Currently viewing the tag: "deadlines"

A little extra frenzy around the Admissions Office this week.  First, we’ve had some coming and going among staff members, with several of us taking a few days away from work for post-decision family visits.  Then, Monday was a public holiday and the office was closed, which increased the phone calls/emails/foot traffic from Tuesday onwards.

Continuing through the week, yesterday was the deadline for most admitted students to make their enrollment decision.  (Next step for that process is to figure out how many admitted students have accepted our offer, and whether we’ll need to admit waitlisted applicants.)

And, finally, today is the deadline for our current students to submit an application for the renewal of their scholarships for next year.  This shouldn’t really create much work for us, since the application is fairly simple and routine, but you know how people are about deadlines.  At least a quarter of the applications have flowed in today.

From my own perspective, since I’m the scholarship application collector, this means a shortage of interesting blog posts for the rest of the week.  I’ll be back on Monday, once the scholarship applications (and related questions) are tucked in a box and I’ve managed to clear my email backlog.

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Admissions work, as you may have heard me say, is ultra-cyclical, but I still try not to repeat myself in the blog.  The exception comes in March and April, when I freely steal content from previous years.  Today’s stolen post covers the questions we answer most routinely for each year’s newly admitted students.  Here are the questions (and related answers) that may be on your mind.

Q: I hope to work when I’m at Fletcher.  How can I arrange it?
A: There are many administrative jobs available each year at Fletcher, as well as elsewhere at the University. Fletcher jobs are usually “advertised” via a student email list. Jobs elsewhere at the University can be found through the Student Employment office.

Q: What about research or teaching assistantships?
A: These positions are arranged directly with the hiring department or professor. It can be difficult for you to arrange a teaching assistant position for your first semester, regardless of your qualifications, but there are often opportunities in the second semester. Many professors hire research assistants in the fall, so even first-year students will be eligible. Research assistants are paid an hourly wage, while teaching assistants are often paid per course. (Note that teaching assistants do not teach Fletcher students. Professors teach, but the assistants might arrange course materials or do other “behind the scenes” work.)

Q: How do second-year scholarships compare to those awarded to first-year students?
A: We know that there are schools out there that reserve much of their scholarship budget to distribute to second-year students.  That isn’t Fletcher’s model.  We split our scholarship budget between first-year and second-year students.  Students who remain in good academic standing can expect their awards to be renewed for the second year.  Students who do not receive a scholarship in the first year can also apply for a scholarship for the second year, but funding cannot be guaranteed.

Q: I would like to pursue a joint degree. Will Fletcher allow me to defer my enrollment?
A: Fletcher will approve a deferral of up to one year (two semesters) to allow students to start a joint degree at another institution.  Prospective students needing more than one year before enrolling should plan to reapply.  Anyone wanting a deferral needs to request one — it isn’t automatic — but you can submit your request by email.

Q: I’m not doing a joint degree, but I want to defer for other reasons.  Can I?
A: Fletcher allows deferrals for up to one year so that candidates can pursue professional opportunities.

Q: Tell me more about how to request the deferral.
A: Follow these instructions.

Q: The law/business/other school with which I want to pursue a joint degree is not on Fletcher’s list of “official” joint or dual degrees.  How will that work?
A: Fletcher will support your efforts to arrange a joint degree that suits your career and academic goals. The process is to transfer courses from your other program so that you also receive Fletcher credit for them.  When I speak to students putting together an ad hoc joint degree, I always suggest that they contact the registrar as soon as they enroll at Fletcher. You won’t be able to transfer in your first-year torts/finance/language class, but with careful homework, you will find classes that meet Fletcher’s requirements. (You should also be sure to work with the other school. Our experience is that many other schools are less flexible than Fletcher.)

Q: Can I make my decision after the deadline named in my admission letter?
A: No. There are many administrative reasons why Fletcher needs to know how many students will enroll, but we don’t expect you to care about that. On the other hand, we want you to remember that there are students waiting on the waitlist, and we hope you will respect their need for a speedy answer as to whether they will be admitted. We won’t know if we need to go to the waitlist until we have heard from the students we have already admitted.

Q: Do I really need to respond officially?  Can’t I just email you?
A: We enjoy your emails, but we really prefer you respond through the online system or with the enrollment reply form.  It helps us keep track of information.

Q: What classes will be offered in 2011-2012?
A: The schedules for next year aren’t set yet, but many courses are offered on a yearly basis.  You can see the class schedules for 2010-2011 on our web site.

Q: I was put on the waitlist.  Can I request feedback now?
A: Although the waitlist is not the same as being offered admission, it’s also not the same as being denied admission.  We only offer feedback to applicants once their applications are no longer active, which is not the case for those on the waitlist.  On the other hand, there may be one key item we want to see from you, and it is reasonable for you to contact us and ask directly if there is a particular item the Committee on Admissions would like to see.  If there is, we’ll tell you.  If there isn’t, we’ll leave it to you to decide what you should send to update your application.

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Between Early Notification applications, PhD applications due December 20, and regular (January 15) applications, nearly all applicants will have been heard from by 11:59 tomorrow night (Eastern Standard Time = GMT-5).  We complicate our own lives with a few late deadlines, especially for those not seeking scholarship support, but even applicants with external funding tend to aim for January 15.

(If you have any last application questions, don’t forget our “virtual office hours” this morning!)

The office staff will be working at maximum effort for the next week, which will be about the time we need to process the applications for which we’ve received all needed materials.  We’ll be closing our doors every morning to minimize interruptions.

But, meanwhile, student life is gearing up after the winter break.  Yesterday and today, while continuing students are participating in the New York career trip, our newest students, the Januarians, are attending Orientation.  On Tuesday, the Hall of Flags will be buzzing with happy “shoppers” — students sampling an assortment of classes on shopping day.  And classes start on Wednesday.

So off we go — heading straight into the busiest time of year.

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A good proportion of the callers and emailers we’ll hear from this week will be asking some variation of the question, “What will happen if my recommendation/test score/transcript arrives after January 15?”  Ideally, all the bits and pieces of your application, including those that someone else needs to send on your behalf, will be here before January 15.  But life is often less than ideal, and we’re used to that.

If you haven’t already submitted your application (note that there’s still time to adopt the Personal Deadline approach), just be sure that you submit all the components of the online application by January 15.  (That is:  the form, the essays, the scholarship application, and anything you need to upload, such as your résumé.)  For the other materials, while we prefer that they also arrive by January 15, you can take advantage of a grace period until February 1.

I want to be sure that, in the process of answering one question, I don’t create ten others.  What I’m saying is that if (for example) you took the GREs on January 10, and scores won’t arrive for another two weeks, you don’t need to worry — we’ll still consider your application to have arrived by the January 15 deadline, so long as you have submitted your part on time.  Please don’t assume that I’m saying that everyone is free to submit all materials by February 1 just because it’s more relaxing.

The obvious reality is that we can’t process, let alone review, 1800 applications on the day they arrive.  Pulling everything together takes time.  So we’ll review applications in order, as they become complete, with the expectation that all materials will arrive by February 1.

And here’s one more answer to a question we’ll be hearing:  January 15 means that the online application should be time-stamped January 15 by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time.  But do yourself a favor, don’t wait until that almost-midnight hour.

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Excuse my nosiness, but I’m wondering why you haven’t submitted your application yet.

Is it because you only recently decided to apply, and you’re still putting everything together?  In that case, take your time — you have until January 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Is it because you’re waiting for some hidden voice to tell you that the time has come to hit “submit”?  In that case, let me be the hidden voice:  SUBMIT NOW!

Are you somewhere between the two?  Then I want to suggest that you assign yourself a Personal Deadline before January 15, when (if past patterns hold) a thousand of your prospective future classmates will all finally decide to let their applications come through.  We’re prepared for the paper.  And for the constant hum of the printer (more of a “mmmmmswosh, mmmmmswosh”) as each page is printed and shoots out.  And for the bags and bags of mail.  Yes, we’re geared up and ready for the January 15 crush, so I’m not suggesting the Personal Deadline for our benefit.  No, dear applicant, it’s for you.

Why?  Well…first, because teeny little troubles turn into mega-hassles when you wait until the last minute.  A half hour without internet access on January 3 is no big deal.  A half hour without internet access on January 15 is reason to PANIC!

Also, if you submit your application on January 15, it will take a week to ten days before you can confidently check the Graduate Application Management System and expect to find useful information.  Those 1,000 applications and all the transcripts, test scores, etc. that go with them need to be linked up, and that just takes time.  Organization, and time.  Organization, and time, and file folders.

If you adopt the Personal Deadline approach and submit your application on, say, January 5, we’ll have all your materials in a tidy folder within a couple of days.  We make every effort to keep up with the paper flow, and we’re going to jump on the opportunity to put your file together.

So, please.  Open up your calendar, be it electronic or paper.  Turn to a convenient pre-January 15 page, and assign yourself a Personal Deadline.  While your prospective future classmates FREAK OUT on the 15th, you can sip a frothy cappuccino and relax.

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Applications to the PhD program are, without a doubt, the most complex each year — both for the applicants, and for the Admissions Office and PhD Committee on Admissions.  In addition to the usual stuff (form, essays, transcripts, etc.), PhD applicants need to submit a dissertation proposal and master’s thesis or extended writing sample.

Because so much material needs to be compiled, we’ve adjusted the application deadline twice in recent years.  First we went from January 15 to January 1.  This year, we moved it up again — to December 20.  Having the extra time to collect and review all necessary materials helps assure us that we’re giving every application the consideration it deserves.

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Every September, there comes a day when I’m surprised to realize that the application deadline for January MALD admission is less than a month away. How can that be? We only just started the semester! Despite my schedule disorientation, we’ll be ready for those applications!

The question I’m asked most often about January admission is how it compares to September admission. And the answer is…they’re pretty much the same. Admittedly, we receive far fewer applications for January admission than September (by an order of magnitude), but we admit only a small group of students. So the “odds” are about the same, and the bottom line is that we still seek students who are academically talented and professionally experienced. After all, we want them to slip seamlessly into the student community — by February they should be indistinguishable from students who entered in any semester before them.

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In addition to being the day for dancing around the maypole or celebrating the efforts of workers, May 1 is also the date by which all admitted students should notify us of their enrollment plans, and waitlisted applicants should let us know if they want to continue to wait.  Both of those processes can be completed through the Graduate Application Management System.

A little side note on the waitlist.  If you follow the news, or if you happen to know high school students applying to college, you may have heard that U.S. colleges and universities are building enormous waitlists to hedge against enrollment uncertainty, given the economic environment.  Waitlists are always a hedge, but what’s different is that more applicants are being left in this gray zone.

If this news has been making you anxious, I want to reassure you that Fletcher did not approach the waitlist differently this year.  The number of waitlist offers we made was in the normal range, and we expect to find that the usual percent will continue to wait.  By next week, we should be able to get a fairly accurate count of matriculating students (though deferral requests continue to mess up our math) and then we’ll figure out our next steps.

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Today’s my last day of work before I string together a few University holidays, a few vacation days, and a few Wednesdays off, that together carry me to January 4.  I’m looking forward to time at home with my family (my son will be back this afternoon), some movies and reading, and a few days in New Orleans.

If you’re an applicant to the PhD program, you’re probably finishing up your application so that it will arrive before the January 1 deadline.  If you’re applying to one of the other programs, you have extra time before the January 15 deadline, but remember that you don’t need to wait until the last minute!

Whenever your application is due, you won’t hear much from us during the weeks that follow.  The process of compiling, reading, discussing, and deciding on applications keeps us pretty busy.  I’ll post to the blog, but there won’t be as many email updates, etc., as you may have become accustomed to (for better or worse).  I’d like to describe it as a break from the stresses of applying to grad school, but I  know it can be an even-more-stressful period of waiting to hear.  Try to relax anyway!

I haven’t provided many application tips this year — I must be out of new ideas.  I encourage you to scroll through the posts archived in the Admissions Tips category.  There may be something useful there for you.

Please remember that the Office of Admissions will be closed on Thursday and Friday both this week and next.  Happy holidays to everyone!

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Yesterday, I posted an entry on standardized tests, but I actually wrote it — and intended to post it — on Tuesday afternoon.  It was about 1:15 and I needed to leave the office in time to reach Boston College for a 4:30 information session, with a stop mid-route at Kayla’s school for parent-teacher conferences.  I proofread the post and hit “publish.”  The little “I”m working on it” swirly icon kept swirling.  And swirling.  And swirling.  Finally, a message about something-or-other “timing out.”  Aaargh.  Hit “publish” again.  This time, I’m packing up the things I need while the swirling carries on, but the result was no different.  Now I really need to leave, so (for insurance) I cut the blog text and pasted it into an email to myself, turned off the computer and left.  The draft was still there on Wednesday and the publish button was much more agreeable.

Last Friday was the deadline for students to apply for positions on the Committee on Admissions.  There aren’t many classes on Friday afternoon, so it’s completely understandable that students would leave the task to the last minute.  How could they know there would be a huge explosion and fire in Medford Square that knocked out electricity on campus until the next day?  Not a lot of printers will work without electricity.  While the applications reached us in time (and we were grappling with the black-out as well, so it was easy to sympathize), the students were sweating over it much more than they needed to.

Dear blog reader, you’re probably wondering why I’m telling these little stories.  The reason:  to remind you that there are forces beyond our control that occasionally pop up to thwart our wishes to meet a deadline.  So many of our applications come in date/time-stamped 11:59 p.m. on the day they’re due.  Please don’t do this to yourself.  The Early Notification deadline is November 15, but you really can send us the application on November 14.  Really.  Leave yourself a little time to solve any problems that come up.  Line up your recommendations and take your standardized tests well in advance of the deadline.  If nothing goes wrong, you still get to breathe easy.  If you hit a snag, you’ll be glad for the breathing room.

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