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With the Open House for admitted students now in our rear-view mirror, we’re looking ahead to April 20, the date when admitted students need to have decided whether to enroll.  This week and next, we’ll continue to take questions by email and phone, and to spend time with prospective students who visit campus.  It’s busy, but the real work is being done by the admitted students who are deciding what they want their graduate school experience to look like.  In only nine days, we’ll find out which students want their experience to look like Fletcher!

Along the way, we’ve offered several online chats.  In addition to providing an opportunity for admitted students to ask their questions, it’s a chance for the staff to sit together and chat while typing.  Students have joined us for each of the chats, and we enjoy hearing about Fletcher from their perspective.  At one chat, we talked around the table about apartment hunting and cricket playing.  A member of the Career Services staff has also joined each of the chats, and it helps us to know how they answer some of the questions that go their way.

For blog readers who have accepted a place on the waitlist, I’ll mention that there won’t be any action for a while still.  If you have questions, or if you would like to send us an update, now would be a good time to contact us.  In fact, I have two emails in my inbox right now from applicants on the waitlist.  (Answering them is my next task.)

I hope it’s helpful to learn what’s going on behind the scenes.  If you have questions you’d like me to answer, you can email me, or add your question in the comment section below.

 
OH reception

The Hall of Flags scene for Sunday’s Open House reception.

So today we’re hosting about 130 newly admitted students for our Open House and everything is going swimmingly.  We started with a reception and alumni panel yesterday evening, with many current and new students heading off to a pub after the official event concluded.  Many of the visitors are being hosted by current students — they may have met-up yesterday afternoon or they found each other during the reception.

Then, this morning, we all reconvened.  So far, I (along with Kristen) have completed my favorite job of registering the visitors — keeps me busy, allows me to meet everyone — and I also met with our visiting mid-career MA students.  Now I have five minutes between chats during Admissions Office walk-in office hours.

Because nothing is ever as much fun if it goes predictably, Nature has given us something to talk about.  Following a very warm week last week, we’ve had snow yesterday and today.  April snow is a rare event, but not unheard of.  We might wish that it didn’t fall during the Open House, but the scenes outside each window are lovely.

Back to the office hour queue.  This will be a busy day for all of us!

 

During the students’ break last week, we were lucky that we had some help from the student staffers who weren’t traveling.  Several times during the week, Dristy popped in to ask a question that had arrived via phone or email from a prospective applicant to the PhD program.  With most of our brain cells pointed toward the needs of newly admitted students or those who have decided to accept a place on the waitlist, it’s easy to forget that a new admissions cycle is already beginning, even as the previous one is still wrapping up.

The fact is that, while our work is entirely cyclical, there’s more than one cycle running at any time.  In January, for example, we’re both welcoming students who start that month, while also accepting applications for September.  Right now, we’re primarily working with the incoming class, but we’ve already started compiling lists of projects for the summer that will (we hope) make the next cycle run more smoothly.

All of this is to say that, if you’re starting your graduate school research this spring, you should feel free to contact us at any time.  We’re happy to help you lay the groundwork for an application in the fall.

 

This year it took precisely one day before I fell behind in my email after we released decisions.  I tried to keep up over the weekend, but yesterday the messages came in so quickly that the best I can say is I answered a few and the rest are tucked away safely in a corner of my inbox where they won’t be lost.  I will respond as soon as I can, increasingly with the sad starter, “I’m sorry for my delay in responding.”

And I am sorry, because I know that everyone who writes to us is doing the work of learning about the program before making the important decision on where to attend graduate school.  I know I speak for my Admissions pals when I say that we will respond as quickly as we can, and also as thoroughly as we can.  Fortunately, we have our crack team of Graduate Assistants working this week before their own spring break, and they can help with questions about Fletcher student life.

Time to attack my inbox.  If I’m lucky, I’ll answer most of the backlogged messages before too many new ones come in.  It’s my objective to avoid the Lucy/chocolate factory scenario.  Wish me luck!

Lucy

 

Following Friday’s release of decisions and a relaxing weekend, Admissions staff members returned to a new phase of the admissions process:  working with (and congratulating!) the new community of admitted students.

Let me also pause to say to those who did not receive good news on Friday: please stay in contact with us.  And thank you to everyone for your interest throughout the year.

Starting today, we’re primed to reach out to admitted students and receive their requests for more information.  We’ve scheduled online chats, information sessions, and an open house.  Those who can’t participate in an organized activity can visit at their convenience.  And, of course, there will be emails.  Many emails.

Though the weeks from January to March are busy for us, somehow the March/April period is even more hectic.  And the next five weeks should be busy for admitted students, too.  Doing the research that results in selecting the right graduate school takes time.  You did your preliminary scouting before applying, of course, but now is when you make doubly sure that the program in which you will enroll best matches your academic and career objectives.  Gather all the detail you need about Fletcher and your other graduate programs and then make a well-considered decision.  Explore the course offerings in detail.  Learn about the student community.  We’ll do our part via multiple media to provide you with information to help in your decision making.  And the Admissions Blog will continue to supply stories 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 academic and career goals.  We welcome your questions!  And, congratulations, once again, on your admission!

 

An intense two weeks have led to today.  We’ve had a rescheduled-to-evening final MA/MALD Admissions Committee meeting, scrambling LLM and MIB Committees reviewing March 1 applications, hours reviewing scholarship applications, additional hours checking our system to be sure everything is set up correctly, and even more hours (and people) ensuring every letter is right and then stuffing envelopes.

While we apply the final finishing touches, let me run through what you can expect to learn tonight when we release decisions.  (All decisions, by which we mean decisions for all degree programs on every complete application that was submitted by the final March 1 deadline.  No trickling of decisions for us.  No releasing of decisions by telephone or email either, so please be patient until 5:00 p.m. U.S. EST (GMT-5).)

First, when your decision is ready, you’ll receive an email to check your Application Status Page.  (Reminder for those who haven’t bookmarked the page:  To access your Application Status Page you can either click the “Start an Application” link on the Admissions website or the application link.  You’ll log in with the email and password you used when you created your application.)

I’ve already described the different decision options on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In addition to learning the admission decision, when admitted applicants log in, they will be able to find their scholarship award.  If you’re in a two-year program, you’ll learn your two-year award so that you can plan ahead.  We make scholarship decisions based on a combination of merit and need.  That is, for any level of merit — as determined through the application review process — the larger awards go to those with greater need.  We hope that all applicants will be happy with their awards, though we know that only Admissions Committee members have the full picture of the breadth of need (and merit, for that matter) among the admitted applicants.  Fletcher’s applicant pool is diverse in every possible way.

Beyond all that, let me just say that it is truly a pleasure to work with our applicants.  On the road, here at Fletcher, and through correspondence, Admissions staff members connect with hundreds of people who submit applications each year.  Our connection with some applicants goes back many years.  At the same time as the Admissions Committee’s mandate is to put together a class that will succeed at, contribute to, and benefit from Fletcher, there are many people who may not be admitted at this time but who we know will ultimately be great students.  We hope to see you again.  Meanwhile, I want to thank all of you for your interest in Fletcher and for reading the Admissions Blog throughout the year.

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Continuing to prep readers for the decisions that we will release soon*, I want to share a little insider info on scholarship awards.  Fletcher has a source of scholarship funds for new and continuing students.  All of the funds allocated for incoming students (including those who applied by the Early Notification deadline and were admitted in December) will be offered as scholarships this month, and admitted students will learn the amount of their scholarship award along with their admission decision.

But the situation is more complex than that.  If we have $100 in our special pot of scholarship cash, we don’t simply distribute $100.  Instead, we reckon that half of the award recipients will decide to continue working, attend another program, or, for whatever reason, decline our offer of admission.  This is predictably the case and, with enrollment history in mind, we actually distribute $200 in scholarships.  It’s a gamble, but if we’ve done our math right, it’s a safe gamble.

Why is this relevant for readers?  Let’s imagine that Jim and Bill are friends who have applied to Fletcher.  Both are admitted and receive $100 scholarships.  Bill decides to enroll at Fletcher, but Jim decides to postpone graduate school for a year.  Bill knows that Jim has received a $100 scholarship, and Bill would like to claim it for himself.  Alas, Jim’s award doesn’t represent actual cash that goes back in the pot.

At the end of the enrollment process, we’ll calculate how much genuine money has been added back to the scholarship account.  (Of course, if we make offers of admission to waitlisted candidates, they may also be offered scholarships.)  One thing you can be sure of is that we will distribute all of the available funds.  We don’t get to use them to order lunch or redecorate the Admissions Office.  Scholarship funds are for students, and every last dollar will be offered to someone who will study at Fletcher in the fall.

*soon=end of the business day tomorrow, EST

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My task today is easier than yesterday’s.  Whether applicants are offered admission with a condition attached or admitted free and clear, they are still admitted.  That said, however, I still want readers to understand the different admission options that Fletcher uses.

As soon as we can wrap up the remainder of the process, many Fletcher applicants will learn that they have been admitted, and can join us in September 2016.  Hooray!  We hope that enrolling at 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.

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 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.  And we offer several options for those who should brush up their quantitative skills.

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!  Do we believe you will sail through the required economics and quantitative analysis classes?  No — we only assume that you will pass those basic classes.  If you’re not so sure, then pick up a text book and familiarize yourself with the basic concepts.

Not everyone who needs practice in English, a foreign language, or quantitative skills 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!

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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We just last week received our very last batch of applications — there is a March 1 deadline for the MIB and LLM programs — but we are starting to see the light at the end of the admissions tunnel.  The committees that review MALD, MA, and PhD applications have all made their decisions, and the MIB and LLM committees will rapidly complete the review of the new applications.  Only the tweaking of the final lists and the very lengthy scholarship review process will remain.

And that makes this a good moment to prep all of you for what will be coming.  I think it’s important that you receive information on our decision options well in advance of the release of decisions, so that you can digest the information.  The topic for today is the decisions other than admission.

THE BASICS

The unfortunate reality is that we cannot admit everyone who applies to Fletcher.  And there are two possible outcomes for those who aren’t admitted right now.  One is that the applicant might be denied admission, and the other is that the applicant could be offered a place on the waitlist (which might result in admission later in the spring/summer).

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 not admitted, or who are offered a place on the waitlist, 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.

THE DETAILS

The waitlist: Each year, we 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 admit 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, what matters is not how many waitlist offers we make, but rather how many people decide to accept a spot on the list, and we won’t have that number until the end of April.  We don’t rank our waitlist, and when it comes time to make an offer of admission, we go back to the applications and 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.

Those not admitted: We’re always sorry to say goodbye to an applicant.  We’ve read your story and we know how important gaining admission to graduate school is for you.  The fact is that many of the students not admitted this year could be admitted in a future year.  We hope you will continue to develop your experience and that we may read about you again.

Some applicants to the MALD, MIB, and LLM 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 decision option for applicants within about a year of their university graduation.  (This year, that means 2015 and 2016 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.

MOST IMPORTANT 

Contact us!:  Whether an applicant is denied admission or offered a place on the waitlist, there’s one important thing I want to share, which is that our door is still open for communication, and we hope you will contact us.  Increasingly, the Admissions Committee expects to see a record of correspondence from those who are applying for the second time.

Students who are not offered admission have the opportunity to request feedback on their application.  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.

As for the waitlist, all members of the Fletcher Admissions staff know that the extra waiting is unwelcome.  But for some applicants, the waitlist will ultimately result in 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.  Now’s your chance to shine up your application before we return to it when we evaluate the waitlist.

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 ask us if there is a special piece of information we need.

Finally, 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.

Tomorrow I’ll run through the different categories of admission.

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Through various channels, I’m hearing that applicants are getting a little bit nervous while they wait for admissions decisions.  Must be time for a quick update!

We are motoring along through the process.  Motoring!  Our student readers have been terrific, needing only occasional reminders to READ MORE!  The staff readers are keeping up and will finish off nearly all of the reading this week.  Committees for each of the degree programs have been meeting, working through lists of applications and, at the same time, establishing the standards and priorities for the year.

But friends, it’s still only the last week of February, and we are not ready to release decisions.  As you know, we don’t have rolling admissions, and we don’t trickle out the decisions.  They all come out in a March flood.  So far as awaiting your Fletcher decision is concerned, you still have plenty of time to relax.  Focus on other things.  Enjoy yourself.  Or, alternatively, use the coming weeks to do a little advance research on the graduate programs you’re waiting for.  (The period from receiving decisions until the deadline for making your enrollment choice goes quickly.)  In any event, you can trust that we’re working hard to wrap up this process, but we still have several weeks to go.

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