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In a short while, my Admissions pals will all arrive at my house (our occasional “conference center”) for our annual early-summer retreat.  While there are scattered days remaining between now and September when we’ll all be in the office, there aren’t a lot of them and the next ones are in mid-July.  Today seemed like the day to sit together and do a little planning.

The summer-ish retreat is when we would usually make decisions on changes to the application.  This year, we’ve already discussed some rewording of the questions on the application form, and I don’t anticipate any other significant changes.  (Naturally, if there are going to be any, I’ll keep you informed.)  We’ll spend some time today on upcoming major changes to the Fletcher website — we’re looking forward to a totally new design, though probably not until later in the fall.  We’ll also talk about the new Master of Global Business Administration program and how we present it in Admissions materials.  In other words, most of what we’ll discuss won’t be of much interest to blog readers.

Discussions complete, the Admissions Office will reopen tomorrow.

 

Once we turned the corner from May to June, we started looking toward summer travel and related activities.  For a quiet time of year, we have a lot going on.  Check out our travel calendar and you’ll find the four graduate school fairs (each with an alumni panel) that our staff will attend.  We’ll kick off the calendar next week (Wednesday, June 20) at Fletcher with Boston Summerfest — organized jointly by Fletcher and four of our closest pals — and continue to later “fests” in Washington, DC and New York.

The four Summerfests aren’t your only opportunity to interact with Fletcher this summer.  In a growing list of cities, from Austin to Ouagadougou, you can join a current student (or two) and a small group of applicants for a Coffee Hour.  These are casual opportunities to ask questions and just chat with folks who share your interests.

We hope you’ll join us this summer!

 

An annual student-led tradition at Fletcher is “Dis-Orientation,” the counter-point to the official Orientation program that takes place before each academic year.  Dating back to 2006 (I first made reference to Dis-O in the blog in 2007, but in 2008, I noted it had been started two years prior), Dis-O has only grown in complexity and grandeur.  A full spreadsheet is now required to keep track of the where and when of events.

Dis-O kicked off last Thursday with a rugby game and a bike ride, but the main attraction was Dip Ball (the Fletcher prom).  Today’s six activities (starting at 9:30 and running into the wee hours) include kayaking and brewery visits.  Overall the week includes plenty of outdoor sports (besides rugby and kayaking, there’s also cricket, soccer, hiking, softball, and golf) and indoor “sports” (a FIFA tournament, board games, and a “massive game of spoons”).  In true Fletcher fashion, there are also a few activities that involve cultural sharing, for example, a “learn about American football” session and, naturally, a Eurovision viewing party.  Rounding out the week are movies, barbecues, improv, an “outdoor jam,” pizza, and several parties.

Once this week of intense bonding is behind them, graduating students will graduate, and continuing students will head off campus for the summer.  It’s already very quiet around here, though I’ve seen clusters of students still congregating in the Hall of Flags.  By next week, it will pretty much just be the staff, and we’ll turn our attention to a summer of planning for the 2018-2019 academic year.

 

We’re just entering the most bittersweet time of the academic year.  Students completed their exams this week and immediately started peeling away.  Many first-year students who haven’t already gone will leave today or on the weekend, after attending the Diplomat’s Ball last night.  I’ve seen a few photos, and received a report from Mariya, and it sounds like it was a fabulous evening.

The Tufts campus is in full spring mode.  After a snowy March and a cold start to April, the weather shifted suddenly to spring and then to summer (or summer-like temperatures) and then back to spring, bringing all the flowers out and the leaves to the trees.  Apple blossoms, cherry blossoms, lilacs, magnolias, daffodils, tulips — all bringing color to the campus at once.

Yesterday the Admissions team went out for lunch with Cindy and Brooklyn, our graduating Graduate Assistants, so the process of saying good-bye is underway for us.  That’s where the bittersweet feelings come in: we’re so happy to welcome the spring, but with the good weather and the end of the semester comes the departure of graduating students.  We still have another week to look forward to catching up with folks before they head off to their post-Fletcher lives and careers.  And of course, there’s Commencement, when we’ll enjoy a big celebratory farewell.  After that, the quiet days of summer.

 

Enrollment decisions were due on Friday and we’ve heard from just about all the admitted applicants.  There are a few stragglers we’ll reach out to, and then we’ll assess where we are for each of the degree programs and for our scholarship budget.  Meanwhile, we’ve also been hearing from folks offered a place on the waitlist.  (As you know, not everyone wants to wait — they’ve gained admission to another program and they’ve decided to enroll, or they’ve made completely different plans for September.)  We’ll revisit that group, too, and get a sense of who’s waiting and for which program.

If you have told us that you’ll accept your place on the waitlist, you should send us (as soon as possible) any updates you’d like us to review.  We’re especially interested in new test scores, updated transcripts, a résumé that describes a new workplace or position or, really, anything that you want us to see because it makes you a better applicant.

All of that said, we don’t yet know whether we’ll be admitting anyone off the waitlist.  I can tell you that our goal is always to make admission offers as early as we possibly can, but I also acknowledge that, in some years, the process has dragged on a bit.  (Then, after keeping you waiting, we’ll ask for a quick response to an admission offer.  Doubly annoying, I know.)

I’ll try to provide updates over the coming weeks.  If you’re at a critical juncture in your own planning, feel free to email us and someone will get back to you with whatever information we’re able to share at that time.

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Without a doubt, the April day on which we hold the Open House for newly admitted students is the craziest of the year.  I managed to snap a pic this morning before the crowds arrived.  Here’s the registration table.

Name tags, information packets, and water bottles all lined up.  Sunshine streaming in.  It was all good.  It’s now just after 10:00 a.m. and visitors have had their breakfast, attended a welcome presentation by the dean and two current students, and are now attending either a class or a faculty panel.

Both last night, when we held a reception, and this morning, Kristen and I staffed the registration table — my favorite job during the Open House.  I get to meet lots of people with whom I’ve been corresponding or whose application I read.  And it’s busy!  I like being busy.

In less than an hour, I’ll be meeting with the visiting incoming PhD students.  Other activities scheduled for 11:05 include attending a class or a Career Services presentation, or participating in a roundtable on environment issues or one on security studies.  Then lunch and even more options.

Liz is a masterful Open House organizer.  It’s a jam-packed schedule and we’ll keep the 160+ visitors moving throughout the day.  Then, I imagine, they’re nearly as tired as we are as they leave Fletcher and continue to consider their options for graduate study.

 

My request for suggestions last week yielded one that follows neatly on Friday’s post.  A blog reader asked about opportunities to audit or take language courses while at Fletcher.  The reader specifically asked about taking courses in a third language (in addition to the testing language and native language), but my answer about the policy would pertain to anyone, including folks who want to brush up before taking the language exam.

The answer is that YES, students definitely have the opportunity to take or audit classes.  MALD and MIB students can take two language classes for credit, following a simple request process.  A good number of students will go that route, particularly if the language is key to their future career goals.  Language courses can be taken at Tufts (super convenient!) or Harvard (not as convenient, but doable if you’re committed to it).  Tufts currently offers classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Auditing language classes is the route more commonly chosen.  The terms of the audit will be up to the instructor and some will ask for a significant investment of time — definitely something to discuss at the outset.  The advantage of auditing is that you don’t need to use a Fletcher credit for a language class.  While a student who tested in French but still wants to develop Arabic skills would see value in using a course credit to do so, most of our students arrive with language skills and would prefer to focus their course selections on the Fletcher curriculum.

Keep sending me suggestions via the survey and I’ll do my best to answer!

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The five-week stretch from releasing admission decisions in March to April 20, when admitted students make their enrollment decisions, is marked by several recurring themes.  One that is turning up a lot in my inbox is Fletcher’s language requirement.

As I hope all native-English-speaking prospective Fletcher students understand, we require all of our students to pass a language proficiency exam in order to graduate.  For non-native speakers, English is their second language.  For everyone else, a two-part test awaits.  The first part is a reading exam — essentially a translation exercise.  And the second part is an oral exam — essentially a conversation with a language instructor.  If you are comfortable reading and writing in your language of choice, you’re probably going to have no problem with this requirement.  The proficiency level required is short of fluency, and no one is trying to put a roadblock in your way.

On the other hand, if you know that you’re not truly proficient, you should develop a plan for passing the exam.  (And, in some cases, we have made that a condition of your admission.)

Within a few weeks of the start of classes, the School administers the reading exam in a bunch of different languages.  The exam is routinely offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Urdu.  Additional exams are offered when a student wants to demonstrate proficiency in a less-commonly selected language.

I’ve looked at the exams in French, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin, and my reaction is that the level of the piece to be translated is appropriate.  That is, anyone would think that if you can’t translate something of that complexity, you can’t really call yourself proficient.  There’s no intention to trick you with arcane vocabulary, but the passage to be translated won’t be simplistic, either.

The oral exam is self-scheduled, and my sense is that almost everyone schedules them for after the reading exam.  We don’t have a preference, though.  If you want to schedule it for the first week of classes, you can do that.

There’s quite a bit of information on the language requirement on this page.  (Scroll down to language requirement, and then when you’ve opened the page, scroll down again to find sample reading exams.)  You’ll see that the reading exams for most languages are an hour in length, but others last longer, and there are also differing required proficiency levels.  If you’re planning to enroll at Fletcher for September, I hope you’ll spend a few minutes reviewing the requirement.  Then think about whether you need a refresher in your chosen language.  If you use the language with ease, the exam will merely be a half-morning’s exercise.  A graduation requirement that you can check off during your first month at Fletcher!  That’s what we want — for everyone to sail right through the exam.

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Spring and summer find me guessing what blog readers — particularly, but not limited to, incoming students — would like to know.  You can save me from writing valueless nonsense by giving me your suggestions.  Just note them here in my two-question survey.  All topic suggestions are welcome and, as they say, there are no dumb questions.

I’ll look forward to finding lots of suggestions logged in the survey soon!

 

Last Tuesday, while I sat inside my cozy kitchen watching the storm swirl outside, I could also see the emails piling up in the Fletcher Admissions inbox.  Every day since then, there have been long stretches when all you can hear in the office is the tappety tappety of fingers on keyboards as we catch up with the tide of questions flowing our way.

I dare say that all of my Admissions pals are like me in having anywhere from a few to a lot of emails awaiting answers in their inboxes.  On their (and my) behalf, I want you to know that we’re working hard and we’re going to get back to you.  I know it’s annoying to wait for an answer, but it does take us time to work through all the requests for information.  We appreciate your patience!  (Even you, Cookie Monster.)

As a practical suggestion, I’ll mention that folks who send simple emails tend to receive their simple responses relatively quickly.  When we receive an email or a call with requests for several different types of information, just doing the research can take some time.  I’m not saying you should hold back on your questions — but if you need us to gather a lot of information on your behalf, a little extra patience may be needed.

Speaking of waiting, you should know that the U.S. has already shifted to Daylight Savings Time.  Our current time zone is UTC-4.  Keep that in mind when you set a time for a phone appointment.  Occasionally we find ourselves waiting for a call from someone who is confused about the time and will be an hour late (assuming we’re still available to take the call).

Now back to my inbox!

 

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