Fletcher has had an Early Notification application process for many years now, but we’re shaking things up this year.  For the first time, our decision options will include admit, defer the application for further review in the spring, and deny.  We had previously had all sorts of administrative and programmatic reasons why we didn’t deny applicants in the fall.  No point going into them now, but I’ll explain a bit about our change of mind.

Last year, we came to the conclusion that it was in the interest of our Early Notification applicants to provide a clear answer if we knew they would not, in the end, be admitted.  Some prospective students whose applications were deferred to spring were investing time and energy in promoting their cause — time and energy that might more productively have been poured into applications to other schools.

But having decided on a change to our practice, the new process has still been a learning experience for us.  In particular, we hadn’t originally planned to offer “work deny” decisions, but in the end, we decided to do so.  So here are the specifics of the decisions.

On the good news side:  An offer of admission!  You’re welcome to confirm your enrollment now, but you’re not obligated to do so until the spring.  Admission may be made conditional on completion of (for non-native English speakers) an English program or (for native English speakers) on foreign language study.  Note that there’s certainly no reason to wait until the summer to brush up foreign language proficiency.

On the other end of the spectrum are the decisions to deny (straightforward, if sad) or “work deny” (which means that applicants look solid overall, but need some professional experience).  Applicants who are denied admission in the Early Notification process can request feedback according to standard feedback protocols, but cannot reapply until at least next fall for January 2012 enrollment.

Finally, there are the applications that we’ll defer for reconsideration in the context of the entire applicant pool.  Those applicants will receive a final decision letter in March.  If your application is deferred, note that you’re encouraged to provide updates on any changes to your credentials (test scores, grades, professional experience) since you first applied.

Two last points.  The first is that many, or even most, of the applicants who will not be offered admission could be admissible in a future year.  They could improve their test scores, work a few more years, take some graduate level courses that show their potential to succeed at Fletcher, improve their English or foreign language proficiency, or simply do a better job on the application so that we can really figure out who they are.  We’re glass-half-full people, and we can see potential in all our applicants.  But we also have the task of finding the best matches between the School and incoming students, and that inevitably leads to denying admission to some.

My last point, and a very important one:  NO! We are not releasing decisions right away.  You know they’re coming in December, but we’re not yet done with the final decision-making or processing.  I’m just providing this information now so that curious applicants can prepare themselves.

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