From the monthly archives: September 2009

That’s our motto.  And when it comes to our program of evaluative interviews, it’s central to our decisions on what we will offer.

As blog readers know, Fletcher interviews are optional.  You may be applying to other schools that don’t offer evaluative interviews at all, or perhaps to schools that require them for admitted students.  If you’re wondering how we decided on the structure for Fletcher’s interview program, it all comes down to:  We do what we can do well.  For now, that means interviews on campus (generally in our tiny interview room) by current students and staff only.

We’re often asked (most recently on our Facebook page) about telephone interviews and alumni interviews.  The reason we don’t offer them is that, for now at least, we fear we couldn’t do them as well as we would expect them to be done.  Alumni interview programs are fantastic, and we would love to draw on our fabulous far-flung alums to interview applicants who can’t get to campus.  But ensuring continuity and consistency in a program like that, not to mention making the connection between applicant and alum, is a big job.  It’s one that we have in mind for the future, but we haven’t been able to make it happen…yet.

Similarly, a telephone interview requires an interviewer and a telephone in a private space.  Should be simple!  But our spaces all have people in them, so it generally isn’t possible.  Over time, we have found a way to arrange a few telephone interviews each year.  If you are an Early Notification applicant, you can request a telephone interview after you have submitted your application.  Most of the phone interviews will take place on a Wednesday, when we have a private space available.  Contact us after you submit your application, and the Admissions Office staff will set up a time and explain the call-in process to you.

And, we do offer a very few off-site interviews.  If a staffer has spare time during travels, or if a student interviewer can arrange to conduct some interviews during the winter break, we’ll contact prospective applicants.  (Interested?  Make sure you have connected with us, so we’ll know who and where you are!  We email in advance the applicants in the cities where we’ll be.)

So, for now, optional evaluative on-campus interviews are what we generally offer.  And I think it’s something we do very well.  Applicants have good things to say about their experience, and current students benefit, too.  We tweak the process every year, while always sticking to our motto:  If you’re going to do something, do it well.

 

This has been a busy week — so busy that I haven’t been able to generate a creative blog post.  I spent much of my time finalizing the schedule of volunteers who will conduct evaluative admissions interviews for us this fall.  It’s a great crew, and I always feel so happy and grateful that we have these fabulous students willing to donate their time.

This morning, because the schedule was so close to complete, Roxana sent a note to prospective students suggesting that they book an interview appointment.  No exaggeration:  the phones have not stopped ringing all day!  I guess people like to receive an invitation.  Didn’t get one of Roxana’s emails?  Consider this your invitation!  Book your interview appointment now!

For now, all I have to add is two reminders:  October 15 is the deadline for applications for January enrollment.  November 15 is the deadline for Early Notification applications for September enrollment.  I’ll be back next week with more to say via the blog.

 

Though this work is a kind of second (or later) career for most of us in Fletcher’s Admissions Office, we share a common long-standing interest in international issues. Continuing to introduce the staff, today several of us answer the Supplementary Essay question: Tell us more about how you first became interested in international affairs, or in pursuing an international career.

Jeff:
I opened the mailbox. There it was.  The letter I had been waiting to receive for what seemed like forever – information regarding my first-year college roommate.  I was shocked:  Kenya?  What would I have in common with someone from Kenya?  Looking back a few weeks after school started, I realized how ridiculous and naïve I was.  My roommate, as well as my hall mates from a plethora of countries (Puerto Rico, Argentina, Honduras, Pakistan, Singapore, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Germany, Latvia, Philippines) and many parts of the U.S., opened my eyes to all the world has to offer.  As we all began a new chapter in our lives, we were able to teach each other many things about our heritage and culture.   I found myself eager to learn as much as I could about everyone’s countries.  While at school, I took classes related to international affairs, and I also joined some campus cultural clubs.  Since that time, I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world and see firsthand all I learned though my classes and from my friends.  My thirst for knowledge of other cultures continues to grow and I look forward to learning about, and traveling to, as many places as possible in the years to come.

Kristen:
My interest in international affairs actually has very boring roots:  a seventh-grade Spanish class. I lived in a small town, and all middle-schoolers had to choose one elective class. My parents were much more far-sighted than I was (as is common at that age), and “encouraged” me to choose Spanish over drama.  I loved it, and I developed a curiosity about all of the hispanoparlante countries. This initial linguistic interest led to travels (Guatemala, Mexico) which, in turn, led to study abroad (Spain), which then led to living abroad (Argentina).  I was in Argentina from 2000-2001, when the economy experienced a steady slide downward, resulting in a crippling economic crash.  All of a sudden, my fascination with a foreign culture morphed into a more robust interest in how the Argentine politics, economy, business, and law, contributed to the crisis.  This is a story common to many Fletcher students, where a seed of interest in a language or a culture blossoms into the full-fledged interest in a region or issue.  In my case, I was able to follow this mind-opening time abroad with a fascinating job in Corporate Social Responsibility. I was able to work with large international companies dealing with the very issues that sparked my interest in Argentina: the intersection of culture, politics, law, and business.

Peter:
With a month or so left before my college graduation and faced with more than a few career uncertainties, a friend told me about an opportunity to spend the summer in rural France, teaching English at a language immersion camp.  I applied for the position looking for an adventure, a new learning experience, and as a way to stall the rapid encroachment of “real life” for a few more months.  I spent the summer living in a former convent in a tiny town in the foothills of the Pyrenees teaching English, as well as baseball, the proper way to carve a jack-o’-lantern, and the lyrics to “Country Roads,” to groups of French pre-teens.  After one summer in the Pyrenees, and another month or so of backpacking with my Eurail pass, my future career path became much clearer.  While it would not necessarily involve pumpkins (or John Denver, for that matter), I knew it would need to involve education and be inherently international.  Since that summer, I’ve taught English in France, Japan, and Poland, coordinated short-term school-to-school partnership exchanges, and managed State Department grant-funded exchange programs for high school students from Germany, the U.S., the Middle East, the Balkans, and Eurasia.  A few years ago, my path led me to Fletcher, where I’ve found a career that fulfills both criteria and a diverse and engaging community that always keeps life interesting.

Roxana:
My personal interest in international affairs did not come into focus until my senior year of high school when we had to choose which colleges to apply to.  When I was forced to think of what I wanted to study in college, the first thing that came to mind was international affairs. It was something I grew up in, and a subject I realized that I would enjoy and be good at. My first personal exposure to international affairs was actually at the age of three, when my parents decided that my dad would become a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department. My parents thought it would be a great learning experience for my brother and me, as well as a good transition to something new following my dad’s career in the Air Force. Growing up, I inadvertently became a young diplomat representing America (without pay) in several countries – Greece, Nigeria, Germany, Morocco, Cyprus and Bahrain.  These experiences would become beneficial in college with my major in International Relations & Comparative Religion, and then when I started working in Admissions at Fletcher.

As for me:
It’s all in the packaging, right?  So I could say that I first became interested in international affairs when, as a child, I first traveled to Europe with my family.  Or when I studied American Foreign Policy in college.  Or when I studied French, or Spanish, or Chinese.  But, in fact, I don’t think I really knew that I had bumped into a lasting interest until I was home from China and job-searching.  At that point, it was clear to me that I just wasn’t ready to let go.  I had been “bitten by the China bug” and I wanted to carry my hard-earned knowledge into my career.  My first post-China job was with a Hong Kong-based company that organized trade shows in China.  An MBA and a relocation to Boston later, I started working at Fletcher on a year-long special program for mid-career Chinese managers.  Admissions is my second Fletcher career, but I can’t imagine work without an international component.

 

It’s amazing that only two weeks ago we were still grooving along at a relaxed pace, finishing summer projects, booking fall travel, and planning our work for the year.  Then, PRESTO!  New students arrive. Continuing students arrive.  Relaxed pace disappears!

Since last Tuesday, there has hardly been a time when we haven’t had a current student or prospective student in the Admissions Office asking questions, checking in for an interview or information session, or just stopping by to say hey.  Fletcher life is in full buzz.  My office shares a wall with our Hall of Flags, and I can hear the waves of students chatting as they go from class to class.  The School’s speaker series have helped students fill some early-semester “free” time; pizza lunches, the semester’s first meeting for student organizations, and welcome back events complete the schedule.

There’s always excitement and expectation at the start of a new academic year.  I hear professors say that working with new students and feeling the annual potential is what revs them up year after year.  That’s true for us, too, in our ultra-cyclical admissions work, though I would also say that our goal to do the same work better keeps life interesting.

 

We like to do our part to help our applicants put together a good application.  It may seem strange that the Admissions Office drops these hints, but we far prefer reading well-crafted applications to those that are, well, tossed together.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve compiled a bunch of tips that you can scroll through by clicking on the “Admissions Tips” category.  There are some that are so important that I won’t wait for you to find them on your own.  The first is:  Make sure that all your documents come to us with the same name on them. There are many reasons why applicants have different names on their documents:  change of surname following marriage; error by the testing services; different transliterations of spellings in another writing system; etc., etc., etc.  But the bottom line is that you should not leave it to us to figure out which documents go into your application file.  You need to tell us!  Send us a note that says your transcript will have a different name on it.  Then we’ll have the chance to pull everything together and make your application complete.

More tips will be coming.  Meanwhile, check out what’s there already.

Tagged with:
 

I could continue with staff introductions, but I’m going to take a break today and return to basic info.  One of the facts of Office of Admissions life is that we often have our attention split among very different parts of the admissions cycle.  So right now, while we’re just getting started on fall travel, and we haven’t even started student-led evaluative interviews, we’re also only one month from the October 15 deadline for applications for January enrollment.

If you’re planning a January application, you should already have taken your standardized tests or, at least, have booked a test date.  You should already have spoken to your recommenders, and essays should be under construction.

In fact, if you’re planning to apply by our Early Notification deadline of November 15, those same suggestions apply.  Time has a way of sneaking by us, so don’t delay.

And, speaking of not delaying, I’m looking at an interview calendar that grows busier by the day.  If you’re planning a visit, please don’t put off making your arrangements.  There are several Mondays that are already fully booked — and those who wait another six weeks to contact us will find that options are very limited.

Finally, remember that we’re offering special Visit Days for the PhD and MIB programs.  If you’d like to take advantage of one of them, book your visit for:

PhD
October 5
October 26
November 16

MIB
October 19
November 9
December 7

Last, our Facebook page has a growing fan base!  Check it out!

 

Probably, until yesterday, all you knew about us was that we live in the Boston area and work in Admissions for the Fletcher School.  Today, learn something new about Laurie, Peter, Roxana, and me, all in answer to the application essay topic:  Share something about yourself to help the Admissions Committee develop a more complete picture of who you are.

Laurie:
Like many members of the Fletcher community, I love wine!  I discovered my love for wine right after college.  I began by tasting, and then became interested in other aspects, such as grape growing, wine production, wine and food pairing, wine regions and history, wine laws, and the business of wine.   After years of tasting and learning on my own, I decided to go to wine school in Boston.  I recently completed an Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits through the U.K.-based Wine & Spirits Education Trust.  While I am not enrolled in any wine classes right now, I do participate in a wine club with my former classmates.  We meet monthly to taste (everyone brings a bottle that costs less $15) and discuss wine topics.  In September we will be tasting and comparing Rieslings from the Alsace region in France, Germany, New York State, Canada and New Zealand.  Later this fall we will be discussing the book Wine and War: The French, the Nazis and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure.

Peter:
Reading countless application essays has somehow had a paralyzing effect on me when the tables were suddenly turned.  How can I write about my interest in live music in Boston, in experimenting with new pulled-pork recipes for my slow-cooker, or in my strange cultural fascination with all things Southern (U.S.) and Eastern (Europe), when I’ve read so many essays from prospective students about really important things?  That said, I have to choose something or risk getting on Jessica’s bad side.  So, I’ll touch on one hobby that I have participated in since I was a small child:  Though I’ve never been one to enjoy exercise for the sake of exercise, I’ve always played soccer — from early recreational leagues, through middle school, high school, and college intramural leagues, until now, where I play on two different teams:  a Sunday morning men’s team and a Monday evening co-ed team.  The latter is a source of amusement for my colleagues as it involves a half-hour drive out of town to play games that sometimes don’t finish until after midnight.  When I walk (sometimes limp) into the office on Tuesday mornings, a bit groggy and searching for my second cup of coffee, Jessica never fails to ask how my game went, and shakes her head when I tell her that I didn’t get to bed until after 1:00 a.m.  So, while I haven’t built orphanages in Southeast Asia or biked across the country, I do enjoy a good late-night soccer game.

Roxana:
Through junior high and high school I played a variety of sports, and I was very good at all of them.  I played softball, baseball, and basketball, was a sprinter on the track team and played varsity volleyball, becoming the only freshman on the team that year and team captain in my senior year.  Being athletic and competitive helped shape the person I am today, as it pushed me to excel and strive for the top of anything I tried out for in life. Playing sports made me assertive, and gave me a healthy level of competitiveness and discipline, as practice was held almost every day after school, and forced me to balance homework, socializing, and family time.  It has impacted my professional life by teaching me teamwork and leadership and to take losses in stride.  I miss playing sports but have taken those skills and applied them to other aspects of my life.

And, last, me.  (I can’t be the only one to ignore my own assignment, though it’s hard to think of anything I haven’t already shared via the blog.)
As a trailing edge baby-boomer, my taste in music is more rooted in hippie than hip-hop, but Josh and Kayla (my son and daughter) have exposed me to, and educated me about, their music — and I have come to enjoy it.  My initial objective was only to learn enough to hold up my end of the conversation, but they frequently quiz me to make sure I’m paying attention.  I’m familiar with hip-hop’s most legendary, as well as current, performers — and I stopped by the campus with Kayla to hear Ludacris when he played Spring Fling at Tufts last spring.  I pick and choose what I listen to, and I trust that my kids will know when to filter the message from the music.  Meanwhile, their success in bringing my musical taste into the modern era makes them proud.  Yes, yes y’all and you don’t stop.  To the beat y’all and ya don’t stop…

 

It has been a while (and a few personnel changes) since the members of the Admissions staff last introduced themselves via the blog.  At our summer off-site retreat, we decided that the introductions should take the form of brief answers to the questions/prompts applicants can select for the Supplementary Essay.  Urgent note to blog readers:  Our answers are not meant to serve as models for your own essays!  But here is what my admissions pals wrote in answer to:  Share something about yourself to help the Admissions Committee develop a more complete picture of who you are. In almost alphabetical order, here we go:

Jeff:
What a feeling – pressure, popping ears, gliding through the air and then a sudden drop.  Turbulence is my favorite part of a plane ride.  As the plane drops, my stomach enters my throat and a jarring ride ensues.  Strangely enough, that is the only point at which I am able to fall asleep on a plane, regardless of the length of the flight.  Turbulence doesn’t bother me in the least.  It’s not that I am carefree or reckless; I just don’t see the need to stress over something that is completely out of my control.  I sit back, close my eyes, and enjoy the ride.

Kristen:
I was raised in three different areas of the United States – the Northeast, South, and West — each for a significant period of time. I was born in New England to parents from Connecticut and Massachusetts. We then moved to Texas, and finally I attended high school in Colorado, which I still consider home. Working at Fletcher, we often hear fascinating stories about students who have lived on five different continents or in ten different countries, but sometimes we fail to see the diversity in culture, socioeconomics, language, landscape, and politics inherent in the United States. For me, having been raised in three such distinct environments has helped inform my world-view, or, perhaps more accurately stated, my nation-view.  I have seen incredible variety in the way that my friends and family from each area approach the same situation, or view the same hot topic.  At times, it feels like a city-dweller from the U.S. North has more in common with her South American urbanite counterpart than with a denizen of the rural U.S. West.  This perspective has been invaluable for me as I have the good fortune to work with students from around the globe.

Liz:
Second semester of my sophomore year at the University of Southern Maine, I joined a sorority — something I would have scoffed at just a year earlier, and that my family and non-Greek friends still don’t understand.  After befriending a number of the sisters of Kappa Delta Phi, I was sold on their message of community, philanthropy, and sisterhood.  The sorority gave me so much — from new friendships to self-confidence and pride — that when I graduated in 2004, I joined the Board of Directors of the national sorority organization.  Over the last five years, I’ve served in many roles on the Board and each has taught me something new about myself.  Much of what I know about leadership, conflict resolution, time management, public speaking, networking, and interpersonal relations, I’ve learned from the sorority.  It’s also what motivated me to return to higher education as a career, when I was laid off from my previous job in the newspaper industry.  Although a time will come when I’ll step away from such an active role to focus on other areas of my personal and professional life, Kappa is now and always will be an important and defining part of my life.

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow we’ll hear from Laurie, Peter, Roxana, and me.

 

Welcome (or welcome back) to the Admissions Blog, where we try to provide useful information to guide applicants through the admissions process.

Today, Fletcher kicks off the new academic year:  Students are back in force, making the building feel like a completely different place from where I worked all summer.

We’re also kicking off the new admissions cycle, and we’ll be jumping right into the heart of our work:  Admissions staffers start fall travel this week.  We have a growing number of visitors, and we’ll be training the first group of student interviewers on Friday.

Tomorrow, the blog will present the first installment of introductions to our staff.  I’ve asked my admissions pals (Laurie, Peter, Roxana, Jeff, Liz, and Kristen) to provide a one-paragraph answer to two of the questions our applicants face each year.  We’ll start off by telling readers something about ourselves that you wouldn’t otherwise know.  To be honest, convincing my fellow staffers to write something even a little personal for the blog is not an easy job!  But I hope the coming entries will help connect you to the office or, who knows, even give you a source of conversation topics should you meet us.  So stay tuned!

 

With the U.S. Labor Day holiday coming so late this year (it’s always the first Monday in September, and the 7th is as late as it gets), the start to the academic year seems more staggered than usual.  Some local colleges and universities have started classes already, but Tufts won’t start until Tuesday.

Activity at Fletcher is definitely picking up, though, thanks to the new students who are more half-way through their Orientation.  The building is still quiet at times in the day, since many of the week’s activities take place outside (where the weather has totally cooperated), and the students certainly aren’t hanging out in the Hall of Flags as much as they soon will.

But Tuesday will be a completely different story!  Everyone will be back for “Shopping Day,” when Fletcher students can sample classes of interest and decide which to choose for the fall semester.

I consider the day after Labor Day to be the official start to the new Admissions season, and I’ll be back next week with special introductions to the Admissions staff.  Meanwhile, note that the Admissions Office, like the rest of the University, will be closed on Monday.

 

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