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Only five days remain until the deadline for admitted and waitlisted applicants to indicate their decisions.  With that in mind, a quick note for applicants who wish to accept a place on the waitlist.

As soon as we can next week, we’ll be counting the enrolling students and deciding whether we should make additional offers of admission.  That means that anyone on the waitlist who wishes to send us additional materials should plan to do that by the 20th, too.

A reminder of what constitutes a useful addition to an application that will be reconsidered in the waitlist process:  Updates (new exam scores, grade reports, résumé, etc.); an additional recommendation that sheds light on an area of your background that you didn’t illuminate as thoroughly as you might have in your original application; a letter that restates and clarifies your interests and objectives.  If you’re thinking about sending us information that doesn’t seem particularly new, there’s probably not much benefit to it.  But it’s always nice to hear from you that you are still interested in enrolling, so feel free to send a quick note.

April 21 is only the very beginning of the process for reviewing the waitlist.  As likely as not, nothing much will happen for a few weeks, so patience is still needed.  But don’t hold off much longer in sending any new materials that you want us to consider.

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This is the Fletcher Admissions Blog, and it might seem that one of my tasks is to answer directly the question of why an admitted applicant should decide to enroll at Fletcher.  As it happens, several years ago I created a “Why Fletcher” tag, but it only has a few posts in it:  the one when we asked students in the Hall of Flags why they had enrolled; the one in which I shared the results of an informal survey on the topic; the one that a student wrote about how it’s really okay to spend two years away from the Beltway.  In total — not even enough posts for Why Fletcher to appear in the tag cloud.

The paucity of posts reflects my understanding that admitted students don’t want to make their enrollment decision on the basis of the opinions of an Admissions staff member.  Plus, isn’t this entire blog an answer to the Why Fletcher question?  There are the stories of our faculty members, who are both experts in their fields (as you would expect) and also interesting individuals.  There’s all the information about our students, including their reports on interesting things they do each year, and their ongoing stories.  And there are our alumni, particularly those who graduated a year ago or five years ago, and whose trajectories are most relevant for someone who is about to start graduate school.

Within posts, there are many references to the exciting work being done by our programs and centers, such as the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, the Institute for Business in the Global Context, and the International Security Studies Program.  And last, there’s all sorts of good stuff cookin’ at the Office of Career Services, not to mention in our neighborhood.

So, to me, it’s obvious why a student would want to spend one or two (or even more) years at Fletcher.  I hope that after doing your research, including reading through the blog archives, you’ll agree!  But I know that I won’t be the one who ultimately convinces you.

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Jelly beansI’m grabbing a few minutes in between assignments during our Open House for admitted students.  I started my day with my favorite task — checking folks in — and now I have a few more minutes before it’s time to answer questions during our open office hours.  To greet the visitors, we’ve decorated the Hall of Flags with extra Fletcher banners, and brought in balloons and jelly beans and others of the many products that can be ordered in more-or-less Fletcher orange.  Right now, all the visitors are tucked into sessions for their degree programs.

BalloonsIt’s not an easy task to increase the School’s population by a third, even only for a day.  The solution: offer a zillion different activity options and keep everyone moving.  At 11:05, those who aren’t visiting the Admissions Office with questions may be at a panel discussion with current students, a Career Services presentation, any of five classes (Political Economy of Development; Islamic Banking and Finance; Public International Law; Applied Microeconometrics; Accounting for Profit, Non-Profit, and Government Organizations), or roundtable discussions on International Environment and Resource Policy, or Business in Practice at Fletcher.  Whew!  Similar line-ups are offered in the blocks starting at 12:30, 1:55, 3:20, and 4:30.  It isn’t only the Admissions Staff who need to put their feet up at the end of the day!  (And no feet need elevating more than Liz’s, as she has spent the last couple of months setting all of this up.)

Despite the pace, admitted students who visit report they are able to gather substantive information that helps them make their decision on where to pursue their graduate studies.  Plus, it’s fun.  Who wouldn’t want to spend a day living the life of a student without needing to worry about exams or papers?

The first of the question askers has now arrived, and it’s time for me to spring into action!  We have a busy afternoon in front of us.

 

 

This has been the post-admissions-decision week when I have felt most overwhelmed by the pace of work, made worse by a busy week at home that left no extra time to extend my work day.  Lengthy or detailed blog posts have been one of the casualties.

Today I’m going to share a few sentences that have come my way and that I think capture the nature of Fletcher.  The first comes from Ben Mazzotta, a member of the research staff of the Institute for Business in the Global Context who is also a graduate of the MALD and PhD programs, and who is about to embark on a new adventure on assignment for USAID.  In a note of farewell, Ben wrote:

It has been a privilege to work here, where so many people genuinely come to work in the morning with the belief that we can solve the world’s problems, and then set about doing exactly that.

For students, this is their school, but for faculty and staff, this is our workplace, and Ben has captured the reason why so many of us have dedicated many years to working here.

The second note also came from an alumnus, in this case one who has gone on to become the ambassador from Pakistan to Japan.  After hosting an event for newly admitted students in Tokyo, Ambassador Amil reported back on the brief speech he gave at the event:

My message was that Fletcher has given so much to us in building bridges of understanding and hope, and it is important to maintain that connectivity.  I made friends for life there!

We Admissions staffers are proud of the role we play in building the Fletcher student and alumni communities.  In a busy week, reading these brief but timely notes reminds us of the impact we hope to have.

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Ten days have passed since we released admissions decisions and it has been pretty much nonstop email since then, punctuated only by phone calls.  With spring break over, there will be a return to other commitments that take our time.

I worked quite a bit beyond my usual schedule last week, and I’m proud to say that I am caught up with my email!  As of Wednesday, that is.  I still have a batch of outstanding messages from Thursday through the weekend.  Yikes.

At the same time as we strive to help you gather information about Fletcher, I hope that you’ll understand if there’s a delay in our response.  I try to answer quickly the emails that only contain a simple question.  The messages that require chasing down information or creating documents definitely take longer.  Please be patient with me and my admissions pals.  We’re running/typing as fast as we can.

We’re looking forward to a busy Open House next month, but many admitted applicants can’t attend at that time and would like to visit on another day.  Of course!  Come over!  But just understand that the Admissions Staff won’t be here on weekend days.  We try to line up student volunteers, but sometimes there is so much going on here that it’s hard to find someone.  If you can be flexible in your timing, it’s a big help.  Sometimes we can even group a few visitors and put together an information session for you.  Again, we’ll do everything we can to facilitate your visit, but some requests are harder to satisfy than others.

Have you decided to accept a place on the waitlist?  We welcome your visit, too.  We’ll be able to give you a little extra attention if you wait until April 15.  Meanwhile, feel free to call or email.

Back to my inbox.  My goal for the day is to catch up on all the messages that arrived by yesterday.  With two long meetings today, that may still be too ambitious, but I’ll do my best!

 

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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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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