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One of the objectives of the Admissions Blog at this time of year is to fill the long silence between when you submit your application and when you receive your admission decision.  On the other hand, it’s hard to make our January-to-March activities sound interesting.  We process applications.  We read applications.  We decide on applications.  We do other stuff, including planning for next year before we’re even done with this one.  Blog readers should rest assured that we are making progress on all of our work.

But applicants should not interpret the long silence to mean that they needn’t think about their graduate studies.  The hard work of preparing applications may be complete, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you set yourself up to make an informed decision in April.  To that end, here are some things you can do or think about while you’re waiting for graduate schools to make their decisions.

1.  If you didn’t have a chance to visit Fletcher (or your other schools) in the fall, it’s not crazy to plan a trip for the coming months.  We hope that admitted applicants will participate in the April events we organize for them, but if you want to see the school in everyday mode, don’t hesitate to come over.  We’ll be offering a few information sessions each month, and you’re always welcome to attend a class, whether or not we have scheduled activities.

2.  Go back to the websites of your selected schools and make sure your interests are truly in line with what the schools offer.  Based on the questions we receive in the spring, we know that many applicants have not thought through their choices quite as carefully as would be optimal.  Or, equally possible, their interests have migrated a bit in the months since applying.  Either way, check over the information so that you’re ready to make an informed choice.

3.  If you sent off your application without a firm financial plan in mind, now is the time to think about money.  Are you eligible to take education loans?  How big a loan burden are you willing to take on?  Are there any scholarships out there for which you’re a competitive applicant?  Every graduate school has its own scholarship policy, but in the world of professional schools, scholarships for full tuition and living expenses are relatively rare.  Even if you receive a full tuition scholarship, how will you cover all of the living expenses that a year in graduate school involves?  What if you don’t receive full tuition, as is the case for the majority of Fletcher students?

4.  Related to #3, now is a really good time to save your pennies.  I’d even suggest a starvation spending diet, so that you can build a cushion for the lean earnings period of graduate student life.  This may be counter-intuitive.  Some people might think that now is the time to enjoy having an income, but the additional funds will be so much more valued when you don’t have money coming in.

So, broadly speaking, I’m suggesting information gathering and financial planning as two worthy activities for the coming months.  Making a decision in April will be ever so much easier when you have all needed information in place.

 

Just the quickest of updates today.  The Admissions Office now holds a healthy (but tidy) collection of applications printed and ready for processing.  We’ll have a crack team working on updating files throughout the week.  Please remember to give us a little time before you check your GAMS record, but I feel confident that we’ll have everything well under control by the end of the week.

 

With the deadline coming on a Friday this year, I thought it would be helpful to tell you what to expect after you submit an application, even if you haven’t yet submitted yours.  As I wrote earlier this week, we’ve been keeping up with the applications that were submitted ahead of the deadline, and the printer is churning out the ones that arrived overnight.  We’ll keep going until 5:00 p.m., but any further compiling of applications will wait until Monday.

In other words, we won’t be updating applications over the weekend.  But even when we’re back in the office on Monday, we need to ask you to remain patient for a few days while we compile and process your application.

By “patient,” I mean:  Please don’t contact us on Monday to ask about an application that was submitted today!  Everything will come together very soon, so hold tight, and when you start to worry anew about whether you’ve done everything you need to, reread this blog post.  Meanwhile, here’s the rundown of what happens when an application is submitted, whether you followed my advice and applied early or will wait until 11:59 EST tonight.

1.  Once you hit the online “submit” button, your application is “stamped” with the date and time.  The electronic application then waits within the Embark system for your registered online recommenders to do their work.  If all your recommenders have already submitted their letters, or if you haven’t registered any online recommenders, the application will be ready for us immediately, and we’ll upload it into our internal program.  (If your recommenders haven’t done their part, it’s your responsibility to remind them that the deadline has passed.)

2.  When your application (with online recommendations) is uploaded, you’ll receive an automatically generated email stating that we have received your application, and that you should wait ten business days before contacting the Admissions Office about any missing materials.  The email also provides you with a username and password to access the Tufts Graduate Application Management System (GAMS).  GAMS will be the best way to track your application.  We’ll also be posting decision letters to your GAMS account, so hang on to your username and password!  Remember that we don’t receive your application (and you don’t receive the email) if the application is stuck in Embark, waiting for recommendations.  And contacting a member of the Admissions staff will generally give you only the information you can access yourself through GAMS.  (After a few weeks, there’s more that we can do to help track materials down.)

3.   Uploaded applications are printed in batches.  Once we have the paper copy, we create a file folder for you, giving you a tangible presence in the Admissions Office.

4.  Meanwhile, Admissions Office staffers will open the daily piles of envelopes holding test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation from recommenders who weren’t registered online, etc.  We sort and file the mail.  If the application hasn’t yet been uploaded, the paper materials will “wait” for it to emerge from the system.

5.  Once we have your application in a file folder, we dig out the mail that has already been received for you and include it.  Then we manually update your record in the admissions system to show what materials have come in by mail.  You should track your application through GAMS, but we’ll also email you if there’s a document missing. This is the ten-day process I referred to in point 2 above.  If you’re not patient, GAMS will alarm you by indicating we haven’t received anything at all.  Until we manually process your application materials, the information in GAMS is not complete.  Keep on top of things, but remember that the registering of your materials won’t happen immediately.

6.  Your completed application is then given to Committee members to review, and you’ll receive your admission decision in late March.

The bottom line:  Make sure you monitor your application, but give us a little time to pull everything together.  In only about two weeks, everyone who has submitted all the materials needed for an application should find accurate and reassuring information on GAMS.  So long as you submitted the application by the deadline, you can relax for a few days while we do our work.

 

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!

 

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