From the monthly archives: January 2007
With all we’ve written about reading applications, you might think that we’re single-mindedly focused on selecting our fall 2007 entering class. That would not be good news for those of you who are reading this during the earliest phase of your graduate school planning. In fact, though, we’re never free to focus completely on the admissions process for just one entering class.
To get a sense of how this plays out, I might describe some of the tasks I took on today. First, I reviewed some applications for September 2007 admission. Then, I updated the scholarship renewal application for continuing students who enrolled at Fletcher in January 2007 or earlier. I answered emails from prospective students who hope to start their studies in January or September 2008. (Though it wasn’t this week, it’s also worth noting that the Admissions Office just organized the Orientation program for students who enrolled in January.)
Admissions people tend to think of our work as highly cyclical: Talking about the program on the road or in the office each fall; evaluating applications each winter; working with admitted students each spring; regrouping and preparing for a new cycle in the summer. But each “cycle” is not limited to only a year. Instead, it starts more than a year before students enroll, and continues until they graduate.
If you are one of those potential applicants who have just started to research graduate school options, please rest assured that Fletcher’s Admissions Office is a busy place right now – but not too busy to answer your questions. And, as noted in an earlier entry, we will be offering Information Sessions throughout the spring. Three years of construction have just come to an end and it’s a perfect time to visit Fletcher.
But as for those applications, I’ll be strapping on my fuzzy slippers tomorrow to attack the mountain of folders currently waiting for me in my kitchen. At least for one day, my focus will be single-minded.
As Blogger-in-Chief for the Admissions Office, I have asked the staff to offer their observations. Kristen Zecchi, who joined the office less than a year ago, shares her thoughts this week. She writes:
As someone new to Fletcher and the admissions world, I must say that I am quite impressed by the number of documents that have come through our office in the past week. With the main application deadline (January 15th) having come and gone, we are now busy ensuring that applications, recommendation letters, and transcripts are all matched up with their rightful owners. Though the sheer volume can be overwhelming, it is tempered by the fact that we get to hear so many fascinating and unique stories throughout the process.
Unlike Jessica, who posted previously, I do not have new warm and cozy slippers to get me through this reading period. My tool of choice is an ever-expanding selection of teas. I find that if I reward myself with a steaming fresh cup after reading a stack of applications, I’m a more alert reader. When possible, the last file I have read dictates my next tea choice: An applicant who has just returned from South Africa might lead me to select rooibos, while an Indian applicant might inspire a cup of chai or Darjeeling. Earl Grey seems to work for many continents, while jasmine is the tea for our Chinese applicants (or, one of the many who has just returned from living there).
With my cup of tea nearby, I’ve found that one of the best parts of the admissions process is being able to do more than just read an application. It’s about being able to delve into the very unique and diverse experiences of our applicants and learn about a person who is committed to a career in international affairs.
Since Monday’s application deadline, the Admissions Office staff has been primarily focused on digging out from a mountain of mail. Nearly all applicants use the on-line application, but there are still recommendations, test scores, writing samples, and other materials that may arrive by mail. We create a file folder for each applicant and load it with the on-line form and the supplemental materials. Then, off it goes to be read by members of the Committee on Admissions.
I don’t know what results you’d find if you polled admissions officers at random, but my colleagues and I love reading applications. The process gives us perspective on our current students and what makes Fletcher special. That doesn’t mean, though, that reading is without its challenges, many of which come down to self discipline. There’s no way to read 50 applications in a day without it! Each of us in the Admissions Office has a different routine for reading days. We take home the number of applications that we believe (optimistically) we will read, and then approach them in our preferred way. I like to mix up U.S. and international applicants, and I arrange the applications in groups of five. I try not to take a break until I’ve read five files. Sounds crazy, but I’ve read thousands of files using my special “technique.”
And that’s where my new slippers come in. To read all day long, giving proper attention to each application, means that I need to block out all distractions, including cold feet! I’ll be testing my new slippers most Thursdays, many evenings, and on the weekend, too.
I hope to convince others at Fletcher Admissions to share their thoughts through the blog in the coming weeks. It’s a way for you to “hear” from the office during the interminable (for applicants) stretch between January 15 and April 1. Meanwhile, we have our student and professional staff opening mail and compiling files as quickly as we possibly can. Please be understanding if we’re a little slower to respond to correspondence than at other times of the year.
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