It’s not too early to start preparing your application. Seriously.

Readers, does it seem a bit bonkers to start talking about the application process for 2020 enrollment so soon after I’ve just been jabbering in this space about commencement? It certainly feels a bit bonkers, but then that’s life in admissions. Here we are still in the first half of 2019, months removed from welcoming new students this fall, and our heads are already deep into 2020.

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Holistic application review at work

I frequently find myself telling prospective students to expect to hear the term “holistic application process” bandied about as they apply to grad school. It’s pretty much an industry-standard trope these days, and I sometimes worry it can come across as a chunk of highfalutin jargon that sounds official without actually meaning anything, like “solutions,” “cross-functional,” or “leverage” used as a verb. In the admissions context, “holistic” means that there’s not a single attribute upon which a decision will consistently hinge for all candidates, and that all the information we request in an application meaningfully contributes to an applicant’s case for admission.

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You submitted your application: what now?

Thanks to all of you who submitted applications at last week’s deadline! We realize we ask you to commit substantial time and effort to gathering all the materials the application requires, and to figure out how you can put forward your strongest possible case for admission. The moments leading up to that fateful “submit” click can feel like the culmination of a long process, but in the moments just after doing so the hush is almost deafening, to paraphrase Spinal Tap. So, what now? Are you just supposed to, like, wait around until further notice?

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Decoding the application form

In an ongoing effort to provide a bit of helpful insight to the various pieces of the Fletcher application, today I’ll turn to the application form itself. This portion of the application may feel like a formality, a bit of necessary throat-clearing before the “good stuff,” but there’s a lot of detail that we learn about an applicant here, and it’s important that you complete it fully and accurately. I like to think that the form is mostly straightforward and self-explanatory, but there are a few segments that can cause mild confusion or uncertainty for applicants. I’ll do my best to give a bit of context for a few of these.

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Recommendations: Help them help you!

For those of you planning to apply by the January 10 application deadline, you should by now have lined up recommenders. If you haven’t yet done so, don’t panic, but also don’t delay any longer! January 10, while still well over a month away, is effectively closer than it seems. Keep in mind that many people – particularly potential academic recommenders – are likely entering one of the busiest times of the year, both professionally and personally. Final exams, holiday preparations, and related travel will be occupying a lot of bandwidth for many; it’s reasonable for them to need as much notice as possible, and probably a few reminders to submit their letters, too.

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A Foreign Service Officer walks into a bar…stop me if you’ve heard this one

Any line of work has its points of repetition. McDonald’s cashiers take a lot of orders for Big Macs, flight attendants can do the safety procedures shtick in their sleep, and Death Star platform workers quickly learn when to duck if they want to make it in a tough industry. Admissions officers read a lot of application essays. Like, a whole lot. Unsurprisingly, many of them cover similar themes. As fall application deadlines begin to approach, I hope a brief discussion of some of the more common tropes we see will be helpful as you begin to craft your own essays.

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Early Notification FAQs

Blog readers by this point are surely aware of the upcoming application deadline for Early Notification (EN) consideration. The fact that November 15 – a mere ten days from now – is the date to remember for those planning to get their applications together for early evaluation is, I assume, common knowledge that needs no further belaboring. Even Murray, this blog’s official Minister of Deadline and Other Action Item Reminders, is pretty tapped out by the prospect of another deadline reminder. It’s good to know that we’re all on the same page here, and on our end we’ll be looking forward to receiving all your applications! As applicants get ready to submit their materials, it seems a good time to discuss several common questions we receive regarding the EN deadline.

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