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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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Only five days remain until the deadline for admitted and waitlisted applicants to indicate their decisions.  With that in mind, a quick note for applicants who wish to accept a place on the waitlist.

As soon as we can next week, we’ll be counting the enrolling students and deciding whether we should make additional offers of admission.  That means that anyone on the waitlist who wishes to send us additional materials should plan to do that by the 20th, too.

A reminder of what constitutes a useful addition to an application that will be reconsidered in the waitlist process:  Updates (new exam scores, grade reports, résumé, etc.); an additional recommendation that sheds light on an area of your background that you didn’t illuminate as thoroughly as you might have in your original application; a letter that restates and clarifies your interests and objectives.  If you’re thinking about sending us information that doesn’t seem particularly new, there’s probably not much benefit to it.  But it’s always nice to hear from you that you are still interested in enrolling, so feel free to send a quick note.

April 21 is only the very beginning of the process for reviewing the waitlist.  As likely as not, nothing much will happen for a few weeks, so patience is still needed.  But don’t hold off much longer in sending any new materials that you want us to consider.

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This is the Fletcher Admissions Blog, and it might seem that one of my tasks is to answer directly the question of why an admitted applicant should decide to enroll at Fletcher.  As it happens, several years ago I created a “Why Fletcher” tag, but it only has a few posts in it:  the one when we asked students in the Hall of Flags why they had enrolled; the one in which I shared the results of an informal survey on the topic; the one that a student wrote about how it’s really okay to spend two years away from the Beltway.  In total — not even enough posts for Why Fletcher to appear in the tag cloud.

The paucity of posts reflects my understanding that admitted students don’t want to make their enrollment decision on the basis of the opinions of an Admissions staff member.  Plus, isn’t this entire blog an answer to the Why Fletcher question?  There are the stories of our faculty members, who are both experts in their fields (as you would expect) and also interesting individuals.  There’s all the information about our students, including their reports on interesting things they do each year, and their ongoing stories.  And there are our alumni, particularly those who graduated a year ago or five years ago, and whose trajectories are most relevant for someone who is about to start graduate school.

Within posts, there are many references to the exciting work being done by our programs and centers, such as the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, the Institute for Business in the Global Context, and the International Security Studies Program.  And last, there’s all sorts of good stuff cookin’ at the Office of Career Services, not to mention in our neighborhood.

So, to me, it’s obvious why a student would want to spend one or two (or even more) years at Fletcher.  I hope that after doing your research, including reading through the blog archives, you’ll agree!  But I know that I won’t be the one who ultimately convinces you.

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Jelly beansI’m grabbing a few minutes in between assignments during our Open House for admitted students.  I started my day with my favorite task — checking folks in — and now I have a few more minutes before it’s time to answer questions during our open office hours.  To greet the visitors, we’ve decorated the Hall of Flags with extra Fletcher banners, and brought in balloons and jelly beans and others of the many products that can be ordered in more-or-less Fletcher orange.  Right now, all the visitors are tucked into sessions for their degree programs.

BalloonsIt’s not an easy task to increase the School’s population by a third, even only for a day.  The solution: offer a zillion different activity options and keep everyone moving.  At 11:05, those who aren’t visiting the Admissions Office with questions may be at a panel discussion with current students, a Career Services presentation, any of five classes (Political Economy of Development; Islamic Banking and Finance; Public International Law; Applied Microeconometrics; Accounting for Profit, Non-Profit, and Government Organizations), or roundtable discussions on International Environment and Resource Policy, or Business in Practice at Fletcher.  Whew!  Similar line-ups are offered in the blocks starting at 12:30, 1:55, 3:20, and 4:30.  It isn’t only the Admissions Staff who need to put their feet up at the end of the day!  (And no feet need elevating more than Liz’s, as she has spent the last couple of months setting all of this up.)

Despite the pace, admitted students who visit report they are able to gather substantive information that helps them make their decision on where to pursue their graduate studies.  Plus, it’s fun.  Who wouldn’t want to spend a day living the life of a student without needing to worry about exams or papers?

The first of the question askers has now arrived, and it’s time for me to spring into action!  We have a busy afternoon in front of us.

 

 

This has been the post-admissions-decision week when I have felt most overwhelmed by the pace of work, made worse by a busy week at home that left no extra time to extend my work day.  Lengthy or detailed blog posts have been one of the casualties.

Today I’m going to share a few sentences that have come my way and that I think capture the nature of Fletcher.  The first comes from Ben Mazzotta, a member of the research staff of the Institute for Business in the Global Context who is also a graduate of the MALD and PhD programs, and who is about to embark on a new adventure on assignment for USAID.  In a note of farewell, Ben wrote:

It has been a privilege to work here, where so many people genuinely come to work in the morning with the belief that we can solve the world’s problems, and then set about doing exactly that.

For students, this is their school, but for faculty and staff, this is our workplace, and Ben has captured the reason why so many of us have dedicated many years to working here.

The second note also came from an alumnus, in this case one who has gone on to become the ambassador from Pakistan to Japan.  After hosting an event for newly admitted students in Tokyo, Ambassador Amil reported back on the brief speech he gave at the event:

My message was that Fletcher has given so much to us in building bridges of understanding and hope, and it is important to maintain that connectivity.  I made friends for life there!

We Admissions staffers are proud of the role we play in building the Fletcher student and alumni communities.  In a busy week, reading these brief but timely notes reminds us of the impact we hope to have.

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Ten days have passed since we released admissions decisions and it has been pretty much nonstop email since then, punctuated only by phone calls.  With spring break over, there will be a return to other commitments that take our time.

I worked quite a bit beyond my usual schedule last week, and I’m proud to say that I am caught up with my email!  As of Wednesday, that is.  I still have a batch of outstanding messages from Thursday through the weekend.  Yikes.

At the same time as we strive to help you gather information about Fletcher, I hope that you’ll understand if there’s a delay in our response.  I try to answer quickly the emails that only contain a simple question.  The messages that require chasing down information or creating documents definitely take longer.  Please be patient with me and my admissions pals.  We’re running/typing as fast as we can.

We’re looking forward to a busy Open House next month, but many admitted applicants can’t attend at that time and would like to visit on another day.  Of course!  Come over!  But just understand that the Admissions Staff won’t be here on weekend days.  We try to line up student volunteers, but sometimes there is so much going on here that it’s hard to find someone.  If you can be flexible in your timing, it’s a big help.  Sometimes we can even group a few visitors and put together an information session for you.  Again, we’ll do everything we can to facilitate your visit, but some requests are harder to satisfy than others.

Have you decided to accept a place on the waitlist?  We welcome your visit, too.  We’ll be able to give you a little extra attention if you wait until April 15.  Meanwhile, feel free to call or email.

Back to my inbox.  My goal for the day is to catch up on all the messages that arrived by yesterday.  With two long meetings today, that may still be too ambitious, but I’ll do my best!

 

Yesterday brought us the full range of late winter weather — from mild and dry in the morning, to mild and raining in the afternoon, to cold, windy, and snowy in the evening.  What’s important is that we have set a new record for annual snowfall, all the more remarkable because December and the first half of January and of March have been pretty much snow free.  Boston is such a competitive sports town that I was hardly the only person cheering for the record to fall.  All this winter hardiness must not be for naught!

This is spring break week, and most Fletcher students are not in the building today, though there are a few thesis writers in the library, and I chatted with a PhD candidate on our way in by bus this morning.  In the lead up to vacation, I heard about plans ranging from a relatively restful week near campus to hiking trips, to a few days on a beach somewhere.  And then there’s a group of 55 students who are traveling together in Israel and the West Bank to meet with prominent Israelis and Palestinians in the political, business, and security sectors.  (I hope to share photos when they return.)

As for the Admissions Staff — we’re all here, answering questions from applicants and reaching out to admitted students.  It’s both quiet and busy in the Office — not a bad combination for spring break week.

 

On the morning after we released our decisions, thank you to everyone for your interest in Fletcher throughout this past year!  Congratulations to those who were admitted!  And for those who were not, please stay in contact with us.  Our door is still open!

Once we had the packets in the mail, yesterday was a day of quiet desk- and inbox-clearing.  We know that today starts a new phase of the admissions cycle, and one of particular frenzy.  We’ll be reaching out to, and hearing from, our admitted students; the emails will fly.

Just as the coming weeks will be hectic for the Admissions Staff, they should also be busy for most of the students who were admitted yesterday.  Doing the research that results in the right decision for graduate school takes time.  You did your preliminary research before applying, of course, but now is when you make doubly sure that the program in which you enroll best matches your academic and career objectives.  Explore the course offerings in detail.  Learn about the student community.  You have a little over five weeks to gather information about Fletcher and other schools, and then to make a well-considered decision.  We’ll do our part to provide you with details by mail and other media, along with opportunities to visit the School, to help in your decision making.  And the Admissions Blog will continue to supply information about our wonderful community and rich intellectual environment.

Speaking for everyone on the Admissions Staff, we encourage you to learn as much as you can before making a final decision.  Of course, we hope you will choose Fletcher, but it’s even more important that September finds you in classes that move you toward your goal.  We welcome your questions!  And, congratulations, once again, on your admission!

 

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