Early Notification applicants will know by now that we have released decisions on all of the complete EN applications.

To those who were admitted, congratulations!  Learning in December that you have been admitted is a great opportunity to plan for your graduate studies.  Members of the Admissions staff will be reaching out to you and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask your questions.  Working with you throughout the early spring is a welcome reminder for the staff that the applications we’re toiling over represent future students!

But today I’m really writing for those who weren’t admitted.  To those who were denied admission, please let me say that we’re sorry to make these decisions, but we hope it will help you craft your strategy on where to apply in January.  Later in the spring, you will also be welcome to request feedback on your application.

This post is really for those applicants whose applications were deferred for review in the spring, a good news/bad news situation.  The bad news is the lack of happy admissions news, but the good news is that you still have the opportunity to try to bring about happy news in March.  Our Admissions Committee will gladly review an update to your application!  But what makes a useful addition?  Here’s a list of updates that we particularly value:

  • An updated transcript that reflects grades received since you submitted your application;
  • New standardized exam (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS) score reports;
  • A revised résumé that includes information on a new job position;
  • An additional recommendation that sheds light on an aspect of your background you weren’t able to illuminate in other parts of the application.

Before I go on, I’ll emphasize that no one is required to submit an update.  Not at all!  But you are invited to submit one, and why would you turn down this opportunity?

What type of optional update is best for you?  Well, let’s start with the parts of your application that you know are weakest.  Are those aspects something you can improve on?  For example, did you decide it would be better not to mention the causes of your weak undergraduate semester?  I’d encourage you to explain it, particularly if it pulled down your overall GPA.  Did you indicate that your language skills are not strong enough to pass our proficiency exam?  Send us information on your plan for achieving proficiency before the end of the summer.  Did you mistype your years of employment at a certain job, making it look like you were there for two months, rather than four years and two months?  You can make that correction now.  And, if your GRE/GMAT scores were significantly lower than you expected, you may want to take the test again.  (Note here that I’m not telling you to take the standardized exam again.  I’m suggesting that you consider if you could have done better and, if so, that you make that decision for yourself.)

Another suggestion:  If, upon reflection, your essay didn’t state your goals as clearly as you would have liked, send us a clarifying email!  We won’t substitute it for your personal statement, but it will certainly be reviewed.  This could be particularly helpful if you’ve taken steps to learn more about your ultimate career goal.

Possible additions to your application need not be limited to what I’ve listed above.  The key question to ask yourself is:  Does this actually add anything?  If the information is already included in your application, then there’s there’s not much value in sending it again.  (An additional academic recommendation will add little to an application that already includes two.)  On the other hand, a professional recommendation will add a lot to an application that only includes academic recommendations.  Think it through before you flood us with info, but don’t hesitate to send us something that will give your application a happy bump.

Whether you were offered admission this week, or you were told we’ll reconsider your application in the spring, we look forward to hearing from you and to working with you during the coming months.  Please be sure to contact us with your questions.

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The University communications team has shared several of the year’s best photographs of the Medford/Somerville, Boston, and Grafton campuses.  The one that Fletcher calls home (Medford/Somerville) is reasonably compact and picturesque, though no campus shot is going to rival an eagle in a red and blue towel.  This year’s selection doesn’t include any pix of the Fletcher buildings, but you’ll find one of last spring’s speakers, Anderson Cooper of CNN, who posed with the Tufts mascot, Jumbo.

04/11/2016 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°,” poses for a photo ith Jumbo on the Academic Quad at Tufts University on April 11, 2016. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

(Photo credit: Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

 

 

Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program has experienced a burst of adrenaline in the last year or so and is offering students extra opportunities for experiential learning.  The program kicked off its offerings in September with a short road trip to New Bedford and Fall River, MA — two towns south of campus with rich maritime histories.  The group visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Fall River’s Battleship Cove, home port for the several U.S. Navy vessels, and professors on the trip offered their perspective during pre- and post-lunch talks.

The director of the Maritime Studies Program, Professor Weitz, pointed out that:

The field trip’s relevance is obvious for Fletcher students focused on security studies, environmental policy, clean energy, technology, international law, and global maritime affairs.  New Bedford is America’s #1 fishing port by value and currently investing in infrastructure to become America’s #1 port servicing the offshore wind energy industry.  Counter-intuitively, the venture capital business model was invented in New Bedford in the 19th century to finance the hugely profitable but highly risky whaling industry.  This business model spread worldwide and remains relevant for today’s entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, and impact investors.

Venturing a little further than a road trip would take them, the program is planning a January research trip to Oahu, Hawaii, focusing on global maritime security challenges, ranging from traditional naval diplomacy and maritime boundary disputes in the South China Sea, to environmental security challenges facing the Pacific Ocean.

MALD graduate Sea Sovereign Thomas, F02, is stationed in Oahu at the U.S. Marine Corps base, and is helping to arrange meetings at Pacific Command, the Asia Pacific Center for Maritime Security, and the Daniel Inouye National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research center.

And then, during spring break, the program will head to Panama & Colombia.  This research trip is still in the planning stages.

In addition to the trips, the news for this year is that the program has staffed up.  Matthew Merighi, F16, and Caroline Troein F14, have joined Professor Weitz as new assistant directors of the program.  In addition, the program has created an advisory board to offer additional guidance.

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InviteI had a lovely Fletcher evening yesterday.  First, dinner with my good pal, Helen, from the Office of Career Services.  Then, we went together to see the wonderful performances from the Fletcher Performing Arts Club.  There’s a lot of talent among our students!  Some professors and administrators participated, too.  And despite the end of fall classes and the impending exams, there was a great showing from the community.

When I talk with visitors about student organizations, I always divide them between the ones with a curricular connection and the ones that are straightforward fun or social.  The Performing Arts Club belongs to that second group and it draws folks with all sorts of talents.  I’m always happy if I’m able to attend their twice-yearly recitals.

I only took one photo.  It’s not great, but I’ll share anyway.  Here we have a student, Taji, on the piano.  The violinists are Professor Burgess and Mary Dulatre, the Fletcher Registrar.

Performance

 

Two pieces of news for those interested in studying entrepreneurship at Fletcher.  The first is actually an update on a previous post, highlighting Adelante, the new venture launched by current MALD student Peter Sacco.  Two nice stories recently appeared in local press locations, BostInno and yesterday’s Sunday Boston Globe and Adelante’s Kickstarter campaign has exceeded the original goal with nearly 300 backers!

The second piece of news is that there are second-round winners of Fletcher’s D-Prize!  The two proposals are:

ComeOnGirls: Raise scholarships for rural girls in China to attend secondary school through social media marketing and public speaking, submitted by Meghan Li, first-year MALD student; and

Light Afghanistan: Develop a solar market in Afghanistan, where approximately only 35% of the country has consistent electric power, submitted by Michael Baskin, Fletcher PhD candidate.

From here, Meghan and Michael have six weeks to submit a business plan and build a team to pilot their start-ups.  To that end, last week they presented their concepts to members of the community who might want to be part of the team.  The final decision on awarding seed funds to one of these ventures will come on March 2, 2017.

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Though there’s a lot of overlap in the work done by each member of the Admissions team, we also have the projects that belong primarily to one or the other of us.  For me, in addition to writing/editing the blog, that would include coordinating the Admissions Committee for the MALD and MA programs.  The responsibilities start with hiring the students who sit on the committee (along with Dan this year) and continue through gathering feedback at the end of the process.  Along the way, everyone plays a role.  For example, Theresa ensures we’re fed and caffeinated (important!), Lucas “drives” the computer from which we see the application under discussion on the screen (and provides the behind-the-scenes details we need), and today, Liz is making it possible for one committee member to phone in.  My most important role this morning was to pick up the cookies that will go with the coffee.

Bringing together a group of students, staff, and faculty is both easy and difficult.  We all do our jobs, naturally.  But what we want is for students to feel comfortable expressing their views to professors who may be teaching them on other days, and for the professors to value the students’ unique perspective on the community.  A little conversation over coffee and lunch goes a long way toward bringing us together as more than a group of individuals.  And now I’m off, cookies at the ready, for our first committee meeting of 2016-17.

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Gosh, I’m sorry to have missed posting on two days during such a busy time for applicants.  I’m going to try to make up for it today with a big fat application tip.

You’ve probably heard Fletcher or other admissions representatives talk about how we take a “holistic” approach to reviewing applications.  And probably you’ve thought, “Blah blah blah.  That’s what they all say,” or other such dismissive thoughts.  I hear you, dear blog reader.  Especially if you still bear the scars of the often crazy U.S. undergraduate process, you may believe that “holistic” is a word that admissions folks toss around to deflect eyes from our arbitrary cut-offs or nefarious deeds.

But I’m going to ask you to believe me when I say that we review all elements in an application, and that a trip through the Hall of Flags, if you were to survey the students hanging out there, would reveal very different profiles — a collection of profiles that a single set of criteria could never produce.

To demonstrate that we do, indeed, have some standards, here are two bottom line requirements.  The first is that everyone, EVERYONE, who is admitted must be able to succeed academically.  Not everyone is going to be at the top of the class, but the Admissions Committee cannot knowingly admit students who, it is clear, will not be able to complete their Fletcher classes successfully.  The second requirement is that non-native English speakers must have sufficient skills to function in an English-language academic environment.  In the case of this second requirement, we do have a cut-off of 100 on the TOEFL or 7.0 on the IELTS.  (Admitted applicants at or near that cut-off will probably be asked to pursue additional English study before enrolling.)

Let’s say that you believe us and our talk of holistic review.  How should you approach your application?  Holistically, of course.  You should take the time to think about the different aspects of your background that you want us to know about, and then you should select the application component that will be best for telling us about it.  The basic elements of the application are the form, essays, transcript, résumé, test scores, and recommendations.

Let’s start with that academic profile.  Naturally, the best way to demonstrate that you have strong academic potential is a successful undergraduate record, strong GRE/GMAT scores, and a nice recommendation from a former professor.  But not everyone has such a neat package.  A transcript with some blemishes will still be fine, combined with strong scores.  Middling scores will be o.k. when combined with a strong record.  Your recommendation can go a long way toward helping us understand anything that went wrong for you as an undergrad.  All of this is to say that the easiest applications for us to decide on are those in which all the academic pieces are perfect.  But most Fletcher students didn’t present perfect academic profiles, so don’t worry if you’re not perfect, but do give us something positive to work with.

Next, the essays.  Most of you will write two essays for us.  I won’t say much now, because we have provided all sorts of advice in the past.  But I’ll rehash the basics.

  • Make sure you answer the questions.
  • Don’t view the second essay as a throw-away.  It should be telling us something about you that connects, in some way, to your interest in international affairs.  (That’s still plenty flexible.)
  • Use the “additional information” section to explain anything unusual in your application.  Don’t waste essay space to tell us you did poorly in one semester.

Beyond those three points, read through past blog posts for more tips.

While the essays are the heart of the material you’ll prepare for us, you’ll want to use your résumé to help us understand your professional experience and trajectory to date.  If there’s a long time gap in your work chronology, you should explain it in the “additional information” section.  We ask about your work history in the application form, and we want you to complete that section carefully, but the résumé is a free-form location for you to highlight all of the skills you’ve gained and the locations where you have gained them.  Don’t simply attach any old résumé you have hanging around.  Instead, create one that will help you advance your application narrative.  More than one page is A-OK, but that’s not permission to stretch it out beyond what’s warranted.

As I’ve described in the past, we’re looking for international and professional experience that links to your goals.  If possible, your professional recommendation should be your supervisor at a relevant organization.  Sometimes people can’t ask for a letter from their current employer, and we understand that.  Make a note in the “additional information” section.

Finally, a word on the form.  Apparently I say too little about it because I can’t put my finger on an archived post that addresses it directly.  (Note to self — must fix that.)  Yes, it’s time-consuming.  Yes, it might be annoying and repetitive.  But you should still complete it with care.  Application readers start with the form, and by the time I have paged through all the information, I already have a pretty strong impression of an applicant.  Do you want that to be a positive impression?  Of course you do.  Answer each question carefully and make sure you’re not leaving a river of typos.

To wrap up, each element of your application deserves thought and care.  And each element can/should be used to cover an aspect of your objectives and background that you want to share with the Admissions Committee.  For more details on our views, check out the Application Boot Camp posts from a few summers back.

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Today I’m happy to report on the latest accomplishment of 2006 MALD graduate Cristiana Paşca Palmer.  I can do so thanks to the outreach of her 2006 classmate Cornelia (Connie) Schneider.

Pasca PalmerFirst, the news.  Cristiana was recently appointed Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Cristiana has a long record of accomplishment in the environment arena, and has been actively engaged in international climate talks.  After receiving her MALD, Cristiana stayed on at Fletcher for her PhD studies (receiving the degree in 2014), during which she had a fellowship with the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.

This is the second time I’ve highlighted Cristiana’s accomplishments, both times because Connie, who is very accomplished herself(!), contacted me.  This is such a sweet tradition and finding Connie’s email message in my inbox this morning was a highlight of my day.  I love how alumni cheer for each other, both because such mutual support is wonderful, and also because it reminds me what a special community I am part of.

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One less-heralded benefit of applying by our November 15 Early Notification deadline is a rapid turnaround.  You’ll be hearing back from us before the end of December, less than six weeks after you first applied, keeping the amount of waiting time to a relative minimum.  Given the schedule, you may be wondering what the Admissions Office is up to, and I’m here to tell you.

Our first step toward releasing EN decisions was hiring and training the students who are full members of the Committee on Admissions.  They start their reading with EN applications, which provides a perfect small-batch learning/coaching opportunity for all of us.  We can take the time to offer comments and ensure that the new readers are on the right track.  As it happens, the students on this year’s committee are amazing!  Good news for the staff.

Once we have a committee, we start reading.  Every application is read twice, and then Laurie looks at all of them to ensure consistency from reader to reader.  When needed, we discuss applications in a full-committee setting that will include the professors on the committee.  Our EN meeting will be next Friday.  (Can’t wait!  LVE committee meetings!)  Nearly every application has already been read twice — we’re well on our way through the process.

From the perspective of a staff member (i.e., me), EN is great because it throws us into the heart of the admissions process, but with an application volume that enables us to test and, when necessary, improve systems before the January 10 flood of applications.  Next Friday’s meeting will help students calibrate their assessments of applicants.  Then in January, we’re in the best position for the process to go smoothly.

But none of that matters to you EN applicants.  What you need to know is simply that we are making great progress in completing the review of applications, and you’ll be hearing from us before the end of this month.

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The final trip of the Fletcher Admissions travel season was Laurie’s visit to Europe, which ended about two weeks ago.  The greatest distance was covered by Liz, when Fletcher joined several other schools for a trip to Southeast Asia.  Here’s her report, along with her photos.

In October, I participated in a great recruiting trip to Southeast Asia.  I traveled with colleagues from Johns Hopkins SAIS, Columbia SIPA, and Georgetown MSFS.  You may be wondering why we travel together, since we’re all competitors.  The answer is that for over forty years we’ve traveled together to inform students about educational and career opportunities in international affairs.  We know many students will end up applying to all four schools, and so we work together to get the word out about our programs and to recruit students from around the world.

Our first stop was in Singapore.  We had a day to recover from our 27-hour flight across the world and so two colleagues and I decided to head over to Sentosa, an island just off Singapore.  There are two ways to get to Sentosa: train or cable car.  We decided to check out the cable car so we could really see the island.

Here are a few snaps from our trip:

Sentosa

Lpdp

Liz (third from left), travel companions, and LPDP host.

We had great school visits at Yale-NUS and National University of Singapore — where I was thrilled to meet faculty of both schools who were Fletcher alumni!  It was neat to tour the Yale-NUS campus, as it’s so new, and so lush with vegetation!  From there we flew to Jakarta, Indonesia for visits at the EducationUSA Center (@America), meetings with LPDP (the Indonesia Endowment for Education) and school visits to the University of Indonesia and UPH (Universitas Pelita Harapan).

@AmericaVisit
We ended our trip in Bangkok, Thailand.  Our time in Thailand was solemn, as His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej had just passed away.  Because the trip had been planned well in advance, we still hosted events at Thammasat University, as well as with the U.S. Embassy, and were grateful for those who were able to join us, despite the timing.

Overall the trip was great!  We got to eat some wonderful food, meet fantastic prospective students, and continue to spread the word about international affairs graduate schools!

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