The final update on the fall 2015 semester comes from Tatsuo, who, like Ali and Aditi, took a heavy course load last semester.  In fact, I would describe it as an extremely challenging semester for anyone, and particularly for a non-native English speaker just starting his Fletcher studies.

In my first semester at Fletcher, I took four courses: Law and Development; Development Economics: Policy Analysis; Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance; and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies.  Every course was interesting, but especially Law and Development, which was one of the reasons that I chose the School.  Thus, I want to introduce the course in this post.

Tatsuo and his Law and Development reading group.

Law and Development dealt with development theory and implementation of development policies from the legal perspective.  It was an interdisciplinary fusion of international development and legal studies.  The combination of two fields, law and international relations, is characteristic of one of the unique qualities of The Fletcher School of “Law and Diplomacy.”  In the course, some students did not have legal expertise or practical experience; therefore, the legal materials that we reviewed in the class were not too difficult or specialized.  But I hardly felt bored in the class, although I have five years’ experience as a legal officer, managing legislation and implementing laws and orders.

I found the class engaging for a few reasons.  First, I was a beginner in international development studies.  Thinking about how we could manage issues of international development through legal schemes and techniques was very exciting and helpful for my future career when I will be involved in regional development as a public legal officer.

Second, and more importantly, the course gave us opportunities to think about fundamental questions of law.  Developing countries and regions tend not to have adequate legal schemes, bureaucracies, or precedents.  Thus, they cannot rely on routine procedures or ways of thinking, and they face fundamental questions that we, developed countries’ officers, likely ignore.  What is law?  What is a court?  What is justice?  What is development?  Some people think that these questions are not practical, but I certainly do not agree with them.  In interdisciplinary or emergency cases, including one I have experienced personally, we have to face such questions.  Just after the Great Japan Earthquake in 2011, we wanted to skip or abolish many legal procedures for rapid rescue and recovery.  However, even in this emergency situation, in order to evade these established legal schemes, we needed to identify truly necessary legal procedures.  I remember that we discussed “What is the government?” and “To what extent could we pursue coercive actions without any democratic or legal procedures?” in those chaotic days.

The professor of the Law and Development course is Jeswald Salacuse.  He has a great reputation both in practical fields (the former president of international arbitration tribunals of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) and academia (he is also a former dean of The Fletcher School and the founding President of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs).  In previous work as a legal assistant, he actually pursued law and development issues in developing countries.  As a result, his lectures incorporated not only theoretical and text-based knowledge but also vivid recollections of experiences in the field.  Although he has had such a prestigious career, he was very friendly and approachable for his students.  His class was one of the largest lecture classes at Fletcher, but even with about 30 to 40 students in the class, I did not feel any difficulty asking questions.  Professor Salacuse also seemed to like interactive lectures.  Additionally even outside the class, the professor kindly helped me with class assignments and papers.

The course dealt with vast areas of law and development.  Reading assignments were huge, especially for non-native English speakers like me, so I organized a reading group with other five students.  We read and summarized each assigned reading and discussed them each weekend.  That was very helpful for understanding background material for the course, and the discussions with students who have diverse backgrounds were also really interesting.

One thing about the course that I regret was my decision to write a paper.  We were offered the choice of taking a final exam or writing a research paper.  I chose to write the paper.  During the first half of the semester, I was struggling to manage the course’s assignments, and I wasn’t able to start writing until after mid-term exams.  That meant that writing my draft of the paper overlapped with presentations for final presentations, exams, and papers for my other courses.  If my schedule management had worked better, I could have done more to improve the final version.  Although I did not receive the grade I had hoped for on the report, it was the only thing I regret about the course.

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The Admissions Committee just concluded its first winter meeting of the year.  We’ll meet weekly from now through the beginning of March, with meetings running progressively longer and covering more applications.  For today, a relatively short discussion, fueled by coffee and pastries.

After the meeting we sent our student readers out for an exciting weekend of skiing at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine (or, perhaps, a quiet weekend in town with most classmates away in Maine).  The ski trip is a monumental undertaking, involving hundreds of students, spouses, and even children.  Many of the skiers (or snowboarders) will never have hit the slopes before.  Some of them will never have been in such a cold and snowy place before.  The lead-up to the trip involves several organizational meetings, featuring PowerPoint presentations that emphasize the cold and suggest wearing “hat, goggles, neck-warmer (or scarf), long-underwear (layers!), mittens, another warm layer (fleece jacket/wool sweater, etc), warm socks (NOT COTTON), water-proof/wind-resistant outer layer jacket and pants.”

Cold or not, everyone always reports having a great time.  The organizers of the first trip, not even ten years ago, could hardly have imagined what a community-building institution in would become.

 

Applicants who have submitted all their graduate school applications in recent weeks may be thinking that the next two months are free to relax and get on with life.  That’s true.  Or a little bit true.  Or maybe not so true.  In fact, I would encourage you to keep thinking about how your graduate school options are going to come together.  Specifically, do you have all the financial resources you need for your studies?

Yes, it’s true that some students will receive a full tuition scholarship from the graduate school of their choice.  But we also know that both our own students and those of other graduate schools of international affairs are usually drawing from a combination of different financial resources.

One potential resource is income for work during the semester.  For most Fletcher students, that means campus work.  (Most international students, especially, have few options for work off-campus, given visa regulations.)  Last semester, whenever I saw a job posting, I tucked it away in a folder, and I thought I would share a few so that you can get a sense of the range of campus work.  Please note that income from a campus job is likely to help you cover some expenses — maybe all of your food expenses — but is not likely to make a serious dent in your tuition.  With that in mind, here are a few of the different jobs offered in the fall.  Note that these positions are not open now or for fall 2016, but you can be sure that similar postings will appear in each semester.

Work in offices

The Office of Student Affairs is seeking a student to work approximately 10 hours per week starting as soon as possible and continuing to the end of the academic year.  The position entails management of the Fletcher Connect Calendar and other student affairs projects during the semester.  Duties include heavy administrative work, logistics, and event planning.  Interested students should have strong organizational and communication skills, a proficient knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel, and an interest in working closely with school administration.  A flexible and friendly attitude is also appreciated.

Tufts Telefund:  The Tufts Telefund position offers flexible work hours, great pay and a friendly work atmosphere with fellow students. You will forge strong relationships with alumni, parents and friends of the university to raise funds towards scholarships and many other meaningful causes while earning an hourly wage with the opportunity for incentive-based rewards.  Student fundraisers are persuasive, energetic and passionate about Tufts University.

Student, Talent Handler, TV Studio:  Dual Reporting to Ginn Library and Communications, Public Relations & Marketing (CPR&M).  Provides onsite staffing and support for live and pre-recorded television news interviews with faculty and experts of The Fletcher School in keeping with established protocols and processes. Arrives no later than half an hour before scheduled interview to prep and test studio equipment and establish connection with VideoLink; greets talent; assists talent with on-air preparation.  Flexibility is a must!  There are no set hours — you will work when there is a broadcast, and requests will come in oftentimes with little advance notice.  Assignments will be distributed among a pool of handlers to accommodate other commitments.

Fletcher’s Communications, Public Relations & Marketing (CPR&M) office is seeking talented student writers, videographers, photographers, and editors for paid assignments covering events on campus.  We will be taking applications for individual positions as well as combined (e.g., Student Photographer/Writer), with a preference for adaptable candidates who possess at least two skills sets and are able to work across different media.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year.

Research Assistant Positions

Research Assistant for Humanitarian Technology:  Kings College/London, the Overseas Development Institute, and the Feinstein International Center are partnering on a new research initiative that looks at the current humanitarian system, its deficiencies and strengths and how it might be reformed to be more fit for purpose both in the short term and over a 10 to 15-year horizon. One significant component of this Planning from the Future Project (PFF) is a review of technological “game changers.”

Our research assistant will conduct a rapid literature search and review, highlighting these areas:

  • Cash (and support programs like Kache); Hawalas, mpesa or e-money transfer systems, etc;
  • ODK, KOBO and digital data collection, entry, and analysis platforms;
  • ICT/ comms;
  • Crisis-mapping and crowd sourcing information;
  • Dashboards and data amalgamation/analysis platforms;
  • Drones; satellite remote sensing, etc.
  • “Big data” ( and protecting personal ID and personal data);
  • Fieldwork.

The Research Assistant should have the following qualifications:

  • Strong research skills, including the ability to quickly search and summarize diverse literature
  • Writing ability (demonstrate previous lit reviews)
  • Knowledge of humanitarian technologies
  • Availability to begin work immediately, and to contribute 50 hours of effort by middle of November (15-20 hours/ week)

The Office of the Dean is looking to hire a current first year student as research assistant.  This position will take on occasional projects given by Dean Jim Stavridis.  Requirements include approximately 10-15 hour per week commitment, strong research skills, knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint, attending occasional meetings with the Dean, and the ability to function as part of a two-person team with a second-year student.

A Fletcher professor and a Brandeis University professor are co-directors of a project on on “Leadership and Negotiation” sponsored by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.  They are looking for a second-year MALD or PhD student to help them with the project.  Candidates should have a strong interest and background in negotiation, leadership, conflict resolution.

Teaching Assistant positions

International law:  Every spring several of Fletcher’s International Law faculty teach an undergraduate course on International Law through the Tufts Political Science department.  Two Fletcher students are hired each year to help out as coordinating instructor and TA.  In addition to attending the weekly lecture, you would also hold office hours each week for an hour and help run three to four review sessions during the semester.  The TA position is a two-year commitment so you will need to be at Fletcher next year.  You would be the TA for the course this Spring. Next spring you would be the coordinating instructor with a new TA.  The TA would ideally have some background in international law.

The TA tasks include the following:

  • preparing discussion questions and leading weekly discussion groups;
  • helping to organize a moot court exercise;
  • running review sessions 3-4 times a semester;
  • assisting with general logistics of the course, including grading;
  • holding office hours once a week.

Other teaching positions

The Fletcher Graduate Writing Center is accepting applications for writing tutors. The job basics:

  • Work one-on-one tutoring fellow Fletcher students in writing skills
  • Plan, execute, and assist with periodic writing skill workshops
  • A time commitment of 3-6 hours per week – schedules to be arranged after hiring
  • The ideal applicant has experience with tutoring AND editing of various kinds with people from a wide array of backgrounds.

Winter Teaching Opportunity at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: Lead a short study group for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts, an adult education program for retirees seeking intellectual stimulation in a convivial  atmosphere.  No tests.  No pressure.  No grades.  Just the thrill of learning for its own sake.  The Institute is currently soliciting proposals for 2- and 4-session study groups for its 4-week winter program, which will run in January and February.

You’ll receive a small honorarium, valuable classroom experience, an opportunity to develop a course in a subject you’re excited about, and the joy of knowing that everyone who signs up for your class has done so out of  genuine interest.  Study groups generally meet once per week, either on Mondays or Fridays on the Medford campus, or on Wednesdays at a “satellite campus” in Lexington.

 

The average Fletcher student is not here to goof off.  On the contrary, most students are both challenged by their coursework and also inclined to inch right up against the boundaries of the maximum they can handle at any given time.  Last Thursday, Ali shared details of her fall 2015 semester, which pushed her academically and forced her to employ advanced time management skills.  I have two more fall wrap-ups to share, from Aditi and Tatsuo, and they both describe tough semesters.  Today, let’s read about Aditi’s experience in her second year in the MALD program, and the reality of how challenging a semester can be.

As a second year student at Fletcher, a lot of things are easier this year — for example, knowing where to find a microwave when Mugar Café is closed, or how early to get to Social Hour for food, or how to petition anything you don’t really want to do.  But between worrying about careers, life after May, campus jobs, classes, and a Capstone Project, second year is still very challenging.  One of the things my friends and I have struggled with this year is dealing with these stresses without letting them get the better of us.

It’s really easy to lose perspective at Fletcher.  We’re so engrossed in campus life that it’s hard to focus on making sure we’re not over-extending ourselves, especially because we want to challenge ourselves and get involved as much as possible.  It’s also hard to find the time to stay engaged with life outside Fletcher — the friends, family, and other communities that we built long before arriving here.

Last semester, I decided to push myself academically and take classes that I personally found very difficult.  A lot of my friends made similar decisions.  While the classes were very rewarding and I learned a lot, by the middle of the semester I was burned out and struggling to keep on top of everything.  I just couldn’t juggle classes, work, the unavoidable necessities of regular life (you know, laundry, groceries, cleaning…), and friends and family.  At one point, I was concerned that instead of really understanding and learning in my classes, I was just rushing through the motions of finishing one assignment after the next.  Everything came to a head when I had a series of personal commitments, and I found myself unable to keep up with anything, academic or personal.  Several of my second-year friends were in the same situation, and we all realized that rather than making the most of our Fletcher experience, we were selling ourselves short by not investing the time necessary to truly enjoy it.

In retrospect, I think that much of my stress and anxiety could have been avoided had I been more realistic about my plans for the semester.  Yes, I wanted a challenge — but I wasn’t honest with myself about what I need to stay sane and happy, such as finding time to cook, spend time with my friends, stay connected to my family and relationships outside Fletcher, and get enough movement and exercise.  Many of us also delayed taking advantage of some of the great resources available to us here, such as Tufts Mental Health Services and our Fletcher community of friends.

Fletcher is a fantastic experience, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the most of graduate school and cram in as much as possible.  In the middle of all that we have going on here, it’s essential to remember to take care of ourselves and keep this experience in perspective!  I overextended myself last semester, but I don’t regret pouring all my energy into it.  As I start a new semester, I will learn from the experience, and plan my time in a way that fosters both my learning and my overall happiness, a suggestion I would give to anyone planning to come to Fletcher.

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The quickest of updates today.  First, the Office of Admissions is closed for the public holiday.  We’ll reopen tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

Our January 10 applicants will want to know that we’re making excellent progress in compiling and reading applications.  The students on the Admissions Committee read a lot of applications over their break, and now it’s up to the Admissions staff to pick up the pace of their own reading.  Applicants should know, though, that no matter whether we read your application first or last, all decisions will go out together at the end of March.

The process for reviewing PhD applications takes extra time, but nearly all of those submitted on December 20 have been read at least once already.  Decisions for PhD applicants will also go out at the end of March.

 

New students (the 2016 group of “Januarians”) have been participating in their Orientation this week, and continuing students will return on Tuesday.  Today, let’s hear from Ali about her extremely busy fall semester.

As winter break comes to an end, it’s hard to believe that I have only one semester left!  The fall was a whirlwind of finding balance between strengthening last year’s skills and pursuing new growth ahead.

My internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors — mentioned in my last post — was definitely something new.  I expanded my terminology within fixed income investing; experienced work in a medium-sized enterprise; and familiarized myself with downtown Boston, which I’m sad to say that I (and many of my peers) didn’t do in my first year.  It was overwhelming to balance school with work three days a week, but I’m glad I made time to do the internship.  I’m constantly reminded that this is the last time in my life when I’ll be encouraged to learn as much as I contribute at work.  I’m excited to continue interning there during my final semester.

My law courses in Trade Law, International Business Transactions, and Mergers & Acquisitions were all new for me, too.  I can’t recommend taking three law classes in one semester without a legal background, but Fletcher’s law professors succeeded in pushing me and teaching me to think in a new light.  I’m confident my familiarity with corporate law will differentiate me from other job-seeking graduate business candidates and will help me in future executive corporate roles.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

It hasn’t all been new, however.  I had a great time attending my second annual Net Impact conference in Seattle, WA, building off of last year’s experience.  It has been awesome to grow the club at Fletcher — we had five people attend the conference this year! — and to plan another fun semester of events, including an intimate speaker session with Talbot’s head of supply chain sustainability and a GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) certification workshop for students that will take place with Boston College’s Net Impact Club this spring.  A year ago, the second-year students passed the running of the club on to Chelsey and me, and now it’s fulfilling to pass it off to first-year students Ben and Harper.  I’m excited to see where they take it!

Stay tuned for adventures in my final semester, when I’ll return to Belgium over spring break with funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context to do field research for my capstone project!

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Ariel 2015Most of today’s blog readers won’t remember Ariel, a 2013 graduate of the MIB program, but that’s really a mistake on my part.  Ariel was a member of the Admissions Office student staff from 2011-2013, and she skillfully doled out advice in the blog’s “Dear Ariel” feature.  (Correcting for my previous oversight, I now encourage you to check it out — Ariel provided good information!)

Fast forward about two and a half years, and exciting news about Ariel recently landed in my inbox.  She has been recognized in the “Law and Policy” sector in Forbes Magazine‘s “30 Under 30″ feature for her work with the U.S. State Department combating drug trafficking.

Ariel was the first MIB student with a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.  Other MIB graduates have pursued careers with the State Department or other government agencies, but the Pickering Fellowship certainly seems to have boosted Ariel’s career onto the fast track.

It’s a treat for the Admissions team to see one of our students honored in this way.  Congratulations, Ariel!

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I recently heard some news about a 2015 graduate and I could not have been happier for him.  (More on the actual news in a future post.)  This was someone with whom I had been in frequent contact throughout his application year and during his two years at Fletcher.  Honestly, these relationships are the best part of my job.  I get so much satisfaction out of my tiny part in helping applicants/students accomplish their goals, and I’m always happy to take questions from prospective students who are putting together all the pieces as they explore their graduate school options.

Despite the value that my Admissions pals and I place on our interactions with you, and at the risk of seeming peevish, I want to ask you to be a little patient this week while we go through the many applications that were submitted over the weekend.  Please don’t email individual staff members directly to ask us to check your application.  Reread yesterday’s blog post, and then sit tight.  The task of the week is reviewing all the applications, and you’ll hear from us soon.

The relative speed with which we can compile applications is one of the prime benefits of our relatively new application system.  It used to take WEEKS  before we would have completed the process of matching applications with supplemental materials.  The first day after the deadline would be consumed with little more than printing the applications and putting them into folders!  (This 2012 post gives you an idea.  SIXTEEN DAYS before I was able to say that we had cleared the table of piles of mail and folders waiting to be compiled!)

Keep the bad old days of 2012 in mind as you read my request that you not ask to jump the application review queue.  You’ll hear from us soon about the completeness of your application.  On the other hand, all other questions are still fair game.  Feel free to write about other topics that are on your mind, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

 

There’s a hurry up and wait quality to the application deadline.  Those of you whose applications have our staff busy checking materials may have raced up toward the deadline to add all the finishing touches.  And now all you can do is wait.  Wait…and also monitor your application status until you’re sure that your application is complete and has moved along to the Admissions Committee.  To that end, here are the instructions for tracking your application.

AFTER YOU SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION, your Application Status page will display the information you need to track your application.

To access your Application Status Page you can either click the “Start an Application” link on the Admissions website or save the application link.  You will login with the email and password you used when you created your application.

How Do I Know If My Application is Incomplete or Complete?

Even after you have submitted all the required materials, your application will wait until a staff member has reviewed each document to check that it is correct and legible.  Only then is the application considered complete and ready to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Your Application Status page displays the most up-to-date information on your application.  Please allow us up to 10 days after we receive your materials to update your status.  It isn’t that checking each application takes a long time, but there are a great number to review and we want to get it right.

Your application will be marked as incomplete if we find that items are missing, your transcripts are difficult to read or not translated into English, or your application fee has not been received (with the exception of fee waivers).  If we are missing materials or cannot read application documents, we will contact you.

Fletcher Admissions will send you a confirmation email when all of your application materials have been compiled and your application is ready to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Once your application is complete, there’s nothing more you need to do (except wait).

Please Note: Whether your application is processed first or last has no bearing on your admissions decision.  But you do need to ensure that you have sent us all the needed materials.

When Will I Receive My Decision?

Decisions will be released toward the end of March.  We will send a message with information regarding your decision to the email address you used on your application.  We will also include information about scholarship awards for admitted students in March.

If you have further questions, please email us or call us at +1.617.627.3040.

Please use the email address that you included in your application on all email messages to the office.  We try to respond to every message on the same day we receive it, but due to the large number of emails we receive, it can take several days for us to reply to you.  We appreciate your patience!

 

Here we are, with the general application deadline in clear view.  Unless you have already applied, you’re probably typing away, getting everything ready to submit by 11:59 p.m. EST (UTC-5) on Sunday, January 10.  (Yes, there are later deadlines, but they’re appropriate for relatively few applicants.)  Remember that, to meet the deadline, you need to submit all the parts of the application that you control.  DO NOT hold your application for recommenders or for test scores.  (On the other hand, do make sure your recommenders are well aware of the deadline.)  If you are still waiting for an official transcript to arrive so that you can upload a copy, send us whatever you have now, and send the official version when you receive it.

Remember to proofread your essays and double check that you have answered all the questions.  And then…click submit.  We’ll see you (more precisely, your application) very soon!

 

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