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Well, we finished off yesterday’s Open House in fine style, waving off a few of the last visitors (and their luggage) at about 6:00.  Each of us Admissions folk agreed that the sessions we attended went very well.  Adding it all up, we consider the day to have been a success.

Poking around the blog last week, I found a few posts that I had forgotten about, and that might be helpful for admitted students (and future admitted students) who didn’t attend the careers sessions at the Open House.  In 2010, I asked the Office of Career Services staff to describe their work.  Each member of the OCS staff focuses on a sector that is a typical objective for Fletcher students.  Though there are new names attached to some of the sectors, Phillip, the OCS director (and a participant in Admissions Committee meetings) confirms that the structure of responsibilities is the same.  So, below, please find links to past blog posts on OCS’s approach to sector coaching.

Of course, 2010 employment statistics aren’t very relevant now.  To round out the picture, you’ll want to check more recent career reports.

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Open House balloonsWe’re hosting our newly admitted students today and the place is jumpin’.  It’s only about 11:45, and we’ve already had an alumni panel and reception (o.k., those were last night), a welcome session, and break-out sessions for each of the degree programs.  Visitors are currently either grabbing some lunch, attending a panel discussion with current students, hearing from the Office of Career Services, or engaging in a roundtable discussion with the folks from the International Environment and Resource Policy or with Students in Security Studies.  And so it will go, for the rest of the afternoon.  Liz did an amazing job of organizing roughly one bazillion sessions for the day.  And balloons.  She also organized the balloons.

I have just these few minutes to write this post, check my email, etc.  Then I’m off to a lunch discussion on international economics.  I fully intend to learn something while I’m there.  (A perk of the job.)  This is an annual event that, while exhausting, gives meaning to our work throughout the winter and early spring.  It’s such a treat to put together names and faces!

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So it’s about 7:40 a.m. as I write, and I can hear five voices from all corners of the Admissions Office as current students reach out to newly admitted students who live in a time zone 12 to 14 hours ahead of ours.  We’ll be holding these call sessions throughout the week to connect with as many people as we can.  It’s a great way to draw out questions that may not otherwise have been asked.  We generally feel that the more incoming students know, the better prepared they are to make a decision on where to pursue their graduate studies and then to succeed at Fletcher.

It’s a week loaded with activities like the call sessions.  We’ll also hold online chats, two information sessions, and receptions in several different cities around the world.  And then we gear up for our two-day Open House for admitted students.  As of today, only a small percentage of our admitted students have made their decision to enroll (or not to enroll, for that matter).  Over the next two weeks, we’ll learn much more about who will make up the incoming class in September.

 

It’s not that it’s unusual for Fletcher graduates to visit the school, but it’s unusual to have three alums stopping in at Admissions on one March day.  I’m looking forward to seeing Courtney Richardson, a 2013 PhD graduate who is really here to give a talk (“We’ve Reached Our Limits: Insights from China’s UNSC Action on the Libyan and Syrian Civil Wars”), and Han Kim, who was the subject of a blog post back in the day, both of whom served stints on the Admissions Committee, as well as another PhD alum.  It’s always good to reconnect!

In addition to the returning former students, I’ll be meeting some new people at a midday Information Session, and I thought this would be a good time to remind blog readers that we are offering several more Information Sessions this spring.  Attendees at springtime sessions might include prospective applicants, newly admitted students, and prospective students who have accepted a place on our waitlist for September enrollment, which means the staffer running the session is challenged to meet the informational needs of these very different groups.  We’re up to it!  Bring on the questions!

For your planning convenience, you’ll want to note that if you can visit campus, you can join sessions on Thursday, April 3, Monday, April 14, Thursday, April 24, and Monday, May 5.  Sign up for a date that works for you (or just turn up for today’s session — the more the merrier!).  In addition, we’re offering virtual (online) Information Sessions on Thursday, April 3, Monday, May 12, and Tuesday, June 10.  Another forum for learning about Fletcher and getting answers to your questions.

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Fletcher students are in short supply today.  Spring break started after classes on Friday, leaving mostly thesis-writers in the building.  Also spring breaking are the undergrads and other Tufts graduate students, so the entire campus is super quiet.

One place that isn’t quiet is my email inbox, and that of all my Admissions pals.  There’s a steady stream of questions and follow-up questions pouring in from newly admitted students, and there are moments each day when we may suffer from a one-step-forward, two-steps-back condition.  That said, we encourage you to ask your questions!  Assuming you have read through all the material we have sent you, if there’s something as yet unanswered, please be sure to let us know.  We’re responding to emails and phone questions as quickly as we can, but I hope you’ll understand that there may be a delay as we respond, one by one, to requests for more information.  No spring break for the Admissions Office!

 

Despite some technical glitches, a sleepless night for Christine, and just a wee bit of frenzy, yesterday afternoon we released decisions on all applications that were complete.  All the packets were assembled (thus the paper cuts) and shipped out, and will reach admitted applicants as soon as the mail will carry them.

It’s my custom, on the day after decisions are released, to do two things.  First, I want to thank you for reading the blog.  Although comments on the posts are rare, I’m fortunate that now and then I’ll hear that the blog was a good source of information on Fletcher and the application process.  I enjoy writing, and I thank those who enjoy reading what I’ve written.

Next, I want to speak directly to those applicants who were not admitted this year.  I hope you will gain admission to another graduate school that suits your goals but, if you decide not to enroll in another program, please take advantage of our offer of feedback on your application.  Contact us after May 1 with your request and we’ll get back to you with comments.  A great number of the applicants who are not admitted to Fletcher in a given year could be competitive applicants in the future, following a few changes to their profile.  Note that the best time for requesting feedback will be this spring, and not directly before your next application — you’ll want to give yourself time to act on any suggestions.

To applicants who were offered a place on the waitlist:  I’m sorry that we’re dragging out the process still further for you.  We’ll be providing information soon to help you make your decision on whether to remain on the waitlist.

To applicants who were admitted:  Congratulations!!

Hard as it may be to believe, much of the real work of your graduate school planning process is still in front of you.  That is, you’ve sweated over your applications; you’ve stressed while waiting for your decisions; but now you need to select the program that best matches your academic and career objectives.  You have a little over five weeks to gather information about Fletcher and the other schools to which you have been admitted, and then to make a well-considered decision on where to attend graduate school.  We’ll do our part to provide you with details by mail and other media, along with opportunities to visit the School, in order 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.  We welcome your questions!  And, congratulations, once again, on your admission!

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Having started my run through the decision options on Friday and yesterday, finally, there’s the good news.  After a long wait, many Fletcher applicants will soon learn that they have been admitted.  Hoorah!  We hope that Fletcher will be the next step you take as you craft your future career!

Some of the offers of admission, however, are accompanied by a condition, and today’s post is to clarify what those conditions entail.  The first thing to remember 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 overestimated or underestimated 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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On Thursday evening last week I was chatting with someone who had asked about my work and who then recalled how stressful she found it when she applied to graduate school.  “Stressful” is, in fact, a common description that we hear from our applicants, too, and it’s why we try to share information about the process throughout the year. (Not that a little information can completely erase the apprehension that accompanies preparing applications, contemplating a move across the country or around the world, leaving a job, etc. — but we do our best.)

With the end of the process on the not-so-distant horizon, it’s also why we want applicants to understand the different decision options, and today I’m going to explain the waitlist.  Acknowledging that other graduate schools may describe their waitlists differently, here’s how Fletcher approaches things.

Each year, we’ll offer a place on the waitlist to a promising group — applicants whose credentials are solid overall, and yet just a little less solid than those of 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.  For starters, when decisions go out, we can’t even answer the most basic question:  How many people are on the waitlist?  Surely we should have an answer, but we don’t.  Why?  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 only 40 people decide 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 re-review our notes.

Applicants offered a place on the waitlist can take until April 20 to decide whether to wait.  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.  We encourage you to make the most of this opportunity by taking a little time to give your application a boost.  For example, 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 before we return to it when we evaluate the waitlist.

One last thing: Although applicants who have accepted a place on the waitlist still have applications under active consideration, and we won’t offer feedback at this time, we are happy to chat with you in person or by phone.  Get in touch, and we’ll let you know if there’s some special piece of information we need.

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I’m on my way to the last MALD/MA Admissions Committee for this year.  We’re starting 30 minutes early to be sure we can finish our work.  When we wrap up, we’ll have a celebratory cake (Shhhhhh!  Don’t tell the Committee members.  It’s a surprise!) and we’ll debrief and talk about ways to make the process even smoother in the future.  All of the different degree program Admissions Committees will be wrapping up by next week, and we’re starting the final phase of the decision-making process.

Meanwhile, this week was swallowed up by a slew of projects, and I’m turning, a few days later than I would have liked, to writing posts to help applicants make sense of the various admission decisions.  I think it’s really important to do this well in advance of the release of decisions, so that everyone has a chance to digest the information.  Despite having missed my mid-week target, today I’ll share some info about what happens when an applicant isn’t admitted.  Because, much as it saddens us, saying “no” is something we need to do.

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.

Because gaining admission is your 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 2013 and 2014 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.

Next week, I’ll turn to the waitlist and the various versions of admission.

 

No Faculty Spotlight feature today.  I’m going to take a couple of weeks to collect more entries and load them into the blog format.  Meanwhile, Kristen and I spent a little while in the Hall of Flags on Monday, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones.  For those who haven’t yet been for a visit, the Hall of Flags is the “town square” of Fletcher — everyone goes through there at some point each day.  We reserved ourselves a table (by which I mean I stuck a note on it, saying that Admissions needed the table at 12:15), and we set up.  Kristen was my Wrangler/Photographer.  I asked the questions and took notes.  Keeping things simple and casual, we just asked everyone what they’ve been up to.  It’s a small sample, but it’s clear that students and professors both have a lot going on.

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Kelsey (MALD): We’re both working on the Diplomat’s Ball fundraiser this week.  It’s an activity auction, where students volunteer their skills, and other students bid on them, and it will help reduce Dip Ball costs.  Some of the skills are cooking meals for other people, going rock climbing, and learning about how to drink whiskey.  And then there are midterms.  And my thesis.

Stephanie (MALD):  I need to remember to get a haircut some time in the future.  And I’m going to try to work with a professor for a conference this semester on state failure in Africa.

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Jake (dual MALD and JD): I went skiing last weekend at Killington.  This week I’m doing my problem sets for various classes and working on a Harvard Law and International Development Society project.  This weekend, I’m probably going to the zoo with my 13-month-old daughter.

(Jake explained that the Harvard Law and International Development Society draws students from around the Boston area, including from Fletcher.  Kristen and I noted that it’s not uncommon for the out-of-class activities that students pursue to involve homework.  A happy nerdiness.)

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Becca (MA): I just found out that we’re moving to Japan for three years.  I’m a little bit overwhelmed right now, finishing up all my academic requirements.  And I have two children.  I’ll receive my orders, pack it all up, and move over there.

(Here, Kristen, who is organizing a move of her own, but only across town, commiserated, and shared some of her own move-induced anxiety.)

Becca:  You can’t control everything.  (Becca is in the Marine Corps.)

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Peter (MALD):  I just got off a call from our client for the consulting class, and we have a contact we’re supposed to reach out to this week.  And we have a deliverable due on Friday.

Terrell (MALD): On Thursday, I organized an LGBT event with BU, BC, Harvard, MIT, and Tufts.  We expected 40, and 130 turned up — it was a happy hour.  Everyone was very excited – it hasn’t been done in a few years, and it’s going to be a great way to build community and make connections.

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Prof. Chakravorti: Last week was an interesting week because in one day, I got a sense of the full span of Fletcher.  In the afternoon I was talking to Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, the Fletcher Statesman-in-Residence and a former Iraqi National Security Advisor, about establishing a chain of KFCs in Baghdad.  The broader topic was examining business as a stabilizing force in post conflict zones.  Then I spoke with Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen from Google on how the new digital age is spreading power to the periphery of society, where everyone has power in their hands in the form of their smartphones, and what this digital rebalancing of power is going to mean.

(Eric Schmidt is the chairman of Google, and Jared Cohen is the director of Google Ideas.)

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Laura (MALD):  Here’s what my day looks like.  Wake up at 7 a.m. for a call to Nairobi; help organize a silent auction for the Diplomat’s Ball; study for my class on education and armed conflict; bake a birthday cake for a military fellow; turn in an econometrics problem set; attend a fund raiser for the Fletcher Marathon Team; and read my Strategy and Innovation business cases.DSCN1745Prof. Drezner:  I’m finishing the second edition of my zombie book.  (Prof. Gallagher, who indulged us in a previous Hall of Flags visit, then hurried him along to some event that had them both looking pretty spiffy.)

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Michael (dual MA-MD): The Social List has been boring this year, so I instigated some arguments about the situation in Ukraine, and I think we had some positive outcomes.  I asked, why is it really in our interest to care about this?  People got upset, they wrote back.  As an aspiring doctor, I feel you have to be realistic about the options you have, and if you don’t understand your options, you’re not qualified to handle the job.

Anna (MIB):  It’s very nice to be in a place where you can have many different points of view, especially very extreme views, because it’s through discussion that you better understand complex topics.

And with that, Kristen and I headed back to our respective corners.  I always enjoy my HoF sessions.  Maybe there’s still time for one more later this spring.

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