From the monthly archives: September 2010

I’ve written, over time, about many Fletcher student organizations, such as Perspectives and Futbol.  Students enrich their experience here with any number (sometimes a very large number!) of out-of-class activities, and the list of clubs and organizations looks slightly different each year, depending on student interests.  But one organization to which I’ve given insufficient recognition is The Fletcher Forum.  Quietly producing impressive publications for more than 30 years, Forum staffers don’t waste much time bringing attention to themselves.  But today I’ve asked the Forum editor, David Reidy, to tell us what it’s all about.

As one of the few academic journals entirely run by students, we have our hands full putting together The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs.  Each year we publish two issues filled with pieces on the important topics of today, written by academics and practitioners around the world.  It’s a demanding task, but an intensely rewarding experience.

Last year, our Editor-in-Chief, Naureen Kabir, raised the bar of success even higher, putting out three issues featuring luminaries such as Les Gelb, Hassan Abbas, Jendayi Frazier, Michael Jacobson, and Matthew Levitt.  This year we are returning to our normal bi-annual schedule, but filling Naureen’s shoes is no easy task.

The process starts with soliciting articles.  We contact authors for pieces based on the issues we think deserve attention, with a particular focus on collecting a diverse set of topics and opinions.  The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs strives to encompass all regions and subjects, even those that don’t normally receive attention in academic journals.  We also put out a general “Call For Papers,” which often leads to fascinating articles on topics we never even dreamed of covering.

Once we’ve collected plenty of pieces, we start the editing process.  As a Fletcher student, it’s a joy to peruse the submissions, and I never fail to learn something new.  Each article goes to an editing team and then back to the author, as part of a collaborative process to improve (or often just fine-tune) the piece before publication.  At least two editing teams will examine each submission, and once everyone is satisfied with the product, it’s off to the printer!

Editing can be a long process, and the intermediary steps can seem never-ending, but in the end it’s all worthwhile.  We take great satisfaction in producing a respected academic journal, and it’s always exciting to open the cover and see your own name on the masthead.  Working at The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs has been once of the most rewarding experiences of my time at Fletcher, and that is no small feat.

David Reidy

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Every spring, once the initial application frenzy has eased, we notify applicants whose files are incomplete.  A good number of them will respond that they are very confident they submitted all needed materials.  In those cases, our minds jump to the leading suspect lurking behind this situation.  And what is this Number One Suspect?  Having more than one name appear on the different credentials that, together, constitute the application file.  You may be wondering how this could happen, and here are some examples of the causes of this wrinkle:

You attended college, got married and changed your surname, and you’re now applying under your married name, while your university still issued transcripts under your maiden name.
Your university used a Romanization different from your preferred spelling of your non-Roman-alphabet language.
ETS incorrectly assumed that your first name is your last name (Donovan George or George Donovan).
Your transcript was issued with your Chinese (or other) name, but you applied using your preferred English name (Wen Jiabao might prefer Jake Wen).
Your full name includes both your parents’ last names, but you generally use only one of them, or it simply isn’t clear that the second-to-last name is the one under which to file your materials (Gabriel Garcia Marquez should be filed under G, not M).
You’ve always used your middle name as your first name, though your original given name appears on official documents.

But the real cause of the problem is that some applicants who experience the above situations DON’T TELL US ABOUT IT!  (I’m yelling with frustration now, in case you wondered how to interpret the upper-case.)

Let’s go, people.  If you know that more than one name or spelling of your name will appear on your credentials, tell us about it.  And I don’t mean a sentence at the very end of your personal statement.  No.  I mean:  Call us, email us, pester us, and otherwise ensure that we are aware of the problem.  Once we know, we will look through our files under both D (Donovan) and G (George) and bring all your materials together.  Never tell us (or slip the information deep in your application), and the Ds and Gs will never be united.

Now that I have completed my rant, I look forward to hearing (in a timely way) from everyone who will have multiple names on application credentials.  Problem solved.

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Finally, I can see the end of September — always my busiest month at home and work.  One-by-one, I’ve completed the items on the extended to-do list in my head.  Blog migration to a new address.  Check.  Assign interviewers to their time slots.  Check.  (A process that goes like this:  Write in a name.  Erase.  Erase.  Erase.  Try again.  Erase.  Erase.  Erase.  After many iterations, every time slot has an interviewer, and every interviewer has a time slot.)

Despite the completion of some tasks, there’s still a lot to remember, and a subset of my mental list is upcoming blog topics.  I’m ready to start offering application tips, as well as to provide a more detailed picture of the Fletcher community.  Tomorrow, I’ll be back with a hint on how to avoid the most common mistake that results in incomplete applications.


Every September, there comes a day when I’m surprised to realize that the application deadline for January MALD admission is less than a month away. How can that be? We only just started the semester! Despite my schedule disorientation, we’ll be ready for those applications!

The question I’m asked most often about January admission is how it compares to September admission. And the answer is…they’re pretty much the same. Admittedly, we receive far fewer applications for January admission than September (by an order of magnitude), but we admit only a small group of students. So the “odds” are about the same, and the bottom line is that we still seek students who are academically talented and professionally experienced. After all, we want them to slip seamlessly into the student community — by February they should be indistinguishable from students who entered in any semester before them.

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There’s always a lot going on here, but much of my time during the first weeks of September is devoted to our evaluative interview program. Starting next Monday, we’ll be running a schedule with about 35 interviews each week conducted by current students. Toward the end of the semester, we add quite a few staff interviews, too. It’s a busy little operation, with applicants and interviewers flowing in and out of the office all day.

Coming up with the interviewer assignments is like completing a puzzle. Just when I think I have a viable draft schedule, I learn that an interviewer has switched from one class to another, and now has a conflict with the assigned time slot. Somehow it all comes together and requires very little intervention from me as the semester goes on.

What do we tell the interviewers during their training? The basics — turn up on time, keep the atmosphere relaxed, remember to turn in your report on the interview, etc. We tell them that the office staff is here to support them, and that they should always feel free to bring interviewees to the office to ask questions. The majority of our interviewers have conducted interviews in their work or community activities, so it’s mostly a matter of plugging them into the Fletcher system.

I love the interview program. It’s great for applicants who can take the time to visit — they have a chance to share information about themselves and to gather information from someone who was in the same position a year ago. And it’s great for the current students — their input is very valuable to the Admissions Committee, and they enjoy meeting people who could be sitting next to them in class in the future.

Much as I value the program, I know that it has its shortcomings. Interviews are, as a rule, limited to campus. We can’t, in general, match interviewers and interviewees on the basis of research interests. We don’t have appropriately private space for students to conduct telephone interviews, so we don’t offer them. In other words, the interview program is limited in scope. Nonetheless, we consider it a success and we’re happy to offer it.

To schedule an interview, you can email us or reach us by phone. We’ll set you up with an appointment, and send information on what to expect during your visit.

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One of the many things I love about our students is the way they add to their own work, to the benefit of the community. The other day, I checked out the Where is Fletcher? crowd map that second-year student Jessica Heinzelman set up. (Are we surprised that her own internship was at Ushahidi, which is building a business on this type of platform?) The map is still evolving, but you can already get a sense of the breadth of activities that kept our “vacationing” students busy during the summer months.

Along the same lines (vacationing students building the community), if you haven’t yet seen this very sweet slideshow, I hope you’ll take a look.

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Both The Fletcher School (in general) and the Admissions Office are on Facebook. Just another way for you to keep up with what’s happening here!


I always encourage prospective students to visit Fletcher. If you can arrange a pre-application visit, it will really push forward your thinking about Fletcher in particular, or grad school in general. There are lots of ways to fill your day here. To attend an Information Session, pick a time of your choice and schedule yourself. To arrange an interview, it’s best if you telephone or email us.

But applicants aren’t the only ones doing the visiting. Members of the Admissions staff are also out and about, and may be at a university or grad school event near you. Check out our schedule!


Though many of this year’s applicants don’t yet know they’re going to apply, I always consider the first day of classes to be the start not only of the academic year, but also of the new admissions cycle, and it’s the point when I like to welcome readers to the Admissions blog.  Welcome!

The objective of the blog is to provide insight into the admissions process and information about Fletcher.  That’s pretty wide open, and a year’s blog entries will range from straightforward descriptions of School activities to suggestions on how to complete the application correctly (and maybe to suggestions of restaurants for your Fletcher visit).

Whether you’ve been following the blog through the summer or you just tuned in, feel free to explore the archives stored within the categories.  I’ve tried to keep everything very straightforward and streamlined.  Planning a visit?  Check out the “Our Neighborhood” category.  Ready to prepare your application?  Be sure to check the “Admissions Tips.”  There’s info (both silly and serious) about the staff in the (you guessed it) “Our Staff” category.  You get the idea.

I welcome comments on the blog, including questions that would have broad interest.  (If you have a question specific to your own application, it’s best to use email.)  And be sure to let me know if there’s a topic you think I should cover.  I’m always searching for ideas.

So, again, welcome to Fletcher Admissions and the blog for 2010-2011.  Looking forward to sharing information with you throughout the year!


Shopping Day today!  It’s a chance for students to efficiently sample new courses, new professors, and the fall’s seminars.  It’s like academic speed dating, with the result being a good schedule for the semester.  The day’s agenda allows shoppers to move from option to option, picking up a better sense of the nature and pacing of a class than can be gained from the syllabus alone.  Tomorrow we dive into the fall semester and all the action it brings — both inside and out of the classroom.

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