Time for an admissions process update!

Since January 10 — our first regular deadline for applications for September enrollment — your applications have been working their way through a process that goes like this:

Receive application
Check application for needed materials
Mark application as complete once all materials are received
Have a student read the application (primarily for MA, MALD, MIB)
Have a staff member read the application
Have faculty members read the application, as appropriate (more for PhDs, fewer for MALD)
Move the application to a virtual “bin,” where it waits until we release decisions.

Quite a few applications are already in their final bin, while many others (including those received by February 10) are still snaking their way through the process.  Also on the move: EN applications submitted last fall for which we deferred making a decision to this spring.  All will be reviewed again with Committee discussions as necessary.

Once we complete application review for all programs, we’ll release decisions.  For applicants offered admission, decisions will be accompanied by scholarship information.  Even applications submitted by March 1 (the final deadline for the LLM and MIB programs), will be decided on by the decision date, so long as they are complete on March 1.  We don’t yet know on which day we’ll be releasing decisions, but we always aim for the third week of March or earlier.  I’ll try to provide a date in March, once all is clear.

Whenever I take a minute to think about it, as I’m doing now, I appreciate how long the review process must feel to applicants.  Probably a good number of you are relieved to be done with your applications and to let us do the work for a while.  Others find this stretch much less relaxing.  To all of you, I just want you to know that we’re working hard on your behalf and we’re pleased with how smoothly the process has gone.  Committee discussions are respectful and are helping to shape our reading and our future class.  We still have another month or so in front of us before we’ll release decisions, but I hope it’s helpful to have a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes process.

 

Continuing an annual tradition, it’s Valentine’s Day, which calls for stories of Fletcher couples.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading about these eight alumni who gained more than an education from their Fletcher experience.

Eric, F95, and Caroline, F95
We were both dating other people our first year at Fletcher.  One of us was unceremoniously dumped at the end of that year, the other nearby with soothing words.  Those soothing words continued all summer by phone with Eric in DC and Caroline at Middlebury.  Feelings intensified when reunited in Medford that fall, with the minor issue of one outside relationship still in the mix.  Awkwardness was averted by hiding behind study dates that were almost always followed by dinner.  When the issue finally came to the fore, Eric asked Caroline, “Why are you afraid of trying this?”  Her answer: “Because it might work.”  Dating ensued.  MALDs were minted with no jobs in sight.  Caroline went to Philly, Eric to Chicago.  We reunited for a Fletcher classmate’s wedding, at which point another Fletcher classmate told us to choose to be together.  Engagement followed, though the engagement ring was quickly returned in favor of two tickets to Hong Kong, where we worked, lived, and had two daughters over eight years.  We’ve now been together 24 years, married almost 21.  We’re happily settled in Seattle and about to send our oldest daughter off to college.  How time flies!

The happy couple and their Fletcher friends — in a photo of a print from a pre-digital photo album.


Cass, F16, and Matheus, F16

We met at the New York Career Trip student/alumni reception.  After a few months, Matheus asked Cass on a date during Americana Night and she agreed after watching his performance on guitar.  We were married in Manhattan at New York City Hall with a handful of friends, totally impromptu.  We still wear the wedding bands that we ordered with same-day delivery from Amazon Prime, and we celebrated our first wedding anniversary at our Fletcher graduation together.

 

Sarah, F10, and Trevor, F11
Sarah and Trevor first met at Fletcher in 2010, and quickly bonded over their shared love of single malt Scotch and Professor Glennon’s classes.  In 2014, they made it official at a small wedding at a Virginia winery, attended by Fletcher friends from around the globe.  The couple make their home with their pup Diesel in Washington, DC, where Sarah is a Lead Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton and Trevor is the Deputy Head of Policy for the DC office of the International Committee of the Red Cross.  They enjoy travel, hiking with Diesel, hanging out with their fellow Fletcher alums in DC, and trying not to be too anxious about the state of the world.

 

Mary, F88, and Jim, F87, FG89
Fall 1986: Mary arrives at Fletcher as a new first year.  Settling into the dorm, she keeps meeting second-year students who say: “Oh, you were in the Peace Corps?  You’re interested in Students for Development Studies?  You should meet Jim!”  Jim returns from a summer internship in Somalia, reconnecting with friends who keep saying: “Hey, there’s a new first-year student you have to meet — her name’s Mary!”  And so we were matched before we met.  Turns out we had lots more in common than met the eye: similar family backgrounds and deeper values, etc.  A year later, we’d been married and welcomed Baby Aaron into our family in Blakeley Hall, where we had taken the job of resident directors.  Diapers before diplomas!  The Fletcher community was so warm and welcoming; our memories from those days are precious.  We headed to Washington, DC with degrees in hand, and Baby #2 on the way.  Since then, we’ve lived and worked in Thailand, Jerusalem (where #3 son was born), Croatia, and Vietnam, having wonderful family adventures along with great professional experiences.  Both of us still work in international development, currently living at home base in the DC area, where we continue to treasure Fletcher friendships as much as ever.

 

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Great news for our students: Fletcher’s team in the CFA Institute Research Challenge emerged as champions in last night’s Boston-region competition!  Presenting their research on the company Boston Scientific, the Fletcher team topped competitors Babson College, Brandeis University, and Hult International in the final round.

The winning team consisted of JP Craven (first-year MIB), Doris Hernandez (second-year MALD), Ashray Dixit (second-year MIB), and our own Admissions Bloggers Mariya and AdiProfessor Patrick Schena was advisor to the team and Office of Career Services Director Elana Givens added her input and attended the competition, as did Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti.

The next round of the challenge will be the North and South Americas regional competition (coincidentally) in Boston on March, with about 50 teams competing.  The winner of the regional competition will go to the global competition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in April.

Congratulations to Professor Schena and the successful team!

From left, team mentor Cameron Hyzer, JP, Professor Schena, Mariya, Doris, and Ashray.

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With a new faculty member and new institutional relationships, Fletcher has just launched a Russia and Eurasia Program, which will be co-directed by Professor Daniel Drezner and Professor Chris Miller.  The program will support the community’s interest in the area through out-of-class activities such as study abroad exchange programs, study trips, conferences, guest speakers, and research and internship funding.  Courses offered jointly with universities in the region, such as MGIMO, will also fall under the new program umbrella.

You can read more on the program’s new website.  For timely updates, check out the program on Twitter.

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Regardless of where you do your research on Fletcher, you should be aware that all students must pass a language proficiency exam to graduate.  The information is included among the degree requirements on the Fletcher website, and for those who like to dig through the blog archives, I’ve also written about it many times

So it is a little surprising how many applicants this year have failed to tell us about their language proficiency by filling out the application completely.  Sometimes there’s a cultural element.  Folks from India who have studied in English throughout their academic career just assume we’ll know that they speak Hindi or another Indian language.  The same is often true for applicants from Anglophone African countries.

But I’m not sure why other native English speakers (particularly U.S. students) aren’t giving us the details we need.  We’ll need to look at this over the summer when we do our annual review of the application form.  Meanwhile, we’re studying transcripts and résumés, searching for crumbs of information on language study.  Does this post make you realize you made a strategic mistake in leaving out your language proficiency details?  Send us a note to update us.  For students to whom we offer admission, it could be the difference between a regular admission offer and being required to pursue further language study before enrolling.

 

In December, the Fletcher Student Council launched a new fun initiative to introduce members of the community to each other.  Called “Fletcher Features: Get to Know Your Community,” the monthly-ish Q&A was shared by email and, as soon as it hit my inbox, I reached out to ask if I could borrow it for the blog.  Fortunately, all involved said yes, and I’ll be sharing these posts when I receive them.  I especially like them because the featured community members include students, faculty and staff alike.  I also like all the shout-outs for moms!

Robert (first-year MIB)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m concentrating on International Finance & Banking and International Political Economy.  I’m also involved in the International Business Club, Finance Club, and FSIG.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked in client service for an investment management firm in Boston.

Where are you from?
Grew up in Medfield, MA. Went to school at Northeastern University in Boston.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I’ll give you a few: Barcelona, Spain.  Howth, Ireland.  Brasilito, Costa Rica.

Who are your favorite writers?
Hunter S. Thompson, Malcolm Gladwell and Zach Lowe.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My mom.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Right now. Challenging myself to go to grad school (when I never thought I would).

Which living person do you most admire?
Warren Buffett.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Tough question.  I haven’t been here that long.  Maybe Professor Jacque’s class — that’s challenging.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Africana Night.

Naoko (second-year MIB)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m a second-year MIB and concentrating on “Public Leadership” and International Business and working on a project to create “Lifelong Classrooms” in Japan with a lot of inspiration drawn here.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I’ve worked for the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry in Japan for about six years, where I joined projects such as TPP negotiation between U.S. and Japan on automobile portfolio, hosting G7 Ministerial Meetings in Japan, making a new environmental regulation on the air-conditioning industry, putting economic sanctions on North Korea (and some other countries) and so on.

Where are you from?
Fukuoka, Japan.  (You should visit this wonderful place when you come to Japan, seriously!)

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Mykonos in Greece and Yakushima in Japan (both islands).

Who are your favorite writers?
Michael Ende, Riku Onda.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My mother.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I took the initiative to make a new policy, which had a big impact on various industries negotiating/communicating with counterparts outside and inside the Ministry, with only two-years of professional experience at that time.

Which living person do you most admire?
Too many to list here… I have so many of them including my family, friends, and professors who amazed and inspired me so much.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
The work I mentioned above as one of my greatest achievements.  Also, working under an awful manager in a very bureaucratic organization.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Hanging out with friends, watching friends’ performances (and participating in some of them) at culture nights.

Zdenka (PhD Candidate)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am currently a PhD fellow at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP), conducting research on energy technology innovation policies.  And I am F15 MALD, too!

What did you do before Fletcher?
I served in Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission as an economist, designing the regulation in the basic petrochemicals sector.

Where are you from?
I am from the Czech Republic.  I was born in Prague.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I loved visiting Iceland.  It was stunning to see the pristine nature and its power, and I really liked that people seemed to respect the nature there, not try to dominate it.  It’s the most northern place I’ve been to and the perspective on the shape of the Earth is quite different from that spot!  The clouds and the sky were on the horizon, and the Earth looked round! 🙂

Another unique place is the region of Chiapas in Mexico – the clock just stopped ticking there.  It was also my first time going to a rainforest.  It’s one of the richest places in the world in terms of the biodiversity of fauna and flora!

Who are your favorite writers?
This has been changing over my life.  But the very classics for me are Vaclav Havel, Jan Werich, Bohumil Hrabal, Jane Austen and William Styron.  I will always love their books.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
The very ancient meaning of the word “inspiration” comes from the root that means “to breathe life into.”  My deepest inspirations are my close friends and my colleagues.  The exchange of ideas with them, planning events together, and wondering about the world truly breathes life into me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Thanks to Fletcher, I came to a point in my life when I feel centered and aware of the complexity of the world and life, and at the same time motivated and empowered to embrace this complexity and explore it.

Which living person do you most admire?
I admire all those who aim to truly improve people’s lives and for whom glory and power are secondary.  I also admire people who are willing to learn constantly, and those who might have been hurt, but didn’t immediately fight back and instead stayed in the learning mode.  I also admire people who have the courage to go a step further and explore, to prove some status quo needs to be changed.

I really admire my friends – they embody this.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
I think the challenge has been to stay truly focused on daily work while finding space to discover other fields of study/interest as well.  It’s so easy to get distracted with all the interesting ideas and events that are around!

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
I very much enjoyed graduation time at Fletcher.  I did not expect it could be SUCH a joyful time — the students and their families, the faculty — they all seem genuinely happy, ready to celebrate and have fun!  The atmosphere is truly unique.

Lupita Ervin (Administrative Coordinator)

What do you do at Fletcher?
Administrative Coordinator

What did you do before Fletcher?
I was an Administrative Assistant for the Vice President of a construction company; my favorite was when being a 411 information operator for New England Telephone.

Where are you from?
Boston, MA

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I had the honor of going to Talliores, France and St. Gallen, Switzerland in 2015 for a Fletcher School Global Leadership Program.  Best experience ever.  The picture attached is from my travels

Who are your favorite writers? 
Terry McMillan and Stephen King

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My son

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Purchasing my first home.

Which living person do you most admire?
My mom, she molded me into the person I am today.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
When I took four suitcases for the France/Switzerland trip.  A girl can’t have too many clothes!!

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Receiving the 2017 Tufts University Distinction Award.

Monica Toft (Professor of International Politics)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I am Professor of International Politics and Director, Center for Strategic Studies.  I research and teach on civil wars, intervention, religion, demography in relation to U.S. national security and foreign policy more generally.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I taught at the University of Oxford and prior to that at Harvard’s Kennedy School.  Attended graduate school at University of Chicago, undergrad at UC Santa Barbara, and before all that served in the U.S. Army as a Russian linguist.

Where are you from?
Sayville, New York, on the South shore of Long Island.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Cinque Terre, Italy, the views, the treks, the food, and the wine!

Who are your favorite writers?
Anton Chekhov, George Orwell, and Ray Carver

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My mother.  She taught me that most of life is a marathon rather than a sprint and what it means to commit to something.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children.  They are turning out to be interesting and simply wonderful people.

Which living person do you most admire?
Currently Pope Francis.  It is brave of him to try to move the Catholic Church into the 21st Century.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Balancing family and work.  I love both aspects of my life, but just don’t seem to have enough time to enjoy them as fully as I would like.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Meeting the alumni from the class of 1967 at graduation.  They are such an impressive group.  And working as China Control for Simulex 2017; witnessing the Taiwan team give the Chinese team such a hard time.

 

Our annual mid-winter treat is meeting the prospective students who attend the Open House for the Early Notification round.  Twenty-something of these EN-admitted students will be hanging out on the seventh floor of Fletcher for much of the day, taking the elevator down whenever they want to attend a class.

The EN Open House is both (as I mentioned) a treat for us — turning paper applications into real people — and also a great opportunity for the attendees.  The April Open House, to which all September 2018 admitted students will be invited, is a bit of a fun madhouse.  Today’s event, by contrast, is mellow.  Visitors will have ample opportunity to chat with each other, with current students, and with professors.

My contact with the visitors has been limited so far (signed in a few people and chatted over coffee with a few more), but I’ll be seeing more of them at lunch and then for a panel discussion with current students.  I especially enjoy student panels, and the opportunity to hear first-hand about the Fletcher experience of people I might not meet otherwise, so I’m looking forward to that.  Meanwhile, I’m happy to say that the weather is completely cooperative today.  Sunny, bright, and not too cold, which has not always been the case for this event.

 

There’s no way that the Admissions Blog can be a comprehensive resource on all things Fletcher — it’s much too busy a place — but I do try to highlight activities that represent that busy-ness.  To that end, I’ve been collecting all we’ve written on several of the research institutes.  Take a look at the posts on these Fletcher groups:

International Security Studies Program

Center for International Environment and Resource Policy

World Peace Foundation

Institute for Business in the Global Context

Maritime Studies

 

Today’s update from the Class of 2012 is special in many ways.  First, it has been written jointly by two MALD graduates, Aaron Morris and Ho-Ming So Denduangrudee.  Second, Ho-Ming sent it along only a few days after bringing a new baby into their family.  Third, Ho-Ming and Aaron make up one of the first Fletcher Couples I featured on the blog.  Finally, as a first-year student, Ho-Ming wrote about her long path to Fletcher.

Pre-Fletcher

Similar to a lot of future Fletcher classmates, it turns out we lived and worked at random places at the same time: Boston, post-undergrad where Aaron worked in investment consulting and Ho-Ming worked as a research assistant and at a climbing gym; Thailand, where Aaron worked on the Thai-Burmese border with former political prisoners on advocacy projects, and Ho-Ming worked on indigenous rights and community development projects across the region; and Colorado, where Aaron valeted cars and ski bummed, and Ho-Ming worked for a small human rights defenders fund.  Aaron knew he wanted to contribute to bridging the business and international development worlds, and Ho-Ming was interested in minority rights.

At Fletcher

We met on the first day of orientation and were on seemingly different tracks: Aaron was a development economics/security studies MALD and eventually became an advisee of Professor Block; Ho-Ming went to Fletcher to study human rights with Professor Hannum, who had previously taught one of her early mentors at the UN.  At Fletcher, we were constantly challenged to work on and be exposed to topics beyond the scope of our respective foci, whether by each other or by our peers, professors, the curriculum, or the institution.  We quickly learned there are no silos in our interrelated world, and a Fletcher education continually underscores this.  Some horizon-broadening moments were more trying than others — for instance, that semester when Aaron convinced Ho-Ming that taking Professor Jacque’s Corporate Finance class would be a great idea.  It is a great idea.  There may be some tears and terror alongside learning, but it is worth it.  (Opposite of a pro tip: if you actively try to avoid eye contact, rest assured, Professor Jacques will call on you.)

Post Fletcher

After graduation, Aaron took a job in Jakarta with the ASEAN basketball league in business development and strategy, and Ho-Ming signed on to work on indigenous rights and sustainable development as part of a United Nations forestry initiative.  In four wonderful years in Indonesia, Aaron ended up taking a job as a management consultant at Bain & Co., and Ho-Ming returned to community-based work through the Samdhana Institute.

Our Fletcher roots continue to manifest throughout our careers and lives.  While Ho-Ming was at the UN, Professor Moomaw facilitated key introductions to support the Government of Indonesia delegation during global climate change COPs, Fletcher alumni and students joined us as colleagues at various moments in our respective careers, alumni were generous with sharing their networks and many became close friends.  We even managed to expand the community in a small way, when a dear colleague and friend opted to attend Fletcher for a mid-career MA.  We were fortunate to be able to attend his graduation in Medford, which coincided with our five year reunion.

We are currently located in San Francisco, prompted by an internal transfer opportunity through Aaron’s work.  Ho-Ming has kept a foot in Southeast Asia, building fun partnerships, including this one one linking the outdoor industry, climbing, and an incredible indigenous activist/regional MP to pilot ecotourism and support indigenous tenure security in remote Eastern Indonesia.  She’s recently taken on a new position strengthening institutional partnerships at Build Change, a social enterprise focused on enhancing disaster resilience and recovery for low income neighborhoods in emerging markets.

Fletcher expanded our horizons and imbued in us a truly interconnected perspective on the world.  On the macro policy and industry level, this has been invaluable.  On a civic and personal level, particularly in divisive times, we are grateful that Fletcher taught us — above all — to listen and always be mindful of a bigger picture.  We might not always agree, but Fletcher has emphasized to us the importance of trying to understand.  As partners, as parents, we strive to serve as resources for each other and, we hope, a wider community that bridges industries, nationalities, and worldviews.  At Fletcher, we were given the tools to foster similarities that drive all of us, to strengthen the connections between us and, not least, to be thoughtful and reflective — to engage and look for ways to be inclusive, share responsibilities. and be thoughtful about how we can create a better world.

We’re not yet midway through the application review process, but I want to offer some insights that may be reassuring while applicants for September enrollment await the decisions they’ll receive in March.

When the MALD/MA Admissions Committee met last Friday, we considered the case of an applicant who did poorly as an undergraduate but subsequently went on to a successful multi-year career.  The applicant had strong GRE scores and glowing recommendations.  (No surprise — there were no academic recommendations.)  Chances are good that we’ll review an application that fits that general description at every meeting this year.

When we review applications, we are always looking for background and credentials that are well laid out on our website.  The goal is “to enroll a diverse class of students who have demonstrated academic excellence, have a wide range of personal, professional and academic experience, and have a strong commitment to an international career. We seek students who, by virtue of their background, achievement and experience, can contribute to the education of their peers and to the scholarship and practice of international relations.”  That’s both super-specific and, it could be argued, equally vague.  I generally tell applicants that the bottom line is that students must be able to succeed at Fletcher, and that’s true!  But then what do we make of the applicant described above?

Or how about another application from Friday.  The applicant had a nearly perfect undergraduate record and test scores, but won’t graduate until May and, predictably, has limited professional experience.  We’ll see applications like this one every week, too.  As a professional school, we strongly value pre-Fletcher work experience — it supports the development of a student’s objectives and is a key factor as they seek a post-Fletcher job.  But brilliant students generally find their way through the career definition and search process, even if they do need a little extra support from the Office of Career Services.

In both of these cases, the Admissions Committee decided to offer the applicant admission.  Admissions people always say they employ a holistic system of review.  The opportunity for Fletcher to admit both of the applicants described here depends on it.  If we were to impose cut-offs — whether logical or arbitrary — one or both of these applicants wouldn’t be admitted.  Instead, the Hall of Flags is sprinkled with people of both types.

Students who went to U.S. colleges and universities often worry that the graduate school admissions process will be the same as it was for undergrad.  I’m happy to say that it isn’t.  Applicants who can objectively be described as qualified for Fletcher, demonstrating all those qualities outlined above, will be admitted.  Fortunately, there’s also room in the class for some students who are missing a few of the qualities.  So long as we can see a pathway for their success, we can go ahead and offer them admission.

I hope that this mid-process pause will help reassure some applicants that they can stop trying to figure out our average GPA or GRE scores.  Reviewing Fletcher applications is too complex for us to rely on numbers alone.

 

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