Just before students flew off the campus last month, I asked for their ideas to help prepare their incoming peers. I posed three questions:
◊ What did you do to prepare for Fletcher that you would recommend for September’s incoming students?
◊ What did you do to prepare for Fletcher that you now consider unnecessary?
◊ What do you wish you had done before starting your graduate studies?
The suggestions fall pretty neatly into several large buckets, with some people satisfied with how they prepared and others wishing they had done things differently. I could start anywhere but, rather than stress you out with suggestions regarding your academic futures, I’m going to plant the idea that will take the longest to implement. Relaxing, and arriving early in the area. Here’s what students had to say on these topics:
I wish that I would have arrived in the area a bit earlier than I did. I was extremely envious of the students who came in August, got to know the area, and were comfortable by the time Orientation started. They generally sublet a room for a month and took the time to find good housing. Most ended up with cheaper places that I did — I arranged from afar in late spring — and were comfortable with the decisions they made. Those who needed to work in the fall also had time to find a suitable job and make arrangements before the flood of students arrived back on campus. I wish I had come August 1st.
Arrive in the area a few weeks before the start of Orientation, especially if coming from abroad. It’s great to have time to get set up, get a phone, pick up an ID (critical for going out to bars without taking your passport!) and become familiar with the area.
I took days off from my previous work, enough to let myself prepare — mentally — for my new life. I spent time with my family and friends, and I suggest the same for incoming students. You will miss it and will not have much time in the next two years!!
I wish that I had looked more into what was available in Boston. I arrived the day before Orientation and still haven’t managed to see most of the city (two semesters later…ooops…).
I was working intensely up until 1.5 months before school started. In those last free weeks I made a point of relaxing, reading as much as I could (for leisure as well as catching up on all news and current events), and exploring Fletcher’s courses and biographies of professors. Things pick up very quickly once you arrive, and Orientation is exhausting (albeit an incredible week). Make sure you are well rested and caught up on all of the other “life” things that you have to do. Once you start here, you’re in it, and those things become more of a luxury!
That’s the first round of common sense advice from current students. One point I would add for international students is that arriving early gives you a chance to improve your English language skills. The start of the semester is very busy, and the more adjusting you can do before Orientation, the more comfortable you’ll be.
Another round of suggestions is coming up tomorrow.
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