Last month, just before students finished exams, I sent out a request for advice for incoming students. Specifically, I asked them to complete one of these sentences:
Something I did right at Fletcher is…
Something I wish I had done differently at Fletcher is…
The responses are interesting. First, nearly everyone completed both phrases, when I would have been happy with one response. (Fletcher students are diligent!) Second, there are connections among the responses that I hadn’t expected. Finally, the answers are very sincere, which I appreciated and which reminded me why I like these people.
I think of these tips as most helpful for incoming students. But if you’re an applicant, these are ideas to consider as you ponder your future graduate studies. So here goes: A list of reflections from continuing or newly graduated students, in no logical order.
Lilian Lehmann, newly graduated MALD
Something I did right is… followed new and random opportunities and interests that I stumbled across, both in class and through classmates. They expanded my horizons exponentially.
Something I wish I had done differently is… not worried as much about whether it would all work out. It always does.
Kristy Bohling, continuing MALD
Something I wish I had done differently is… go to lots of classes during the first week of the semester to get a broader understanding of all the options out there.
Something else I wish I had done differently is… meet with someone (e.g., the Registrar’s office, students, faculty) at the beginning of my first semester to talk about my goals, and which classes I should take to meet those goals.
Chris Murray, continuing MALD
Something I did right is… spent a little extra time in Mugar Café talking with my friends. There are always things to do at Fletcher. But I’ve never regretted taking a few extra minutes (or, in a few cases, an extra hour) talking with my friends about politics or life, over a cup of coffee.
Hana Cervenka, newly graduated MALD
Two things I did right are…
1) Auditing Swahili: Tufts has pretty impressive language offerings, and I’m grateful that I got to take Swahili for free during my degree. Of course, it made my crazy schedule even a little bit crazier, but…oh, well….
2) Taking at least one class each semester focused on developing crucial professional skills, “Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation” with Prof. Scharbatke-Church being a great example. That class pretty much landed me my summer internship in Malawi, and I find that the skills I have gained from it keep opening doors.
Something I did wrong at Fletcher is… I got overwhelmed. The workload is intense, but it turns out things go much, much smoother if you do not allow yourself get stressed and overwhelmed, and if you get enough sleep.
Christina Liberati, newly graduated MALD
Something I did right is… take the language proficiency exams in my first semester!
Something I wish I had done differently is… take at least one class outside the school for another perspective, or take more skills classes (like “Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation”), or take theory classes in the first year instead of second year!
Nick Davidson, newly graduated MALD
Something I did right is… taking or auditing a class every semester outside of my two areas of study that I really enjoyed. There is always time to fulfill requirements, and you prevent doors from closing on you later.
Something I wish I had done differently is… write my thesis early and use it to create networking and job opportunities.
Greg Bertleff, newly graduated MALD
I agree 100% with Nick on these two items. Auditing classes was one of the best things I did, and I wish I had used my thesis better for job hunting.
Anthony Sung, newly graduated MALD
Something I did right is… gathering up the courage to drop in during a professor’s office hours with no plans except to chat.
Something I wish I had done differently is… to spend too much time studying instead of meeting new people during my first semester.
Erika Tabacniks (Kika), newly graduated MALD
Something I did right is… cross-registering for classes at other nearby grad schools.
Something I wish I had done differently is… talking more to professors during their office hours.
Rizwan Ladha, continuing MALD
Something I did right is… subscribing to the Social List (student elist) — not only for social events, but also for unique internship and other opportunities that would otherwise be slightly more obscure. Two of the great things about Fletcher are that (1) the community is tight-knit, and we go out of our way to help each other; and that (2) because of the diversity of background and experience, all students have something unique to share with the community. As a result, through the Social List I learned of, and was subsequently accepted to present at, a nuclear weapons conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in D.C. — in my first semester at Fletcher! Also through the Social List, I found out about a research opportunity for this summer.
Something I wish I had done differently is… to take a class outside of Fletcher. I will be sure to take advantage of these cross-registration opportunities next year!
Elise Crane, continuing MALD
Something I did right is… get involved in a bunch of different activities. Fletcher is a goldmine of extracurriculars and opportunities for outside projects that complement the academic component.
Something I could have done differently is… not signed up for quite so much! But, actually, juggling so many different balls has, counterintuitively, kept me sane.
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