While tips on applying to grad school from the Admissions team can be helpful to prospective students as they work through their application, we know many prospective students are also eager to hear more from current students, especially ahead of our Round 2 deadline on January 20. We interviewed two first year MPP students Nina Levine and Noah Fischer, to share their application experience, challenges, and advice

Read the first part of their interview.

What would you have done differently in your application process?

Noah Fischer: I knew if I spent too much time on revision, I would never submit it, but I wish that I had spent maybe an extra day or two revising my motivation statement to a point that I was really happy with it.

Nina Levine: I would have started earlier.

What was the most challenging part of the application process for you and how did you tackle it?

Nina Levine: For me, it was the recommenders. Filling out the application was relatively easy, but then I had to figure out who I wanted to ask for recommendations and await their responses with anxiety. But it all worked out in the end.

Noah Fischer: It was the first short answer question right after the motivation statement. I think the prompt was something like, “Tell us about a time that was difficult and what did you learn?” I wrote my draft then promptly threw it in the garbage because I was unhappy with what I'd written.

So I guess another piece of advice is that it's okay to open the application, look at it and determine you have no idea what to write, and give yourself a couple of days to ruminate over it in the back of your mind. And then sometimes an idea will come to you pretty naturally. That's what ended up happening with me, and my second draft was much more successful than my first.

What part of the application was more challenging than you initially expected?

Noah Fischer: Filling out the financial information. I knew that I would take out a loan for grad school, but also I think I should have spent more time on the logistics, because I would have been more mentally prepared for that process as I went into the summer. I would definitely say you need to consider all your financials when you fill that section out because it’s not just numbers in an application—it actually is something you have to work through later.

Nina Levine: One of the things that wasn't as easy as expected was the short essays. They’re easy to write because they're so short, but they're also easy to rewrite continuously. Also deciding what direction you want to take the essays and how personally vulnerable you want to be was harder than I expected.

Any parting thoughts?

Nina Levine: When I did make changes to my application, I had a really good experience with Harris staff who helped organize that for me, and it went smoother than I could have hoped for.

Noah Fischer: My parting thought is to remember it’s ok if the application doesn't go exactly the way you envisioned it going. Harris was my top choice, and I often had to reassure myself: If I don't get in, I won't let it be the end of my career or educational journey. Once I adopted that mindset, the application went a lot easier.