Posts by: Jessica Daniels

One of the Ginn Library research librarians, Ellen McDonald, asked members of the faculty to tell her what they have been reading in this snowy winter.  This is not an assignment for students (current or incoming)!  But if you happen to be curious about what they recommend, feel free to peruse the list.

From that page, you can also click through other Ginn Library resources, which will give you insight into what students consider important in their academic work.

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I always prefer sharing a student perspective on Fletcher life, rather than writing myself.  Today I’m sharing a post Alex sent along last week about the new Strategic Plan.  When I say “new,” I mean newly completed.  It has been in the works for more than a year.  Let’s let Alex tell you about it.

Right now, Fletcher students are in a very short-term mindset.  Survive midterms.  Land an internship.  Make it to Spring Break.

Luckily, the administration is thinking a little bit more long-term, and has recently developed a new Strategic Plan for The Fletcher School: To Know the World.  The five-year plan’s vision is to go even further to make Fletcher the “premier institution for preparing a highly selective and diverse network of global leaders, whose influence is felt across the public, private and non-profit sectors.”

The plan includes four overarching, mutually reinforcing objectives:

  • Relevance: enhance professional and academic preparation of students as problem solvers, future leaders and agents of change;
  • Reputation: bolster the School’s reputation by increasing research productivity and impact on decision makers;
  • Resources: ensure a robust and more diversified revenue stream to support pursuit of School’s mission;
  • “Right Stuff”: maintain a sustainable, diverse and high-quality student body across all our degree programs.

These objectives are supported with myriad initiatives, from strengthening research centers and enabling professors to do more research, to upgrading facilities and leveraging technology to enhance learning.  I would highly recommend looking through the plan, to see where Fletcher will be going in the next couple of years.

Of course, I was most curious about what the immediate impacts of the plan will be for current, admitted, and prospective students.  How will Fletcher actually be different in the Fall of 2015?  So I went right to the source, and met with Dean Stavridis.

The Dean mentioned a number of exciting plans, but a couple stood out.  The administration is in the process of hiring a professor with expertise in cyber, to help keep Fletcher on the cutting edge of this growing field.  They are also building a television studio on site to help facilitate media appearances by the faculty (Dean Stavridis, alone, has done over 160 in the last 12 months!) and for use in classes such as The Arts of Communication (one of my favorite last semester).  Finally, one of the most exciting plans in the works is establishing a strategic partnership with a globally-focused think tank in Washington D.C.; this will provide an opportunity to collaborate on research, participate in exchange programs, obtain internships, and in general serve as a home base for Fletcher in the nation’s capital.

At a school known for producing exceptional strategic thinkers, it is fitting that Fletcher should have such a stellar Strategic Plan.  I look forward to seeing it in action.

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Yesterday brought us the full range of late winter weather — from mild and dry in the morning, to mild and raining in the afternoon, to cold, windy, and snowy in the evening.  What’s important is that we have set a new record for annual snowfall, all the more remarkable because December and the first half of January and of March have been pretty much snow free.  Boston is such a competitive sports town that I was hardly the only person cheering for the record to fall.  All this winter hardiness must not be for naught!

This is spring break week, and most Fletcher students are not in the building today, though there are a few thesis writers in the library, and I chatted with a PhD candidate on our way in by bus this morning.  In the lead up to vacation, I heard about plans ranging from a relatively restful week near campus to hiking trips, to a few days on a beach somewhere.  And then there’s a group of 55 students who are traveling together in Israel and the West Bank to meet with prominent Israelis and Palestinians in the political, business, and security sectors.  (I hope to share photos when they return.)

As for the Admissions Staff — we’re all here, answering questions from applicants and reaching out to admitted students.  It’s both quiet and busy in the Office — not a bad combination for spring break week.

 

On the morning after we released our decisions, thank you to everyone for your interest in Fletcher throughout this past year!  Congratulations to those who were admitted!  And for those who were not, please stay in contact with us.  Our door is still open!

Once we had the packets in the mail, yesterday was a day of quiet desk- and inbox-clearing.  We know that today starts a new phase of the admissions cycle, and one of particular frenzy.  We’ll be reaching out to, and hearing from, our admitted students; the emails will fly.

Just as the coming weeks will be hectic for the Admissions Staff, they should also be busy for most of the students who were admitted yesterday.  Doing the research that results in the right decision for graduate school takes time.  You did your preliminary research before applying, of course, but now is when you make doubly sure that the program in which you enroll best matches your academic and career objectives.  Explore the course offerings in detail.  Learn about the student community.  You have a little over five weeks to gather information about Fletcher and other schools, and then to make a well-considered decision.  We’ll do our part to provide you with details by mail and other media, along with opportunities to visit the School, to help in your decision making.  And the Admissions Blog will continue to supply information about our wonderful community and rich intellectual environment.

Speaking for everyone on the Admissions Staff, we encourage you to learn as much as you can before making a final decision.  Of course, we hope you will choose Fletcher, but it’s even more important that September finds you in classes that move you toward your goal.  We welcome your questions!  And, congratulations, once again, on your admission!

 

While we toil away here, putting the finishing touches on our admission decisions, naturally we know that some of our peers are getting out ahead of us with decisions, building the anxiety among our applicants.  Maybe we’d rather be first, but more important, we want to be accurate and thorough, and to provide admitted applicants with all the information they need to make a decision to enroll at Fletcher.  So let me run through what you can expect to learn tonight, when we release decisions.  (All decisions, by which we mean decisions for all degree programs on every complete application that was submitted by the final March 1 deadline.  No trickling of decisions for us.  No releasing of decisions by telephone or email either, so please be patient until 6:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern time.)

First, 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.)

I’ve already described the different decision options on Monday and Tuesday.  In addition to learning the admission decision, when admitted applicants log in, they will be able to find their scholarship award.  If you’re in a two-year program, the award is renewable for the second year.  (So a $10,000 scholarship is worth $20,000 for your full MALD or MIB.)  We make scholarship decisions based on a combination of merit and need.  That is, 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, to a lesser extent) among the admitted applicants.  Fletcher’s applicant pool is diverse in every possible way.

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.  With some applicants, our connection 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.  I want to thank all of you for your interest in Fletcher and for reading the Admissions Blog throughout the year.

Packets!

Admitted student packets waiting for the post office pick-up!

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My email exchange recently with Sebastián went beyond learning about his Defying Gender Roles initiative.  He also told me about a long-standing tradition for a group of Washington, DC-based Fletcher alums to gather for breakfast every Tuesday.  And he sent a photo of the Very Early Breakfast Club, composed of members of the classes of 2012 and 2013, last week at the Flying Fish Café.  All of the Very Early Breakfast eaters live in the Mt. Pleasant area.  In any neighborhood, DC is thick with Fletcher alums!

Breakfast club

 

Having invited applicants who are not initially offered admission to stay in contact with us, I will now turn to those applicants who are admitted.

As soon as we can wrap up the application review process, many Fletcher applicants will soon learn that they have been admitted, and can join us in September 2015.  Woohoo!  We hope that Fletcher will be the next step you take as you craft your future career!

Some of the offers of admission, however, are accompanied by a condition, and today’s post is to clarify what those conditions entail.  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?  The Admissions Committee looks at the materials in an applicant’s file and makes certain assumptions, some of which lead Committee members to 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 (MIB students only).

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 summer 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.

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!  Not everyone who needs some practice will be admitted conditionally.

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 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!  (There’s similar thinking behind offering MALD admission to a tiny number of PhD applicants who lack the master’s level study to enter the PhD program directly.)

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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As we edge closer to releasing decisions, I want to take a minute (and two blog posts) to tell readers about potential decision options.  This is an annual theme, but this year, reflecting the views of the Admissions Committee, I’m going to reframe the information.

But first let me interrupt myself to say that we’re still wrapping up the process and some time stands between now and when we release decisions.

THE BASICS

The unfortunate reality is that we cannot admit everyone who applies to Fletcher.  And there are two possible outcomes for those who aren’t admitted right 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 (which might result 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 goals for study and a post-Fletcher career.  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 just a little weak in all of them, particularly compared to the overall 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.

It can be hard for waitlisted applicants to get a handle on what this decision means for them, which is understandable.  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 that we may read about you again.

Some applicants to the MALD and MIB programs will receive a letter saying that, though they look great overall, we really want them to gain some relevant professional experience, and it’s the work history that stands between them and the admission they hoped for.  We’ll only use this “work deny” decision for applicants within about a year of their university graduation.  (This year, that means 2014 and 2015 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, there’s one important thing I want to share, which is that 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 may want some 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, all members of the Fletcher Admissions staff know that the extra waiting is unwelcome.  But for some applicants, the waitlist will ultimately result in admission.  We encourage you to make the most of this opportunity by taking a little 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.

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This post won’t be typical for the Five-Year Updates.  To start, it won’t be written by the featured Class of 2009 graduate.  But today is a good day to recognize Amanda Judge F09, who later this afternoon will receive the second Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award.  The award ceremony is timed to fall on the Friday before the March 8 International Women’s Day.  According to the invitation we received to the event:

Amanda JudgeAmanda Judge is Founder and CEO of Faire Collection, a fair trade accessories brand that brings economic stability to more than 200 rural artisans in Ecuador and Vietnam.  In the seven years since its founding, Faire Collection has grown from just $10,000 in start-up capital to well over $1 million in sales revenue and is committed to providing its artisans with dignified wages and holistic social programs that provide a path out of poverty.  Judge, who received her MALD in 2009, developed Faire’s business plan as an independent study at Fletcher. She holds a degree in finance from Santa Clara University and worked in the private sector before launching Faire Collection.

The award was established in 2014 by the Fletcher Board of Advisors and the School’s executive leadership to honor outstanding women graduates who are making a meaningful impact in the world in the private, public, and NGO sectors.

You can read more about Amanda and her work in the student-published Tufts Daily, in a nice article on the University’s Tufts Now page, and on the Faire Collection website.

Amanda’s post-Fletcher career certainly deserves to be recognized among those of her peers, with a Five-Year Update.  Congratulations, Amanda!

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A 2012 grad, Sebastián Molano, with whom I’ve occasionally been in contact over the past two-plus years, recently wrote to tell me about a new project he has started.  I’m going to let him introduce it.

Defying Gender RolesIn order to contribute to the current struggle for gender equality, last January I created Defying Gender Roles.  This is an initiative that seeks to challenge harmful gender roles by creating a space to share thoughts and views about the nuances of being men and women today, and through it we aim to foster and promote diversity.

Last month, we launched our Facebook group and we have over 800 followers.  With this group we seek:

  • To bring attention to the harmful gender roles that are part of our daily life and to how they affect our ability to be who we want to be.
  • To “de-normalize” practices that perpetuate gender inequality and reinforce harmful traditional gender roles.

In this project, I have the support, ideas, and energy of five Fletcher alums: Joya Taft-Dick F11, Megan Rounseville F12, Sean Lyngaas F12, Amos Irwin F12, and Ana García F13.

I was invited recently to give a TEDx Talk at Colby College, where I spoke about what it means to be a man today and the struggle for achieving gender equality.  (A link to the talk should be available soon.)

With International Women’s Day coming on Sunday, March 8, I’m happy to be able to point to work that Fletcher grads are doing on behalf of gender equality.

 

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