Currently viewing the category: "Paying for Grad School"
I’m a big advocate of using the admissions waiting period (between submitting the application and hearing back from schools) to line up your financial plan. (That’s assuming you haven’t done so already, which is an even better idea!) Today, student blogger Aditi helps you out with information about working on campus, with special notes for international students like herself.
Deciding to come to graduate school is a daunting process, not least because it most often means giving up a regular income for two (or more!) years. For international students in particular, dealing with unfavorable exchanges rates while adjusting to a new environment can be very overwhelming.
Although a few previous blog posts have talked about jobs on campus, they have all referred specifically to teaching or research assistant positions. However, these positions are limited in supply, and most Fletcher students work in more traditional “office” jobs within the larger Tufts community — for example, one of my jobs is helping with prospect research at the Tufts Advancement (fundraising) office.
Before embarking on the hunt for a job, it’s important to bear in mind that international students face certain restrictions to working here, including not being allowed to work off-campus or more than 20 hours a week (though few students can spare the time for that, anyway!). Upon arriving at Fletcher, all international students are briefed on the process they need to go through in order to start working on campus, including getting a social security card once you have a job. Reiko Morris, the international student advisor, is a wonderful resource and always takes the time to answer any questions people have.
Having worked on campus in the U.S. as an undergrad, I came to Fletcher under the assumption that I would find a job soon after arriving, and budgeted for graduate school accordingly. However, it wasn’t until well into my first semester that I found a job — which led to much panic, re-planning my finances, and feeling stressed instead of enjoying my first few months here. I did eventually find two different jobs, and here are some tips I learned along the way:
Finding a job:
- If you’re planning your budget for graduate school with a student job in mind, remind yourself to be patient about finding a job when you get here. I made the mistake of assuming I would get a job quickly, and was stressed when it didn’t happen as fast as I thought it would. In retrospect, I should have given myself at least a semester to settle in and look for a job.
- Fletcher sends around emails to all students when jobs here become available, but remember that there are jobs in the wider Tufts community that are available to Fletcher students as well. There is an online resource (JobX) that you will become familiar with, which is usually the best place to look for student jobs. Remember that in addition to serving as a teaching assistant (TA) for Fletcher classes, you can also look into TA-ing undergraduate courses at Tufts.
- It might seem like a lot of jobs are only open to work-study students (and therefore not to international students), but don’t get discouraged!
- In terms of deciding what kind of job to get, it’s important to be clear on what your goals are: do you want any job that pays, or do you want a job that ties neatly into your academic and career goals? Obviously, it’s ideal if the job does both, but those jobs are rarer to find. If you are very determined to find a job that is directly relevant to you, remember that that might mean spending more time looking, and passing up on other jobs in the meantime.
Managing your time:
- The number of hours per week that Fletcher students work varies considerably. Last semester, I was able to work a full 20 hours per week (which is more than most students do) but of course, this might change based on my courseload in coming semesters. Working 20 hours a week was very challenging, and I had to learn how to manage my time well. It also means that you face a very difficult trade-off in terms of attending all the amazing events, lectures, and parties at Fletcher! One piece of advice I received was particularly helpful in navigating this trade-off, and that was when a friend told me that I have to decide whether financial stress or time-management stress is harder for me to deal with. I decided that financial stress worried me more, and that I could find ways to manage my time efficiently. However, if managing your time well is difficult for you, then it’s probably not a great idea to work more than 10 hours each week.
The process of finding a student job and then working while at Fletcher can be overwhelming, and in retrospect, I wish that I had approached the process more calmly. If you would like to talk more about working on campus as an international student, leave your questions as a comment on this blog. I’d be happy to answer!
Even as you’re putting the final flourishes on your Fletcher application, you should be working on your plan for financing your graduate education. (Even better would be that you already have a plan!) While it’s fine to wait and see what funding you receive from the schools that offer you admission, it’s important to have a plan in place for if you receive less scholarship funding than you hope for.
In that context, I want to bring your attention to the Tufts University Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Through LRAP, alumni who take post-graduation jobs in the public or not-for-profit sectors can receive support for the duration of the time they are making loan repayments. The actual amount each LRAP applicant will receive depends on level of debt and current income. Naturally, there are guidelines for applying, but for those who meet the guidelines, LRAP can be a big help with finances after graduation.
I hasten to note that students should not see LRAP as an invitation to take on more loans than are absolutely needed. Still, the program can be an element of your overall plan for financing your Fletcher studies.
Tagged with: LRAP
A question that comes up regularly in our emails, conversations, meetings, and info sessions regards opportunities for students to find work as research or teaching assistants. This fall, I snagged several emails publicizing RA/TA opportunities and I thought I’d share them here. I’ve taken out the specifics — the point is to give you an idea of what professors might be looking for, without implying that these exact positions will be available in any given semester. I also don’t want to lead you to think that every student has an RA or TA position. The majority of students who work on campus are supporting office activities. All of those qualifications aside, these notices may help you imagine what would be available whenever you enroll.
1. TA needed for international law course
We are looking for a TA to help with organizing and teaching an undergraduate course taught by Fletcher international law faculty. Ideally, you would have the following qualifications: 1) Background in international law; 2) You would still be at Fletcher next year. You would be the TA for the course this spring, and next spring, you would be the coordinating instructor with another TA.
Your tasks would include the following:
- preparing discussion questions and leading weekly discussion groups;
- helping to organize a moot court exercise;
- assisting with general logistics of the course, including grading;
- holding half of the office hours.
2. A Professor announces the availability of five research assistant positions
Positions 1-3 require assisting in a research and writing project on the fusion between religion and nationalism in Israel, India (the Hindutva Movement in particular), Palestine (Hamas in particular), Sri Lanka, and Serbia. The positions require the assistants to conduct research on manifestations of the fusion between religion and nationalism in one (or two) of the above areas and their policy implications, summarize reading materials, and draft short papers. The successful candidates should have relevant academic background and knowledge about one of the above-mentioned areas and good writing skills. Each position requires 8-10 hours per week.
Position 4 requires assisting in the following tasks: a) coordinating a seminar series for the Fletcher Seminar on International Conflict (three to four seminars per semester); b) preparing the material for a web site page for the INCR program and the various research projects it conducts; c) coordinating the necessary technical steps to design the web site and post the material. This position requires an average of 8 hours per week.
Position 5 requires assistance in a research and writing project on “new paradigms in conflict resolution.” The position requires the assistant to conduct research on major issues in the conflict resolution field, summarize reading materials, and copy-edit drafted chapters. The successful candidate should have relevant academic background and should have taken or should be currently taking D223 at Fletcher or an equivalent course in another institution. This position requires an average of 8-10 hours per week.
3. A research group seeks to hire researchers to complete case study reports as part of its “How Mass Atrocities End” research project.
Project Description: There is no other phase of mass atrocities that is less studied yet more debated than endings. Individual case study analyses of endings are usually characterized by lament over the enormous losses incurred and a hasty summary of the final moments. Debates in policy, activism, and scholarship often take as their starting point a more ideal ending in which outside forces (usually armed) are able, theoretically, to change the ending next time. Actual endings—discussion of when and how large-scale violence against civilians declines in frequency and scale—are notably absent from the discussion.
This project aims to help fill that gap by creating a dataset that focuses exclusively on the ending of atrocities. Researchers will be required to select a case study and complete a report.
4. Researchers needed for Fletcher/ICRC project
This year Fletcher is working with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) to develop a “Joint Lab” around the issue of conflict migration. The first set of questions focuses on assessing current humanitarian challenges entailed in conflict migration in the Sahel and North Africa. This segment of the work of the Joint Lab is oriented toward building a firm foundation of knowledge on conflict migration in the region, focusing on gathering and analyzing available data related to migration flows and migrant needs, as well as assessing the current networks of local, regional and international organizations engaged in the response to the humanitarian needs of migrants in the region. One or two Research Assistants are needed to help put together a desk review on this topic. We expect a commitment of 6-8 hours a week.
5. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts needs Winter Study Group Leaders
The Osher LLI at Tufts is an adult education program for retirees with one important characteristic in common: a desire for intellectual stimulation in a convivial atmosphere. Which is exactly what our program offers. No tests. No pressure. No grades. Just learning for the sheer joy of it. While most of our classes are led by our own members—”seniors teaching seniors”—we generally supplement our offerings with study groups led by Tufts graduate students, often from Fletcher.
We’re currently soliciting proposals for our 8-week spring 2015 program and we’d love to hear from any Fletcher grad students who might be interested in leading a 4- or 8-session study group for us.
When she was already in Ghana for her summer internship, Diane sent me this final blog post of 2013-2014. I held it, thinking that September would be optimal timing. Current students may want to know about Diane’s search for external scholarships, while applicants may want to know that such a thing is possible. New posts from continuing student bloggers Diane, Liam, and Mark should return soon, and I’ll be adding new voices from among the first-year students.
For prospective students applying to graduate programs, the question of how to pay for a master’s degree is often a huge part of the decision-making process.
While Fletcher was my number one choice in programs going into the application process, the scholarship aid I received from Fletcher also made my enrollment decision very easy. Nonetheless, Fletcher scholarships don’t generally cover the full cost of tuition, and certainly don’t include living costs, leaving me to figure out how to cover the rest.
Like many students who worked for a number of years prior to Fletcher, I had some savings, and I knew I would also need to take a loan. As I did my financial planning, I realized that my savings would be gone by the end of the first year, and I would have to try to find ways to minimize the amount of debt I would be taking on. This led me to the search for external scholarships.
As I reviewed scholarship opportunities, I found myself in the unfortunate position of being an international student from a developed country, but a country that itself offers very few scholarships for international study. This left me searching for scholarships that I often couldn’t apply for. I wasn’t very successful with my applications before starting at Fletcher, and I planned to submit more applications for my second year of study.
Once I was at Fletcher, I found my greatest resource to be my fellow students. I took the opportunity to chat with other international students about scholarships they knew of, and shared information. I also utilized the resources around me — in particular, I took advantage of the writing tutor program, to get feedback on my application essays before I sent them in.
This turned out to be a positive process! I applied for two external scholarships for my second year, and was successful in receiving one of them. Two of my Fletcher friends who had shared with me the process of applying for external scholarships were also successful. This highlights one of my favorite things about Fletcher: the spirit of collaboration, and how this often leads to shared success.
Prof. Bridget Conley-Zilkic at The World Peace Foundation asked me to share their call for proposals for their upcoming competition. I’m happy to do so!
The World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School invites Fletcher students to submit proposals for a two-day seminar to be held on campus in February 2015. WPF seminars offer a rare opportunity for leading experts to engage in incisive, collegial and sustained dialogue on the pressing problems of our day. The student competition enables Fletcher School students to frame an issue and interact with leading global experts on the topic of their choosing.
The topic should be related to conflict, security, peace or human rights. The criteria for selecting the winning proposal will be that it is innovative, well-articulated, and relevant to the Foundation’s vision that intellectual leadership is important to promoting peace. Noting that the vision of these seminars is to explore issues that might otherwise not gain attention, the WPF does not make a requirement that the issue should be directly connected to policy outcomes.
All costs will be borne by the WPF, including travel and accommodation for invited participants, catering, costs for interns for organizing and taking notes, and other associated expenses. The competition winners will work with the WPF to organize the seminar, and will be paid a standard hourly rate for their time.
October 10, 2014: deadline for proposals to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 17, 2014: winners announced via email.
February 2015: Seminar held at The Fletcher School
Events that we hosted based on past winning proposals include:
Unlearning Violence: Evidence and Policies for Early Childhood Development and Peace, February 13-14, 2014. Last year we departed from our model and accepted two closely related proposals as winners and hosted an open conference.
Advocacy in Conflict: Methods, Impacts and Ethics, February 28 – March 1, 2013.
More information including detailed proposal guidelines are available on our website.
Tagged with: World Peace Foundation
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.
Christine’s response to a perennially frequently asked question.
A popular question in the inbox this week (and always) is about scholarship aid: who is eligible; how can I apply; how many full tuition scholarships do you have; and are there other financial aid opportunities. I have always been taught that it is not polite to talk about money, but in this case, I will make an exception!
We consider all applicants for Fletcher scholarship awards based on both merit and need. To be considered, you must fill out the Fletcher Scholarship Application, which is included as part of the online application. The more complete your answers to the questions, the better the picture we can get of your individual financial situation. There are no awards based on need alone or on merit alone. And no distinction is made between U.S. and international students when awarding funds.
In addition, some special externally funded scholarships become available throughout the year for enrolled students, and announcements will be made with further instructions on eligibility and application requirements. More information on these scholarships can be found here.
As for full-tuition scholarships, while they are offered relatively rarely, they have been granted to the most outstanding candidates, also based on a combination of merit and need. Emphasis is placed on candidates who exhibit exceptional academic achievement and a strong commitment to the field of international affairs. Both international and U.S. students are eligible.
In addition to scholarships offered by Fletcher, U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply for loans and work-study funds. These awards are determined by the university’s Student Financial Services office, based on the FAFSA.
Besides scholarships and loans, there are also opportunities for students to work on campus during their time here. The great thing about Fletcher being a part of the larger Tufts University community is that students can work within a Fletcher department (for example, Admissions!) or find something that suits them better elsewhere on the Tufts campus. Campus employment is a great way to help finance your education or earn some pocket money for a night out in Boston!
In addition to office work, there is the also the possibility of becoming a teaching assistant or research assistant. Opportunities for teaching assistants can be found both at Tufts Arts and Sciences departments such as political science, economics and history, and also here at Fletcher. It is very unusual for students to be hired as teaching assistants in their first semester, but they have more opportunities in the second and later semesters.
We understand that graduate school is as much a financial investment as it is a professional one. Fletcher scholarships are offered to as many students as possible to help meet the cost of attending graduate school, but nearly all students identify other sources of funding beyond the scholarship, such as savings, loans, family contributions, and income from campus work. Following graduation, the Tufts University Loan Repayment Assistance Program can be a source of further assistance.
Financial aid is a key consideration for most of our applicants. For further questions, please contact us by email or phone to +1.617.627.3040.
I’ve been very pleased with my new-this-year Student Stories feature on the blog. An attentive reader might ask, “Why so pleased? They haven’t been writing much lately.” True, critical reader. But here’s why I’m happy. When I asked each of the students if they wanted to inaugurate this blog theme, they all said yes. I appreciate enthusiasm — this was my first team and I didn’t need to go to my bench! When I met with each writer for the first time, I emphasized that there are plenty of places on the Fletcher web site to read interesting, but formulaic, student profiles. My hope was that we would work together to develop ideas for posts, and I have basically gone along with any idea they’ve presented. Overall, I didn’t know what the feature would look like when we launched it in October, but I knew that all would be clearer by the end of the academic year, in May.
But back to the fact that the writing tends to arrive in spurts (after winter break, for example). In this case, the reasons why they’re not writing may be as interesting as what they would have written. Let’s start with Maliheh. She emailed me an apology last week for not having submitted a promised post, but she really needn’t have apologized — I know exactly what she’s up to. She’s processing the bounty of acceptances she has received to PhD programs around the country. Was I surprised to learn of her success? No I was not. Maliheh is amazing. Don’t tell her I said that — she’s also humble.
What’s Mirza up to? He told me late last semester that he took on a research project that was intellectually satisfying, but used a lot of his time. Then, over the winter break, he and his musical partner revived their duo, Arms and Sleepers. They played some local gigs, and planned an amazing tour for Mirza’s spring break. In Europe or Russia? Don’t miss this opportunity to catch a performance — who knows whether this tour will be their last.
(I’d like to add a little practical note here. One of the reasons Arms and Sleepers is back is that Mirza realized his earnings potential is greater building on a past success than taking a part-time campus job. Many students are able to do something similar — consulting part time for a past employer, for example. File that away in your mental financial plan!)
Back to the writers. Scott has promised me a piece very soon. Not much more to say there. Roxanne continues to be very busy on campus with the Storytelling Forum (the website includes more and more content) and a new series of conversations about gender issues (curricular and more broadly) at Fletcher. Nonetheless, I arrived at work this morning and found an email from Roxanne containing her next post. I’ll share it as soon as I can.
Which leaves Manjula who, though an alumnus now, was the student who made me think that following students’ stories as they pursued their individual paths through Fletcher would be a good idea. Manjula has a million things going on connected to his organization Educate Lanka. A lot of them are in the “we’re a finalist” or “just need to sign the contract” phase, so we agreed to hold off on an EL update. But the organization more than keeps him busy, and any free moments can be spent writing for a larger audience on topics such as Unleashing Potential Through Education.
As much as Educate Lanka fills Manjula’s days, he still sets aside time for other activities, such as getting married. He shared some amazing wedding photos with me. I would love to post every single one of them — they’re that beautiful — but I’ll settle for just this one.
Manjula told me that the wedding outfits that he and his bride, Chara, wore are traditional in Kandy, the region of Sri Lanka that Manjula comes from. He explained that Kandy was the last kingdom in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and the traditional wedding attire derives from royal regalia. He said, “The outfit I wore is called the Kandyan Nilame. And Chara’s jewellery and the ceremony that we followed are also according to the Kandyan traditions.”
So, blog friends, that’s what my writers are up to. Given their interesting busy lives, I’m happy to wait a little longer for their next posts.
Tagged with: Student Stories
Just in time for those of you wisely calculating the financial resources you’ll be able to draw on for your graduate education, our friends at APSIA have created a new list of scholarship and fellowship opportunities. Of course, incoming Fletcher students will also want to check the Fletcher financial aid page, too.
Tagged with: Financial Aid
January 22 and, unless you’re aiming for one of the later (February 10 or March 1) deadlines, your application is in. Perhaps you’re thinking that all you need to do now is to twiddle your thumbs while waiting for your grad schools to make a decision on your application.
If only Ernie were setting a good example for you. In fact you can, and should, make this waiting time productive for yourself.
First, and most important: you can develop your own financial plan. The smart approach is to assume that your graduate professional school will not cover all of your expenses. What resources can you draw upon? What level of scholarship enables you to pursue your graduate school plans, and what level might cause you to push your plans back a year? Are there external scholarships that could be right for you? Sure, thinking this through will take some time. But the risk of investing the thinking time is simply that Fletcher or another school provides you with more funding than your worst-case scenario, and you have greater resources than you expected. Meanwhile, the upside is that you have the information in place to make your own decision on graduate school, after the schools have made their decision on you.
What else can you do? The obvious: Save your pennies! If you have an income this year, you should be putting aside as much as possible for your upcoming student low/zero-income years. No matter how large a scholarship you receive, you’ll be happy to have cash available to visit home/buy your friend a birthday gift/nurture your caffeine habits. Trust me, every little bit helps.
How about academic preparation? I’d suggest a little honest reflection on any weaknesses in your preparation for an international affairs program in the U.S. If you’re a non-native English speaker, could your English skills use a boost? If you’re a native English speaker, could your foreign language skills stand improvement? In either case, learning a language is a slow process. Start early. How about those quantitative skills? Whether you’re an economics whiz or in need of a brush-up, a little advance work can pave the way for your success.
I try to be nice in the blog, but occasionally I feel compelled to provide a dose of reality. This is one of those times. It’s never a happy moment when it becomes clear an admitted student hasn’t given any thought to how this whole grad student thing is going to come together. With the application phase behind you, you have some time to get your ducks in a row. Please don’t twiddle the next two months away. Invest a little time now, and relax a little more in April.
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