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Today is the last day at Fletcher for Christine.  You may have met her during a visit, or you may have heard from her by email.  Even if you haven’t had any direct contact with Christine, if you plan to apply, or applied last year, you will benefit from her work.  Christine was one of the Admissions staff members who did the work behind the scenes to make our new online application platform a reality.  And once Slate was launched, Christine did most of the maintenance for us, and has been the source of the answers we need when we’re trying to do something new with it.

During her years in the Admissions Office, Christine was our clear leader on all matters “fun.”  She spurred us to celebrate birthdays, created a “Slatebration” (Slate Celebration) last December after we had received and reviewed our first applications successfully, and has generally made sure that we take time to enjoy ourselves now and then.

Having just gotten married in July, Christine decided the time had come to try a new career, and she will be moving on to a human resources position at a local tech company.  I’ll miss her around the office, and we all wish her well!

 

Following a few weeks during which it received a refreshing, the application for admission to all Fletcher programs in January or September 2016 is now available.  Most 2016 applicants will greet this news with a shrug: they’re planning to apply, but the deadline seems so far away and they don’t see any special reason to do anything just yet.

I would encourage you to resist this line of thinking.  Instead, take a look at the application and note what’s involved.  You can work on it at whatever pace you choose, but you’ll benefit from knowing the requirements and the questions asked on the application form.  Once you’ve checked it out, you can start compiling the information you need.  As we get closer to whatever deadline you are aiming for, you’ll be glad to have moved ahead.

 

It’s hard for us to believe, but today will be the last day of a mostly student-free Hall of Flags.  On Monday, the pre-session begins, bringing MIB students and those interested in Design, Monitoring and Evaluation onto campus, ahead of the new students who will attend Orientation on August 31 and the returning students who will arrive a week later.  The pre-session students stay pretty busy throughout the day — they won’t be hanging out in the Admissions Office — but their arrival is still a marker in the wrap-up of summer.

Liz and I walked out of the building together yesterday and we agreed that we feel like we worked pretty steadily throughout the summer, but we’re still going to need to scramble to finish all the summer tasks.  No big deal.  A little scrambling never hurt anyone, and we both have vacation weeks in front of us.

Mostly, we’re really looking forward to meeting the students we talked about in Admissions Committee meetings last winter, and to hearing about the summer activities of the returning students.  It will be great to have students in the building, keeping the place lively.  If we’re lucky, we’ll also manage to finish off all the summer work first.

 

Among the other projects I’m working on this summer is the overdue launch of evaluative interviews via Skype.  Up to now, the great majority of our evaluative interviews have been on campus and face-to-face between the applicant and interviewer.  We also offered the opportunity to record an interview online, but the resulting videos, though still helpful in the application review process, couldn’t measure up to the more natural and interactive format.  We all had a voice whispering in our ears that the time had come to offer Skype interviews, but we needed to be sure we had all the pieces in place to do so successfully.  Now we think we do.

The new Skype interviews will capture many of the features of our on-campus interviews.  Evaluative interviews are offered to interested applicants from mid-September through early December.  (That is, usually before applications are submitted.)  Interviewers will generally be current students.  There will be plenty of opportunity for the applicant to ask questions.  And whether on campus or via Skype, interviews (however helpful they are for interviewers and the Admissions Committee) remain optional.

We’re still ironing out one wrinkle in the registration process, but we should have that settled next week.  (It could be settled in half an hour, but vacation schedules rarely put us all in the same place at once.)  When the registration question is decided, the early set-up work will be complete and we’ll share a link to the interview registration page.  Note that the Skype interviews are really intended for applicants outside the Boston area, and we will ask you to share your résumé and Skype user name before the interview.  Though there are bound to be some bumps in the process, we’re excited to be able to extend the face-to-face interview opportunity to applicants who aren’t able to visit campus.

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Though September/October/November is when the Admissions team is most likely to be on the road for recruitment travel, we also make occasional trips in the spring and summer.  On the schedule this time of year is “Summerfest,” an evening reception and information session activity cooperatively organized by us and our friends at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA); Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service; Johns Hopkins University, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); Princeton University, The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Summerfest events are held in New York City and Washington, DC, and the New York event is tonight, July 16!  If you’re interested in attending the New York reception, you can sign up here.

Two DC events were scheduled for the summer, and the second is coming up on Tuesday, July 21.  If you’d like to attend the DC reception, sign up here.

We’ll have a member of the Admissions staff and alumni or students at each event, and we hope to see you there!

 

This is the week when our summer Coffee Hours with current students really get going, and from now through the end of the summer there will be several events each week.  Our students have all volunteered for the opportunity to chat, and I hope you’ll take advantage of this chance to meet them if you’re in one of these cities where a coffee hour is scheduled.

Amman, Jordan
Atlanta, GA, USA
Bangalore, India
Chicago, IL USA
Dili, Timor-Leste
Geneva, Switzerland
Guadalajara, Mexico
Hanoi, Vietnam
Honolulu, HI, USA
Jerusalem
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Lima, Peru 
Louisville, KY, USA
Mexico City, Mexico
Moscow, Russia
Mumbai, India
Nairobi, Kenya
New York City – focus on international organizations
New York City – focus on security studies
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
San Francisco, CA, USA
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Seattle, WA, USA
Seoul, Korea
Taipei, Taiwan
Tehran, Iran

 

In the summer, I enjoy writing about my own weekends as a way of describing our great neighborhood.  But this past weekend was anything but typical.  On Saturday, all of us in Admissions were together to celebrate the wedding of our own Christine to her true love, Eric.  It was a lovely ceremony and a great party, and we all had a fun time.  Plus, of course, it’s such an honor to witness a marriage.

We don’t often manage to capture a photo of the full staff, but here we are.  Theresa, Kristen, Laurie, Christine (of course), Liz, Dan, and me.  (Sunglasses courtesy of Christine and Eric for use during the cocktail reception around the roof-top pool.)Wedding-1

 

 

FP sectionAround this time, blog readers tend to fall primarily into two groups — enrolling students and prospective students who are just getting going on their graduate school search.  For this latter group, I thought I’d share a special supplement to the December/January issue of Foreign Policy, entitled “Leaders in Higher Education.”  In addition to the advertisements from Fletcher and our peers, the article highlights the work of Dean Stavridis as an organizational leader and scholar.  Click on the photo to read more.

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CoolerBack in January, the Office of Admissions received silver level certification from the Tufts Office of Sustainability Green Office Certification Program.  Now that our online application process is a very light user of paper, we have our sights on gold level certification.  Making that leap will take some work, but we can tick the first box: we have given up our water cooler.  As such, we paused for a moment to say farewell as the cooler, and its empty bottles, hit the road.

Going for gold will require some more intentional changes than we needed for the silver level.  That particular accomplishment followed naturally from changes we made for other reasons (i.e. the new application).  But there’s no reason not to aim high!

 

 

Would I prefer to be swimming at Walden Pond every warm summer day?  Yes, I would.  But I have to admit to a (perhaps nerdy) appreciation of summer Admissions work.  Without the volume of visitors or the pressure of application deadlines, we are left free to, well, get stuff done.  Thus the team sat down on Tuesday and collectively mulled the question of whether we should change the essays for the upcoming application cycle.  In the end we did.  Minimally.  So for those who are already thinking about such things, an advance look at the essays for January or September 2016 applications.

Essay 1: (600-800 words, single-spaced, Arial 12 point font)
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, single-spaced, Arial 12 point font)
To help the Committee on Admissions get to know you better, please share an anecdote, or details about an experience or personal interest, that you have not elaborated upon elsewhere in your application.

If you have already prepared essays (not that likely, I understand, but just in case), I hope you’ll agree that the current prompts reflect only the slightest change from what we used last year.  In fact, there are only two differences:  1) We stopped calling Essay 1 a personal statement, in the hopes that people will actually read the question.  (Admissions tip:  Read the question before writing/uploading the essay.)  2) And we changed the wording for Essay 2 to give applicants slightly more guidance, without actually limiting the scope of what you can write about.

For the sake of completeness, I’ll also note the other essays that particular applicants need to submit.

Those who have applied before must submit the Reapplicant Essay.  (500 words maximum, single-spaced, Arial 12 point font)
Please explain how your candidacy has changed since your last application.

Those who are applying to the PhD program must submit the PhD Essay. (500 words maximum, single-spaced, Arial 12 point font)
Please explain why you believe a PhD from a multidisciplinary program in international affairs at a professional school, as compared with a doctorate from a conventional program in a single academic discipline, advances your intellectual and professional ambitions.

Those who are applying through our Map Your Future pathway to the MALD or MIB program must complete the Map Your Future Candidates Essay. (500 words maximum, single-spaced, Arial 12 point font)
What professional opportunities do you plan or hope to pursue during the next two years? What do you hope to learn and what skills do you hope to cultivate?

Finally, while not an essay, I’ll also include the prompt for Additional Information (single-spaced, Arial 12 point font)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include information regarding your academic records, plans to retake standardized tests or any other information relevant to your application.  Please do not upload writing samples.

What common instructions could I provide for all of these essays?  First, there’s the aforementioned “read the question.”  We’re well aware that applicants are feeling the pressure of a big task, with deadlines, with which they want to be successful.  But that doesn’t mean that you can slap the same essay onto an infinite number of applications.  Sure, go ahead and grab paragraphs from a “master essay,” but be sure that those paragraphs meet your objective of answering our question.  Keep the length under the maximums, but don’t spend hours struggling to cut those last ten words.

Beyond those technical tips, a little content guidance.  Make sure it’s easy for tired readers of Essay 1 to identify your objectives.  If we need to read your essay over and over in search of your goals, then you have not really answered the question.  I personally like a crisp statement of goals in paragraph one or two.  Don’t make us dig.

Describing your goals means the essay will be essentially forward looking.  You’ll want to refer back to your relevant experience, but don’t allow yourself to be sucked too far back into your distant past.  If your distant past is highly relevant, then write about it in Essay 2.

All of this is WAY premature.  There’s no obligation to start your application this early.  (And, in fact, you won’t be able to access the application online until August.)  But if you’re in the process of gathering info and ideas, this post was for you.

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