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With the general application deadline tomorrow and students returning on Monday, this is the final day of winter break quiet.  Not that we have nothing to do, mind you.  And we actually have some students in the building — our 2014 “Januarians” started their Orientation yesterday, and the Admissions office isn’t the only one that has students working during the break — but there aren’t enough students to lively up the atmosphere.

The Admissions Staff will be in a planning meeting this afternoon, getting ready for the long stretch that starts tomorrow and runs at least through April.  I’ll enjoy the quiet today, but I’ll be happy for the students’ return on Monday, too.  A little noise helps us keep up our energy.

 

The pace at which applications and supporting materials are flowing into the office is picking up.  A nice bunch of applications is already complete and we’re keeping up as new materials arrive, knowing that the real flood will hit us on Friday (before midnight, if a reminder is needed).

Here’s the scene today.  Daniel, Ayako, and Rebekah have dedicated part of their winter break to bringing order to the applications, mail, and folders.  Christine is providing direction.

Back office

You may recognize Daniel and Ayako if you have recorded an online interview.  We’re super lucky to have so many student interns in the office this week!  Lucky, too, that three student members of the Admissions Committee are already reading the complete applications!

As much envelope opening, date stamping, and file assembling as we need to do, the process is hugely simpler than it was just a few years ago.  Although recommenders have been invited to submit their letters online for many years, it took some time before there was widespread acceptance of the technology.  Last year was the first year that we accepted scanned copies of official transcripts, further reducing our annual mountain of mail.  This is good news for applicants, as we’re able to compile materials quickly so that you can learn if your application is complete.  Of course, when I say “quickly,” I’m afraid that I don’t mean “instantly.”  There will inevitably be a delay between when you click submit and when you can confirm (via the GAMS system) that your materials have all arrived, but that delay is way shorter than it used to be.

Speaking of delays, I hate to miss an opportunity to add yet another plug to avoid waiting until the last minute to submit your application.  If you take the plunge and hit “submit” between today and Thursday, you’ll have an update on your application much more quickly than if you wait until the crowd jumps into the pool on Friday.

 

So often we’re asked a question that can take two forms, depending on who’s asking:

1.  What type of work should I do after completing my undergraduate degree to prepare me for Fletcher?

2.  Does my professional experience make me a good candidate for admission to Fletcher?

As I’ve written before, there’s (alas) no correct answer to these questions.  The professional experience that will be valuable for one post-Fletcher career may not help to advance another.  Nonetheless, though there’s never going to be a tidy answer to pass along, that doesn’t mean I can’t guide you toward a better understanding of why such brief questions elicit such unwieldy responses.  To do so, I thought I’d connect readers to sources on the blog and elsewhere through which you can see for yourself the diversity of our students’ pre-Fletcher experience.

I’ll start off my experience round-up by pointing you toward several blog features.  First, there are the Five-Year Updates.  In these posts, alumni describe their paths to and through Fletcher, and you can see how they have brought together their pre-Fletcher work and Fletcher studies to launch new careers.  There’s also the growing feature on First-Year Alumni.  Naturally, these graduates don’t yet have the perspective of their fellow alums who graduated earlier, but you might like to see how everything (Fletcher and pre-Fletcher experience) comes together directly after leaving Fletcher.  I’ll be adding more posts from our 2013 graduates throughout the coming months.  Finally, there are the posts in the Student Stories feature.  Although the writers this year and last cover an assortment of topics, each of them provides an introductory post.

Beyond the blog, there are many student profiles on the Fletcher website.  You can find a selection of students who entered in 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as recent alumni.  If you prefer, you can also access profiles by degree program on the MALD, MIB, MA, LLM, and PhD pages.

With the application deadline coming up on Friday, maybe this is an odd time to be providing information like this.  On the other hand, I know that applicants’ questions on their credentials don’t actually stop when they submit the application.  Maybe this isn’t such an odd time after all.

 

While we wait for a snowstorm to move up from New York and into the Boston area, I thought I’d provide a quick recap of some December Fletcher news.

First, we’ll be joined this month by the Honorable Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of the Republic of Georgia and founder of Georgia’s United National Movement Party, who will be a Senior Statesman in residence, delivering lectures on European governance and other contemporary international and regional issues.

And Fletcher is also the home to a new journal on security issues.  The Fletcher Security Review was started by a group of students, and is a natural addition to the already wide range of activities connected to the study of international security here.

And now, breaking news that (while I was writing the three brief paragraphs above) we learned that Tufts University (and Fletcher along with it) will close at 2:00 p.m. today, and will remain closed all day tomorrow because of the snowstorm.  On Monday, the Admissions Office will be attending a full-day off-site meeting.  We’ll all be back in the office on Tuesday for those last minute application questions.

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I’m sorry that this will be a slow blog week, but I did want to take a minute to wish blog readers a very happy start to 2014!  Let’s hope that it’s a year of peace for all of us.

 

Do I need to say anything that the title of this post doesn’t already say?  A little context, maybe?

Every year, the majority of our applicants wait until the last (or nearly last) minute to submit their applications.  Meanwhile, as the clock ticks down, they anguish, stress, and contact the office to ask for a clearer definition of “January 10 deadline.”

Why?

Seriously.  I’m asking.

Why would you risk the anxiety and hassle (and potential missed deadline) involved in waiting until the very last minute?  And why take the time to ask whether a January 10 deadline means by close of business or before midnight?

Today is December 23.  Eighteen days remain before January 10.  Use 17 of them industriously, and you will not need to contact us for clarification of the deadline.

So, yes, dear blog readers, I am imploring you to do something good for yourself.  Please submit your application before the deadline.  Not so early that it’s incomplete, mind you, but early enough that you can relax while imagining other people’s frenzy on January 10.

And for the record:  applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5) on January 10.

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With applications due in January, questions don’t stop for the holidays.  Christine gives you the scoop on the Admissions schedule.

Classes are over, finals are winding down, and students are heading off for their winter break adventures.  But do not fear! The Admissions Office will be here during this busy time!  Our schedule will be as follows:

Monday, December 23 — Open

Tuesday, December 24 — Closed

Wednesday, December 25 — Closed

Thursday, December 26 — Open

Friday, December 27 — Open

Monday, December 30 — Open

Tuesday, December 31 — Closed

Wednesday, January 1 — Closed

Thursday, January 2 — Normal schedule resumes

We will be reachable by phone (+1.617.627.3040) or email.  No question is too big or too small!

And from all of us in the Admissions Office, happy holidays!

 

Just before classes ended, Liam and I discussed possible topics for his next blog post.  He mentioned how much he has enjoyed the talks he has attended throughout the semester.  Since I never manage to join these special events during the busy fall, this seemed like the perfect subject for him.  Here are Liam’s observations.

As my first semester came to a close and I feverishly studied for finals and finish term papers, I took some time to think about my Fletcher experience to date and about the aspects that stood out for me.  What has really impressed me is the access I’ve been privileged to have to senior-level leaders from throughout the world and the remarkably candid remarks they’ve made in guest lectures at Fletcher.

Early in the year, I was privileged to sit in ASEAN auditorium and listen to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia give a remarkable talk about cyber security and his country’s experience when faced with a massive cyber attack in 2007.  President Ilves was incredibly engaging and straightforward, discussing what he sees as future security challenges for Europe, and I couldn’t help but be amazed that I was listening to a standing head of state give his incredibly honest opinions.  You can get a sense of his perspective from his interview with Dean Stavridis.

As someone focusing on security at Fletcher, another incredible opportunity has been the International Security Studies Program’s luncheon series.  I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, discuss the challenges facing the Army over the next several decades and how he sees the Army adapting to that uncertain future.  I heard Dr. David Chu, President of the Institute for Defense Analyses and former Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, discuss his ideas for a responsible drawdown within the Department of Defense, based on history.  I’ve listened to General John Kelly, Commander of Southern Command, discuss the sphere and scope of his organization’s responsibility in Central and South America.  And I’ve been able to hear Major General Bennet Sacolick, Director of Force Management and Development for the Special Operations Command, discuss the Global Special Operations Forces Network and the role Special Operations units can play in the ambiguous security environment we face.  I might add that all of these events include an excellent free lunch (a must for busy graduate students) and truly invigorating discussions.

In addition to Fletcher events, I’ve attended some outstanding guest lectures within the greater Tufts community.  From former Congressman Robert Wexler discussing his vision for a two-state solution in the Middle East, to Colonel Steve Banach explaining the use of design methodology to manage complexity and change, to Colonel Bill Ostlund calling in on videoteleconference from Afghanistan to discuss his brigade’s actions in Zabul Province, I’ve been exposed to an amazing breadth and depth of speakers.

Last, due to the reputation and variety of the amazing faculty here at Fletcher, my classes have included some incredible guest lectures.  In one of the last weeks of the semester, we had a marvelous impromptu Skype session in my International Organizations class with Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu, permanent representative of Romania to the UN.  And I would be remiss if I left out the multiple opportunities that Dean Stavridis provides Fletcher students to hear him speak on a wide range of subjects, ranging from security threats to the strategic plan for the future of Fletcher and Tufts.

Simply put, it’s been an incredible experience to date, both in and out of the classroom, and I consider myself truly fortunate to have had this exposure to policy makers in all walks of life.

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Decisions were posted yesterday for our Early Notification applicants so, today, I’ll try to anticipate incoming questions and answer them before you have a chance to ask.

First, allow me to congratulate those applicants who have already been admitted!  We’re excited to welcome new students to the community, and I read some super applications in this round!  I’m sure it’s good news that you can just relax through the next three months.  Scholarship decisions will go out with the next round of admission decisions at the end of March, but you don’t need to make a final enrollment decision until April 20.  Meanwhile, I encourage you to use this time to gather information about Fletcher so that you’re ready to make an informed decision.  Of course, if you already know you’ll attend Fletcher, all the better!

Next, let me say that I’m sorry to bid farewell to a group of applicants who were denied admission.  We always regret making these difficult decisions, but we hope it will help the applicants make their choices on where else they should apply.

Finally (and most complicated) are the applicants who were told we will discuss them again after we receive applications for our regular deadline in January.  That is, we wish to look at the applications in the context of the larger application pool.  Important to note if you fall in this group:  you are welcome/invited/encouraged to update us on changes to your credentials.  Here’s a list of updates that we particularly value:

  • An updated transcript that reflects grades received since you submitted your application;
  • New standardized exam (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS) score reports;
  • A revised résumé that includes information on a new job position;
  • An additional recommendation that sheds light on an aspect of your background you weren’t able to illuminate in other parts of the application.

Are you thinking of something not included on the above list?  It may be a fine addition.  Just use this simple rule of thumb:  if the information is already in your file in another form, there’s not much value in sending it again.  That is, an additional academic recommendation will add little to an application that already includes three.  On the other hand, a professional recommendation will add a lot to an application that only includes academic recommendations.  Think it through before you flood us with info, but don’t hesitate to send us something that will give your application a happy bump.

Whether you were offered admission this week, or you were told we’ll reconsider your application in the spring, we look forward to hearing from you and to working with you during the coming months.  Please be sure to be in touch if you have questions.

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A quick update today on what’s happening in Admissions and at Fletcher.

In Admissions, we are:

  • Wrapping up the Early Notification process;
  • Awaiting the PhD and Map Your Future applications, which are due this Friday, December 20;
  • Preparing for the January 10 deadline for September 2014 admission, when we’ll receive the majority of our applications to the master’s level programs;
  • Getting ready to welcome the class entering in January 2014.

It’s one of those moments when the admissions process looks distinctly different, depending on which group you belong to.  Those aiming for the January 10 deadline still have plenty of time to relax and procrastinate, while the PhD applicants are scribing away.

Meanwhile, at Fletcher, it’s quieter and quieter, as students peel away.  Although exams continue through Wednesday, many students have already completed their commitments and are on their way to distant locales.  If the sudden quiet weren’t notification enough that the winter break is nearing, the weekend’s snow was a clear reminder.  The Admissions Office will remain open throughout the break, but we look forward to a chance to recharge and prepare for the super busy stretch that runs from January to May.

 

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