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It’s March, and for Fletcher Admissions, March=BUSY. We’re still reading applications (a few stragglers for the MALD and MA programs, and a new batch that arrived by the March 1 deadline for the LLM and MIB programs). The assorted Admissions Committees are finalizing decisions as quickly as possible, leading the way for scholarship consideration. Waitlist candidates are being identified. All of those steps, of course, lead to the ultimate release of decisions. And meanwhile, there’s other day-to-day work that still needs to be done (writing for the blog, for example).
The pace takes a little toll on all of us, but none so much as Laurie, the captain of the Admissions ship. Which is why it was Laurie, rather than another Admissions team member, who told us that in the wee hours one night, she saw the numbers displayed on her digital clock as GPAs. These imagined students improved in their academic performance from 3:00 to 3:59, but there were no GPAs of 3.6 to 3.99, jumping instead to 4:00.
This is where Admissions work drives the mind, for some of us at least. In my case, I have my eye on April, which will be very busy, too, but a different kind of busy. Even the prospect of variety is enough to get me through the zany month of March.
Just in time for those of you wisely calculating the financial resources you’ll be able to draw on for your graduate education, our friends at APSIA have created a new list of scholarship and fellowship opportunities. Of course, incoming Fletcher students will also want to check the Fletcher financial aid page, too.
Even during the heart of the admissions process, applicants write in with questions about whether their applications are competitive. Here Ariel makes a rare Tuesday appearance to lay it all out in the most basic way.
Dear Ariel: What are the characteristics of a successful MALD applicant?
Fletcher actively seeks to enroll a diverse class of students who have demonstrated academic excellence, have a wide range of personal, professional, and academic experience, and have a strong commitment to an international career. We seek students who, by virtue of their background, achievement, and experience, can contribute to the education of their peers and to the scholarship and practice of international relations. In general, applicants must demonstrate research ability and a strong familiarity with a second language, and hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. All students must have proven English language proficiency. Fletcher students come from a wide range of undergraduate majors, including international relations and other social sciences, the humanities, business, and physical sciences and engineering. It is suggested (but not required) that students take microeconomics and macroeconomics prior to enrollment.
Tagged with: Dear Ariel
This seems like a good time to provide an admissions process update. As I’ve written before, the Fletcher Admissions Committee is reviewing cases every week — even as we keep reading. Other schools may review all the applications in a series of end-of-process mega-sessions, but that’s not how we do it, and we still have several weekly Admissions Committee meetings left. We also have a new crop of applications that arrived by the February 10 deadline. Some have already been read, while others are waiting for those last recommendations or other credentials.
Even after all the applications have been reviewed, there’s a lot more work to be done, including scholarship consideration. Personally, I don’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. More of a halfway-there feeling.
This is also a convenient moment to answer a question that blog readers may be thinking, but aren’t necessarily asking. That is: I submitted my application in January (or November or February). Is there anything I should be adding to it now?
The answer is that there aren’t useful additions now, with one big exception. If you have new test scores, new grades for fall 2012 courses, or a résumé that reflects a new job, then I would encourage you to send them in. You never know — the Admissions Committee may be holding on your application, in hopes that your most recent grades will arrive. Or maybe that promotion at your job might be just enough to nudge your application toward admission. So if you have new information in one of those categories, please send it in.
I also should say that some additional information is just not helpful. Have you been kicking yourself since January 10 about a typo in your personal statement? The best policy is simply to let it go. Sending an updated personal statement, or a résumé with a new font but no new content, is not likely to boost your cause, and may have a negative effect. So stop ruminating over a phrase that could have been worded more elegantly, and use your time to think through your financial plans, as well as to enjoy this quiet moment before grad schools start releasing decisions next month.
And now, I’m off to this week’s Admissions Committee meeting!
I’m reading applications at home today and, to preserve my reading mojo, I shouldn’t spend much time blogging. I wish I had an adorable dog like Dan’s friend, Murray, to keep me company, but it’s just me and my mountain of applications. Applications and an occasional check of the weather, because we’re expecting a blizzard to arrive tomorrow. Emails have already zapped around, discussing whether we should cancel the morning’s Admissions Committee meeting, but we’re hoping to squeeze it in before the snow piles too high. Nature always packs a few surprises into admissions season.
Back to the applications! But maybe a quick cup of tea first, to help fuel me.
It took Ariel and me a couple of weeks to coordinate to start up for the spring semester. Today, Ariel regretfully takes on a topic she covered in the fall. Regretfully because so many people didn’t read it then. It’s good info. Please read what Ariel has to say.
Dear Ariel: I submitted my application for the January 10th deadline. Have you received by GRE scores yet? My recommendation letters? My transcripts? Is my application complete?
Because we get a lot of mail and phone calls, the easiest (and fastest) way to find out if you have any missing items is to check our online application system. After you submitted your application, you should have received an email with your username and password to login to the Tufts Graduate and Professional Schools Application Management System. We like to call it GAMS for short. If you didn’t receive this message, check your spam folder. If you still can’t find the email, do not distress! Just email us and we will send you a new username and password.
You can login to GAMS to check the status of your application, and also to see if you are missing any application materials. To be extra sure you know if something is missing, we’ll also contact you to tell you what hasn’t arrived.
Tagged with: Dear Ariel
I’m always concocting theories to explain my universe, and I’ve decided that (contrary to expectation) cold weather draws people outdoors. Or, also possible, cold weather keeps people local, meaning there are more people out and about. I ran into friends and acquaintances all weekend. At the Winter Farmers’ Market and at Somerville Theatre on Saturday. Getting onto and off the T (subway) on Sunday, on our way into Boston to meet friends for brunch. Etc., etc.
Today (by plan, not chance) we have the fun opportunity to meet about 20 of the applicants who were admitted in the Early Notification round. It’s a very mellow day. They’ll pop in and out of the Admissions Office, but will otherwise blend into the Fletcher scene. We offered breakfast before the first session. When I went into the meeting room, thinking someone might have a question, everyone was already thoroughly engaged in conversation and had no need for me. Awesome! Like instant old friends.
January 22 and, unless you’re aiming for one of the later (February 10 or March 1) deadlines, your application is in. Perhaps you’re thinking that all you need to do now is to twiddle your thumbs while waiting for your grad schools to make a decision on your application.
If only Ernie were setting a good example for you. In fact you can, and should, make this waiting time productive for yourself.
First, and most important: you can develop your own financial plan. The smart approach is to assume that your graduate professional school will not cover all of your expenses. What resources can you draw upon? What level of scholarship enables you to pursue your graduate school plans, and what level might cause you to push your plans back a year? Are there external scholarships that could be right for you? Sure, thinking this through will take some time. But the risk of investing the thinking time is simply that Fletcher or another school provides you with more funding than your worst-case scenario, and you have greater resources than you expected. Meanwhile, the upside is that you have the information in place to make your own decision on graduate school, after the schools have made their decision on you.
What else can you do? The obvious: Save your pennies! If you have an income this year, you should be putting aside as much as possible for your upcoming student low/zero-income years. No matter how large a scholarship you receive, you’ll be happy to have cash available to visit home/buy your friend a birthday gift/nurture your caffeine habits. Trust me, every little bit helps.
How about academic preparation? I’d suggest a little honest reflection on any weaknesses in your preparation for an international affairs program in the U.S. If you’re a non-native English speaker, could your English skills use a boost? If you’re a native English speaker, could your foreign language skills stand improvement? In either case, learning a language is a slow process. Start early. How about those quantitative skills? Whether you’re an economics whiz or in need of a brush-up, a little advance work can pave the way for your success.
I try to be nice in the blog, but occasionally I feel compelled to provide a dose of reality. This is one of those times. It’s never a happy moment when it becomes clear an admitted student hasn’t given any thought to how this whole grad student thing is going to come together. With the application phase behind you, you have some time to get your ducks in a row. Please don’t twiddle the next two months away. Invest a little time now, and relax a little more in April.
The Admissions Office is closed today (Monday) for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. We’ll be back tomorrow and will answer your phone or email messages then.
From January through March, I see the the Admissions Blog as having three separate but intertwined purposes. The first, as in any other month, is to provide information about Fletcher and our community of students, faculty, and staff. The second is to keep you updated on admissions-related news. And the third is to reassure applicants that the process is moving along, simply by filling the void with blog posts.
Meeting objectives 2 and 3, today I’ll allow a little sunlight to fall on our work. During the January 10 to March 31 period, the Admissions Office is involved in four different tasks: compiling applications; reading applications; making final decisions; and sending notification to applicants. (In fact, we’re also doing all sorts of other stuff, but that’s not relevant to today’s topic.) Aside from notification, which only happens at the end, the other three tasks all tend to be happening at the same time, with a shift from more compiling in January to more decision-making in March. As an example, Job #1 this week is to compile applications. But with classes just beginning, all of the newly returned student Admissions Committee members are using their free time to read as quickly as we can create applications. Each of the staff members will take a day to read applications this week, too, so the process is moving forward in two different ways.
(Just a side note for PhD applicants: The December 20 deadline for the PhD program means, of course, that everything is well on its way. Just as PhD files are plumper than applications for the master’s programs, evaluation takes longer and is more complicated.)
I’ll certainly write (or beg my admissions colleagues to write) about the process in the coming weeks, but the fact is that little that would be considered momentous happens week to week. We simply keep the files moving forward.
Jumping ahead, I’ll answer a question that I’m sure to cover again in two months. That is, how do we release decisions? The answer is that we release all decisions at once. No rolling admissions. Everybody at once, including PhD applicants. And it will all happen toward the end of March. We don’t have a date yet because there’s so much in front of us.
I hope this gives you a sense of what’s going on in Fletcher’s Admissions Office. There are going to be weeks when the blog won’t tell you anything that might be called an update on the admissions process. That’s because whatever we’re doing is essentially the same as whatever we did the week before. For many of you, the next two months will be filled with anxiety. Please be assured that we never forget that the application files represent real people who are waiting hopefully for the news that will set their academic and career planning on a new track.
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