From the monthly archives: January 2010

This weekend, Kayla (my daughter) and I are going to see In the Heights here in Boston.  We’ve already seen it in New York, but decided to take advantage of its local visit to see it again.  How does my theater-going connect to admissions?  Now that I’ve been writing the blog for a few years, I’m conscious of repeating myself.  But then I remind myself that the audience is new, even if the information isn’t.  I’m confident the actors in In the Heights won’t simply refer me to the previous night’s performance; similarly, I shouldn’t always point you back toward previous posts.  Sometimes, I’ll just repeat the information.  And this is one of those times, because tracking applications is an annual topic of interest.

Once you hit “submit” to send your application our way (and out of your control), you’ll probably wonder what’s happening.  Here’s a rundown of the behind-the-scenes action, much of which takes place simultaneously:

1.  You hit the online “submit” button.  Your application will be “stamped” with the date and time, and will wait within the Embark system for your registered online recommenders to submit their letters.  If all your recommenders have submitted their letters, or if you haven’t registered any online recommenders, the application will be ready for us immediately, and we’ll upload it into our internal program.

2.  When your application (with online recommendations) is uploaded, you’ll receive an automatically generated email stating that we have received your application, and that you should wait ten business days before contacting the Admissions Office about any missing materials.  This email also provides you with a username and password to access the Tufts Graduate Application Management System (GAMS).  GAMS is the best way to track your application throughout the process.  We’ll also be posting decision letters to your GAMS account, so hang on to your username and password!

3.   Uploaded applications are printed in batches.  Once we have the paper copy, we’ll create a file for you.  (A big moment in the life of your application!)

4.  Meanwhile, Admissions Office staffers cheerfully open a mountain of mail, which includes test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation from recommenders who weren’t registered online, writing samples, etc.  We sort and file the mail.  If the application hasn’t yet been uploaded, the paper materials will “wait” for it to emerge from the system.

5.  Once we have your application in a file folder, we dig out the mail that has already been received for you and include it.  Then we update your record in the admissions system to show what materials have come in by mail.  You should track your application through GAMS, but we’ll also email you if there’s a document missing.

6.  Your completed application is then given to Committee members to review, and you’ll receive your admission decision in late March.

If the details only cloud the picture, let me give you the bottom line:  Receiving online materials is the easy part for us.  Connecting applications with the materials that arrive by mail is what takes the time.  It’s a surprisingly labor-intensive process.  Be sure to stay on top of the status of your application, but try to give us a little time to pull everything together.  We need to pass through about two weeks of controlled chaos before order is restored to our back office.

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The general deadline of January 15 for our master’s-level programs is a week away, but more and more applications are ready to be reviewed by Admissions Committee members.  Even further along the preparation track are the PhD applications, which were due on January 1.  There’s a lot of material in those files — all the regular stuff, plus a dissertation proposal and a master’s thesis — and they’re definitely a challenge to carry around.  Peering out my door as I write, I can see a tower of these plump files, ready to go to the PhD Admissions Committee for review.  The two additional weeks are fully utilized — a lot of professors will have a look at the PhD files as they work their way through the process.

This week and next, we’ll receive multiple buckets of mail every day.  I hope readers will understand that it takes us time to process the mail, which involves opening it, matching it with an application (when the application is here already), and logging it in.  Until then, the application management system won’t know if your transcript/recommendation/whatever is in the office.  Please give us a couple of weeks before you panic.

I’m going to bring some applications home this weekend.  Might as well get some reading done now, and possibly free up a couple of hours in February!


Last month, one of our MIB students, Vincent, wrote about his early experience in the program.  If you’re interested in more detail on the program, check out the comments on that post.  He has answered some follow-up questions from a reader.


Admissions work is predictably cyclical.  We do many of the same things in the same month, or even on the same day, each year.  But there are, in fact, several “sub-cycles” running at once.  On a single day next week (January 15), we have the deadline for September 2010 applications (the start of a cycle), as well as orientation for students starting their studies this month (the end of a cycle).  Some of the sub-cycles involve mobs of people (September applications), while others have us in contact with much smaller groups.

And that brings me to a sizable bunch who may be feeling neglected right now — those of you who applied by the Early Notification deadline but learned that we’ll reconsider your application within the full applicant pool.  You’ve read the decision letter and may have done your own research, but I thought shedding a little light on your situation would still be a good thing.

First thing I’ll say is that having your application deferred is not the same as having it denied.  A portion of the deferred applicants will end up admitted.  Another portion will be offered a place on the wait list.  It all depends on what we find when we review the applications now pouring into the Admissions Office.

Most likely, you’re applying to other schools, and that process is keeping you busy.  When the dust clears, you should consider whether there is any information in your application that needs updating.  (I’m emphasizing that particular word, because we don’t need you to add anything unless it reflects a change.)  Here are some items we’d like to see:  new transcripts listing grades you received in fall 2009; new standardized test scores that you would like us to consider; a new résumé that includes details on your new job/internship; a short excerpt or a link to newly published work.  Submitting an additional recommendation can be helpful, but only if it shares new information.  For example, let’s say that, in November, you hadn’t yet told your boss you’ll be leaving work to go to grad school in September, and you didn’t have a workplace recommendation.  Now your boss knows and would be happy to recommend you.  This is new information that can support your application.

Please don’t flood us with materials in the hope we’ll wear down in the face of your enthusiasm.  While we really appreciate updates, only information that truly reflects a change since your November application will be useful.  All deferred applications will receive new review, usually starting around mid-February.  If the added materials reach us by February 1, you can be sure they’ll be considered when we re-consider your application file.

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Welcome to a new year and a new decade!  Whether you call it twenty-ten, or two thousand ten, I hope that 2010 will be a year of peace for all of us.

Fletcher in general, and the Admissions Office in particular, have been super quiet for the last ten days.  Within the Office, we’re back to full staff.  The School, on the other hand, is still deserted, and not just by all the usual people — the Hall of Flags is today the Hall of No Flags.  I’m assuming that someone took them down for cleaning while I was away.

Today will be filled with catch-up activities for all of us.  More news/info coming soon.


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