experiences is crucial to provide an application committee with a comprehensive understanding of how your narrative applies to your application, and can help you discern what to include in your application.

Envisioning the Future

Once you are able to identify key aspects from your past experiences that led you to apply to SIPA, shift your focus to cultivating a clearer vision of the impact or work experience you anticipate post-graduation.

Whether you know exactly which corporation, institution, or organization you want to work for, or you have a general sense of the discipline you wish to pursue, or the kind of impact you envision yourself having. All of this is valid, and it’s important to understand which is true for you before starting your application.

Given the high commitment associated with graduate school, not only should you identify your plans after graduation, but also assess alternative pathways to achieving the same impact. Consider whether specific work experiences might be more effective for you to achieve your goals.

Connect the points that led to your decision to apply to SIPA with the kind of work and impact you envision for yourself after you graduate from SIPA. This integration is pivotal for crafting a cohesive narrative in your essays.

Choosing SIPA

Finally, leverage the information you’ve uncovered through this blog to understand why and whether SIPA, and graduate school in general, is necessary for you to achieve the impact you envision for yourself.

Considering the significant investment of graduate school, think about the kind of student you aim to be while here. Reflect on how you'll contribute to class discussions, participate in group projects, and adapt your opinions as you acquire more information. Assess your willingness to embrace humility during the learning process.

If you believe SIPA is the optimal fit for you, it's likely that you'll value the experiences derived from your time here as much as you prioritize opportunities to contribute. Use this structure as a blueprint for your essays, and consider how you can connect past experiences, SIPA, and your future seamlessly in your essays.

With this kind of structure as your blueprint for your essays, you are better able to connect the dots between your past experiences, SIPA, and your future. The idea is that this approach not only equips you to understand why SIPA is the best fit for you, but also serves as a guiding beacon during unexpected challenges in graduate school.

Good luck with your application and reach out if we can help answer any questions!