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The icing on the top of this year’s admissions process cake is Orientation. It’s our first opportunity to see all the new members of the Fletcher community at once and it’s their chance to come together as a family — ready to study together and support each other in so many other ways.
As a practical matter, it’s also the point when nearly all former-applicant/now-student concerns shift from Admissions to other Fletcher offices. Until scholarships are renewed next spring, nearly all questions are best answered by other offices, though we’re always a resource for helping students find their answers.
Today the newbies will be attending several sessions at which general information will be shared with them. Tomorrow we’ll help promote community building. I’ll be among the staff members who are leading ice-breaker sessions. (Since I’m a little shy myself, I’ll be running introvert-friendly activities that I hope will work well for all.) The rest of the week continues with a similar mix of information sharing and community building.
And with that, another academic year begins!
Even I — who strongly discourages applicants from waiting until the last minute to submit an application — wouldn’t suggest you zap your app to us for 2018 enrollment now. But I would definitely encourage you to check it out, figure out what materials you’ll need, and start thinking about your essays and recommendations. If you’re applying for January enrollment, there’s less than two months to the October 15 deadline, and you should start moving on the process. To that end, I’m happy to say the 2018 application is available now.
While we’re providing updates, please remember that the interview calendar, for both Skype and on-campus interviews, is waiting for you. Sign up now, or risk missing out on your preferred date/time. And if you’re planning a visit, you may want to see what classes are available. Here’s a schedule.
And because it’s summer, a good time for linking to silly videos, take a ride with Jumbo (the Tufts mascot) and tour the campus. Jumbo finally reaches Fletcher at the end of his ride, passing our summer construction on the way. We sometimes describe Fletcher as if it were standing by itself somewhere, but in fact, we’re situated on a lovely campus, as Jumbo will show you.
On Saturday, all my nearest and dearest will gather together for the wedding of my son, Josh, to his long-time sweetheart, Ati. I don’t bring my home life into the blog as much as I once did, but the year when Josh applied to college for his undergraduate studies gave me a chance to think about the admissions process from the applicant’s perspective. I revisited the topic four years later when my daughter, Kayla, was doing her own college search.
Now they, their friends, and my age-20-something relatives are at another stage in life that has been equally illuminating. They’ve all completed their undergraduate studies and they’re navigating those years when they need to lay the groundwork for the decades to come. Some have already gone to graduate or professional school. Others are trying to figure out their next steps. All of them feel a certain pressure to work it all out soon. Listening to them has helped me connect to the issues our applicants are thinking about, beyond the technical aspects of the application.
What we in Admissions have always known is that those first jobs are hugely helpful for students who need to sift through their options. Two of Josh’s classmates, in particular, present an interesting example of the benefits of working before graduate school. They both had been inclined toward political science/international relations with a regional focus on the Middle East. As a result of the work they pursued after graduating, one has maintained the regional focus but decided to pursue it through international education. (That would be my almost-daughter-in-law.) The other worked in Washington, DC for two years before deciding that the field wasn’t for him, and he is now in medical school. Two students with similar interests, now following very different trajectories as a result of their first jobs.
As for Josh, he is in his second position with his second post-graduation organization, which he likes very much. Given a choice, he will pass on the graduate school experience. His first job was not a winner for him, and he has other friends who are similarly enjoying or muddling through their first positions, some more clearly directed than others. This is a reality we observe all the time from our perch in the Admissions Office. Some folks have their career path clearly defined by age 20. Others are still testing the waters, often in many different lakes.
The U.S. economy is much stronger than it was in 2008 when Josh started college, or even in 2012 when he graduated, but I know that it can still be tricky to find the perfect first job. So many organizations want to see experience on a résumé, even for entry-level positions. That pushes the need for internships into the undergraduate years, so that students can graduate with a reasonable portfolio of experience in hand. Kayla is fortunate to have had an internship that led to some contract work and then to a full-time job with another organization. Without the internship, I’m sure her job hunt would have been more difficult. When current undergraduates ask me about gaining work experience, I try to take the broadest possible approach — there’s a job out there, and the first will lead to the next. The trick is to find something that provides some benefit — either in transferable skills or, at least, in the soft skills that employers always want to see. And don’t go to graduate school until you’re certain you know what you want from your education.
I acknowledge that I often put on my “mom hat” when speaking to applicants and incoming students. Sometimes I consider what I would want someone in my position to say to Josh and Kayla; I think it’s important to be direct with prospective students who could use a little advice. I draw a lot personally from my observations of my (now adult) children and their friends and I think my work has benefited from my dual perspective, which helps me connect with the experience and decision-making of our applicants and students.
Now I’m looking forward to a wedding. Josh and Ati are a two-Jumbo couple — both having graduated from Tufts. They have their jobs, they’re getting married, and they’re on their way!
Sure, it’s still early, but that’s no reason not to pin down your appointment time for a Fletcher evaluative interview. Participating in an interview is optional, but still recommended. We offer interviews both on campus and via Skype, so there’s rarely a reason why someone can’t participate. We’ll kick off the interviews on September 25. Poke around the calendar and find a date that works for you.
Here’s more information, but if that’s too much to read, allow me to tell you the most important point: you should interview before you submit your application. We’re well aware that many other programs take a different approach, but for Fletcher, you’ll want to nail down that interview before the program ends on December 8. Some of you already took this advise, before I even had a chance to give it. Good for you! (Especially the November 27 interviewee who is clearly on top of her schedule!)
With a modest amount of preparation, you’ll have a successful interview. Sign up now to ensure you’ve grabbed your spot before the schedule fills up.
Tagged with: Interview
As a service to the prospective applicants to Fletcher who are already reading the blog but who don’t yet know about the Rangel Fellowship Program, let me share some information we received Thursday from the Rangel organization.
First, there will be 30 new Rangel Fellows chosen in 2018. The fellows will receive a scholarship of up to $37,500 annually toward tuition, fees, and living expenses.
Second, the application deadline is SEPTEMBER 21. You’ll find the application here.
For those who are truly unfamiliar with these awards, Rangel Fellows receive support for their graduate studies in exchange for several years of service in the U.S. Department of State. Learn more about the program from the Rangel website, Twitter, and Facebook.
If that arrangement (fellowship in exchange for future work for the State Department) sounds familiar, you may already have heard about the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. In the past, the Pickering organization has used a January deadline. Keep an eye on the website for more information about applying.
And, not so different, is the USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship, which similarly supports a student’s expenses in exchange for several years of employment with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Payne Fellowship application deadline has also been in January in the past.
All of these programs are open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. If your career goals would take you in a completely different direction, then they’re not for you. But if you fall in one of their targeted groups and if you would be interested in a State Department or USAID career, it’s well worth applying.
Tagged with: Paying for Grad School
Thinking of applying for graduate school admission for 2018 (either January or September)? It’s not too early to move beyond merely “thinking” to a more active phase. And it’s time for me to give you a little guidance.
First, please note that the 2018 Fletcher application is not yet on the website and there is no value to starting to fill in the blanks and essays on what you’ll find there. On August 1, we’ll take down the current application and replace it about two weeks later with the updated one. But even as you hold off on starting to work on the application, you’re certainly free (encouraged!) to peruse the 2017 version and prepare the different elements you’ll need. Just to get you started, here’s your list of what a 2018 application will include.
- The form
- Your transcripts (any transcript, including for a study-abroad semester, that is needed to give a complete picture of your undergraduate record)
- Test scores (GRE or GMAT, and TOEFL or IELTS for non-native English speakers)
- Your résumé
- Two recommendations, with one from a professor who can reflect on your academic work. Submitting a third recommendation is optional.
- Two essays, one of which could be called a statement of purpose
- A scholarship application, if you would like to apply for an award
We’re not changing our essay questions this year, so here’s what you’ll need to write:
□ Essay 1 (600-800 words)
Fletcher’s Committee on Admissions seeks to ensure that there is a good match between each admitted student and the School.
Please tell us your goals for graduate study at Fletcher and for your career. Describe the elements of your personal, professional, and/or academic background that have prepared you for your chosen career path. Why is The Fletcher School the right place to pursue your academic objectives and to prepare you to meet your professional goals? Why have you selected the degree program to which you are applying?
If you are planning to pursue a dual degree, please be sure to address this interest in your personal statement.
□ Essay 2 (500 words maximum)
To help the Committee on Admissions get to know you better, please share an anecdote, or details about an experience or personal interest, that you have not elaborated upon elsewhere in your application.
For further details on all of that, including the variations (there are a few) for the different degree programs, check out the application instructions.
Those are the basics, but let me drill down a little bit on where you might direct your July/August energy. It is not at all early for requesting recommendations. Your recommenders will thank you if you give them extra time. Remember that one recommendation should reflect your academic ability, while we’d generally suggest that the other should come from a professional context. Most important for your application strategy: think about content the recommenders can add to your application, beyond the basics. If you have worked at three organizations, but one organization was the most important to your future career, I’d suggest looking to that organization for your professional recommendation. This is really common sense, but you’ll want to dedicate a few minutes to being common sensible.
Also not too early: lining up your standardized tests. If you haven’t already taken the GRE/GMAT/TOEFL/IELTS, or if you know you want to retest, get your test date and start practicing. Why should you practice? Because familiarity with the test format will enable you to achieve your maximum score. Being unfamiliar with the test will cause you to waste time and your score will suffer.
It doesn’t matter what country or profession you come from — there’s no reason why you can’t organize your academic and professional experience into a tidy résumé. There are a zillion sample résumés online, and the format you’ll want is informative and easy to read. Generally, you’ll list your experience in reverse chronological order (that is, starting with your current activity). A résumé for a graduate school application should be between one and three pages long. (I really like when they’re no more than two pages, but I’m feeling generous. People have different experiences and some of those are hard to describe.) Pulling together a résumé can take some time. That’s why I’m suggesting you start now. Once it’s done, you can tweak it or not, but at least you won’t be scrambling to write it on the day before the application deadline.
I’m going to offer more tips throughout the fall, but I’ll close with one last picky technical point. You and we will all be happiest if you use only one email address when corresponding with us. All your stuff goes into your “file” on the basis of your name and email address. If you want us to be able to find things, don’t lead the system to misfile them. Also, if you’re applying to graduate school (or a job, for that matter), it’s time to get yourself a professional sounding email address. No more firstname.lastname@example.org. Please. Just some variation on your name. Remember to check your email frequently after you start your applications.
That should do it for this time in the summer. Note that I’ve given you three assignments: line up your test dates; request your recommendations; and pull together your résumé. If you complete those three things by the end of July, you’ll be in a good position for the next stages of your application process.
This evening, Fletcher will host Boston Summerfest, which means that at 5:30, the Hall of Flags will suddenly throw off its summer quiet and lively up. It’ll be…Summerfestive! Jointly with our colleagues from Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Princeton, we’ll welcome Fletcher students, alumni of all our schools, and prospective students interested in international affairs graduate study. We’re excited about this first-ever Boston Summerfest event.
Later this summer, we’ll also participate in similar events in Washington, DC and New York City, the two cities where Summerfest has been held before. If you’re interested in any of the Summerfest dates, register now at the links above. But registered or not, if you’re in the neighborhood, don’t hesitate to turn up tonight! Walk-ins will be welcome.
We look forward to seeing you here or at a future Summerfest!
In an annual tradition, we’ve asked recent graduates and current students to offer a Coffee Hour wherever they’re spending the summer. These are informal events where prospective applicants and incoming students can sit and chat with someone who’s in the know about the program. Here’s the list of locations where folks will be grabbing a coffee and pulling up a chair. For updated details, check the Coffee Hours website.
Boston, MA (Cambridge)
Boston, MA (Somerville)
Durban, South Africa
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kansas City, KS
Mexico City, Mexico
New Delhi, India
New York, NY (Manhattan)
New York, NY (Brooklyn)
Ramallah, West Bank
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seoul, South Korea
Tagged with: Coffee Hours
With the academic year behind us and the September 2017 admissions cycle more or less wrapped up, it’s time for the Admissions staff to look ahead and turn our attention to summer projects and routine work. Some of the items on our to-do lists are: Boston Summerfest at Fletcher; Coffee Hours around the world; a new publication to use in the fall; travel planning; continuing student scholarship renewal; application upgrades; and mundane tasks such as booking rooms we’ll need in the next academic year. (Just writing that reminded me it’s not too early to book rooms for Admissions Committee meetings.)
Essentially, we won’t be doing much that interests Admissions Blog readers, except possibly if we decide on additional application tweaks.
Fortunately for all of us, that doesn’t mean that the blog will be daily drudgery. One benefit of my having been overwhelmed with good content in the spring is that I still have lots to share in the coming weeks: Class of 2011 and 2016 updates, general news from the school, tips from students and faculty. All those are coming up soon, though I’m sure I won’t be posting quite as frequently as I did through the spring. And gradually I’ll shift focus from sharing information with the incoming class toward helping prepare future applicants as we look ahead to a new application cycle.
As ever, I’d love to cover topics of interest to readers. To suggest a topic or ask a question, please contact us!
About a week ago, we all took out our calendars to find a day when we could have an off-site retreat. Turns out that, after this week, there were precisely zero days when we would all be here. (Admissions folks tend not to take vacation time during the admissions cycle, meaning we take it all during the summer. Plus, there’s a little recruitment travel on the calendar.) In a last attempt to identify at least a few hours, we realized that yesterday was the day. We had some sandwiches delivered and started talking.
When we were talking wistfully about the beautiful weather outside, Laurie suggested taking a walk. (We’re all involved in a University “steps challenge,” so there was an added incentive to get out there.) We meandered over to the roof of the main library. Here’s a view of the “green roof” portion:
And here’s the view of the city from the roof:
But you might be more interested in the outcome of the discussions than about our mini-field trip. We talked about deferral and reapplication procedures. (Some minor changes will be implemented). We discussed the application reading process and the application itself. (We agreed that we wouldn’t change the application essay prompts.) Most of the rest of the discussion was essentially administrative. (Who will do what, and when.) Overall, a productive four hours, even if we couldn’t quite pull off a full-day retreat.
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