From the monthly archives: March 2008

Just a short post today to remind readers that we will offer a few more Information Sessions this spring. In addition to today’s session, we will hold one next Monday, April 7 at 12:30, one on Thursday, April 10 at 4:30, and the last on Thursday, April 24, at 4:30. Each Information Session lasts about an hour, and you’re welcome to attend, whether you applied this year or are planning an application for a future year. Please send a note to the office to let us know when you plan to attend.

 

It’s quiet around the office these days. Once the decisions finally went out, we all turned to more solitary tasks. We’re catching up on whatever we would have been doing if not for the envelope-stuffing, or we’re answering emails and calls from applicants. Kate and I share an office wall, and Peter and Laurie are only a short distance away, but I barely saw them yesterday.

But, we have had some visitors. A few of of this year’s applicants have stopped by, and yesterday we had a full information session. We also squeezed in an interview of an applicant for fall ’09 who is about to leave the country.

I feel that I’ve said everything there is to say about the decision-making part of the admissions process, and I plan to turn to other topics in the blog. I’m open to suggestions, though. If you think I’ve missed something that would be of value to the general blog audience, please let me know.

 

I have to assume that many of the applicants to whom Fletcher did not offer admission this year are too disappointed or disgusted to look at the blog at this point. But maybe there are still a few of you out there wondering what you can do if you were denied. (I often try to dance around using that word in writing, but we all know what I mean whether I avoid it or not. So, for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to use it.)

The answer is that there’s really nothing you can do to change the outcome for September 2008. We don’t re-evaluate applications. So much time and effort goes into ensuring that everyone receives the right decision, and we can’t pluck out one application essentially at random and re-evaluate. It would be like pulling an apple out of a tall display — all the apples above it would come tumbling down.

But I can say that many applicants will reapply successfully for admission to a future class. As we’ve said here many times, Fletcher is blessed with an extraordinarily talented applicant pool. In any given year, there is only a small proportion of fundamentally unqualified applicants. (Yes, there are a few.) The largest group of applicants who are denied are missing professional and/or international experience — problems that can be corrected with time. Another group is on the cusp academically — maybe they didn’t do particularly well as undergraduates but test scores and recommendations tell us they have great potential. A few years of professional experience can also help to reassure us on this front. (Imagine someone with middling grades in quantitative courses, who has five years of number-crunching for a financial services firm — we’re not going to worry too much about how that applicant will do in quant courses at Fletcher.) The last group has a combination of problems. Maybe none of the problems would bring down an application on its own, but together they present more trouble than we think the applicant can overcome. (Think about someone with limited professional experience, modest but acceptable undergraduate grades, and limited second language proficiency. Achieving success at Fletcher would be an uphill battle.)

To help our applicants figure out if an application in the future would be a reasonable idea, we offer feedback on applications. Please wait until after May 1, and then send an email. Details on what to include in your email are included here: How to request application feedback. The idea is that you ask us what you can do to improve your application, and we tell you, and then you follow our suggestion. If we suggest several years of work experience is what’s missing, you probably shouldn’t come back with an application for January enrollment. The only exception is if there was a major error in your first application. Then, correcting the problem may well bring you success.

Last, I want you all to know how often we look at an application and hope that a different grad program will make an offer of admission. Sometimes the fit with Fletcher isn’t there, but the applicant’s achievements and promise are clear. We’re rooting for you behind the scenes! And we wish all of you all the best in your graduate studies and future careers.

 

The Wait List. Those of you who are “glass half full” types will react with happiness that you haven’t been denied admission and there’s still opportunity to be admitted. The “glass half empty” types will feel the misery of more waiting.

I have a little “full” and a little “empty” in me, but I’m going to encourage those of you who remain interested in Fletcher to take the “half full” approach. This has been my ninth application cycle in Fletcher Admissions, and I believe we have drawn from the wait list each year I’ve been here.

Here’s the scoop on the list. We send out wait list offers in March, and we learn by May who would like to remain on the list. So let’s say we have sent 10 offers; maybe only five people will stay on the list. We don’t rank either the original ten, or the final five — but we draw from the list as makes sense at the time. The best example to explain what “makes sense” means is that we can’t take international students off the wait list in August — they won’t have time to obtain a visa. (In fact, we never want to take anyone off the list in August, but I wanted an example that is always true.)

So what’s a wait-listed applicant to do? If you’re interested in waiting, first return the form. Then, feel free to send us an update. In the months since you applied, you may have taken a course, traveled, changed jobs, or taken your standardized tests again. Tell us about it! You may find that the information you share answers a question that the Admissions Committee had, and will boost up the evaluation of your application. Also feel free to send an additional recommendation that will make a meaningful addition to the materials in your file.

Meaningful — that’s the key word here. You will not be supporting your own case if you flood us with barely-relevant reams of paper. Show some selectivity, but send us some info. Or just a little love! Many applicants refine their own goals in the long period from January to May. If Fletcher now seems like an even better fit for your goals than it did in January, send a letter to tell us so.

Finally, if you’re in the area, stop in. You’re welcome to attend an information session or a class (check the schedule first), and depending on when you’re here, a member of the Admissions staff may be able to take some time to talk with you.

I can’t help letting my “half empty” side sneak in a little. Ultimately, you need to make a back-up plan. Please don’t put all your eggs in the Fletcher basket. What will you do if you don’t receive an offer of admission from Fletcher? Maybe you’ll decide to work for another year, or maybe you’ll take the offer of admission from another school. I can assure you that it’s always our goal to make our wait list decisions as early as possible, so that you’ll know you’re admitted or that you need to move on to Plan B. What’s “as early as possible”? Sometimes it’s the first week in May. Sometimes quite a bit later. For the admissions office, the goal is to work as quickly as we can to ensure we have the right number of incoming students, and then we need to turn our attention elsewhere, too.

Back to “half full.” No one ever prefers the wait list to an offer of admission. But our wait-listed candidates are talented, accomplished and nearly strong enough to have been admitted in the first round. We had a very strong applicant pool. You can feel proud of your achievement.

 

If I understand correctly what I’ve been told, by the end of the day today, everyone’s decisions will be posted in the Application Management System, except for some MIB applicants who applied by the March 1 deadline. If you’re not one of those MIBers, I believe you’ll have your information this afternoon (fingers crossed — no more glitches). If, by chance, you still can’t access your decision, please hold the call until tomorrow. Then, it will be reasonable to call because your inability to access the decision may well be a technical problem.

All this talk about our technical challenges, and I haven’t taken a minute to congratulate our admitted students. Congratulations! You’ll be hearing a lot from us in the coming weeks.

 

They’re plaguing us! But we’re working on solving the problems. Although the bugs have particularly affected PhD program applicants, there are applicants to ALL Fletcher programs who have not yet heard from us through the Application Management System. You can be sure that our elves are working double time to fix the problems. If you have been unable to find your decision on-line, you are probably among those whose information has not been posted yet. Please give it another day. If I know we’re still having problems, I’ll post a notice. Otherwise, if you still can’t find your decision by tomorrow afternoon (U.S. East Coast time), contact us.  Sorry for the delay.

 

I’ve been so wrapped up in Fletcher admissions, that I almost forgot that my son and his friends are likely to be hearing soon about their college applications, too. (It should have been further up front in my mind, since he called me at work last Saturday to tell me he had heard good news from one school.) On Saturday, he had a few friends over for dinner. One had just heard that day from his first choice — a happy kid! One of the friends is a junior, just getting started on the whole deal, and my son and the remaining friend are still waiting to hear from a bunch of schools.

Before dinner was over, I had a call from the mother of yet another friend who wanted to know about wait lists. Her son had been offered a spot on the wait list of his first choice school and he wasn’t sure what, if anything, to do. (I’ll post some wait list advice for Fletcher applicants later this week.)

By the end of dinner, I was reminded that work has eased up, but there’s still a lot to be done at home before the undergrad application process is complete.

 

Yesterday, standing over piles of letters, envelopes, etc., Kate (who has a previous career in undergraduate admissions) commented that, in her old job, she never had to think about getting the letters out — there was a large staff dedicated to such tasks. Sadly, our office doesn’t have that luxury. It has been “all hands on deck” to get those decisions in the mail. Kristen is off working on the MIBs, but the rest of us have spent yesterday afternoon and today around a table, proofreading letters, packing folders, loading letters and folders in envelopes, dividing U.S. and international mail, deciding what needs to go by a courier service, and hauling boxes of envelopes to a safe location in the office where we don’t need to worry about cups of coffee being dumped on top.

Oh. The university mail room people just walked through the door to pick up all those coffee-safe boxes. It’s not even 3:00, so I assume that the mail room staff will put on the postage and send everything out before the close of business today. It’s late enough, though, that I can’t be completely sure how many of the boxes will be processed. And…there are some last-minute corrections in the works, so there are plenty of letters still in the office. So…I’m afraid that even while I can say that most decisions will leave our office today, some definitely won’t leave the university until after the weekend.

At this moment, it’s also unclear whether the decisions will be posted on-line before the weekend. And, unfortunately for blog readers, I will probably end up leaving here before Roxana, and I won’t know until Monday if it happened. Sorry to be an incomplete source of information.

So that’s where it all stands. Almost done. But with a little more nervous waiting to go for applicants, and little more time for our staff to dash around, busy as bees.

Have a good weekend.

 

It has been really great to hear from you this week via blog comments and emails. Throughout the year, I often wonder if I am “talking” to myself in the blog. I’m glad to know that the information we have included here has been useful.

And here’s a new update for you. We’ve closed our office for processing today. No interruptions from current Fletcher students — that means we’re serious! Many letters have been printed and envelopes have been stuffed. Ironically, what was slowing us down at the beginning of the week was our attempt to get applicants their decisions faster! We want to post more complete information than we have in the past on the Application Management System, which involved both writing and technical work. We believe the wrinkles have been ironed out now, and we have the letters we need, so the system is ready when we are.  You’ll be able to learn your decision and, if applicable, your scholarship award on-line.

In my last post, I said we were aiming for Friday the 20th. Oops. Friday is the 21st. But the target of Thursday the 20th is still completely achievable. As I said, we’ll mail/post as soon as we can.

Every once in a while (more often in the spring), I check out the web sites devoted to sharing info on grad school admission, so I know that some other schools have started to release decisions. (In fact, as many of you know, Fletcher admitted a small group in February as well.) I can imagine that applicant anxiety (and tea-leaf reading) is only enhanced when different schools are following different protocols. (School X admits a group in February, while School Y notifies its wait list first — I didn’t get an early admission letter, but I didn’t get a wait list letter either. Is that good news or bad news?) For Fletcher, you probably all know that we admitted Early Notification applicants in December. The February group was made up of solid candidates whose applications were complete and had been reviewed by the Admissions Committee — so who fell in that group was partially determined by luck. But for this round, everything will go at once; no early mailing of wait list letters.

I’m off to see what my next task will be. I wish you all calm in your waiting, and luck in your admissions.

 

Lots of vigorous sifting and sorting taking place in the Admissions Office this week. We all worked all weekend, which was very productive (with occasional moments of silliness). None of us relish two straight weeks of work, so on Saturday night we went off to do our own things, which for Laurie was a yoga class with her daughter, for Kate was a movie at home and brownie-baking for the office (thanks, Kate!!), for Roxana was a jewelry home party, for Peter was a concert by Pink Martini, and for me was a movie, The Band’s Visit. We all turned up bleary eyed, but fresh of spirit on Sunday.

So here’s where things stand for those waiting nervously. Nearly every application has both an admission decision and a financial aid decision assigned to it. We don’t release our decisions in dribs and drabs, so we won’t tell you yet by phone or email how things have turned out. Why? First, until we mail the letters, nothing is 100% final. (99% final, but there’s still the possibility of change.) Second, because sharing decisions one-by-one leads to error, and we don’t like error. And third, because telling a thousand people their decisions individually is very time consuming, and it will keep us from finishing the process.

Please rest assured that no one will be happier when the decisions are posted on-line and mailed than the staff of the Admissions Office. We’re not eager to spend another weekend here. I, for one, have a 17-year-old’s basketball tournament to attend — if his team makes the championship game, it means three days of sitting on the gym bleachers and no time for admissions work.

Once we move from 99% to 100% final, work out some technical problems currently making Roxana crazy, print letters, and lastly stuff those fat and thin envelopes, out they’ll go. I can’t see any reason why we would miss our target of mailing/posting before Friday the 20th. The only remaining question is how many days before the 20th we’ll be done. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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