Currently viewing the category: "Admissions Tips"

While Christine is busy getting the on-campus interview program up and running (leaving little time to being consulted), I’ll step in to offer a tip for your communication with the office.  No matter what the linguistic origin of your name, you may refer to yourself in a way that is different from your legal name.  Robert might call himself Bob, or Xiaoyu might call herself Shelley.  Totally normal in everyday life!

But grad school applications are not exactly like everyday life, and I want to encourage you to refer to yourself in a consistent way, or at least help us to connect your application materials by informing us of the name(s) you’ve used.  Shelley might, for example, put Xiaoyu in parentheses, so that it’s clear both how she prefers to be called and also that she has a legal name that is different.  Just be sure that we’ll know who you are, and please don’t rely on our memories, which may or may not work on a given day.

On a related note, be sure that email correspondence actually notes both your first and last name.  Sometimes we try to file correspondence and discover that the writer hasn’t provided a last name.  This is even more true if your email address doesn’t include your full name.  (A special email address that includes your name could be a good addition to your application.  It helps us keep track of things if your email address is johnsmith1000@gmail.com, instead of, say, starcatcher@gmail.com.)

All of this is to say that you’re best served in the admissions process by professional-level correspondence.  And anything you can do to help us keep your materials organized will help you in the long run!

 

With the graduation of Dear Ariel last spring came a dilemma.  Who would write a weekly blog post answering applicants’ hot questions?  The answer was as plain as the front desk of the Admissions Office — Christine has the FletcherAdmissions email inbox clearly in her sight at all times.  Thus, Consult Christine was born.  Today, Christine provides her perspective on the most efficient ways to connect with us.

Christine

The hands that may answer your next admissions question.

After a year of sitting at the “Command Center” of the office, I have fielded calls, emails, and walk-ins with many different questions.  I often hear, “I am not sure if this was the right way to reach you,” or “I am not sure if this is the right place to be asking,” so I thought I would take the opportunity for my first Consult Christine post to break down the best ways to reach us.  From Information Sessions to Interviews, and Visit Days to off-campus events, we have a lot going on this fall and want you to be able to contact us in the most efficient way possible.

With the Evaluative Interview program starting on September 23, it is timely to start with this!  I will have an upcoming post going into more depth on the interview program, but for now the best way to schedule an interview is to call us at +1 617-627-3040.  This is the easiest option for both you and us, so we can tell you what times are available and you can provide us with all the information we need.  Plus, it’s a great opportunity for you to ask questions.  If you are not able to reach us by phone, you can certainly email us to set up an appointment. But I would encourage you to call if you can!

Information Sessions, which will be in full swing starting next week, are a great way to get a general feel for Fletcher, see the campus, and interact with students and staff.  The best way to register for an Information Session is to use our online registration portal.  However, if you are already on the phone with us, we would be happy to register you.  The same applies for Visit Events.

Questions or comments can be forwarded by phone or email.  We answer email in all of our inboxes consistently, and try to have answers to you in a timely fashion.  I would recommend email if you have more in-depth questions!  If you feel that it would suit you better to call us with questions, we welcome the opportunity to talk with you over the phone.  Both staff and our team of student interns is happy to speak with you about whatever you may need.

And you can always pop in for a visit!  We welcome visitors to Fletcher to chat with an Admissions Officer, sit in on a class, or interact with our students.  Note that the office is open from 9:00 to 5:00 U.S. East Coast time.

I look forward to hearing from you as the year goes on, however you choose to connect with us!

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There’s a certain irony that the week when Fletcher turns lively is also a week when I don’t have much time to write about it in the blog.  I’ll do better next week!

Meanwhile, I wanted to say a quick word about the Fletcher approach to admissions interviews.

We’ll be kicking off the season for on-campus interviews on Monday, September 23.  There is also an option to record an interview as part of your application.  Both forms of interviews are strictly optional.  But I would encourage you to try to include one in your application.

We’re going to have plenty to say about both the on-campus and online interviews in the coming weeks.  Today, I’ll just cover two key organizational points about scheduling an on-campus interview.

Point One:  Interviews are generally offered only through the first week of December, and most applicants plan to schedule their interview before submitting their application.  It isn’t an invitation process — it’s your decision.  (Yes, I know that many professional schools take a different approach, but their approach is not relevant for your Fletcher application.)  So if you’re going to want to interview on campus, you should make your plans to visit now.

Point Two:  If you’re going to visit, you should call us soon to schedule your interview.  Right now, there are appointments available nearly every hour on nearly every day (Monday to Friday) throughout the fall.  Come up with a visit concept (date, morning/afternoon) and then call (or email, though calling can be more efficient) and grab a time.

As I said, more details will follow, but I want to get the word out there that now is a good time to plan your Fletcher visit.

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A prospective applicant asks:  What can an applicant with a less quantitative background do before applying, to enhance chances of admission?

My answer is going to depend on the applicant’s goals and where the applicant is in life.

If the applicant is still pursuing an undergraduate degree, my advice is certainly to take micro- and macro-economics and statistics courses before graduating.  A solid economics foundation is what many of our peer schools are looking for, too.

If that undergraduate ship has already sailed, and if the applicant is interested in Fletcher’s MIB program or a quant-focused curriculum in the MALD, MA, or PhD program, I would generally suggest either taking classes in economics and/or statistics before applying, or at least making arrangements to take them before the wished-for enrollment date.  Getting strong grades for the quantitative work before applying is particularly important for those who either have lackluster quantitative scores on the GRE or GMAT exams, or who had only modest success in quantitative courses while an undergraduate.  (If you can do better than your grades or test scores indicate, you’ll want to prove it!)  If, on the other hand, you can present evidence (such as test scores and grades) of strong quantitative ability, you may be able to get away with simply telling us in advance of your January-to-August plan to make up for your lack of quantitative training before starting Fletcher classes.

If the applicant predicts a complete life of quantophobia and has no interest in quantitative Fields of Study at Fletcher, I would probably suggest taking economics and statistics/quantitative reasoning before enrolling anyway, but not necessarily for admissions purposes.  So long as past testing and course grades demonstrate adequate command of quantitative matters, what the Admissions Committee will want to see is proof of ability to survive our basic economics and quantitative reasoning classes (or even to test out of them).

What does this lack of a single standard mean?  It means that, for all degree programs, Fletcher’s Admissions Committees review an applicant’s full application.  There’s never a lone criterion on which decisions are based.  Rather, depending on which degree program an applicant hopes to pursue, we look at all the information in an application to gauge potential for success both overall, and in quantitative coursework in particular.

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Sticking with the idea of helping this year’s applicants get their minds around the process, I’m going to lay out the application deadlines for you.  In fact, you can find them on our website, but my contribution will be to format them in an even plainer way.  Then, assuming you’re applying to one of the programs with more than one deadline, you can pick your own.  Here are the dates and the details on which program applications are due on those days.

October 15
Deadline for January 2014 enrollment in the MALD program.  This is the only deadline for January enrollment, and only MALD students may apply to start their studies in January.

November 15
Early Notification deadline for September 2014 enrollment in the MALD, MA, MIB, or LLM programs.

December 20
Deadline for September 2014 enrollment in the PhD program.  Note that this is the only deadline for the PhD program.
~and~
Early Notification deadline for Map Your Future applicants to MALD and MIB programs.

January 10
Regular deadline for September 2014 enrollment in MALD, MA, MIB, or LLM programs.

February 10
Final deadline (no scholarship consideration) for MALD and MA programs.

March 1
Final deadline (no scholarship consideration) for MIB and LLM programs.

May 15
Regular deadline for Map Your Future applicants to MALD and MIB programs.

Once you’ve made your choice, mark it in your calendar.  And then also put a note on the day one week before the deadline.  That’s the date you should aim for, to minimize wear and tear on the brain and nerves.

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Swinging back to application-related topics, a prospective student asked me to write about the sort of information that should be provided to a recommender when requesting a letter.  GOOD QUESTION!  Applicants don’t always maximize the value of their recommendations.  For example, the best (i.e. most convincing) person to explain the reasons behind a student’s academic difficulties is a professor, but few applicants ask their professors to provide context on their overall academic record.

This summer, we’ve pulled together some suggestions for recommenders.  Eventually, the list will find a home on the website where recommenders can see it, but today’s post offers a sneak preview of points that could be helpful as you ask professors and supervisors to write for you.

First, though, some suggestions for you, as recommendation requester:

  • Tip #1 is to give the recommender plenty of time/warning to write the recommendation letter.  You can’t expect a high quality letter if you’re making requests two days before the deadline.  (Also be sure to make the deadline clear.)
  • Tip #2 is to share your résumé and your statement of purpose (first application essay) with your recommender.  The statement will tell your recommender what you hope to accomplish at Fletcher, so that the letter can be relevant to your goals.
  • Tip #3 is to provide your recommender with a little information about Fletcher.  Though many letters we receive each year were written by people whose names we see regularly, you shouldn’t assume that someone knows the school.  It’s frustrating for us when we read a letter about an applicant’s potential for law school.

And now, our suggestions for the recommender:

A typical letter of recommendation for a Fletcher application is between one and two pages in length.  A letter that is too short may provide insufficient detail, while a letter that is longer than two pages may be more than needed for the application.  Your letter will be of greatest value if you provide specific and targeted observations, particularly regarding your personal interactions with the applicant.

If you are writing about the applicant’s academic experience:

  • Indication of why a student succeeded (or failed) in a class is helpful. Even if it seems obvious that an “A” grade demonstrates the student’s strength, the context for the grade is useful.  The academic recommendations are among the few qualitative ways we have to understand a student’s academic capacity, and we appreciate understanding how a student excels (not simply that the student did excel).  It can also be useful when recommenders mention what percent of students get an A in the class.
  • Be sure to note it if a student took the time to get to know you outside of class (through research, office hours, etc.).  This is often a helpful indicator of how they will act in graduate school.

If you are writing about the applicant’s professional experience:

  • It is useful to know about the applicant’s progress in and contributions to your organization, rather than simply what position the individual held.
  • If the applicant performed any functions that are relevant to academic work, it is helpful if you bring them to our attention.  Some examples are research, writing, data collection or analysis, or work within a team.
  • An assessment of the applicant’s professional potential also contributes to our evaluation of the application.  As a professional school, we want to know that students will be able to achieve their career goals.
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Today is the last day of classes for the spring 2013 semester, and it’s also the last day of Fletcher classes for (Dear) Ariel.  There are many second-year students I will wish to thank in person or in the blog for their contributions to the community, and Ariel will be the first.

Ariel started work as an Admissions Intern in September 2011 and she is the quiet super-charged engine of the student staff.  There’s no task that she doesn’t complete efficiently, and that includes writing a Dear Ariel column.  A typical week had me sauntering over to her on a Tuesday at noon and asking if, based on questions turning up by email, she had any ideas for a blog post.  By 12:30, a perfect piece of writing was in my inbox.

Ariel’s final column today returns to the basics of advising prospective applicants.  Next year I’ll face the challenge of finding another writer who may come close to Ariel’s efficiency and skill.  For now:  Thanks, Dear Ariel!

Dear Ariel: Is my GPA competitive for Fletcher?

ArielEvery student admitted by Fletcher’s Committee on Admissions must be able to succeed in Fletcher classes, and the applicant’s academic profile is the most important aspect of an application.  But academic potential (which is indicated primarily by GPA, test scores, and recommendations) is still only one part of the application.  We seek students who, by virtue of their background, achievement, and experience, can contribute to the education of their peers and to the scholarship and practice of international relations.  Even a strong GPA, in the absence of international and professional experience, does not guarantee admission.  Since Fletcher students come from a broad range of educational backgrounds that utilize different grading scales, calculating an average GPA for all admitted students is impossible.  Among admitted students who attended colleges or universities using a 4.0 scale, the middle fifty percent of GPAs has fallen in the range of 3.4 to 3.8 in recent years.

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Even during the heart of the admissions process, applicants write in with questions about whether their applications are competitive.  Here Ariel makes a rare Tuesday appearance to lay it all out in the most basic way.

Dear Ariel: What are the characteristics of a successful MALD applicant?

Fletcher actively seeks to enroll a diverse class of students who have demonstrated academic excellence, have a wide range of personal, professional, and academic experience, and have a strong commitment to an international career. We seek students who, by virtue of their background, achievement, and experience, can contribute to the education of their peers and to the scholarship and practice of international relations. In general, applicants must demonstrate research ability and a strong familiarity with a second language, and hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. All students must have proven English language proficiency. Fletcher students come from a wide range of undergraduate majors, including international relations and other social sciences, the humanities, business, and physical sciences and engineering. It is suggested (but not required) that students take microeconomics and macroeconomics prior to enrollment.

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This seems like a good time to provide an admissions process update.  As I’ve written before, the Fletcher Admissions Committee is reviewing cases every week — even as we keep reading.  Other schools may review all the applications in a series of end-of-process mega-sessions, but that’s not how we do it, and we still have several weekly Admissions Committee meetings left.  We also have a new crop of applications that arrived by the February 10 deadline.  Some have already been read, while others are waiting for those last recommendations or other credentials.

Even after all the applications have been reviewed, there’s a lot more work to be done, including scholarship consideration.  Personally, I don’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel.  More of a halfway-there feeling.

This is also a convenient moment to answer a question that blog readers may be thinking, but aren’t necessarily asking.  That is:  I submitted my application in January (or November or February).  Is there anything I should be adding to it now?

The answer is that there aren’t useful additions now, with one big exception.  If you have new test scores, new grades for fall 2012 courses, or a résumé that reflects a new job, then I would encourage you to send them in.  You never know — the Admissions Committee may be holding on your application, in hopes that your most recent grades will arrive.  Or maybe that promotion at your job might be just enough to nudge your application toward admission.  So if you have new information in one of those categories, please send it in.

I also should say that some additional information is just not helpful.  Have you been kicking yourself since January 10 about a typo in your personal statement?  The best policy is simply to let it go.  Sending an updated personal statement, or a résumé with a new font but no new content, is not likely to boost your cause, and may have a negative effect.  So stop ruminating over a phrase that could have been worded more elegantly, and use your time to think through your financial plans, as well as to enjoy this quiet moment before grad schools start releasing decisions next month.

And now, I’m off to this week’s Admissions Committee meeting!

 

It took Ariel and me a couple of weeks to coordinate to start up for the spring semester.  Today, Ariel regretfully takes on a topic she covered in the fall.  Regretfully because so many people didn’t read it then.  It’s good info.  Please read what Ariel has to say.

Dear Ariel:  I submitted my application for the January 10th deadline.  Have you received by GRE scores yet?  My recommendation letters?  My transcripts?  Is my application complete?

Because we get a lot of mail and phone calls, the easiest (and fastest) way to find out if you have any missing items is to check our online application system.  After you submitted your application, you should have received an email with your username and password to login to the Tufts Graduate and Professional Schools Application Management System.  We like to call it GAMS for short.  If you didn’t receive this message, check your spam folder.  If you still can’t find the email, do not distress!  Just email us and we will send you a new username and password.

You can login to GAMS to check the status of your application, and also to see if you are missing any application materials.  To be extra sure you know if something is missing, we’ll also contact you to tell you what hasn’t arrived.

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