Tips for answering the Harvard Kennedy School Short Answer Questions about Sources for Policy Issues and News

The Harvard Kennedy School application includes the following short answer questions:

What web sites do you read to follow matters pertaining to policy issues and news you are interested in?

What print publications do you read to follow matters pertaining to policy issues and news you are interested in?

I advise my clients and all of you who follow my advice to keep these tips in mind as you answer these two questions. These tips have worked for my clients in the past and could help turn these seemingly innocuous questions into an asset for your application:

Include 2-4 websites for the website question and 2-4 print publications for the print publication question.

Yes, you can reuse the same outlets for both questions but try to introduce some variety. Perhaps you read the online version of a news outlet for a certain kind of news and the print version for another type.

Remember that you don’t have to only include outlets whose viewpoints align with yours.

Write in full sentences rather than just including a list.

By writing in full sentences, you can provide context for the web sites and print publications you include in your response. For example, you can tell them:

  • what part of the print publication you read. Don’t just say, “I read The New York Times.” What section(s) of the NYT do you read and why?
  • when and how often you read it, such as every Sunday morning.
  • your favorite topics to read about
  • your favorite journalists to follow

Keep it short and impactful.

Write no more than 2-4 sentences to answer each of the two questions.

Do you have to follow this advice to answer these questions?

No you don’t! If a simple list would better serve your purposes, then use a list. If you’ve been looking for guidance in how to answer this question, you can use the tips above. They have consistently worked for my clients, and they can work for you too!

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