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Unexpected Second-Round Funding from SIPA = DILEMMA


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SIPA's estimate of living expenses = $20,000; Fletcher's estimate = $17,000.  Morningside Heights is only slightly cheaper than the rest of Manhattan, and the parts of Harlem that abut MH know they've got a captive audience in CU students and price rentals accordingly.

 

Every person headed to SIPA on and off this board is confident they're going to get 2nd year funding.  And yet, each year more than 100 2nd year students don't get anything.  That's not an insignificant number of people, all of whom were distinguished enough to gain admission in the first place.

 

All of that said, I think your mind is already made up  :rolleyes: and that's not a bad thing...

 

Areas around Morningside are still markedly cheaper in my experience. Manhattanville and Manhattan Valley will be around $200/mo less on average for comparable apartments. East of Morningside Park seems even cheaper, although I've never lived there. You can even find deals downtown that are cheaper than Morningside Heights. 

Apparently a not-insignificant portion of students don't even apply for second-year fellowships even when they have above a 3.4 GPA. 

 

Anyway, I'm sure it'll come down to the visit.

 

Edited by soaps
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If I could like this 1000x I would.    It is awful to think how selfish you are being right now.  What you have done in paying two deposits and simply going "in circles" is certainly not illegal, bu

It's not the fact that "everyone is probably as over this decision" as you are that should make you feel embarrassed.     It's the fact that you're sitting on scholarship money at these institutions

Wow! Okay, first, let me just say that I agree that tying up funding is a pretty selfish thing to do, and that's why there are earlier deadlines for those who receive funding...after which the school

I say go to Fletcher...but only in the interest of having you as a classmate next year :) (barring some kind of revelation over the next few days I'm almost certainly going to be at Fletcher next year).

I can't really comment on SIPA, since I didn't apply and a lot of what I know is colored by what I've read on here (much of it negative, most of it no doubt unfairly so). But here's my two cents on your concerns about Fletcher: yes, Medford is...moribund (although I've heard positive things about Somerville), but keep in mind its a 5 minute drive to Boston, which is an awesome cosmopolitan city that punches way above its weight. You'll be in one of the great cultural, professional, and educational hubs in the US. Maybe it's not New York, but it's also not Medford! Additionally, there are close to 200 students at Fletcher. I find it very hard to believe all 200 of those people will suck; you may not love everyone, but you will definitely find people to be friends with. Keep in mind a lot of us weren't at the open house, and I happen to think I'm pretty awesome. And humble.

PS Would it be possible for your friend to get you that internship during the Summer?

Edited by rhodeislander
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I would go Fletcher. It has a more wellknown program than SIPA. Also the second-year SIPA fellowship is uncertain, and Fletcher is offering you more funding in the first year (I suppose it can be renewed in your second year). I went to SIPA ASD and was a little disappointed. They were basically selling out the SIPA and Columbia's brand. The info sessions for policy concentrations were pretty vague. I didn't find any useful information in their ASD. SIPA also seems more impersonal to me compared to SAIS, and it seems more so compared to Fletcher. 

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I say go to Fletcher too as another future classmate! Although your reasons are well thought out, I think Fletcher isnt given enough credit for its flexibility of curriculum and the fact that there's an actual capstone for the career minded folk out there instead of a thesis. I think a huge draw is their relationship with Harvard. Having spoken to admissions and current students, you're able to take as many classes as you want at Harvard (beyond the suggested 4 and providing the specified classes at Fletcher itself are taken) to fit your tailored course. So the many different classes at SIPA are almost matched by Fletcher.

 

Plus at a community level, Fletcher is far ahead. Although I can see the draw of NYC, there's always internships over the summer (a friend in the program now is interning with the UN this summer).

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Also with the MIB program, Fletcher gets plenty of students in the business world. I dont see it being that much more difficult to transition into the private sector following Fletcher as compared to SIPA.

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Decision time today...by midnight. I honestly haven't fully committed to either school yet.

 

SIPA definitely offers more classes in my area of interest, to the point of me not being able to decide and wanting to take 4 years worth of courses. However, they have a lot more requirements than Fletcher, and fitting in the classes I want to take around core classes is pretty difficult. I do like the hard skills I'll be forced to learn by taking some of these core classes, but I wish it was a bit more flexible. Additionally, because of said requirements, I think it might be nearly impossible to learn Portuguese while at SIPA. Doing so would require me to take a 5th class each semester, and that'll be killer. Lastly, the more I look into second-year funding, the more nervous I get about receiving it. It's based entirely off your first semester, and beyond getting a 3.4, I'm not sure how they determine the 70% of students that receive it. Getting a 3.4 also seems more difficult than one would assume, as I spoke to many students who were just shy of it. Even with 22K second year, SIPA is still around 20k more than Fletcher.

 

As for Fletcher, I'm really bummed there aren't more classes in governance, statebuilding, or political development. Although I can take classes at HKS, being a domestically oriented policy school, I'm not sure they'd be able to fill in this gap. Conversely, a plus at Fletcher is, because of the flexibility and lack of specific governance classes I would want to take, I can definitely fit in Portuguese.

 

If Fletcher offered the FLAS and had more courses in governance, I think the choice would be a lot easier. Overall, SIPA seems to align more to my educational interests, and their summer practicum and capstone projects sound incredible. Living in NYC would be great, but if I'm killing myself taking 5 classes and trying to work 20 hours a week to afford it, will I even have time to take advantage of living in the city?

 

Ugh...Anyway, I'm sure everyone is curious as to what I'll do...so I'll keep you all posted! Thanks for following me on this roller coaster. I think I've said this a few times before, but our little gradcafe group has definitely developed a genuine interest in one another's lives. It's been really exciting sharing this experience with all of you! I really look forward to having many of you as either classmates or future collegues!

Edited by DaniCM
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I have to say I'm surprised...I thought for sure that SIPA was a done deal for you based on your pre-visit posts, but your impressions now seem decidedly mixed.

 

At the end of the day (literally!) it's going to come down to your gut.  Just go with it and don't look back.

Edited by ADLNYC
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Good luck! Like others have said, at the end of the day you just have to make the decision that feels more right. They are both great options, both with their pros and cons, and you can't have both. You've done all the rational analysis, now it comes down to which school you are more excited about and which school are you kind of forcing yourself to attend. I think I know which one is which for you, but I'm interested to hear what you decide. The choice is also about how much risk you want in your life, so how risk averse you are is definitely one of the key issues here. And nobody except you can evaluate if the risk is worth the returns.

Edited by JFactor
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Decision time today...by midnight. I honestly haven't fully committed to either school yet.

 

SIPA definitely offers more classes in my area of interest, to the point of me not being able to decide and wanting to take 4 years worth of courses. However, they have a lot more requirements than Fletcher, and fitting in the classes I want to take around core classes is pretty difficult. I do like the hard skills I'll be forced to learn by taking some of these core classes, but I wish it was a bit more flexible. Additionally, because of said requirements, I think it might be nearly impossible to learn Portuguese while at SIPA. Doing so would require me to take a 5th class each semester, and that'll be killer. Lastly, the more I look into second-year funding, the more nervous I get about receiving it. It's based entirely off your first semester, and beyond getting a 3.4, I'm not sure how they determine the 70% of students that receive it. Getting a 3.4 also seems more difficult than one would assume, as I spoke to many students who were just shy of it. Even with 22K second year, SIPA is still around 20k more than Fletcher.

 

As for Fletcher, I'm really bummed there aren't more classes in governance, statebuilding, or political development. Although I can take classes at HKS, being a domestically oriented policy school, I'm not sure they'd be able to fill in this gap. Conversely, a plus at Fletcher is, because of the flexibility and lack of specific governance classes I would want to take, I can definitely fit in Portuguese.

 

If Fletcher offered the FLAS and had more courses in governance, I think the choice would be a lot easier. Overall, SIPA seems to align more to my educational interests, and their summer practicum and capstone projects sound incredible. Living in NYC would be great, but if I'm killing myself taking 5 classes and trying to work 20 hours a week to afford it, will I even have time to take advantage of living in the city?

 

Ugh...Anyway, I'm sure everyone is curious as to what I'll do...so I'll keep you all posted! Thanks for following me on this roller coaster. I think I've said this a few times before, but our little gradcafe group has definitely developed a genuine interest in one another's lives. It's been really exciting sharing this experience with all of you! I really look forward to having many of you as either classmates or future collegues!

 

I think taking 5 courses at SIPA is pretty standard after the first semester, even if you're working. But there's no doubt the time commitment and academics are rigorous and competitive. Living in NYC has the same unforgiving (but rewarding) characteristics, and that's true no matter what you're doing. You have to invest more to get more (interestingly enough, Thomas Friedman just wrote a piece about this in the Times, even though I normally can't stand him). Anyway, the biggest thing is just the "fear of missing out" that is greatly exaggerated there. You have to strike a balance if you want to be academically focused, and it just depends what type of lifestyle you want. There are weekends in the city where I just chill in the park, cafe, whatever... it doesn't have to be a fast/furious lifestyle on the LES every weekend, and that has diminishing returns anyway. The same is true of academics... there's a point at which you don't need to invest more time/energy into either. You can strike whatever balance you want in NYC, as nothing prevents you from having a pure academic focus at either school, and NYC at least provides the possibility of more.

 

I imagine you'll do fine at either school and both will be distant memories soon enough. A rational calculus doesn't reveal much after a certain point. You just have to choose.

Edited by soaps
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Decision day was Wednesday, at which point I wasn't really ready to make a decision, so I paid my deposit at SIPA knowing that over the next few days I might change my mind. I figured that money was a drop in the bucket compared to what I'll take on at either school and it will afford me more time to figure out what I want to do, thus giving me more peace of mind in my decision.

 

After 2 days of sleepless nights, lots of pros and cons lists, scouring course listings and trying to map at my two years at each school, and countless conversations with friends and friends of friends who attended either school, I've decided to attend Fletcher!

 

The reason for my seemingly drastic change of heart lies in a number of factors.

 

First, SIPA would very likely be 20K more than Fletcher, with an extremely small chance it'd be the same price and a pretty horrifying chance it would be 40K more.

 

Second, even should I get funding from SIPA for second year, that funding will be tied to a 20 hour/week work commitment. I certainly don't mind working, especially for that amount of money. It's more than fair. However, working 20 hours/week for Columbia will proclude me taking on an internship with an organiztion or agency of my interest, which was a big draw for me in regards to living in NYC over Boston.

 

Third, while I was initially disappointed to see so few classes on political development and governance in developing countries offered at Fletcher (still kind of am, actually), I as able to find a number of courses at HKS that fill this gap. With these classes, and Fletcher's more flexible curriculum, I can easily tailor a schedule similar to that of which I would have taken at SIPA, with the valuable addition of Portuguese.

 

I am a little bummed to not be able to say, "I go to Columbia," or, "I live in New York City," but I realize that's pretty frivolous. A few of the more concrete things I'll miss about SIPA is their amazing summer practicum and their capstone projects, along with some of the big names and events they draw. In exchange, at Fletcher, I'll be receiving an equally rigorous and prestigious education, for a lot less money (most likely, anyway), with easier access to my professors, a stronger sense of community, and a more academically focused environment, where I'm not constantly stressed about balancing work with school and networking. I'll also be able to learn Portuguese, making me a trilingual and giving me a much better shot at the Boren Fellowship following graduation.  

 

Anyway, I think I could have been happy and thrived at either school. Had the second year funding at SIPA not been so precarious, or had I not been able to figure out how to take the classes I want at Fletcher, or had I not already spent the past 5 years in DC, where I was able to gain great work experience and build a strong network (and am thus less worried about the need to do so while in grad school), my choice may be been different. But given all the above, I think Fletcher is the better option for me.

 

I look forward to meeting my fellow Fletcherinians...? haha. And good luck to those who chose SIPA. Again, I think even if we aren't classmates in the near future, given many of our similar professional interests, we will likely be collegues one day in the future - even if just in the wider world of international relations/affairs. We're all working toward a similar goal of making this world a better place through diplomacy, development, an security. I'm really excited to be a part of that community of professionals and I can't wait to start grad school instead of just talking about it all the time! haha.

Edited by DaniCM
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Thanks for your informative post Dani! I think you've not only helped people deciding now, but also folks that will be applying in the future (like me!) glad you're at peace with your decision!

 

Best of luck to you at Fletcher!

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  • 2 weeks later...

hahahaha...it appears I've been caught red-handed.

 

I think I did, in fact, change my mind. I was apprehensive to share as I'm a little embarraassed by my indecision and I'm pretty sure everyone is probably as over this decision as I am.

 

I'm still not 100%...I paid both non-refundable deposits...but I'm heavily leaning SIPA. After I mentally committed to Fletcher a few weeks ago, I found that following through with it (i.e. telling SIPA's admissions office I wouldn't be attending) was really difficult. I was kind of bummed about my decision to turn down SIPA, and realized that, even if I loved Fletcher, I would probably always regret not taking a chance with SIPA. Or, at the very least, I'd spend a lot of time wondering "what if...?"

 

But Soaps is right...I can talk myself in circles on this and change my mind more often than I'd like to admit. 

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It's not the fact that "everyone is probably as over this decision" as you are that should make you feel embarrassed.  

 

It's the fact that you're sitting on scholarship money at these institutions that could otherwise have really helped someone, or could have changed their decision.  Just like the "unexpected 2nd round funding from SIPA" changed your calculus.

 

And that's just selfish.  And shameful.  And sh+tty.

 

Either put on your big girl boots and pull the trigger or make a date with the Karma gods.  Your choice.

Edited by ADLNYC
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It's not the fact that "everyone is probably as over this decision" as you are that should make you feel embarrassed.  

 

It's the fact that you're sitting on scholarship money at these institutions that could otherwise have really helped someone, or could have changed their decision.  

 

And that's just selfish.  And shameful.  And sh+tty.

 

Either put on your big girl boots and pull the trigger or make a date with the Karma gods.  Your choice.

 

If I could like this 1000x I would. 

 

It is awful to think how selfish you are being right now.  What you have done in paying two deposits and simply going "in circles" is certainly not illegal, but it is unethical and defeats the good faith that all of these schools have put on you to weigh the pros/cons and make a decision in a timely manner.  You had plenty of time to make up your mind.  Just go to the "Waiting it out" section on this forum and read about the people who are still waiting to get into ONE school.  The longer you hold out means that one person on the Fletcher waitlist is going to miss out on his/her dream school and be forced to enroll elsewhere.  I understand that this is a major decision in your life, but it is rather disgusting to think that you might be one of my classmates at SIPA this fall because of what you are doing. 

 

Am I being too harsh on some random on an internet forum? Yeah, probably. Am I going to get a bunch of negatives?  Maybe.  Just grow up a little and think about the bigger picture.

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Grad school is a HUGE decision that isn't to be taken lightly. And the school you choose has a huge impact on your future for multiple reasons. Personally I think you need to take as much time as you need until you are absolutely certain that the school you choose is the one you can commit to wholeheartedly.Clearly Dani hadn't reached that stage if she changed her mind. It was the reason she paid both deposits. Though I agree that now that she has realized she can't give up SIPA she should notify Fletcher as soon as possible. But seriously what is up with all the attacks that go on in these forums? Is the anonymity going to peoples heads? Or is your life so sad that you like to stir up drama? 

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