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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.
Tagged with: waitlist
Fletcher is super quiet this week with students out in the world on their spring break vacation. There’s a particular disconnect between their relaxation and Admissions Office un-relaxation. We’re scrambling to keep up with emails and calls from prospective students.
Meanwhile, Mother Nature played a little end-of-winter trick on us yesterday, delivering a pile of soggy snow. I’m hoping the early spring flowers that have appeared in recent weeks are snug below their snowy cover. Snow at this time of year never lasts too long and real spring does eventually arrive on the campus — but not always coinciding with today’s start of solar spring.
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.
Hanneke, a current Fletcher-Friedman dual degree student, recently told us the story of how she learned she had been admitted to Fletcher. Ten seconds later, we had handed her this writing assignment and a deadline. Here’s her great story.
When I applied to graduate school two years ago, I was teaching elementary school on a small Pacific atoll named Utrok in the Marshall Islands. I had spent September through December working on my essays by hand. (A hammock between two palm trees happens to be just about the most beautiful place you could hope to be, while writing essays about the trajectory of your life.) I had to feverishly prepare my online applications during a winter break trip to the capital, Majuro, 300 miles away, and I submitted them (which felt more like launching them into outer space) three days before returning to Utrok.
Because there was no phone or internet on Utrok, all of my admissions decisions would be going directly to my field director in Majuro. For her to communicate those decisions to me, we would have to talk over the radio (the kind truck drivers use), which was the only form of instant communication between Majuro, Utrok, and other outer islands. The thing is… conversations held over the radio could be heard by anyone tuning in to the same frequency anywhere in the country. While I didn’t want the rest of the Marshall Islands hearing my admissions decisions at the same time as I did, I really (really) did not want my colleagues to hear them.
I had a general idea when decisions should be released, so my field director and I devised a plan. We had a weekly group check-in every Wednesday, and if decisions were in, my field director was to discretely communicate a sign that I should get on the radio the following day. I must have changed that plan at least three times from January to March and eventually ditched it altogether in a fit of nerves the day I thought decisions would be available. I rushed home from school and announced (via that same radio) that I was ready to hear whatever news she had. Knowing that Fletcher and Friedman were my top choices, she gave me those two decisions first. In and in. Totally elated! And totally incapable of telling my family back in the U.S. My field director had to do that, too. (She was an immensely accommodating human being.)
The plane was working the following week and my acceptance packet made the trip relatively quickly to keep me company for the following two and a half months. I read it cover to cover, over and over again. I had only spent about three days in Boston when I was 17, so I had absolutely no orientation to the area. My host parents and I pored over the campus map: illustrations of campus landmarks, Powderhouse Circle, and the buildings of downtown Boston in the distance. The three of us sat there pointing — clueless, but excited.
I look back at that application process as somewhat surreal, largely hilarious, and ultimately incredibly special. It was only when I arrived at Fletcher and began to meet all of the remarkable people around me (who have done and continue to do the most impressive things) that I realized how oddly fitting all of it had been.
After years of watching helplessly while anxious applicants crashed the GAMS system, last night was the second successful test of our new decision announcement system. Though we continue to feel a little uncomfortable delivering bad news via an informal medium such as email, releasing all decisions that way keeps GAMS from clogging up.
(For those who may be wondering, we released admission and scholarship decisions on every single complete application for every degree program, including decisions on applications to the LLM or MIB program that arrived by the March 1 deadline.)
To applicants who were not admitted this year, I hope you will gain admission to another graduate school that suits your goals. If, instead, you are thinking of reapplying to graduate school in the future, 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.
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 provide information in the next few days to help you make your decision on whether to remain on the waitlist.
To applicants who were admitted: Congratulations!! Take a minute to feel good about your accomplishment. …58…59…60.
I hope you enjoyed your feel-good minute, because it’s time to get set for the next phase of your grad school application/selection process. You have a little over a month to gather information about Fletcher and the other schools to which you have been admitted, and to make a well-considered decision on where to attend graduate school. We’ll do our part to
flood provide you with details by mail and other media to help in your decision making. Though the Admissions Blog is never solely dedicated to admitted students, it 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!
Yesterday I was shuffling through piles of application files with Christine, and every so often she was left waiting while I read something that interested me. Sometimes it was my own (now forgotten) notes on an applicant. What really caught my attention, though, were a few references to the blog. It’s satisfying to know that applicants are acting on the suggestions we pass along.
This is the blog’s 847th post, which seems like a lot, though a less impressive tally given that we launched the blog in September 2006 when I kicked things off at the stunning pace of one post per month. With the support, suggestions, and written contributions of the Admissions staff, and increasingly of students and alumni who bring news or interesting tidbits to my attention, we continue to try to meet applicants’ needs while also reflecting our interesting community.
Today, as I have done in past years, I want to thank those of you who have been reading the blog regularly or occasionally throughout the year. March is action packed for most of you: anxious waiting and compulsive checking of email and websites in the first weeks, followed by sorting through admission offers at the end of the month. I hope that, throughout March and all the preceding twelve months, you have felt that the blog (complemented by the Admissions facebook page and the new Twitter feed) provided helpful information while you considered if The Fletcher School offers the right graduate program for you. If you have suggestions, or if you feel the blog has failed to give you the information you need, please let us know with an email or a comment on this post.
As application reviewers, Admissions Committee members become attached to applicants — even more so when we meet someone on the road or at Fletcher. March is filled with excitement and disappointment for us, too, as we share decisions and details with applicants. I hope all of the blog’s readers end up with graduate school options that are satisfying and that will launch you on the career path you seek, whether you join us at Fletcher or pursue your studies elsewhere. Meanwhile, thank you for reading the Admissions Blog!
And happy 161st birthday wishes to Austin Barclay Fletcher!
Not infrequently, we read application essays that describe an interest in studying languages while at Fletcher. Depending on how much detail the applicant provides, we may sense that there’s a mismatch between what Fletcher offers and what the applicant is looking for. Fletcher is not foremost a graduate school for cultural or language study, though many students certainly have a regional focus for their coursework or their career objectives. Our assumption is that you’re going to arrive at Fletcher with proficiency in the language(s) you need for your studies and career. At the very least, we expect you to have skills strong enough to pass the language exam, which is a requirement for graduation. (If you’re close, but not quite proficient enough, we may make your admission conditional upon completion of an intensive language program.)
But that doesn’t mean that Fletcher students have no opportunity for language study. Students may petition to take up to two language courses as part of their curriculum, and there are good reasons why someone would want to do so. Let’s say that your focus is East Asia and you speak Mandarin. You might want to acquire Japanese skills for your future career. Using two of your credits for language courses, in that case, makes perfect sense.
If you want to develop your language skills, but don’t want to use course credits to do so, you may decide to audit a class. The building that houses the University’s two language departments (the Department of Romance Languages and the Department of German, Russian and Asian Languages) is conveniently located right next to Fletcher, making it easy to dash over for classes. The meaning of “audit” is between you and the instructor, and you may want to commit yourself to completing more or fewer of the class assignments.
Less formally, if what you’re looking for is a chance to keep up your skills, you may find fellow students who will want to join you. Every year, students establish Chinese/French/Swahili/Russian/other study groups, where they might gather for coffee and a little exercise of the part of the brain that controls languages.
Tagged with: Language requirement
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.
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.
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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