Advice from John: application essays

Today in application advice, John gets into the ins and outs of preparing your essays:

The essay is just one piece of your application, but a critical one – since it serves as perhaps your best opportunity to give the admissions committee an answer to the ‘Why?’ behind your journey to Fletcher. Why are you interested in joining the Fletcher community? Why have you selected your specific program? Why now?

You can read more about our application requirements, including the essay requirements, on our application checklist webpage. To quickly recap, though, all applicants are required to respond to at least two prompts. Here is the first prompt, to which all applicants respond:

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?

All applicants then write a second essay, choosing one of three prompts from which to respond. Applicants to the MGA and PhD programs, as well as applicants to the Map Your Future pathway, also respond to a third prompt. For the purposes of this post, my advice will mainly focus on the first essay.

  1. Please make sure that your essay directly answers the prompt. Your essay should leave the admissions committee with as few questions as possible regarding your potential fit within the Fletcher community. The surest way to do this is to make sure that you write clearly, directly, and with no grammatical errors.
  2. Along those lines, please proofread your essay! Consider printing your essay and reading it out loud. Also consider running it through a typing assistant software like Grammarly. Perhaps you have trusted colleagues that can help with editing. Use those resources and give yourself time to complete multiple drafts, since most mistakes happen when things are rushed. Your first draft will need work, but that is okay – since the essay should ideally have plenty of time to develop and take shape before submitting. Be comfortable with the idea of writing down drafts and letting them marinate before further polishing.
  3. Remember that you are already submitting a resume that outlines your professional and academic experience. The essay is valuable real estate, so you should not spend much time recapping everything that is already expressed on your resume. It is reasonable to assume that you will likely need to acknowledge the previous experiences on your resume in your essays. That’s fine! The strongest essays, though, spend more time sharing what specifically about those experiences have informed your decision to currently pursue an education at Fletcher.
  4. Be authentic and try to have a little bit of fun! The essay is one of the few places in your application where the admissions committee gets a glimpse into your personality (besides our optional interviews, of course!). With that said, there is no ‘right answer’ for these essays. We want to learn what excites you about global affairs and the Fletcher community! Since there is no ‘typical’ Fletcher student due to our strong multidisciplinary focus, this varies among applicants.

I hope this advice is helpful. For further reading, you can check out some of our previous posts with advice on writing your essays. You can also reach out to schedule a call with an admissions counselor for more information. We look forward to reading your application – and especially your essays!

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