From the monthly archives: April 2012

I arrived at 51 Winthrop Street just as the Office of Career Services was getting set for their panel.  While Phillip was organizing, I grabbed a photo of Liz, Jeff, and Kristen.

And then a quick snap of the other OCS staffers who were standing by:

Finally, the presentation began:

Anyone not currently listening to Phillip might be attending a class or visiting with friends.  There are more classes at 3:20, as well as several special Roundtable Discussions.  Unfortunately for blogging purposes, I’ll be here in Admissions taking questions.  I’ll try to take a minute to grab a photo of the Roundtables.

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Another quick photo update.  Open House visitors are at lunch now.  I’ve stayed back in the office to answer questions from anyone who might wander in, but I asked Jeff to take some pix for me.  Here’s one that gives you a good sense of the scene:

There aren’t many sites at the University that can accommodate 200 people for lunch.  For the last few years, we have been using the multipurpose space that Tufts created a while back at an old church building.  After lunch, the Office of Career Services staff will do their own presentation.  I’m going to take a minute to wander over.  If it’s worth another photo update, I’ll be back with another post.


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Today we’re holding the Open House for admitted students.  A good-sized crowd is in the building and we arranged for good weather, putting us all in a sunny frame of mind.  I have a brief minute to post a few pictures for you.  A longer minute would have allowed me to crop the photos and otherwise make them presentable.  Timeliness or quality?  Today I’ll go for timeliness.

The day started off with mingling over coffee.

Then Dean Bosworth welcomed everyone.

Followed by Barbara, a PhD candidate from Brazil who previously completed the MALD program.  She’s amazing!

Then everyone headed off — to either the degree-program specific panel presentations, or to one of the classes that starts at 9:40.  Here’s the MALD panel, in the library reading room.  (I’m taking the picture through a window.)

I’ll try to post again later today.  If I never make it back to my computer, I’ll share a recap tomorrow.

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I’m always drawn to stories about the average Fletcher graduate.  Yes, we can (and do) point to plenty of ambassadors or prime ministers whose great accomplishments shine a favorable light on their Fletcher education.  We’re all proud that Thomas Pickering and Bill Richardson are Fletcher alums, but what about students who aren’t destined to represent the U.S. at the United Nations?  The reality is that most of our alumni lead lives of quieter accomplishment.  In my view, their success is the best indicator of what an incoming student’s post-Fletcher life might resemble.

In that spirit, here’s a nice story from The Boston Globe about a graduate of the PhD program.  (Apologies for all the ads on the Globe page.)  I didn’t work in Admissions at the point when Banafsheh sent the letter she describes, but Fletcher is fortunate that previous staffers acted upon it.


We in Admissions like a good smackdown, so I jumped on the notice that the community was invited to participate in a feud that would also benefit research.  Here’s the invitation:

Is it even hard to give up cash?  To give up cards?  Let’s find out.
Give up half your payments.  Blog about it.  Win $100 or dinner with Kim Wilson.

This month, Kim Wilson is running a social experiment.  For one week (March 30-April 6), students will give up either cash or cards.

Actually it’s slightly tougher than that:  the cashless group cannot use money orders or checks, and the cardless group cannot use any electronic, mobile or web payments.  Prizes include a drawing for a $100 prepaid card and dinner for you and three friends with Kim and two of hers.  It’s not quite a randomized controlled trial, but we might learn something along the way.  Please sign up and invite your friends to join.  Students of Kim Wilson, Jenny Aker, John Hammock, and Karen Jacobsen are particularly encouraged to participate.

Second year MALD student, Betsy, is working as a research assistant on the project.  While participants were still signing up, Betsy told me, “So far there seems to be some fear among students about ending up in the cardless group.  One person even dropped out after learning that he couldn’t choose his group.  I’m finding it interesting that nobody seems to think it would be a big deal to go without cash!”

But there was also worry about going cashless, particularly in the form of “What about paying my rent?”  Prof. Wilson weighed in, “If you make a mistake during the contest, you are still eligible for the drawing, but you must own up to your transgression!  Hint: Pay your rent ahead of time.”

Betsy also provided some context:  “This is part of the larger Cost of Cash study.  It obviously isn’t a formal experiment but we think it will yield some interesting insight about the costs (especially time/inconvenience costs) of different forms of payment.  I also think it could prompt people to rely more heavily on their social networks, like bartering or asking someone to order them something online with a credit card in exchange for cash.  We’ll see!”

Ben Mazzotta, the postdoctoral research fellow for inclusive growth at the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises (CEME), wrote up the contest rules, and he told me about other Fletcher work in this area.  “Previously CEME held a conference titled Killing Cash, sponsored a talk from MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga titled “The Road to the Cashless Society,” and organized a conference in Kenya on the viral growth of M-PESA and efforts to replicate it worldwide.”

We’re midway through the Smackdown week.  Check the Cost of Cash blog often and learn what it’s like to live without cash or credit in the U.S. today.

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Approaching the end of my year with one foot (the professional one) in the graduate school admissions cycle, and another foot (the parental one) in the undergraduate cycle, I’m now shifting to the decision-making phase.

On the Fletcher front, our admitted applicants continue to email, visit, phone, speak to current students, and generally find ways to gather the information they need.  Email overload notwithstanding, I enjoy the opportunity to find out more about an individual I had previously “met” only on paper.

The information gathering task is similar for my daughter, Kayla, who last Thursday heard from two-thirds of the schools to which she had she applied.  (She had received decisions from the others earlier in March.)  Of those to which she was admitted, a few quickly rose to the top and are the focus of her research.  They’re all good options, but she’ll be figuring out which seems like the best place to live, learn, and grow through the next four years.  We’ve sketched out a calendar of visits for April.  I’m trying to ensure she takes a common sense approach, while also trying to get out of her way and let her make the right decision.

Although the Admissions staff is here to provide answers to our applicants’ questions and support their decision-making, at some point we’ll also need to get out of their way.  Our objective is to ensure the accuracy of information that serves as the basis for a decision.  Much as we hate to learn someone has chosen a different path and won’t be enrolling at Fletcher, we understand that the choice of a graduate program rests on a complicated collection of factors.

But don’t get me wrong — we’re not stepping out of the way, yet!  We have nearly 200 visitors expected for our upcoming Open House, and staff members and alumni have already hosted about that number of admitted applicants at an assortment of receptions.  The information flow is running full force, during this narrow window of time to make decisions.


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