Returning to the questions blog readers asked me to cover this spring, Mirza is going to describe options for cross-registration. The opportunity to cross-register for up to a quarter of the classes a student takes toward a Fletcher degree is one of the factors that makes us say that no two students graduate with exactly the same curriculum.
One of the many great options at Fletcher is cross-registering at other graduate units of Tufts or Harvard University, or even beyond. (Keep in mind that MALD or MIB students are allowed to cross-register for four classes total during the two years at Fletcher.) With so many great higher education institutions in Boston, such cooperation and sharing of resources among different schools makes sense and you should by all means take full advantage.
Currently, in my second semester at Fletcher, I am taking two classes at Harvard — one at Harvard Kennedy School (Values, Interests and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy) and one at Harvard Law School (Political Economy After the Crisis). They have both been challenging but intellectually rewarding, and have offered a slightly different perspective and learning environment from Fletcher. Combining such outside academic experience with the Fletcher experience has been, at least for me, extremely valuable.
Not everyone, however, will find cross-registering beneficial to their academic and professional path. For some, Fletcher offers exactly what they need, and this is perfectly fine. It can also be overwhelming to browse through hundreds of captivating courses at other schools, in addition to over a hundred amazing courses at Fletcher. Still, it is an option well worth keeping in mind as you think about the courses and fields that you’d like to pursue while in graduate school. One piece of advice is that you should not cross-register during your first semester at Fletcher. The incipient relationships that you form with your classmates are quite important, and you don’t want to hinder that vital component of the graduate school experience. As you settle in, however, venturing outside of Fletcher and Tufts will not be a problem, and will likely add considerable value to your academic growth.
Like almost everything in life, there are pros and cons to cross-registering. Here are a few tips, based on my experience, to keep in mind should you wish to cross-register:
- A different perspective (Always a good thing.)
- A new network (Also always a good thing.)
- A better awareness of the many free events, lectures, and seminars in the area. (These are the activities from which you will learn a whole lot — really worth exploring, and Harvard offers a great deal of them, all throughout the academic year.)
- Harvard Square (It’s quite lovely, but bring waterproof boots in the winter.)
- Access to the beautiful Harvard libraries (They are, indeed, quite nice.)
- Time spent traveling to Harvard Square (Not so bad, but in the rain and during midterms/finals… it can become a drag.)
- Group work taking place outside of Fletcher (So even more time spent traveling.)
- Conflicting class schedules between Fletcher and Harvard (Not usually a problem, but HBS especially can be tricky.)
- Nostalgia for Fletcher (It’s true — we’re all at Fletcher because we love it for one reason or another, so it’s possible to start missing your “real” home even if you’re away for just a short while.)
Overall, cross-registration is not a biggie, and there are so many great courses that it’s worth at least a quick look to see if something strikes you. The rest is just logistics — a bit annoying, but not enough to prevent you from taking a great class. A quick note regarding MIT, Boston University, and other Boston-area schools: they do not participate in the official cross-registration process with Fletcher, but it’s possible to take classes there with the instructor’s permission and a couple of logistical “tricks.” Feel free to talk to me about it if you wish to find out more — I’ll be taking classes at both MIT and BU next year.