At our team meeting this morning (“team” being used loosely here, because four of us are in the office and three are on the road), I asked my admissions pals about the questions they’re hearing frequently while they travel around the country. I wrote about testing last week (always a hot topic!) and this week I thought I’d focus on academic preparation. Applicants often want to know if they have the “right” preparation for Fletcher. Fortunately, there’s really no tidy path that applicants need to have followed. This complicates our work, but it also keeps things interesting. Here are a few of the key points we make in answer to the academic preparation question.
First — pre-Fletcher majors. ALL majors welcome! Though we certainly see lots of applications from undergraduate international relations majors, we don’t have a special preference for them. We do like to see indication of both quantitative ability, and the ability to deal well with Fletcher’s heavy reading/writing load. So you undergraduate English majors need to show us that you can handle numbers, and you undergraduate engineers need to show us that you can adjust to a very different type of out-of-class work than you may be accustomed to. Beyond that, though, we have admitted students whose previous studies were in just about every discipline, from sculpture to veterinary medicine.
Next — pre-Fletcher economics preparation. We do not require that you take economics before applying or enrolling…but…we certainly recommend it. Basic micro and macro classes will go a long way toward helping you understand the economic themes that creep persistently into our lives. Plus, under the heading of our breadth requirement, MALD students need to take both an economics class and a class in quantitative reasoning. You’ll have the opportunity to test out of the basic classes, and many students prefer to take a higher level economics course while they’re here.
And one related note: If you’re thinking of selecting Development Economics or one of the other quant-heavy Fields of Study, or if you’re applying to the MIB program, you should have some coursework in your background that will have prepared you. Admissions Committee members feel uncomfortable when an applicant appears not to know what he’s getting into.
Last (for today, at least) — grades. Regardless of where you have studied as an undergrad, higher grades are better. Obvious, right? We work with transcripts/grade reports from a zillion different systems, but we look for strong results no matter how you’re assessed. On the other hand, we don’t limit our review of transcripts to the final result. Oooooh no — that would be too easy! We take a careful look at each transcript: How are the applicant’s grades, class by class? Were the classes challenging? If the overall GPA is low, what can we note about the trajectory of grades — does it go up? How did the applicant do in his/her major?
In other words, we give those transcripts a careful look!
Plus, we look beyond the transcript to ask: What does the academic recommendation tell us about the applicant? Has the applicant done any professional work that helps to fill gaps in the undergrad record? What about post-graduate coursework? We take all the information we’ve gleaned in answer to those questions, and form our impression of the applicant’s academic background.
So, whether your pre-Fletcher academic preparation is traditional or not, you’ll find students here whose background is like yours.
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