I had fun at the Idealist grad school fair in New York last Wednesday. I talked myself hoarse, but the fast pace is energizing, as is meeting so many people committed to public service. At any fair, regardless of the organizers, the questions we’re asked will span a broad spectrum, ranging from “What is Fletcher?” to “Exactly which courses are included in your International Environment and Resource Policy Field?” Certain questions become the theme of the evening, and I’m going to pluck out two to answer here. I’ve probably answered them before in the blog, but it never hurts to put the information up for a new year’s applicants.
The first: How important are GRE/GMAT scores in Fletcher’s admissions process? I try to be careful in answering this question. I want applicants to know that Fletcher’s use of test scores may be different from that of other schools. And, it’s both obvious and fair to say that higher scores are always better than lower scores. But…Fletcher takes a broad look at each applicant’s credentials, with emphasis on academic potential, professional and international experience, and clarity of professional and academic goals. The test scores are one component of the academic profile, along with results for undergraduate or post-graduate study and professors’ recommendations. We use GRE/GMAT scores to help us interpret the other information, and there is no cut-off on any section. I don’t recommend repeated re-testing. Unless an applicant is sure that the first test results are not representative of his/her ability, re-testing will likely yield similar results. Ask yourself what the basis is for thinking you’ll do better. If, for example, you were sick on the day you took the exam, then go ahead and take it again.
The second question that defined the evening was: What is the minimum amount of professional experience to make an applicant competitive in the admissions process? Again, there’s no firm answer, and no absolute minimum. But Fletcher students will tell you that their pre-Fletcher work experience has helped them to contribute to the community, both in and out of the classroom. That said, a little experience accompanied by crystal-clear goals may be better than years of experience and a personal statement along the lines of “I’m not sure what I want to do, and I hope grad school will tell me.” We will be looking to see that your goals are rooted in your experience, but successful applicants present so many different pre-Fletcher profiles that we can’t provide a prescription for admission.
So, what do these fuzzy answers tell you? That Fletcher takes a holistic look at each applicant. Incredibly strong credentials in one area can outweigh modest credentials in another. The bottom line is that every admitted applicant needs to be able to succeed academically.
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