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Tucked in the corner of a grand room at the Council on Foreign Relations, I enjoyed the APSIA graduate school fair on Tuesday.  With the curtains behind us, we looked pretty fancy.  Most of the evening is a non-stop talk-fest, but there were a few moments when I could chat a little longer with visitors.  I had two alumni with me, Justin, who worked in the Admissions Office for two years, and Atanas, who was a two-year student member of the Admissions Committee and who has sent me occasional updates since he graduated.  They’re both well settled in their post-Fletcher careers and lives, which is great to see.

Before the fair, I had a spare hour and I also met up with my friend and Fletcher alum, Charlie Scott, F94.  We caught up on general life stuff, but I also got the details on his upcoming crazy shenanigans.  (One of his past trips described here.)  He and his “Team See Possibilities” pals will be participating in a run/kayak (or was it run/bike/kayak) endurance challenge at and near the Great Wall in China.  I’ll share details in November when I have them.

I hear that the Washington, DC APSIA fair was also super busy for Liz.  Besides the opportunity to meet folks, the fairs give us a sense of what prospective students know about Fletcher at this point in their application year.  That’s useful for me as blogger — I’ll try to cover some key topics as September and October roll on.

My next fair will be Boston Idealist.  That’s a big one, and I won’t have as grand a setting for the Fletcher table, but I’ll look forward to meeting prospective students from the local area.

 

We’re kicking off our fall travel schedule this week!  By the end of the weekend, Liz, Dan, Kristen, and I will all have gone somewhere, whether for a day or for a more extended trip.  For an overview, check out our travel calendar.

As I write, I’m about to grab my bag and head for the T (subway) to South Station, where I’ll start my trip to the New York APSIA Graduate School Fair.  If you’ll be there, please be sure to say hi.  I have two alumni booked in to help and I’m looking forward to catching up with them as well as meeting future students.

 

As a service to our applicants, as well as to my Admissions pals, I want to encourage you to select an email address that you will use in corresponding with us, and then stick with that address.  Our application management system files all materials on the basis of your address; if you use multiple addresses, messages and materials that you send to us can be lost.

If you’re thinking that it isn’t your responsibility to worry about our filing system, you’re absolutely right!  But if you don’t worry about it, then you may find us pestering you for some item that you have emailed to us.  We can search for it when it disappears into the void, but it’s easiest to keep it from going in that direction in the first place.  I should mention that this is true for many other graduate schools that are using the same application system.  Sticking to one email address will be a good policy for your correspondence with all your graduate schools.

This is one of the first Admissions Tips blog posts of the new application cycle, but there are plenty more to come.  Stay tuned!

 

Welcome back to the Admissions Blog everyone!  It’s exciting to start a new academic year, though also a bit daunting as the pace of life has picked up dramatically since the sleepy August days of last week.  Already we’re turning our attention to travel and on-campus visitor activities.  Students, new and returning, are meandering through the building, pursuing a special Shopping Day schedule, before the official start of classes tomorrow.  It’s all happening!

An important marker of the start of the new academic year is Convocation, which will take place on Friday.  Those who can’t attend can still participate virtually through the live broadcast on the Fletcher Facebook page.  Tune in Friday at 2:00 p.m. EDT (UTC -4) to hear remarks from Dean Stavridis and Reeta Roy, F89, president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, an organization that has partnered with Fletcher in the past.

Between now and Friday, students will nail down their course selections for the semester and enjoy a few days when they are completely caught up with assignments.  We in Admissions will continue booking flights and hotels and contacting alumni to help out during our visits.  On my own to-do list for today is to ship materials for the New York APSIA fair on Tuesday.  If you’re planning to be there, be sure to say hi!

The new year is underway and we look forward to meeting you here at Fletcher or on the road!

 

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.

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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.

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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 soccercraycray@hotmail.com.  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.

 

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