Currently viewing the tag: "decisions"

Despite some technical glitches, a sleepless night for Christine, and just a wee bit of frenzy, yesterday afternoon we released decisions on all applications that were complete.  All the packets were assembled (thus the paper cuts) and shipped out, and will reach admitted applicants as soon as the mail will carry them.

It’s my custom, on the day after decisions are released, to do two things.  First, I want to thank you for reading the blog.  Although comments on the posts are rare, I’m fortunate that now and then I’ll hear that the blog was a good source of information on Fletcher and the application process.  I enjoy writing, and I thank those who enjoy reading what I’ve written.

Next, I want to speak directly to those applicants who were not admitted this year.  I hope you will gain admission to another graduate school that suits your goals but, if you decide not to enroll in another program, 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.  Note that the best time for requesting feedback will be this spring, and not directly before your next application — you’ll want to give yourself time to act on any suggestions.

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 be providing information soon to help you make your decision on whether to remain on the waitlist.

To applicants who were admitted:  Congratulations!!

Hard as it may be to believe, much of the real work of your graduate school planning process is still in front of you.  That is, you’ve sweated over your applications; you’ve stressed while waiting for your decisions; but now you need to select the program that best matches your academic and career objectives.  You have a little over five weeks to gather information about Fletcher and the other schools to which you have been admitted, and then to make a well-considered decision on where to attend graduate school.  We’ll do our part to provide you with details by mail and other media, along with opportunities to visit the School, in order to help in your decision making.  And the Admissions Blog 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!

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Having started my run through the decision options on Friday and yesterday, finally, there’s the good news.  After a long wait, many Fletcher applicants will soon learn that they have been admitted.  Hoorah!  We hope that Fletcher will be the next step you take as you craft your future career!

Some of the offers of admission, however, are accompanied by a condition, and today’s post is to clarify what those conditions entail.  The first thing to remember 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 overestimated or underestimated 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.

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On Thursday evening last week I was chatting with someone who had asked about my work and who then recalled how stressful she found it when she applied to graduate school.  “Stressful” is, in fact, a common description that we hear from our applicants, too, and it’s why we try to share information about the process throughout the year. (Not that a little information can completely erase the apprehension that accompanies preparing applications, contemplating a move across the country or around the world, leaving a job, etc. — but we do our best.)

With the end of the process on the not-so-distant horizon, it’s also why we want applicants to understand the different decision options, and today I’m going to explain the waitlist.  Acknowledging that other graduate schools may describe their waitlists differently, here’s how Fletcher approaches things.

Each year, we’ll offer a place on the waitlist to a promising group — applicants whose credentials are solid overall, and yet just a little less solid than those of the applicants we’ve admitted.  (A waitlist is what it sounds like — a list of people waiting for a place to open up in the entering class.)  In some years, we draw a significant number of students from the waitlist.  Occasionally, we don’t admit any.  But most years we admit a few.

It can be hard for waitlisted applicants to get a handle on what this decision means for them, which is understandable.  For starters, when decisions go out, we can’t even answer the most basic question:  How many people are on the waitlist?  Surely we should have an answer, but we don’t.  Why?  Because, in March, it doesn’t matter whether we make 10, 100, or 1,000 waitlist offers; what matters is how may people decide to accept a spot on the list.  So let’s say we make 100 offers.  If only 40 people decide to wait, then the relevant number is 40.  We don’t rank our waitlist, and when it comes time to make an offer of admission, we go back to the applications and re-review our notes.

Applicants offered a place on the waitlist can take until April 20 to decide whether to wait.  Most of our work with the waitlist takes place in May or June, though we’ll keep a list into the summer.  Sadly, the waitlist involves, well, waiting.

All members of the Fletcher Admissions staff know that the extra waiting is unwelcome.  But for some applicants who focus on the opportunity involved, the waitlist represents a final chance for admission.  We encourage you to make the most of this opportunity by taking a little time to give your application a boost.  For example, you may have experienced changes in your education or professional life, and we want to  know about it.  If you have new test scores (GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS) or grades for classes, please send them to us.  If you have changed jobs or assumed new responsibilities at your current position, send us an updated résumé.  And don’t hesitate to crow about your latest publication or honors.  Now’s your chance to shine up your application before we return to it when we evaluate the waitlist.

One last thing: Although applicants who have accepted a place on the waitlist still have applications under active consideration, and we won’t offer feedback at this time, we are happy to chat with you in person or by phone.  Get in touch, and we’ll let you know if there’s some special piece of information we need.

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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.

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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.

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I’m back again to explain (while everyone’s still paying attention) Fletcher’s admissions decisions.  Moving along to Lesson Two of our Primer, the next topic is the waitlist, which has a good news/bad news element.

Each year, along with admitting a group of students, we’ll offer a place on the waitlist to another promising group — applicants whose credentials are solid overall, and yet just a little less solid than the applicants we’ve admitted.  (A waitlist is what it sounds like — a list of people waiting for a place to open up in the entering class.)  In some years, we draw a significant number of students from the waitlist.  Occasionally, we don’t admit any.  But most years we admit a few.

It can be hard for waitlisted applicants to get a handle on what this decision means for them, which is understandable.  The challenge is that, when decisions go out, we can’t even answer the most basic question:  How many people are on the waitlist?  Why is that?  Because, in March, it doesn’t matter whether we make 10, 100, or 1,000 waitlist offers; what matters is how may people decide to accept a spot on the list.  So let’s say we make 100 offers.  If 60 people decide not to wait, then the relevant number is 40.  We don’t rank our waitlist, and when it comes time to make an offer of admission, we go back to the applications and figure things out.

Applicants offered a place on the waitlist can take until May 1 to decide whether to wait.  It would be very unusual for us to make an offer of admission before May 1 — most of our work with the waitlist takes place in May or June, though we’ll keep a list into the summer.  Sadly, the waitlist involves, well, waiting.

All members of the Fletcher Admissions staff know that the extra waiting is unwelcome.  But for some applicants who focus on the opportunity involved, the waitlist represents a final chance for admission.

One last thing: Applicants who have accepted a place on the waitlist still have applications under active consideration, and we won’t offer feedback at this time.  On the other hand, you may wonder if there’s anything you can do to give a boost to your application, and the answer is, YES!  You may have experienced changes in your education or professional life, and we want to  know about it.  If you have new test scores (GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS) or grades for classes, please send them to us.  If you have changed jobs or assumed new responsibilities at your current position, send us an updated résumé.  And don’t hesitate to crow about your latest publication or honors.  Now’s your chance to shine up your application a bit before we return to it when we evaluate the waitlist in May.

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Having worked in admissions for many years now, and also having shepherded my own kids through the college admissions process, I know that anxiety ticks up day-by-day with increasing intensity as of March 1.  Every year, I try to get in ahead of the worst of the frenzy to explain Fletcher’s admission decision options.  And because my objective is to help applicants understand our process, I prefer to start with the bad news.  I’m realistic (and empathetic) enough to know that many applicants who are not admitted will curse the day they started reading the blog, and I’ll never hear from them again.

So I will seize the moment and share the explanation.

The truth is that admitting applicants is the easy part of admissions work, and naturally we focus on the easy and fun.  But denying admission is an inescapable aspect — the most challenging aspect — of what we do.  When we took a break at our final MALD/MA Admissions Committee last Friday, even the professors on the Committee walked out of the room discussing the time we spent on a particularly vexing application.  We gave the applicant a very thorough review but, ultimately (and sadly), decided we needed to say no.  I can assure you that no one is happy in those circumstances.

When we review applications, we’re looking for a combination of academic potential, professional and international experience, and clear goals for study and a post-Fletcher career.  Applicants who are denied admission might be missing one or more of those elements, or they might be just a little weak in all of them, particularly compared to the overall qualifications of admitted students.

With gaining admission as the objective, falling short will inevitably feel like bad news, but we do make one distinction among those who will not be offered admission this year.  Some applicants to the MALD and MIB programs will receive a letter saying that, though they look great overall, we really want them to gain some relevant professional experience, and it’s the work history that stands between them and the admission they hoped for.  We’ll only use this “work deny” decision for applicants within about a year of their university graduation.  (This year, that means 2012 and 2013 grads.)  We encourage them to work for a couple of years, although (depending on their internship record), it could take more or less time for them to build their professional experience and become competitive applicants.

Here are two points to file away, in case you may find them useful later this year.  The first is that Fletcher will provide feedback to applicants.  If you’re planning to reapply, I encourage you to ask for feedback this spring.  (That is, don’t wait until the month before your next application — you may want some time to make improvements.)  We’ll accept feedback requests on May 1 and you’ll hear back from us within a month or so of your request.

The second is that Fletcher welcomes applicants to reapply.  Someone who applies unsuccessfully, smooths up some of the rough points in the application, and reapplies in a subsequent year, has shown determination and a strong interest in the School — two qualities we love in our applicants.

I’ll be back tomorrow with details on the waitlist.

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When I made my annual plea for staffers to write about their reading days, Dan jumped forward to volunteer.  Which is excellent, because Dan has an adorable dog, and reading days are always enhanced by the company of an adorable dog.  Here’s how things went last week for Dan and Murray.

There are lots of nice things about a day at home reading applications.  Sleeping in a bit on a Wednesday is a treat.  I also find it easier to focus on reading closely without the intrusion of various other projects.  And when the weather reports in New England break out the phrase “bitter cold,” you know it’s a day made for staying in.  Bring it on, applicants!

Now about that “sleeping in.”  I live farther from Fletcher than some, so getting going at 7:30 feels almost like a weekend to me, though even our dog Murray isn’t awake yet.

Without fail, my first thought upon surveying a stack of applications is “this shouldn’t take too long.”  Doesn’t look like so much, right?

A few things to keep in mind:  1. Note that my application pile is considerably larger than the ones in back, which are my wife’s high school English portfolios, still to be graded.  To be fair, she’s been working through hers for the past several days, and each represents a semester’s worth of work.  But still, my pile is bigger, so I win.  2. You may have heard elsewhere that we read every part of the application.  Seriously.  We really do.  Some files go more quickly than others; while a decision is sometimes pretty easy to determine, many times I find myself picking through an application several times, and sitting and thinking about it for a few minutes before deciding.  The point is that this stuff takes a while.

Reading Fletcher applications is fascinating and humbling.  In the first few hours of my day, I’ve “met” World Food Programme staffers, Marines with multiple overseas deployments, fair trade researchers, clean energy specialists, a couple of Peace Corps volunteers, and an engineer focusing on post-Fukushima safety regimes, and I’m sitting here in sweats and a hoodie trying to avoid paper cuts.  Time for some breakfast, I think.

Reading days are all about pacing.  I like to make a bit of a dent in the day’s task before my first reward.  On a sub-zero January day, the menu choice is a no-brainer – an egg white, veggie bacon and cheese breakfast sandwich, and a coffee refill.  (Coffee isn’t part of the pacing/reward paradigm, if you were wondering.  It’s considered a reading day staple food, and therefore is available at all times.  This is cup #2). Applicants, I apologize for any errant grease stains I may or may not get on your files.

After another couple hours, it’s time for another break.  On these frigid days, poor Murray doesn’t get to go outside as much as he’d like (which, in a perfect world, would be always), but he still needs a stretch every now and then, and so do I.  It’s nice to take a breather, and having me energized and alert is to your benefit as an applicant.

Remember that cold I mentioned?  I wasn’t kidding.  Hard not to feel on your toes after a few minutes in this kind of weather – it’s a cold day out when even ice cream freezes.

Back at my reading station, I’m making progress.  While I read about the experiences of Supreme Court clerks, gender-based violence researchers, and youth NGO founders, Murray is hard at work on his own project: sunbathing.

I find it’s easy to lose track of time on reading days.  I can get into a groove and not realize that several hours have passed.  I don’t really notice that my pile is dwindling, until it hits me that I’m on my last application of the day.  Maybe it’s yours? 

I feel a nice sense of accomplishment, and in serious awe of our pool of candidates. Murray, on the other hand, is harder to impress. Looks like it’s time to suit up for another jaunt into the frozen outdoors.

 

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We posted Early Notification decisions on Friday, and applicants will probably have seen their results by now.  Some of you will also have wandered through the blog archives and found previous years’ posts about the decision options.  Here’s the outline for those who want fresh info.

First, congratulations to our newly admitted students!  You probably don’t need further explanation of what the news means.  If we have made the decision conditional upon pursuing study to improve your English or to raise your foreign language proficiency, you’ll be hearing from us directly about the requirement.

Then there are applicants for whom we’ve decided to defer decision-making until the spring.  I realize this is a good news-bad news place to be.  On the good news side, we encourage you to update us before the end of February if there are changes to your application.  New grades, new test scores, updated résumé, or even an additional recommendation can be good additions.  Please, though, make sure that the additional information reflects something new.  We don’t need a fresh copy of your résumé if nothing has changed.  Send the new materials by mail or email — there’s no special defined protocol.

Finally, applicants to whom we have already said no.  It’s only in the last three years that we have been telling EN applicants that they would not be admitted, and we were initially very reluctant to take the step.  Now we feel more comfortable, knowing that the best in this group will use the information to make good decisions about where/whether to apply in January.

Before we call it a wrap on this phase of the admissions cycle, let me give you the details on the very wide geographic spread of this rather small group of admitted students.  Whether they are only temporarily in these places or it’s their home town/country, we have admitted students currently in:

Afghanistan,  Kandahar and Kabul
Albania,  Rreshen,  Mirdite
Armenia,  Yerevan
Bangladesh,  Chittagong and Dhaka
Brazil,  Rio de Janeiro
Cambodia,  Battambang town and Phnom Penh
Canada,  Toronto
China,  Manghuai,  Yunxian County; Beijing; Shanghai
Democratic Republic Of Congo,  Bukavu
Germany,  Berlin and Hamburg
India,  Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi
Indonesia,  Tanjungpandan,  Belitung
Japan,  Urayasu-shi,  Chiba; Kashihara; Tokyo; Yokohama
Macedonia,  Prilep
Mexico,  Guadalajara and Mexico City
Nepal,  Kathmandu
Nigeria,  Lagos
Pakistan,  Karachi
Philippines,  Guiuan,  Eastern Samar and Dingle, Iloilo
Singapore,  Singapore
South Africa,  Kuruman
South Korea,  Seoul
South Sudan,  Juba
Switzerland,  St. Gallen and Zurich
Tanzania,  Monduli and Moshi
Thailand,  Bangkok
Timor-leste,  Dili
Turkey,  Ankara and Istanbul
Ukraine,  Voznesensk
United Kingdom,  London and St. Ives

And, in the U.S., outside of the Maine-Virginia corridor (always well represented), our EN admits live in California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Texas.

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Never content to keep things simple, even when it comes to admitting applicants, our decisions include multiple options.  The bottom line for all is:  YAY!  You’ve been admitted to Fletcher!  Congratulations!  But some of the offers of admission are accompanied by a condition, and today’s post is to clarify what those conditions entail.

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 will need further preparation.  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, improve English language proficiency, or improve 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, because the best program depends on the student’s choice of language and current ability.

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 really higher or lower than that.  Work on those language skills before enrolling!  But, as I said, not everyone who needs some practice will be admitted conditionally.

Beyond the conditional admits, 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 be admitted.  For the MALD program, on the other hand, you’re looking good, 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 be sure he would pursue a language program.

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.

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