It’s a drag, I know — you’ve been waiting to hear from admissions offices for three months or more, and now Fletcher tells you to wait another few months.  But it’s also an opportunity, and I want to encourage you to make the most of it.  Each year, for the past few years, we have gone to the Wait List.  In some years, we have been looking for only a few people, but in other years, we have drawn as many as 20 new students.

Here’s how the Wait List works at Fletcher.  (Note that other schools may use their wait lists completely differently.)  We make a good number of offers of spots on the Wait Lists for the MALD, MA, LLM, and MIB programs.  Then we turn our attention elsewhere while responses trickle in.  Many (perhaps half) of the wait listed will turn down the offer.  There’s another school that looks good to them, so why wait?  By May 1, we have all the responses, and we put the files together for future review.  We don’t “rank” the wait-listed applications.  When it’s time to make some new offers of admission, we go back to the Committee notes and find the best candidates.  We also review any new materials that have come in since the application was first submitted.  That’s where the Wait List becomes an “opportunity” for you.

We invite you to update your application.  But what sort of carefully selected materials should you send?  Here are some potential categories:

1.  Any update to basic application materials:  Grades for newly completed classes, new test scores, an additional recommendation from your university or workplace, written by someone who knows you well and who can add a new perspective on your background.  (Please read that last sentence carefully.  You won’t get much from a recommendation (however positive it might be) that just covers the same ground as your previous three recommendations.)  You can also update your résumé, or send a copy of a newly published article.

2.  The answer that completes the sentence, “When I wrote my essay, I wish I had said….”  Do you have a better sense of your academic and career goals than you did in January?  If so, fill us in!  Some of you might wonder how goals could change in such a short time, but I can assure you that Fletcher applicants are a mobile bunch, and three months might just coincide with a life-defining experience.  Really — it happens more than you might think.

3.  A “conversation.”  We don’t offer formal interviews during the spring, but we’ll certainly meet with you, if you happen to be able to visit.  The best time for a visit is probably early in May.  We’ll try to accommodate you whenever you are here, but we’d appreciate it if you could hold off until after April 15.

4.  Anything else that you would have put in your application if the instructions had been written differently.  While I don’t encourage you to send us a research paper or thesis (and I say this because I know that many applicants would like to send us additional reading materials…), there may be something that you wished you could have included.  If you had written the application questions, what would you have asked?  Well, go ahead and ask it, and then provide the answer.

I hope this gives you an idea of the types of materials you can send to us.  You can send a short update by email, but please use “snail mail” for anything more substantive.

And when can you expect to hear from us?  Hard to say.  As soon as we know that our initial offers of admission will leave open seats in the class, we’ll start making new offers.  Sometimes that happens on May 1.  Sometimes not until July 1.  I can promise you that our goal is ALWAYS to wrap up the process as quickly as possible, but it often stretches on longer than we’d like.

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10 Responses to Moving On…The Wait List

  1. Hi Pia,

    Right now, the Office is busily completing the clean-up work necessary to get a good count of how many people will be enrolling. Once that task is complete, we’ll consider whether to admit students off the Wait List.

    As for process, we work with the entire collection of wait-listed applications, and present them in groups to the Committees. Our goal is the same as throughout the process: to make a good match between applicants and the School.

    Remember that a large number of the applicants offered a place on the wait list have moved on, simplifying the process somewhat.

    I’ll keep you posted, once there’s more to say!

  2. Pia says:

    Hi, Jessica:

    Love your posts!

    My question was whether committees will regroup to discuss all WL candidates, or if the process will mostly be a case-by-case evaluation from here on out? Grateful for any thoughts, and thanks again for keeping us updated!

    Hoping a lucky few of us will have a chance to meet in the coming weeks and months.

  3. That’s a good question, and we don’t have a set answer. Your sense that it shouldn’t be longer than the original personal statement is a good one. Maybe we’ll make that the rule for the future! Thanks for your help with our work!

  4. Rizwan Ladha says:

    Another question, to which I think I know the answer but just want to confirm: is there a word limit on the additional statement (“I wish I had said … “)? I suspect it should be as long as the personal statement — is that correct? Is a page and a half single-spaced acceptable? Thanks!

  5. Your professor can send the letter by mail or by email, whatever is most convenient. Use the address, and just be sure the message is clearly marked so that our staff will know the letter should go into your application file.

  6. Rizwan Ladha says:

    Hi Jessica – thanks so much for answering our questions quickly and thoroughly! I’ll be submitting an additional recommendation from an undergrad professor, and I’d like to know if there is a particular address to which he should submit the recommendation. Should it be done online / through email, or sent via post?


  7. Thanks for raising this question, Chris. I’m afraid that it’s not possible to go back into your application at this point to update materials. If you’re thinking of sending along something of, say, a maximum of five to six pages, you can attach it to an email to Anything longer than that, please send us the hard copy version by mail.

  8. Chris Brandt says:

    Thank you for your transparency and insight into the admissions process. You mentioned that we should send any new application materials through the postal service. When updating files such as resumes and personal statements, can we do that through the online application system, or should we send hard copies by mail, as well?

  9. On the one hand, it’s true that admitted students will use up much of our scholarship budget. On the other hand, students who decline our offer will return scholarship funds to us. So we usually anticipate having funds to offer to students admitted off the Wait List, though awards will tend to be smaller than those offered in March. All scholarships, including those offered to students admitted later in the process, are awarded on the basis of need and merit.

    Thanks for prompting me to cover a topic that, I’m sure, is on the minds of many.

  10. Tyler Gumpright says:

    Thank you for preemptively answering several of my questions concerning the wait list process. Could you please address the decision making process concerning the eligibility of applicants on the wait list for financial aid resources i.e. loans and grants? Is it correct to assume that the availability of resources will be at least partially diminished by those applicants who are admitted outright?

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