Fletcher is super quiet this week with students out in the world on their spring break vacation. There’s a particular disconnect between their relaxation and Admissions Office un-relaxation. We’re scrambling to keep up with emails and calls from prospective students.
Meanwhile, Mother Nature played a little end-of-winter trick on us yesterday, delivering a pile of soggy snow. I’m hoping the early spring flowers that have appeared in recent weeks are snug below their snowy cover. Snow at this time of year never lasts too long and real spring does eventually arrive on the campus — but not always coinciding with today’s start of solar spring.
Although I often pick up a piece of Fletcher news (or, more often, newsy tidbit), it’s not realistic for the Admissions Blog to cover everything going on here. Thankfully, blog readers do not need to remain ignorant of interesting events — there are plenty of other sources for you. Here’s a partial list.
Fletcher’s News & Media page, produced by the School’s communications office.
The Tufts Daily — all the University’s news in a student-produced paper and web format.
If you’re a prospective student and you want to know more about the communities that surround the University, most local newspapers have detailed websites. Though each of these locales actually has more than one news source, here are a few links to start your research on Fletcher’s closest neighbors: Boston, Medford, Somerville, Cambridge.
Keeping up with all those sites and sources should give you a sense of what’s happening on campus and in our neighborhood.
If you weren’t admitted to Fletcher this year and are thinking of applying in the future, bookmark this post so that you can refer back to it on May 1. Applicants who have requested feedback have the best chance of putting together a successful application in the future.
Dear Ariel: I wasn’t admitted to Fletcher. How can I find out why?
The Fletcher School welcomes applicants who have been denied admission in one year to apply again in a later year. One way to ensure that the future application will be stronger than the previous is to request and review feedback from the Office of Admissions. The intention of this feedback is to help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your application, and to assist you in preparing for your next application to Fletcher.
To request feedback, please send us an email after May 1. Your message should include the following information:
• State your request for feedback, noting the date of your original application.
• Note any special questions you have about your application.
• Tell us your plans for the coming year.
• Tell us when you plan to reapply.
Because many applicants request a review of their application and it is a time-consuming process, application feedback will be provided starting in June.
Hanneke, a current Fletcher-Friedman dual degree student, recently told us the story of how she learned she had been admitted to Fletcher. Ten seconds later, we had handed her this writing assignment and a deadline. Here’s her great story.
When I applied to graduate school two years ago, I was teaching elementary school on a small Pacific atoll named Utrok in the Marshall Islands. I had spent September through December working on my essays by hand. (A hammock between two palm trees happens to be just about the most beautiful place you could hope to be, while writing essays about the trajectory of your life.) I had to feverishly prepare my online applications during a winter break trip to the capital, Majuro, 300 miles away, and I submitted them (which felt more like launching them into outer space) three days before returning to Utrok.
Because there was no phone or internet on Utrok, all of my admissions decisions would be going directly to my field director in Majuro. For her to communicate those decisions to me, we would have to talk over the radio (the kind truck drivers use), which was the only form of instant communication between Majuro, Utrok, and other outer islands. The thing is… conversations held over the radio could be heard by anyone tuning in to the same frequency anywhere in the country. While I didn’t want the rest of the Marshall Islands hearing my admissions decisions at the same time as I did, I really (really) did not want my colleagues to hear them.
I had a general idea when decisions should be released, so my field director and I devised a plan. We had a weekly group check-in every Wednesday, and if decisions were in, my field director was to discretely communicate a sign that I should get on the radio the following day. I must have changed that plan at least three times from January to March and eventually ditched it altogether in a fit of nerves the day I thought decisions would be available. I rushed home from school and announced (via that same radio) that I was ready to hear whatever news she had. Knowing that Fletcher and Friedman were my top choices, she gave me those two decisions first. In and in. Totally elated! And totally incapable of telling my family back in the U.S. My field director had to do that, too. (She was an immensely accommodating human being.)
The plane was working the following week and my acceptance packet made the trip relatively quickly to keep me company for the following two and a half months. I read it cover to cover, over and over again. I had only spent about three days in Boston when I was 17, so I had absolutely no orientation to the area. My host parents and I pored over the campus map: illustrations of campus landmarks, Powderhouse Circle, and the buildings of downtown Boston in the distance. The three of us sat there pointing — clueless, but excited.
I look back at that application process as somewhat surreal, largely hilarious, and ultimately incredibly special. It was only when I arrived at Fletcher and began to meet all of the remarkable people around me (who have done and continue to do the most impressive things) that I realized how oddly fitting all of it had been.
Tagged with: decisions
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!
Yesterday I was shuffling through piles of application files with Christine, and every so often she was left waiting while I read something that interested me. Sometimes it was my own (now forgotten) notes on an applicant. What really caught my attention, though, were a few references to the blog. It’s satisfying to know that applicants are acting on the suggestions we pass along.
This is the blog’s 847th post, which seems like a lot, though a less impressive tally given that we launched the blog in September 2006 when I kicked things off at the stunning pace of one post per month. With the support, suggestions, and written contributions of the Admissions staff, and increasingly of students and alumni who bring news or interesting tidbits to my attention, we continue to try to meet applicants’ needs while also reflecting our interesting community.
Today, as I have done in past years, I want to thank those of you who have been reading the blog regularly or occasionally throughout the year. March is action packed for most of you: anxious waiting and compulsive checking of email and websites in the first weeks, followed by sorting through admission offers at the end of the month. I hope that, throughout March and all the preceding twelve months, you have felt that the blog (complemented by the Admissions facebook page and the new Twitter feed) provided helpful information while you considered if The Fletcher School offers the right graduate program for you. If you have suggestions, or if you feel the blog has failed to give you the information you need, please let us know with an email or a comment on this post.
As application reviewers, Admissions Committee members become attached to applicants — even more so when we meet someone on the road or at Fletcher. March is filled with excitement and disappointment for us, too, as we share decisions and details with applicants. I hope all of the blog’s readers end up with graduate school options that are satisfying and that will launch you on the career path you seek, whether you join us at Fletcher or pursue your studies elsewhere. Meanwhile, thank you for reading the Admissions Blog!
And happy 161st birthday wishes to Austin Barclay Fletcher!
Not infrequently, we read application essays that describe an interest in studying languages while at Fletcher. Depending on how much detail the applicant provides, we may sense that there’s a mismatch between what Fletcher offers and what the applicant is looking for. Fletcher is not foremost a graduate school for cultural or language study, though many students certainly have a regional focus for their coursework or their career objectives. Our assumption is that you’re going to arrive at Fletcher with proficiency in the language(s) you need for your studies and career. At the very least, we expect you to have skills strong enough to pass the language exam, which is a requirement for graduation. (If you’re close, but not quite proficient enough, we may make your admission conditional upon completion of an intensive language program.)
But that doesn’t mean that Fletcher students have no opportunity for language study. Students may petition to take up to two language courses as part of their curriculum, and there are good reasons why someone would want to do so. Let’s say that your focus is East Asia and you speak Mandarin. You might want to acquire Japanese skills for your future career. Using two of your credits for language courses, in that case, makes perfect sense.
If you want to develop your language skills, but don’t want to use course credits to do so, you may decide to audit a class. The building that houses the University’s two language departments (the Department of Romance Languages and the Department of German, Russian and Asian Languages) is conveniently located right next to Fletcher, making it easy to dash over for classes. The meaning of “audit” is between you and the instructor, and you may want to commit yourself to completing more or fewer of the class assignments.
Less formally, if what you’re looking for is a chance to keep up your skills, you may find fellow students who will want to join you. Every year, students establish Chinese/French/Swahili/Russian/other study groups, where they might gather for coffee and a little exercise of the part of the brain that controls languages.
Tagged with: Language requirement
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 your International Women’s Day celebration, students have created a wonderful online and in-person exhibit of photographs and stories. The photos will be displayed at Fletcher only today, but the exhibit website can be perused at your convenience. As enticement, here’s the introduction that accompanies the photos:
Lesson Three brings the good news. Within the next couple of weeks, many Fletcher applicants will learn that they have been admitted. We will congratulate all of you and we’re genuinely happy that Fletcher may play a role in your future. Big smiles all around!
Some of the offers of admission, however, are accompanied by a condition, and today’s post is to clarify what those conditions entail. Point one is that we don’t bother to admit someone conditionally unless we’re very enthusiastic about other aspects of the application; don’t let the condition diminish your sense of accomplishment.
What is the basis for a conditional offer of admission? The Admissions Committee looks at the materials in an applicant’s file and makes certain assumptions, some of which lead Committee members to suggest the applicant needs further preparation before enrolling at Fletcher. We’ll make that preparation a condition of admission. The most frequently employed conditions require that, before starting Fletcher classes, the student should improve foreign language proficiency, English language proficiency, or quantitative skills (MIB students only).
We tend to be inflexible about the nature of the pre-Fletcher English training, for reasons I hope are obvious. (In case they’re not as obvious as I think, I’ll spell it out: No one can succeed in Fletcher classes with weak English skills.) There’s more flexibility around summer foreign language training for native English speakers. We’ll ask students to choose the best program for their level and their choice of language — there are too many variables involved for us to dictate any particular option.
Does this mean that, if we haven’t attached a condition, we’re absolutely sure your English skills are strong enough to cope with a heavy load of reading and writing? Not necessarily, and now’s a good time to work on those skills. Does it mean we’re sure you’ll pass the foreign language exam? Definitely not. Applicants who self-assess as having intermediate-level proficiency might have over-estimated or under-estimated their ability. Work on those language skills before enrolling! Not everyone who needs some practice will be admitted conditionally.
Beyond the conditions, there’s one other complication to the admit category: Occasionally, we admit applicants to a program other than the one to which they applied. Most common example: You applied to the mid-career MA program, but you don’t have sufficient experience to meet Fletcher’s standard for mid-career. On the other hand, you look great for the MALD program, so we’ll admit you to the MALD! (There’s similar thinking behind offering MALD admission to a tiny number of PhD applicants who lack the master’s level study to enter the PhD program directly.)
Our process would certainly be simpler if there were only one type of admit, but the option to attach a condition to admission is the difference between admit and deny for some applicants. We would hate to turn away a highly qualified applicant who needs a little brush-up on English skills, but we would be obliged to do so if we couldn’t require pre-Fletcher English study.
The happy bottom line is that conditional admission is (once the condition is met) admission. And we’re convinced that fulfilling the condition will enhance the admitted student’s experience at Fletcher. So we’ll maintain our portfolio of admits, sometimes with conditions attached.
Tagged with: decisions
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