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The heart of the application to Fletcher is the essays — both the personal statement and the second essay.  Through the essays you give us your pitch for how you’re right for Fletcher and Fletcher is right for you.  I’d hazard a guess that all graduate schools would say roughly the same thing.

How should you approach writing the most important element of an application that may influence the trajectory of your professional life?  Despite the weightiness of the situation, my first suggestion is always the same:  Read the questions carefully and FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.

The two essays required for all Fletcher applications are:

Essay 1: Personal Statement (600-800 words)
Fletcher’s Committee on Admissions seeks to ensure that there is a good match between each admitted student and the School.

Please tell us your goals for graduate study at Fletcher and for your career.  Describe the elements of your personal, professional, and/or academic background that have prepared you for your chosen career path.  Why is The Fletcher School the right place to pursue your academic objectives and to prepare you to meet your professional goals?  Why have you selected the degree program to which you are applying?  If you are planning to pursue a joint degree, please be sure to address this interest in your personal statement.

Essay 2 (500 words maximum)
Share something about yourself to help the Committee on Admissions develop a more complete picture of who you are.

I acknowledge that these questions can seem challenging, but I also think that they’re straightforward and appropriate for an application of this sort.  Moreover, from vast experience, we know that applicants who organize their thoughts carefully will be able to stay within the word limits.  For the Personal Statement, the inability to write 600 words may indicate that you haven’t thought through your objectives clearly enough; more than 800 words means you need to use your favorite method for trimming back what you have written.

If you read the essay prompt carefully, you’ll note that the Personal Statement starts by asking you to look ahead to your time during and after Fletcher.  The other questions incorporated within the prompt are there to guide you to provide the details needed to convince us that your objectives are realistic and carefully considered.  (What is it about your background that makes your goals achievable?)  It will almost surely be a mistake if you start your narrative way back in your childhood (unless you quickly skip from age 6 to age 18).  Your professional trajectory probably didn’t begin until you were at least in your undergraduate studies.  Think carefully about the elements you want to include — make your essay a convincing argument, not a basket full of random thoughts.  (And leave off the footnotes — this isn’t a research paper, and you should include your definitions and references (if truly necessary) in the body of the essay.)

That second essay question — so vague and unhelpful, right?  Well, maybe.  But here’s how you should approach it.  Before you start writing, think about all the other information that you’ve already loaded into your application.  What else can you say that will add to your argument that you’re a good match for Fletcher and your future career?  There’s no universal best answer to the question, but a poor choice of topic is one that doesn’t link in any way to your goals, your background, or the special qualities you would bring to Fletcher.  Remember that we love enrolling a diverse group of students.  Help us understand who you are.

Beyond all of the above, it’s really important (and presumably obvious) that you need to check over your writing. There’s no excuse for misspellings, and we cringe when we read the name of one of the other fine schools of international affairs that an applicant forgot to swap out when using the same essay for multiple applications.  (Huge frown for that scandalously common error!)

An interesting annual observation is that many admitted students do a much better job of articulating their goals in March conversations than they did via the application in January.  I’m going to guess that this is, in part, because they didn’t take enough time to prepare their essays.  So my final word of advice is to start early.  Think through your objectives and how you want to express them.  Write a first draft and let someone else read it.  If your goals aren’t clear to your first reader, they won’t be clear to us either.  When you have a final draft, triple check it for stupid (and not-so-stupid) errors.

And those are my tips for the essay.  All common sense, really, but critical for convincing the Admissions Committee that your objectives and Fletcher are the perfect match.

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Applicants, listen up!  My Admissions pal, Christine, and I have been cooking up a week of tips and suggestions to help you as you think about your application to Fletcher for January or September 2015.  We’ll be running through all the key parts of the application and we strongly encourage you to pay attention!

Christine and I have been thinking about this little feature since the summer began, actually sitting down to write it only last week – yes, even we procrastinate!  We’re calling it Application Boot Camp, and here’s the schedule:

Monday: Writing good essays

Tuesday: Test scores and transcripts

Wednesday: Arranging for supportive recommendations

Thursday: Finishing touches – interviews, résumés, and other things under your control

Friday: Using the online application

The posts will be tagged so that you can read them now and refer back later on to double check that you’re following our instructions.

See you at Boot Camp on Monday!

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With the deadline coming on a Friday this year, I thought it would be helpful to tell you what to expect after you submit an application, even if you haven’t yet submitted yours.  As I wrote earlier this week, we’ve been keeping up with the applications that were submitted ahead of the deadline, and the printer is churning out the ones that arrived overnight.  We’ll keep going until 5:00 p.m., but any further compiling of applications will wait until Monday.

In other words, we won’t be updating applications over the weekend.  But even when we’re back in the office on Monday, we need to ask you to remain patient for a few days while we compile and process your application.

By “patient,” I mean:  Please don’t contact us on Monday to ask about an application that was submitted today!  Everything will come together very soon, so hold tight, and when you start to worry anew about whether you’ve done everything you need to, reread this blog post.  Meanwhile, here’s the rundown of what happens when an application is submitted, whether you followed my advice and applied early or will wait until 11:59 EST tonight.

1.  Once you hit the online “submit” button, your application is “stamped” with the date and time.  The electronic application then waits within the Embark system for your registered online recommenders to do their work.  If all your recommenders have already submitted their letters, or if you haven’t registered any online recommenders, the application will be ready for us immediately, and we’ll upload it into our internal program.  (If your recommenders haven’t done their part, it’s your responsibility to remind them that the deadline has passed.)

2.  When your application (with online recommendations) is uploaded, you’ll receive an automatically generated email stating that we have received your application, and that you should wait ten business days before contacting the Admissions Office about any missing materials.  The email also provides you with a username and password to access the Tufts Graduate Application Management System (GAMS).  GAMS will be the best way to track your application.  We’ll also be posting decision letters to your GAMS account, so hang on to your username and password!  Remember that we don’t receive your application (and you don’t receive the email) if the application is stuck in Embark, waiting for recommendations.  And contacting a member of the Admissions staff will generally give you only the information you can access yourself through GAMS.  (After a few weeks, there’s more that we can do to help track materials down.)

3.   Uploaded applications are printed in batches.  Once we have the paper copy, we create a file folder for you, giving you a tangible presence in the Admissions Office.

4.  Meanwhile, Admissions Office staffers will open the daily piles of envelopes holding test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation from recommenders who weren’t registered online, etc.  We sort and file the mail.  If the application hasn’t yet been uploaded, the paper materials will “wait” for it to emerge from the system.

5.  Once we have your application in a file folder, we dig out the mail that has already been received for you and include it.  Then we manually update your record in the admissions system to show what materials have come in by mail.  You should track your application through GAMS, but we’ll also email you if there’s a document missing. This is the ten-day process I referred to in point 2 above.  If you’re not patient, GAMS will alarm you by indicating we haven’t received anything at all.  Until we manually process your application materials, the information in GAMS is not complete.  Keep on top of things, but remember that the registering of your materials won’t happen immediately.

6.  Your completed application is then given to Committee members to review, and you’ll receive your admission decision in late March.

The bottom line:  Make sure you monitor your application, but give us a little time to pull everything together.  In only about two weeks, everyone who has submitted all the materials needed for an application should find accurate and reassuring information on GAMS.  So long as you submitted the application by the deadline, you can relax for a few days while we do our work.

 

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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