Application tips: The Application Form
Today we’ll hear from Nick with some more application advice:
As we continue our series of “Application Tips,” I wanted to shed some insight onto the application form itself. This is the first part of the application you come to and may seem the most straightforward; just some data entry before you get to the more substantive essays, resume, and letters of recommendation. But don’t discount this section – we read these forms carefully and gain valuable insight into your candidacy through your answers. I’ll go through a few of the sections in the application to lend some clarity to why we ask what we ask and what we’re looking for.
Field of Study Details and Career Interests
While these areas may seem different, a little context about why we ask these questions and why they’re right next to each other may be helpful. First, it’s important to know that we don’t hold you to the Fields of Study that you list in the application [Editor’s note: outside of the MGA program, for which a formal Field of Study declaration is required in the application]. If you are admitted and choose to enroll at Fletcher you officially declare your Fields later in the academic year. So then why do we even ask? Knowing what Fields you plan to pursue at Fletcher gives us an idea of your interests and lends context to the review of the rest of your application. For example, if you tell us you’re planning to pursue International Security and Human Security and Humanitarian Affairs, we’re going to evaluate the rest of your materials with that in mind, looking to see where these interests come from; does your professional experience lead to it, or did your undergraduate academics focus on these areas, or have you volunteered with migrant communities and experienced human security concerns first-hand? The Career Interests function largely the same way – we want to see in your written materials that your stated career interests line up with your goals and aspirations. This is also why we limit the career interests to three; we recognize that you may have wide ranging interests but want you to choose the three most relevant to give us a clearer lens through which to review the rest of your materials.
This section has no right answer, and I want to make clear that having experience internationally is in no way a pre-requisite to apply to Fletcher. We recognize that the ability to travel, study, work, or live abroad for any duration is a privilege and not available to everyone. That said, as a school of international affairs we expect our applicants to have an interest in global issues and commitment to approaching these issues with a global perspective. The opportunity to get to know different cultures and build that perspective through personal experience is a wonderful way of demonstrating your commitment to global issues and a diverse worldview.
Not much to be said here, other than that this is the one area we can say doesn’t impact the review of your application. We ask to what other programs you are applying to gain more insight into ourselves and our place in the International Affairs landscape. As our administration seeks to improve Fletcher it’s useful to see what other schools our applicants are interested in attending, what they may be offering that we’re not, etc. There is no need to approach this question “strategically.” Telling us you’re applying to one or several other programs has no impact on your odds of admission, it is purely for our internal use.
Not too much to say here other than to please make sure to fill out each section of the form for every school you list. It is crucial for our process to know the type of degree you pursued at each institution, if you completed that degree, the dates you attended, and what your GPA was. Please be very conscientious entering this information.
This may seem redundant as we also ask you to submit a resume, and in a way we are asking for the same information twice, however each serves a purpose. When we look at the resume, part of what we’re looking at is the formatting and framing you impart on your experience. We look at the resume to assess the order in which you list your experiences and how you would present yourself professionally (we are always looking for a “professional” resume, whatever that means for you). But the resume is not always a great place to offer a description of who your employer is and what they do. The application offers plenty of space to allow you to describe your employer, as well as your position, in more detail and at greater length than you typically would in a resume.
I’ll leave it here with one last piece of advice: Please remember that we do look carefully at every piece of information you provide us. In reviewing our applications, we always seek to build a holistic picture of your candidacy and your fit with Fletcher. Each data point is another brushstroke in that picture.