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As important as it is to have some tips on what to do as a Fletcher student, it can be equally helpful to know what not to do. Today, the Graduate Assistants provide their tips along those lines.
Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do before starting their Fletcher studies?
David: Do not feel that you need to have all the details about graduate school and the future figured out before you arrive for Orientation. You will find that Fletcher is not only a great place to further develop your current interests, but also to discover new ones.
Dristy: It is exciting to think about classes and all the interesting things you are going to learn at Fletcher, but I would suggest incoming students not worry about having to figure out classes for the fall semester or how you would fulfill the breadth and depth requirements. Shopping Day, when many professors give brief introductions to the courses they will offer that semester, is incredibly helpful for learning more about the course and the professor, and also helps a lot in making decisions about what classes to take.
Moni: It is tempting to get a head start on readings for classes you plan to take. However, use this time wisely and refine other skills that will serve you well during your time at Fletcher. Spend time with family and friends — don’t go crazy trying to beat the curve.
Ashley: Don’t forget to take a little time off, if you can. Though that month-long backpacking trip around Asia won’t be a possibility for everyone, taking even a week (or at least a long weekend) before settling in at Fletcher is a pretty vital opportunity to recharge the batteries and clear your mind for the rewarding and exciting – but often exhausting and stressful – adventure that is grad school.
Auyon: Don’t narrow down your options in terms of courses and fields of studies before starting at Fletcher and before talking to professors, your advisors, and other students (especially second years).
Q: What is something that you worried about that you found you didn’t need to worry about?
Moni: Completing all the readings, for all my classes, all the time. It is very hard to do so and you exclude other options of analyzing the readings more in depth and grasping ideas by other means. Life at Fletcher is great, but very busy. So if you cannot cover all the readings, organize study groups with students in class and split up the readings. This is a way to provide summary reports of all the readings and then discuss in the group setting, before class, some of the main points and theories covered. You may also find it incredibly helpful as it helps shape the discussion once you are in class. Adapt and overcome!
Ashley: Don’t worry too much about making ALL of your BEST friends in the first week, or even in the first few months. Just like any new relationship, it will happen, but it will happen organically. You’ll have plenty of people to hang out with until it really clicks — this is the Fletcher Community after all — and some of those folks will end up being your best buds here at Fletcher and beyond. But don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed with expectations.
Auyon: I worried about the challenge of grad school studies more than I needed to. If you are on top of things — you do the readings and assignments, prepare for and contribute to group meetings/projects, talk to the professors and TAs, actively seek help when you need if from classmates and others, and are organized about your schedule and time (highly recommend using google calendar) — you will be fine!
David: I thought that I needed to have my life figured out by the time I arrived at Fletcher. I realized that I was one of many who had an idea of what I wanted to do, but definitely did not have every step of the way planned out. During my time here at Fletcher, I found that my interests also grew and transformed, and so did my plan for post-Fletcher.
Dristy: I was worried about going back to student life after working as a professional for almost four years, but I realized that it is a fairly common concern that most of us have. Although the first few weeks required some discipline, soon enough, I easily adapted to the student mode and started enjoying doing the long list of required readings and writing papers for class. It may take time to adjust at the beginning, but the pace of coursework picks up very fast, and we adapt pretty quickly. So, definitely no need to worry about that!
Continuing with the advice for incoming students provided by the Admissions Graduate Assistants, today we focus on preparing for the academic program.
Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?
Auyon: For students entering the MIB program, I suggest that you brush up on economics (a selection of suggested topics are usually sent to incoming students by the Registrar’s Office), complete the MBA math course to brush up on finance, accounting and stats, and try to be up-to-date on current affairs.
David: The summer before Fletcher is a great opportunity to “recharge the batteries” and get ready for graduate school. Once Orientation starts, your schedule will start getting jam-packed so it’s important to use the summer to take time to both reflect on your goals for graduate school, familiarize yourself with some of the courses that might interest you, and brush up on some of those quant and language skills. If you have taken any economics courses, I would be sure to review the most important economic concepts that you would cover in an introductory economics course. Same is to be said with statistics. I personally went through some of my notes from college and watched a few economic tutorials online from Khan Academy. Above all, relax and get excited about Fletcher!
Dristy: Rest, relax, and spend time with friends and family!
I would also encourage incoming students to brush up on their foreign language skills so that they don’t have to carve out time during the semester to prepare for the foreign language exam. Also, for those who intend on taking the economics and quantitative equivalency tests, I would encourage them to review that material as well. Since the equivalency exams take place during Orientation week, they may not have time to brush up on these before the exam.
And, I would encourage international students, especially those who have not lived in the U.S. before, to reach out to current international students to get useful insights and tips on how to navigate through some of the basics in the U.S., for example, where to buy bedding, personal care supplies, their costs, phone plans, etc.
Moni: The most valuable element you have before starting at The Fletcher School is time. Make the best of it by practicing your language, quantitative, and networking skills. Being part of the admitted students Facebook page makes it easier to reach out to incoming students who may reside close by and/or share similar interests! Most importantly, it is also a good resource to find housing. This period is also an opportunity to read what you like. While at Fletcher, you have a heavy reading load on fascinating topics that relate to your classes, but that leaves little time for unrelated readings. In this case, I recommend picking up a book by your favorite author, going out to a café or park, and getting swept away by a story of your choosing. You never know! Perhaps an incoming Fletcher student can recommend some good reads!
Ashley: I found it very helpful to familiarize myself with the various courses available and the requirements of my degree. There is a certain amount of self-advisement here when it comes to planning your academic path, and it helps to know the basics so that you can ask the more detailed questions when you need to. It was also a great way to think even further about where I wanted to go with my degree, so that when new opportunities and ideas presented themselves – as they will! – I had a good sense of not only whether it was worth considering, but also what other changes to my roadmap I might need or want to consider as well.
Tagged with: GA Advice
Before they left for their post-Fletcher lives (Moni and David) or their summer internships (Asley, Auyon, Dristy), I asked our Graduate Assistants (GAs), the student members of the Admissions Office staff, to share their wisdom with incoming students. I’ll be sharing their answers all through this week, in Q & A format.
Q: What should new students be sure to do while they’re here?
Ashley: Take one or ten of your new friends and go explore the area! Try to get into Boston from time to time and take advantage of both the city and the greater New England area for some quality bonding time off-campus and outside of Medford/Somerville. For instance, I went with a few friends on a bike ride down the Minute Man trail in the fall, and it was so nice to get away for the day and get to know a few folks better outside of the classes, group projects, and speaker series.
David: Hit the ground running! There are so many ways to get involved once you arrive at Fletcher. Take advantage of those opportunities to get involved in the Fletcher community and to take on a leadership role. Become a club president or take charge of organizing a panel for a conference. The two years at Fletcher will go by super fast, so make the most of your time here! Also, academics are important, but the relationships you develop with your peers are equally important, as you’ll find that it is your classmates who you will turn to for guidance and support during the next two years and after Fletcher.
Dristy: Try to meet as many incoming students as possible. Once classes start, you will notice that we will each have our own “dance routines” and there are always so many interesting talks, discussions and events to attend at Fletcher. So I encourage new students to use the orientation week to meet each other and the second years who are around. Definitely take advantage of Shopping Day to choose your courses.
Moni: Get involved as much as possible. There are so many great opportunities on campus to organize events, conferences and gatherings on topics of interest to you or causes you believe in. Join a student club, or lead the club, and partake in gatherings inside and outside of the Fletcher community, such as social mixers, cross-school conferences and treks (educational trips). As a Fletcher student, you are also able to cross-register at other schools in the area — take advantage of this unique option and experience all the schools’ varied cultures! You are only as limited as you allow yourself to be, so get out there!
You may already have corresponded with Lucas, or maybe you will in January. He’s our new(ish) Admissions Counselor, a position that starts, but hardly ends, with managing our online application platform. Today, he introduces himself. If you do end up speaking or corresponding with him, be sure to ask about his golf game.
“Who is this guy?” you might be thinking to yourself. Well, it has been almost three months since I first joined the Fletcher admissions team, and I figured that it’s about time I said “Hello” to all our dedicated blog readers and introduced myself. I’m Lucas Harty – born and bred in Buffalo, NY and, while I will always call Western New York home, Boston truly has a special place in my heart. I did my bachelor’s degree in economics at Boston College where I was lucky enough to spend time studying in Paris, Berlin, and Mexico City. My time spent abroad and my courses in economics helped to stoke a real curiosity in the systems that different countries use to educate their citizens, the role that education plays in providing social mobility, and the challenges to increasing access to education across the globe. I followed this interest to the University of Pennsylvania where I recently graduated with my master’s in education, and I’m excited to be part of the Office of Admissions at an institution with such a global and distinct community.
So what else do you need to know about me? Some of my favorite pastimes include hiking and kayaking, or skiing in the winter. I’m an aspiring golfer (though my short game is atrocious) and I’ll take any opportunity I can to stop in a bookstore and add another book to my endlessly growing “To Read” list. Here at Fletcher you can find me in my corner of the Office of Admissions – I’ve only been here a few months but I’m quickly learning why Fletcher is such a special place. Don’t hesitate to stop by to chat or just say “Hi!”
The pre-session students are here, but they’re too busy and/or new to be making news, which leaves me grasping for a topic for today’s post. I’ve reached into my magic bag of possible blog topics and pulled out a few notes on staff and faculty.
First, from one of the monthly updates we receive, news of a staff member who is also a Fletcher graduate:
Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director of educational programs at the Fletcher School’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, was senior faculty at an intensive week-long executive education program, the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability. The course, held every June in the Netherlands in partnership with the Sustainability Challenge Foundation, is designed for mid-career professionals mostly from developing countries. The training focuses on the mutual gains approach to negotiation and consensus building for sustainable development conflicts. The goal of the trainings is for professionals from many different sectors to be better able to achieve sustainable development goals through effective stakeholder engagement and negotiation.
Mieke conducts several training sessions each year, and was in South Africa earlier in the spring for a similar program. The Center for International Environment and Resource Policy has a particularly active research and practice agenda.
Next, a Tufts Now story about the (relatively) new director of the The Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Dr. Nadim Shehadi. In the article, he notes that The Fares Center is important “because profound misunderstanding of the complexities of the Middle East is prolonging suffering and violence. The center could help frame discussion about the region, taking advantage of the Fletcher School’s international reputation and its alumni, who are influential in every corner of the globe.”
In faculty news, last spring, a student pointed out that Professor Elizabeth Prodromou, F83, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (Helsinki Commission), “speaking on genocide denial, ‘memoricide’ and the industry of denialism. The Congressman who spoke after her mentioned that he’s never heard the subject explained so well.”
And, finally, Professor Jeswald Salacuse sent us a link to a long video interview with a Hawaii television program that he did on his most recent book, Negotiating Life. The interview is interesting, and Fletcher is one of the stars. It originally ran some time back, but I’m making up for having never included it on the blog.
Many Fletcher students arrive with families in tow, and Kristen provides the perfect summer (or fall) suggestion for them.
My summer might be slightly less adventurous than some of my colleagues, but with good reason: I have two young children, so every day is its own special kind of adventure. However, we still manage to have a lot of fun as Boston is a wonderful city for families. Some of our top choices:
We’ll hit our favorite spray parks (parks with sprinklers) frequently — Artesani and Beaver Brook. A new one on our must-go list is Palmer State Park, which has both great hiking and sprinklers for the kids.
There are quite a few public (free!) pools around, but one of my favorites for easy accessibility (right on the red line of the T) is the McCrehan Memorial Pool in Cambridge. Also near to campus is Dilboy pool, which offers season passes.
We also like going to nearby beaches. Sandy Beach (also called Shannon Beach is close and easy for a quick drive. For a longer day, Wingaersheek Beach is perfect for kiddos, as the water is calm and shallow. Followed up by a visit to a local clam shack, this is the perfect New England day.
Next, Christine describes a great place that should be on everyone’s weekend list for September/October.
Summer in Boston is my favorite time of year. Yes, all the seasons are lovely (even winter has its charms), but summer in the city really reminds me why I have made this place my home. I have a long list of favorite activities, but one that is high on my list is the South End Open Market @SOWA. SOWA Market is the trifecta of summer fun with an arts market, farmer’s market, and food truck area all rolled into one convenient location. The best part may be that the market is open until October, so you can stretch out the summer fun into the school year! (For your local knowledge, SOWA refers to South of Washington Street.)
In the arts market you can find all sorts of handmade treasures by local artists. I am particularly fond of the artists who make greeting cards and other paper products. The farmer’s market is home to local produce, fresh pasta, meat and eggs, and plenty of other confections. I am always finding something new to indulge in! Make sure you bring some cash and re-useable bags. While even the smallest farm stands seem to take credit cards now, it is always good to have some cash on hand.
The food truck section alone is worth the trip. My favorites include: The Dining Car, The Bacon Truck, and Tenoch (which also has a brick and mortar location right by Fletcher and another one on the way!). The trucks are set up so you can wander through and eat as much or as little as you like.
Hope you find some time to spend at SOWA! You can always stop by the office to share any new treats you get!
Those are the summer suggestions from my Admissions pals. Because there’s still plenty of time for me to offer my own picks this summer, I won’t provide a specific suggestion today. But what I’d like to point out is that Boston, and even the “greater Boston area” is a wonderfully manageable size. Within an hour are coastal locations as diverse as Hampton Beach (Dan’s pick) and Wingaersheek Beach (Kristen’s rather calmer suggestion). There’s theater in the round (Laurie’s North Shore Music Theatre) and theater outdoors (Liz’s Shakespeare on the Common). Even students who regularly get out into the community will barely scratch the surface of all there is to do here.
Continuing the theme from yesterday’s post, the Admissions team shares its favorite summer locations.
First up today is Dan, who rarely demonstrates such an alarming familiarity with reality TV, as he describes his favorite local beach location. Because who doesn’t want to get to the beach in the summer?!
Something I’ve learned from being married to a New Jersey native is that you can get the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t get the Jersey out of the girl (believe me, I’ve tried). As such, our household gets an occasional hankering for some boardwalk time. While it’s technically possible to GTL and reach the Jersey Shore from Massachusetts in a weekend, it’s a long trip that would leave barely enough time for a fist pump or two, arrest, booking, arraignment, bail, and release while still making it back by Sunday evening.
Fortunately there’s a closer, and weirder, New England alternative. Only an hour from Tufts, New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach, is “the busiest beach community in the state” according to Wikipedia. That may be a dubious honor given the extent of the limited New Hampshire coastline, but not for nothin’, as its Jersey compatriots would say.
Hampton’s stretch of boardwalk isn’t huge; maybe two or three blocks. What it lacks in size, though, it makes up for in age. It only takes a few minutes’ stroll to feel like you’re more likely to bump into Nucky Thompson than The Situation. While you won’t find roller coasters or amusement piers here, you will find an assortment of creaky wood-floored arcades featuring some of the 80s’ most popular video games, shooting galleries that look like they employ live rounds, and basketball shot contests that use actual peach baskets (okay, I made that last one up). The overarching aesthetic is amusement park hand-me-down chic.
Lest this seem like a backhanded burn of our northern neighbors, I’ll emphasize that Hampton Beach is, in my view, about as pleasant as a boardwalk can get. It’s close, small, and manageable, has some historical flavor and, best of all, it generally lacks the aggressive crassness of most other boardwalks. Doable in even a half day, it’s also loaded with great seafood joints, probably worth the trip by themselves.
After the beach, what could be better than the ice cream options that Theresa describes?
Lazy summer days lounging out back on the deck always bring back floods of childhood memories involving evening ice cream. This was especially true the other evening, when somewhere off in the near distance, I could hear calliope music from an ice cream truck drifting through air as the truck made its way toward our street. Back in the day, on any given summer evening, nearly all the kids in the neighborhood flocked to that white, stickered ice cream truck like little moths to a square flame — waiting for our turn to pick out our favorite ice cream treat. I always liked the lemon Italian ice. It was cool and refreshing and took my mind off the mosquitoes biting my legs. Just as most of us had reached the bottom of our cones or cups of ice cream, our mothers would urge us back inside and away from the mosquitoes.
So many wonderful summers have come and gone since then. Fast forward 25 years and oddly, things are only slightly different. The calliope music still plays as kids flock to the ice cream truck. They smile and laugh while waiting for their turn to pick out their favorite ice cream treat, and not long after that, the other Moms and I, who have been chatting, start urging our kids back inside.
Ice cream trucks can be hard to find, but ice cream is always a local favorite. If there’s no truck near you, try J.P. Licks, right near campus in Davis Square, or head further down to block to iYO Café. From a truck or a storefront, you can’t go wrong with ice cream in the summer.
Summer is when I like to ask my Admissions pals to share a little about themselves on the blog. Naturally, when we’re writing in the summer, we lean toward writing about the summer. My assignment for the team, then, was to describe a favorite summer activity — one that incoming students might pursue next summer, or even in the spring and fall.
First up, Liz, who has written about what is likely to be my own activity this evening.
One of my favorite things to do each summer is attend one of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s free performances of Shakespeare on the Common. Shakespeare on the Common, taking place in the historic park at the heart of the city, has been a Boston summer tradition since 1996, and has featured many different plays. It’s a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy some culture with friends. You can simply pull up a blanket or beach chair, bring your own picnic, and enjoy a fantastic evening of theater! Moreover, I really like the mission of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, which is “dedicated to performing the works of William Shakespeare in vital and contemporary productions that are presented free of charge to Boston’s diverse communities, and to educating Boston’s youth not only about Shakespeare but also about their own potential for creativity.” If you have the opportunity, definitely check it out! This summer’s production is King Lear, which will run from July 22-August 9.
Next, Laurie suggests another option for area theater lovers.
If you love musical theater, here is something to consider in the Boston area. My family has had season tickets to the North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) for many, many years. There are small regional theaters of very high quality all over New England and the North Shore Music Theatre is one of the best! NSMT is located in Beverly, Massachusetts — 23 miles north of Tufts and approximately a 30-40 minute drive. It has been around since 1955 and has a great reputation. Plus, ticket prices are reasonable (and parking is free!). Renovated in 2005, the theater is round with a center stage and has 1500 seats — there’s not a bad seat in the house! In addition, the actors make use of the entire space so you really feel part of the show. The 2015 season started off with Dream Girls — always a crowd pleaser! The rest of the 2015-16 season includes Saturday Night Fever the Musical, Billy Elliot, and Sister Act. Each summer NSMT produces a great family show as well. This year it was Shrek the Musical. I took my four-year-old nephew, who was able to sit still through the entire show! The NSMT season always ends with an amazing production of A Christmas Carol, a great show that coincides with the end of Fletcher’s fall semester. Check it out!
Yesterday afternoon, students, professors, and staff members joined in a celebration of the decades-long Fletcher career of our registrar, Nora Moser McMillan. Nora worked first as assistant registrar and then registrar, with a break between the two to teach English in Japan through the JET program. As all the speakers at the celebration attested, she has made a profound mark on the school’s programs and the paths of our students. Lucky for us, she’s really not leaving Fletcher just yet. She’ll continue in a part-time capacity for a while, smoothing the transition to her successor. Meanwhile, she will also have extra time to enjoy the summer with her adorable son, who joined us for the celebration yesterday.
And today I’d like to introduce our new registrar (technically: registrar and manager of student academic programs), who is well known to us — Mary Dulatre, a 2012 Fletcher graduate. While she was a MALD student, Mary worked as the student assistant in the Registrar’s Office, so her new post is a type of homecoming. But for the past three years, she hasn’t been far away, working a few floors above us as assistant director of student affairs. A happy example of a graduate who found her passion at Fletcher — even if it was a different passion than the one she expected to find.
Before Fletcher, Mary was a Fulbright scholar in the Philippines, a client case worker for AmeriCorps in San Diego, a community development specialist with the Peace Corps in Honduras, and a community outreach specialist for the American Red Cross in San Diego. We’re looking forward to working with her in her new position, right across the hall from Admissions.
First, a note. I’ve received emails from quite a few people in the last two weeks wondering when they’ll hear from us with the decision on their applications. The answer is: not for a while! We’re still mid-process — seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, for sure, but far from done. Hang tight!
Liz and I are both at home reading today. More accurately, Liz is reading, and I’m reading when I’m not writing a blog post. Dan and I have already told you about our reading days. Today the rest of the staff chimes in, survey style. (Thank you to Kristen for providing the survey questions!)
Do you listen to music while reading?
Christine: Yes, something that is not distracting, though. Taylor Swift’s “1989” has been great background noise! I’m also a fan of the iPod Genius mixes for anything moody and 90s (Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, etc.).
Kristen: On and off. I find that some well-timed lively Latin American pop can help get me through a long afternoon.
Laurie: I find music very distracting when I am reading applications (or reading anything for that matter). However, I do like the steady hum of my space heater. The extra heat is a real plus as well.
Liz: I actually don’t. I like silence, though sometimes a little background noise is nice. More recently I’ve been reading during “snow days,” when Tufts has closed due to inclement weather, which normally is a rare occasion. Given the weather, lately I’ve had the news on in the background while reading to keep up with the storm! But usually, I don’t have any music, etc.
Favorite beverage to accompany your reading?
Kristen: Coffee, followed by some more coffee and perhaps a cup of coffee after that.
Laurie: I alternate between hot and cold beverages all day long. Coffee in the morning (of course), cold water throughout the day, and then tea in the afternoon.
Liz: This depends a bit on the time of day! I’m a big fan of hydration, so I tend to have a large water bottle that I refill throughout the day. In the morning I also will have a nice hot cup of coffee, and in the afternoon, I sometimes will make a fruit smoothie. It breaks up the day and is a nice treat to look forward to!
Christine: Water, always water. Sometimes a nice hot tea when the mood strikes.
Pet peeve while reading applications?
Laurie: My biggest pet peeve is when I misspell or mistype words when I am writing my notes. Our new system does not have an auto correct and I always need to go back and edit my work.
Liz: My biggest pet peeve when reading is when an applicant doesn’t follow directions or pay attention to details within the essays. We’ve seen it all as readers — including applicants whose essays are written for other schools. A word to the wise: stick to the word limit, answer the questions we have asked and read through your essays to ensure you’ve uploaded the essay for the right school! Attention to detail is important, and is something we keep our eye on.
Christine: Applicants not filling out their academic information completely.
Kristen: A cold room and a shoddy application.
What incentive do you give yourself to help make it through a pile of applications?
Liz: For me, my incentive is always food! I won’t let myself eat breakfast until I’ve read at least a few files on a long read day. The same thing is true for eating lunch or a snack. I always make a “hot” lunch on read days as well, since I don’t normally do that during the week. I usually will give myself a goal and when I meet that goal, my reward is a tasty treat.
Christine: If I get through five applications, I can take a stretch break. If I get through 10, I can have a snack break!
Kristen: Coffee. Is the coffee thing coming through?
Laurie: Reading days are all about incentives! Throughout the day I set reading goals to meet before getting a drink, eating lunch, moving to a new reading location, taking a shower, etc.
Your reading “mascot”?
Christine: Not really a mascot, but reading means I can cuddle up in my favorite blanket on the couch, and have the fire on when it is chilly. It is especially idyllic when the snow is falling, which has happened a lot this reading season!
Kristen: I’ve got two little kiddos, so seeing them (or even a picture of them) livens up the day.
Laurie: I do not have any mascots, but I do need my reading space organized to maximize comfort and efficiency before I can start. I need pillows, a blanket, a place for my water, a stool for my feet and a surface for my mouse. I rarely read at a desk or on a table because it is uncomfortable and slows me down.
Liz: I unfortunately don’t have a reading mascot; I do however have a favorite chair I sit in with my lap top. The key to a great reading day is yummy food, a good lap desk, a warm blanket and cozy socks. Reading days are one of my favorite things about my job! We get to learn all about amazing applicants and help build, what we hope will be, a truly remarkable Fletcher class!
Since none of us have mascots that can top Murray for cuteness, here he is again:
Tagged with: Murray
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