As part of our new series on application tips from Harris students, Lina Wu, MPP class of 2023, and Izzie Hirschy, MPP class of 2022, share tips for successfully preparing your application.  

Lina Wu: Applying for graduate school is tough but manageable. For me, time management is imperative to a successful application. I cannot stress how important it is to finish your application ahead of time. 

Also remember to ask your recommenders well in advance! Asking in advance limits the stress of putting an application together, because you can work on other pieces of the application while you await the notification that their recommendation has been added. 

Izzie Hirschy:. Lina is totally right – time management is key. But did you know you can also manage your recommenders? When I asked for my reference letters, I also told the writers what perspective I hoped they would bring to my application. For example, my professor who led my study abroad program is one of few professors who knew me both inside and outside of the classroom. He brought such great insight to my application! 

Lina: Also, for the essay, try to use a narrative format! It’s important to do more than simply regurgitate your resume in your essay. Remember to be straightforward and say why you want to attend Harris, and make your essay as Harris-specific as possible.  

Izzie: The essays for Harris are super short, only about 200-300 words, where you might get up to 1200 for other programs. You need to make your point as efficiently as possible (which, incidentally, is a great asset for policy writing as well)! To that end, avoid what Writing Program Director  David Chrisinger calls “throat clearing language.” Basically, if you’re spending three sentences introducing your point, you’re wasting valuable essay real estate that could be used to support your point instead!  

Finally, don’t forget to edit every part of your application. Have others read it and give you feedback, or even better, ask them to summarize it for you. That’s how you’ll know if you’ve gotten your point across.  

Lina: If you need any more advice, don’t be afraid to reach out to a current student! It was hugely helpful to both of us to learn about the Harris application experience from someone in the MPP program. They can help you imagine yourself at Harris, making it that much easier to apply by the Early Action deadline on October 5.