Currently viewing the tag: "2018 Advice"

For the final Qs&As, the Admissions Graduate Assistants will turn to locations — on-campus and off-campus, for study, housing, or simply learning about the area.  Don’t miss their previous advice on preparing for Fletcher generally and preparing for Orientation and classes.

What is your favorite place at Fletcher or elsewhere on the Tufts campus?

Brooklyn: Ginn Library has a no-food policy, which I wholeheartedly endorse because nothing is worse than trying to read for class with someone crunching in your ear.  However, there are times when I get really busy and it would be great to be able to do some work while I eat.  This is where the Mugar Computer Lab comes in!  Obviously, if you’re going to eat a whole meal, you might as well go to the café, but for snacking while reading, Mugar Computer Lab is the place to go.

Cece: My favorite place on campus is the roof area of the Tisch Library, called “Alex’s Place.”  It offers a gorgeous view of the Boston skyline and the Medford/Somerville neighborhoods since Tufts sits on top of a hill.  It makes a great reading spot or just a place to take a calming break from the library below.

Cindy: To be honest, I spend pretty much all of my time in or around the Fletcher building, but I don’t have a particular favorite place.  I guess I’d say my favorite is anywhere I’m hanging out with friends.  There is, however, a restaurant on the Tufts campus called Semolina Kitchen and Bar which has excellent food!

John: Hall of Flags during Social Hours — free food and great company — what could be better?

Do you have any tips for finding housing?

Cece: Fletcher Facebook pages and the Social List, Fletcher’s informal student listserv, are a good place to start a housing hunt if you are looking for places around Fletcher.  Alums, current students, and incoming students all post housing-related messages all the way up to mid-August, so don’t panic if you are not successful early on.  I would also say that living close to Fletcher is not the only housing option.  Many students live in other parts of Medford or even in neighboring cities like Cambridge.  The options are wide, based on what logistical arrangements you are comfortable with.  I live 25 minutes away from campus but I took the distance as an opportunity to get back to cycling and it has worked out.  Do keep the winter weather in mind as well — the cold and snow can complicate long commutes.

Cindy: I am in an unusual situation compared to most Fletcher students: I am married and have a dog and guinea pig.  Roommates were not the best option for us to keep our rent costs down.  I would highly recommend taking a trip to visit the area and search for housing on your own, or connect with other students on the Facebook group.  If you cannot visit, get in touch with current Fletcher students who have used trusted realtors, and maybe they can help you find a place.  Keep in mind that realtors typically charge fees.

John: The Social List and the Facebook group are both great resources for incoming students, but more important than the search medium is that you really think about what you want out of your housing in terms of price, roommates, and proximity to campus.  There are a lot of options that come online throughout the summer so you can afford to be a little picky, but I would also recommend being open to new experiences that may be different from your ideal housing situation.

Brooklyn: Coming from Washington, DC, I had gotten used to looking for housing closer to the move-in date, probably 30 to 45 days out.  In the greater Boston area, this is not how things work!  Because something like 90% of leases in the metro area start September 1, people will start looking for housing as early as March/April.  While you don’t need to start that early, the earlier you can start looking the better!

What location in the Boston area should students be sure to visit?

John: Beacon Hill is a cool historic district in downtown Boston.  It’s very close to other noteworthy spots, including the Massachusetts State House, the Boston Common, and Newbury Street.  Chinatown is a nice change of pace; there are some great restaurants and it’s a fun way to see a different side of Boston.  I also really enjoy Harpoon Brewery in the Seaport District.  Be sure to order one of their famed pretzels while you’re enjoying a beer!

Cindy: I love to sing, so I would recommend going to any of the karaoke bars in downtown Boston with your friends.  There are also some excellent local breweries if you’re into trying interesting beers, such as Slumbrew and Aeronaut.

Cece: The Boston waterfront (while the warm weather lasts) or any neighborhood near the Charles River is where Boston feels complete to me.  I love that this city has a great balance of urban and nature.  If you don’t feel like going as far as downtown Boston, you’ll find a lot to explore in Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge, all of which have their own vibe and charms.  Anybody new to Boston should definitely go on the Freedom Trail as well, to learn about the rich history of this city.

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Today’s Q&A with the Office of Admissions 2017-18 Graduate Assistants (GAs) zeroes in on Orientation and the start of classes.

What tips do you have for after classes start?

Cindy: Get organized quickly!  I use a planner that I refer to when I need to check what readings or assignments I have coming up, and I use Google Calendar to alert me where I need to be.  This has been extremely helpful for me because I can always be thinking ahead, and it has helped me make tough choices about whether to attend events or focus on coursework that is due soon.

I have also found that forming reading groups early on will help you be on top of your classes and help you meet new people.  It is a fact that you will not read everything for your classes, but it’s more manageable if you’re splitting things up and sharing notes.  Those notes also come in handy during exam time. 🙂

John: I agree that it’s really helpful to try and form a study group/reading group, especially with classes that have a heavy reading load.  I would also say that it’s important to find that balance of activities early on in the semester.  It’s easier to start this early in the year and you’ll thank yourself when things get crazier later on.  Finally, don’t forget to get involved!  Classes can take over your life, but one of the best things about Fletcher is the exchange of ideas that happens outside of the classroom through organizations, conferences, and social events.  Dive right in and get involved in something that you’re passionate about, but also don’t be afraid to try some new things.

Brooklyn: After classes start, but BEFORE the end of the add-drop period, make sure to check the work required for each class by taking a look at the syllabi.  Some classes will require more written paper assignments while others will be more exam based.  It’s good to select classes that are a mixture of the two.  You don’t want to end up writing five papers or have five exams at the end of the semester!

Cece: Enjoy learning and don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of reading or assignments.  You’ll get used to the flow of graduate school and learn to balance academics and your social/professional sphere.  It is important to apply your professional lens to what you are learning as well, so take time to think about what you learn in class and consider how it might be relevant for you professionally in the future.  You will find that the Fletcher calendar is filled with numerous exciting events, guest speakers, lectures, and student-run club events.  It can feel like a lot, but you will soon learn that it is not humanly possible to attend everything and meet everyone in the first semester.  It’s okay to take some time just settling in.  I would still recommend making the best use of all the extra resources Fletcher provides outside of the classroom and begin building a network that will stay with you even after you leave Fletcher.

If you could speak to your pre-Orientation self, what would you say?

John: Take a deep breath.  You’ll receive a lot of information during Orientation.  It takes time to process it and it’s really easy to get overwhelmed.  Make sure to pay attention to these sessions, but also take the time to get to know your classmates and the rest of the Fletcher community.

Cece: Make the most of your first week by attending the social hours held during orientation.  Orientation is a gateway to meeting a lot of amazing people you will call classmates for the rest of your Fletcher experience.

Cindy: Graduate school will go by so fast, so make sure to try new things, get involved in opportunities that come your way, meet and connect with others, and enjoy the experience!

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The Graduate Assistants (GAs) who work in the Office of Admissions are a great resource for prospective students.  Not only do they have their own experience to draw on, but they have also learned about the experience of other applicants and incoming students through their work.  (Answering dozens of calls and emails each shift will do that for you.)  Two of the 2017-18 GAs — Brooklyn and Cindy — are newly graduated and have moved on to new vistas, while two — John and Cece — will return in September.  Before they all left campus in May, I asked for their tips for incoming students.  Today and later this week, I’ll share their responses, in Q&A format, starting today with the big picture.  (Note that there are some recurring themes, which should reinforce their importance.)

Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?

Brooklyn: I would suggest taking the time to study for the equivalency exams.  The two years at Fletcher go by fast and there is a limited number of credits you can take, so you do not want to waste them on classes that you have already taken.  If it’s been a few years since your last economics or statistics class, it might take a few hours of studying to prep for the equivalency exams, but it will be worth it when you can skip basic classes and take ones that are more focused and challenging.

Cece: Go through the course listing on the Fletcher website and map out your next one or two years very roughly.  I would suggest incoming students do that during the summer, as it can be overwhelming to select classes at the last minute and most students panic initially, even by sheer excitement about all the choices.

I would also recommend students orient themselves to the faculty, if they have not already, as making early connections with a faculty member from your field of study can really help you shape your academic experience and build a professional track for after Fletcher.  Student-faculty relationships at Fletcher can be very informal and professors and administrators really care about the success of their students.  Start the process of becoming familiar with Fletcher and the opportunities you may want to pursue once you are here.

Cindy: If you know that you might need to brush up on your second language skills, it’s better to do it early on than after your classes start.  Take some time over the summer to practice on your own or enroll in a class/program if you have the resources to do so.  Once classes start, try to take your reading and oral exams as early as you can, and definitely don’t leave them until your last semester!

Second, take some time to RELAX over the summer.  Read books that you haven’t had the chance to read, travel, visit family and friends, or take up a hobby.  Once school starts, your calendar will fill up very quickly and you will be incredibly busy with classes, meeting new people, exploring the area, and getting involved in Fletcher events and clubs.

John: While I don’t recommend planning out every facet of your Fletcher experience, I do think that it’s useful to consider the bigger picture of how Fletcher fits into your plans and where you want your degree to take you.  This answer will likely change during your time at Fletcher, but it’s a useful question that can help frame your experience and what you want to get out of it.

If you plan on taking equivalency exams for economics or quant in August, make sure to study a little bit over the summer.  The tests are offered during Orientation, when there are a lot of different activities happening, so it’s important to plan ahead.  I would also recommend brushing up on your language skills.  I remember thinking that I would have time during the semester to do this, but that hasn’t proven true thus far.  If you can get the requirements out of the way, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.

More than anything, I think it’s important to rest and recharge before you begin school again.  Transitioning to graduate school is challenging under the best of circumstances.  Give yourself space and time to tie up loose ends in whichever city you’re coming from, visit family and friends you haven’t seen for a while, and mentally prepare for the journey ahead.

Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?

Cece: I would say do not NOT connect or NOT familiarize yourself with Fletcher, thinking you’ll figure it out all when you’re on campus.  Read all the materials the school sends, because it has a lot of useful information that you will need while transitioning to graduate school.  Even if you are a local student, still make time to orient yourself to Fletcher.

Cindy: Do not assume that you will come to Fletcher with your classes planned out for every semester.  It is good to do your research, chat with current or former students, and have a rough plan.  Every semester, however, has a “Shopping Day,” when you get to shop around for interesting classes, hear quick pitches from the professor about a particular class, and ask questions.  Almost every semester, I attended Shopping Day and changed my initial plans for what I thought I would be taking.

John: Don’t stress yourself out!  There are some things in your control and some things that are not.  For the things out of your control, don’t worry.  Everything will line up eventually.  In that same line of thought, don’t feel like you have to plan out your entire career at Fletcher.  You’ll probably change your concentrations, much less your class schedule, multiple times during your first semester.  That’s one of the benefits of having such a flexible Fletcher curriculum.  Additionally, Shopping Days at the beginning of the semester, where professors give a brief description of their course, is a great resource to get a better feel for which classes you’d be interested in taking.  All this to say, your schedule may come together last minute and that’s perfectly normal for Fletcher.

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