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I love going to the movies, and my husband, Paul, and I had a two-movie weekend, with our selections representing the yin and the yang of current offerings.  On Saturday, we went to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (for which I settled into my theater seat, knowing I would need a post-film debrief to understand the plot), and on Sunday, we saw The Muppets (no debrief needed).  Suffice it to say, more Muppets than spies were happy at the conclusion of their respective films.

Back at work today, I find the Office of Admissions is also experiencing both yin and yang.  On the one hand, we’re moving into the frenzied pace that marks the heart of the admissions cycle.  There’s the application processing, which is building toward its annual crescendo.  With the new Map Your Future program, we’re also midway through an admissions mini-cycle, figuring out where to fit a January reading and discussion process, having promised MYF applicants a February 1 decision.

On the other hand are the tasks and projects that we expect to complete during the two months following Early Notification and leading to the January 15 deadline.  Our next opportunity to work at a reasonable pace doesn’t come until May, and most projects will be set aside for a while.  Next week we’ll all join in to process applications, with deadline-orientated activities dominating the rest of the winter and early spring.

Having said all of that, the concept of yin and yang calls for a balance between the two, and I appreciate the yin-yang balance of Admissions work.  I value the opportunity to pause, think, and complete long-term projects, but I also look forward to the four fast-action months when we’re getting to know new people through their applications, and to building the class we’ll meet in the fall.

 

I did not do a good job of lining up tales from the road this year.  I usually ask my Admissions peeps to write a little about what they’ve been up to, but the opportunity slipped by me.  Until, that is, Kristen’s final trip, which started well after everyone else’s had ended.  Lucky for me, she agreed to write this blog post:

Last week I returned from what was officially the last recruiting trip of our admissions “travel season.”  Talk to any admissions professional, and you’ll quickly find out that we have a love/hate relationship with the fall.  Most of us love being out on the road and meeting new applicants, but the pace can be frenetic and hard to manage with everyday work.  My own travel schedule was very manageable this year, but the last trip — to India — represented a significant undertaking.

I was really excited to travel to India.  I had been once before, in 2000 for the wedding of a friend.  Each time I mentioned this to anyone familiar with India, the refrain was always the same: “Wait until you see how it has changed!” I didn’t quite know what to expect, and I can’t say that I saw many changes, but I certainly experienced them.  Most notably, improvements to traveler infrastructure were apparent, and the whole trip was incredibly smooth and quite easy.  This growth in infrastructure represents why we choose to go to a country like India:  as the market develops, so does the number of qualified professionals seeking graduate degrees.  In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of applications and enrolling students from India, so we felt it was time for a visit.  (A small footnote to say that that’s not the only basis for our travel — we also go to places from which we would like to see more applicants.)

A highlight of any Fletcher trip is the ability to interact with our alumni.  I was able to meet with some really inspiring Fletcherites, including one recent grad who is working at an innovative organization that uses rigorous and scientific impact evaluations to combat poverty; a current PhD student who is studying with a Boren Fellowship, and another who does very interesting work at the nexus of business and economic development.

Of course, these trips have their personal highlights as well.  For me, that’s always about the food.  I have to eat, right?  I had some really spectacular meals, and I was both heartened and disappointed to find out that one of my favorites was at a small chain that has an outpost in New York!  Disappointed to know that I chose so unadventurously, but heartened to know that when the Fall 2012 recruiting season rolls around, I’ll be able to hit an old favorite in New York.  It’s the glorious cycle of admissions.…

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The blog is flooded by spam comments every day.  They’re generally caught neatly by the spam filter, but some end up in my inbox.  An amusing one today, from someone named “Rolling Duffle Bags,” read, “I love your writing style.  MARRY ME!!”  Despite Duffle’s enthusiasm, I’m leaving the writing today to our returning Admissions interns.  Remember that these are the people who may be answering your calls or emails, or in the case of Caitlin yesterday, scrambling to keep up with all the questions at our weekly online chat.

Caitlin:

Hello again! I’m happy to be in my second year in the MALD program here at Fletcher, after an exciting summer interning in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  I wrote last year that I was excited to be joining the diverse community at Fletcher, and I’m glad to report that my first year exceeded my expectations in almost every way.  I’ve met incredible people from all over the world and learned much more than I thought was possible from them.  Though it’s exciting to begin looking for jobs and thinking about my next steps, I’m already a bit sad that my time at Fletcher is halfway over!

My Fields of Study here are Human Security and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and this year I’m trying to fit in a third — International Public and NGO Management.  I was lucky to be able to combine many of these interests this summer, while working on gender policy implementation and communications for the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Tanzania.  Back at Fletcher this year, I’m looking forward to organizing events as the UN Club co-President, continuing to volunteer with the Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP), and, of course, working in the Admissions Office!  Best of luck to everyone with the application process!

Lauren:

Hi!  I’m Lauren, a second-year MALD student and intern in the Admissions Office. I’m originally from Colorado and spent a few years at the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany before coming to Fletcher.

After interning in Boston this past summer (which is beautiful that time of year!), with a non-profit focusing on engaging companies and investors on issues of sustainability and corporate citizenship, I’m getting back into the Fletcher routine:  Figuring out how to fit all those great, challenging classes into my schedule, interacting with professors and students who share their amazingly diverse experiences and knowledge, learning new skills and tools for my subsequent career, running to and from dozens of can’t-miss speakers and events on campus, catching up with friends and meeting new ones, writing my thesis on supply chain sustainability reporting and reputation management, and training for a marathon.  Whew!

With everything moving so fast, it won’t be long until I’ll be back out in the “real world.”  With my Fields of Study in International Business Relations and Communications (and maybe a third in Energy and Environmental Policy if I’m feeling ambitious next semester), I aim to work in corporate citizenship for a consumer-facing company.  Continent, country, city:  All TBD.  But no matter where I end up, I know the Fletcher community will continue to support and inspire me.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about my experiences or anything Fletcher-related, please feel free to contact me!

And, Kartik:

Hi, my name is Kartik!  I am a second-year MALD student at Fletcher and an Admissions intern, and my Fields of Study are International Resource Policy and Global Political Economy.  I’m mainly interested in the geopolitical and economic issues related to oil and gas.

I’m a member of the leadership committee of the Fletcher Energy Consortium and was involved in organizing the Tufts Energy Conference last spring, which was attended by more than 200 people and had 30 speakers on issues of interest in the energy sector, including the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  I have grown up around the world, in India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and France, and I’ve lived in the U.S. for the last decade.  Before coming to Fletcher I was working as a electricity policy consultant in Boston.  This past summer, I interned at an energy and political risk firm where I learned a lot about global gas production, delivery, and demand.

 

Today, we’ll meet Katie, the third (and last), of the new Admissions interns.  She’ll describe a little of the adventure she experienced in her pre-Fletcher months. Next week, I’ll reintroduce the interns who are continuing students.

Hey!  My name is Katie (pronounced the French way) and I am a first-year MALD student.  I am at Fletcher because I’m very curious about the fields of Human Security and NGO & Public Management.  I am Lebanese Egyptian, born and raised in Cairo.  Before coming to Fletcher, I had an eventful few months.  Here’s what happened:

January 2011:  I am working full time as a legal officer, focusing on resettlement cases, in an NGO called Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance.  I am also studying to complete my Master of International Business Law at the Pantheon Sorbonne Institute in Cairo University.  My (super beautiful) niece is born, and I start showing photos of her to anyone who comes my way.  People are getting really worked up a couple of streets away from my office, in some Tahrir Square; they’re blocking the traffic circulation.

February 2011:  My boss invites us to all go to Tahrir, since it’s not safe to ask our clients to come in, and we can’t focus on work anyway.  Meanwhile, final exams for the first semester are postponed indefinitely.  Some days later, the only president I had ever known decides to step down, and it’s a New Year’s Eve kind of celebration in all the streets of Cairo.

March 2011:  I get admitted to Fletcher!  More celebration.

June 2011 to August 2011:  The beginning of the end of my life in Cairo, final exams and thesis writing, and then a trip to Bali for an annual meeting with an international peace-building organization I volunteer for.  Finally, at the end of August, I move into Blakeley Hall!

Despite being far from Egypt, I felt at home at Fletcher right away.   Between the exciting stories my fellow Fletcherians tell, and the numerous courses to choose from, I feel like a kid in a candy shop!

 

At the beginning of each academic year, the Admissions Office pulls together a team of interns to support our work.  These industrious students answer phones, reply to emails, give the occasional tour of the building, lead information sessions, and sub for interviewers who thoughtfully decline to share their germs with applicants.  Less interesting, but most vital (particularly in January), they open mail, date stamp, alphabetize, staple, file…file…file…file…. We couldn’t do everything without them.  So let’s have them introduce themselves.  Next time you phone the office, you’ll know a little more about the person at the other end of the line.

First, Hillary, who actually started her work here during the summer after she relocated to the area.

I started my post college career at an investment consulting firm in Cambridge, MA.  After two years of spreadsheets, I left to join the Peace Corps in Benin, where I served as a small-enterprise development volunteer.  In Benin, I worked mostly with rural women’s groups and helped to set up microfinance groups.  I arrived home in May and started working at the Fletcher Office of Admissions in July.  I am a Boston native and I am so happy to be back in the area after two years abroad.  At Fletcher, I am studying International Business Relations and Development Economics and I hope to work in emerging markets investing.

Next, Ariel:

Hi!  My name is Ariel and I’m a first-year MIB student, new to Fletcher and the Admissions Office.  Originally from North Dakota, I graduated from high school in a small suburb of Los Angeles.  I attended American University for my undergraduate studies and spent time living and studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt and Madrid, Spain before coming to Fletcher.

My prior work experience was in marketing roles at SAP, the major enterprise software company, and Lufthansa German Airlines.  As a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow, I’ll be joining the Foreign Service and working for the U.S. State Department after graduation.

At Fletcher, I’m specializing in Strategic Management & International Consultancy and International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution.  I’m excited to work in the Admissions Office this year, and I look forward to hearing from you during the application process!

More introductions to follow, later this week.

 

Now that my post yesterday (or, more significantly, Roxana’s email to everyone on our list) has generated a lot of interview traffic, today’s blog will turn to Information Sessions for prospective students. Kristen and I spent a good bit of time this past summer thinking about what we should be including in an Information Session, resulting in a significant overhaul of session content.  Here, Kristen shares her thoughts with the blog:

As I led one of the summer’s Information Sessions, I thought it would be a good idea to share a little about what an Information Session feels like from the perspective of the Office of Admissions.  Easier said than done, it turns out, as I sit here thinking about how to articulate our ambivalent relationship with these Admissions Office fixtures.

On the one hand, an Information Session is exactly as the title implies:  a set block of time when we get to dump on you, the unsuspecting visitor, hundreds of bits of information, some relevant to you, some not.  Many of the details (degree requirements, application deadlines, extracurricular offerings) are available on the web, but sometimes people just find it more digestible when offered orally.  As such, dry though it may be, we try to be as comprehensive as possible about our six degree programs, 22 fields of study, three divisions, 550 students, 175 courses … you get the picture.  It can be lengthy (and this is the part we don’t love!), but we hope to provide enough relevant information so that a German interested in the LLM, a Japanese applicant to the MA, and a Bostonian interested in the MALD all get what they came for.

To complement all of this detail, we do our best to describe the character of the School (and this is the part we love!). You learned on the website that 45% of our students are international?  Well, let us tell you how that plays out in the classroom and what it means for your learning.  We mentioned our 30+ student clubs?  We’ll also talk more about how the active extracurricular life colors students’ Fletcher experience.  We really hope to give you a sense of what makes Fletcher tick.

Being able to pack all of this — both the facts and the fun — into one hour can be a challenge. We try to ensure we’re consistent about the information we present, but much depends, of course, on the presenters. During the academic year, most of our Information Sessions are given by a small team:  a pair of current students does the bulk of the work, and an admissions team member will present about the admissions process itself.  We find that this combination works well, as we all speak to what we actually do and know best.

Now, what does all this mean for you, visitors?  First, come prepared to listen.  It might seem like we talk a lot — and we do! — but if you know what you are listening for, there’s a good chance you’ll get what you need.  Second, come with questions.  We really, really appreciate when those questions might be of interest to the group as a whole (or at least much of the group).  Questions about how scholarship aid is determined?  Perfect!  On the other hand (much as we want you to head home with the information you need), a highly individual question on your personal qualifications might be best left to a follow-up email or individual conversation with an admissions counselor.

We really appreciate the time that our visitors take to get to know the School.  We realize that, for many of you, a visit entails taking a day off from work, traveling a distance, and planning out a schedule.  We want to reward those efforts  by helping you get the information you need.  Thanks for visiting!

 

Today is, by far, this year’s busiest day for Fletcher Admissions visits.  With two staffers making multiple stops, and one (me) parked at an Idealist Fair, you can meet us at a total of seven different locations:

William Jewel College
Liberty, MO

University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS

Washburn University
Topeka, KS

University of Maine
Orono, ME

Colby College
Waterville, ME

Bowdoin College
Brunswick, ME

Boston IDEALIST Fair
Boston University

With only five locations on the schedule, tomorrow will be comparatively mellow, but extends our geographic reach:

Drake College
Des Moines, IA

Grinnell College
Grinnell, IA

Bates College
Lewiston, ME

University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH

Shanghai APSIA Fair
Fudan University

Twelve locations in only two days must be about the most we’ve ever done.  But, if none of these twelve spots is near you, check our travel calendar for information on other visits coming up in the next few months.

 

You may have seen this article in Diplomatic Courier, which features the “Top 99 Most Influential International Professionals Under 33.”   If you didn’t see the original article, you might have seen the Fletcher take on it, listing our nine alumni among the Top 99, including two in the Top 9.

I thought I’d share some of the reaction of my Admissions colleagues.  After students circulated the link to the article via the Social List, Kristen sent me a note saying how proud she was, and that “it also makes me feel like a bit of an old-timer, as I recognized our students’ names without looking them up.”  Then Laurie and I chatted about how clearly we remembered reading many (or, in Laurie’s case, all) of the applications, with Matan’s particularly standing out in my mind.  We always feel that personal connection to students, starting with their applications and continuing as they make their mark on the Fletcher community.

Frankly, it doesn’t take an Admissions genius to have seen the potential in one of these people who, so quickly, have made an impact.  Ultimately, the most gratifying aspect of the story, from the Admissions perspective, is that the nine chose Fletcher as the place where they would hone their skills and broaden their perspectives — giving Fletcher the opportunity to play a role in shaping them before they moved along to the wider world.

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When I gave my Admissions pals their assignment to write about their summers for the blog, I gave Dan a different set of instructions:  to tell us about the roots of his international interests.  The rest of us wrote on that topic two years ago, and I wanted blog readers to have the same perspective on Dan.  Here’s what he wrote:

Unlike many families in Pennsylvania Dutch country, mine could not claim many generations of roots in the region.  My Canadian mother and New Englander father — both academics — landed there for professional reasons.  I grew up a Blue Jays fan in Phillies country, couldn’t stomach Lebanon bologna, and never celebrated Fasnacht Day.  From an early age I was fairly accustomed to traveling, and to thinking of the world as a much larger place than Berks County.  That upbringing surely helped me muster the courage to work on a rural development project in Mexico one college summer (my first real independent experience abroad), a program to which I would return twice more.  I was now well on my way to becoming a typically greedy internationalist, always craving experiences in new places with new people.  I spent several years administering high school foreign exchange programs, went back overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer to Ecuador, and eventually ended up at Fletcher as a MALD student.  The Fletcher experience was both intensely challenging and rewarding, so much so that I couldn’t quite bear to give it up.  I’m thrilled to remain an active member of the community, enjoying the truly global stage on which Fletcher operates, and working to make sure it stays strong into the future.

 

Continuing yesterday’s theme of “what I did on my summer vacation,” today we hear from Jeff, Roxana, and (almost) Dan.

First, Jeff, who definitely made the most of his summer:
Despite not having any exotic vacation plans this past summer, I had a great time.  In fact, I can’t believe summer has come to an end and students are already back on campus.   My vacation consisted of relaxing on the beaches of Cape Cod, where I spent a couple of weeks with friends.  Each August, we come together from various cities to spend a week in Provincetown (the best spot on the Cape).  Provincetown is quite an eclectic place filled with great restaurants, bars, entertaining shows, and beautiful beaches.  Aside from my time there, I spent a weekend whitewater rafting in Maine, a weekend hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and quite a few weekends on Rhode Island beaches.  I guess you can say I covered most of New England this summer.

While those trips were solely for pleasure, I also visited Washington, DC three times for Fletcher recruitment events, where I met many interesting prospective students, from all over the world, who were there for internships, educational programs, or full-time employment.  These trips are always fun, as I’m able to visit old friends, and I love DC in the summer.  (I’m a big fan of hot, humid weather.)  As always, I also ran into Fletcher students (both past and present) and professors.  It’s always nice to catch up on the fly while running through the streets.  Now I’m back in the Office preparing for my travels to Asia, Europe, and the Pacific northwest of the U.S., recruiting students for next year’s class.  Perhaps I will see some of you blog readers during my travels!

Next, Roxana, whose big summer activity was the result of many months of planning:
This summer was very eventful for me as I made a significant change in my life!  Friends and family from all over joined my fiancé and me in Nahant, MA for a wonderful wedding ceremony and reception.  Many of my favorite Fletcher student friends were also in attendance.  In honor of our multicultural backgrounds, we had a “Fletcher-esque” ceremony, which included a reading by Khalil Gibran, a hand fasting ritual, and jumping the broom.  The reception lasted well into the night, with a whirlwind tour of Boston the next day for our out-of-town guests.  For our honeymoon, we wanted to go to a country neither of us had been to before, and Costa Rica was the winner.  After a week in a rainforest at the base of the active Arenal Volcano, zip-lining, waterfall rappelling, and lounging in natural hot springs, I can happily say that Costa Rica was the best place I’ve vacationed at thus far.  Even after returning with the flu and pneumonia, I can’t wait to go back.

Last, I’m going to add a few words about Dan‘s summer.  As you may know, Dan Birdsall joined the staff in July, fresh from two years as a MALD student.  Just over a month after he moved into his office, he was off for a pre-arranged break.  Like Roxana, Dan was taking time for his wedding and honeymoon.  On Monday, Dan will tell you a bit more about himself.

 

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