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Last week, Liz and three other APSIA colleagues (nicknamed the G4) climbed into a van and toured the south.  I’m a happy blogger because she wrote about it AND took a bunch of photos, which she arranged far more artfully than I ever do!  Here’s Liz’s well-documented report.

My first travel experience with Fletcher!

Though I’ve traveled a lot in my roles prior to Fletcher, I had never experienced group travel before, and had never embarked on a minivan trip with colleagues from other schools.  I’ll admit, I was a little nervous leading up to the trip, as I had only been at Fletcher a little over a month and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  That said, I was also really excited to try something new, meet new people, and see some parts of the U.S. that I had only ever flown over!   I packed up my favorite suitcase and headed to Logan Airport to start this next work adventure with an open mind and my camera at the ready.  My trip began on a Friday in Washington, D.C., where I worked an Idealist Fair, and then I headed further south on Sunday to Nashville (otherwise known as music city) to meet up with the rest of the G4.

A little background info:  “G4″ is a group of four schools consisting of SAIS (Johns Hopkins), SIPA (Columbia) and Georgetown MSFS, in addition to Fletcher.  We plan travel each year to college campuses across the country and join forces in meeting students.  We’ve been traveling like this for over 30 years and everyone looks forward to these particular recruiting trips!  The idea is that there are a lot of similarities between our schools, but we also have unique characteristics that make us each who we are.  We give school presentations and answer questions at every visit, while highlighting what makes each of the four schools similar and different.

Before starting the G4 trip, I got to spend some time in D.C. after the Idealist event.  Here are some pictures from my day off on Saturday, which was spent sightseeing and enjoying the magnificent weather!

From D.C., I flew down to Nashville on Sunday to meet up with the other schools and begin our G4 Southern Swing, which started on Monday morning.  I had never been to Nashville before so I spent Sunday afternoon exploring the downtown area and checking out the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It was neat to see all the live music venues and even cooler to hear all the different music as you walked around town.  I loved that no matter where I turned I could hear live music from every direction.

We met up Sunday night for an amazing dinner at Merchants (I highly recommend the soup/sammie combo) and then headed out first thing Monday morning for visits at Fisk University and Belmont University.  We then drove from Nashville over to Sewanee, TN to visit the University of the South.  Everyone said the drive would be stunning and it didn’t disappoint.  We drove over the Cumberland Plateau, which had incredible views of the mountains and valleys for as far as the eye could see!  If you have the opportunity, definitely take a drive from Nashville to Monteagle, TN.

The next morning we left Tennessee and made our way down to Atlanta for a few days with visits to Morehouse/Spellman, Emory, Agnes Scott, and the University of Georgia out in Athens.  It was neat for me to see all the different campuses and I was especially captivated by the size of the football stadiums (I’m from New Hampshire – we don’t have anything like that back home!).  From Atlanta we went to Gainesville, Florida to visit Florida A&M and University of Florida, and we ended our tour in Tallahassee at Florida State University.  All-in-all it was a wonderful experience; I learned lots of new things and made some great new friends!  I’m looking forward to my next G4 trip to Southern California in a few weeks!  Enjoy the pictures from the trip below.  Take note:  Fletcher is everywhere, even on the UF campus (see first pic)!

You can catch up with us at more recruiting events next week in NY, DC, Atlanta, and Chicago (sign up here) or at our next G4 trip which heads to Mexico and Texas in early November.

Until next time!

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This year’s Admissions Intern staff includes three old-timers and three newbies.  Of the three new additions to the staff, two are first-year students and one is a second year.  According to annual tradition, it’s time to introduce the people (in addition to the returning Katie, Hillary, and Ariel) who may answer the phone when you call, or your email when you write.

Hi! I am a first-year MALD student originally from the Washington, D.C. area.  I studied history and international relations at Boston University as an undergraduate, and am excited (with some trepidation given my now somewhat mythologized memories of winter) to be back in New England!  Prior to starting at Fletcher, I spent two years working on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  I plan to continue studying South and Central Asia through concentrations in International Security Studies and a possible self-designed Field of Study on political transitions.  I look forward to answering your questions throughout the admissions process!

Hi Everyone!  I am Juanita and I am a first-year MALD student.  Though I belong to a military family, I consider Tennessee to be my home.  I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an undergraduate, and worked in Washington, D.C. and Kenya prior to enrolling at Fletcher.  While at Fletcher, my Fields of Study will be International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution and International Business Relations.

Though I’ve only been on campus for a little over one month, I am excited to say that Fletcher has, by far, exceeded my expectations. One of the things I quickly realized about Fletcher is that there are so many opportunities to participate in activities, attend seminars, and join clubs.  In my dream world, I would do EVERYTHING, but sadly there are only 24 hours in the day.  On the academic side, thus far, I have been able to enroll in courses with MIB and PhD students, engage in discussions with classmates and professors who have real-world experiences in industries that interest me, as well as begin my internship in the Admissions Office.  As an Admissions intern, I look forward to helping you all in the near future!

I’m a second-year MALD student, and Fletcher has exceeded my expectations on an academic and personal level.  I have deepened my understanding of international affairs and sharpened my analytical skills with Fletcher’s interdisciplinary curriculum.  In addition, the professional experience and knowledge of Fletcher’s U.S. and international students have enriched my learning in the classroom.  Since my regional focus is the Middle East and South Asia, it is extremely useful to be able to have informative exchanges of viewpoints with international students from those areas.

Meanwhile, I have absolutely enjoyed living in the Boston region and developing an attachment to a historic and culturally rich region of our country.  From the Freedom Trail and the historic and narrow streets of Boston, to the Sam Adams brewery and the beautiful seasonal foliage, I have come to love the Northeast.  At the same time, the opportunity to learn and live with Fletcher’s international student body has expanded my knowledge of, and admiration for, the different cultures (and foods) represented here.

I am happy to be working for the Admissions Office, and it is a joy to explain to prospective students the benefits that Fletcher can offer in academics and a vibrant spirit of community.

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Bringing in new staff members is always a challenge, which makes the Fletcher Admissions old-timers even happier that our summer of hiring yielded a great trio of new colleagues!  I’ve asked our new team members to introduce themselves.  Without further ado, please meet Katherine (who started on August 15, two weeks ahead of her fellow newbies), Christine, and Liz.

As a Tufts undergraduate, I’ll admit I didn’t know much about Fletcher.  I remember walking up and down Packard Ave. several times a day, occasionally puzzling over the sign that said “Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.”  Tufts didn’t have a law school, did it?  I made it through four years without ever breaking into the Fletcher bubble, aside from attending a few sessions in ASEAN Auditorium.

I was a sociology major with a focus on social inequalities and social change, and I have a great affinity for both sociological data and education-related issues.  After graduation, I took a job in Washington, D.C. as a contractor for the National Center for Education Statistics, focusing on the state of primary education in the U.S.  Though I enjoyed the research, I deeply missed my Boston community and craved qualitative work that focused on the individual stories behind the statistics.

Enter The Fletcher School.  Though my path to Fletcher was atypical in the sense that I did not discover a profound passion for international affairs while living abroad (yet), I am thrilled to be a part of this incredible community of brilliant and inspiring people, absorbing stories about their experiences (and of course, poring over all of the sociological data that flows through the Admissions Office).  I am always happy to talk to students and visitors about Tufts and my intense love of Cambridge/Somerville, and I am excited to take on this new role as admissions season gets underway!

There is nothing quite like the smell of manufactured air, the taste of slightly questionable food, or the feeling you get as the wheels leave the runway.  Growing up in a traditional setting north of Boston, I had a less than traditional start in the world.  My mother was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines, and I spent my early years accompanying her on trips, enjoying every minute of it.  Whether they realized it or not, this is how my parents gave me the travel bug.  My appetite for new experiences both here and abroad is what drove me to take many trips across the pond and indulge in everything Europe had to offer.  Even the thrill of almost being hit by a London black cab, as I looked the wrong way to cross the street, was worth it!

At my college in upstate New York, and then moving into the world as a starry-eyed graduate, I knew I had to keep an international perspective in my life.  After a brief period coordinating visas for 200 MBA students, I made my way to Fletcher.  I have enjoyed every moment of my work in the Admissions Office so far, and am looking forward to learning more about our fantastic student body.  And as I keep adding to my travel wish list, feel free to stop in and share your stories!

When people ask me where I’m from, I sometimes laugh and tell them, “all over.”  I was born in Salt Lake City, lived in Montana and Wyoming (Jackson Hole anyone?!), and then moved east, all before elementary school.  Moving was a theme when I was a child, and I spent time in several states around New England, though I consider New Hampshire “home.”

I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (GO BOBCATS) for my undergrad studies, where I majored in rhetoric.  (Yes, that was indeed a major!)  I loved my time at Bates, where I played varsity squash and was lucky enough to live abroad in London.  London afforded me lots of travel opportunities, and weekends were spent visiting every country I could, which is where my love of travel (and IR) originated.

Post college I found myself in “beantown,” working for Boston University in graduate business school admissions.  During my seven years at BU, I traveled quite a bit, recruiting all over India, Asia, and Europe, and most major cities in the U.S.  Favorite destinations include Seattle, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.  While working, I also pursued my master’s in education, focused on higher education administration.  All that aside, my other favorite part of my time at BU was definitely working with our public & nonprofit (PNP) MBA program, as I really connected with those students in particular.  It was through my work with PNP that I became interested in working for a program like Fletcher, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the great admissions team here!  It was the people of Fletcher — the faculty, staff, students and alums — that were the draw for me.  Each person I have met has been incredible; the Fletcher community is infectious and so inspiring and makes me excited to go to work each day.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming admissions cycle and am excited to become an active member of the Fletcher community myself!


Yesterday morning, the Admissions Staff “retreated” to my living room for a chance to meet uninterrupted by phone calls, visitors, etc.  Our three new staff members, Katherine, Liz, and Christine, jumped right in to hash out some questions, and also (we hope) took a big step in understanding how the year goes and the office runs.

And then we went to lunch.  I live half a block from a Chinese restaurant with a lunch buffet that, given our tight time schedule, seemed like just the ticket.  So we enjoyed some food and conversation, followed by the presentation of fortune cookies.  While we hoped for predictions related to this year’s admissions process, the selection we received includes only one that could be called a “fortune.”  The rest are more like strange advice.

And what to make of my fortune?

Following lunch, we walked back to the house, noting that every downhill has its uphill and that failure can be glorious, and hopeful for a surprising gift.  Then we grabbed a stranger off the street to take a team picture for us.  He took two shots.  In one, Kristen’s eyes were closed, and in the other, Christine appeared to be napping, so I took one more.

That’s Christine, Katherine, Laurie and Kristen in back; Dan and Liz up front.  Kristen accused me of trying to avoid being in the photo.  Honest, Kristen, I wasn’t — just going with the best of the pix.  I promise that I’ll be in the next team photo.


In just a few minutes, I’ll be heading across campus to a university-wide event celebrating the recipients of the 2012 Tufts Distinction Awards.  And one of the awardees this year is Fletcher Admissions’s own Laurie Hurley, who has been recognized in the Extra Mile category.  Laurie is truly an Extra Miler — a double Jumbo with a special dedication to Tufts!  And Fletcher applicants benefit annually from the tone Laurie sets for our work.

The complete list of recipients shows the breadth of Tufts University.  With each year’s awards (particularly the three years that I served on the selection committee), I have learned something new about running a veterinary school, providing dental care from an academic setting, guiding future doctors, or supporting undergraduates.  By U.S. standards, Tufts is a small university, but it is one with unusual reach.

So off we go to celebrate Laurie’s accomplishments!  Congratulations, Laurie!!


On Tuesday, Jeff and I decided that the time had come again for us to hang out in the Hall of Flags and chat with students.  With the Open House right behind us and admitted student decisions in front of us, the question of the day was obvious:  Why did you choose to come to Fletcher?

We started our conversation with two students from Germany who first met each other here.

Frieder, second-year MALD, told us that just over two years ago, he was “Ready to apply to ten programs.  Fletcher was number one — my favorite — on the list.  Then I received early admission.”  Story over.  But he also said, “Fletcher was my favorite because of having access to law classes, along with the opportunity to focus on business and economic development” (which is his career direction).  “It’s a unique combination.”

Joachim, second-year MALD, said he likes several things:  “The broad range of courses at your disposal.  The small size of the community.  And the closely-knit alumni network.  I really like the Boston location, too.  Personally, I also like the way the nice Tufts campus is quiet, but you can still get to New York or D.C. easily.”

But then Joachim made a distinction between why he chose Fletcher and why he likes it now.  Coming to the end of his Fletcher experience, he says it’s “The people in the community and the diversity are what I like the most, and you can meet a Fletcher student or Fletcher alumni anywhere in the world.”

Next we called over Kartik, second-year MALD from India, who was chatting with Hanneke.  Kartik used to work in our office, but now he’s a big time teaching assistant and doesn’t visit us enough anymore.  :(  Anyway, Kartik, who pre-Fletcher had been working in the local area, told us how he ended up at Fletcher.  “I took the T to Davis Square, and took a left turn, and here I was.  It felt like home.”  (Hanneke made fun of him just a little for this sweet sentiment.)

Then along came Jeff, a second-year MALD from Canada.  He said, “I joined Fletcher because of its reputation for academic rigor, great student body, and connection to the broader Boston academic community.”

Second-year MIB Jonathan came by and told us, “Fletcher offers really unique and interesting opportunities.  I had a great internship experience in Hong Kong, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything more conventional.”  He and Jeff had met up while Jeff was in Hong Kong for recruitment travel last fall.

Manjula, second-year MALD from Sri Lanka, said, “I was making a career change from finance to international development and social entrepreneurship, and Fletcher offered the diversity and flexibility, along with the skills and resources I needed, so I could explore new fields and make that switch.”  (I should also mention that Manjula is a rock-star in the community for what he has already achieved.)

Interrupting a study group, we found out that Alicia, second-year MALD from Jamaica, chose Fletcher, “because it’s such a nice warm and friendly place.”  And James, first-year MIB, chose Fletcher because it provides, “a more interesting international exposure than the other schools I applied to.”

Barry, mid-career MA, told us, “I came to the Open House last year and met with current students and faculty, and I was extremely impressed.  Yesterday was a little reminiscent for me.”

We wandered over to a table where students were selling Africana Night tickets.  Tallash, first-year MALD from Kenya, chose Fletcher because of the flexibility of the degree programs.  She said she is focusing on international environmental policy and development economics, and “doing so much in a two-year program that it’s like doing three different master’s degrees.”

Martin, second-year MIB, liked that “The MIB program offered a unique opportunity to integrate international business and international relations in one program, compared to a dual degree in parallel.”

Along came Dean Bosworth, who good-naturedly told us he chose Fletcher because, “I was offered a job, and I needed a job.  I was stepping down as ambassador to Korea.”  (I hope he also appreciated the warm community!)

Ethan, PhD candidate, joined us.  He and I did a quick reminisce about how I interviewed him a bunch of years ago when he applied to do his MALD.  He chose Fletcher because of “the ability to build a program with interdisciplinary balance.”  And also because the faculty includes “a healthy mix of practitioners and academics.”

Katie, first-year MALD from Egypt and Admissions intern said, “I like to know that I can leave campus and then come back to this warm Fletcher-orange environment.”

Sebastian, first-year MIB from Ecuador, took the broad view.  “World economics are going through a transition and the existing model of business study needs a new perspective, so the MIB program was perfect for my interests.”

And the last word is going to go to Liz, for about four years the first person you’d see when you entered the Admissions Office.  Liz told us, “I came to Fletcher because I was making a career shift and Fletcher was the right place to marry my workplace skills and my desire to work with students again.”

And that’s Liz’s last word in the Admissions Blog.  She has successfully pushed her career transition forward, and yesterday started her new post in the Tufts Residence Life office.  We wish her all the best!

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This week I carried on assorted email dialogues with Laurie when she was in Washington, D.C. and New York, Kristen while she sat in an overheated terminal at Houston airport on her way to Mexico City, and Jeff as he went to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  In fact, though Tracy and I were the only staff members on campus for the entire week, we all share a common challenge — keeping up with the flow of email.

My colleagues may be more successful than I in conquering their inbox each day.  For myself, I just can’t seem to answer all the questions as efficiently as I’d like, much as I attempt a daily triage to ensure I take care of as many as possible.  I start nearly every message with an apology for being so slow in responding.  Have you received one of those from me, dear blog reader?  You’re not alone.

I hope you’ll bear with me (and my Admissions pals) while we do our best to answer everyone in a timely way.  Remember that some of your questions require research.  Others could be quick if we didn’t first need to find your file.  Our intentions are good.  Some time soon, I’ll look at my inbox and find no unanswered messages.  Not today, mind you, but some time soon.


When my Admissions pals and I talk about our reading days, we tend to focus on the circumstances in which we read, rather than the work aspect of the day.  So what are we doing when we read an application?

First, a bit of background.  Applications are placed in file folders, with a different color for each degree program.  Green–MALD; blue–MA; red–LLM; yellow–MIB; grey–PhD.  (We’re also using pink (MIB) and purple (MALD) for Map Your Future applicants.)  They’re loaded into “ready-to-read” boxes, from which students grab them FIFO style (first-in-first-out).  When the student readers return the files, staff members can take them home.

Each application file is arranged the same way:  the readers’ notes sheet, the pages of the application form, résumé, transcripts, test score reports, personal statement, second essay, third essay (when applicable), additional information, recommendations, interview report, and correspondence.

Personally (and I think that most readers share my approach), I read the file from front to back, but I shift between pages as needed.  I start by looking at the first reader’s notes.  Then I review the application form.  If a student transferred schools or took more than the usual number of years to complete a degree, I’ll make a note.  If an applicant moved around a lot with her family, I’ll note that.  Otherwise, on to the résumé, where I read through and note the applicant’s job responsibilities, as well as hobbies and whatever else is included.

When I review a transcript, I do a combination of scanning and careful parsing.  I scan to see the overall pattern of grades, but then I zero in on a few semesters to see the type of classes and the results.  That works for most applicants, but I’ll slow down further if something jumps out at me.  The method is also challenged by certain education systems that can only be described as, well, stingy in providing information about the student’s results.  In those cases, I read all the information available and sometimes jump directly to academic recommendations (or the internet) for further elucidation.

Test scores usually correlate with grades, so I only spend a lot of time with the score reports when there’s something surprising.

On to the essays, where we’re looking for exactly what the questions request.  With the personal statement, we should be able to derive a clear sense of what the applicant wants to achieve at Fletcher and beyond.  We’ve tinkered with the question many times, and I feel that, “Please tell us your goals for graduate study at Fletcher and for your career” is as clear as it needs to be.  There are no specific expectations for the second essay — we simply want to know more about you.  I’ll make notes about the personal statement (what does the applicant want to do and how clearly can he describe it), sometimes quoting a line or two.  If the second essay does its job, I’ll add a comment on what I’ve learned.

In most cases, the recommendations tell us something we already know, but in more detail.  Good students tend to have good recommendations from professors.  People who have assumed increasing responsibility in the workplace tend to have strong professional recommendations.  But the letters are still important, as they provide detail and background that help us understand the applicant in greater depth than other sections of the application allow.  I love reading supportive recommendations — they’re filled with warm and fuzzy feelings.

The interview report provides a glimpse of how the applicant connected with a representative of the community.  Sometimes, the applicant will be clearer on goals in the application than the interview, and that’s a good thing — we know that there’s a lot of research going on through the fall, and we’re happy to learn that our applicants have taken time to clarify objectives and learn about Fletcher.

Finally, the additional correspondence.  Not much to be found in there, in general, but sometimes it will answer a question that comes up in reading the file.

So that’s how it goes — front to back.  The experience of learning about people one-by-one through their documents is a fascinating one, though it’s difficult to make the mechanics of paging through a file sound anything but dry.  Maybe that’s why, every winter, we write about our favorite teas for reading days, or what we’ve put in the crock pot.

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Every year we like to give blog readers a sense of how we use our “reading days.”  Though I always feel pretty worn out after reviewing applications intensely for eight hours, there’s no denyng the pleasures of working at home.  I asked Jeff to tell you about his reading day last week.

Unlike some of my colleagues who enjoy reading applications at local cafés, I prefer the comforts of my own home.  Staying at home is nice because I can lounge around in my pajamas all day, and also because I am much more efficient.  (In public, I have a hard time concentrating, as I am extremely nosey.)  Not needing to leave the house has other advantages, especially on those cold, blustery winter mornings; however, this wasn’t the case last Wednesday, when it almost hit 60 degrees in Boston.

I have a routine that I stick to each reading day, although this time I diverged a bit, in order to prepare dinner for the evening.  I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare a crock pot recipe (Guinness Beef Stew) and to start a loaf of bread, so I wouldn’t need to cook at the end of a long reading day.  After that was settled, I perched myself in my usual spot — the breakfast bar that that adjoins my kitchen and dining room (sunny and bright).  My piles of applications were stacked, I had my favorite pen (Pilot G-2, Blue), and I had a hot latte (beverage preference dependent on time of day — latte, coffee, tea, or water).   This is the scene:

My dog (Sydney) usually doesn’t hang out in the kitchen, but she could smell that something was cooking, and it smelled good.  The mug featured is my favorite, which I purchased when I was in Shanghai recruiting this past September.  (If you happen to make your way to Shanghai, check out Spin for some great pieces and prices.)

Anyway, back to the reading.  It is great to have the opportunity to fully immerse myself in reading applications for an entire day.  In the office, there are constant interruptions, and I find it hard to get through more than a handful in a day (if that).  Learning about applicants’ interests and experiences is truly entertaining.  So many of you are doing such interesting work that I often find myself wanting to change careers, but alas, I will live vicariously through you.  Some of my favorite applications are from those who had previously applied and were unsuccessful in the admissions process.  It’s nice to see how these applicants have taken time to develop their professional skills and hone their career interests.

After hours of reading and snacking (and a walk to the park with the dogs to enjoy the near 60 degree weather), I completed my reading, packed up the applications to go back to Fletcher, and enjoyed a delicious dinner.  All in all, it was a good day.

Sydney and her friend, Baloo, hanging at Savin Hill Park.


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.


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