Currently viewing the tag: "decisions"

Continuing to help you prepare to receive and interpret the decision on your Fletcher application, let’s talk about admission.

Offering admission to an applicant should be straightforward, right?  Good application equals admission offer.  Well…when it suits our purposes, we abandon simplicity and take a more complicated approach.

On the straightforward end of the spectrum, most applicants who get good news this month will receive plain vanilla admission.  Everything you need is in place!  Hooray!

But plenty of other happy applicants won’t be the plain-old-vanilla type.  When we offer them admission, we’ll attach a condition to make up for a shortcoming.  The most frequently employed flavors of conditional admission require that, before starting Fletcher classes, the applicant should:  improve foreign language proficiency; improve English language proficiency; or improve quantitative skills.

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.)

We also occasionally (about a dozen applicants each year) admit someone to a future class.  These would be strong students, generally graduating this year, who will be so much happier at Fletcher if they have some work experience behind them.  These “delay admits” will receive a letter that says they are admitted for the September 2011 semester.

Creating all these flavors of admission poses challenges when it comes time to release decisions, 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 we’ll keep offering admission in all its different flavors.

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I bet you’re wondering about my weekend activities.  Yesterday was beautiful outside — I did five minutes of gardening, took a long walk, baked a loaf of bread — but I suspect it’s my Saturday in a windowless office that interests you more.

We accomplished a lot here on Saturday, completing a big files-all-over-the-place task that’s much harder to do when the office is open for business.  Let me give you a sense of where everything is:  Nearly all (let’s call it 90%) of the decisions to admit or deny are set.  Most of the scholarship decisions for admitted applicants have also been made, though we continue to tinker and make sure we don’t go over-budget.  At around this time, it always seems like there’s a lot to wrap up, but experience says that we’ll move quickly through the to-do list.

Meanwhile, we feel the heat as our (friendly) competitors release their decisions.  But our competitive juices are balanced by our need to get everything just right.

Here’s a bit of info I should have shared earlier:  Once we have the decisions posted, we’ll send you an email telling you to check your account in the Graduate Application Management System.  I encourage you to confirm you’re able to log in, but you don’t need to check your account by the hour.  A related key point is that you should be sure you’re receiving our emails.  If you have any doubt, scrounge around your spam folder for past messages, and make sure that Fletcher Admissions is an approved email sender.  Once you receive the email prompting you to check the system, you can log in and find the decision letter.  Students who are admitted will also receive a packet by mail in the coming weeks.

And one last note.  In some years, there’s a small bunch of straggler decisions.  The applications may have been here since January (though many arrived for MIB and LLM on March 1), but for whatever reasons a decision isn’t in place.  We face the challenge of deciding whether to hold all decisions, so that all applicants hear at the same time, or release everything that’s ready, which will leave a few people wondering.  This year, we’re going to go with option #2.  When decisions finally go out, all the MALD and MA applicants should hear at once.  Most MIB, LLM, and PhD applicants will also hear at that time.  A few decisions will be posted within about a 10-day window after the first big batch.  I’m sorry that it’s going to turn out that way this year, but that’s what it looks like.

I had planned to provide information about decisions today, but I’ll hold off just one more day and get to it tomorrow.

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Admissions work is predictably cyclical.  We do many of the same things in the same month, or even on the same day, each year.  But there are, in fact, several “sub-cycles” running at once.  On a single day next week (January 15), we have the deadline for September 2010 applications (the start of a cycle), as well as orientation for students starting their studies this month (the end of a cycle).  Some of the sub-cycles involve mobs of people (September applications), while others have us in contact with much smaller groups.

And that brings me to a sizable bunch who may be feeling neglected right now — those of you who applied by the Early Notification deadline but learned that we’ll reconsider your application within the full applicant pool.  You’ve read the decision letter and may have done your own research, but I thought shedding a little light on your situation would still be a good thing.

First thing I’ll say is that having your application deferred is not the same as having it denied.  A portion of the deferred applicants will end up admitted.  Another portion will be offered a place on the wait list.  It all depends on what we find when we review the applications now pouring into the Admissions Office.

Most likely, you’re applying to other schools, and that process is keeping you busy.  When the dust clears, you should consider whether there is any information in your application that needs updating.  (I’m emphasizing that particular word, because we don’t need you to add anything unless it reflects a change.)  Here are some items we’d like to see:  new transcripts listing grades you received in fall 2009; new standardized test scores that you would like us to consider; a new résumé that includes details on your new job/internship; a short excerpt or a link to newly published work.  Submitting an additional recommendation can be helpful, but only if it shares new information.  For example, let’s say that, in November, you hadn’t yet told your boss you’ll be leaving work to go to grad school in September, and you didn’t have a workplace recommendation.  Now your boss knows and would be happy to recommend you.  This is new information that can support your application.

Please don’t flood us with materials in the hope we’ll wear down in the face of your enthusiasm.  While we really appreciate updates, only information that truly reflects a change since your November application will be useful.  All deferred applications will receive new review, usually starting around mid-February.  If the added materials reach us by February 1, you can be sure they’ll be considered when we re-consider your application file.

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You may be wondering whether I’m going to try to spin being denied admission into an “opportunity” as I did with the Wait List yesterday.  No, not exactly.  There’s no question that it’s disappointing to be told that this is not your year for Fletcher or another grad school.

But for some of our applicants, what separates them from admission is their age and experience, and age is one problem that will inevitably fix itself.  As any of us in the Office would tell you, we receive a large number of applications from students who are recent grads, or who have yet to graduate (the 2008 and 2009 graduates in this year’s pool), but we admit very few of them.  In just a few years, many of these applicants will be competitive for Fletcher.

What about those of you who already have professional experience?  What might have held the Committee back from offering admission?  Maybe there was a problem with the way you wrote your application — it might have been confusing, or off the mark.  Or maybe you are trying to shift careers and we were afraid you “couldn’t get there from here.”  (If you want to go from large-animal veterinarian to micro-financier, you may just need a job that will help bridge the gap between your old career and your new one.) Or maybe you need a little more international experience that links to your goals.  These are “problems” that can also be fixed, even if it takes some time.

But often, the “problem” is that Fletcher is blessed with a highly-qualified applicant pool, and we simply can’t admit everyone.  Every year, each staff member is left feeling sad about an applicant we’ve been rooting for, but who hasn’t been admitted.  It’s part of the job.

What can you do now?  For September 2009, there is (unfortunately) nothing you can do.  We don’t reverse decisions.  Plucking out one denied applicant from the stack is like grabbing at the apple at the bottom of a display.  Bad things will follow!  But every year we admit students who have applied in the past, and we look forward to future applications in a future year from some of those who remain interested in Fletcher, though denied admission in 2009.

Meanwhile, Fletcher offers feedback to applicants.  We’ll ask you to wait until later in the spring — a kind of cooling off period.  But after May 1, if you follow these instructions, we’ll get back to you with more information.  You can use the information to figure out how to improve your application, or whether a future application will be a good use of your time and energy.

On the other hand, if you have been admitted to other schools, and this is definitely your year for grad school, then we wish you all the best in your graduate studies!

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It’s a drag, I know — you’ve been waiting to hear from admissions offices for three months or more, and now Fletcher tells you to wait another few months.  But it’s also an opportunity, and I want to encourage you to make the most of it.  Each year, for the past few years, we have gone to the Wait List.  In some years, we have been looking for only a few people, but in other years, we have drawn as many as 20 new students.

Here’s how the Wait List works at Fletcher.  (Note that other schools may use their wait lists completely differently.)  We make a good number of offers of spots on the Wait Lists for the MALD, MA, LLM, and MIB programs.  Then we turn our attention elsewhere while responses trickle in.  Many (perhaps half) of the wait listed will turn down the offer.  There’s another school that looks good to them, so why wait?  By May 1, we have all the responses, and we put the files together for future review.  We don’t “rank” the wait-listed applications.  When it’s time to make some new offers of admission, we go back to the Committee notes and find the best candidates.  We also review any new materials that have come in since the application was first submitted.  That’s where the Wait List becomes an “opportunity” for you.

We invite you to update your application.  But what sort of carefully selected materials should you send?  Here are some potential categories:

1.  Any update to basic application materials:  Grades for newly completed classes, new test scores, an additional recommendation from your university or workplace, written by someone who knows you well and who can add a new perspective on your background.  (Please read that last sentence carefully.  You won’t get much from a recommendation (however positive it might be) that just covers the same ground as your previous three recommendations.)  You can also update your résumé, or send a copy of a newly published article.

2.  The answer that completes the sentence, “When I wrote my essay, I wish I had said….”  Do you have a better sense of your academic and career goals than you did in January?  If so, fill us in!  Some of you might wonder how goals could change in such a short time, but I can assure you that Fletcher applicants are a mobile bunch, and three months might just coincide with a life-defining experience.  Really — it happens more than you might think.

3.  A “conversation.”  We don’t offer formal interviews during the spring, but we’ll certainly meet with you, if you happen to be able to visit.  The best time for a visit is probably early in May.  We’ll try to accommodate you whenever you are here, but we’d appreciate it if you could hold off until after April 15.

4.  Anything else that you would have put in your application if the instructions had been written differently.  While I don’t encourage you to send us a research paper or thesis (and I say this because I know that many applicants would like to send us additional reading materials…), there may be something that you wished you could have included.  If you had written the application questions, what would you have asked?  Well, go ahead and ask it, and then provide the answer.

I hope this gives you an idea of the types of materials you can send to us.  You can send a short update by email, but please use “snail mail” for anything more substantive.

And when can you expect to hear from us?  Hard to say.  As soon as we know that our initial offers of admission will leave open seats in the class, we’ll start making new offers.  Sometimes that happens on May 1.  Sometimes not until July 1.  I can promise you that our goal is ALWAYS to wrap up the process as quickly as possible, but it often stretches on longer than we’d like.

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The Admissions staff was alternately productive and relaxed over the weekend.  Mother Nature cooperated this time, providing us with two fantastic spring-like days.  Today she’s back to her wily ways, dropping big heavy wet snowflakes on the morning commute.

Back in the office, we’ve reached a landmark point:  We’re ready to alphabetize the application files for admitted applicants.  Right now, everything is lumped in distressing piles on the floor.  (Well, not distressing to us — we’re used to it.)  We alphabetize them only when we’re sure we know exactly who is going to be admitted, and the decisions have been entered in our database.

While you’re waiting for us to finish our work, you may want to do a bit of preparation of your own.  Back when your application was first complete, you received an email with the information you would need to log on to the Tufts Application Management System.  Many of our applicants have already logged on.  If you’re not among them, you may find the original email stored in some super special secret place.  Now is the time to dig it out of that secret place, because you’ll need to log on to access your decision.

I’m raising this now because, every year, there are applicants who contact us in April:  “I still haven’t received my decision.”  It turns out they lost the login information.  The decision is there for them to see, but they can’t access it.

So check your email inbox and find that message.  (It would have reached you when your application was uploaded, complete with all online recommendations, not the day you first submitted it.)  If you can’t find it, go back to the Application Management System site, where you can click “Don’t know your username and password.”  You’ll soon be in business.

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