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As I mentioned last week, nearly all applications have been read twice now, which means they’re hurtling down the track toward final decision-making and processing.  For now, I’ll need to stay annoyingly cagey on when decisions will be released, but we know it will be around the middle of March.  We’re not quite close enough to give a specific date, and we have also been plagued with technical problems through much of this year so we want to leave ourselves some wriggle room.  (Happily, most of the technical troubles have resolved in the last few months, and we’re optimistic that all will go smoothly.)

An applicant asked me recently about the reading process.  I think that each of our Committee readers has a slightly different approach toward an application file, but that ultimately most of us read from front to back.  We arrange each application in a standard way (application form, résumé, transcripts, test scores, essays, recommendations, correspondence, interview report), and it’s just easiest to go through the pages one-by-one.  That said, there’s a lot of flipping back and forth.

What have we been looking for?  The bottom line is always that applicants need to be able to succeed in the classroom.  In some cases, there’s perfect confluence between undergraduate transcripts, test scores, and recommendations.  In other cases, a student may have slipped up a bit as an undergrad, and we’ll rely a little more heavily on the test scores and recommendations.  Or an applicant may be a poor test taker, and we may set aside the test scores, in favor of the transcript.  In any event, we’re looking hard at all the data.

Beyond that, we want to admit students for whom Fletcher is a good match and who, with the benefit of their Fletcher education, are likely to achieve their goals.  For this information, we’re looking at the essays, recommendations, past professional experience, and even the academic record.  (Some applicants travel a linear road from undergraduate studies, through professional experience, to Fletcher and beyond.)  Of course, we also look to bring into our community people who will add to the richness of the student and alumni groups.

None of this information is new, of course, and I’ve written about it before.  What’s new, instead, are the blog’s readers (applicants).  If there’s a message that I’d want you to take away from this post, it’s simply that we look carefully through all the materials in an application.  For some of us (who are bad with names), your identity will be more tied to your experience than what others generally call you.   (As in “remember that guy who went to Tufts undergrad and then did Peace Corps in Ecuador?”)

I know that the decision process remains a mystery to most applicants, so I hope this post at least reassures you that every application is reviewed thoroughly and carefully.


The weeks are speeding by for the Admissions staff, but today I’m going to slow things down to give readers an update on what we’ve been up to.

Like most of the rest of the east coast of the U.S., whatever we’ve been doing, both on the weekend and on weekdays, has been interspersed with snow shoveling.  In an unusual reversal, there are areas well south of here that have received more snow than the Boston area (where, though we love to complain about the weather, the fact is that we are having an average snowy winter with an unpleasant snow-laden couple of weeks recently).  But I digress…

So, admissions.  What’s happening with the process for Fall 2014 applicants?  Well, nearly all applications have been read, and most of them have been read at least twice (generally by a student, followed by a staff member, and then sometimes by a professor).  With everything else going on, I’ve missed my chance to cajole one of my Admissions friends into writing about a day of reading applications at home.  Fortunately, Liz anticipated that I would ask and took some pix of her preferred reading set-up, which seems to involve creating a lovely environment:

Liz flowers 2

keeping herself hydrated

Liz drinks

and arranging the applications in some secret order to break up the reading.  (We all have our own special way of approaching a stack of files.)

Liz files 2

As I said, most of the reading is complete, but the deciding is still in progress.  All the admissions committees for the various programs have sessions coming up, and it will still be several weeks before decisions have been made on all applications, and then another few weeks before decisions are announced.  (Not to mention that the MIB and LLM programs will receive a small batch of additional applications by the March 1 deadline.)  That said, everything is moving along.

A side note, related to Liz’s pile of files.  It’s our plan (ardent wish) that this will be the final year when we’ll be working with paper applications.  The contract has been signed to develop a new application and review system.  Not having to lug home applications will make a big difference to us readers.  (“Thank you,” say my shoulders.)  Equally important, we think that we’re going to be able to structure the application to be friendlier to our applicants.  More on all of that later in the spring, when we have firmer details.

From here, we’ll finish off all of the reading and deciding (on both admission and scholarships) and start the data input process that ultimately results in applicants learning their decision.  Frankly, for those of you sitting at the edge of your seat waiting to hear from schools, there’s still a long slog in front of us.  But at least I can assure you that, almost surely, someone has “met you” by reading your application, and the end of your waiting will be coming soon.


HollyMother Nature is up to her wintry wiles again, and the University will be closed today.  It’s a heavy snow that is weighing down the little holly bush near my house, and telling me that it’s already time to shovel the paths.

I’m sure that Fletcher students will find a way to enjoy their snowy day, and we’ll all be back tomorrow.  Stay warm, East Coasters!


Having a chance to meet some admitted students was a nice treat yesterday.  It’s fun to reconstitute the paper applicants back into real people.

And speaking of application reading/reviewing, our work continues.  Monday to Thursday, there’s generally a staff member at home, tackling a mountain of applications.  Since we had visitors yesterday, today both Liz and Laurie are reading at home.  On Thursday, both Dan and I will be grabbing files.  We also manage to squeeze in a little in-office reading, though some of us (Dan) are better at that than others (me — perpetually prone to distractions).

So, with everything moving along, I thought I’d share two quick notes today.

The first is that there’s a LinkedIn page for Fletcher that provides some information on careers of our alumni.  Of course, it only reflects the careers of alumni who have linked to it, but it’s still loaded with interesting info.

The second note is that a current student let me know about a blog she has been compiling on India’s upcoming election, which will run from April to May.  Shruti is a second-year MALD student who told me the blog analyzes election data, and she has been using the GIS skills she learned at Fletcher to aid in her analysis.  Read Shruti’s thoughts during the lead-up to the vote on her Indian Election Blog.


We’re holding our Visit Day today for admitted Early Notification applicants.  It’s like a mini Open House: many of the same activities we’ll offer to admitted applicants in April, but with much less competition for attention.  With fewer than 20 visitors, we have a nice opportunity both to meet some of the people we’ve been reading about and also to ensure they have all the information they need.

Between the visitors and everything else going on, it’s a busy day and I’ll make this a short post.  For those who may be looking for a little more content, you can check out Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks at the Munich Security Conference, in which he makes reference to Fletcher.  Secretary Kerry knows Fletcher well, having given the commencement speech in 2011, back when he was the long-serving senator from Massachusetts.  (If you prefer, you can also read the transcript of his remarks.)


Our Admissions Committee meeting will start in 45 minutes, but I’m going to try to sneak in a blog post before I head over to the meeting room.  I wanted to update you on news from some of our blog friends.

First, our student bloggers.  They’re back on campus and I’ve been giving them a little time to settle into classes before I start cajoling them for posts.  Meanwhile, if you weren’t in Guatemala City to hear it yourself, you might like to check out Roxanne’s latest TEDx talk.

Also making news — our friend Manjula.  Trying to follow his comings and goings via Facebook, I see that he has spent an extended time in Sri Lanka generating support for Educate Lanka.  At least one of the goals of his trip was to organize a charity “Walk for a Cause,” which took place last weekend.  Along the way, he was interviewed in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times, and also by Young Asia Television.  (No translation available, but you’ll get the idea.)

Finally, and closer to where I’m sitting right now, our own Christine has made Fletcher news, in that she has been promoted to Admissions Coordinator.  At the moment, she is wearing two different hats (her old one and her new one — both stylish, of course), but that leaves little time for writing Consult Christine posts.  Once she settles into only one job at a time, she can start up writing again.

So that’s the round-up!  And I’m off to the Admissions Committee meeting.

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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.


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