Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Student Life: Life of a Dual-Degree Student

After getting my undergraduate degree in International Studies and Sociology from Johns Hopkins University, I battled with two professional passions: law and international affairs. I had a strong desire to go to law school to use my legal knowledge to support marginalized communities. But also, given my Nigerian background, I wanted to study international affairs to be equipped to work in emerging markets. For so long, my question was, “which program?” However, after attending an information session about Johns Hopkins SAIS and understanding the feasibility of doing both programs, my question became, “why not both programs?”

During my gap year, I started to do research into what programs Johns Hopkins SAIS had to offer. I discovered that Johns Hopkins SAIS had joint law, business, public health, and public policy programs with top universities. Also, if students wanted to attend other schools outside of the SAIS-affiliated ones, they could customize their own dual-degree program through an ad-hoc route. This sounded perfect! I decided I would pursue law school first and then apply to SAIS. So, I attended University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and applied and got accepted to SAIS during my first year of law school. After completing two years of law school, I packed my bags and moved to D.C.

Because I created an ad-hoc Berkeley Law-SAIS dual program, I only had to spend two and a half years at Berkeley (instead of three years) and a year and a half at SAIS (instead of two), totaling four years. Given this accelerated schedule, I was committed to making every moment of my SAIS experience worthwhile. I was eager to engage more with topics related to politics, the economy, and development on a daily basis. Additionally, I was excited to concentrate in African Studies and learn more in-depth about how Africa’s political economy coincided with its legal landscape. Lastly, I was enthusiastic to hear from well-known academic experts and political pundits who frequent SAIS and the D.C. area.

During my three semesters at Johns Hopkins SAIS, I have enjoyed watching the news in the lobby of Nitze building, taking classes by academic experts, engaging in weekly presentations organized by the African Department, and attending events with Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Susan Page. In addition, during my first semesters at SAIS, I had the flexibility to work part-time at Oath (formerly Yahoo) as their Business and Human Rights Fellow for 2017-2018.

Moreover, what I found most enjoyable about my SAIS experience was gaining proficiency in a foreign language. Given my regional concentration in Africa, I had the option to choose between learning French, Portuguese, or Arabic. I devoted my time to French due to my interest in working in West Africa in the future. In my effort to become proficient in French, I took opportunities to spend two weeks in Côte d’Ivoire during the summer and to intern at a law firm in Paris during Hopkins’ six-week long winter break.

            But, wait. Let's be real, pursuing a professional degree can be taxing. It's undergrad all over again, but more challenging and interesting. Pursuing two degrees can be logistically and intellectually crazy: two different writing styles, finding housing over and over again, maintaining two different email addresses, on top of your various personal ones (if you attend different institutions), and only being able to take advantage of a certain number of classes and opportunities. But after a year and a half of attending Johns Hopkins SAIS, I have come to appreciate the great flexibility, unparalleled experiences, comparably low cost, and far-reaching networks that my dual-degree program has offered me.

            In the end, I can now say that I understand how deeply interrelated law and development are. Further, I understand both the limits and power of the law, specifically how a country’s economy is confined or revitalized by the set of laws the country enforces. Moreover, after three and a half years of my dual-degree journey so far, I see that my international affairs and economics background compliments my legal background well and has prepared me for a career in international corporate law. Thank you, Johns Hopkins SAIS, for an amazing three semesters! Back to Berkeley, I go!

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Maria Adebayo (MA/JD, African Studies)
Maria Adebayo is a first-generation Nigerian-American born in Washington, D.C. She is a dual MA/JD student, concentrating in African Studies at SAIS and pursing her law degree at University of California, Berkeley. Maria has a desire to bring stability and development to Africa through her legal career and international studies backgroundAlso, she is a member of SAIS Christian Fellowship. Outside of school, Maria is a fashion blogger (@vidabymaria). 

Friday, February 1, 2019

February 2019 Events

14th Annual Alvin H. Bernstein Lecture with Dr. Kori Schake

Virtual Information Sessions:

Friday, January 25, 2019

Student Life: The Johns Hopkins Survival Guide

After finishing my first semester at Johns Hopkins SAIS, I walked into the Office of Admissions ready to start my shift as a Student Ambassador. As a Student Ambassador, my job requires me to speak with prospective students and address their questions and concerns. When speaking to applicants, many expressed concerns regarding curriculum, adjustment to graduate life, what factors led me to select Johns Hopkins, and other related inquiries. Above all, many were relieved to speak to someone who had recently been in their shoes.

I love speaking with potential students, answering their questions that I pondered less than a year ago. It is something I attribute to paying it forward for the next entering class. But, doing so on this day prompted my curiosity. With the backdrop of speaking with prospective students and my own semester reflection, I thought: what did I wish I had known before coming to SAIS? What would have helped me to know before beginning classes here?

And this, the SAIS Survival Guide was born. In my reflections and speaking with some of my close friends, I arrived at five important aspects to consider before beginning SAIS. While this list is certainly not finite, it does provide an important look into the first semester of SAIS and some important things to consider throughout the Master of Arts (MA) program.

1. Imposter Syndrome Never Goes Away

Imposter Syndrome is a very real phenomenon that never goes away. Johns Hopkins SAIS attracts some of the most brilliant students from around the world; that’s simply the nature of the institution. I still bask in awe at some of the amazing accomplishments of my colleagues, but this can very easily spike one’s imposter syndrome. It is unfortunately in our nature to compare ourselves to those around us; something that social media only exacerbates. You may find yourself wondering, “if they accepted this person, why in the world did they decide to accept me?” And you are not alone. It happens to all of us and will likely continue for the remainder of your time at SAIS, perhaps henceforth throughout life.

That’s because you’re looking at it the wrong way.

Consider it from this perspective: we’ve already mentioned that SAIS brings together some of the greatest minds of our generation from incredibly different backgrounds. And contemplate, for a moment, what you can learn from being in an environment like this and, furthermore, what your unique vantage point will add to the conversation. SAIS is like a puzzle of many, but every piece is necessary. Your experiences are unique from your colleagues and your puzzle pieces are just as important as theirs.
Johns Hopkins SAIS saw something brilliant in you. They recognized your potential. Never allow yourself to forget that.

2. There will be times where you think you can’t do it – but you can.

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.” The same is true for graduate school. It is intentionally difficult to challenge you, refine you into becoming a master of what you are studying; literally and metaphorically. 
All things considered, it will be hard. Your first semester will most likely be the most difficult, as you adjust to a new schedule, new expectations, new housing situation, a new city, and new friends. Your reading list will be never-ending, as is the amount of assignments, papers, and social events. You will feel exhausted. You will be frustrated. You will doubt yourself. You will question whether it is even worth your stress. You will wonder why you are doing this, but the end result is worth it and you can do it.
It never gets easier, you just get better.

3. Do ALL the things! But, stay true to yourself and your goals.

I say this jokingly, but I genuinely mean it. Get involved in every. single. thing you can. Join clubs at SAIS, attend guest lectures held on campus, go to talks at nearby institutions like Brookings or the CSIS, go on career treks with your classmates, the list of opportunities is incredibly expansive. But, be honest with yourself and your goals through it all. If you try and go to everything, you might become more lost and more burnt-out than before. Stay true to yourself through it all and follow whatever you feel passionate about.
Sure, you will not be able to attend everything because there are only 24 hours in a day. But, making time for the events you really care about is drastically important. This expands your knowledge, allows you to network in the field, and gives you a much-needed break from studying.

4. Your corner is critically important – take advantage of it!

In every boxing match, each boxer is given a “corner” where their trainers will provide help and encouragement. Grad school is similar in that those who surround you will assist by encouraging you when it is needed most.

Let’s revisit the earlier statement about the wonderful students at SAIS causing your imposter syndrome. Networking with your colleagues is just as crucial as networking outside your courses. By nature, I am very social and a great networker. However, I know that not everyone is like that. In fact, I was surprised at SAIS to find how many of my colleagues were not actively networking within SAIS. In fact, a few I met had not met many of their fellow classmates.
But, your fellow SAIS-ers are invaluable members of your corner. They will give you advice, help edit your papers, supply notes when you miss class, and pick you up when you are feeling down. Most importantly, your classmates, more than anyone else, understand what you are going through and can relate to your anxiety and frustrations. Their stress level is just as high as yours, but they will not hesitate to give you a pep talk when its needed.
I have, on numerous occasions, been astounded by how supportive my fellow SAIS students are. Never be afraid to turn to them whenever you need it because they will always have your back.

5. Expanding your knowledge is more important than grades.

This one is a difficult realization for me. I am a perfectionist and, by nature, do not like getting anything less than an A. Many first-year students at SAIS are unsurprisingly the same way.
However, venturing outside your comfort zone is the best way to expand your knowledge and grow exponentially. Taking a course like this may result in a B, but I contend the B is worth it without a doubt. Why? Gaining the most out of your SAIS experience is drastically more important than the grades you earn while here.
It is still challenging for me to accept, even though I know it is true. Push your limits and it can teach you what you are made of.
“Smooth sailing never made for a good sailor.”

As I mentioned, this is in no way a complete list. However, these are some of the most important aspects to keep in mind as you attend SAIS.

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Chase Kelly
(MA, International Relations)
Chase Kelly is a first-year Master of Arts Candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Orginally from Tifton, GA, Chase aims to pursue a career in either diplomacy journalism after SAIS. In his spare time, Chase is an avid writer and reader, live music lover, and car enthusiast.

Friday, January 18, 2019

SAIS Europe: The interview

The rush to get your application in is over. You clicked the Submit button and you provided the documents we’ve asked of you. What’s next?

If anything is missing from your dossier you’ll get an email from our Admissions Office and, if you’re an applicant to SAIS Europe, you’ll have received an email asking you how you’d like to interview. Most applicants to SAIS Europe get to interview with a member of the Admissions Committee. We conduct interviews in person and over the phone or Skype. Whether in person, or over the phone or Skype, interviews have the same objectives and are carried in the same way.

The interview serves a number of purposes. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to speak to most of our candidates for admission – it is hard work and it requires a significant time investment— but we enjoy the opportunity to get to know our potential future students in greater detail.

For you, it’ll be a great way to put your best foot forward, to expand on your written dossier, and, not least of all, to ask any questions directly to a member of the Admissions Committee.

As with any interview, you want to prepare and make sure you give your best. But what exactly should you expect of the interview?

The goal of the interview is not to test what you know, but to see how you think. There will be questions aimed at understanding how you inform yourself about current national and/or international affairs, but you’re not expected to know everything. This said, you will need to know something and you’ll want to make sure you keep up to date with the most important latest news. Your interviewer will be interested in learning more about your intellectual interests and career goals.

The interview will be an opportunity for the interviewer (and for you) to assess whether or not the program you’ve applied for at Johns Hopkins SAIS is a good fit for you. A graduate education at Johns Hopkins SAIS requires a great level of investment and we want to make sure this is the right program for you and that it will be your best investment.

The conversation will last around 20-30 minutes and we are sure you will enjoy it. It will help you get more insights into our institution and programs and it will help us get to know you better.

If you have any questions, feel free to send us an email at sais.eu.admissions@jhu.edu

SAIS Europe Admissions

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Monday, December 10, 2018

Student Recap: International Dinner 2018

On November 10th the Student Government organized an evening filled with international food and performances. Students prepared traditional dishes from all over the world, and tables with food from Canada to Korea filled the Nitze Café. 

The Kenney Auditorium was converted into a large dining hall, with a stage set up for performances planned for the evening.  

The event proved to be an opportunity for students to showcase different cultural dishes as well as performances. Traditional dances and songs were showcased, each garnering excitement from the 200+ students attending. We all crowded around the stage with plates filled with chickpea curry and tacos in one hand and bubble tea in the other while we cheered on our peers. 

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Veerle Verhey (MA '19, European and Eurasian Studies)
Veerle is a second-year student in the Master of Arts (MA) program at Johns Hopkins SAIS. She spent her first year at the Bologna campus at SAIS Europe, where she focused her studies primarily on EU discourse and Brexit dynamics and negotiations. After graduating she hopes to work on the nexus between economics and human rights.

Monday, December 3, 2018

December 2018 Events

A Conversation with Madeleine Albright

Virtual Information Sessions:

On-Campus Information Sessions:

    Open Day:
    • December 10, 2018 (9 am EST): SAIS Europe Open Day

      Office Hours:

      Thursday, November 15, 2018

      2019 Admissions Guideline: Standardized Tests

      As you are getting your application together, I'm sure you are thinking a lot about the standardized tests and language competency exams. We get a lot of questions about them, so I want to demystify them for you.

      Who's required to submit standardized test scores? 

      The answer to this question depends on which degree program you choose to apply for and at which campus. Applying to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Masters of Arts in International Economics and Finance (MIEF), or Master of Arts (MA) program in Washington, DC? Then standardized test scores as well as English competency exams such as the TOEFL or IELTS are required for non-native English speakers. Applying to the Master of Arts in Public Policy (MIPP) or Master of Arts in Global Policy (MAGP) or any program at SAIS Europe? If so, the standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT) are strongly encouraged, but not required. However, the English competency is still required for non-native English speakers.

      If English is NOT your native language, (or in the case of bilingual students, your dominant language is not English), you will need to submit an English competency exam such as the TOEFL or IELTS (SAIS Europe also accepts the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English). If English is NOT your native language, (or in the case of bilingual students, your dominant language is not English), but you hold an undergraduate degree granted by an accredited institution in a country where English is an official language and where English is the language of instruction, then you will not be required to submit your language proficiency test scores. However, in the same case, but with a graduate degree, you will need the approval of the Office of Admissions to be exempt from submitting an English competency exam.

      Do I take the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT? 

      We’re perfectly happy to accept either the GRE or GMAT; however, we don't accept LSAT.

      What is the minimum test score for the GRE or GMAT?

      We don't have an arbitrary cut-off for our test scores. These scores can be a bit controversial, and it's not uncommon to hear people discuss the cultural bias of standardized test scores. So we recognize that strong candidates can perform poorly on standardized test scores, and we don't use a minimum test score as a baseline to eliminate candidates. 

      We may reject someone with poor test scores, but that applicant was rejected because his/her application contained a series of weaknesses-not because of test scores alone.

      To find the test score range from 2018 applicants, click here.

      What is the minimum test score for the TOEFL/IELTS?

      We do have minimums for these exams, but we don't do this so we have an easy way to eliminate applicants. We have a minimum score on the exam because we want to make sure that all of our students are well-prepared to succeed in our program. If we admitted an applicant with less than minimum scores, we would be doing a disservice to him/her, because we would know that they would be unable to keep up with the intensity of our program.

      A TOEFL score of at least 600 for the paper-based exam, 250 for the computer-based exam or 100 for the internet-based exam is required. Students who choose to submit the IELTS exam results must meet a minimum of 7.0.

      To find the test score range from 2018 applicants, click here.

      If you are applying to our Bologna campus, you can take the TOEFL, IELTS as well as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English. If a candidate takes the Cambridge test, a passing grade is required for admission.

      Can I take the GRE and GMAT multiple times without adversely affecting  my application?

      The reviewer will not see that you've taken it multiple times. They will only see the best scores you've received.

      We only consider the best sub-scores you receive in each category...

      ...even if they are from different test dates. Say you take the GRE three times, and each time you max out score-wise on a different section. We will use whichever quantitative score is best, whichever verbal score is best, and whichever analytical writing score is best, even if all three scores came from three different dates.

      You might get your scores instantly, but we won't.

      It takes up to 10 business days for our office to receive official GRE/TOEFL test scores (and potentially longer for GMAT and IELTS), even though the testing center will give you unofficial score results for the verbal and quantitative section on the same day. To ensure that your official test scores reach Johns Hopkins SAIS on time, you should take the appropriate examinations and request your official score reports at least a month before the deadline.

      So, when planning for your application, make sure that you take the standardized exam well in advance of the application deadline to make sure we get your scores in time.

      Wednesday, November 14, 2018

      2019 Admissions Guideline: Analytical Essay

      The Analytical Essay topic is, to put it bluntly, pretty vague:
      Discuss an issue of national or international importance and its concern to you.
      Not surprisingly, we get a lot of questions about this: topic, format, word limit, etc. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive. 

      What is the format of this essay?

      There is no one format for writing this essay. Some applicants write op-ed style essays, others write their essay in the form of a policy memo, and some even write in the style of a mini research paper with citations. Think about which writing style can help best express your thoughts clearly. 

      Are citations required? 

      If the style of paper you choose to write calls for citations, then go for it; however, it is not required.

      Will citations contribute to my word count?

      No, it will not, but make sure you still remember to keep the 600 word limit in mind. Some of the most successful essays are the ones that are concise and clear.

      Does the topic need to be related to the concentration I indicate on my application?

      Not necessarily, but most applicants do choose to write on a relevant topic. Why is that? Because most applicants select an area that they already have some experience or knowledge about the topic. You should choose a subject matter that you're well-versed on; now is probably not the time to write about something new (to you).

      Basically, we intentionally left the topic vague because we want to assess how you choose to examine a topic that matters to you. It's going to tell us a lot about your perspective as a candidate and as a person. There's no right or wrong answer to this one. It's more about getting to know who you are as a student of international relations and future leader impacting the world. 

      Monday, November 12, 2018

      2019 Admissions Guideline: Transcripts

      We get a lot of questions in the Admissions Office about transcripts: where to send them, what formats we accept, if we require translations and/or evaluations, etc. Here are some answers to those questions.

      What does “official transcripts” mean?

      An official transcript is issued to Johns Hopkins SAIS from the college, either electronically (via a service such as eScrip) or in hard copy (paper).  To make the process quicker, we prefer receiving transcripts electronically from your school; however, if you decide to take the paper route, you can (and should) request that the school send the transcript directly to Johns Hopkins SAIS.  If you choose to deliver the transcript to our office yourself, it still needs to be sealed in the original envelope, with your college registrar’s stamp over the seal.

      Can I submit unofficial transcripts?

      Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts as part of the application process, but will be required to submit official copies prior to enrollment. 

      Where do I send my transcript?

      Transcripts in hard copy should be sent to the Office of Admissions in Washington, D.C.: 

      Johns Hopkins SAIS 
      Office of Admissions 
      1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW 
      Washington, D.C. 20036 

      Transcripts in electronic copy should be sent to sais.dc.admissions@jhu.edu.

      What does “all college-level coursework” mean? Isn’t my degree-granting transcript enough?  

      Most students have at least a few transfer credits on their undergraduate transcript for various reasons, ranging from study abroad to summer programs to switching schools.  You will need to submit transcripts for ALL of your coursework.  We want to see how you’ve done in all your coursework–not just some of the schoolwork.
      If they list the course titles AND grades for all transferred credits on your degree-granting transcript, then you don’t need any additional paperwork.  If they don’t, ask if they have copies of the other school’s transcript in your files and ask them to include copies with your degree-granting transcript. 
      If neither of these options works for you, you’ll need to contact multiple schools to request all the transcripts you need.  Additionally, if you’ve taken any additional coursework post-graduation (for credit) you’ll need to supply those transcripts as well.

      What about international transcripts?  

      • What if I received my bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution and I completed a semester or two abroad?

      The first thing you need to do is check your undergraduate transcript and see how the courses are recorded. We need to see both the courses and the grades listed on your transcript. If the transcript lists both, then you’re covered and you won’t need to do anything else. However, if your school only lists the courses as transfer credits, you’ll need to provide an official copy of your study abroad transcript.
      This is easier than you might think. Any U.S. school that accepted study abroad credits will have an official copy of your study abroad transcript in your student file; all you have to do is ask them to send a copy of it to the SAIS Admissions Office and you’re ready to go.

      • What if I received my bachelor’s degree from a non-U.S. institution?

      First, you’ll need to determine if your school will issue a transcript in English. Many international institutions are prepared to do so; if your school is an international institution, you’ll need to acquire an English-language copy in a sealed envelope (don’t open it!) and forward it to our office.

      If your school does not provide transcripts in English, you are asked to provide an official translation of the entire transcript and an explanation of the grading system of the university. You are strongly encouraged to use a credential evaluation service, particularly if you are not sure of how to obtain original transcripts or face difficulties obtaining them. See the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of providers. Transcripts and translations must be received by the Johns Hopkins SAIS Office of Admissions before the relevant deadline, so please make any requests well in advance.

      • What if I took non-credit language courses abroad?
      SAIS doesn’t require official transcripts for non-credit language courses, so you don’t need to submit these transcripts - you can indicate language experiences on your application and your resume. If you want to send us photocopies/scanned copies as proof of these courses, you’re certainly welcome to do so, but we don’t require them.