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This morning’s Orientation activity included ice-breakers, with the students divided into several animal-named groups. Along with a continuing student, Franklin, I was the Owl leader, and I think it’s fair to say that Owls rule! It was fun to attach faces to names we have heard for half a year, and to learn a little about each owl.
Now we’re off to lunch with the new students. Other tasks will have to wait until this afternoon.
The breakfast is served and Orientation is underway! So great to hear the Hall of Flags in full buzz!
An eagle-eyed reader yesterday picked up on what appeared to be a blog error, but actually reflects some news.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that there is no midyear (January) admission for MIB students. Then last week that changed, to allow prospective MIB students the option of applying to start their degree studies in January. The eagle-eyed reader had spotted the new deadline/enrollment information on other pages of the website.
What was going on behind the scenes? Not all that much, to be honest. Over the life of this relatively new program, there had been a few students who started in January instead of September. That is, they were admitted for September, but something kept them from enrolling in the planned semester. (The explanations were usually visa problems or personal emergencies. Students with other issues would have been advised to defer their enrollment for a year, to the following September.) Although there are some challenges for MIBers who start in January (for example, they don’t meet their classmates in the pre-session), the challenges turn out to be surmountable, and we made the decision to allow students to make their own decision on when to enroll.
We still anticipate that the majority of MIB students will start in September, but we will no longer mandate it. If January is the right time for you to start your studies, we invite you to apply to either the MALD or MIB program. And, since the application is ready for you (and is due October 15 for January enrollment), feel free to get started on those essays!
For those folks who want to get an early start on their applications for January or September 2014 enrollment, please note that the new application is ready and waiting for you! And if you don’t complete the application in a single sitting, you will (of course) be able to save your work.
Tagged with: Application
A prospective applicant asks: What can an applicant with a less quantitative background do before applying, to enhance chances of admission?
My answer is going to depend on the applicant’s goals and where the applicant is in life.
If the applicant is still pursuing an undergraduate degree, my advice is certainly to take micro- and macro-economics and statistics courses before graduating. A solid economics foundation is what many of our peer schools are looking for, too.
If that undergraduate ship has already sailed, and if the applicant is interested in Fletcher’s MIB program or a quant-focused curriculum in the MALD, MA, or PhD program, I would generally suggest either taking classes in economics and/or statistics before applying, or at least making arrangements to take them before the wished-for enrollment date. Getting strong grades for the quantitative work before applying is particularly important for those who either have lackluster quantitative scores on the GRE or GMAT exams, or who had only modest success in quantitative courses while an undergraduate. (If you can do better than your grades or test scores indicate, you’ll want to prove it!) If, on the other hand, you can present evidence (such as test scores and grades) of strong quantitative ability, you may be able to get away with simply telling us in advance of your January-to-August plan to make up for your lack of quantitative training before starting Fletcher classes.
If the applicant predicts a complete life of quantophobia and has no interest in quantitative Fields of Study at Fletcher, I would probably suggest taking economics and statistics/quantitative reasoning before enrolling anyway, but not necessarily for admissions purposes. So long as past testing and course grades demonstrate adequate command of quantitative matters, what the Admissions Committee will want to see is proof of ability to survive our basic economics and quantitative reasoning classes (or even to test out of them).
What does this lack of a single standard mean? It means that, for all degree programs, Fletcher’s Admissions Committees review an applicant’s full application. There’s never a lone criterion on which decisions are based. Rather, depending on which degree program an applicant hopes to pursue, we look at all the information in an application to gauge potential for success both overall, and in quantitative coursework in particular.
Sticking with the idea of helping this year’s applicants get their minds around the process, I’m going to lay out the application deadlines for you. In fact, you can find them on our website, but my contribution will be to format them in an even plainer way. Then, assuming you’re applying to one of the programs with more than one deadline, you can pick your own. Here are the dates and the details on which program applications are due on those days.
Deadline for January 2014 enrollment in the MALD program. This is the only deadline for January enrollment, and only MALD students may apply to start their studies in January.
Early Notification deadline for September 2014 enrollment in the MALD, MA, MIB, or LLM programs.
Deadline for September 2014 enrollment in the PhD program. Note that this is the only deadline for the PhD program.
Early Notification deadline for Map Your Future applicants to MALD and MIB programs.
Regular deadline for September 2014 enrollment in MALD, MA, MIB, or LLM programs.
Final deadline (no scholarship consideration) for MALD and MA programs.
Final deadline (no scholarship consideration) for MIB and LLM programs.
Regular deadline for Map Your Future applicants to MALD and MIB programs.
Once you’ve made your choice, mark it in your calendar. And then also put a note on the day one week before the deadline. That’s the date you should aim for, to minimize wear and tear on the brain and nerves.
Tagged with: deadlines
Swinging back to application-related topics, a prospective student asked me to write about the sort of information that should be provided to a recommender when requesting a letter. GOOD QUESTION! Applicants don’t always maximize the value of their recommendations. For example, the best (i.e. most convincing) person to explain the reasons behind a student’s academic difficulties is a professor, but few applicants ask their professors to provide context on their overall academic record.
This summer, we’ve pulled together some suggestions for recommenders. Eventually, the list will find a home on the website where recommenders can see it, but today’s post offers a sneak preview of points that could be helpful as you ask professors and supervisors to write for you.
First, though, some suggestions for you, as recommendation requester:
- Tip #1 is to give the recommender plenty of time/warning to write the recommendation letter. You can’t expect a high quality letter if you’re making requests two days before the deadline. (Also be sure to make the deadline clear.)
- Tip #2 is to share your résumé and your statement of purpose (first application essay) with your recommender. The statement will tell your recommender what you hope to accomplish at Fletcher, so that the letter can be relevant to your goals.
- Tip #3 is to provide your recommender with a little information about Fletcher. Though many letters we receive each year were written by people whose names we see regularly, you shouldn’t assume that someone knows the school. It’s frustrating for us when we read a letter about an applicant’s potential for law school.
And now, our suggestions for the recommender:
A typical letter of recommendation for a Fletcher application is between one and two pages in length. A letter that is too short may provide insufficient detail, while a letter that is longer than two pages may be more than needed for the application. Your letter will be of greatest value if you provide specific and targeted observations, particularly regarding your personal interactions with the applicant.
If you are writing about the applicant’s academic experience:
- Indication of why a student succeeded (or failed) in a class is helpful. Even if it seems obvious that an “A” grade demonstrates the student’s strength, the context for the grade is useful. The academic recommendations are among the few qualitative ways we have to understand a student’s academic capacity, and we appreciate understanding how a student excels (not simply that the student did excel). It can also be useful when recommenders mention what percent of students get an A in the class.
- Be sure to note it if a student took the time to get to know you outside of class (through research, office hours, etc.). This is often a helpful indicator of how they will act in graduate school.
If you are writing about the applicant’s professional experience:
- It is useful to know about the applicant’s progress in and contributions to your organization, rather than simply what position the individual held.
- If the applicant performed any functions that are relevant to academic work, it is helpful if you bring them to our attention. Some examples are research, writing, data collection or analysis, or work within a team.
- An assessment of the applicant’s professional potential also contributes to our evaluation of the application. As a professional school, we want to know that students will be able to achieve their career goals.
Tagged with: Recommendations
I’m going to return to a more admissions-related topic today. Recently, we were asked how an applicant could choose between the MALD and the MIB programs. I asked Kristen, our MIB expert, to lay it all out.
When talking with prospective students, one of the first questions we often hear is, “Which Fletcher degree is right for me?” While our five degree programs are suited to different professional interests and levels of experience, there is enough overlap among them that prospective applicants might feel torn in deciding between two different degree programs. And because all of our students can take all of the same classes, the differences blur even more. An MIB taking Peace Operations? Sure! An LLM in Corporate Finance? Of course!
So, as applicants narrow their choices, the questions we hear go something like this: Am I really mid-career enough for the MA, or is the MALD better for me? I’d like to enter the PhD program eventually, but should I start with the MALD? And then there’s the question I’m addressing today: I’m interested in building business skills. Is the MIB or the MALD the better choice?
The MIB and MALD programs share some fundamental similarities: both include classes in all three divisions, both require students to complete two Fields of Study and a capstone project, and both allow students to pursue business studies. The main difference lies in that last point. MALD students may choose International Business Relations as a Field of Study, requiring four classes in business. MIB students, on the other hand, complete a full core curriculum that includes business and international affairs classes, as well as a Field of Study in a specialized business area (Strategy, Finance, Marketing, or NGO Management). The MIB curriculum ensures that students have a foundational business education that delves into accounting, finance, strategy, marketing, statistics, and economics, and this curriculum (and the consequent “B” in the MIB degree name) is a signal to employers that, yes, this is a bona fide business degree, just as you would see in any more traditional business school.
If you are torn between the MIB and the MALD, ask yourself a few questions: How much business am I looking for in my degree? Am I looking to go into an industry that values a business degree? Do I prefer a more structured curriculum? And if you continue having a hard time grappling with these questions, please do not hesitate to call or email our office and we can talk about your career goals and the best degree for you.
And speaking of traditional business programs, this raises the second question: What about the MIB versus an MBA? The answer to this question is a bit simpler to describe. It is, quite simply, a matter of context. Where business schools almost exclusively focus on internal company matters (with some nods to market forces here and there), Fletcher is evenly weighted between the internal and the external. That is: What happens outside of company walls that makes for high risk or good opportunity? What are the market forces and cultural elements and policy factors and legal frameworks that affect a business? It’s this deep attention to context — what we call contextual intelligence — that distinguishes the MIB.
Here’s a little update for readers planning to apply to Fletcher for 2014 enrollment.
First, you’ll want to note that the online application will be unavailable for most of August. To be honest, this is a good thing. There’s no benefit to starting now to fill in the blanks — wait until the new application is in place.
On the other hand, eager applicants might want to outline their answers to the essay questions. As I mentioned earlier in the summer, we have (for the first time in many years) tweaked the questions. We took one option from essay two and inserted it in essay one, leaving only one option for essay two. In other words, here are the questions you’ll be asked to answer on this year’s application:
Essay One: Personal Statement
Please tell us your goals for graduate study at Fletcher and for your career. Describe the elements of your personal, professional, and/or academic background that have prepared you for your chosen career path. Why is The Fletcher School the right place to pursue your academic objectives and to prepare you to meet your professional goals? Why have you selected the degree program to which you are applying? (600-800 words)
Share something about yourself to help the Committee on Admissions develop a more complete picture of who you are. (500 words, maximum)
I’m happy to provide essay-writing tips. Tell me (in a comment below) what you’d like to know!
Among the many Fletcher activities and programs that I don’t write enough about is GMAP. The Global Master of Arts Program has been around for more than a decade and now has a strong alumni community of its own. Because relatively few applicants are interested in both GMAP and Fletcher’s other master’s programs, I confess that I don’t always have the program in mind. This week, though, there are GMAPers around and about — the only students in the building — so it’s a good moment to shine a little light their way.
GMAP is designed for mid- to senior-level professionals who aren’t able to take a year away from their positions to pursue graduate studies. The program draws students together for three two-week residencies in a 12-month period, and continues their learning between residencies through on-line mediated instruction. In some ways (language proficiency exam, capstone project), GMAP resembles Fletcher’s other master’s programs. But the content is structured in a unique way and GMAP students all pursue the same core of eight courses.
At any moment in time, there are two distinct groups of GMAP students, one that started studies in March, and one that started in July. This week and next, members of the July 2012-2013 class (who started their studies in July 2012) are completing their degrees, and their graduation ceremony will take place on July 20. On Monday, July 29, the new July class (for 2013-2014) will be here for two weeks to kick off their studies. And in August, the GMAP staff and students will be in Berlin for the second residency (which always takes place away from Fletcher) of the March 2013-2014 class.
Tagged with: GMAP
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