GA Advice: What to do (and what not to do)

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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