From the monthly archives: April 2010

In addition to being the day for dancing around the maypole or celebrating the efforts of workers, May 1 is also the date by which all admitted students should notify us of their enrollment plans, and waitlisted applicants should let us know if they want to continue to wait.  Both of those processes can be completed through the Graduate Application Management System.

A little side note on the waitlist.  If you follow the news, or if you happen to know high school students applying to college, you may have heard that U.S. colleges and universities are building enormous waitlists to hedge against enrollment uncertainty, given the economic environment.  Waitlists are always a hedge, but what’s different is that more applicants are being left in this gray zone.

If this news has been making you anxious, I want to reassure you that Fletcher did not approach the waitlist differently this year.  The number of waitlist offers we made was in the normal range, and we expect to find that the usual percent will continue to wait.  By next week, we should be able to get a fairly accurate count of matriculating students (though deferral requests continue to mess up our math) and then we’ll figure out our next steps.

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At our Admissions team meeting today, we were talking about the May to September stretch during which applicants morph into students.  The process starts when applicants turn into “admitted students,” and then into “enrolling students.”  But they only turn into plain ol’ STUDENTS when they turn up for Orientation in August.

If you’re planning to attend Fletcher, you may feel like a student already:  you’ve given us a deposit and filled out an enrollment form — what more could be needed?  The truth is that you don’t need to do anything more right now.  But we at the School need to do many things, starting with wrapping up the academic year and saying farewell to graduating students.  Once this academic year is complete, all eyes will turn toward our incoming students and 2010-2011.

Where should those of you still on the morphing continuum go with questions?  For now, you should still start with the Admissions Office.  If your question is general, we’ll have your answer.  But it won’t be long before you’ll probably be giving more serious and more specific thought to your academic program and career plans.  At that point,  we’ll refer you to someone else within the School who can provide you with greater depth of knowledge.

As the summer goes on, you’ll hear from the Registrar (early summer), and from Career Services (mid summer).  If you have questions about the content of their correspondence, you should certainly contact them directly.  (In fact, all incoming students who will need a visa should already be working with the International Student Advisor, Carol Murphy, and should contact her with related questions.)

For admissions, it’s all a little bittersweet.  We love watching our applicants turn into the type of students we hoped.  At the same time, we’re not your single source of information any more, to the point where there are students I never meet while they’re here, though we were in daily contact in March/April/May after they were admitted.

So, for at least the next few weeks, enrolling students should continue to route questions through us.  We’ll know when it’s time to help you move along.


I grew up on the south shore of Long Island, where each town had the bay as the southern border, and there was one town each to the east, west, and north.  Then I moved up here, where the borders are ragged and you can travel along a single street unaware that you have crossed from town to city and back again.  With all these interconnections, housing-hunting incoming students needn’t feel bound to Medford and Somerville.

In particular, parts of both Arlington and Cambridge are within a mile of Fletcher, and five miles would get you to Winchester, Belmont, Watertown, Malden, as well as parts of Boston.  Depending on your housing needs and whether you decide to bring a car, any of these towns could be the right place for you to spend a couple of years.

As for that tricky question of whether to bring a car, here’s what I’d say.  If you don’t own one, don’t buy one!  You’ll find other students who can run you over to the supermarket now and then.  And, there are Zipcars on campus, including in the Fletcher parking lot.  If you already own a car, I’m sure you’ll find it helpful, but you’ll want to plan carefully to prevent unintended expenses.  We locals get used to a crazy array of parking (more accurately:  NO PARKING) regulations on our narrow streets.  Meanwhile, public transportation is good, so owning a car isn’t a necessity.

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Only a bit of an update, because there’s really no news from our end.  The first deadline for admitted students has passed and just about everyone has been heard from.  Some responses are still trickling in by mail.

The next date of note is May 1.  By then, all the applicants admitted in March should have sent us their enrollment decision.

Equally important:  If you were offered a place on the waitlist, you should be sure you  have informed us that you wish to claim the place.  If you don’t send the response, there’s no way for us to know you’d like to wait.  You can find the form within your GAMS account.  Admission will not be offered to anyone who hasn’t indicated an interest in waiting.

In other news, first-year student Elise Crane did a very thorough write-up of the Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition.  Check it out for the details I didn’t have last week.

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We regularly see notices (official and less-than-official) when our students do something special.  In the past ten days or so, details of two particularly special honors came over the news wire.  The first is that three Fletcher students were among the 13 recipients of the Harold W. Rosenthal Fellowship in International Relations.  Congratulations Beau Barnes, James (Jamie) Ermath, and David Wallsh!

And, particularly cool are the results of the Tufts 6th Annual $100,000 Business Plan Competition.  Big congratulations to the Masawa team of Shailesh Chitnis, Darius Hyworon, Joshua Haynes, Marian Levin, Christine Martin, and Julie Zollman for their plan for developing an integrated technology platform to function on smartphones.  They competed in the Social Entrepreneurship category.

The Fletcher KoffeeLINK team, led by Hayden Kwast, took second place in the Classic Business Plan Competition.

Both Masawa and KoffeeLINK will receive funds to bring their plans to fruition.

Great job, everyone!

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Allow me to share my daughter’s sad tale with you.

Kayla is planning to spend the day with her friend, Amy.  Nothing unusual for a Tuesday during spring break, except that they (and 20 other high-school classmates) are supposed to be taking in the sights of Istanbul right now.  This story started last year when they persuaded Mr. N, their physics teacher, to take them on a trip to his homeland.  A year of planning and fund-raising later, they were due to leave for Turkey last Friday.  I’m sure, globally aware blog reader, that you can anticipate what happened to their plan.  Scheduled to fly through Zurich, their flight was among the first affected by the closing of Swiss air space.  With travelers stranded around the world, learning of the cancellation before even reaching the airport seems like a pretty good deal.  Nonetheless, everyone (students, teachers, and parents) is very disappointed.

One of the guiding principles of my life is that Mother Nature will always have the last laugh.  To this I’ll add “hayirlisi olsun,” a Turkish phrase Mr. N shared, which (as I understand it) has a meaning of hoping for the best possible outcome, when that outcome can’t yet be seen.  Volcano willing, the trip will go on!  Just not this week.  Meanwhile, the kids have learned a lesson of what it means to live in a globally connected world, one in which even technology (not to mention teachers and parents) can’t make volcanoes cooperate.


In a move of inspired creativity last week, second-year MALD student Kirstin Ellison challenged her fellow soon-to-graduate thesis-writing peers via the student email list:

Fletcher, I’ve got to tell you — my thesis is killing me.  Just now while composing my title, I happened to notice that it clocked in at a ridiculous 17 words.  The words of our esteemed Professor Perry came floating back to me — “cultivate pith!”  After all, whose advisor wants to read a wordy, boring thesis?  With this in mind, I decided to rework my thesis into a more condensed and verbally-frugal format.  Yes, Fletcher, I rewrote my thesis as … a haiku.  Why use 17 words to say what 17 SYLLABLES can cover just fine?

And thus started one of the longest email sequences I’ve ever read, with student after student appending an addition to the collection.  Here, for the first time on a blog, are Fletcher Thes-kus (thesis haikus).  A representative sample, with the poet’s name and thesis title included.

Caroline Andresen
Title:  “’Where Are Your Peacekeepers Now?’  The Protection of Civilians from Threats Posed by Armed Groups in Eastern Congo and Afghanistan”
Taliban, congo
Stop killing civilians now
Oh, wishful thinking

Hilde Berg-Hansen
Title:  ??
Three thousand words in
I still don’t have a title.
Iran, Elections

Maren Christensen
Title:  “Judicial Reform in Afghanistan:  Towards a Holistic Understanding of Legitimacy in Post-Conflict Societies”
Building Rule of Law
Legitimacy Lynch Pin
Calling all Afghans

Jamie Lynn De Coster
Title:  “Profiling Pirates: Exploring Somali Piracy in the Context of a Collapsed State”

Somali pirates
Are people too. Yet, a threat.
What should we do?  YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Julia Doehrn
Title:  “‘Seeds of Terror’ or ‘Poppies for Peace’? – The Impact of Illicit Economies and Drug-Trafficking Networks on Post-Conflict Stability”

Seeds of terror, huh?
The money flows upwards though.
Stop corruption – now!

Kirstin Ellison
Title:  “Hamas’ Use of Female Suicide Bombers:  A Case Study in Militant Groups Reinterpreting Women’s Roles in Jihad”

Women in Hamas
Sometimes, they blow themselves up.
Sometimes, they don’t.  Why?

Kent Fogg
Title:  The Accession of the Western Balkans to the European Union:  The Conditionality of Sub-Regionalism”
Balkans were broken
Quick!  Get them in the EU
Or maybe, not quick

Amanda Gardner
Title:  “Police Reform and Non-State Armed Groups in Post-Conflict Iraq and Bosnia: Accountability versus Effectiveness?”
Police, post-conflict
Stop hurting, start protecting
Chase away armed groups

Joshua Gross
Title:  “The Fog of Peace: Comparing U.S. and UN Approaches to Conflict Management in Nepal”

Die feudalist die!
So, so sick of retrograde

Courtney Kemps
Title:  “More Than Just Credit: A Case Study of Vocational Training Workshops Offered by a Microfinance Institution in Peru”

Give women credit
Then teach them to make ice cream
Does this really work?

Christine Martin
Title:  “Strategic Management of Technology-Enabled Development Projects”
Tech is really cool
Increased voice for citizens
Please manage it well.

Fabian Olarte
Title:  “An Evaluation of Colombia’s Security and Economic Revitalization During the Uribe Administration. What does the future hold for Colombia?”
Uribe’s Yucca
FARC’s Arroz con Frijoles
Santo’s for dessert?

Viviana Rivas
Title:  “The Stagnant Mexican Automotive Industry: Drawing Lessons from Other Automotive Industries”

Mex Car Industry
You are screwed. Can you learn?
Probably not. Ugh.

Nina Tandon
Title:  “Defaulting Treaty Obligations: How the Lack of Clarity in U.S. Domestic Laws Contributes to Noncompliance”

We make agreements
We never intend to keep
Though other states weep

Elli Tsiligianni
Title:  “Flying Greece Sky High: Marfin Investment Group Sets Eyes on Olympic Airlines”

Onassis founded
Government mismanaged
New flag in the sky?

Bapu Vaitla
Title:  “How Good Change Happens: The Politics of Child Undernutrition in Brazil and India”

Big people, listen:
Food is for the smallest ones
Nurture your nature.

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Monday is the Massachusetts Patriot’s Day holiday.  We’ll remember the early battles of the War for Independence and keep an eye on the results of the Boston Marathon.  There’s a nice group of Fletcher students who will run as members of the Tufts Marathon Challenge team.  Give a cheer for Dan Gallucci, Ken Hammond, Trevor McNeil, Elsa Palanza, Deirdre Roy, Jeffrey Smith, Dave Viola, and Roxane Wilber, all of whom have honed their running skills with help from marathon guru Coach Don Megerle, in exchange for raising $1000 for Tufts community outreach around nutrition and exercise.

Normal Admissions Office hours will prevail tomorrow (Friday) and Tuesday the 20th when, as it happens, admitted students who have been awarded a scholarship should submit their enrollment decision.  Any last questions?  Make sure you ask tomorrow or Tuesday morning, at the latest.

By Wednesday, we’ll have a good, but still incomplete, picture of the entering class, with the remaining enrollment decisions due May 1.

Also due May 1 are the responses from applicants offered a place on the waitlist.

To those waitlisted candidates who are anxiously monitoring the enrollment process, we haven’t forgotten you!  We’re going to need to track enrollment for a while longer, but at the same time, we’ll be figuring out who has remained on the waitlist.  We’ll also review the additional materials that many of you have sent in.  I’ll post updates at fairly regular intervals to let you  know where things stand.

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It’s a quiet office this morning as we all catch up on whatever we set aside yesterday for the Open House.  We had a really nice day (plus reception on Sunday night).  It always amazes me how quickly the visitors are indistinguishable from current students.  Once they have made the trip through our circuitous hallways once or twice, they’re good to go.

The aspect of the Open House that I enjoy most is putting a face to a name.  More accurately in my case (since I don’t focus on the name when I read an application), putting a face to a story.  I like hearing the self-introductions that prompt a recollection:  “Oh, yeah, I remember that guy…worked five years at xyz organization and wants to focus on something-something field of study.”  It’s a strange relationship — knowing someone’s back story without knowing the someone.

Now the admitted students are back to work or riding the circuit of open houses down the east coast, and we’re back to answering questions in emails from other admitted students, or starting new projects that will take us through the next few weeks.  Enrollment responses are starting to come in, but the real flood will arrive next week.  Then we’ll know which of those names, faces, and stories will be part of the Fletcher community in September.


It’s Open House day today and the building is abuzz with admitted students.  Since my own creativity is in short supply, I wanted to share something written by one of our pals over in the Office of Career Services (OCS).  Branden was responding to questions about pursuing a U.S. government career after graduating from Fletcher.  Here’s Branden’s email to the prospective student:

Thank you for your email and interest in The Fletcher School.  It sounds like your career interest is focused mainly on the Department of State and becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). We are fortunate to have over 50 Fletcher graduates currently working with the Department – most of whom are FSOs. While we at OCS do not specifically “place” graduates with the Department, we do provide resources to help students facilitate a smooth transition from graduate school to full-time employment. For example, every year Fletcher hosts a Diplomat-in-Residence (DIR):  a current State Department employee who is an FSO, but whose responsibility is to liaise with universities and promote career opportunities with the Department.  Our current DIR has an office on campus and has been very involved with programming designed to prepare students to successfully pass the written and oral FSO assessments. Because of this unique resource, I can tell you that we already have a number of students who have passed both assessments, as well as dozens of students who have received summer internship offers at embassies abroad and in bureaus based in D.C.

Speaking to your other point about Fletcher’s location being outside of D.C., I have to say that I really see this as a strength for two reasons. First, while a small handful of Fletcher students complete internships during the academic year, we generally encourage students to keep their focus on their studies.  The rigor of the academic program here is quite intense, and most students find it overwhelming enough to simply be enrolled as a full-time student, as well as to participate in clubs, organize conferences, and complete their thesis. Second, while graduate internships during the academic year provide exposure to government agencies, which can be useful, the work is often clerical in nature.  On the other hand, the full-time internships during the summer that most of our students take advantage of tend to be more substantive. Very often full-time staff are traveling, which allows summer interns to complete higher level work usually done by full-time employees.

Fletcher’s alumni network in D.C. is vast and reaches all parts of the federal government. The capstone career event for both first-year and graduating students is our annual D.C. Career Trip in February – a two-day networking trip that includes over 60 events, 250 alumni, and 200-plus students.

I hope this information is helpful to you in making an informed decision.  Congratulations on your admission, and I hope to work with you next fall.

Branden F. Grimmett
Assistant Director, Office of Career Services

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