The next batch of advice from current students to incoming students is a little inconsistent.  No…it’s very inconsistent.  So before you start reading, let me give you a framework for viewing it.  My guess is that the differences in perspective are rooted in the natural diversity of backgrounds (academic and professional) as well as personalities of the advisors.  All of the comments are practical tips for getting ready for classes.  Note that Shopping Day refers to the first day of the semester (this year, Tuesday, September 4) when short introductory sessions are offered for many classes.)  With that said, I’ll let the comments fight it out among themselves.  Again, these are the things that students did, or wish they had done, to prepare for their Fletcher studies.

Start looking at classes before you get here!  I began picking my classes a few days before lessons started and was overwhelmed by the choice.  Fletcher is so flexible and has such a diverse curriculum that you’re going to find hundreds of classes you’re interested in.  It’s tough narrowing it down to four classes in two days.

Identify some of the courses you want to take.  Some great courses have prerequisites that must be completed first.  Start looking at courses that might be of interest at other area universities.

I planned out which classes I wanted to take in the fall.  I knew exactly which classes I wanted to take, but after Shopping Day and talking to people, I only took two of those four classes.  Still, it was helpful.

Start earlier deciding which four courses to take the first semester.  Giving it thought in advance can lessen the stress during Shopping Day and the first week of classes.  Really pay attention to students’ evaluations (accessed through the Fletcher internal website) of the courses in previous years.  They really give a good sense of the quality and characteristic of the course.

On the “relax” side of the spectrum:

I spent so much time thinking about coursework and what my schedule should be for the first semester.  In actuality, I didn’t need to do all of this prep work.  It certainly helped that I had some idea of the courses offered, but things start to change once you arrive at school.  Shopping Day changes everything for most people.  So don’t worry too much about your courses until you get here!

I wish I hadn’t stressed so much about things that were not that crucial, like picking my classes and meeting the requirements.  Things just fall into place if you do what you’re supposed to do.  Don’t stress too much.

I tried to think about what I might want to write a thesis about.  Seriously!  I did that the summer before starting.  Don’t bother.  Your classmates and professors, and the ideas you’ll be exposed to, will be much more stimulating than even the most creative ideas you could come up with on your own.  I don’t remember much of what I came up with, but it definitely had nothing to do with what I ended up writing about.

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