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This has been a very strange and sad week in the Boston area, but I was determined to close out the week on a positive note.  Tomorrow is the deadline for making enrollment decisions for most of our admitted students, which means that we’ll soon welcome a new class to Fletcher (YAY!), but also say goodbye to many applicants who have made the decision to pursue another opportunity.  (We wish you all the best in your future studies!)

But even as we try to answer the last minute questions of applicants making their final decision, our work is interrupted by the events of the week.  Tufts University is closed today while law enforcement officials pursue suspects in Monday’s crime.  Admissions staffers will try to keep up with your questions by email.

I want to revisit the terrific positive spirit that usually surrounds the Boston Marathon.  Our two-year Admissions intern and friend, Hillary, took pictures from the post where she and other Boston-area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers distribute water at each year’s event.  Here’s a photo that another RPCV took of Hillary.

Hillary

And then there’s the spirit that accompanied the unexpected events of the day.  This article features Brennan Mullaney, MALD student.  Maybe Brennan was your interviewer if you visited last fall!

Brennan

In such a strange week, I’m grateful for my long connection to Fletcher and all the fantastic students, such as Brennan and Hillary, who make every day interesting.  As Dean Bosworth wrote to the community earlier this week:

Yesterday’s events remind us, in an all too poignant and tragic fashion, of the important work that lies ahead for all of you (and us) in advancing Fletcher’s mission of understanding and mutual respect, and making our interdependent world more safe and secure.

We look forward to resuming Fletcher’s mission on Monday.

 

I’m writing at about 10:30, the time when Fletcher starts to buzz each day.  There were students in Mugar Café when I grabbed my coffee at 10, and I’ve already met with a visitor.  In other words, Fletcher is back to normal.  But it’s hard for me to have the blog ignore what happened yesterday and carry on as usual.  I think I’ll hold off one more day before returning to more admissions-ish topics.

For now, I’ll acknowledge that yesterday was a sad day indeed.  Patriots’ Day, with the annual running of the Boston Marathon, is generally a happy day.  Whether we know someone running the race or not, we celebrate this long-lived event and its annual demonstration of athleticism, perseverance, and strength of will.

Today, while we keep those wounded by the attack in mind, for most of us it’s a sunny day like many others, at least at the surface.  Our lovely Boston, and its surrounding cities such as Somerville and Medford, is the home of a million people and the temporary home of thousands and thousands of students.  Yesterday we experienced a temporary discontinuity in our easy love of this beautiful city.  Today, we’re back to express our affection for our interesting, historical, international, diverse, intellectual, technological, fun home.  Those of you who live nearby know that Boston is already moving forward.  Those of you who are farther away should know that this is a strong place that will not be defined by a single event, however sad.

Finally, a word about the University’s response.  With a large number of runners in the Tufts Marathon Team, there was an intense effort to ensure the well-being of all students and members of the community.  Two students, not from Fletcher, were injured but are reported to be recovering.  The University arranged transportation from Boston to the Medford campus, and notified us of its availability through the excellent emergency notification system that has been in place for several years.  Fletcher students, many having experienced emergencies in other locations, quickly established a mechanism to account for each other.  An interfaith gathering took place on campus last night, and students and staff have learned of the availability of counseling.  All in all, a quick and thorough response to the events, which makes us proud to be part of Tufts.

Boston viewArial view of the Medford/Somerville campus and Boston skyline, with Fletcher near the bottom right corner, taken by photographer Steve Eliopoulos for Tufts University.

 

What started out as a lovely cool and sunny marathon day has ended with sadness.  Blog readers might want to know that all Fletcher runners have been heard from.  Students established a google doc on which they reported back about themselves or on classmates they have heard from.  The Tufts University Medical Center is attending to many of the wounded, and the University is working to contact all Tufts runners.

Thank you to friends around the world who are thinking of Boston right now.

 

I suppose that most Fletcher students ultimately miss a class or two — they’re out and about for a job interview, or they attend a special lecture and ask a classmate to take notes for them.  I’m pretty sure, though, that I’ve never (in my long Fletcher life) heard of a student returning a week late from spring break, due to his music tour through Russia and Europe.  Here’s Mirza’s report, which hit my email inbox on Sunday, midway through the tour.  Blog readers in Belgium can catch the final gig Saturday night at the Dunk! Festival.

As I was preparing for my new life as a graduate student at Fletcher last summer, I made a decision to no longer pursue music in any capacity, in order to focus all my attention on school.  As music for me was never just a hobby, I couldn’t envision balancing the demanding schedule of running a small business that I am passionate about while concurrently being a full-time student.  In addition, my music partner was in the midst of his own MA degree, and together we simply could not dedicate sufficient time to Arms and Sleepers.  We talked about it, and decided to call it quits.

Throughout my first semester at Fletcher, however, I realized that despite the busy and hectic graduate school schedule, most students maintain their personal interests and successfully balance their professional aspirations with personal passions.  This is why there are so many student clubs, after all, and even a school band, Los Fletcheros.  Through my classmates, I learned that it’s a good thing that the library is not open 24/7, that Fletcher shouldn’t take up 100% of one’s time and energy, and that pursuing other interests makes for a healthier and more fulfilling graduate school experience.  By the end of the fall semester, I decided that there was nothing really wrong or impossible about calling oneself a musician and a graduate student at the same time.  My schedule would certainly prove tricky, but not unmanageable.

One of my first endeavors as I return to music has been a two-week long tour of Europe and Russia.

Tour schedule

One week fell during the spring break, and for the second week I will be missing a couple of classes.  I decided that this would be a worthwhile pursuit, since it means that I would not need to be employed during the semester, allowing me to focus on my studies.  By working intensely for two weeks, instead of a few hours each week, I could set up a schedule for the semester that would suit my personal preferences.  Moreover, taking a small break from Medford and doing something completely different for two weeks would provide mental rejuvenation.  Though completing assignments while traveling non-stop is exhausting, being in an entirely different mindset for a short while could be quite rewarding.  Finally, pursuing several passions is never a bad thing, no matter how divergent they may be.  Each has its own benefits and can contribute immensely to personal growth.

Arms and SleepersI am writing this blog entry at a Starbucks next to Red Square in Moscow, Russia.  The tour thus far has been extremely demanding and hectic (two hours of sleep last night, travel early in the morning, write a short paper today, perform tonight), but I am quite happy to be exploring new places, meeting new people, and being in a different environment from my usual day-to-day.  I have managed to complete class readings, and will even try to Skype into one of my Fletcher classes.  I am also meeting two admitted students in Moscow and Kyiv, Ukraine to chat about Fletcher.  So, though a busy schedule, it’s proving to be personally rewarding, fulfilling, and memorable.

The lesson for me — mostly learned from my classmates — has been that managing several different interests while in graduate school is possible and perhaps even worth it.  Not only that, but if you can maintain in some capacity your pre-Fletcher work position, it could be a good way to pay for your living expenses while in school.  (The burritos and frozen yogurts in Davis Square.  The vending machine snacks during marathon library sessions.)  Not everyone will have this option, but for those who do, it’s worth considering before setting foot on campus.

(Photos were borrowed from the Arms and Sleepers facebook page.)

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We try to provide clear information directly to applicants offered a place on the waitlist, to help them make a good decision on whether to wait.  Still, it never hurts to restate things, and there may be some other prospective students who wonder how the waitlist works.

We’ve offered waitlist spots to a group of applicants for each of the master’s-level programs.  For the next six weeks, the waitlist won’t be the focus of much of our attention, but applicants will be making their own decisions on whether to continue to wait.  Many will decide to turn down the offer — they’ll attend another graduate school or, maybe, continue to work.  We’ll set aside the responses until after the May 1 deadline for future review, grouping the applications of those who want to wait (in alphabetical order — no ranking), ready for us to re-review them.  We nearly always make at least a few offers of admission to applicants on the waitlist, and sometimes more than a few.

Meanwhile, between the release of decisions and May 1, we’re monitoring the responses of admitted students.  Some will say yes, and some will say no.  And even among those who say yes, some are organizing joint degrees, or balancing educational goals and professional responsibilities, and they’ll decide to defer enrollment for a year.  As these fine details of the enrollment situation unfold, we’ll go to the waitlist to admit the students we need to fill the September class.

So what can you do, once you’ve confirmed that you’ll wait?  We invite you to update your application with carefully selected materials.  Here is my annual list of suggested additions to waitlisted applications:

1.  Any update to basic application credentials:  Grades for newly completed classes, new test scores, an additional recommendation from your university or workplace, written by someone who knows you well and who can add a new perspective on your background.  (Please read that last sentence carefully.  You won’t gain much from a recommendation (however positive it might be) that covers the same ground as your previous three recommendations.)  You can also update your résumé, or send a link to a newly published article.

2.  A brief essay to complete the sentence, “When I wrote my personal statement, I wish I had said….”  Do you have a better sense of your academic and career goals than you did in January?  If so, fill us in!  (Keeping your response under 500 words is a good idea.)

3.  A visit to Fletcher.  We don’t offer formal interviews during the spring, but we’ll certainly meet with you if you’re able to visit.  The best time for an appointment is late April to early May.  We’ll try to accommodate you whenever you are here, but we’d appreciate it if you could hold off until after April 15.

4.  Anything else that you would have put in your application if the instructions had been written differently.  While I discourage you from sending a research paper or thesis (and I say this because I know that many applicants would like to send us additional reading materials), there may be something that you wished you could have included.

5.  Information that helps explain the gap or shortcoming that you feel may be holding your application back.  You may not have chosen to address it in your application, but now would be a good time to explain those crummy grades from your first undergraduate semester, or your limited international experience, or whatever else is a weakness in your application.  And a weakness you have noticed is probably one we’ve noticed, too.

You can send your update by email.  Try to send it to us by May 1 (the deadline for deciding whether to stay on the waitlist), though you remain welcome to update your file as the spring goes on. The majority of the waitlist activity will take place from early May to the end of June.  It’s always our goal to sew everything up as quickly as possible — both for your sake and for ours.

Last, the scholarship question.  At the same time as I can’t guarantee we’ll have scholarship funds remaining in late May or June, I can say that we generally have had some money to work with.  Remember that the applicants who decide not to enroll are often returning scholarship funds, too.

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After years of watching helplessly while anxious applicants crashed the GAMS system, last night was the second successful test of our new decision announcement system.  Though we continue to feel a little uncomfortable delivering bad news via an informal medium such as email, releasing all decisions that way keeps GAMS from clogging up.

(For those who may be wondering, we released admission and scholarship decisions on every single complete application for every degree program, including decisions on applications to the LLM or MIB program that arrived by the March 1 deadline.)

To applicants who were not admitted this year, I hope you will gain admission to another graduate school that suits your goals.  If, instead, you are thinking of reapplying to graduate school in the future, please take advantage of our offer of feedback on your application.  Contact us after May 1 with your request and we’ll get back to you with comments.  A great number of the applicants who are not admitted to Fletcher in a given year could be competitive applicants in the future, following a few changes to their profile.

To applicants who were offered a place on the waitlist:  I’m sorry that we’re dragging out the process still further for you.  We’ll provide information in the next few days to help you make your decision on whether to remain on the waitlist.

To applicants who were admitted:  Congratulations!!  Take a minute to feel good about your accomplishment. …58…59…60.

I hope you enjoyed your feel-good minute, because it’s time to get set for the next phase of your grad school application/selection process.  You have a little over a month to gather information about Fletcher and the other schools to which you have been admitted, and to make a well-considered decision on where to attend graduate school.  We’ll do our part to flood provide you with details by mail and other media to help in your decision making.  Though the Admissions Blog is never solely dedicated to admitted students, it will continue to supply information about our wonderful community and rich intellectual environment.

Speaking for everyone on the Admissions Staff, we encourage you to learn as much as you can before making a final decision.  We welcome your questions!  And, congratulations, once again, on your admission!

 

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.

Stephanie
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!

Juanita
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!

Loghman
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.

 

On Wednesday last week, a solid Fletcher contingent headed over to the Tufts Boston campus to celebrate the winners of the Tufts Distinction Awards, most notably our own Kristen Zecchi, who was recognized in the Change Agent category.

Kristen was the first member of the staff for the MIB (Master’s in International Business) Program, starting her work more than a year before the first students arrived.  Launching a new academic program is no simple task, and Kristen has ensured that all sorts of issues, not only Admissions questions, have stayed on the front burner until they have been solved.

We all enjoyed celebrating with Kristen, shown below with all the winners (front row, far left).  You can find more photos from the Tufts photography staff on the TDA photo page.  Congratulations, Kristen!

 

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