From the monthly archives: January 2009

Fletcher was well represented in D.C. for the inauguration last Tuesday.  PhD candidate Margaret Sloane sent around her photo album, including this picture, which captures both the spririt and the crowds of the day:

Also in D.C. was second-year MALD student Anne Dwojewski, who describes her experience here.

President Obama and I share an address. No, I’ve never lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but I did live at 365 Broadway in Somerville, MA several years back. And so did Barack Obama-the-law-student, back in the 1990s when he was studying at HLS. It’s my prize connection to the 44th President — and he doesn’t even know about it.

Judging from the crowd, many people claimed some prize connection to the new president — feeling that this wasn’t some distant, elite head of state that we were watching be sworn in, but rather that this was someone with whom we each have something very personal in common. It felt like everyone was cheering in support of their neighbor, their best friend, their brother, themselves. And perhaps, in part, they were…

I am not sure how many Fletcherites were at the Inauguration festivities a week ago today, but I get the sense it was a lot of us. From the emails that were going around in the days before, I know many current students were planning on carpooling or caravaning, taking epic bus rides, studying on long train trips, flying to Baltimore or direct….any way to get down to be a part of history.

I flew down and stayed with a Fletcher friend who graduated this past spring and now lives in D.C. We got a late start to the day, not leaving the house until 8 a.m. (We’d heard revelers heading in the direction of the Mall as early as 3:00 a.m., and a text message from the Washington Post at 5:11 a.m. alerted me to the fact that there were already “big crowds at downtown checkpoints.”) Our tardiness meant that the closest we could get to the Capitol Building was the Washington Monument, 1.5 miles away. It didn’t matter. We had the jumbotrons on which to watch the events and the crowd to keep us both warm and energized.

The energy was what we were there for, and it didn’t disappoint.

After the ceremony, we were literally moved by the masses off of the Mall and down 18th Street. Around the K Street intersection, the crowd began to dissipate and we had to begin propelling ourselves forward on our own. And that was it! It was over. Yes, there was a parade to catch on TV, perhaps a ball or two to attend. (Not us, though–we spent the evening reminiscing about Fletcher adventures over dessert at a local cafe.) But the main event was behind us.

Or maybe the main events were ahead of us.

Two days later, Secretary of State Clinton headed to her first day at the State Department, and announced the renewed emphasis that the Obama administration intends to put on diplomacy and development. As she spoke, Fletcher students — including those who’d traveled to DC — were back in Medford, in classes and the library, working toward their goals to become scholars and leaders in those very areas…


Although we’re focused on reviewing applications for our September 2009 entering class, we’re also aware that there are future students who are just starting up their grad school application process.  Regardless of where you stand on that continuum, we want to help you gather information about the School, and we’ll be offering Information Sessions on Mondays through the next few months.  Avoiding the public holidays and spring break in March, the Mondays on which we’ll offer sessions are:  February 2, February 9, February 23, March 2, March 9, March 23, March 30, April 6.

The Information Sessions run from 12:30 to 1:30 and will generally be led by current students, who will describe the school as well as the Fletcher student experience.  Contact the office if you would like to attend.  While you’re here, consider sitting in on a class.  Check out the spring schedule to see what interests you.


In case you’re planning to ski Sugarloaf this weekend, keep an eye out for nearly 300 Fletcher students, along with some Fletcher friends, Fletcher spouses, and Fletcher kids!  A relatively new annual tradition, the January ski trip is a student-run adventure that draws more than half of our students.  Not only did the six-person organizing team arrange the lift tickets and other ski basics, they rented condos, assigned housing, counseled students from warm-weather locations on the need for appropriate clothing, and sent weather reports, in addition to details on spas and other après-ski activities.  For weeks, emails going around the community have had subject lines such as “Ski-pants needed!” and “Share a van to Sugarloaf?”  Next week we’ll be back to more mundane subjects, but with the community further strengthened by the shared adventure.


President Obama, I’m sure, is not suffering from a lack of advice.  Still, in case he’s looking for tips on environment policy, Fletcher students and professors have provided some guidance in the current issue of “IDEAS,” a Fletcher online journal dedicated to generating discussion of environmental issues.


It’s true.  We have a lot of work to do.  But, for a couple of hours, the news of the day trumped filing.  We all gathered around the computer to watch the ceremony.


Roxana is our systems guru.  The information she provides below tells you just what happens after you submit your application (whether or not you have waited until today’s deadline).  Refer back to this information when you’re feeling nervous next week!

For those unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes work of an Admissions Office, you may be surprised at how time consuming it can be to process over 1600 applications. Though the on-line system is a huge time-saver, we also devote countless hours to opening mail, answering phone and email inquiries, as well as updating applications in our system.

Here is a run-down of what happens once you hit the “submit” button on your application. Be aware that most things happen simultaneously:

•You hit the submit button online.  Your application will be “stamped” with the date/time that you hit submit.

•The application waits within the Embark system for your registered on-line recommenders to submit their letters, which are then attached to your application.

•Once letters from registered recommenders are attached, the application is uploaded by an Admissions representative (aka Roxana).

•As applications (with attached recommendations) are uploaded in our internal admissions program, you receive an automatic email stating that we have received your application (hooray!), and that you should wait 10 business days before contacting the Admissions Office about missing materials. This email also provides you with a username and password to access the Tufts Graduate Application Management System (GAMS).  GAMS is the best way to find out the status of your application throughout the whole process.  Decision letters are also posted to your GAMS account.  Hang on to your username and password!

•Uploaded applications are printed and placed in files.

•Meanwhile, the Admissions Office is bombarded with bags and bags of mail which include test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation from recommenders who weren’t registered on-line, writing samples, etc.  Our staff sorts and files the mail.  If the application has not yet been uploaded, the paper materials will “wait” for it to emerge from the system.

•Once we have your application in a file, we dig out the mail that has already been received for you, and include it with your application.  Then we update your record in the admissions system to show what materials have been come in by mail.  You should track your application through GAMS, but we’ll also email you if there is a document missing.

•Though nearly all applications arrive via the on-line system, there are a few each year that arrive in hardcopy form.  In that case, we enter all the details manually.  VERY time-consuming.

•Your completed application is then given to Committee members to review.

•You receive your admission decision in late March.

The process requires multiple steps, and much patience and organization.  I am grateful to have the help of our student workers to update files, answer phones and emails.  If I didn’t have their help, we’d never complete the process on time!

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Here they are, hard at work.  Or, at least, they’re pretending to be hard at work for the purposes of this photo.  Nonetheless, we make sure that our student staffers (from the left) Kristin, Hania, Betsy, Julie, Divyesh, Saurav, and Ivette are BUSY whenever they’re in the office.  We couldn’t get our work done without them, but they’re a big help to applicants, too.  They patiently answer your questions, keeping in mind that it’s the first time you have called, though it is the hundredth time they have answered that same question.  They open mail, answer dozens of emails every day, date stamp transcripts, sort through reams of correspondence, enter data, and create application files.  The truth is that most of what they do can be very dull, but they approach it all with good humor, knowing that it’s an important contribution to a smooth admissions process.

Beyond the day-to-day tasks, our student staffers help us stay on top of news in the student community, and they’re fun to have around!  Next time you call the office and one of them answers, take a minute to ask about his or her Fletcher experience — their insights are a contribution that we can’t replace.


The pioneers in Fletcher’s first MIB class are now veterans of a full semester, plus an additional special one-week session they completed last week.  Here, MIB class of 2010 member Joshua Haynes shares his observations.

Last Sunday, I had coffee with a fellow MIB classmate at Diesel Cafe in Davis Square.  It felt like an eternity since we had last seen each other, but in fact it had only been 13 days since we turned in our last final exams and left for our two-week winter break.  We were both back in town ahead of our non-MIB Fletcher classmates to attend the one-week pre-semester course for first-year MIB students.

We chatted about our respective breaks, how great it was to spend time with family and to return to our respective home states (she to Vermont and I to New Mexico), after an incredibly intense first semester.  It was intense because, for almost all of us, we hadn’t been students in years, so getting back into the swing of study — read-go to class–read–eat–read–study–socialize–read–sleep — was a bit difficult.

The first semester was also intense academically because of the number of different academic “genres” we dealt with.  In the first semester as aMIBae (our self-dubbed name), we took courses that forced us to think mathematically, analytically, politically, economically, theoretically, “researchilly,” regionally, linguistically, and strategically.  We were exposed to a number of topics and academic disciplines to which I personally had never really given second thought, such as international negotiation theory, financial securitization, and economic realism.

The last reason the semester was intense was because of its sheer busyness, compounded by all the “extra’ activities.  Whether it was rehearsing for Fiesta Latina or Med Night, participating in or organizing conferences, starting or running clubs, or attending lectures or networking events,  there was never a dull moment.

Tomorrow we begin The Second Semester. It’s sure to be just as intense (and exciting) as the first one, but we’re a bit more prepared for it this time around.  At least, we hope we are.


Well, I’m afraid I did.  On Monday, while I wrote my blog entry, I naively thought the orderly scene in the “back office” indicated a still-sane work flow.  Wrong!  Even by then we had fallen behind the pace at which mail arrived and, with student workers still on vacation, it’s all-hands-on-deck for the admissions staff.  We all have our preferred tasks, and those we shun.  Personally, I’m very happy to semi-mindlessly open mail.  (Cutting the envelope open is mindless.  Making sure that nothing is left in the envelope before it’s recycled requires some mindfulness.)  I’m not as wild about filing.

Maximum craziness will hit us next week and it will take us at least a week to dig out from all the mail, not to mention the applications, which arrive electronically but are then turned into yet more paper.  Fortunately, student workers will be back next week and we should be ready to fight back the tide.


Happy New Year!  I hope it will be a peaceful and productive year for all of us.

Admissions staff members have been floating in and out of the office for the past two weeks, but we’re at full strength today!  Our student staff should start trickling back throughout this week and next, and we’ll all be ready for the wave of materials that floods us around the January 15 deadline.  For now, the work pace is still sane, which gives us a chance to catch up on work we missed.


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