Currently viewing the tag: "decisions"

The work is proceeding apace here in the Admissions Office.  Our workplace attire is sliding from business, to business casual, to nice casual, to…whatever.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep moving up the spectrum of possible admissions decisions.

Continuing along the spectrum from deny to admit, the next decision category is the waitlist, which can be seen as an opportunity or a curse.  Each year, after 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.)  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.  That’s the opportunity part.

It can be hard for waitlisted applicants to get a handle on what this decision means for them, which is understandable.  We’ve tried to help by creating an FAQ list.  But even the FAQ list will leave waitlisted applicants wondering about their own prospects.  The challenge is that, when decisions go out, we can’t even answer the most basic question:  How many people are on the waitlist?  And that’s 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.  That’s where the curse (or cursing) comes in.  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 rather than the curse, the waitlist represents a final chance for admission.

One last thing:  While we won’t provide feedback for applications still active on the waitlist, we will answer this question:  Is there any further information that the Committee on Admissions would like from me at this time?  That gives us a chance to check your application and see if the Committee wanted to see, for example, a higher TOEFL score.  (Send the question by email, and mention that the blog told you to ask!)  Even if the Committee didn’t want anything special, waitlisted applicants are invited to send us an update.  New grades or test scores, an updated résumé, a link to a publication — any new information you wish to share will be welcome.  I’ll post a bit more about this after decisions have finally been released.

Tagged with:
 

As promised last week, I’m continuing to lay the groundwork for decision time (COB March 19) by devoting a few posts to Fletcher’s different decision options.

Today I’ll start with the bad news end of the spectrum. While I understand that applicants don’t want to prepare for the possibility of disappointment, I also know that once people receive the news, they’ll shut down their RSS feed and never read the blog again.  (A fact that is both sad and understandable.)  I need to seize this moment to share information.

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 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.

While it’s true that bad news is bad news, we do make one distinction among those who will not be offered admission this year.  Some applicants 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 2011 and 2012 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.

There are two final points to make on this sad topic.  The first is to emphasize 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.

The second point is related to the first.  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 (more on this topic later in the spring) and you’ll hear back from us within a month or so of your request.

The next post about the decision spectrum will describe the waitlist.

Tagged with:
 

Even while Committees are still meeting and final applications are being read, we’re laying the necessary back-office groundwork.  We started by testing applicants’ email addresses.  If your application to Fletcher was complete as of yesterday (February 29), you should have received an email message from the Fletcher Admissions address.  Messages that bounced back told us that the applicant either discontinued use of the original email address or, perhaps, entered it incorrectly on the application form.  But if your application is complete, and you didn’t receive the email, please check your spam folder (and the settings for your spam filter).  If you think there was a problem with your email address, contact us as soon as possible.

The second purpose of yesterday’s email was to tell applicants that decisions will be released by close of business on Monday, March 19.  (We’ll do our best to release decisions for late deadline (March 1) applications, but we can’t guarantee the quick turn-around.)  We hope that being a little more forthcoming than in the past about our decision release schedule will ease some nerves.

I also want to tell blog readers about a change to our procedure that we hope will play out in a positive way.  This year, the email you receive by COB March 19 will provide your decision.  Admitted applicants will still need to log on to GAMS for the details, but applicants who have not been admitted will learn their decision by email.

We know that we may hear a few complaints that email is a harsh medium for providing bad news, but we believe it’s better than our previous procedure, which required the applicant to go to GAMS for the decision.  The result was that the system got jammed up, and some applicants were spending an hour trying to access GAMS, only to learn they were not granted admission.  Seeking to prevent the irritation applicants felt last year, we’re trying something new, and we hope that even applicants who are disappointed with their decision will be happy to avoid the hassle of dealing with a balky system.

So there it is.  We have just over two weeks to get everything together and out the door.  Next week, I’m going to describe the different decision options — more groundwork to help the decision phase go smoothly.

Tagged with:
 

Decisions on our Early Notification applications went out on Friday, and we’re receiving questions on what it all means.  If you’ve been admitted, congratulations!  I’ll assume you don’t require much more explanation.  On the other end of the happiness spectrum, for the second year, we denied admission to some applicants and, when appropriate, informed the applicant that the missing piece is professional experience.  We always feel some regret in denying applicants, but we hope it will help applicants make informed decisions on where else they should apply.

That leaves those whose application was deferred to the spring round.  These applicants will have their credentials reviewed again in the context of the larger application pool.  Applicants who were deferred are invited to update us on changes to their status.  New grades or test scores definitely should be submitted.  An additional recommendation or a new résumé that sheds light on your recent activities can also be valuable.  The bottom line is that you’re welcome to update us, but please be sure that whatever you send is really an update.  If the same information is already in your file, there’s little to be gained from sending it a second time.

The deadline for PhD and Map Your Future applications is tomorrow, so the Admissions Office is making a quick shift of focus.  If you have further general questions about the deferrals, please include them as comments below.  If general themes emerge, I’ll address them in an additional blog post.

Tagged with:
 

It appears that Early Notification applicants are getting jittery, wondering where we are in the notification process.  That’s completely understandable, though we tend to figure that, as long as we’re well ahead of our stated January 1 notification date, all is good.

Keeping our feet to the fire are blog-reading detectives who have noticed that last Friday’s Admissions Committee meeting occurred a week later than the similar gathering in 2010, and I want to acknowledge that notification will also be later than it was last year.

Here’s a bit of an explanation.  The EN deadline is always November 15, but Thanksgiving falls at different times in November, as does the last day of Fletcher classes.  We put these and other calendar issues together and come up with a schedule for ourselves.  This year, we were also set back by the off-site meeting that Laurie, Jeff, and Dan are attending this week.  They’ll be back on Wednesday, which is when we’ll start the final-process clean-up work.  So I encourage you to relax.  We’re on a different schedule from last year, but we’re right on track for this year, and you’ll be hearing soon.

Tagged with:
 

I’m still having trouble believing that October is over, so imagine my surprise that the first application deadline for September 2012 admission is tomorrow!  Our newly selected student members of the Admissions Committee are already busy reading files, grabbing two last week and two today — a pace that will soon be unsustainably (laughably) slow.  (I think they know that, but we’re glad to allow them to breathe for a few days more.)  Time for me to get going, too!

For the majority of you who have not yet submitted your EN application, it’s not too late to avoid running up against the precise deadline of Tuesday, November 15, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT -5).  Submit your application today, and you can pat yourself on the head that you were early.  Note that the piece that must arrive by the deadline is your online application.  It’s preferred that your recommendations, transcripts, and test scores arrive by tomorrow, too, but please don’t hold your application simply because your professor hasn’t zapped through a letter.

Once you’ve submitted your part of the total file, you can monitor our work through the Graduate Application Management System (find details here).  Fortunately for you ENers, we’ll receive a very manageable number of applications tomorrow, and we can compile files much more quickly than in January.  In fact, the whole turnaround for the EN process is super rapid.  You’ll hear from us well before the end of December (exact date still TBD).

Finally, the decision options for Early Notification fall in three groups.  We may choose to admit applicants (occasionally with a condition, such as additional foreign language study); to defer the decision to the spring, when we’ll look at the application in the context of the larger pile; or to deny.  Last year was the first year we denied some applicants and, while I appreciate how disappointing this is, we believe it’s better for the applicant to have clear information that can be used in deciding which other schools to apply to in January.

Tagged with:
 

The last batch of responses from admitted applicants was due yesterday, and it looks like nearly everyone has been heard from.  We’ll double-check with anyone who hasn’t responded, just to be sure there wasn’t a communications glitch, but it looks like the response phase of the admissions process is pretty much complete.  Also due yesterday were the responses to our offers of a spot on the waitlist, and I’m sure that those who have chosen to wait would like an update.

I can remember one year (more than one?) when we were nervous about enrollment and admitted a few people from the waitlist before May 1.  If you’re waiting in 2011, you’ll be happy to know that we have not yet turned to the waitlist at all.  Our next steps are to look at the enrolling class in detail, figure out where our scholarship budget stands, and start re-reviewing waitlisted applications.  If we discover that we don’t have all the students we need, we’ll make some new offers of admission as quickly as possible.  We never drag the process out more than necessary, but I should warn you that we’ll maintain a short waitlist into the summer.  (Even students who tell us they’re enrolling sometimes change their plans in June/July/August to take advantage of a career opportunity.)  Of course, you always have the option of declining to wait.

A related sidenote:  Our waitlist is not ranked, which is hard for some waitlistees to get their mind around.  Our colleagues at Tufts undergraduate admissions have put better words to the concept, writing that the waitlist, despite its name, is a pool of applicants, not a list.  When we look at the files of waitlisted applicants, we’re doing exactly what we did between January and March — trying to make the best match between prospective students and Fletcher — though this time with a much more limited “pool.”

If you have remained on the waitlist to be considered for a place in September’s entering class, you’re still invited to update your application or send a letter of continued interest (nothing fancy — an email will do).  We’ll be communicating through the next couple of months, but you should feel free to contact us if you have questions about the waitlist or where the process stands.

Tagged with:
 

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.


Tagged with:
 

“The Admits” comprise a family of variations on the theme of:  YAY!  You’re in!  There’s the ordinary admit, the King of Decisions — you’re in, and there’s no fine print!  But some of our admitted students will need to read the fine print, and today’s post is to help in deciphering it.

By “fine print,” I’m talking about conditions that we may attach to the offer of admission.  Conditions that, based on information provided by the applicant in the application, and our own best judgment, we believe will give the incoming student the best possible chance of academic success.  The most frequently employed conditions require that before starting Fletcher classes, the applicant should:  improve foreign language proficiency; improve English language proficiency; or improve quantitative skills (MIB students only).

A more substantive condition:  We’ll occasionally (a dozen or fewer people each year) admit applicants for a future class, asking them to obtain a year’s professional experience before they enroll.  These “delay admits” would be strong students, generally graduating this year, who will gain so much more from Fletcher if they have some work experience behind them, and they will be admitted for the September 2012 semester.

Not exactly a condition, but still in the admit family:  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 of 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 The Admits will carry on as a big happy family, sometimes with conditions attached.

Tagged with:
 

As promised earlier this week, I’m going to devote a few posts to the different decision options.

For our first class on Fletcher admissions decisions, I would like to start with the bad news.  Much as we like to focus on admitting students (which is the fun part of our Committee work), we regretfully acknowledge that not everyone will be admitted (which is the sad part of our Committee work).

The reasons why applicants aren’t offered admission are the flip side of why they are.  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 two 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.  We’re sorry to say good-bye to these applicants, but that’s the unfortunate reality of the admissions business.

For applicants who have been denied admission, it may be hard to look past the bottom line.  But from our perspective, we do make one distinction among students who will not be offered admission this year.  Some applicants will receive a letter saying that, though they look great overall, we really want them to gain some 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 2010 and 2011 grads).  We encourage them to work for a couple of years, although (depending on their internship record), it could take more or less time than that for them to look competitive.

There are two final points to make on this sad topic.  The first is that Fletcher welcomes applicants to reapply.  I’m often asked if we have a bias against second-time applicants.  Quite the contrary!  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.

The second point is related to the first.  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 (more on this topic later in the spring) and you’ll hear back from us within a month or so of your request.

Our next class will consider the waitlist.

Tagged with:
 

Spam prevention powered by Akismet