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Christine just handed me an idea (nay, a plea) for today’s post. She told me that, as the staffer who answers the questions of most callers and emailers (particularly while our student interns are in the middle of exams), she has been fielding endless special requests this week, mostly related to taking and submitting results for the GRE/GMAT. Requests such as: Can I submit scores late? Can I take the exam after the application deadline? Can you waive the requirement for me, because I haven’t studied for the exam? Or because I graduated from college many years ago?
So, with Christine and all the applicants who take the exam in a timely way (and don’t make special requests) in mind, here’s the deal: Fletcher requires submission of GRE/GMAT scores because we find them to be a useful analytical tool, even though GRE/GMAT scores are never the sole basis for an admissions decision. Our expectation is that you will make your application complete as quickly as possible after the deadline. That is, you must submit the online application materials before the deadline, but supporting credentials (test scores, recommendations) can arrive a little bit later without having a negative effect on your application. Today’s date is December 13. If you’re aiming for the January 10 deadline, you have about three weeks to take the exam and still expect to complete your application in time.
(Note that, even within the structure outlined above, you can still see a typically Fletcher-ish flexibility. We could (but don’t) say we refuse to review an application if all materials don’t arrive by the deadline. We want to give our applicants every opportunity to put together a strong application. But that flexibility doesn’t extend as far as offering special arrangements to each of the thousand people Christine feels she has spoken to this week.)
Since many graduate schools have January deadlines, testing centers tend to be very busy this time of year. That is why, if you haven’t taken the test yet, you need to act RIGHT NOW and find a test date.
What happens if on January 10…January 15…January 20…February 1, your scores still haven’t reached us? Well, we’re just going to hold all your materials in a folder while we wait. Leaving your application in that endless purgatory is, let’s say, not a great strategy for obtaining admission.
As for all the other reasons people give for not wanting to take the exam (graduated long ago, math skills are rusty, etc.), I can only say that your fellow applicants would probably say much the same. No one likes taking these exams. We understand that. But like many unpleasant things in life, you simply need to do it. In this case, you also need to do it on our schedule — not because we seek to inconvenience you, but because not following our schedule may hurt your own chances of gaining admission.
Dear Ariel: Are my GRE scores good enough to get into Fletcher?
All MALD, MA, MIB, and PhD applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Text (GMAT). Subject tests of the GRE are not required.
The Fletcher School’s Committee on Admissions views standardized test scores as part of the applicant’s total application, but not the most important part. The Admissions Committee does not have a minimum requirement for GRE or GMAT test scores.
In recent years the middle 50% GRE verbal score has been in the 77th – 96th percentile range, the middle 50% GRE quantitative score in the 61st – 84th percentile range, and the middle 50% GRE analytical writing in the 49th – 92nd percentile range. For the GMAT, the middle 50% has been in the 73rd – 92nd percentile range.
And just as a reminder, Fletcher cannot accept GRE/GMAT scores that are more than five years old. Happy testing!
When we hear that an applicant is anxious about the GREs, the specific complaint is generally test-taking anxiety. This year, there’s a new kind of nervousness surrounding the GRE — report-date anxiety. As they roll out a new exam, the folks at GRE are reporting scores on a delayed schedule. (If you have planned or taken the exam between August 1 and now, you already know this.)
The new exam is still somewhat of a mystery to us, but today’s post is designed to reassure. Within reason, we will work with our applicants as we wait for test scores to arrive. Frankly, we don’t even know what accommodations we may need to make. The first application deadline of the year is tomorrow. But the new GRE is out of our applicants’ control, and we will avoid penalizing those who take the exam in a timely way, but who can’t produce the scores in an equally timely manner.
If you have questions about the reporting of your GRE scores, please let us know.
This year, the Fletcher admissions process will include a revised testing policy for MALD and MA applicants. While the new policy is sure to make a few people unhappy (and we have held off on making the change for just that reason), it actually affects a fairly small subset of our applicant pool. So here it is.
Starting with the October 15 deadline for applications for January admission, all applicants to the MALD and MA programs, whether they’re from the U.S. or another country, will need to submit results of the GRE or GMAT exam. Non-native English speakers, unless their university education was in English, will also need to submit results of an English language assessment exam (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE). This has been the policy of the PhD and MIB programs for many years, so we’re bringing the MALD and MA expectations in line with these other programs.
You may be wondering why we have decided on this change. Often, the Admissions Committee finds itself in a complete muddle over an applicant who submits a transcript with minimal grades, or with strangely cryptic course names, or with an overall grade of 46 that recommenders tell us is a good result. We don’t expect the GRE or GMAT results to clarify everything for us, but we think they’ll help in a good number of cases. Finally, professors on the Admissions Committee have asked us to change the policy for several years.
The irony is that we require test scores from applicants who have graduated from the universities we know the best. If we ask for scores from a student with a 4.0 average in international relations at Tufts, why wouldn’t we also want that piece of information from someone who studied at a university we don’t know well in another country? As it happens, many of the applicants in the affected group tend to submit scores anyway, and even when they don’t send test results to Fletcher, they’re sending scores to our peers that require them. That is, they’ve taken the test and simply need to direct the score reports to Fletcher. So the policy change is significant, but the ultimate impact will be less so.
Here’s why we didn’t make the change earlier: We know that GREs and GMATs are expensive. But the cost is minimal compared with the expense of studying in the U.S. for two years. We know that, in some countries, the exams are not offered as often as they are in the U.S. Well…this will be a challenge, but we expect our applicants to plan carefully.
So, in the end, we decided that the values of fairness and clarity win out over the inconvenience that we know a small group will experience. Fortunately, I expect that the new policy will be a subject of conversation for only one year. After this, anyone doing careful homework on the admissions process will have at least twelve months’ notice and can plan accordingly.
I’ll close with the answer to one question that will surely come up. Yes — we will adjust our expectations, particularly on the verbal and analytical sections, for the non-native speakers. We’re already accustomed to making that mental adjustment, and now we’ll simply be doing it more frequently. If you have other questions about the change, please feel free to ask them as a comment to the blog, or email the office.
If you’re actually reading the Admissions Blog in the middle of summer, it may be because you’re a well-organized applicant. Or you may be a less-well-organized applicant who’s wondering what a well-organized applicant would be thinking about. Either way, I should reward your loyalty with a few suggestions for how you can ease your application season workload.
Start with your calendar, and consider if you’ll be able to meet up with Fletcher staffers on the road, or if you may want to visit Fletcher. Our interview and Information Session schedule for the fall is ready and waiting for applicants to grab the slots. You can sign up for an Information Session online, or you can email or phone us to arrange an interview. Note that we accommodate everyone who wants to attend an Information Session, but the interview schedule will fill up midway through the fall. If you have constraints on your time, I recommend you book your interview as soon as possible.
What else could you do? Register for the GRE/GMAT, or TOEFL/IELTS, or even take the exam now. There’s no special reason to leave it to November, and you’ll be relieved to have it out of the way.
Do you have your recommenders lined up? While summer may not be the best time to connect with your professors, it could be a good time to reach a former supervisor from your professional life. You’ll want to update anyone who’s writing on your behalf — send a résumé, and even your personal statement, so that your recommendation letters will reflect your current objectives, not your previous plan to go to locksmith school.
How about funding your education? If you know that you have the funds in the bank to pay for your studies, then you can check this one off your to-do list. For everyone else, now’s the time to start searching for scholarships. You should also be sure you understand the financial aid policies of the graduate schools to which you’ll apply.
Why not give yourself extra time to think about your application essays by starting on them now? Though you shouldn’t start to fill out Fletcher’s application form until the new version is ready next month, I can tell you that our basic essays aren’t going to change this year. The two essays shared by applicants to all degree programs are:
Essay 1 (Personal Statement): Fletcher’s Committee on Admissions seeks to ensure that there is a good match between each admitted student and the School. Please tell us your goals for graduate study at Fletcher and for your career. Why is The Fletcher School the right place to pursue your academic objectives and to prepare you to meet your professional goals? Why have you selected the degree program to which you are applying? If you are planning to pursue a joint degree, please be sure to address this interest in your personal statement.
Essay 2: Choose one of the following essay topics to tell the Admissions Committee something about you that does not fit elsewhere in the application:
• Share something about yourself to help the Admissions Committee develop a more complete picture of who you are.
• Tell us more about how you first became interested in international affairs, or in pursuing an international career.
• Describe the elements of your personal, professional, and/or academic background that have prepared you for your chosen career path.
We like to think that the essays are pretty straightforward. Use the Personal Statement to discuss your goals, and use the second essay to tell us more about you (which may include things you’ve done in the past).
So those are just a few basic suggestions of what you could get started on. Naturally, I also want you to enjoy the summer! But you can smooth the way for a stress-reduced application process if you get an early start on it.
If you like your information to arrive in small bursts, you may want to get your GRE testing updates on facebook. The launch of the new test is coming up on August 1, which makes NOW a good time to familiarize yourself with the new format (particularly if such familiarization may lead you to register for the final dates for the old format test this month).
Just a quick reminder today that, if you wish to take the current version of the GRE exam, you need to do so before the end of July. Starting August 1, ETS will offer its new version of the exam. Fletcher does not have a preference between the two exam formats for admissions purposes, but you should be aware of the delayed reporting schedule for the new version.
If you’re thinking of applying to Fletcher this fall (or if you want to help your friends who are applying), you’ll want to know about the consequences of a new GRE exam that will be launched on August 1. I’m going to let the test designers tell you about the new test via the GRE website. Because Fletcher will accept old scores or new scores, the format isn’t the wrinkle for us — it’s the reporting schedule that will have the greatest impact on Fletcher applications.
So here’s a summary to help you consider how/whether you’ll be affected:
1. If you have already taken the GRE exam and you like your scores, you’re all set! We will happily continue accepting scores from the soon-to-be discontinued exam format for as long as the scores are valid (five years).
2. If you are planning to apply for January 2012 enrollment, with our application deadline of October 15, you should register to take the outgoing GRE format before it is discontinued on July 31. If you wait until after August 1, your scores may not arrive in time to be considered with your application.
3. If you are planning to apply for September 2012 enrollment by our Early Notification deadline of November 15, you can take the exam in the outgoing format or in the new format, but you should be aware of the delayed reporting schedule. Here’s the schedule ETS provides (note the two-month delay for August test-takers):
In addition to the reporting delay itself, Fletcher applicants will want to keep in mind that you may not have information about your own scores before you submit applications. Unless you take the old format test this summer, you won’t have time to learn your score and consider retesting before the Early Notification deadline.
4. If you are planning to apply for September 2012 enrollment by our January 15 deadline, you’ll have more flexibility. You can choose the old format or the new format, and scores will be reported quickly enough that you can consider your score and decide whether to retest. In fact, we hope that the worst of the chaos/turmoil/confusion caused by the changeover will have passed by the time we’re dealing with the majority of our applications.
Remember that you also have the option of submitting GMAT scores, if you want to avoid taking the GRE during their transitional year.
A good proportion of the callers and emailers we’ll hear from this week will be asking some variation of the question, “What will happen if my recommendation/test score/transcript arrives after January 15?” Ideally, all the bits and pieces of your application, including those that someone else needs to send on your behalf, will be here before January 15. But life is often less than ideal, and we’re used to that.
If you haven’t already submitted your application (note that there’s still time to adopt the Personal Deadline approach), just be sure that you submit all the components of the online application by January 15. (That is: the form, the essays, the scholarship application, and anything you need to upload, such as your résumé.) For the other materials, while we prefer that they also arrive by January 15, you can take advantage of a grace period until February 1.
I want to be sure that, in the process of answering one question, I don’t create ten others. What I’m saying is that if (for example) you took the GREs on January 10, and scores won’t arrive for another two weeks, you don’t need to worry — we’ll still consider your application to have arrived by the January 15 deadline, so long as you have submitted your part on time. Please don’t assume that I’m saying that everyone is free to submit all materials by February 1 just because it’s more relaxing.
The obvious reality is that we can’t process, let alone review, 1800 applications on the day they arrive. Pulling everything together takes time. So we’ll review applications in order, as they become complete, with the expectation that all materials will arrive by February 1.
And here’s one more answer to a question we’ll be hearing: January 15 means that the online application should be time-stamped January 15 by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time. But do yourself a favor, don’t wait until that almost-midnight hour.
In just a few minutes, I’m going to head downtown to hear a presentation on the new GRE format that will be introduced in August. I hope to return from the meeting with a handle on how this will all play out, and I’ll share the details with the rest of the staff.
This year’s applicants don’t need to think (or even know) about what’s coming. From what ETS is saying, next year’s applicants will want to decide whether to take the exam in its current format or to wait until the new format is rolled out. One thing we can already tell you — Fletcher will accept scores from either format, and we will continue to accept scores from the current format for as long as you can arrange an official score report.
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