Early Notification applications for September, as well as applications for January enrollment, serve as a warm-up for us. Although there’s very rapid turnaround for both groups, the volume of applications is manageable, and the staff has a chance to get back in the swing of things.
We always tweak the application between cycles — not just the questions we ask, but also how they appear on paper once the application is printed. (Yes, we still work with paper.) Once I’m reading under more time pressure, I count on quickly being able to find all the information I need on the form.
This year, we also reworked the application essays. We expanded the word limits and created supplemental essay topics out of some of the material that applicants frequently included in the personal statement. So, in theory, the personal statement now gives us a clear picture of what the applicant wants to do in the future, while the applicant can also tell us (in the supplemental essay) about the roots of his or her interest in international affairs, or preparation for a post-Fletcher career. I feel like I’m reading some nice supplemental essays. Peter commented to me that the personal statements, stripped to the basics, are a little drier than in past years. I haven’t felt that yet, but I may agree after a few hundred more applications. Either way, we’ll carry on reading this year and reevaluate in the spring.
I assume that everyone who checks the blog periodically is pretty well plugged in to the admissions process. And that means that providing application tips is, as they say, preaching to the choir. Nonetheless, the majority of our applicants for September enrollment are still working on their applications. If you are one of those people, please check and re-check your application to ensure you are answering our questions. Even the limited collection of applications I have read this fall included several that were so poorly filled out that the application itself (rather than academic preparation or professional experience) became a liability for the applicant. Don’t let that happen to you, dear blog reader!
I have a small batch to read today, which might be all I’ll get to during the Early Notification process. The warm-up has me ready to go on, looking forward to January applications!
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