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An annual student-led tradition at Fletcher is “Dis-Orientation,” the counter-point to the official Orientation program that takes place before each academic year.  Dating back to 2006 (I first made reference to Dis-O in the blog in 2007, but in 2008, I noted it had been started two years prior), Dis-O has only grown in complexity and grandeur.  A full spreadsheet is now required to keep track of the where and when of events.

Dis-O kicked off last Thursday with a rugby game and a bike ride, but the main attraction was Dip Ball (the Fletcher prom).  Today’s six activities (starting at 9:30 and running into the wee hours) include kayaking and brewery visits.  Overall the week includes plenty of outdoor sports (besides rugby and kayaking, there’s also cricket, soccer, hiking, softball, and golf) and indoor “sports” (a FIFA tournament, board games, and a “massive game of spoons”).  In true Fletcher fashion, there are also a few activities that involve cultural sharing, for example, a “learn about American football” session and, naturally, a Eurovision viewing party.  Rounding out the week are movies, barbecues, improv, an “outdoor jam,” pizza, and several parties.

Once this week of intense bonding is behind them, graduating students will graduate, and continuing students will head off campus for the summer.  It’s already very quiet around here, though I’ve seen clusters of students still congregating in the Hall of Flags.  By next week, it will pretty much just be the staff, and we’ll turn our attention to a summer of planning for the 2018-2019 academic year.

 

We’re just entering the most bittersweet time of the academic year.  Students completed their exams this week and immediately started peeling away.  Many first-year students who haven’t already gone will leave today or on the weekend, after attending the Diplomat’s Ball last night.  I’ve seen a few photos, and received a report from Mariya, and it sounds like it was a fabulous evening.

The Tufts campus is in full spring mode.  After a snowy March and a cold start to April, the weather shifted suddenly to spring and then to summer (or summer-like temperatures) and then back to spring, bringing all the flowers out and the leaves to the trees.  Apple blossoms, cherry blossoms, lilacs, magnolias, daffodils, tulips — all bringing color to the campus at once.

Yesterday the Admissions team went out for lunch with Cindy and Brooklyn, our graduating Graduate Assistants, so the process of saying good-bye is underway for us.  That’s where the bittersweet feelings come in: we’re so happy to welcome the spring, but with the good weather and the end of the semester comes the departure of graduating students.  We still have another week to look forward to catching up with folks before they head off to their post-Fletcher lives and careers.  And of course, there’s Commencement, when we’ll enjoy a big celebratory farewell.  After that, the quiet days of summer.

 

Enrollment decisions were due on Friday and we’ve heard from just about all the admitted applicants.  There are a few stragglers we’ll reach out to, and then we’ll assess where we are for each of the degree programs and for our scholarship budget.  Meanwhile, we’ve also been hearing from folks offered a place on the waitlist.  (As you know, not everyone wants to wait — they’ve gained admission to another program and they’ve decided to enroll, or they’ve made completely different plans for September.)  We’ll revisit that group, too, and get a sense of who’s waiting and for which program.

If you have told us that you’ll accept your place on the waitlist, you should send us (as soon as possible) any updates you’d like us to review.  We’re especially interested in new test scores, updated transcripts, a résumé that describes a new workplace or position or, really, anything that you want us to see because it makes you a better applicant.

All of that said, we don’t yet know whether we’ll be admitting anyone off the waitlist.  I can tell you that our goal is always to make admission offers as early as we possibly can, but I also acknowledge that, in some years, the process has dragged on a bit.  (Then, after keeping you waiting, we’ll ask for a quick response to an admission offer.  Doubly annoying, I know.)

I’ll try to provide updates over the coming weeks.  If you’re at a critical juncture in your own planning, feel free to email us and someone will get back to you with whatever information we’re able to share at that time.

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Without a doubt, the April day on which we hold the Open House for newly admitted students is the craziest of the year.  I managed to snap a pic this morning before the crowds arrived.  Here’s the registration table.

Name tags, information packets, and water bottles all lined up.  Sunshine streaming in.  It was all good.  It’s now just after 10:00 a.m. and visitors have had their breakfast, attended a welcome presentation by the dean and two current students, and are now attending either a class or a faculty panel.

Both last night, when we held a reception, and this morning, Kristen and I staffed the registration table — my favorite job during the Open House.  I get to meet lots of people with whom I’ve been corresponding or whose application I read.  And it’s busy!  I like being busy.

In less than an hour, I’ll be meeting with the visiting incoming PhD students.  Other activities scheduled for 11:05 include attending a class or a Career Services presentation, or participating in a roundtable on environment issues or one on security studies.  Then lunch and even more options.

Liz is a masterful Open House organizer.  It’s a jam-packed schedule and we’ll keep the 160+ visitors moving throughout the day.  Then, I imagine, they’re nearly as tired as we are as they leave Fletcher and continue to consider their options for graduate study.

 

My request for suggestions last week yielded one that follows neatly on Friday’s post.  A blog reader asked about opportunities to audit or take language courses while at Fletcher.  The reader specifically asked about taking courses in a third language (in addition to the testing language and native language), but my answer about the policy would pertain to anyone, including folks who want to brush up before taking the language exam.

The answer is that YES, students definitely have the opportunity to take or audit classes.  MALD and MIB students can take two language classes for credit, following a simple request process.  A good number of students will go that route, particularly if the language is key to their future career goals.  Language courses can be taken at Tufts (super convenient!) or Harvard (not as convenient, but doable if you’re committed to it).  Tufts currently offers classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Auditing language classes is the route more commonly chosen.  The terms of the audit will be up to the instructor and some will ask for a significant investment of time — definitely something to discuss at the outset.  The advantage of auditing is that you don’t need to use a Fletcher credit for a language class.  While a student who tested in French but still wants to develop Arabic skills would see value in using a course credit to do so, most of our students arrive with language skills and would prefer to focus their course selections on the Fletcher curriculum.

Keep sending me suggestions via the survey and I’ll do my best to answer!

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The five-week stretch from releasing admission decisions in March to April 20, when admitted students make their enrollment decisions, is marked by several recurring themes.  One that is turning up a lot in my inbox is Fletcher’s language requirement.

As I hope all native-English-speaking prospective Fletcher students understand, we require all of our students to pass a language proficiency exam in order to graduate.  For non-native speakers, English is their second language.  For everyone else, a two-part test awaits.  The first part is a reading exam — essentially a translation exercise.  And the second part is an oral exam — essentially a conversation with a language instructor.  If you are comfortable reading and writing in your language of choice, you’re probably going to have no problem with this requirement.  The proficiency level required is short of fluency, and no one is trying to put a roadblock in your way.

On the other hand, if you know that you’re not truly proficient, you should develop a plan for passing the exam.  (And, in some cases, we have made that a condition of your admission.)

Within a few weeks of the start of classes, the School administers the reading exam in a bunch of different languages.  The exam is routinely offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Urdu.  Additional exams are offered when a student wants to demonstrate proficiency in a less-commonly selected language.

I’ve looked at the exams in French, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin, and my reaction is that the level of the piece to be translated is appropriate.  That is, anyone would think that if you can’t translate something of that complexity, you can’t really call yourself proficient.  There’s no intention to trick you with arcane vocabulary, but the passage to be translated won’t be simplistic, either.

The oral exam is self-scheduled, and my sense is that almost everyone schedules them for after the reading exam.  We don’t have a preference, though.  If you want to schedule it for the first week of classes, you can do that.

There’s quite a bit of information on the language requirement on this page.  (Scroll down to language requirement, and then when you’ve opened the page, scroll down again to find sample reading exams.)  You’ll see that the reading exams for most languages are an hour in length, but others last longer, and there are also differing required proficiency levels.  If you’re planning to enroll at Fletcher for September, I hope you’ll spend a few minutes reviewing the requirement.  Then think about whether you need a refresher in your chosen language.  If you use the language with ease, the exam will merely be a half-morning’s exercise.  A graduation requirement that you can check off during your first month at Fletcher!  That’s what we want — for everyone to sail right through the exam.

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Spring and summer find me guessing what blog readers — particularly, but not limited to, incoming students — would like to know.  You can save me from writing valueless nonsense by giving me your suggestions.  Just note them here in my two-question survey.  All topic suggestions are welcome and, as they say, there are no dumb questions.

I’ll look forward to finding lots of suggestions logged in the survey soon!

 

Last Tuesday, while I sat inside my cozy kitchen watching the storm swirl outside, I could also see the emails piling up in the Fletcher Admissions inbox.  Every day since then, there have been long stretches when all you can hear in the office is the tappety tappety of fingers on keyboards as we catch up with the tide of questions flowing our way.

I dare say that all of my Admissions pals are like me in having anywhere from a few to a lot of emails awaiting answers in their inboxes.  On their (and my) behalf, I want you to know that we’re working hard and we’re going to get back to you.  I know it’s annoying to wait for an answer, but it does take us time to work through all the requests for information.  We appreciate your patience!  (Even you, Cookie Monster.)

As a practical suggestion, I’ll mention that folks who send simple emails tend to receive their simple responses relatively quickly.  When we receive an email or a call with requests for several different types of information, just doing the research can take some time.  I’m not saying you should hold back on your questions — but if you need us to gather a lot of information on your behalf, a little extra patience may be needed.

Speaking of waiting, you should know that the U.S. has already shifted to Daylight Savings Time.  Our current time zone is UTC-4.  Keep that in mind when you set a time for a phone appointment.  Occasionally we find ourselves waiting for a call from someone who is confused about the time and will be an hour late (assuming we’re still available to take the call).

Now back to my inbox!

 

Sure, I know.  Decisions were released two whole days ago.  Some people have already accepted (or declined) their offers.  But by “some,” I mean only a small number.  Most folks are gathering information.  To that end, let me try to explain a few of the finer points of this process.

First, scholarship awards.  Fletcher has a scholarship budget 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) were distributed this week.  The well is now completely dry.

Beyond dry, in fact.  Because 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.

And here’s how I like to describe what this means to the recipient of a 2018 scholarship.  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.  Now that you’ve read this post, you know that the $100 that was returned to our scholarship fund is imaginary money.  That is, we’ve already calculated that Jim (0r someone like Jim) will return the scholarship, and no funds were actually liberated.  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.

Even as we can’t solve all financial problems for every student, we aim to provide clear and useful information to allow you to plan.  Students in a two-year program learn their two-year scholarship when they’re admitted.  And you might want to know how the Committee on Admissions makes awards.  Our scholarship decisions are 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.

Next, waitlist ranking.  As I mentioned last week, we don’t rank the waitlist, and there’s really no way to talk your way to the top of the list.  But we do encourage you to update us with information that brightens up your application.  Each time we make an offer of admission from the waitlist, we’ll be re-reviewing the applications and if you’ve updated any aspect of your file, we’ll review it then.  Oh, 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.

Finally, this year, like every year, we’ll be asked whether we will reverse decisions.  I’m sorry.  We do not reverse decisions.

 

Yesterday’s storm really was something, but we’re all digging out today.  If you haven’t already checked your application status page, you’ll find that it probably has your admission decision (assuming your application was complete).  If you had deferred your enrollment from a previous term, or if you were admitted last fall (Early Notification), and if you applied for a scholarship, you’ll find award information there, too.

And today I want to offer my congratulations to everyone who was admitted!  We’re excited to start the next phase of our work — meeting you (in person or virtually) and taking your questions.  In the next five weeks, student-by-student, the Fall 2018 class will form and we know the Hall of Flags will be filled with talented and inspiring people in September.

Five weeks should be plenty of time to choose a graduate school, but it’s not necessarily more time than you’ll need.  Even if you have already decided to enroll at Fletcher, we suggest you use these weeks to collect useful details to guide your planning.  If you haven’t already selected a school, we hope you’ll make an informed decision — often we find that a lot of research goes into the selection of schools to apply to, but 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, we know that extra waiting is not what you want to do.  A little advance notice that, 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.

Even without yesterday’s storm, this would be a busy day.  The Fletcher Admissions email inbox was filling up quickly by yesterday afternoon.  As I said, we’re digging out — both from the snow and the email and phone messages.

 

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