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Continuing the Q&A advice from the Admissions Graduate Assistants (GAs), we’ll turn first to a critical piece of wisdom — where to study.  As I noted yesterday, the GAs answered these questions a few weeks ago, at the very end of the spring semester.

What is your favorite on-campus study space?

Ashley: I like sitting outside of Ginn Library most of the time, because there’s plenty of light from outside and sometimes you get the pleasant break of a friend walking by and saying hello.  But if that’s not studious enough for you, the third floor of Ginn also has a bank of windows that makes working inside a lot more tolerable!

Brooklyn: The third floor of Ginn Library.  There are windows and sunlight and you can pretend that you are outside doing something more exciting than finance problem sets.

Cindy: I am the kind of person who likes my surroundings to be quiet when I am reading material for my classes.  I enjoy sitting in the Ginn Library or reserving study rooms in the Cabot basement.  If I am getting simple tasks done (checking e-mails, getting organized), I like the high-top tables in the Hall of Flags.

Dristy: In my first year, my favorite study space was the area outside Ginn Library, both for the daylight as well as the potential to socialize.  And in my second year, I spent most of my time in the Mugar Computer Lab that only Fletcher students have access to.  This was mostly because I took classes that required the use of certain software available on school computers, but it proved to be a great study and work space.

How/where did you meet most of your Fletcher friends?  (In class, Orientation, student activities?)

Ashley: I had the benefit of both of my roommates being in pre-session classes while I was getting settled in Somerville — so I met a lot of folks through them.  Certainly Orientation was the first big chance to meet new faces, but I think from there friendships developed organically, inside and outside of class, and through the friends I’d already begun to make.  I still find myself making new friends, even in my last semester.

Brooklyn: I met most of my Fletcher friends during Orientation, but didn’t really become friends until well along in the first semester.  Be open to going to social events, even through your school work might make it feel prohibitive.  Think of it as networking!

Cindy: I met most of the people I spend time with in class and during extracurricular activities that I regularly attend.  I also met some wonderful people at social hours, which happen on Thursdays.  I would recommend forming study/reading groups with classmates as a way to get to know each other, and I also recommend going to as many events as possible during the fall to meet fellow classmates early on.

Dristy: I met most of my closest Fletcher friends in class and at events/activities organized by student organizations.  Those were the natural ways to meet people with shared interests while spending time doing what we enjoy.

What is something you regret not doing while at Fletcher?  (Help incoming students to avoid making the same mistake.)

Ashley: To be honest, I am struggling to answer this question — it seems as though I’ve done a lot in two years here! — but I suppose I wish I had gone into Boston more often.  I already know the city pretty well, but there are always new things to do and places to visit.  It’s just too easy to remain in the Fletcher environs, as there is no shortage of things to do and people to see here, either!

Brooklyn: I regret not applying to internships sooner.  Not sure where you want to be?  Who cares!  If you apply to an investment bank and decide later on that it’s not a good fit for you, then you can always turn down an offer.  On the other hand, you will never get an offer if you missed the application deadlines.  You’ll never learn to swim if you don’t get in the pool!

Cindy: I regret not going to any of the Open Mic Nights this year.  I heard awesome things about them, and I wish I had made the time for at least one.  I also regret having a lot of late afternoon and evening classes this semester.  I missed some really great events that I wish I could have gone to.

Dristy: As I wrap up my time at Fletcher, when I look back, I feel honored to have had this journey, but there are two things that I will always regret not doing enough of during my time here.  First, I wish I had taken more advantage of office hour with professors.  I think it would have allowed me to strengthen my relationships with them and added significantly to my learning experience.  Second, I regret not participating enough in school-wide events, especially in my second year.  As my course load increased with the semester, it became more difficult to prioritize attending events, such as talks by guest speakers, panel discussions, etc.  These events have proven to be incredible opportunities to expand my knowledge and understanding of topics outside class and beyond my area of interest, so I definitely wish I had attended more of those during my time here.

What additional tips would you offer to incoming students?

Ashley: Enjoy your time at Fletcher!  With graduation right around the corner for me, I can assure you it goes by pretty quickly.  As important as the work you’ll be doing is, don’t forget to make plenty of time for the truly excellent community of people that Fletcher has to offer.

Brooklyn: Graduate school is what you make of it, so get involved early.  Don’t let your dreams be dreams!

Cindy: Don’t be afraid to ask for help; don’t worry about not being able to do everything; have an open mind; put yourself in new situations; and take the time to hang out with your friends!  Your time at Fletcher will go by so quickly, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it!

Dristy: I encourage incoming students to take advantage of the Shopping Day, Course Evaluations, and insights from second years/alumni to help them select courses.  I would also highly recommend taking the foreign language exam early in your time at Fletcher (especially the oral exam, which in some cases may require you to coordinate with professors outside Tufts).

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So far, I’ve shared the lists of suggested (but hardly required) reading, and now I have some advice for incoming students from our Admissions Office Graduate Assistants (GAs).  Before they left campus, we asked Ashley, Brooklyn, Cindy, and Dristy (ABC&D) for their answers to a few questions.  Their responses are below and will continue tomorrow.

Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?

Ashley: Get a little bit of a plan in order.  Some things (your finances!) require more careful planning than others, but it doesn’t hurt to get a good handle on what sorts of classes you might like to take, what your commute to campus will be like, or where you might like to explore in the Boston area.  You should be ready to deviate from that plan once you get here, but having given it some thought ahead of time will make those first few weeks a little less overwhelming and will allow you to get your footing more quickly.  Already knowing some of my options made it a lot easier to make decisions with all of the new information I got upon arrival.

Brooklyn: Prepare for the equivalency exams!  If you have studied a subject before (statistics or economics) you can test out of the lower level classes, but it’s likely that you will need a little bit of a refresher on the content prior to taking the exam.  It really helps you get the most out of your time at Fletcher because, since you are only here for two years, you don’t want to waste your time on a class you’ve already taken just because you were too lazy over the summer to crack open a book for a few hours.

Cindy: If you have time off in the summer before you officially come to Fletcher, maybe plan a trip to visit the Boston/Medford/Somerville area, just to get a feel for what it’s like to live here.  My husband and I made a trip up to secure housing, and we also took the time to visit the Tufts/Fletcher campus, eat at a couple of great restaurants, and take some scenic drives/walks around the area.

A second thing I would recommend is to brush up on your language skills if you know that you have been out of practice for a little while.  I took time over the summer to study Russian, which is the language I plan to test for, which was very helpful for transitioning to Fletcher.

Last, read up about the Design and Monitoring course offered during the August pre-session.  It’s only offered once each year, right before the fall semester, and it is also a pretty popular class.  I will be taking it this summer before I start my second year, and I wish I had talked to other students about the course when I first started, to see if it was something I really wanted to gain experience in.  I am very glad I have a chance to take it in August!

Dristy: I encourage incoming students to rest, relax, and spend time with family and friends before commencing this journey.  I also encourage brushing up on foreign language skills over the summer because, once the semester begins, it gets difficult to carve out time to prepare for the exam.  Also, those who intend on taking the economics and quantitative equivalency tests, I would encourage them to review the material over the summer.  Since the equivalency exams take place during Orientation week, you may not have time to brush up directly before the exams.

For international students, especially those who have not visited or lived in the U.S. before, I strongly encourage you to reach out to current international students to get useful insights and tips on how to navigate some of the basics in the U.S., for example, where to buy (and costs for) bedding, personal care supplies, phone plans, etc.

Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do before starting their Fletcher studies?

Ashley: Don’t stress!  Easier said than done, I know.  And certainly, don’t feel bad when you inevitably are stressed in your first semester — being back in school can be a huge adjustment, not to mention being (for many people) in a new place, meeting new people, and so on.  But you need not add to your anxiety level in these last few months before Fletcher begins with worries about how everything will go, whether you’ll make new friends, if your apartment will be livable, etc.  (Everything will go just fine and there are people to help you if it doesn’t.  You’ll absolutely make friends, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time in your apartment anyway!)

Brooklyn: Do NOT wait until starting your Fletcher studies to start thinking about bigger picture items such as “What do I want to get out of my time here?  Are there any non-academic goals I want to set?  Are there any faculty/staff who could be helpful in reaching these goals?  Where do I want to intern/work after Fletcher?  What sectors really interest me?”  School can seem pretty overwhelming at first, but if you have some of the bigger picture items at least somewhat outlined, it helps you fill in the rest of the pieces of the puzzle (like which classes to take and which extracurricular activities to get involved in) as you start moving on your first semester.

Cindy: Do not stress about housing!  I looked for hours and days in a row to try and find a place for my husband, dog, and me, and I agonized over it.  While it is tough finding a dog-friendly apartment at a reasonable price, we eventually found a place and are happy.

Dristy: It is exciting to think about classes and all the interesting things you are going to learn at Fletcher, but I would suggest incoming students not worry about figuring out classes for the fall semester or how to fulfill the breadth and depth requirements.  We offer Shopping Days at the beginning of every semester when many professors give brief introductions to the courses they are offering that semester.  I found the Shopping Days incredibly helpful to learn about courses and professors, and they helped me a lot in making decisions about what classes to take.

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The final post in the series of advice from the Admissions Graduate Assistants asks for their most important overall suggestion.

GAs

Q: What one tip/suggestion would you provide to incoming students?

Ashley: I’ve seen many fellow students dive head first into every opportunity to get engaged that they could get their hands on.  If you can balance it all, that’s great!  There’s no shortage of ways to jump into student clubs and campus events or part-time jobs.  But I’ve often found it better on my sleep and sanity to really dig in deep with a more strategic selection of activities.  (It doesn’t hurt the narrative on your resume either).

Auyon: Explore the area around Fletcher, check out Cambridge and downtown Boston, and get familiar with the transport system.  Don’t forget to relax before school starts!

David: Talk to second-year students and alumni about what their favorite classes were.  They would love to share their experiences and they can also serve as a great resource at Fletcher.

Dristy: Don’t hesitate to ask questions, whether they are about courses, direction to classrooms, the Campus Center at Tufts, or the nearest water fountain.  We have all been in the same boat and everyone at Fletcher is friendly and happy to help.

Moni: Come with an open mind and don’t take things too seriously. Some students arrive knowing their academic focus, having selected both Fields of Study.  However, it is o.k. to take a class, attend an event, or have a moving discussion with someone, and realize that you may want to shift your focus to something more specific within your initial field or something entirely different.  This can happen and it is great when you have such a huge support system, such as everyone in the Fletcher community, who can guide you along the way!  As John Lennon used to say “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

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We know that many incoming students are still actively making their housing arrangements, so today’s post of advice from the Graduate Assistants considers housing options.

GAs
Q: How did you find your housing?

Ashley: Once I’d found my roommates — one through a mutual friend, and another through a combination of the unofficial admitted student get-togethers in DC and the “I’m looking for a roommate” group spreadsheet — we decided on what we were looking for and set a time to visit Boston in person.  From there, it was a lot of time spent scouring Craigslist, Padmapper, and the like… making a shared list, reaching out to realtors and landlords, sending locally based family to visit prospective units, and setting a schedule for our own visit here.  In the end, one realtor actually led us to a place that wasn’t on our radar, but was perfect for us.  All told, it took some extra elbow grease, but it did result in finding a great apartment!

Auyon: I did an extensive search, initially primarily on Craigslist and the Fletcher housing spreadsheet, but ultimately I had to go through a realtor using sites such as Zillow.  Because I was looking for a one-bedroom apartment (I came here with my wife), my options were limited.  In terms of the budget, the fewer the rooms, the higher the rent per person.

David: When I applied to Fletcher, I was living in the Czech Republic.  To make life easier on myself, I decided to apply to Blakeley Hall and lived on campus for my first year.  Blakeley is a community within the Fletcher community and it was a great way to get to know an awesome contingent of Fletcher students.

After my first year, I moved into a house with four close Fletcher friends.  Our house is one of the four “color houses” that host some of the social events for Fletcher students.  I would advise those looking for housing to try to reach out to second-year Fletcher students, as many of them are graduating and their off-campus housing will be available.

Dristy: I found my housing on Craigslist — a great place to find rooms and apartments in the area, but it’s definitely important to be very careful and strategic in vetting out spam postings.

Moni: I, unfortunately, did not have much time to look for housing since I left my job shortly prior to starting Fletcher, but applied for Blakeley housing my first year and got a spot!  Friends of mine who looked for housing mentioned that the Admitted Students Facebook page served as a great source for finding housing options, since current students post listings.  Admitted students also organized a Google Doc with what they were interested in renting and paired it with available options.  There are many options around campus and many wiling students in the community to help out!  Another added incentive to connecting with current or graduated students is that houses usually come furnished, since they are passed down from one student to the next, and it makes the process easier when picking what to go for.

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As important as it is to have some tips on what to do as a Fletcher student, it can be equally helpful to know what not to do.  Today, the Graduate Assistants provide their tips along those lines.

GAs

Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do before starting their Fletcher studies?

David: Do not feel that you need to have all the details about graduate school and the future figured out before you arrive for Orientation.  You will find that Fletcher is not only a great place to further develop your current interests, but also to discover new ones.

Dristy: It is exciting to think about classes and all the interesting things you are going to learn at Fletcher, but I would suggest incoming students not worry about having to figure out classes for the fall semester or how you would fulfill the breadth and depth requirements.  Shopping Day, when many professors give brief introductions to the courses they will offer that semester, is incredibly helpful for learning more about the course and the professor, and also helps a lot in making decisions about what classes to take.

Moni: It is tempting to get a head start on readings for classes you plan to take.  However, use this time wisely and refine other skills that will serve you well during your time at Fletcher.  Spend time with family and friends — don’t go crazy trying to beat the curve.

Ashley: Don’t forget to take a little time off, if you can.  Though that month-long backpacking trip around Asia won’t be a possibility for everyone, taking even a week (or at least a long weekend) before settling in at Fletcher is a pretty vital opportunity to recharge the batteries and clear your mind for the rewarding and exciting – but often exhausting and stressful – adventure that is grad school.

Auyon: Don’t narrow down your options in terms of courses and fields of studies before starting at Fletcher and before talking to professors, your advisors, and other students (especially second years).

Q: What is something that you worried about that you found you didn’t need to worry about?

Moni: Completing all the readings, for all my classes, all the time.  It is very hard to do so and you exclude other options of analyzing the readings more in depth and grasping ideas by other means.  Life at Fletcher is great, but very busy.  So if you cannot cover all the readings, organize study groups with students in class and split up the readings.  This is a way to provide summary reports of all the readings and then discuss in the group setting, before class, some of the main points and theories covered.  You may also find it incredibly helpful as it helps shape the discussion once you are in class.  Adapt and overcome!

Ashley: Don’t worry too much about making ALL of your BEST friends in the first week, or even in the first few months.  Just like any new relationship, it will happen, but it will happen organically.  You’ll have plenty of people to hang out with until it really clicks — this is the Fletcher Community after all — and some of those folks will end up being your best buds here at Fletcher and beyond.  But don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed with expectations.

Auyon: I worried about the challenge of grad school studies more than I needed to.  If you are on top of things — you do the readings and assignments, prepare for and contribute to group meetings/projects, talk to the professors and TAs, actively seek help when you need if from classmates and others, and are organized about your schedule and time (highly recommend using google calendar) — you will be fine!

David: I thought that I needed to have my life figured out by the time I arrived at Fletcher.  I realized that I was one of many who had an idea of what I wanted to do, but definitely did not have every step of the way planned out.  During my time here at Fletcher, I found that my interests also grew and transformed, and so did my plan for post-Fletcher.

Dristy: I was worried about going back to student life after working as a professional for almost four years, but I realized that it is a fairly common concern that most of us have.  Although the first few weeks required some discipline, soon enough, I easily adapted to the student mode and started enjoying doing the long list of required readings and writing papers for class.  It may take time to adjust at the beginning, but the pace of coursework picks up very fast, and we adapt pretty quickly.  So, definitely no need to worry about that!

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Continuing with the advice for incoming students provided by the Admissions Graduate Assistants, today we focus on preparing for the academic program.

GAs

Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?

Auyon: For students entering the MIB program, I suggest that you brush up on economics (a selection of suggested topics are usually sent to incoming students by the Registrar’s Office), complete the MBA math course to brush up on finance, accounting and stats, and try to be up-to-date on current affairs.

David: The summer before Fletcher is a great opportunity to “recharge the batteries” and get ready for graduate school.  Once Orientation starts, your schedule will start getting jam-packed so it’s important to use the summer to take time to both reflect on your goals for graduate school, familiarize yourself with some of the courses that might interest you, and brush up on some of those quant and language skills.  If you have taken any economics courses, I would be sure to review the most important economic concepts that you would cover in an introductory economics course.  Same is to be said with statistics.  I personally went through some of my notes from college and watched a few economic tutorials online from Khan Academy.  Above all, relax and get excited about Fletcher!

Dristy: Rest, relax, and spend time with friends and family!

I would also encourage incoming students to brush up on their foreign language skills so that they don’t have to carve out time during the semester to prepare for the foreign language exam.  Also, for those who intend on taking the economics and quantitative equivalency tests, I would encourage them to review that material as well.  Since the equivalency exams take place during Orientation week, they may not have time to brush up on these before the exam.

And, I would encourage international students, especially those who have not lived in the U.S. before, to reach out to current international students to get useful insights and tips on how to navigate through some of the basics in the U.S., for example, where to buy bedding, personal care supplies, their costs, phone plans, etc.

Moni: The most valuable element you have before starting at The Fletcher School is time.  Make the best of it by practicing your language, quantitative, and networking skills.  Being part of the admitted students Facebook page makes it easier to reach out to incoming students who may reside close by and/or share similar interests!  Most importantly, it is also a good resource to find housing.  This period is also an opportunity to read what you like.  While at Fletcher, you have a heavy reading load on fascinating topics that relate to your classes, but that leaves little time for unrelated readings.  In this case, I recommend picking up a book by your favorite author, going out to a café or park, and getting swept away by a story of your choosing.  You never know!  Perhaps an incoming Fletcher student can recommend some good reads!

Ashley: I found it very helpful to familiarize myself with the various courses available and the requirements of my degree.  There is a certain amount of self-advisement here when it comes to planning your academic path, and it helps to know the basics so that you can ask the more detailed questions when you need to.  It was also a great way to think even further about where I wanted to go with my degree, so that when new opportunities and ideas presented themselves – as they will! – I had a good sense of not only whether it was worth considering, but also what other changes to my roadmap I might need or want to consider as well.

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Before they left for their post-Fletcher lives (Moni and David) or their summer internships (Asley, Auyon, Dristy), I asked our Graduate Assistants (GAs), the student members of the Admissions Office staff, to share their wisdom with incoming students.  I’ll be sharing their answers all through this week, in Q & A format.

Q:  What should new students be sure to do while they’re here?

AshleyAshley: Take one or ten of your new friends and go explore the area!  Try to get into Boston from time to time and take advantage of both the city and the greater New England area for some quality bonding time off-campus and outside of Medford/Somerville.  For instance, I went with a few friends on a bike ride down the Minute Man trail in the fall, and it was so nice to get away for the day and get to know a few folks better outside of the classes, group projects, and speaker series.

 

AuyonAuyon: Attend social events and talks, talk to professors, get involved in extracurricular activities (student clubs, competitions, sports, etc.), use the Office of Career Services, and network.

 

 

 

DavidDavid:  Hit the ground running!  There are so many ways to get involved once you arrive at Fletcher. Take advantage of those opportunities to get involved in the Fletcher community and to take on a leadership role.  Become a club president or take charge of organizing a panel for a conference.  The two years at Fletcher will go by super fast, so make the most of your time here!  Also, academics are important, but the relationships you develop with your peers are equally important, as you’ll find that it is your classmates who you will turn to for guidance and support during the next two years and after Fletcher.

DristyDristy: Try to meet as many incoming students as possible.  Once classes start, you will notice that we will each have our own “dance routines” and there are always so many interesting talks, discussions and events to attend at Fletcher.  So I encourage new students to use the orientation week to meet each other and the second years who are around.  Definitely take advantage of Shopping Day to choose your courses.

 

SONY DSCMoni: Get involved as much as possible.  There are so many great opportunities on campus to organize events, conferences and gatherings on topics of interest to you or causes you believe in.  Join a student club, or lead the club, and partake in gatherings inside and outside of the Fletcher community, such as social mixers, cross-school conferences and treks (educational trips).   As a Fletcher student, you are also able to cross-register at other schools in the area — take advantage of this unique option and experience all the schools’ varied cultures!  You are only as limited as you allow yourself to be, so get out there!

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