Posts by: Jessica Daniels

I’m starting to see a steady trickle of emails from nervous applicants, so I thought I’d provide a quick update on where we are in the process.

Let’s start with those who applied by December 20 — PhD and Map Your Future applicants.

Map Your Future application review, a manageable task, has moved along and most decisions have been released.  (Congratulations to those who have received good news!)

The PhD review process is also ticking right along, but at its own special glacial pace.  PhD applications are reviewed by a whole team of people and everything just takes a long time.  Decisions will be released by the end of March.

And for those who applied by January 10 for the MALD, MIB, LLM, or MA, we’re making real progress.  Many many of you already know that your application is complete and on its way to be read by Admissions Committee members.  Our student readers have been doing a great job, feeding applications to us staff members, and we’re all reading away.  The full Admissions Committee will meet tomorrow for the first time since the January deadline.  In other words, it’s all happening.

If you know that your application is still incomplete, I’d encourage you to do whatever you can to make it complete as soon as possible.  If you’re missing exam scores (GRE, GMAT, etc.), you can’t make the testing organizations work faster, but you can send us unofficial score reports. And if you’re missing a transcript, remember that all we need is a scanned copy of an official transcript (which you may well have already).  If you don’t have an official transcript, send us an unofficial one while you wait for the official one.

If you’re missing a recommendation, you should consider your options.  If you’re confident the recommender will send it along any day, then stick with Plan A.  If you’re not really all that sure, you may want to line up a replacement recommender.  Give it some thought, and contact us if you want to make a change.  Of course, if you’ve never followed up with your recommender, you can hardly blame him/her.  It’s your job to prompt your writer to submit the letter on time.

Finally, no matter when your application was complete, you’ll still need to be patient until late March, when we will release just about everything at the same time.  Today’s post is just to let you know that everything is moving along, and we’re feeling good about the progress we have made.

 

Although the majority of students start their studies and go straight through the relevant number of semesters on campus, plenty of students opt to pursue a dual degree or exchange program, or even take time away to work.  Jessica Meckler, who started the MALD program in September 2013, is doing just that.  Here’s her story.

Jessica M & kidsOne of Fletcher’s greatest strengths is its often-lauded flexibility.  Many other students have talked about the variety of courses and concentrations that allow students to personalize their degree to fit their professional goals, so there isn’t a need to elaborate on that.  However, the opportunity to take a leave of absence from Fletcher is another particularly useful aspect to the degree program that I would love to see highlighted more.

There are many reasons to take a leave of absence from your graduate studies: fellowships, scholarships, internships, and job opportunities.  Some of my batch mates have taken a semester off.  Others, including myself, have taken the entire academic year to pursue additional experiences that expand upon our Fletcher studies.

I am currently living and working in Pune, India as an American India Foundation William J. Clinton Fellow.  The organization that I have been placed with for my 10-month fellowship is the Akanksha Foundation, an educational NGO that runs schools and after-school centers for children from low-income communities in Pune and Mumbai.

I decided to apply for the fellowship in December 2013.  Throughout the course of my first semester, I had become increasingly aware of how my limited experience in the field affected my ability to connect the theories and skills we study at Fletcher with the reality of international development work.  I was encouraged by several professors to pursue a field internship for the summer, and with my interest in Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DM&E), Prof. Scharbatke-Church was candid and helpful in explaining ways to supplement my previous experiences.  I figured that if a summer was a good idea, why not a full year?

The application process for the AIF Clinton Fellowship was a lengthy endeavor.  I submitted my written application in January 2014 and was interviewed at the end of April.  I did not learn that I would be joining the 2014-2015 AIF cohort until June, when I was already living in Dhaka, Bangladesh and interning with BRAC for the summer!  I was extremely grateful for the ease with which Fletcher students can apply for a leave of absence.  It made the process of preparing to move to India while in Bangladesh a little simpler.

Jessica MecklerOne chronic worry that arises often when I talk to people about my time off from school is the idea of falling out of the “student mode.”  While in a way this fellowship is a break from the hectic schedule of all Fletcher students, I see the work that I do at the Akanksha Foundation as a crucial aspect to my Fletcher education.  In Pune I am assisting with several curriculum and program assessments, curriculum design, system creation and implementation, and teacher training.  My work draws upon the skills that I learned during my first year at Fletcher, such as the ideas and principles from the DM&E modular series, and I have greater clarity regarding my goals for my second year at Fletcher.  There are specific skills and courses, such as Nancy Hite’s Survey Design in Comparative Political Economy and Jenny Aker’s Econometric Impact Evaluation for Development, that I will focus on when I return to Boston.  Additionally, I am using my year away from Fletcher to continue a project – which will hopefully double as a significant portion of my capstone – that I began in Dhaka.

Although only four months have passed since moving to India, I am confident that my work here will have a profound impact on my future studies and career.  Taking time off was invaluable for me, and it has given me the time and space necessary to contextualize the onslaught of new ideas that a year at Fletcher brings.  While it is very strange to imagine Medford without the familiar faces that I have come to associate with Fletcher, I am equally excited to return to school in September as I am to stay in India for six more months!

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Fletcher skiers, snowboarders, and those who like to get away spent this past weekend at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine.  Travelers returned with many happy reports of the weekend.  One of the participants, Dallin — a second-year MALD student — grabbed some photos for me to share.  Though Albert and Ilana (top and middle photos below) are both snowboarding, I hear that the group tilted toward skiing.  Regardless of their ski/snowboard preference, everyone (except those who sat cozily by the fire) bundled up.  It was COLD on Saturday.

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Ilana

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Our Student Stories bloggers are back on campus and checking in.  Today, Alex reflects on his first semester in the MIB program.

My first semester at The Fletcher School was quite an experience: immersing myself in my business and energy classes, getting to know my accomplished and passionate classmates, and participating in events with Nobel laureates.

First and foremost, I have been struck by the immediate and tangible benefits of being a part of such a small, tightly knit school.  Let me give you a couple examples of these benefits from my experience so far:

Small Classes, Meaningful Discussions

Many of my classes were quite small, facilitating open and deep discussions, as well as fostering much more meaningful relationships with professors.

One example was my Managing the Global Corporation course taught by Prof. Thoman, F67, whose accomplishments and accolades include being the CEO of Xerox and Nabisco, the CFO of IBM, and a recipient of the French Legion d’Honneur.  Instead of just teaching us analytical frameworks pulled from textbooks or reviewing business cases of other people’s experiences, Prof. Thoman helped us understand how decisions are actually made in the C-suite, based on examples from his own extraordinary career.  This class only had a dozen students.

Another example was my Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy class taught by Prof. Kates-Garnick, F84, who was the Undersecretary of Energy for Massachusetts.  As Massachusetts has one of the most advanced and successful clean energy policies in the U.S., Prof. Kates-Garnick is precisely the type of person you want to learn about energy policy from.  Instead of simply discussing theoretical policies, she put us in the decision-maker’s seat and had us consider the tough trade-offs associated with different options.  This class only had seven students.

The opportunity to take courses sitting around such a small table with industry forerunners and policy makers with real-world experience reaffirmed that this school is not just teaching us theory; Fletcher truly is a school for practitioners, taught by practitioners.

Exclusive Conferences, Valuable Insights

As part of this focus on staying connected to the real world outside the halls of academia, Fletcher encourages us to attend the plethora of conferences hosted in Boston.  A great thing about Fletcher, however, is that it can help you get into the ones that actually matter.

For example, Prof. Kates-Garnick invited me to a small private conference held jointly by The Fletcher School and the Harvard Kennedy School for one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world.  The meeting, attended by the top energy minds of the two schools and the top executives of this global firm, was an eye-opening experience on how corporations inform and conduct their highest-level strategic planning process.  I was impressed by the executives’ grasp of international affairs (it came as little surprise that some were Fletcher graduates), and was reminded of the value of the Master of International Business (MIB) degree I am pursuing.

I was also able to attend a cleantech conference with the leading businessmen and women in Boston thanks to a generous grant from Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.  Just about every other person at the conference was a president or CEO, while I was one of only three students able to attend, due to the cost.  Access to the event proved invaluable, however, both in terms of the content of the panel discussions and the contacts I established; I left with an internship for the next semester doing research for a private equity fund acquiring wind farms across North America.

Not only are these types of conferences interesting, they provide access to the fields students are interested in, and to the people who shape those fields.  If it had not been for Fletcher, I would not have been able to attend, or even have heard of, these conferences.

Fletcher is a small school that delivers monumental output.  The professors and events students have access to are but a couple of the benefits of attending a small school.  It is these types of opportunities that ensures that students are at the leading edge of their fields, and that The Fletcher School stays at the forefront of the world’s most pressing issues.

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Bill Martel, 1Fletcher students, alumni, faculty, and staff learned on Monday that Prof. Bill Martel had passed away.  The community has received the news with tremendous collective sadness, reaching out to each other for help in understanding something that seems impossible to understand.

Bill made his mark at Fletcher, especially on the student community, in so many different ways.  He taught and advised a great number of students.  His focus on cyber security drew additional students to consult him on their research.  He joined the annual ski trip for a day of skiing, and he is known to have enjoyed the chili served at the Mugar Café — a typical indicator that he didn’t simply buy his lunch and run.

The Fletcher faculty is loaded with nice people, but in any group of nice people, someone can still be the nicest.  Bill was the nicest.  As he walked through the building, he greeted everyone by name.  If he didn’t recognize someone, he introduced himself.  With his incredible ice-blue eyes, he transmitted kindness and warmth.  He was one of those very rare individuals in the world about whom everyone had something good to say.

Bill was a true friend to the Admissions Office, and we loved working with him.  He served three years as chair of the Committee on Admissions, and created an atmosphere of warmth and respect.  He valued hearing what students and staff members had to say — no claims of faculty privilege for him.  He checked with us to be sure he was doing all he could, and we needed to struggle not to take advantage of his generosity.

Even in this past year, when he was dealing with a serious illness, Bill made a special effort to stay on top of Admissions news.  We would gleefully have welcomed him back to the Admissions Committee, but the dean decided to give him a light committee assignment load (like us, I’m sure, struggling not to take advantage of Bill’s willingness to jump in where he was needed).  When Bill and I exchanged emails in September, we both said we’d look forward to working together again on the Admissions Committee in 2015-16.  I truly meant it.

Unlike those who follow a typical path for a professor, taking a permanent position shortly after completing a PhD, Bill came to Fletcher with a rich teaching background, including a long stint at the Naval War College.  As a result of joining Fletcher relatively late in his career, Bill was granted tenure only last May.  Also in the spring, he was selected to receive the James L. Paddock Teaching Award.  Because of his illness, he couldn’t accept the award in person, but he had his friend and colleague, Prof. Shultz, read his speech of thanks, in which he referred to students as the “center of gravity” at Fletcher, and emphasized the importance of a positive “can-do” attitude.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who is grateful that Bill received these honors at a time when he might most appreciate them.

Bill will be formally remembered here at Fletcher in the spring.  But even outside of formal opportunities for remembrance, Bill will be on the minds, and in the hearts, of all of us who knew him.  Truly the nicest of men.  An inspiration.  And a real friend to the Admissions Office.  We’ll miss him greatly.

Bill Martel classroom

 

Every summer the Registrar’s Office compiles the Course Bulletin that students pore over before they select their classes and which, inevitably, is out of date shortly after it’s printed.  So each semester there’s a Bulletin Addendum, listing only one or two missed offerings in the fall, but often a longer list in the spring.  The list we just received for Spring 2015 includes such interesting classes that I thought I would share it with you.  I’ll provide the titles and course numbers, and you can find more info on the Course Descriptions page of the website.

DHP Division Courses

D218m: Influencing Policy and the Global Debate: Writing Analysis and Opinion

D233: Migration and Human Rights: Movement, Community, and Mobilization

P227m: Advanced Development and Conflict Resolution

P228m: Advanced Evaluation and Learning in International Organizations

P233: Information and Communication Technology for Sustainable Development

P258: Applied Research for Sustainable Development

P297: Engaging Human Security: Sudan and South Sudan

EIB Division Courses

B254: Cross-Sector Partnerships

E218: Applied Microeconometrics

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On Sunday I made a last-minute decision to jump-start my application reading on Monday.  We’ve often written about our “reading days” at home.  Past posts have always involved piles of green files (and, occasionally, cute dogs).  These days, no paper files!  Here’s how my day went.

7:30:  Move a laptop to a kitchen counter, grab a cup of mint tea in favorite frog mug, and kick off the day, starting with a quick review of email but soon moving on to the applications that were waiting for me in my queue.

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9:30:  The pain in my shoulder from being perched over a keyboard tells me it’s time for a break.  Switch to coffee (half caf/half decaf — I want to be alert but you wouldn’t want me too jumpy) in a theme-appropriate mug.  Do shoulder rolls while switching to another location — a desktop with a more comfortable chair.

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12:00:  I’ve now cleared out my queue, which means I can start plucking applications at random.  But first, lunch — a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  So far as I’m concerned, peanut butter is always #1, and being at home means I can toast the bread for the sandwich.

1:00:  After lunch, I read another couple of files, but at 1:00 it’s time to park myself somewhere warm and comfortable for a conference call.  After the call, I switch back to the laptop, but on a different counter — changing chairs throughout the day is part of my reading strategy.  More tea in yet another world-map mug.

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3:30:  Emails distract me for a while.  Once I regain focus, I return to my application queue and try to finish whatever I’ve loaded in there.

4:45:  That’s it for the day.  Time to put together a quick dinner and then head out to a meeting of a community board I’m on.  A little human interaction (and a chance to be outside) won’t be a bad thing.

There are so many great things about our new online application reader system, but I’m still working on strategies for pain-free reading.  More changes of chair?  More cups of tea?  By the end of this year’s application cycle, I’ll have it all worked out.  Meanwhile, I’ve already read some inspiring essays and I know there’s more to come!

 

Well, here we are, on the other side of the general application deadline.  Processing of the applications we received over the weekend has already begun, and will keep us busy for the next two weeks or so.  In some cases, almost no work is needed — everything was submitted online and we simply need to confirm it’s all there.  In other cases, we need to scan a transcript or recommendation and make sure the scan is added to an applicant’s credentials.  And then there are applications that are missing a couple of pieces, and we need to notify the applicant.  Whether your application needs effort or not, everyone is in one big line and your patience will be appreciated.

To that end, let me share Christine’s FAQs to guide you on tracking your application.  Note, especially, the instructions on how to access your Application Status page.

Frequently Asked Questions: Application Edition

I Submitted My Application!  Now What?

Your Application Status page will display information about your status.

To access your Application Status Page you can either click the “Start an Application” link on the Admissions website or save the application link.  You will login with the email and password you used when you created your application.

How Do I Know If My Application is Incomplete or Complete?

Even after you have submitted all the required materials, your application is not complete until a staff member has reviewed each document to check that it is correct and legible.  Your Application Status page displays the most up-to-date information on your application.  Please allow us up to 10 days after we receive your materials to update your status.

Your application will be marked as incomplete if we find that items are missing, your transcripts are difficult to read or not translated into English, or your application fee has not been received (with the exception of fee waivers).  If we are missing materials or cannot read application documents, we will contact you.

Fletcher Admissions will send you a confirmation email when all of your application materials have been compiled and your application is ready to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Once your application is complete, no further action is required.

Please Note: the order in which your application is processed has no bearing on your admissions decision.

When Will I Receive My Decision?

Admissions decisions will be released before April 1.  We will send a message to the email address you used on your application with information regarding your decision.

If you have further questions, please email us or call us at 1-617-627-3040.

Use the same email address from your application on all email messages.  Due to the high volume of communications we receive, it can take several days for us to reply to you.  We appreciate your patience!

 

Well, only about 36 hours remain before the application deadline.  A nice little batch of applications came in early, meaning (perhaps) that someone responded to my plea to submit early.  On the other hand (sigh), hundreds remain unsubmitted, so on balance, I’ve been ignored.  That’s o.k., I can take it.

Student readers on the Admissions Committee have been keeping our process ticking along, taking time during their winter break to read applications — a huge benefit of our new online application reader.  (Going paperless also earned the Admissions Office “Silver Level” recognition from the University Office of Sustainability’s Green Office Certification Program.  Hooray for us!)

When we return to work on Monday, the team — including our returning student interns — will focus on processing applications and will kick off the heart of the application review period.  There will be a bit of a frenzy for a couple of weeks, but this is the time of year that many of us like best.  We look forward to “meeting” you through your applications, and to working with you throughout the spring.

 

Thanks to a little advance planning, I was able to keep the blog running from December 22 to January 2, while I was sitting in my mother-in-law’s North London living room.  We spent two weeks away, mostly visiting with my husband Paul’s family.  We also made a side trip to Copenhagen, where I had never visited before.  That was fun!  Also fun — seeing my daughter, Kayla, who is spending the year studying in London.  She even proved that she’s been learning something, as she was the only one with the correct answers to the British politics questions on the traditional family holiday quiz.  Go Kayla!

(As a side note, I’ll mention that Kayla saw someone in a Fletcher Fútbol sweatshirt running down a street near her London flat.  She didn’t think quickly enough that day, but next time she’ll chase the runner to ask who it is.  Fletcher is everywhere!)

Until today, my week has mostly been tied up with catching up after time away, and preparing for the months to come.  To that end, the Admissions staff will be gathering this morning for a half-day retreat to talk about all those things that will keep us busy between now and May, when the work flow will finally slow.  It’s always a useful exercise to take a few hours to talk about the big picture.  We tend to get wrapped up in the fine details of our work while reviewing applications and doing the rest of what needs to be done from January to March.

We’ll be back in the office this afternoon, ready to take whatever questions may come in, now that we’re down to the wire before the application deadline.

 

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