Currently viewing the tag: "Ask Cindy"

Tuesday’s post covered Cindy’s general tips for incoming students.  Today, she attacks a topic critical to graduate student survival: free food and where to find it.  With no further ado, I’ll let Cindy reveal these important nutritional resources.

Let’s face it: everyone enjoys eating free food!  Around Fletcher, there are many opportunities for students to keep themselves fueled and fed throughout the semester.  Here are some suggestions for how to do just that:

  • There’s a Social Hour scheduled every Thursday, sponsored by a different club or organization on campus each week.
  • Dean Sheehan holds a pizza lunch once per month.  This is a great way to hear about Fletcher news, voice your opinion about what could make Fletcher a better school, and also get to know your school leadership and peers.
  • A couple of times each month, the International Security Studies Program hosts guest speaker events that students can sign up for in advance.  Business attire is required, and lunch is served.  Keep in mind there are cancellation policies for these luncheons!
  • Throughout the semester, various student clubs will sponsor events and lunch will often be provided at the event.
  • If students don’t manage to eat all the food at an event, any leftovers will typically be placed in the Hall of Flags coat nook.  Free!  But also first come, first served.
  • Evening events that take place in the main ASEAN auditorium are often followed by an open/cash bar with hors d’oeuvres.
  • There are many end-of-semester events with free food, which comes in handy when you’re studying hard for exams!  Check the Social List for any updates on free food around this time.  The Office of Career Services has been known to bring in homemade cookies at the end of the semester.
  • Free food isn’t confined to Fletcher.  Plenty of Tufts-wide events include a free meal, too!

Of course, where it comes to lectures, book talks, conferences, and meetings, the hope is that students will attend for the opportunity to learn and discuss, not simply to eat.  But a free meal is a nice added bonus!

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It’s hard to believe, but the first of the students to arrive (aside from those who are on campus for a quick English brush-up) will start the pre-session courses on August 14, less than two weeks from today!  Yikes!  That’s how the summer goes: slow…slow…slow FAST!  FAST!  FAST!  Before we know it, Orientation will be here.  And timed for the pre-session and Orientation arrivals, I have some new-student advice for you from Cindy, our advice-offering Graduate Assistant.  Back in the spring, I asked her to think about the things that would have been handy to know before she arrived for her first year of study.  We like to think that we provide all the key info in official correspondence, so Cindy’s list drills down to some lesser known but still important points.

Between Orientation, pre-session courses, shopping day, and moving into a new apartment or Blakeley Hall, starting Fletcher life can be overwhelming.  Have no fear!  We have compiled a list of useful tidbits that are often overlooked during the hectic start of Fletcher study.  We hope you find this collection of somewhat random tips to be helpful when making your transition to Fletcher.

  • At the beginning of the year, you’ll be assigned a locker.  This is a great place to keep your tea, snacks, and maybe even a change of clothes/shoes for when you really need them.
  • Technology troubles?  The Ginn Library lends out cell phone chargers, computer chargers, and laptops.
  • Don’t forget to join the Social List early on!  Students (and even staff) send out emails to the Fletcher family to find used textbooks, post jobs/internships, get a Tylenol when they have a headache, or promote an event on/off campus.  You can ask the Social List pretty much anything and you will get a response!
  • There are two microwaves that are free for Fletcher students to use: one in Mugar Café and another in the Cabot lower level.
  • We have a compost bin in the coat-hanging nook of the Hall of Flags for all of our environment-friendly folk.
  • A prime study spot is the third floor study room in Ginn Library.  This does need to be booked online through the Ginn Library website.
  • There’s a new coffee machine next to Mugar Computer Lab if you are in a rush and need your caffeine.  The coffee is nicely priced!
  • If you have a bike (which is very useful for getting around campus), you can register it with the Tufts Police Department for free — an added layer of security.  And there are several bike racks near our buildings, for those who bike-commute to campus.
  • You have free access to the latest versions of Microsoft Office Suite.

Returning to point #3, contact the Social List for info on any of these points or to ask returning students more questions about student life.

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Though many incoming students have already lined up their housing, I know that other folks are still searching or, even, just kicking off their search.  Here’s some advice from Admissions Graduate Assistant Cindy, who conducted her housing search last summer.

During the few months before starting at Fletcher, one of my biggest worries was figuring out where I was going to live.  At the time, I was finishing up a teaching job and living with my husband in North Carolina, so I was very anxious about trying to find housing remotely.  I could only imagine what that process would be like for students living and working outside of the United States.

I learned very quickly that housing in the Medford/Boston area goes on and off the market at a fast pace, and websites like Zillow were not always helpful.  As badly as I wanted to secure housing early on, trying to search for housing in March or April was unrealistic.  That being said, I was able to start getting in touch with different realtors and learn about how to find an apartment that suited our needs and budget.  After working with a realtor, we ended up taking a weekend trip to Medford in June, looking at a few places within our budget, and submitting an application for an apartment.  We eventually moved to Medford in late July.

My situation is not exactly typical of Fletcher students; I wanted to find a one-bedroom apartment for my husband, my dog, and me, which was a difficult task.  I would say, however, that it is much easier to find housing if you are open to the idea of roommates, so that you can split the rent.  To find out current information about houses or apartments for rent, I would check out the Off Campus Housing Resource Center.  On this site, you can click on the apartment listing spreadsheet which is continually updated throughout the year.  (Scroll down for the latest listings.)  There is also helpful information on trusted real estate agents, but keep in mind you often have to pay realtor fees if you work directly with a broker.

Another way of seeing what is available is getting in touch with current Fletcher students and finding out if they are graduating or relocating.  If you’re not already connecting with people on the incoming student Facebook page, it’s not too late.  Blakeley Hall, Fletcher’s co-ed dorm for single or married students not living with their spouse/children, is also an option, though by now the rooms will all be taken for Fall 2017.  For those who have already reserved a Blakeley room, you’ll find it a great way to remain involved on campus and it has a special culture that its resident have developed over time.

Searching for housing can be stressful, but if you keep in mind the timing of your search as well as the options listed above, I’m sure you will find a great home.  Good luck!

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Returning to the Fletcher Admissions inbox and the many questions within, Admissions Graduate Assistant Cindy tackles a student life question.

CindyNew Fletcher students often wonder how they’ll get around town without access to a car.  Have no fear!  There are plenty of options available for you to get to and from campus, and also ways for you to get to popular areas in neighboring cities.

Many students live within walking distance of the campus.  Depending on where you live, you might be separated from campus by a small hill, but students who live within walking distance are usually happy with their choice.

For those who live further afield, taking public transportation is the most common way to get around.  There are dozens of bus lines throughout the Greater Boston area, and it is relatively easy to check out the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) website and figure out the best routes to take from any location.  The bus routes that come onto the Tufts campus are the 80, 94, and 96.

Although it doesn’t come directly onto campus, the best option to go from Tufts to downtown Boston is the MBTA subway train — which everyone calls the “T” — from nearby Davis Square.  It takes about 20 minutes to reach the center of Boston, and along the way there are four stops in Cambridge, for those wanting to visit Harvard or MIT.  The option to take a bus or subway definitely expands the circle of convenient places to live.

Be on the lookout at the beginning of each semester for a notification from Tufts about purchasing a “Charlie Card.”  Students are eligible to purchase a discounted bus-only or bus/train pass at the beginning of each semester, which gives you unlimited rides.  Taking the bus or train expands the circle of convenient places to live.

If you would like to cut down on your walking and public transportation time, a great option is to bike to and from Fletcher and around the area.  It is definitely a cheaper way to go, and there are plenty of places to store your bike on campus.  If you are worried about the safety of your bike, I recommend purchasing a U-Lock and registering the bike with the Tufts Police Department.

If you do have access to a car, students can purchase a decal permit for parking on campus.  Parking is limited, however, and students may only park in designated areas around the Tufts campus, so many students think it’s best not to have a car.  If you’re in a pinch and need to get somewhere quick, Uber and Lyft are great resources, and they may provide discounted rates for students in areas near the Tufts campus.  This is a good option if you are cross-registering for a class at Harvard and happen to miss the bus one day.  The campus also has several Zipcars that you can borrow, if you have a Zipcar membership.  There’s even a Zipcar in the parking lot directly behind Blakeley Hall dormitory.

Last, but not least, Tufts offers a shuttle service, nicknamed the “Joey.”  You can grab the Joey right near Fletcher and take it to Davis Square.  It also makes several stops on the Tufts campus.

Despite the usual urban-area traffic, it’s pretty easy to get around the Medford/Somerville/Boston area.  Once you have lived here for a little while, you will figure out the best way to get to and from campus, and you’ll travel like a pro!

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One of the questions we hear most often at this time of year asks whether students often work on campus and, if so, how they find their jobs.  That makes this the perfect opportunity to introduce “Q&A with Cindy” — a new occasional feature in which our Graduate Assistant Cindy will answer some of the questions popping up most often in the Fletcher Admissions inbox.  Obviously, Cindy has found herself a job, so let’s have her describe the process.

Even before submitting my application to Fletcher, I was already thinking about how I would support myself while in graduate school.  The reality of a Fletcher education is that the tuition and average housing cost you will pay is expensive, but I like to consider it an investment in my future career and professional network.  That being said, I started researching right away how to obtain a job either on or off campus.

The JobX website became my best friend the summer before coming to Fletcher, when I was already living in the area after completing my work as a teacher.  This website is run by Tufts University and utilized by both employers to post jobs and students to explore what opportunities are available.  If you click on “Students” then “Find a Job,” it takes you to a page where you can filter for both on- and off-campus jobs and also whether the job is “work study.”*  I was able to get in touch with several employers through this website to obtain more information about positions.  I looked at jobs within the Study Abroad Office, Tufts Student Services, The Tisch College of Civic Life, and various undergraduate departments.  I was lucky to obtain a summer job before starting at Fletcher, which gave me extra money for living expenses.

My second best friend (or enemy, depending on how many messages I received each day) was my email inbox.  At the beginning of my first semester, I was inundated with emails about student organizations, events at Fletcher, classes being offered, and, luckily, available jobs at Fletcher.  After sorting through what was important and what was not, I came across an email from the Fletcher Office of Admissions about an open position.  One thing led to another, and I am now happily working as a Graduate Assistant with the Admissions Team.

Aside from my particular job, there are other types of employment available to students.  You can reach out to professors who teach at Fletcher or at the undergraduate level who may be looking for teaching or research assistants.  There are also tutoring positions, sometimes available through the Fletcher Graduate Writing Center.  For those of you who are comfortable with the dorm lifestyle, you can look into becoming a Graduate Residence Director.  Of course, there is always the option of doing your own off-campus hunt for retail, food service, or other jobs that fit your weekly schedule.

One thing to keep in mind is that whatever job you take will mostly help to cover your living expenses.  Realistically, your job earnings will not contribute much towards chipping away at your tuition.  Despite this, I hope some of the job information provided above has been helpful to you.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

*Note that people use the phrase “work study” in two ways.  One is simply to refer to a job that fits a student schedule.  The other is an official program for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  Some offices will only hire students who have the official “work study” funding, though many will not impose that restriction.

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