From the monthly archives: May 2011

You’re probably all wondering about Roxana’s wedding.  It was lovely, with a strong showing of Fletcher staff members and alums, along with Roxana’s fellow Jumbos (Tufts undergrad classmates).  And it was a good send-off for Peter, too.  Now his office looks so sad…

But after a beautiful holiday weekend, those of us not relocating or on a honeymoon are back at work.  And I wanted to give a quick answer to a question I’ve been hearing often from incoming students:  When do we get a Tufts email address?

The answer is that you’ll receive instructions for registering for your new email address in the next two weeks or so.  It will be among the series of messages that will tell you how to register for eBilling, where to find health forms, and what’s happening at Orientation.  There are quite a few administrative tasks that you’ll need to complete during the summer.  By the end of June, you should feel that you have a good sense of what’s in front of you.


To whom it may concern:

In your haste to grab a great new addition to your staff, you forgot to ask me for a reference for Peter VanDerwater, my colleague in Fletcher’s Office of Admissions.  No matter.  I’m sending you one anyway.

Peter has been our go-to guy for (among other things) the LLM program and online chats — both were new initiatives when he took them on — as well as any office activity that involves the creation of an acronym.  He’s thorough and attentive to detail in all that he does.  He’s a pleasure to work with — consistently putting 110% into his efforts — and he’s a complete professional.  But don’t let that fool you.  He also has a quiet ironic sense of humor that you can count on to make work more fun.

Peter is one of my favorite Fletcher people, and I’m more than a little sorry you have decided to pluck him out of our happy team here at Fletcher Admissions.  Finding his replacement will be no easy task.  Not only do we need an intrepid traveler, but we’ll want someone who can keep up Peter’s side of our conversations about restaurants, cooking (you might want to ask him about his moose chili), soccer, and live music, particularly of the swampy variety.

You may also know that your decision to encourage Peter to relocate means that Fletcher loses two staffers.  His wife, Leah, will leave the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.  That makes us doubly sad.  But I suppose I’m also glad that he has this new opportunity in front of him.  In fact, everyone on the staff is pretty excited for him.

I hope you have found this reference letter helpful, and I’m confident that you will be very happy with your decision.  Please remember to leave Peter plenty of time to visit!


Jessica Daniels

If you’re one of the many applicants and students who have benefited from Peter’s Admissions years, feel free to leave him a farewell note in the comments.

Our last formal event with Peter will be at a wedding tomorrow night.  Roxana’s wedding to be precise.  Congratulations, Roxana!  Congratulations and good luck, Peter and Leah!


The warm and fuzzy feelings hadn’t had a chance to fade, on the day after Commencement, when the construction teams moved in.  Tents used for graduation ceremonies were still standing on Fletcher Field, but that didn’t stop trucks from driving onto the nearby tennis courts to start a scheduled renovation project.  Walking through the Hall of Flags yesterday, I stopped to peer out the window at a tree-mulching truck that was chewing up the remains of a pruning exercise that preceded work on the exterior of our building.

Summer is prime construction time, and all the more so when the campus is quiet and the relatively small community that remains can be told to eat somewhere besides the Campus Center (which is being fitted with a long-awaited new air conditioning system).

Visiting this underpopulated construction zone may leave you with a funny sense of what Fletcher life is like, but don’t let that stop you.  If this is your only chance to come to campus, go ahead and plan your trip!  We’ll be holding information sessions on most Mondays throughout the summer.  We’ll do our best to make you feel welcome, even as you walk past the construction equipment.


Friday-to-Sunday happy events marked my weekend.  Friday evening, I joined a pack of other parents taking pictures of our kids as they headed off to junior prom, an American rite of passage.  Meanwhile, at Fletcher, graduating students, alumni, staff, and faculty enjoyed the annual commencement weekend Fletcher clambake.

On Saturday, Mother Nature gave us a glorious break from our recent damp grey weather, with sunshine and warmth greeting students for Class Day.  After a quick burst of gardening (couldn’t miss out on the sun), I came up to campus to hear an inspiring speech from John Kerry (U.S. Senator from Massachusetts), and to wish students well and meet a few of their parents.

I enjoyed Class Day, but also regretted that I was attending it in place of Sunday’s commencement event, which I hear was wonderful.  (I read in The Boston Globe that there were ten local university commencements yesterday, and I was celebrating with family members at another of them.)  I’m just waiting to access photos from the Fletcher event on the website.

So much promise being launched in one day!  I’m sorry I missed the Fletcher ceremony, but it’s the accomplishments to come that really count.  Congratulations to Fletcher’s newest alumni!

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Of course we’re happy for our graduates!  How could we not be, after they’ve put in two years of hard work, capping their experience with marathon thesis-writing sessions?  But there are so many people we’ll miss!  As a result, these few days are marked by an atmosphere that is genuinely bittersweet.  We’re looking forward to Commencement weekend, while regretting that many of our favorite people will be moving on.

Every graduating class includes students who are special to the Fletcher faculty and staff.  Either they’ve made a strong mark on the School — inside or outside of the classroom — or, for the Admissions staff, we may have known them since their application days.  In any year, I could highlight any number of students who will be remembered long after they graduate.  Today, I want to give a moment of recognition to all the students who contributed more than their share of time to the Admissions Office.  I’ll call them the Friends of Admissions, and they are abundant in the Class of 2011.

Among the Friends of Admissions are those who have worked for us at a pay rate that could best be described as “partial compensation,” including Amy, Andrew, Chris, Cheney, David, Eddie, Sabah, and Vincent.  There are two-year interviewers, including Anthony, Barbara, Eugen, Fabian, Patrick (who, I believe, is everywhere at once), and Raquel.  And there are those who always make themselves available when we need them, including Fatema, who set the bar for School involvement by LLM students.  I’m sorry that a comprehensive list would be longer than this blog post will allow.

But while it is absolutely true that students help us get our work done, we value them even more for their enthusiasm, engagement, intelligence, kindness, and that sense we have that they’re building toward the time (coming soon) when they’ll be off doing wonderful things.  No matter how bogged down we may be, a day is always brighter when a Friend of Admissions strolls into the office to find out what we’re up to, or provide an update on the baby (Vincent), or ask whether one of their favorite interviewees has been admitted (Chris), or grab a piece of chocolate (Cheney).  We’ll miss you, Friends of Admissions!

To the Friends of Admissions and all other students who will graduate on Sunday, we wish you copious good luck in your post-Fletcher lives.  Please keep in touch!

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Just a few days ago, the School was still busy with students completing exams and taking care of end-of-semester administrative stuff.  This week, by contrast, has been crazy quiet — hardly anyone around.  The weather hasn’t helped — some sort of weather system north of Maine is preventing the departure of the clouds that are keeping the East Coast soggy — but mostly it’s the abrupt change from “during the semester” to “after exams” that we’re adjusting to.

Despite the building’s quiet, there are certainly plenty of people around, particularly our soon-to-graduate students.  They’ve been busy with a full student-organized Dis-Orientation schedule.  (Dis-Orientation being a previous class’s catchy name for the week before Commencement:  a nice counter-balance to the official pre-Fletcher Orientation program.)  Museums, parties, tours, trivia contests — a full week of fun during which to prepare for the post-Commencement real world.


If you’re thinking of applying to Fletcher this fall (or if you want to help your friends who are applying), you’ll want to know about the consequences of a new GRE exam that will be launched on August 1.  I’m going to let the test designers tell you about the new test via the GRE website.  Because Fletcher will accept old scores or new scores, the format isn’t the wrinkle for us — it’s the reporting schedule that will have the greatest impact on Fletcher applications.

So here’s a summary to help you consider how/whether you’ll be affected:

1.  If you have already taken the GRE exam and you like your scores, you’re all set!  We will happily continue accepting scores from the soon-to-be discontinued exam format for as long as the scores are valid (five years).

2.  If you are planning to apply for January 2012 enrollment, with our application deadline of October 15, you should register to take the outgoing GRE format before it is discontinued on July 31.  If you wait until after August 1, your scores may not arrive in time to be considered with your application.

3.  If you are planning to apply for September 2012 enrollment by our Early Notification deadline of November 15, you can take the exam in the outgoing format or in the new format, but you should be aware of the delayed reporting schedule.  Here’s the schedule ETS provides (note the two-month delay for August test-takers):

In addition to the reporting delay itself, Fletcher applicants will want to keep in mind that you may not have information about your own scores before you submit applications.  Unless you take the old format test this summer, you won’t have time to learn your score and consider retesting before the Early Notification deadline.

4.  If you are planning to apply for September 2012 enrollment by our January 15 deadline, you’ll have more flexibility. You can choose the old format or the new format, and scores will be reported quickly enough that you can consider your score and decide whether to retest.  In fact, we hope that the worst of the chaos/turmoil/confusion caused by the changeover will have passed by the time we’re dealing with the majority of our applications.

Remember that you also have the option of submitting GMAT scores, if you want to avoid taking the GRE during their transitional year.

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The final entry in the blog’s tourist-guide week goes to Peter, who takes you north and south with his suggestions.

It’s no secret that this region is somewhat obsessed with rivalries — from baseball (Go Sox!) and basketball, to chowder and cannolis, in Boston it’s all about loyalty to your team (or chowder purveyor).  While Massachusetts isn’t a huge state, it does have more than its share of coastline, which has helped create a rivalry of the geographic variety — the North Shore vs. South Shore. The North Shore includes coastal communities up through Cape Ann, while the South Shore extends down in the direction of Cape Cod — with Boston proper serving as the dividing line between the two.  The debate centers on important topics such as food, beaches, schools, traffic, and weather; and, it seems, everyone has an opinion.

Living in the Somerville/Cambridge area (north of the city, but just across the river from Boston), I’ve held out on choosing a geographic favorite for almost eight years, equally enjoying my time with friends down in Scituate and relaxing on Singing Beach up the coast in Manchester-by-the-Sea (yes, that is the town’s actual name).  It is hard to remain neutral forever, and eventually one thing tipped the scales:  the classic New England clam shack.  A few years back, I began to explore the various rustic seafood establishments scattered about the coastal communities of Cape Ann, and it has quickly become a favorite summer pastime.  I’ve enjoyed “No Nonsense, No Celery” lobster rolls at the Lobster Pool, overlooking picturesque Folly Cove, and delicious fried clams at JT Farnham’s, while sitting at a picnic table beside a salt marsh.  Even those with Southern (Massachusetts) leanings will (reluctantly) admit that the North Shore wins the debate in the clam shack department — in fact, there’s even a clam shack that is shaped like a clam box (the aptly named “Clam Box”).  While I still can’t say which establishment is the best — a classic New England debate in and of itself — I’m looking forward to conducting more delicious research this summer.

Note: Fletcher is on the Medford/Somerville line, which is just north of Boston and a short drive away from fried clam heaven!

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Continuing this week’s travel guide theme, I first want to suggest you check out the places Fletcher students have been visiting, in the second annual “Where is Fletcher” video.  On dry land, or underwater, those students get around!

But more locally, let’s hear from Kristen and Liz, who provide suggestions of activities that are easily accessible from campus.

Kristen recommends:
One of my favorite Boston activities is getting out and walking.  For an American city, Boston is very walkable, and taking the city on foot is one of the best ways to get to know each neighborhood.  Among my favorite pleasant-weather walks is to start on the Charles River near MIT and the “Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge,” and then wander down Mass Ave (no one here calls it Massachusetts Avenue — those extra syllables are too pesky).  Mass Ave has a great collection of watering holes (I particularly like the Miracle of Science), scandal-ridden ice cream shops, and Indian markets.  You can feel the personality of the street change from the quiet area filled with architectural behemoths around MIT, to the salty collection of characters at Central Square, to pure Cambridge academia at Harvard Square.

Liz says:
I don’t often get out into the city, as I live a little north of Medford, so I should really be taking suggestions from my peers on things to do.  However, there is one activity I’ve done a few times that I found to be fun and a bit different:  Afternoon tea at the Taj Boston (formerly the Ritz Carlton).  I know, it sounds stuffy and boring, but I’ve had a really great time, especially with a good group of friends.  The room is lovely and it has this sort of aura from another era about it.  I do enjoy tea, and they have a nice assortment to choose from.  (No Lipton tea bags here!)  Then there is the food.  I’m not much of a sweets kinda gal, but they have many different pastries, scones, and desserts to choose from.  Best, and what I really enjoy, are all the different types of finger sandwiches!  It’s a unique way to spend an afternoon in Boston with friends.  If you do get the chance, I certainly recommend trying it at least once.

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Boston is a very compact city:  Even if you’re here on a short visit, you can access out-of-town sites.  Laurie and Roxana want to sell you on a few of their favorites:

Laurie says:
One of the best things about living in the Boston area is that there are so many places that can be reached for a quick day trip.  Among my favorites is the southern coast of Maine.  Just jump in a car with a few Fletcher friends and, in about 90 minutes, you’ll be there.  I recommend starting with a long walk on Ogunquit Beach.  The beach is beautiful and you can walk about two miles along the sand dunes or the water.  The water is very cold (even in the summer), but that doesn’t stop people from riding the waves.

After your beach visit, head to Perkins Cove, where you’ll find some great restaurants with fantastic views, and cute little shops and galleries.  In Perkins Cove, you can take a lobster boat tour.  Or skip the tour and just eat some lobster.  From Perkins Cove, pick up the Marginal Way — an amazing one-mile path along the rocky coast.  Your next stop should be the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse in York, Maine.  The lighthouse is stunning and the area near the lighthouse is a great place for rock jumping.  Not far from the lighthouse is Brown’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, one of my favorite ice cream places.  (Maine Blueberry flavor is a must try.)  On your way home, you can stop in Kittery, Maine for great outlet shopping.  I hope that you decide to take this day trip — you will not be disappointed!

Roxana recommends:
While you’re a student at Fletcher, one of the things you must do is take a day trip to Salem, MA in October.  My friends and I have made it an annual tradition.  Rich with the history of Colonial America, and the site of the original Salem Witch Trials, Salem is especially fun in October for the obvious reason — witches!!  During your October visit, you can go to the Salem Witch Museum or the House of Seven Gables, take a Haunted Trolley tour, walk through the Burying Point cemetery, have your palm read by a real witch, and so much more!  There’s something different to do each time you go.  To get the full effect of Halloween without all the hustle and bustle of Halloween day itself, plan your visit for any other weekend in October.  The street vendors, the crisp fall air, and the beautiful Massachusetts foliage make a quick trip to Salem a must while you’re here at Fletcher!


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