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Reading applications at home while a snowstorm builds outside is a good news/bad news thing.  On the one hand, it’s cozy inside with my cups of tea and extra layers of clothing, and I’m thankful I don’t need to think about going anywhere.  Plus, the day will be pretty much free from email distractions and interruptions.  Tufts University (and nearly every school and university in the area) will be closed for the day as the storm sweeps up the east coast, dumping about a foot of snow everywhere from New York on north.  I’ll need to create my own distractions — such as interrupting my reading to write this blog post, or simply staring out the window as the snow piles up.

On the bad news side is simply that, at some point, I’ll need to confront the snow outside and remove it from the sidewalk.  But there’s a good-news aspect to shoveling, too — the street scene is like a block party.  All the neighbors will be out and we’ll catch up on our news and share recollections of other storms when we met in the middle of the street.  It’s well known that it only snows here when my husband, Paul, travels, and that’s usually the conversation opener.  Attending to the snow will take some time from reading, but I still expect to get through a nice bundle of applications.

If you’re hoping to reach the Admissions Office, especially if you’re finishing a MALD or MA application before tomorrow’s deadline, please email us.  Staff members are working from home, and you should receive a timely answer.

 

An applicant wrote to me this week with a good question, and I’d like to share my answer with all of you, too.  He was wondering, not necessarily in these words, what holds us up from releasing decisions on applications that have already been reviewed.  Particularly given other schools’ practices (rolling admissions, multiple admissions cycles, etc.), I understand that it could seem strange that Fletcher releases all decisions at once.

And the explanation of our practice is that reading an application is certainly the most time-consuming aspect of the review process — particularly since each application is read at least twice — but it isn’t the end of the process.  In addition to Admissions Committee discussions, the key factor is that we want to ensure all applications are read with the same standards in mind, whether the first readers get to them in January or at the end of February.  At the conclusion of the whole reading/Committee process, we’ll make sure we’ve got things right.

In addition, remember that we release admission and scholarship decisions at the same time, and we haven’t even started on scholarship review.  In fact, we won’t start for a few more weeks.  So the release of admission decisions will just need to wait.

As I always say, we’re reading as fast as we can.  But we’ll continue to hold on the ultimate release of decisions until all the many necessary elements are in place.

 

teapotYesterday was my weekly at-home application reading day.  Reviewing applications is both engaging and exhausting.  It’s not that the work is difficult exactly, but it does require close attention and consistent focus throughout the day.  My Admissions pals and I have all found our preferred reading arrangements — whatever it takes to keep us moving through a virtual pile of applications.  I nearly always read in my kitchen, and yesterday was no exception.  Here’s how my day went.

7:30 — The house is mine.  I already have Slate opened up and waiting for me.  There’s a mishmash of applications in my queue (some put there by student readers, one MATA application (my second) that Laurie passed to me, some PhD applications that I need to check over for the basics), so I decide to start by reading everything in my queue before I grab more applications.  I’m fueled by a nice cup of tea.  A friend brought us tea from Sri Lanka and I’m enjoying drinking it from my new favorite tea mug that we picked up in London last month.

lapdesk8:30 — I need a quick bit of movement, so I sprint upstairs to shift some clothes from the washer to the dryer.  Then back to work.  I’ve been sitting with my legs up and my computer propped on my lap desk (bought specifically for this purpose).

9:45 — I’m making pretty good progress, but I need to move.  Time to put the computer on the kitchen table.  I’ve been selecting the application I read by opening my queue, closing my eyes, swirling my mouse over the list, and clicking a name.  Ultimately, it’s not too different from working through the list alphabetically, but it’s a more entertaining method.

11:00 — I’m steadily whittling down the queue but I need to get up and move again.  coffeeI put the kettle on, race upstairs to move the last of the washing to the dryer, sprint back down to make a pot of coffee while also eating a banana to refuel.  I chose a thematic mug to boost my focus.  Back to the queue.

12:23 — My queue is empty, and it’s time for lunch!  I’ve read the 20 files I started with, made these notes on the blog, answered a few emails.  Not a terrible pace, but not great either.  Maybe lunch will invigorate me.  Lentils and greens — not too photogenic, so I’ll spare you.

12:48 — Back to work.  Loaded up my queue and ready to go.  I also brewed a little more tea.  The coffee was decaf, so there’s no danger that I’ll become overly perky as I read your applications!

2:38 — I motored through a batch of applications, but then I hit a wall.  To reset, I washed all those dishes I had used earlier and changed venues — moved from the kitchen table to the counter.  I often think it would be nice to read in a coffee shop or in our local library, but taking time to “commute” steals from reading.

4:38 — Exactly two hours since I made my last note.  I’ve read about as much as I’m going to get to today, and I’ve had a nice “journey” through your stories.  In just these few hours, I’ve read about applicants with roots or experience in South Sudan, Japan, Korea, India, Somalia, Israel, Kuwait, Indonesia, and many locations in the U.S.  My applicants have been focused on education, security, humanitarian studies, the environment, negotiations, and just about every topic Fletcher offers.  In other words, a typical reading day!  And that’s why the work is energizing.  At the same time as I’m tired of staring at my screen, I’m excited to connect with all these folks who could be walking in the Hall of Flags in September!

 

Somehow I find myself more than halfway through the academic year with barely a mention of Fletcher’s three new study options.  I did write earlier in the fall about one of the programs, then called the MTA — which was in the process of development even as we launched it in September — but it has taken me longer to catch up with the other new programs.  Here, then, is an update.

The Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs (now called the MATA) will be offered, starting in September 2017, jointly with the College of Europe in Belgium.  It will enable students to pursue a degree by splitting their time between the two campuses, and there is an internship component.  You might have questions.  So did we!  And here they are, with answers.  I’ve so far read a total of one MATA application, but more are in store for me.

Next up is a PhD in Economics and Public Policy, offered cooperatively by Fletcher and the Tufts University Department of Economics.  The goal is for five students to enter the program each year, with the first students starting their studies in September 2017.  Applications will be submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which will award the ultimate degrees.

And last, a new LLM dual-degree program with the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland will give students the opportunity to earn both a Master of Laws in International Law (LLM) from Fletcher and a Master in International Law from St. Gallen after 18 months to two years of study.

All three of the programs are profiled in this Tufts Now article.

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Last week, starting with the January 10 deadline, and this week are filled with the work that sets us up for the next two months.  Here’s a quick update on where things stand, now that we have moved rapidly from awaiting applications to reviewing them.  We still have a batch of applications that need to be checked for completeness, but we’re working through them steadily and we’ll receive a speed boost this week when all of our graduate assistants will have returned to campus after their winter break.  In addition, we’re keeping up with emails, many of which have an attached transcript or other document.  All of those pieces are being added to their applications.  Please continue to be patient if you haven’t heard about your application, but know that we’re making good progress.

Meanwhile, the students on the Admissions Committee jumped into the (virtual) bin of completed applications last week and got a ton of reading done.  The Admissions staff also did a big batch of reading and we’ll have our first MALD/MA Committee meeting of the winter on Friday.  Liz and Dan are both at home reading today, and I’ll be reading tomorrow.  This will be the pattern for another five or six weeks until all the applications have been read at least twice.

Meanwhile, we anticipate receiving another batch of applications for the late deadlines in February (MALD, MA) or by March 1 (LLM, MIB).  Those applications will slide easily into the weekly work flow that will have been well established by then.

And an update on the PhD applications that were due by December 20.  Those are all already moving through the reading and review process.  They follow a much more serpentine path than the applications for master’s-level programs, but applicants can be sure that review is well under way.  The PhD Admissions Committee will meet several times in February and March.

Last, while I’m talking about the applications due December 20, there are the MYFs.  Those, too, are moving along.  The applications are considered separately from the general MALD/MIB bunch, as they’re evaluated on a slightly different set of metrics, but they, too, will receive all the attention they deserve.

So that’s where things stand.  I won’t provide a process update every week — the news would be increasingly dull as we move from January to February to March, doing roughly the same thing every week — but I know that applicants are always anxious to know where things stand, and now you know!

 

This week started with frosty cold temperatures that preserved last weekend’s snow. In the office, answering questions and processing applications was the primary activity.  Only a few days later, the outdoor temperatures have risen, rain has washed away the snow, and I’m throwing myself into a pile of applications (virtual pile, that is — we read online) for the first time in this round of the process.  Reading applications at home is a weekly adventure for the Admissions staff.

Warm weather outside makes me a happy reader inside. On an ordinary January reading day, way too much mental space is consumed by keeping myself warm.  Today, it’s comfortable inside and I can focus only on the applications.  That, and a cup of coffee, which is now ready.  Back to reading!

 

Welcome to the other side of the January 10 deadline — the side where all the work shifts from applicants to Admissions staff.  Nearly all the work, that is.  If you haven’t already received an email saying your application is complete (and most of you who applied yesterday haven’t), then you’ll need to stay on top of this until you finally hear from us.

To that end, here are the instructions for tracking your application.

AFTER YOU SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION, your Application Status page will display the information you need to track your application.

To access your Application Status Page you can either click the “Start an Application” link on the Admissions website or save the application link.  You will login with the email and password you used when you created your application.

How Do I Know If My Application is Incomplete or Complete?

Even after you have submitted all the required materials, your application will wait until a staff member has reviewed each document to check that it is correct and legible.  Only then is the application considered complete and ready to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Your Application Status page displays the most up-to-date information on your application status.  Please allow us up to 10 days after we receive your materials to update your record.  It isn’t that checking each application takes a long time, but there are a great number to review and we want to get it right.

Your application will be marked as incomplete if we find that items are missing, your transcripts are difficult to read or not translated into English, or your application fee has not been received (with the exception of fee waivers).  If we are missing materials or cannot read application documents, we (Fletcher Admissions) will contact you.

Fletcher Admissions will also send you a confirmation email when all of your application materials have been compiled and your application is ready to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Once your application is complete, there’s nothing more you need to do (except wait).

Please Note: Whether your application is processed first or last has no bearing on your admissions decision.  But you do need to ensure that you have sent us all the needed materials.

When Will I Receive My Decision?

Decisions will be released toward the end of March.  We will send a message to the email address you used on your application.  March decision information will also include details about scholarship awards for students admitted in March or in December (Early Notification).

If you have further questions, please email us or call us at +1.617.627.3040.

Please use the email address that you included in your application on all email messages to the office.  We try to respond to every message on the same day we receive it, but due to the large number of emails we receive, it can take several days for us to reply to you.

This part of the admissions process certainly requires some patience.  Whether you’re waiting for confirmation your application is complete, or for the answer to a question, or for your decision to arrive in March, you can be sure we’re working as hard as we can to make everything go quickly and smoothly.  It’s in the interest of the Admissions staff, as well as that of our applicants.

 

Well, we’re down to the final hours, my friends.  Though hundreds of you have submitted the applications that already are keeping us busy, an even greater number have applications that, whether complete or not, have not been submitted.  If you’re one of those down-to-the-wire people, holding until as close as possible to 11:59 p.m. EST (UTC-5) tonight, be sure to keep  your eye on the clock.

Remember that, to meet the deadline, you need to submit all the parts of the application that you control.  DO NOT hold your application for recommenders or for test scores.  (On the other hand, do make sure your recommenders are well aware of the deadline.)  If you are still waiting for an official transcript to arrive so that you can upload a copy, send us whatever you have now, and send the official version when you receive it.

Remember to proofread your essays and double check that you have answered all the questions.  And then…click submit, take a deep breath, and settle in for a ten-week wait.

 

We’re all back in the office for the first time in 2017 and, aside from catching up on our own stuff, the order of the day is answering questions that have been arriving by email and phone.  Cindy, one of our graduate assistants, is doing much of this work for us.  Most of her answers (the part of the conversation that I can hear) amount to: Submit your application on time and you’ll be fine, so long as that test score, recommendation, or whatever, arrives shortly after the deadline.  I expect the flow of these questions to continue through today and tomorrow.

Please remember that the deadline is tomorrow, January 10, at 11:59 p.m. EST (UTC -5).

 

The Admissions Office (along with the rest of Tufts University) is closed today.  For your application question planning pleasure, please note that the office will be closed on these dates:

Friday, December 23 (today)
Monday, December 26
Friday, December 30
Monday, January 2

In addition, note that the staff will be meeting away from the office on Monday, January 9.  We expect to have one of our graduate assistants available to answer last minute pre-deadline questions by phone or email.

Happy holidays to everyone!

 

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