Back in the 80s and 90s, a TV character named Jessica Fletcher solved the many mysteries that plagued the tiny town in which she lived.  Having a resident detective clearly worked well for Cabot Cove, Maine (and I’ve always liked the way that Jessica Fletcher borrows both my first name and the name of my workplace).  Maybe we should bring her in to solve the mysteries that we encounter in the admissions process in the Cabot Intercultural Center (the main building in the Fletcher complex).

Yes, dear blog readers, it’s true.  Sometimes we could use a detective to help us ferret out all the information we hope to find in an application.  This week, as our Early Notification applicants put the final flourishes on their applications, I want to encourage you beg you to ensure your application is clear.  Start with rereading all the questions.  Did you answer them?  (Hint:  “Refer to résumé” is not an appropriate answer to our questions.)

Next, put yourself in the shoes of our U.S.-based Admissions Committee.  We’re certainly accustomed to the evaluation systems at many, many universities in many countries, but maybe you shouldn’t assume we’ll know about yours.  Does your transcript provide an explanation of the grading system?  Or will we see a mix of 7s and 9s, with no information on whether the highest grade is 1 or 10 or 20?  If your college/university doesn’t use grades of ABCD&F, and a 4-point GPA scale where 4.0 is highest, and the transcript doesn’t include a guide (many of them do), please explain the system.  Without that information, we can’t evaluate your background fairly.

On an even more basic level, as you may have read here before, please ensure that all your documents have the same name on them.  If they don’t, please send us an email to tell us what to look for.  Whether the multiple names reflect a name change or a spelling error on the part of ETS, it’s your job to fill us in.

Another job for Jessica Fletcher:  figuring out choppy backgrounds.  Did you spend two years in a succession of six-month internships or contracts?  Did you transfer colleges more than once?  Did you spend a year after graduation working at a Target store so that you could pay your bills while waiting for a more relevant job?  Please don’t leave it to us to figure out what’s going on in your background.  You wouldn’t want us to assume the worst, would you?

Given that Angela Lansbury has moved on to other roles and Jessica Fletcher may be unavailable, we leave it to our applicants to keep their applications clear and easy to understand.  Putting in the time to consider how your background and credentials will be interpreted by an outsider will serve you well.

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