Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Here we are again.  Me, my computer, and my cup of tea, working in my kitchen.  But this time it isn’t because I’m reading applications at home.  Instead, Mother Nature has decided that a March snowstorm is what the East Coast was missing, and the University is closed today.

Does that mean you won’t receive a timely answer to your admission or waitlist questions?  No, the snowstorm will not affect our handling of the email inbox — we’re all working at home.

Alas, I still can’t guarantee a quick response to your questions.  Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, but we were already falling behind.  Each of us tap-tap-tapped away at our emails, but whenever we crossed paths, we agreed that we had already lost the inbox battle.

Don’t take that to mean that you shouldn’t send your questions.  Please do!  But also be patient with me and my Admissions pals as we work our way through the requests for information.

We’ll be back in the office tomorrow (Wednesday) to take your calls and continue our inbox attack.

 

It’s the Monday after!  We’re pleased that decisions went out without a major hitch, with Friday finding us in the strange decision-day position of working in a quiet office, as if nothing special were going on.  Only the email inbox gave hints that it wasn’t a typical quiet afternoon.  Even while the decisions were rolling out, we were receiving notes of thanks and waitlist reply forms.  I tried, semi-successfully, to keep myself focused on the work I had set out to do.

Decision day is also when the blog is at its most popular.  I’m glad that we can help illuminate the process, which was our goal when we started it, way back in September 2006. (And hello to my reader(s) in Trinidad & Tobago!  It was surprising, and fun, to see T&T among the countries with active blog readers last week.)

Today I want to offer my congratulations to everyone who was admitted on Friday!  We’re excited to start the next phase of our work — meeting you (in person or virtually), taking your questions, and watching the September 2017 class form.  In a sense, though, our job is easy compared to yours.  In a relatively short time, you need to gather the information that will lead to an informed decision about your next steps.  We know that research goes into the selection of schools to apply to, but we always find that the more complex questions are raised only after admission decisions go out.  To that end, contact us, review the Fletcher website, and be sure to look at the student profiles, which will connect you with our community.  We’ll also be sharing tons of information with you during the next few weeks, aiming to surround you with Fletcher love.  Naturally, we hope you’ll decide to enroll here.

To those who were offered a place on the waitlist, please stay tuned to the blog.  If you are offered admission down the road, you’ll have a very narrow window for making your decision.  Please be sure you’re ready, should the opportunity arise.

And, finally, if you were not offered admission, remember that you can request feedback after May 1.  We will offer you information that will help you understand the Admissions Committee’s decision.  Following the guidance we provide is often the pathway to a successful future application.

Now I’m going to attack my inbox, which is curiously busy for a Monday morning.

 

Check check checkity check check.  We have gone through the master to-do list and arrived at the day when we will release decisions.  Here are the details.

First, all decisions will be released today by 3:00 p.m. EST (UTC-5) for all complete applications except for the MATA program.  (MATA decisions will go out soon, but not this week.)

When your decision is ready, you’ll receive an email to check your Application Status Page.  (Reminder for those who haven’t bookmarked the page:  To access your Application Status Page you can either click the “Start an Application” link on the Admissions website or the application link.  You’ll log in with the email and password you used when you created your application.)

There will be no releasing of decisions by telephone or email, so please be patient.

I already described the different decision options on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In addition to learning their admission decision, when admitted applicants log in, they will be able to find their scholarship award.

Beyond all that, let me just say that it is truly a pleasure to work with our applicants.  On the road, here at Fletcher, and through correspondence, Admissions staff members connect with hundreds of people who submit applications each year.  Our connection with some applicants goes back many years.  At the same time as the Admissions Committee’s mandate is to put together a class that will succeed at, contribute to, and benefit from Fletcher, there are many people who may not be admitted at this time but who we know will ultimately be great students.  We hope to see you again.  Meanwhile, I want to thank all of you for your interest in Fletcher and for reading the Admissions Blog throughout the year.

 

Barring some crazy unforeseeable weather event, we’ll be releasing decisions tomorrow.  In my final post to prepare readers for their admission decisions, I want to cover a few points.

Scholarship awards

Fletcher has a source of scholarship funds for new and continuing students.  All of the funds allocated for incoming students (including those who applied by the Early Notification deadline and were admitted in December) will be offered as scholarships this month.  The award information is included in admission letters.

Here’s what you need to know about the scholarship business.  If we have $100 in our special pot of scholarship cash, we don’t simply distribute $100.  Instead, we reckon that half of the award recipients will decide to continue working, attend another program, or, for whatever reason, decline our offer of admission.  This is predictably the case and, with enrollment history in mind, we actually distribute $200 in scholarships.  It’s a gamble, but if we’ve done our math right, it’s a safe gamble.

Why do you need to learn about this back-office aspect of awarding scholarships?  Let’s imagine that Jim and Bill are friends who have applied to Fletcher.  Both are admitted and receive $100 scholarships.  Bill decides to enroll at Fletcher, but Jim decides to postpone graduate school for a year.  Bill knows that Jim has received a $100 scholarship, and Bill would like to claim it for himself.  Alas, Jim’s award doesn’t represent actual cash that goes back in the pot, and Bill cannot have it after Jim moves on.

At the end of the enrollment process, we’ll calculate how much genuine money has been added back to the scholarship account.  One thing you can be sure of is that we will distribute all of the available funds.

Note that, if you’re in a two-year program, you’ll learn your two-year award so that you can plan ahead.  We make scholarship decisions based on a combination of merit and need: for any level of merit — as determined through the application review process — the larger awards go to those with greater need.  We hope that all applicants will be happy with their awards, though we know that only Admissions Committee members have the full picture of the breadth of need (and merit, for that matter) among the admitted applicants.  Fletcher’s applicant pool is diverse in every possible way.

Waitlist ranking

As I mentioned yesterday, we don’t rank the waitlist.  And while you can and should update us with information that brightens up your application, you can’t wrangle your way to the top of the list.  In fact, there isn’t a top of the list.  Each time we make an offer of admission from the waitlist, we’ll be doing so with the nature of the enrolling class in mind.  For example, if more men than women have decided to enroll, we might even out that situation via the waitlist.  In other words, the “list” is really a fluid thing.  And remember Jim and Bill from the scholarship example? When Jim makes his decision not to enroll, it doesn’t mean we’ll be going right to the waitlist.  We need to wait until after April 20 before we’ll know how close we have come to our planned enrollment.

Reversing decisions

This one is easy.  We don’t reverse decisions.  I’m sorry.

I think that should do it.  Readers now know everything they need to know about decisions.  Looking forward to admitting some folks tomorrow!

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In yesterday’s post, I provided the information that applicants who are not offered admission in this round can use to understand their decisions.  Today we’ll look at the different flavors of admission.

As soon as we can wrap up the remainder of the process, many Fletcher applicants will learn that they have been admitted for September 2017 enrollment.  Hooray!  We hope that studying at Fletcher will be your next step as you craft your future career!

Some of the offers of admission, however, are accompanied by a condition.  The first thing to remember is that we don’t bother to admit someone conditionally unless we’re very enthusiastic about other aspects of the application; don’t let the condition diminish your sense of accomplishment!

What is the basis for a conditional offer of admission?  After reviewing a prospective student’s application, the Admissions Committee may suggest the applicant needs further preparation before enrolling at Fletcher.  We’ll make that preparation a condition of admission.  The most frequently employed conditions require that, before starting Fletcher classes, the student should improve foreign language proficiency, English language proficiency, or quantitative skills.

We tend to be inflexible about the nature of the pre-Fletcher English training, for reasons I hope are obvious.  (In case they’re not as obvious as I think, I’ll spell it out:  No one can succeed in Fletcher classes with weak English skills.)  There’s more flexibility around foreign language training for native English speakers.  We’ll ask students to choose the best program for their level and their choice of language — there are too many variables involved for us to dictate any particular option.  And we offer several options for those who should brush up their quantitative skills.

Does this mean that, if we haven’t attached a condition, we’re absolutely sure your English skills are strong enough to cope with a heavy load of reading and writing?  Not necessarily, and now’s a good time to work on those skills.  Does it mean we’re sure you’ll pass the foreign language exam?  Definitely not!  Applicants who self-assess as having intermediate-level proficiency might have overestimated or underestimated their ability.  Work on those language skills before enrolling!  Do we believe you will sail through the required economics and quantitative analysis classes?  No — we only assume that you will pass those basic classes.  If you’re not so sure, then pick up a text book and familiarize yourself with the subject matter.

In short, folks who only need a little practice in English, a foreign language, or quantitative skills will not be admitted conditionally.  But you should be honest with yourself and take care of any shortcomings.

Beyond the conditions, there’s one other complication to the admit category:  Occasionally, we admit applicants to a program other than the one to which they applied.  Most common example:  You applied to the mid-career MA program, but you don’t have sufficient professional experience to meet Fletcher’s standard for mid-career.  On the other hand, you look great for the MALD program, so we’ll admit you to the MALD!

Our process would certainly be simpler if there were only one type of admit, but the option to attach a condition to admission is the difference between admit and deny for some applicants.  We would hate to turn away a highly qualified applicant who needs a little brush-up on English skills, but we would be obliged to do so if we couldn’t require pre-Fletcher English study.

The happy bottom line is that conditional admission is (once the condition is met) ADMISSION!  And we’re convinced that fulfilling the condition will enhance the admitted student’s experience at Fletcher.  So we’ll maintain our portfolio of admits, sometimes with conditions attached.

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At this stage of the admissions process, we’re essentially working our way through a master checklist.  Hold final PhD and MALD/MA Admissions Committee meetings.  Check.  Review decision letter templates.  Check.  Write blog post to help applicants understand their decisions.  Working on it right now.

Though the LLM, MIB and (new) MATA committees still have a little work to do, soon we’ll be down to the tweaking of the final lists.

I like to give readers a sense of what’s coming when we release decisions.  And I like to publish the post while the mood among you still seems relatively calm.  Throughout the rest of this week, I’ll share a little information on our decision options, and you can mull it over until it’s time to apply it to understanding your own decision.

In today’s post, I’ll run through the decision options, aside from admission.

THE BACKGROUND

As I know you are well aware, we will not be able to admit everyone who applied to Fletcher for September 2017 enrollment.  And there are two possible outcomes for those who aren’t admitted now.  One is that the applicant might be denied admission, and the other is that the applicant could be offered a place on the waitlist, possibly resulting in admission later in the spring/summer.

When we review applications, we’re looking for a combination of academic potential, professional and international experience, and clear academic and career goals.  Applicants who are not admitted, or who are offered a place on the waitlist, might be missing one or more of those elements, or they might be a little weak in all of them when compared to the qualifications of admitted students.

THE DETAILS

The waitlist: Each year, we offer a place on the waitlist to a promising group — applicants whose credentials are solid overall, and yet just a little less solid than those of the applicants we’ve admitted.  (A waitlist is what it sounds like — a list of people waiting for a place to open up in the entering class.)  In some years, we admit a significant number of students from the waitlist.  Occasionally, we don’t admit any.  But most years we admit a few.  This is true for each degree program, and each maintains its own waitlist.

It can be difficult for waitlisted applicants to get a handle on what this decision means for them.  Understandably so.  For starters, what matters is not how many waitlist offers we make, but rather how many people decide to accept a spot on the list, and we won’t have that number until the end of April.  We don’t rank our waitlist, and when it comes time to make an offer of admission, we go back to the applications and review our notes.  Applicants offered a place on the waitlist can take until April 20 to decide whether to wait.  Most of our work with the waitlist takes place in May or June, though we’ll keep a list into the summer.

Those not admitted: We’re always sorry to say goodbye to an applicant.  We’ve read your story and we know how important gaining admission to graduate school is for you.  The fact is that many of the students not admitted this year could be admitted in a future year.  We hope you will continue to develop your experience and credentials, and that we may read about you again.

Some applicants to the MALD, MIB, and LLM programs will receive a letter saying that, though they look great overall, we want them to gain relevant professional experience, and it’s the work history that stands between them and the admission they hoped for.  We’ll only use this decision option for applicants within about a year of their university graduation.  (This year, that means 2016 and 2017 grads.)  We encourage them to work for a couple of years, although (depending on their internship record) it could take more or less time for them to build their professional experience and become competitive applicants.

MOST IMPORTANT 

Contact us!:  Whether an applicant is denied admission or offered a place on the waitlist, our door is still open for communication, and we hope you will contact us.  Increasingly, the Admissions Committee expects to see a record of correspondence from those who are applying for the second time.

Students who are not offered admission have the opportunity to request feedback on their application.  If you’re planning to reapply, I encourage you to ask for feedback this spring.  (That is, don’t wait until the month before your next application — you will want time to make improvements.)  We’ll accept feedback requests on May 1 and you’ll hear back from us within a month or so of your request.

As for the waitlist, trust that we’re well aware that no one wants to wait.  But for some applicants, the waitlist will ultimately result in admission.  We encourage you to make the most of this opportunity by taking the time to give your application a boost.  For example, you may have experienced changes in your education or professional life, and we want to know about it.  If you have new test scores (GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS) or grades for classes, please send them to us.  If you have changed jobs or assumed new responsibilities at your current position, send us an updated résumé.  Now’s your chance to shine up your application before we return to it when we evaluate the waitlist.

Although applicants who have accepted a place on the waitlist still have applications under active consideration, and we won’t offer feedback at this time, we are happy to chat with you in person or by phone.  Get in touch, and ask us if there is a special piece of information we need.

Finally, Fletcher welcomes applicants to reapply.  Someone who applies unsuccessfully, smooths up some of the rough points in the application, and reapplies in a subsequent year, has shown determination and a strong interest in the School — two qualities we love in our applicants.

Tomorrow I’ll run through the different categories of admission.

 

The subject of science and diplomacy has been growing quickly as a focus at Fletcher in the last few years.  First, we have been fortunate to add a faculty member, Professor Paul Berkman, who is teaching Science Diplomacy: Environmental Security in the Arctic Ocean.  Not unrelated, the School has participated several times in the annual Arctic Circle Assembly and, in February, Fletcher hosted a student-led conference on the Arctic.  But that’s not all!  The Fletcher Science Diplomacy Club (SciDip) has organized participation in a semester’s worth of activities.  Here are a few of the highlights.

The Science Diplomacy Club hosted several talks on relevant topics, including:

⇒  Dr. Frances A. Colón, the Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, spoke at the “Fletcher Disrupts: Dusting Off Diplomacy” conference and the club hosted at a lunch-talk for group members.
⇒  Dr. Roman Macaya, Ambassador of Costa-Rica to the U.S., a science diplomacy practitioner and enthusiast, will speak this month about his work and experience.

The SciDip students were fortunate this year to be able to participate in several sessions when the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) held its annual meeting in Boston in February.  The meeting’s theme was “Serving Society Through Science Policy.”  The group arranged free admission for panels including “Networks of Diasporas in Engineering and Science Forum” and “How do Science, Technology and Engineering Diasporas Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?”  Students also participated in “The Science Diplomacy Education Network” event, hosted by AAAS, designed to “highlight institutional and student-driven approaches to science diplomacy education.”

The final AAAS-related event was a panel dialogue at Fletcher among Science & Technology Advisors to Foreign Ministers.  (So interesting!)  Here’s a story about a busy weekend that included both this event and the Arctic Conference.

Those are just a few of the SciDip events that have already taken place or are coming up this semester.  More broadly, in the Boston area, there is a critical mass of graduate schools and universities that focus on science, diplomacy, policy, or science and diplomacy policy.  I expect that this is an area that will continue to grow at Fletcher.

 

As I mentioned in my most recent update, we’re moving step-by-step toward the end of the fall 2017 admissions process.  Representing a significant milestone, today the MALD/MA Admissions Committee will meet together for the last time.  Though the day’s task is to give a batch of applications careful consideration, we will also be winding down for the year.  And then we’ll have cupcakes!  (Don’t tell the other committee members.  It’s a surprise.)  The PhD committee has also wrapped up, but the MIB and LLM committees still have meetings in front of them (naturally, since they just received applications on their final March 1 deadline).

For the next few weeks, it will be up to the Admissions staff to take over the finishing work until we finally release decisions.  To prep for that moment, next week I’ll provide details on our different decision options.

And now I’ll head over to the meeting.  I will really miss the students on this year’s committee.  They have been serious, thoughtful, and fun — everything we hoped for when Dan and I interviewed and selected them.

 

Every now and then I like to comb through my folder of blog ideas and gather a collection of news items that I wasn’t able to turn into a post of their own.  In my recent news, we have:

♦  In January, Fletcher welcomed the 18th class of Tavitian Scholars to The Fletcher School.  Each year, Fletcher hosts a six-month training program in Public Policy and Administration for fifteen Armenian civil servants from various government agencies, ministries, and legal institutions.

♦  A Fletcher PhD student, Rebecca Tapscott recently received the International Studies Association’s Carl Beck Award for best paper written by a graduate student.  Her article, “Where the Wild Things Are Not: Crime Preventers and the 2016 Ugandan Elections,” written for the Journal of Eastern African Studies, is now available online.

♦  Fletcher now hosts a prayer room that officially opened this semester.  Here’s the Tufts Daily story.  Note that the photo includes our own Student Stories blogger, Mariya!

♦  Dean Stavridis recently sat down with Professor Eileen Babbitt to discuss “Bridging the Gap,” a grant to Fletcher from the Carnegie Corporation, aimed at considering how academic knowledge can inform and help create policy.

On a related note, Professor Michael Klein has rallied a large group of his fellow economists to create EconoFact, a web-based series of articles “to bring key facts and incisive analysis to the national debate on economic and social policies.”  There’s already some very interesting analysis on the site.

♦  The University recently launched a Tufts Crowdfunding site, where University projects can seek outside funding directly from donors.  A limited number of projects will be highlighted each month, after being reviewed.

♦  And here’s an interesting article from Tufts Now, by Brian Kitching, F15, who describes his battle with and perspective on PTSD.

♦  Finally, the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP) held its January residency in Malta, and produced this video to describe the experience.  Note that GMAP is conducted primarily through distance learning, but once they graduate, GMAP alumni have been great members of the Fletcher community.

 

Back in the fall, the World Peace Foundation announced its 2016-2017 WPF Student Seminar Competition.  It invited Fletcher students to submit proposals for a two-day seminar that would be held on campus in the spring semester.  WPF said “the student competition enables Fletcher School students to frame an issue and interact with leading global experts on the topic of their choosing.”

And the event is finally here!  The student-led seminar on “Theorizing (Dis)Order: Governing in an Uncertain World” will take place tomorrow and Friday.  The students who submitted the winning proposal are MALD students Akua Agyen (first-year) and Protiti Roy (second-year), and PhD students Benjamin Spatz, Juan Taborda, and Rebecca Tapscott.

Here’s the description:

The seminar brings together a diverse group of scholars who study how unpredictability, disorder, and turbulence are produced, performed, invoked, and allocated as a means of shaping—or even constituting—strategies of governance worldwide. These scholars, of varying disciplinary backgrounds, will engage each other to enrich existing theoretical frameworks for understanding the connections between disorder and governance. Drawing on cases from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, scholars will explore the question of disorder in a number of contexts, including in relation to the formal and informal security sector, financial markets, decentralization, governing borderlands, and elite pacts.

I’ll be watching for the Twitter chatter during the conference and I’ll edit today’s post to add a link so you can follow along.

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