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So often we’re asked a question that can take two forms, depending on who’s asking:

1.  What type of work should I do after completing my undergraduate degree to prepare me for Fletcher?

2.  Does my professional experience make me a good candidate for admission to Fletcher?

As I’ve written before, there’s (alas) no correct answer to these questions.  The professional experience that will be valuable for one post-Fletcher career may not help to advance another.  Nonetheless, though there’s never going to be a tidy answer to pass along, that doesn’t mean I can’t guide you toward a better understanding of why such brief questions elicit such unwieldy responses.  To do so, I thought I’d connect readers to sources on the blog and elsewhere through which you can see for yourself the diversity of our students’ pre-Fletcher experience.

I’ll start off my experience round-up by pointing you toward several blog features.  First, there are the Five-Year Updates.  In these posts, alumni describe their paths to and through Fletcher, and you can see how they have brought together their pre-Fletcher work and Fletcher studies to launch new careers.  There’s also the growing feature on First-Year Alumni.  Naturally, these graduates don’t yet have the perspective of their fellow alums who graduated earlier, but you might like to see how everything (Fletcher and pre-Fletcher experience) comes together directly after leaving Fletcher.  I’ll be adding more posts from our 2013 graduates throughout the coming months.  Finally, there are the posts in the Student Stories feature.  Although the writers this year and last cover an assortment of topics, each of them provides an introductory post.

Beyond the blog, there are many student profiles on the Fletcher website.  You can find a selection of students who entered in 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as recent alumni.  If you prefer, you can also access profiles by degree program on the MALD, MIB, MA, LLM, and PhD pages.

With the application deadline coming up on Friday, maybe this is an odd time to be providing information like this.  On the other hand, I know that applicants’ questions on their credentials don’t actually stop when they submit the application.  Maybe this isn’t such an odd time after all.

 

Do I need to say anything that the title of this post doesn’t already say?  A little context, maybe?

Every year, the majority of our applicants wait until the last (or nearly last) minute to submit their applications.  Meanwhile, as the clock ticks down, they anguish, stress, and contact the office to ask for a clearer definition of “January 10 deadline.”

Why?

Seriously.  I’m asking.

Why would you risk the anxiety and hassle (and potential missed deadline) involved in waiting until the very last minute?  And why take the time to ask whether a January 10 deadline means by close of business or before midnight?

Today is December 23.  Eighteen days remain before January 10.  Use 17 of them industriously, and you will not need to contact us for clarification of the deadline.

So, yes, dear blog readers, I am imploring you to do something good for yourself.  Please submit your application before the deadline.  Not so early that it’s incomplete, mind you, but early enough that you can relax while imagining other people’s frenzy on January 10.

And for the record:  applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5) on January 10.

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Decisions were posted yesterday for our Early Notification applicants so, today, I’ll try to anticipate incoming questions and answer them before you have a chance to ask.

First, allow me to congratulate those applicants who have already been admitted!  We’re excited to welcome new students to the community, and I read some super applications in this round!  I’m sure it’s good news that you can just relax through the next three months.  Scholarship decisions will go out with the next round of admission decisions at the end of March, but you don’t need to make a final enrollment decision until April 20.  Meanwhile, I encourage you to use this time to gather information about Fletcher so that you’re ready to make an informed decision.  Of course, if you already know you’ll attend Fletcher, all the better!

Next, let me say that I’m sorry to bid farewell to a group of applicants who were denied admission.  We always regret making these difficult decisions, but we hope it will help the applicants make their choices on where else they should apply.

Finally (and most complicated) are the applicants who were told we will discuss them again after we receive applications for our regular deadline in January.  That is, we wish to look at the applications in the context of the larger application pool.  Important to note if you fall in this group:  you are welcome/invited/encouraged to update us on changes to your credentials.  Here’s a list of updates that we particularly value:

  • An updated transcript that reflects grades received since you submitted your application;
  • New standardized exam (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS) score reports;
  • A revised résumé that includes information on a new job position;
  • An additional recommendation that sheds light on an aspect of your background you weren’t able to illuminate in other parts of the application.

Are you thinking of something not included on the above list?  It may be a fine addition.  Just use this simple rule of thumb:  if the information is already in your file in another form, there’s not much value in sending it again.  That is, an additional academic recommendation will add little to an application that already includes three.  On the other hand, a professional recommendation will add a lot to an application that only includes academic recommendations.  Think it through before you flood us with info, but don’t hesitate to send us something that will give your application a happy bump.

Whether you were offered admission this week, or you were told we’ll reconsider your application in the spring, we look forward to hearing from you and to working with you during the coming months.  Please be sure to be in touch if you have questions.

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I’ve received some good suggestions to fuel my blogging through the next weeks from the survey I posted a few weeks back.  Today, I’ll answer a few of the easily answered questions, in hopes that it will encourage more of you to tell me what’s on your mind.

Question:  Other than the Admissions Committee, who reviews the applications?  How much does the comments by these “others” matter in admitting or rejecting an applicant?

I love this question!  I can’t remember ever being asked it by an applicant before.  I’m guessing that the applicant is wondering about high-level administrators (the dean, etc.), alumni, or professors who might, somehow, weigh in and influence the admissions process.  To answer, I’ll start with a reminder that the Admissions Committees for the MALD/MA and MIB programs already includes professors, along with the students and staff, while the PhD and LLM Committees are composed of professors and staff, but no students.  At the master’s level (MALD, MA, MIB, LLM), there is no consultation with the many individuals or constituencies not included on the Committee.  For the PhD program, professors are consulted as part of the process of finding the right advisor for each student.  In no case are alumni or higher-level administrators part of the process.  I’ve heard of other schools where the dean can unilaterally decide to admit an applicant.  That’s not how we do things at Fletcher.  On the other hand, it is certainly the case that professors are available to help us interpret an application if their expertise would be valuable.

Question:  What does the Admissions Committee look for in the second essay?

I’m aware that each individual applicant is on his/her own schedule for researching and applying to graduate schools, so I’m happy to point you back to an Admissions Blog post from just a few weeks back.  Most of what I could possibly say is included there, but I’ll reinforce my key point, which is that you should use the second essay strategically by focusing on a topic not otherwise covered in the application but that relates (however tangentially) to your qualifications for Fletcher.  On the other hand, you shouldn’t overthink the strategizing — there’s no right answer.

Question:  Are there application considerations for military personnel or veterans of military service?

Fletcher has a long history of educating military personnel who will continue their careers or who are transitioning to a new career.  (This is one of the reasons I asked Liam to contribute to the blog.)  I would say that the Admissions Committee views favorably the opportunity to bring military personnel and veterans into the Fletcher community.  We are very familiar with the military academies (and the very heavy courseload that students pursue there), as well as the education paths of the many who joined the military before attending university.  With an international student body, we naturally also see military veterans of many other countries, including applicants who have participated in mandatory public service.  Beyond that, we review each application with an eye toward fairness, just as we would with applicants who have no military experience.  Once students are here, Fletcher (and Tufts University as a whole) participates fully in Yellow Ribbon and other veterans’ scholarship programs, and we have a designated point-person to guide students through the very complicated process.  In a bureaucratic duel between Fletcher and one of the military branches, we always endeavor to make Fletcher the less cumbersome bureaucracy.  Plus, Dean Stavridis comes from a military background — you can count on a welcoming atmosphere.

Those are the answers for today!  Please send me more of your questions!

 

The on-campus interview program officially ended on Friday, but your opportunities to interview are far from over.  There are limited on-campus slots still available through January 9, and an infinite number of times when you can record your own video interview.  Christine gives you the details.

For the second application season, Fletcher Admissions is giving you the chance to star in your own video interview!

Can’t make it to campus?  Well, brush up on your interviewing skills, dress professionally, and conduct an interview right from the comfort of your own home (or coffee shop, or hotel lobby, or friend’s house — you get the idea). Video interviews are a great way to add valuable supplemental information to your application, such as detail about your background and how The Fletcher School will help you meet your personal and professional goals.

The video interview allows you to respond to a pre-recorded set of questions asked by current Fletcher students.  Your recorded response to each question may take up to two minutes.  The entire process can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes, so long as you follow the basic instructions.

So how do you go about requesting a video interview?  Simple!  You email us your name, preferred email address (in the body of the email message), and résumé.  You will then receive a response containing the instructions and, more important, a link to the interview site.  All video interviews must to be submitted before you submit your application.  More information, including instructions and helpful tips, can be found on the Fletcher Admissions website.

We look forward to seeing you on the big screen!

If you have any questions regarding the video interview, please email us or call us at +1.617.627.3040.

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ChristineWhat’s in a name?  A lot, if you are on the receiving end of thousands of transcripts, emails, and applications every year!  For this week’s blog post, I want to focus on the importance of name consistency with your application.

Your name is your own.  It is what distinguishes you from everyone else.  It has special family meaning.  It is your legacy.  It is also what ties all your application materials together into one nice package.  Therefore, it is important that you keep your name consistent for all parts of the application.

Starting with email correspondence to the office in your early stages of graduate school inquiries, make sure to include your full name as it will appear on the application.  Then when taking the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, etc., please use the same name format you will on your application.  This is very important, and saves a lot of confusion when it comes to processing applications, and that is good news for both you and us.  Finally, on the application itself, continue to use the same name.  When we go to pull your materials together, it will make me and all our student interns infinitely happier if we have all your items together!

In addition to people who use different versions of their name in different settings, there are also people who changed their name (usually due to marriage) in the years between their undergraduate studies and their Fletcher application.  If you’re one of them, please make us aware of the name change!

So while I may want to go by “Chris” or “Tine” (I don’t) in my informal correspondence, when it comes to formal graduate school applications, I will stick with my given name.

If you’re unsure what to do, just remember to keep it consistent!

For name-related questions and other queries, email us or call us at +1.617.627.3040.

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The Early Notification deadline was Friday, and we are well into the process of compiling and reviewing applications.  Now that most applicants submit scanned copies of their transcripts, compiling the application generally requires only that we connect test scores and interview reports with the materials that are submitted online.  We should easily keep up with the applications that come through each day and, by the end of this week, everyone should be able to log into GAMS and find good information on what items, if any, are missing.

But this simple description of the process ignores one important part of the application, which is recommendations.  Because most applicants ask their recommenders to submit their letters online, the applications emerge from the system with recommendations included.  On the flip side, if any of your recommenders don’t submit their letters, your application will be stuck in the system, waiting for the letter to be attached.

For EN applicants, that means that your next step is to ensure your recommenders have submitted their letters.  If not, a gentle reminder is warrented.  The EN review period is short, and incomplete applications will be reviewed after January.  That’s not a terrible outcome, but it’s surely not what you intended.

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We tinkered with our application essays this year.  Our intention was to ensure applicants would provide the information we need in the personal statement (Essay 1).  The unintended result is that we’re hearing a lot of questions about Essay 2.  For those of you who haven’t started the application yet, Essay 2 asks:

Share something about yourself to help the Committee on Admissions
develop a more complete picture of who you are.  (500 words, maximum)

What applicants are asking is what, exactly, we really want them to tell us in answer to Essay 2.  The implication of their question is that we’ve left the question too structureless.

As I’m sure savvy blog readers would expect, I’m going to tell you that there’s no correct or expected answer to the essay question.  And I’d understand if you roll your eyes while muttering blah, blah, blah in your heads.  But it’s true:  there’s no correct or expected answer to the essay question.

Still aiming to be helpful, I’ll suggest, instead, a way of approaching the essay.  Think about the information you have provided in your application through all its parts.  What dimension of you/your background might you still want to share?  That is, don’t view the essay as a throw-away, and use it to fill in some gaps left after the rest of the application is complete.

Elaborate on your international experience.  Share your thoughts on leadership.  Talk about your hobbies (assuming there’s a link to your international affairs interests).  Describe a challenge you have faced.  Tell us how you needed to learn Spanish to speak to your rescue dog.  Describe the importance of community to you.  Tell us how your family upbringing made you the person you are.  Provide more detail on the origins of your interest in international affairs.  Write about your quest to cook the perfect dish from a country you love.  Any of these approaches (and many, many others!) would be a nice addition to an application.

In past years, we’ve used essay prompts that resulted in a few interesting responses and a zillion similar ones.  When we asked applicants to describe an item of particular importance to them, nearly all the responses were:  passport, bookcase full of IR books, hiking boots, or backpack.  We moved away from questions that draw such responses because we really want to know about you — not about what you think we want to know about you.

So, friendly applicants, choose a subject that boosts your application and go for it.  There’s no correct or expected answer to Essay 2, and we’ll enjoy learning about what’s important to you.

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Today, Christine tackles one of the topics about which we’re asked the most:  test scores.

The Who, What, When, Where of Standardized Tests.  I purposely did not put “why” in the title.  Why?  Because we all know we have to take standardized tests.  They are not fun, nor are they meant to be, but they give the schools you’re applying to a quantitative base for reviewing your application.  Here at Fletcher, we look at the entire application as a whole, but tests are required nonetheless.  More importantly, we will not consider your application complete until you submit your test scores.  So now that we have gotten the “why” out of the way, let’s move on to look at the other aspects of testing.

Who needs to send test scores?  Ready, all together now: everyone!  The GRE or GMAT is required of all applicants (except for LLM applicants).  For non-native English speakers or those who have been educated less than two years in English, a TOEFL or IELTS will need to be submitted with your application as well.

What will Fletcher accept for test score reports?  We will only accept official test score reports sent directly from the testing center — no exceptions.

For the GRE or GMAT, the scores must be no more than five years old.  Some good news: if you have taken the exam multiple times, we will look at the best scores from each section.  In addition, we do not have a cutoff for scores.  In recent years the middle 50% for the GRE verbal score has been in the 77th to 96th percentile range, the middle 50% for the GRE quantitative score has been in the 61st to 84th percentile range, and the middle 50% for GRE analytical writing in the 49th to 92nd percentile range.  For the GMAT, the middle 50% has been in the 73rd to 92nd percentile range.

For the IELTS or TOEFL, the scores must be no more than two years old.  The scores listed below are generally considered evidence of sufficient English language ability for graduate study at Fletcher.  Occasionally we will admit a student with a score just below the listed minimum but require that the student complete additional language training before enrolling.  Minimum acceptable scores are as follows:

  • TOEFL: 100 (with sub-scores of 25 on each section)
  • IELTS: 7.0 (with sub-scores of 7 on each section)

When do I need to send my scores?  We strongly prefer that your scores arrive on or before the date you submit your application.  However, we will allow a grace period of a few days after the application deadline. Keeping this in mind, you should take your exams at least a few weeks before you plan to submit your application.  For the GRE and GMAT, it usually takes about two weeks for us to receive your scores if you take the test electronically.  If you take the exam on paper, it could take upwards of six weeks before we receive the scores. The TOEFL and IELTS exam reports usually arrive in about two weeks.

Where do I send my scores?  Scores should be sent directly to the Fletcher School, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.  For the GRE and TOEFL please use the code 3399.  For the GMAT, please use 7JB-L3-70.

Taking the exams may be unpleasant, but at least the rules for reporting scores are straightforward.

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Today, Christine gives you all the details on Fletcher’s evaluative interview program.  Remember to check this page when you plan your interview!

The Evaluative Interview program has kicked into high gear!  Appointments are starting to fill throughout the fall, leading to many happy interviewers, who are eager to get to know you!

By now you may be thinking, how can I interview and meet one of Fletcher’s highly trained student interviewers?  Well, I am here to answer your interview-related questions.

What is an evaluative interview?  Great question!  A personal evaluative interview is a valuable way for you to share information about yourself and learn how The Fletcher School will meet your academic and professional goals.

Should I interview?  The interview is recommended, but not required, for all applicants; however, PhD applicants are encouraged to interview.

When should I have my interview?  Interviews should generally be completed at least one week prior to the application deadline.  The interview program kicked off on September 23 and will run through Friday, December 6.  Interviews are offered Monday through Friday during business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).  Additional interviews will be conducted on a very limited basis until January 9.

When should I schedule my interview?  You should schedule your interview as soon as possible, once you have an idea when you would like to visit.  We have a good number of appointments available, so it is helpful if you can name a few dates that would be convenient for you.  (Note, though, that dates in late November and December fill early!)  If you are visiting from out of town (or even down the street!), you may want to schedule your interview in conjunction with an Information Session.  More details regarding Information Session dates and times can be found here.

How should I schedule my interview?  Please call the office directly at +1.617.627.3040.  You should have dates and times in mind when you call, to allow us to best schedule you!  If you are unable to call, you can also schedule your interview by email, though this can involve a long back-and-forth process until we find a convenient date.  Scheduling by phone is more efficient.

I’m all scheduled!  Now what?  Once you have scheduled an appointment, you will receive an email confirmation with the date and time of your interview.  Make sure you save and read this email thoroughly as it includes directions to the school, as well as what to bring with you (your resume!), practical suggestions (how to dress), and even hints as to the interview content!

If you have questions about the interview program or anything else Admissions related, please call us at +1.617.627.3040 or send us an email.

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