Posts by: Jessica Daniels

I wrote last week that the Admissions staff has started to hit the road.  Last Thursday, we sent Lucas to New York for his first Idealist graduate school fair with Fletcher.  Today it’s my turn!  I’m on my way to NY for the annual APSIA fair, which is held at the Council on Foreign Relations.  It’s a busy event, but focused.  Everyone who attends is interested in some corner of the broad international affairs arena.  I’ll have two alumni with me (and plenty of water to drink).  If you’re going to be there, please stop by and say hello!

 

I tend to let National Public Radio keep me company in the morning, with the result that a member of the Fletcher community frequently joins me while I eat breakfast or commute to work.  This week, my cup of tea was accompanied by the voices of two graduates.

Yesterday I was visited by Vali Nasr, F84 — a double Jumbo (alumnus of Tufts undergraduate and Fletcher) who happens now to be the dean at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, having previously taught at Fletcher — talking about Saudi Arabia, Iran, and this year’s hajj.

And then today, it was R.D. Sahl, F95, a graduate of the one-year MA program, who will be delivering reports for a new app that makes it easy to follow politics, in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Whether it’s an alum, a professor, or Dean Stavridis, hearing their stories and analysis over the radio is a welcome reminder that I’m part of a terrifically interesting and knowledgeable community.

 

The Hall of Flags is in full hum today, with new and continuing students popping in and out of Shopping Day sessions.  I always think of this first day of the academic year as being the start of a new “blog year,” too.

To kick off Blog Year 2016-17, I’d like to point you toward some of the blog’s past content.  For starters, there are the regular posts written for the Student Stories feature, which will continue this year with both returning and new writers.  And there are the occasional Faculty Spotlight posts — shining that light on aspects of the professors’ Fletcher life that you won’t see represented elsewhere.

Among the posts from Student Stories writers are what we call “Annotated Curricula.”  You can think of them as the roadmap that our writers took through their two Fletcher years.

For the past few years, I’ve asked alumni to write about their post-Fletcher lives, in either a one-year update or a five-year update.

And then there’s the straightforward admissions stuff.  A few years ago, a student member of the staff wrote the “Dear Ariel” column, in which she answered commonly asked questions.  I hope to bring a similar feature back this year, once our student staff is back in place.  And over the years, we’ve passed along lots of admissions tips — especially ideas for the application essays.

I hope you’ll enjoy catching up on some of the blog’s past posts.  I’m certainly looking forward to sharing details of the new Blog Year!

 

Orientation wraps up today and classes begin next week.  Faculty members have been spotted in the building, heading off to a meeting or joining new students for lunch.  But for us, a key marker of the start of the fall semester comes next week, when the Admissions staff will start three months when, on most days, someone will be on the road.

Broadly speaking, we travel for three reasons.  The first is to participate in graduate school fairs, generally all of those organized by APSIA and a few organized by Idealist or by business school-related groups.

Second, we travel to universities and other sites — throughout the U.S. and a revolving list of international destinations — with a few friendly peers.  These “Group of Five” trips, including Fletcher, Princeton/Woodrow Wilson, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins/SAIS, and Columbia/SIPA, might find representatives of each school in a plane or a van together en route to a week of visits.

And finally, we’ll travel to a few universities or workplaces throughout the year, but not with any particular guiding structure.  Sometimes a university invites us.  Sometimes we want to learn more about a school whose graduates have applied in significant numbers.

Maybe we’ll be traveling to a site near you!  You can find our travel schedule on our website.  Check back often — the list is still skeletal, but we’ll be filling it in over the coming weeks.

 

I was recently emailing back and forth with Atanas, a 2015 graduate, and he told me that Fletcher folk (mostly alumni) in New York would be gathering for a picnic last Saturday.  You can be sure that I didn’t let a moment pass before writing back to ask for a photo.  So here are 20-plus Fletcher people and one dog, gathered in New York’s Bryant Park on a beautiful summer evening, after the other 20-plus people had left (or before they arrived).  40 to 50 picnickers in total!  Go Fletcher-in-NY!

NY picnic

 

When I was walking from my bus to Fletcher this morning, I was struck by how lovely the campus looks.  We’ve had a hot and dry summer, but this morning was cool and clear — a taste of what September and the fall will bring.

Though the weather and Orientation have us looking toward the fall semester, today I’m going to look back at some of the summer’s news that you may or may not have seen in other Fletcher sources.

I’ll start with something you won’t have read, but it’s pretty cool.  Tufts will have an observer team at the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco in November, and students were invited to apply to participate.  The team at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy will submit the nominations for official observer status.

And speaking of CIERP, the crew there is always busy in the summer.  Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director for educational programs at CIERP, spent part of her summer with an international group of sustainability professionals at an executive education course organized by the Sustainability Challenge Foundation in the Netherlands.  She co-led the faculty of the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability, which focused on negotiation and consensus building.

Not new CIERP news, but a new wrap up — check out this Tufts Now story on the Paris Climate Conference.

Continuing with the staff/faculty theme, Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church told us about a new blog on corruption in fragile states that, she wrote, touches on many areas of interest to the Fletcher community, including “power analysis, systems thinking, aid ineffectiveness, good governance, fragile states etc.”  She also explained that many of the posts are derived from work that Professor Diana Chigas and she are doing, “looking at the intersection of corruption, justice and legitimacy.”

In news from the Institute for Business in the Global Context, Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti, PhD student Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, and MALD/PhD graduate Ben Mazzotta, have posed the question, “What countries would benefit most from a cashless world?”  Their answer, which builds on the work of their Digital Evolution Index and the Cost of Cash research, can be found in their Harvard Business Review article that evaluates “the absolute costs of using cash around the globe to find what countries could unlock the most value by moving to a cashless society.”

And now some summer news about alumni.

Christina Sass, F09, is one of four co-founders of the two-year-old startup company, Andela, which is now backed by both Google and the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation.  So many of our students and alumni work with small organizations, and it’s exciting to see one receive so much love!

Since graduating, Patrick Kabanda, F13, has been busy writing on cultural development for the World Bank, including “Creative Natives in the Digital Age”, “Music for Development in the Digital Age”, “The Arts, Africa and Economic Development: The problem of Intellectual Property Rights,” “Mozart seduces the World Bank and the IMF” (a blog post), and just recently, for the Inter-American Development Bank, “‘The World Sends Us Garbage, We Send Back Music’: Lessons from the Recycled Orchestra in Paraguay.”

And finally, Fletcher has developed a series of video answers to the question, “Why Fletcher?”  This summer, Elise Crane, F11, offered her perspective.

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And just like that, the quiet of summer is a thing of the past and the Hall of Flags is filled with students, newly arrived for Orientation.  They’ve picked up their ID cards, been welcomed by Tufts University’s president and several Fletcher deans, and are currently relaxing over lunch.  We hope the break will fortify them in advance of the afternoon’s briefings on myriad essential topics.

Orientation isn’t all critical-fact gathering — most evenings include a social event.  But it’s a busy week that should leave the newest members of our community with a suitcase of essential background information, along with familiarity with the campus and a bunch of new friends.

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Given that it’s been almost three months since graduation, I realize that my “farewell” post for the Fletcher Admissions blog is coming a little late.  The past three months seem like a whirlwind, and I haven’t yet had a chance to take a breath and fully process them or reflect on my time at Fletcher as much as I would like.  This is because, in addition to graduation, a lot of other things have changed for me — I got married, started a new job, temporarily moved back home, and am now preparing to move to a new city.

Graduation weekend was a great opportunity to meet everyone’s families and raise a champagne toast (or several!) to the past two years.  The speakers were all incredible, and it was amazing to see some of my classmates stand in front of hundreds of people and deliver inspiring speeches about our time at Fletcher.  As fun as the weekend was, it was also bittersweet: saying goodbye to friends and professors and leaving my home for the past two years wasn’t easy.  At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel very excited for the next phase of my life, and everything I had to look forward to, including a new job, a new city, and a new husband!

After graduation weekend and my wedding, I headed home to Mumbai, where I was fortunate to start my new job at Vera Solutions while I wait for approval of my paperwork to move to Geneva, Switzerland.  Vera Solutions is a consulting company that builds technology solutions for social sector clients.  Given that it has offices in both Mumbai and Geneva, it was a perfect opportunity for me to learn the ropes, with the added bonus of getting to spend time with family and friends at home.  I also had the chance to connect with some Fletcher folk living in Mumbai, as well as to represent Fletcher at a coffee hour for prospective students.

Although I still feel as though the full impact of my time at Fletcher hasn’t sunk in, I’m glad that I was able to find a job using the skill sets — in technology, monitoring and evaluation, public speaking and presentation, and accurate data analysis — that I had wanted to gain from my MALD.  The past two years weren’t easy, and definitely came with their fair share of stress and anxiety, but I feel that my experience at Fletcher was all that I had hoped for in the beginning, giving me solid technical skills, amazing learning opportunities both in the classroom and outside, and a wonderful set of friends all over the world.

Aditi, graduation

Aditi, standing, second from left, and Fletcher classmates.

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Returning to the tips that the Admissions staff offered this summer at my request, Liz, Theresa, Laurie, Lucas, and Kristen build on Dan’s tip from last week.  As a reminder, I asked my Admissions family to complete the sentence, Something I would want Fletcher applicants to know is…

Liz: Use Your Resources

Liz WagonerAs an applicant to Fletcher, you likely have a lot of resources for gathering information about the School.  You may have personal connections (professors, friends, mentors) who suggest Fletcher as a good fit for your goals and interests.  You may also have access to our social media channels, this blog, for example! — not to mention Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube.  You also have our print publications (which you can download here) and the Fletcher website.  We even have a “frequently asked questions” section, which ideally will answer many of the questions you have.  Something, I’d like Fletcher applicants to know is that we hope that you’ll use these resources!  Of course we welcome questions by phone or email, but with all these good sources of information, a little “research” may help you find the answer to simple questions such as “when is the deadline?”  That way, when you do email us (which we hope you will) you can ask us questions that aren’t easily answered with a quick check of our website.  So please, if you can’t find what you’re looking for when gathering info about Fletcher, contact us!!  But don’t forget to use your resources first!

Theresa:  Prepare for your Admissions interview

TheresaOnce you’ve made the decision to visit the Admissions Office for an interview, there are things that should be top of mind prior to your arrival.  First, remember that you are coming to the Admissions Office for an evaluative interview — which means that, through your conversation, you are being evaluated.  While we are not expecting you to arrive dressed for a Hollywood red carpet event, we also think you can do better than showing up in athletic gear or sleepwear type clothing and sneakers.  The sweet spot is normally categorized as business casual — a step down from business formal but not completely casual.  My second suggestion, perhaps obvious, is that you should be prepared for the interview.  This means being ready to discuss the finer points of your background and experience.  Remember, too, that your résumé is a concise summary of your skills and experience and should not go much beyond two pages.  (If it’s currently significantly longer than that, you should seriously consider a revision.  Overly long résumés stand out for the wrong reasons.)  Last, try to relax.  There is no trickery involved in the interview.  We are genuinely interested in hearing about what makes you a good match for Fletcher!  And all of these tips apply to interviews via Skype, too!

Laurie:  The spring is a window of opportunity

Laurie HurleyThere is no question that the admissions process is time consuming and at times a bit overwhelming for both applicants and the Admissions Committee.  We know (and very much appreciate!) that applicants spend an enormous amount of time writing personal statements, chasing recommenders, taking standardized tests, collecting transcripts, and filling out forms.  As a result, there is a natural tendency to breathe a sigh of relief and take a break after submitting applications.  But don’t relax for too long.  What some candidates underestimate is the amount of time it may take to make a final enrollment decision.  The time in between submitting your applications and waiting to hear from schools is a tremendous window of opportunity to research and plan.  Admissions decisions are typically released in mid-to-late March and candidates have roughly a month to select the graduate program at which they’ll enroll.  That month often involves campus visits, many conversations and emails, tons of research, and ironing out financial aid details.  While this should be a time of happiness and celebration, I have often witnessed stressed-out admitted students who find themselves scrambling during this period.  Therefore, my advice to all candidates is to really take advantage of the down-time between submitting your applications in January and receiving your admissions decision in March, to continue your research, plan your finances, and be prepared to make an important decision.

Lucas:  Call on the experts to find the right fit

LucasSomething I would want Fletcher applicants to know is… one of the best ways to determine if our program is a good fit for your personal and professional goals is to hear from a variety of people with differing perspectives on Fletcher.  Current students, alumni, faculty, and staff members will all have unique insight into the Fletcher experience.  Just as our team evaluates each applicant to Fletcher, you should also use these and other resources to assess how Fletcher aligns with your personal goals, curricular interests, and professional aspirations.  Take advantage of a campus visit to grab coffee with a student and sit in on a class, or seek out alumni to shed light on their experience here!

Kristen:  There’s no such thing as a perfect applicant!

Kristen ZI’ve been working here at Fletcher for over a decade now (yikes!), and through the process of reading lots of people’s stories, I can tell you that there’s no such thing as a perfect applicant.  Because of that, we don’t judge people against a single yardstick of perfection, but rather try to understand what makes YOU tick, and what qualities YOU bring to the table.  What this means is that while very, very good applicants may still have weaknesses, they don’t try to hide them or make excuses, but rather thoroughly and efficiently give us a straightforward explanation.  In many cases, the best applications aren’t fancy, aren’t overly sales-y, and don’t strive to make the applicants look perfect.  Rather, they answer the questions, provide the information, and show a thoughtfulness in explaining the many sides — professional, academic, and personal — of the applicant.  What am I trying to say here?  Don’t try to trick us or become someone you are not!  Be you.  That’s what we’re looking for in the application.

 

I’m just back from a few days away and while I scramble to take care of those matters that await me, I will put the blog aside for one more day.  Except…I love sharing pix of my local vacations.  So here’s what we found at low tide at Cape Cod National Seashore’s Coast Guard Beach:

Seals

Seals!  I was standing quite a distance away because the seals were on a patch of sand surrounded by water, but what you’re seeing in the photo is a continuous blanket of seals relaxing on a sandbar.  Cape Cod is the summer home of ever-growing colonies of harbor seals and grey seals.

Cape mapCape Cod is easily reached by mass transportation.  There’s a ferry from Boston to Provincetown, at the very tip of the Cape.  Then there are buses that run through the various towns.  Alternatively, there are both buses and a train from Boston to Hyannis.  With both history and natural beauty going for it, the Cape is on my short list of places students should visit while they are at Fletcher.  But why wait?  Plan a day trip to follow your visit to Fletcher during this application season.

 

 

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