From the monthly archives: November 2007

For me, writing the blog started last year and has continued through this one. After I wrote yesterday’s post, though, I was thinking that there must be some readers who only started clicking the web page’s blog button this year. Starting at the end of the process (saying no) might not have been logical. So today, I’ll talk a bit about reading applications.

Specifically, reading applications for our two new programs. Though MIB and LLM have been tied into our work for more than a year (producing brochures, meeting prospective applicants, designing applications), we have been aware that we wouldn’t know what an MIB or LLM student would “look like” until we started reviewing applications. I read my first batch of MIB applications yesterday and I can say that they look like what we had hoped for. The applicants are experienced business professionals who are engaged in work that is not confined to one country. On the other hand, in terms of age and international experience, they are much like our current MALD students. It’s much easier for me to see, now, both how they are different from students in the MALD program, as well as how they will fit into the student community.

I haven’t yet read an LLM application, but I’m looking forward to finding out what an LLM student will look like.

 

I mentioned last spring that I have feet in multiple admissions processes. I work in graduate school admissions, but I have two children who are preparing to move on to the next level of education.The easier case is my daughter, who will finish eighth grade in June and go to high school. We’re pretty much certain that she will go to our local public high school. It’s a big place, but the students are divided into different “houses” and she’s the kind of kid who will find her way. No applications required.

Much tougher is my son, who is applying to college. He’s working on his applications under the watchful eye (and persistent nagging) of his admissions officer mother. I feel fairly comfortable (and honest) saying that my contact with his essays has been appropriate (neither completely hands-off nor overly intrusive), and that the essays (for better and worse) sound like their writer and reflect who he is. On the other hand, I can’t deny passing on my view of the process. No essays or interviews are optional for him! I want him to have the best possible opportunity to introduce himself to the admissions committees of the schools to which he’s applying.

But then what? Of course, I know that though he is working hard, he won’t be admitted everywhere he applies. This makes me very sad! How could anyone not want to admit my charming and interesting son?!? And this, in turn, makes me very thoughtful as I read Early Notification applications to Fletcher. All of our applicants are someone’s son/daughter/husband/wife. What does it mean when we decline to offer them admission?

No one likes saying “no,” but we are always trying to make a strong match between Fletcher and its applicants. We’re not doing anyone (including the applicant) any favors if we admit someone who won’t succeed. And, from Fletcher’s perspective, we want students who will add to our community in diverse ways. For each applicant, though, it’s understandably hard to predict how the process will go.

Fortunately, during the Early Notification review, we only say yes or defer. But in the long run, after I read an application, I’ll need to say yes to some, and no to others, taking a step toward disappointing someone and his or her mother/father/wife/husband. And, at home, we’ll find out in the spring which colleges are interested in my sports fanatic son, and which will say no. We’ll be sad, but we’ll understand that it’s all part of the process.

 

The real application guru in our office is Roxana, who has been my main source of admissions tips. I’m sure that many of you are hard at work to meet our January 15 deadline, so I’m going to include all the rest of Roxana’s suggestions in this one entry.

I believe that we have had seven tips previously, so here goes:

Tip #8 is: Make sure you know which school you are applying to, and be sure to double-check that you are uploading the correct Personal Statement and Supplemental Essay. Obvious, I know, but the number of essays we receive that were written for another school makes me think more people need to pay attention to the next tip.

Tip #9 is: Always edit your essays. Read and re-read them making sure there are no grammatical errors. (See #8 for other things you should be looking for.)

Tip #10 is: Do not expect to have your transcripts sent back to you. Once you submit materials as part of your application, we cannot return them.

Tip #11: If your culture is one of the many that puts surname (family name) before given name, be sure you make your surname clear to us in all documents and correspondence. It can be very confusing for us (and lead to lost documents) if correspondence comes in alternately for Yao Ming and Ming Yao. Not that this Houston Rockets basketball professional is applying this year. But if he were applying, we would want him to remember to include his legal name on all documents, even if he sometimes goes by Mike Yao, or some other adopted English name. (And he should remind his recommenders to do so, too!)

Those are all the tips I have at this time. I’ll see if any more come to mind in the next few weeks as we read Early Notification applications, and then I’ll index them all for future use.

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Our last word on travel this fall comes from Kristen.

Though my experiences traveling for Fletcher have been much less dramatic than Peter’s recent brush with the Southern California wildfires, they are no less exciting. One of my favorite things about being on the road is getting to interact with Fletcher alumni on their home turf. We often ask them to help out at recruiting events, so that prospective students can get the low-down on the Fletcher experience. It’s never hard to find alumni volunteers – they are excited to help, and sometimes we even have to turn people away. Our alumni are really in their element at these events where they can talk about their careers and their time at Fletcher – both subjects of deep passion for most.

I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know the alumni at these events. In Toronto, Waidehi Gokhale talked about how her work takes her all over the world for War Child Canada. She was getting ready for a research trip to Afghanistan when I saw her in September. In Washington, DC, Kevin Book regaled us with stories of his work doing political analysis for the energy sector at FBR. He really brings the subject to life and speaks of the many areas (security, environment, geopolitics, policy) that influence his work – a true Fletcher interdisciplinary perspective! In London, I spent time with Pedro Sanudo, the European advertising director for Yahoo! Pedro is well-integrated into the European business scene, and is on the cutting edge of new media.

The exciting part about speaking with these alumni, and many others like them, is that we see the Fletcher degree in action. We read your applications before you come, and get to hear about your plans and expectations. Then we see an infinite number of variations on the Fletcher experience, from self-designed curricula to varied thesis topics, to unique involvement in student groups. But seeing what happens afterward is what makes this job truly gratifying.

 

Some complications always accompany travel, but on one trip last month, Peter faced more than his share, as he describes in this post:

As you may have noticed from glancing at our travel schedule, the Fletcher admissions staff tends to cover a lot of ground this time of year. Throughout the fall, we hold information sessions at colleges and universities across the country or represent our programs at APSIA, Idealist.org, or World MBA graduate school fairs in the U.S. and abroad.

While we travel to a variety of special destinations–from Nairobi to Kalamazoo–and meet a lot of interesting prospective students, I’ve found that the travel experiences themselves are mostly uneventful. With a few exceptions, flights are usually pretty much on schedule, there are rarely any rental car or hotel issues to deal with, materials arrive at the correct locations, and the schedule of the week generally goes off without a hitch. My recent trip to California was a notable exception.

Monday, October 19th: Excerpts from a not-so-typical day on the road…

7:20 AM (EST). Depart Boston’s Logan International Airport.

10:00 AM (MST). Change planes in Denver. I have several voicemail messages informing me that: 1) devastating wildfires are spreading to the outskirts of San Diego, which happens to be my first stop on this trip, and 2) The APSIA fair held at UC, San Diego later that evening has been canceled and the campus closed.

12:45 PM (PST). Arrive in San Diego—flying directly over a line of fires that is as spectacular as it is terrifying. After meeting up with colleagues from two of our peer schools in the lobby of our hotel—which was growing increasingly crowded with evacuees and their dogs, cats, birds, snakes, etc.–we discover that our visit to Pepperdine on Tuesday has also been canceled due to wildfires near Malibu.

3:30 PM (PST). After discussing the possibility of future road closures between San Diego and Los Angeles (our next stop on the trip), we cancel our hotel reservations in San Diego, make new ones in LA, and head up I-5 in our rental car. It is a long and somewhat surreal drive to LA, with a smoky haze obscuring the sun, ash floating down like tiny grey snowflakes (my only point of reference, being a Northeasterner), and cars filled with people, pets, and belongings evacuating their homes and blending in with the usual California rush hour traffic. Wildfires of this nature are not something to which I had previous exposure, and I have to admire how everyone appears to be able to take this terrible disaster in stride—packing up whatever they can fit in their car and heading out to Qualcomm Stadium, hotels, or the homes of friends and relatives while they wait for the word on the firefighters’ progress.

8:30 PM (PST). We arrive at our hotel in Los Angeles–after traveling 120 miles in 5 hours—in dire need of some fresh air and some good Mexican food. I have time to check e-mail briefly and note that tomorrow evening’s APSIA fair at UCLA is still on!

While the rest of the week—including the UCLA event, an APSIA fair at UC-Berkeley, an information session at Stanford, and a reception for prospective students and Bay Area alumni—went smoothly from an admissions perspective, this was not a trip that I will soon forget. I hope that those of you in California are safe and I look forward to an uneventful visit to California next year!


 

The Chats:

This week has been “Chat Week” for Fletcher Admissions. Every day, for one hour, the office is filled with students and Fletcher staff (admissions, along with Career Services, and Student Academic Services), and we open up our chat site for questions.

The chats are a fun and fast-moving hour for us. They can be a nice way for applicants to “hear” about what others are thinking, and it is an easy way to reach current Fletcher students. There’s a crazy flow of questions. Our screens fill with requests for information about housing, language proficiency, admissions, job search, internships, application essay, Massachusetts weather, campus jobs, the need for a car, professors, research interests…. Mostly we manage to keep up, and I think all the participants get a satisfying (though very brief) answer to their questions.

If you have requested information or otherwise had your name added to our mail/email list, then you should have received notification of the chats. If you would like to know about future chats or other events, consider adding yourself to the list. Either way, you’re welcome to the chat tomorrow: 12:30 Eastern Time. Log in and join the conversation.

And the Tips:

Besides mentioning the chats, I wanted to add a couple more Admissions Tips, particularly since our Early Notification deadline is only two weeks away. The first tip for today (#6 overall) is: Please do not upload writing samples of more than four pages. Though you’re justifiably proud of your research papers or senior thesis, the reality is that the Admissions Committee will not be able to read more than a very short sample. And, in general, well-crafted application essays are the best writing sample.

Admissions Tip #7 is: Please do not send us your high school diploma or transcripts. We understand that many educational systems do not match the U.S. system neatly, and that there may be some blurring of the lines between your high school and undergraduate work. Nonetheless, we really only want to see your college/university grades.

We’ve nearly completed review of applications for January admission (decisions will be sent later this month). Early Notification applications for September admission are starting to trickle in. Whether we’re chatting or reading, this will be a busy month for us.

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