I’m frequently astonished by how quickly semesters seem to go by for our students. While I feel like we just welcomed our first-year Graduate Assistants to the Admissions team, here they are already in the midst of finals with a full Fletcher semester nearly behind them. I asked them to think about any advice they’d give to prospective students, or things they wish they’d known ahead of their arrival at Fletcher. John was kind enough to provide an insight for each week he’s been at Fletcher:
Hello there, future Fletcherites! I find it hard to believe that in a little under two weeks I will have my first Fletcher semester under my belt. If you’re looking for some last-minute application insights/navigating the Fields of Study labyrinth/work-life balance/clarity on Map Your Future, or an answer to THE EXISTENTIAL QUESTION…WHY FLETCHER? then keep on reading below! As a homage to my 16 weeks at Fletcher (and brevity’s sake), I list 4 key tidbits for each section:
Fletcher Application Insights
1. As you prepare your application, take your time, read the prompts, and be authentic! Too often, candidates miss the mark by ignoring the prompts and write something completely out of left field. The Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about you and your professional and academic successes. Try not to tell us what you think we want to hear (e.g. the Red Sox and Patriots are some of the best professional sports teams). We already know that! 😊
2. Take time to peruse the Fletcher website to acquire a deeper understanding of what a Fletcher education and experience entails! Reviewing Fletcher’s resources allowed me the opportunity to write a crisp and knowledgeable personal statement and feel confident about wanting to attend Fletcher.
3. Proofread, proofread, proofread! Like you, I applied to multiple graduate programs, and committed the cardinal sin – sending the wrong personal statement to a graduate program. Additionally, having a tailored personal statement highlights the time and effort you put into Fletcher. I can assure you, the Admission Committee truly takes the time to read your application!
4. Have fun with your application! Your application is an opportunity to show the Admissions Committee who you are, your goals, and your interests in Fletcher. You may have writer’s block drafting your personal statement. Relax, take a deep breath, and follow insights 1,2,3 😊
Navigating the 25 Fields of Study (Gulp!)
5. First things first, familiarize yourself with the different Fields of Study. I can assure you, the Registrar or Admissions will not quiz you on the different Fields of Study.
6. Allow yourself time to drink deeply from all that Fletcher offers in the classroom and reach out to current students. I found that by applying this insight, I gained first-hand knowledge from Fletcher students and had a sense of how I would like to tailor my education.
7. No two Fletcher students are the same (this might be my favorite)! A few of my good Fletcher friends are also pursuing the International Security Studies and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Fields of Study. However, interestingly enough, outside of our core Field requirements, we are all taking different courses. At Fletcher, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Tailor your education to your professional and academic goals.
8. Have an idea of what you would like to study, yet remain flexible. You may overhear students talking about taking x course outside of their field. My recommendation: go for it! You’ll have time to take courses within your field; however, be flexible and take courses that genuinely interest you!
9. Find the balance! I am a huge proponent of mental health awareness. Yes, there will be times when you feel that there are not enough hours in a day to complete your readings, and the truth is that’s the norm! However, in addition to your studies, grad school is a prime opportunity to forge life-long connections with colleagues in and outside of your professional field.
10. Teamwork makes the dream work! I cannot emphasize how much I value my reading groups. As noted with insight #9, you are not always going to have enough time to complete all the readings, so divide and conquer! Reading groups allow you to acquire a strong grasp of the material and collectively share your insights. Trust me!
11. Life after Fletcher: Your time at Fletcher will fly by so take the time to take advantage of all that Fletcher and Boston have to offer. From social events to night life excursions, there is always something to do!
12. Give it your all and stretch yourself! For the next two years you will have the opportunity to learn from and engage with experts from various fields. Don’t recycle papers from undergrad, rather take a leap into areas that interest you. With our caliber of faculty and students, you are bound to find someone with similar interests. Seize your moment!
Map Your Future (I’m talking directly to you current seniors in undergrad)
13. Work experience makes a difference! Through Map Your Future I had the luxury to explore career fields knowing that I would start grad school two years later. This two-year period provided much clarity on my professional aspirations. Additionally, I feel that I can provide insights on various topics during class discussion.
14. Sharpen your quant, econ, and foreign language skills! Similar to #13, this two-year period allows you to enhance your professional profile to thrive once you arrive at Fletcher and beyond. Once you arrive at Fletcher, there is little time to refine these skills (see #9). That said, give yourself a head start and build a foundation in these three areas!
15. A unique opportunity to explore different career fields! As noted above, you may have no idea what you want to study or where you want to work. While two years seems like a long time, it will fly by! Colleagues who completed Map Your Future dabbled in a variety of fields, non-profit, public sector, Teach for America, private sector, etc.
16. Give yourself an academic break! Going straight from undergrad to grad school is a tall order. Academic burnout is a real thing. By completing Map Your Future, you are fine-tuning your professional and academic goals, and if you are just lucky enough, hopefully you’ll be earning a paycheck during these two years, too. Goodbye ramen!
Why Fletcher? At the end of the day, Fletcher is a community dedicated to preparing the world’s next leaders. It is a given that you will have your perspectives respectfully challenged and your perspective broadened. Fletcher’s collegiality is unparalleled! You are making an investment in your future and Fletcher is making an investment in you, and I hope you will join us. Cheers!