SIPA Regrets: Stretched Thin

Illustration by Alessandra Felloni

In an interview with TMP, a student expresses some of her regrets about her time here at SIPA. The following is her answer to the question: What is your greatest SIPA regret?

Probably my greatest regret is having to stretch myself too thin over multiple different priorities. This was definitely in part because I didn’t have the ability to focus 100% on school when I had all of these expenses to consider, so I was always working – I think both years – I was working 30 hours a week between two different jobs. And I know that is common.

If you are able to do an internship at the UN which would be about 35 hours a week, but what I was doing first year was nannying for a family Monday-Friday from 2-6:30 PM every day. I would stack my schedule so I had morning classes, I would run downtown take care of these kids Monday through Friday, and then come back to school to then do evening classes. That was just purely out of necessity -- I would not be able to afford a lot of things I would need to survive in the city. As a result, a lot of my time was very divided up between work and school, and so, most of the time, I would just function in a constant state of exhaustion where I’m running back and forth downtown for this thing and then come back up. For me, it was hard because I wanted to explore all of the classes that SIPA had to offer. I wasn’t able to take 18 credits / 6 classes more than once in my SIPA career as the other three semesters I had to balance work and other priorities. And, in the last semester, I was really busy with Follies stuff as well. I think it is definitely a great privilege to come to a great school like this, but you would want to ideally invest all of your time and energy into the classes and also programming that SIPA has to offer, but there are opportunity costs and you simply do not always have the time to do everything that you wanted to do.

Along the line of classes, I would have loved to take more classes that made me competitive in the hard-skills department, more STATA so I could actually write "data coding" on my resume, which I currently do not feel comfortable doing. I would have loved to explore the really robust language curriculum that Columbia offers, I really liked the French courses – the two beginner French classes that I took ended up being really valuable to be. I didn’t know French and now, cool, I kind of understand French, that is helpful for future things. I could have added other languages and stuff like that...