Currently viewing the category: "Fletcher’s Admissions Policies"

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!

 

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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We try to provide clear information directly to applicants offered a place on the waitlist, to help them make a good decision on whether to wait.  Still, it never hurts to restate things, and there may be some other prospective students who wonder how the waitlist works.

We’ve offered waitlist spots to a group of applicants for each of the master’s-level programs.  For the next six weeks, the waitlist won’t be the focus of much of our attention, but applicants will be making their own decisions on whether to continue to wait.  Many will decide to turn down the offer — they’ll attend another graduate school or, maybe, continue to work.  We’ll set aside the responses until after the May 1 deadline for future review, grouping the applications of those who want to wait (in alphabetical order — no ranking), ready for us to re-review them.  We nearly always make at least a few offers of admission to applicants on the waitlist, and sometimes more than a few.

Meanwhile, between the release of decisions and May 1, we’re monitoring the responses of admitted students.  Some will say yes, and some will say no.  And even among those who say yes, some are organizing joint degrees, or balancing educational goals and professional responsibilities, and they’ll decide to defer enrollment for a year.  As these fine details of the enrollment situation unfold, we’ll go to the waitlist to admit the students we need to fill the September class.

So what can you do, once you’ve confirmed that you’ll wait?  We invite you to update your application with carefully selected materials.  Here is my annual list of suggested additions to waitlisted applications:

1.  Any update to basic application credentials:  Grades for newly completed classes, new test scores, an additional recommendation from your university or workplace, written by someone who knows you well and who can add a new perspective on your background.  (Please read that last sentence carefully.  You won’t gain much from a recommendation (however positive it might be) that covers the same ground as your previous three recommendations.)  You can also update your résumé, or send a link to a newly published article.

2.  A brief essay to complete the sentence, “When I wrote my personal statement, I wish I had said….”  Do you have a better sense of your academic and career goals than you did in January?  If so, fill us in!  (Keeping your response under 500 words is a good idea.)

3.  A visit to Fletcher.  We don’t offer formal interviews during the spring, but we’ll certainly meet with you if you’re able to visit.  The best time for an appointment is late April to early May.  We’ll try to accommodate you whenever you are here, but we’d appreciate it if you could hold off until after April 15.

4.  Anything else that you would have put in your application if the instructions had been written differently.  While I discourage you from sending a research paper or thesis (and I say this because I know that many applicants would like to send us additional reading materials), there may be something that you wished you could have included.

5.  Information that helps explain the gap or shortcoming that you feel may be holding your application back.  You may not have chosen to address it in your application, but now would be a good time to explain those crummy grades from your first undergraduate semester, or your limited international experience, or whatever else is a weakness in your application.  And a weakness you have noticed is probably one we’ve noticed, too.

You can send your update by email.  Try to send it to us by May 1 (the deadline for deciding whether to stay on the waitlist), though you remain welcome to update your file as the spring goes on. The majority of the waitlist activity will take place from early May to the end of June.  It’s always our goal to sew everything up as quickly as possible — both for your sake and for ours.

Last, the scholarship question.  At the same time as I can’t guarantee we’ll have scholarship funds remaining in late May or June, I can say that we generally have had some money to work with.  Remember that the applicants who decide not to enroll are often returning scholarship funds, too.

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If you weren’t admitted to Fletcher this year and are thinking of applying in the future, bookmark this post so that you can refer back to it on May 1.  Applicants who have requested feedback have the best chance of putting together a successful application in the future. 

Dear Ariel: I wasn’t admitted to Fletcher.  How can I find out why?

The Fletcher School welcomes applicants who have been denied admission in one year to apply again in a later year. One way to ensure that the future application will be stronger than the previous is to request and review feedback from the Office of Admissions. The intention of this feedback is to help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your application, and to assist you in preparing for your next application to Fletcher.

To request feedback, please send us an email after May 1. Your message should include the following information:

•          State your request for feedback, noting the date of your original application.
•          Note any special questions you have about your application.
•          Tell us your plans for the coming year.
•          Tell us when you plan to reapply.

Because many applicants request a review of their application and it is a time-consuming process, application feedback will be provided starting in June.

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Lesson Three brings the good news.  Within the next couple of weeks, many Fletcher applicants will learn that they have been admitted.  We will congratulate all of you and we’re genuinely happy that Fletcher may play a role in your future.  Big smiles all around!

Some of the offers of admission, however, are accompanied by a condition, and today’s post is to clarify what those conditions entail.  Point one is that we don’t bother to admit someone conditionally unless we’re very enthusiastic about other aspects of the application; don’t let the condition diminish your sense of accomplishment.

What is the basis for a conditional offer of admission?  The Admissions Committee looks at the materials in an applicant’s file and makes certain assumptions, some of which lead Committee members to suggest the applicant needs further preparation before enrolling at Fletcher.  We’ll make that preparation a condition of admission.  The most frequently employed conditions require that, before starting Fletcher classes, the student should improve foreign language proficiency, English language proficiency, or quantitative skills (MIB students only).

We tend to be inflexible about the nature of the pre-Fletcher English training, for reasons I hope are obvious.  (In case they’re not as obvious as I think, I’ll spell it out:  No one can succeed in Fletcher classes with weak English skills.)  There’s more flexibility around summer foreign language training for native English speakers.  We’ll ask students to choose the best program for their level and their choice of language — there are too many variables involved for us to dictate any particular option.

Does this mean that, if we haven’t attached a condition, we’re absolutely sure your English skills are strong enough to cope with a heavy load of reading and writing?  Not necessarily, and now’s a good time to work on those skills.  Does it mean we’re sure you’ll pass the foreign language exam?  Definitely not.  Applicants who self-assess as having intermediate-level proficiency might have over-estimated or under-estimated their ability.  Work on those language skills before enrolling!  Not everyone who needs some practice will be admitted conditionally.

Beyond the conditions, there’s one other complication to the admit category:  Occasionally, we admit applicants to a program other than the one to which they applied.  Most common example:  You applied to the mid-career MA program, but you don’t have sufficient experience to meet Fletcher’s standard for mid-career.  On the other hand, you look great for the MALD program, so we’ll admit you to the MALD!  (There’s similar thinking behind offering MALD admission to a tiny number of PhD applicants who lack the master’s level study to enter the PhD program directly.)

Our process would certainly be simpler if there were only one type of admit, but the option to attach a condition to admission is the difference between admit and deny for some applicants.  We would hate to turn away a highly qualified applicant who needs a little brush-up on English skills, but we would be obliged to do so if we couldn’t require pre-Fletcher English study.

The happy bottom line is that conditional admission is (once the condition is met) admission.  And we’re convinced that fulfilling the condition will enhance the admitted student’s experience at Fletcher.  So we’ll maintain our portfolio of admits, sometimes with conditions attached.

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I’m back again to explain (while everyone’s still paying attention) Fletcher’s admissions decisions.  Moving along to Lesson Two of our Primer, the next topic is the waitlist, which has a good news/bad news element.

Each year, along with admitting a group of students, we’ll offer a place on the waitlist to another promising group — applicants whose credentials are solid overall, and yet just a little less solid than the applicants we’ve admitted.  (A waitlist is what it sounds like — a list of people waiting for a place to open up in the entering class.)  In some years, we draw a significant number of students from the waitlist.  Occasionally, we don’t admit any.  But most years we admit a few.

It can be hard for waitlisted applicants to get a handle on what this decision means for them, which is understandable.  The challenge is that, when decisions go out, we can’t even answer the most basic question:  How many people are on the waitlist?  Why is that?  Because, in March, it doesn’t matter whether we make 10, 100, or 1,000 waitlist offers; what matters is how may people decide to accept a spot on the list.  So let’s say we make 100 offers.  If 60 people decide not to wait, then the relevant number is 40.  We don’t rank our waitlist, and when it comes time to make an offer of admission, we go back to the applications and figure things out.

Applicants offered a place on the waitlist can take until May 1 to decide whether to wait.  It would be very unusual for us to make an offer of admission before May 1 — most of our work with the waitlist takes place in May or June, though we’ll keep a list into the summer.  Sadly, the waitlist involves, well, waiting.

All members of the Fletcher Admissions staff know that the extra waiting is unwelcome.  But for some applicants who focus on the opportunity involved, the waitlist represents a final chance for admission.

One last thing: Applicants who have accepted a place on the waitlist still have applications under active consideration, and we won’t offer feedback at this time.  On the other hand, you may wonder if there’s anything you can do to give a boost to your application, and the answer is, YES!  You may have experienced changes in your education or professional life, and we want to  know about it.  If you have new test scores (GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS) or grades for classes, please send them to us.  If you have changed jobs or assumed new responsibilities at your current position, send us an updated résumé.  And don’t hesitate to crow about your latest publication or honors.  Now’s your chance to shine up your application a bit before we return to it when we evaluate the waitlist in May.

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Having worked in admissions for many years now, and also having shepherded my own kids through the college admissions process, I know that anxiety ticks up day-by-day with increasing intensity as of March 1.  Every year, I try to get in ahead of the worst of the frenzy to explain Fletcher’s admission decision options.  And because my objective is to help applicants understand our process, I prefer to start with the bad news.  I’m realistic (and empathetic) enough to know that many applicants who are not admitted will curse the day they started reading the blog, and I’ll never hear from them again.

So I will seize the moment and share the explanation.

The truth is that admitting applicants is the easy part of admissions work, and naturally we focus on the easy and fun.  But denying admission is an inescapable aspect — the most challenging aspect — of what we do.  When we took a break at our final MALD/MA Admissions Committee last Friday, even the professors on the Committee walked out of the room discussing the time we spent on a particularly vexing application.  We gave the applicant a very thorough review but, ultimately (and sadly), decided we needed to say no.  I can assure you that no one is happy in those circumstances.

When we review applications, we’re looking for a combination of academic potential, professional and international experience, and clear goals for study and a post-Fletcher career.  Applicants who are denied admission might be missing one or more of those elements, or they might be just a little weak in all of them, particularly compared to the overall qualifications of admitted students.

With gaining admission as the objective, falling short will inevitably feel like bad news, but we do make one distinction among those who will not be offered admission this year.  Some applicants to the MALD and MIB programs will receive a letter saying that, though they look great overall, we really want them to gain some relevant professional experience, and it’s the work history that stands between them and the admission they hoped for.  We’ll only use this “work deny” decision for applicants within about a year of their university graduation.  (This year, that means 2012 and 2013 grads.)  We encourage them to work for a couple of years, although (depending on their internship record), it could take more or less time for them to build their professional experience and become competitive applicants.

Here are two points to file away, in case you may find them useful later this year.  The first is that Fletcher will provide feedback to applicants.  If you’re planning to reapply, I encourage you to ask for feedback this spring.  (That is, don’t wait until the month before your next application — you may want some time to make improvements.)  We’ll accept feedback requests on May 1 and you’ll hear back from us within a month or so of your request.

The second is that Fletcher welcomes applicants to reapply.  Someone who applies unsuccessfully, smooths up some of the rough points in the application, and reapplies in a subsequent year, has shown determination and a strong interest in the School — two qualities we love in our applicants.

I’ll be back tomorrow with details on the waitlist.

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Dear Ariel: Can I transfer into the MALD?

While Fletcher does not formally accept “transfer” students, students who apply, are admitted, and matriculate at Fletcher may petition to have a certain number of courses taken at another institution accepted for credit.  The courses must be relevant to your academic program at Fletcher and transfer credit will not be granted if the courses are part of a degree that has already been completed.  Students must submit a petition to the Committee on Student Academic Programs to have these courses accepted for credit once they matriculate at Fletcher.  Transfer credit is not an option for MA, LLM, MIB, and PhD candidates.  Fletcher will allow a maximum of four courses of transfer credit for our MALD program, only.

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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!

 

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