Thinking of applying for graduate school admission for 2018 (either January or September)? It’s not too early to move beyond merely “thinking” to a more active phase. And it’s time for me to give you a little guidance.
First, please note that the 2018 Fletcher application is not yet on the website and there is no value to starting to fill in the blanks and essays on what you’ll find there. On August 1, we’ll take down the current application and replace it about two weeks later with the updated one. But even as you hold off on starting to work on the application, you’re certainly free (encouraged!) to peruse the 2017 version and prepare the different elements you’ll need. Just to get you started, here’s your list of what a 2018 application will include.
- The form
- Your transcripts (any transcript, including for a study-abroad semester, that is needed to give a complete picture of your undergraduate record)
- Test scores (GRE or GMAT, and TOEFL or IELTS for non-native English speakers)
- Your résumé
- Two recommendations, with one from a professor who can reflect on your academic work. Submitting a third recommendation is optional.
- Two essays, one of which could be called a statement of purpose
- A scholarship application, if you would like to apply for an award
We’re not changing our essay questions this year, so here’s what you’ll need to write:
□ Essay 1 (600-800 words)
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. Describe the elements of your personal, professional, and/or academic background that have prepared you for your chosen career path. 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 dual degree, please be sure to address this interest in your personal statement.
□ Essay 2 (500 words maximum)
To help the Committee on Admissions get to know you better, please share an anecdote, or details about an experience or personal interest, that you have not elaborated upon elsewhere in your application.
For further details on all of that, including the variations (there are a few) for the different degree programs, check out the application instructions.
Those are the basics, but let me drill down a little bit on where you might direct your July/August energy. It is not at all early for requesting recommendations. Your recommenders will thank you if you give them extra time. Remember that one recommendation should reflect your academic ability, while we’d generally suggest that the other should come from a professional context. Most important for your application strategy: think about content the recommenders can add to your application, beyond the basics. If you have worked at three organizations, but one organization was the most important to your future career, I’d suggest looking to that organization for your professional recommendation. This is really common sense, but you’ll want to dedicate a few minutes to being common sensible.
Also not too early: lining up your standardized tests. If you haven’t already taken the GRE/GMAT/TOEFL/IELTS, or if you know you want to retest, get your test date and start practicing. Why should you practice? Because familiarity with the test format will enable you to achieve your maximum score. Being unfamiliar with the test will cause you to waste time and your score will suffer.
It doesn’t matter what country or profession you come from — there’s no reason why you can’t organize your academic and professional experience into a tidy résumé. There are a zillion sample résumés online, and the format you’ll want is informative and easy to read. Generally, you’ll list your experience in reverse chronological order (that is, starting with your current activity). A résumé for a graduate school application should be between one and three pages long. (I really like when they’re no more than two pages, but I’m feeling generous. People have different experiences and some of those are hard to describe.) Pulling together a résumé can take some time. That’s why I’m suggesting you start now. Once it’s done, you can tweak it or not, but at least you won’t be scrambling to write it on the day before the application deadline.
I’m going to offer more tips throughout the fall, but I’ll close with one last picky technical point. You and we will all be happiest if you use only one email address when corresponding with us. All your stuff goes into your “file” on the basis of your name and email address. If you want us to be able to find things, don’t lead the system to misfile them. Also, if you’re applying to graduate school (or a job, for that matter), it’s time to get yourself a professional sounding email address. No more firstname.lastname@example.org. Please. Just some variation on your name. Remember to check your email frequently after you start your applications.
That should do it for this time in the summer. Note that I’ve given you three assignments: line up your test dates; request your recommendations; and pull together your résumé. If you complete those three things by the end of July, you’ll be in a good position for the next stages of your application process.