From the monthly archives: October 2008

Kristen and I were talking to an MIB student, Tatiana, earlier this week.  She gave one of the speeches at the 75th Anniversary celebration last Friday, and she was describing the experience (her first speech before such a large audience) to Kristen and me.

Kristen started a comment like this: “And you were speaking before your peers….”  And Tatiana finished the sentence, but not how Kristen or I expected her to.  We both thought she would say that speaking before one’s peers is always a little extra stressful.  Instead, Tatiana said that speaking before her Fletcher peers was easy, because everyone was rooting her on!

In Admissions, we always talk about the nature and value of the Fletcher community but, of course, we’re not students.  It’s great to have the spirit of this collegial community confirmed and reinforced for us by one of its members.


Writing the blog is something I fit into bits of time, here and there, whenever I can.  Although the blog is among my job responsibilities (one I particularly enjoy), when I’m busiest, it’s hard to set aside everything else and get to it.  This was one of those weeks.

What are we up to here at Fletcher?

Travel season is creeping toward its conclusion.  Kate and Laurie are away now but back next week.  I have only one more local visit.  Kristen’s just on her way to Asia — which I think is the last long trip anyone will take.  (I’m pestering Kristen for some guest posts, so more on her trip soon, I hope.)

Laurie and I spent a day last week selecting the student members of the MALD/MA Committee on Admissions, and Kristen and I held interviews for the MIB Committee.  It’s always exciting and fun to form the Committees.

And, we’re about midway through review of the applications for January enrollment.

Somehow, despite the quick work pace this week, we tend to see the busiest part of the admissions season as coming after November 15.  That’s the deadline for the Early Notification applications, and we will run through the four months that follow with barely a chance for a deep breath.

But I’ll keep trying to post to the blog.  I’ll certainly try to do better than I have this week!


Everyone loves a celebration, and Fletcher is no exception.  All this year, we’re celebrating the School’s 75th Anniversary, and today we’re holding a major commemoration event.  In addition to the info you may already have noticed on the Fletcher web site, this week the main Tufts University site is featuring our celebration, too.  Check out the features stories on our students, Jessica Smith (who is also an admissions volunteer) and Viola Erdmannsdoerfer, and of our alumni.

The event today will feature German Ambassador to the United States (and alum, class of 1974) Klaus Scharioth, and members of the faculty and student body who will reflect on the School’s role in world events and policies, past and present.

75 years — something to celebrate!


Tomorrow and Saturday, teams from Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, NATO/Europe, the U.S., and Russia, will debate and strategize about the challenges and opportunities tied to a resurgent Russia.  Or more accurately, dozens of Fletcher students will play those roles (projecting themselves into 2011) as part of the School’s annual SIMULEX program.  As you might guess from the fact that more than 70 students are giving up part of their weekend to pursue an academic exercise, SIMULEX is one of the highlights of the fall semester.  Check out the web site — there are photos from last year’s SIMULEX, a demonstration of the software participants will use, and the background paper that forms the basis of the exercise.

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The answer to that question falls into the “Who needs rules?” theme for this year’s blog.  Why does Fletcher limit language study for its students?  First, I suppose I should spell out the rule.  Students in the MALD program can take up to two language classes for credit as part of their degree study.  That’s two out of a total of sixteen.  And…we don’t even make it easy to take the two classes.  Students need to petition for the language credit, and they need to show that the language is a necessary element of their career preparation.

Why would we impose this limit?

Well, Fletcher is not a language school — it’s a graduate professional school of international affairs.  Students make real sacrifices, both financial and of time, to come here.  It’s the role of the School’s administration to ensure the academic integrity of each student’s program of study.  We all love learning languages!  But, in general, languages are not the focus of the Fletcher curriculum.

So when would language study be reasonable?  Here’s a simple example I like to cite:  A student who has worked in the Spanish-speaking countries of South America would like to further extend his work to Brazil.  In that case, proficiency in Portuguese is a career skill, and a petition to study would be straightforward.

But language study for it’s own sake isn’t part of the program.  Lucky for all of us, between classes offered by universities, adult education centers, or on-line, not to mention tutors or CD-based instruction, there are plenty of opportunities to build language skills before starting Fletcher study.  And, equally, to continue to learn during the course of a post-Fletcher career.

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You’re busy people.  You’re working or studying and applying to grad school.  So I certainly don’t want to assume that you’ll be able to take the time to review all of our admissions tips.  On the other hand, you don’t want to make more errors than necessary, right?  So why not take a quick look at the complete list from last year?

In particular, make sure you’re using a consistent version of your name.  This is a problem that haunts us (and a few unfortunate applicants) every year.  We’ve even had applications we thought were incomplete because the applicant used a different version of his/her name when registering for the GRE exam than he/she did on the application form itself.  How can we know to connect documents if there’s no basis for connecting them?  There are some safeguards to help overcome this problem.  But the best safeguard is to keep it from happening in the first place.

Fortunately for our applicants, the applications we received this week did not generate any new tips.  That’s good!  It means that everything was in order.  We’ll continue, though, to share our suggestions.  Maybe you work in an field that involves application review or data collection.  If you have tips to share, please post them as a comment on the blog!


The other day, one of our student interviewers told me that she and an applicant had discovered they had a friend in common from their work in East Africa.  Although I can’t say this type of coincidence happens every day, it isn’t super rare, either.  I guess it fits with the “six degrees of separation” model (whether or not that model stands up to scientific scrutiny).

I had my own small world experience at Fletcher last spring.  By random chance, I picked up an application and, for no good reason except that I knew people who shared the surname of the applicant, decided to look at the names he supplied for the parent/guardian section of the application.  Turns out that I had met his father ages ago when we worked for the same company.

When you work at a place like Fletcher, it can seem like all the world’s residents are plugged in and connected to the rest of the world.  Of course, that’s utterly untrue.  In fact, the community directly or tangentially engaged in international affairs is limited enough in size that these “small world” events can happen with some regularity.


Today marks the day when the admissions season really kicks off for us.  It’s the deadline for applications to enroll at Fletcher in January.  The January class is small, and the pool of applications always seems very manageable.  But from here on, we’re in a cycle of reading applications, making decisions, and notifying applicants that won’t end until March.  Since everyone here enjoys reading applications, this is the start of the best of our work.  On the other hand, with travel still underway, there are still several months before we’ll be taking quiet “reading days” at home.  That’s something to look forward to!


So this year may not be the year for New England sports fans.  We’re feeling the pain of last night’s 9-1 Red Sox loss to the Rays.  The Sox are only down 2-1 in the series, so we’re not giving up hope!  But the Brady-less Patriots…well, the less said the better.  Basketball fans still have the Celtics, who are looking good while we await the start of their season.  For now, though, we’re lucky to have the fall foliage, which is plenty to energize us.

It turns out that this year’s soggy summer created prime conditions for a fabulous fall!  The horticulturalists explain that the trees are hydrated and happy.  And the last week or so has provided wonderful weather for enjoying leaves and fall outdoor activities.  For me, the weekend included apple picking and a Cambridge street festival.  For Fletcher students, there was a camping trip in New Hampshire.

Fall foliage is more than just the leaves on the trees in New England.  There’s a huge travel industry built around it, with regular bulletins for leaf-peepers.  Here on the campus and throughout the area, living among the leaves, it’s a special time.  The air is crisp, the light is golden, and we hear the rustle of the leaves when we walk.


By October, Fletcher really hums along.  Distractions abound, and students come to grips with the reality that they will always be a bit behind on their classwork.

Today, I’ll just mention two upcoming events, both conferences.  The first, to take place next Friday, is the Fletcher PhD Conference.  Organized by students and staff, the conference is an opportunity for PhD students both to develop their knowledge, as well as to test their theories through presentation to an audience.  The annual conference made its debut only last year, but it’s already a valued tradition for our PhD students.

And, in November, Fletcher’s LLM program will host its own conference, which will draw legal luminaries from around the world.  As this is Fletcher LLM’s first year, the conference is also a new addition to the annual calendar of events.


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