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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.

 

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.

 

In contrast to my snow-day reading day, a mere two weeks ago, today is warm and I’m settled into a sunny spot in (of course) my kitchen.  No need to grip a tea cup while reading today.  Even my usually cold house is very comfortable.

The climatic conditions have made this a very enjoyable final reading day for this semester.  Also contributing is that I don’t really have a full day of reading.  Only about 20 applications, and I’ll round out the day with other tasks.  A little variety makes for a less tiring day.

So what should applicants take away from this?  We’re nearly done reviewing all the applications, aside from those still to come on March 1 (LLM and MIB only).  All of the admissions committees (MALD/MA, MIB, LLM, PhD) will be meeting in March.  And once all the discussion is complete, the last step is to finalize decisions and award scholarships.  We’re on track for an on-time mid-March decision date.

Back to my queue and the last of today’s applications.  I’m sure there will still be a few applications that come my way in the next few weeks, but I’ll be reading them at Fletcher and on a one-by-one basis.  For now, I’ll enjoy my sunny patch and my final reading day.

 

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!

 

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