Currently viewing the tag: "deadlines"

This was my weekend for remembering that the Boston area can have a small-town feel. Everywhere I went, I ran into people:  on Saturday at the winter farmers’ market (one of two in Somerville and Cambridge) and, later, at the movies; on Sunday, when we went to see Red at the SpeakEasy Stage Company and then at dinner, when we met Anne, one of last year’s Januarians, and her family.  But funniest was bumping into both Laurie and Kristen at the mall yesterday, when we were all taking care of a few shopping errands.

Now we’re back to work and compiling applications is the theme of the day.  We’re fortunate to have had a crack team of student interns working through the break, with the satisfying result that we’re up to date on processing mail (until a big bag of envelopes arrives later today).  But just printing the applications that were ready on Sunday took two hours, and we know it will be days before all the materials in the office (the applications and their corresponding transcripts, etc.) will be united in a folder.

But being realistic, I know you’re primarily concerned with the progress your own materials are making.  So here’s a summary of how everything happens.  Note that many of these steps (some done by machine and others by humans) are taking place simultaneously:

1.  You hit the online “submit” button.  Your application was “stamped” with the date and time, and will wait within the Embark system for your registered online recommenders to submit their letters.  If all your recommenders have already submitted their letters, or if you haven’t registered any online recommenders, the application will be ready for us immediately, and we’ll upload it into our internal program.  (If your recommenders haven’t done their part, it’s your responsibility to remind them that the deadline has passed.)

2.  When your application (with online recommendations) is uploaded, you’ll receive an automatically generated email stating that we have received your application, and that you should wait ten business days before contacting the Admissions Office about any missing materials.  (Note that this means that you don’t receive the email if the application is still waiting for recommendations.)  The email also provides you with a username and password to access the Tufts Graduate Application Management System (GAMS).  GAMS is the best way to track your application throughout the process.  We’ll also be posting decision letters to your GAMS account, so hang on to your username and password!

3.   Uploaded applications are printed in batches.  Once we have the paper copy, we’ll create a file folder for you.  (A big moment in the life of your application!)

4.  Meanwhile, Admissions Office staffers will risk paper cuts and worse while they open an endless stream of envelopes holding test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation from recommenders who weren’t registered online, etc.  We sort and file the mail.  If the application hasn’t yet been uploaded, the paper materials will “wait” for it to emerge from the system.

5.  Once we have your application in a file folder, we dig out the mail that has already been received for you and include it.  Then we manually update your record in the admissions system to show what materials have come in by mail.  You should track your application through GAMS, but we’ll also email you if there’s a document missing.  Emailing a member of the Admissions staff will, at this point in the process, give you only the information you can access yourself through GAMS.  And I want to stress here that the aforementioned ten business days are the period during which the humans will be entering information into GAMS.  Keep on top of things, but remember that the registering of your materials won’t happen immediately.

6.  Your completed application is then given to Committee members to review, and you’ll receive your admission decision in late March.

The bottom line:  Pressing submit is the easy part for you, and receiving online materials is the easy part for us.  The challenge is that most applicants submitted their applications during this past weekend, and it will take us a couple of weeks of mad scrambling to clear the instant backlog and create a thousand-plus application files.

Be sure to stay on top of the status of your application, but try to give us a little time to pull everything together.  By early February (only two weeks away, though we know it can feel like forever), everyone who has submitted all the materials needed for an application should find accurate and reassuring information on GAMS.

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My daughter Kayla, under pressure both internally generated and externally imposed by her mother, submitted the last of her college applications early last week.  A brief family celebration marked the final application fee payment.  Now she can start to track the applications and ensure they’re complete, followed by sitting back and relaxing (until it’s time to fret about the results).

Dear blog reader, do you envy Kayla?  Why not join her?  If you submit your application by January 3, we’ll have two work weeks before the January 15 deadline in which to unite your application with test scores and other materials.  In fact, so long as your online recommendations have been received, you’ll be able to monitor your file’s completion before our more, well, deadline-pushing applicants have even submitted theirs.

(And if your recommenders haven’t yet submitted their letters, the fact that your application is waiting for them may just be the little nudge they need.)

To be sure, I’m not telling you to submit essays that you haven’t had time to proofread, or transcripts that will be updated in just a few days.  If there’s a reason why your application will be better or more complete on January 15 than it is now, then you should certainly wait.  But I know there are a lot of you out there, who either aren’t yet feeling much time pressure, or who actually have all the essays written and forms complete, but simply can’t bear to press the button.

Do it, intrepid applicant — take the plunge and submit the application.  Start the year off right.

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I’m still having trouble believing that October is over, so imagine my surprise that the first application deadline for September 2012 admission is tomorrow!  Our newly selected student members of the Admissions Committee are already busy reading files, grabbing two last week and two today — a pace that will soon be unsustainably (laughably) slow.  (I think they know that, but we’re glad to allow them to breathe for a few days more.)  Time for me to get going, too!

For the majority of you who have not yet submitted your EN application, it’s not too late to avoid running up against the precise deadline of Tuesday, November 15, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT -5).  Submit your application today, and you can pat yourself on the head that you were early.  Note that the piece that must arrive by the deadline is your online application.  It’s preferred that your recommendations, transcripts, and test scores arrive by tomorrow, too, but please don’t hold your application simply because your professor hasn’t zapped through a letter.

Once you’ve submitted your part of the total file, you can monitor our work through the Graduate Application Management System (find details here).  Fortunately for you ENers, we’ll receive a very manageable number of applications tomorrow, and we can compile files much more quickly than in January.  In fact, the whole turnaround for the EN process is super rapid.  You’ll hear from us well before the end of December (exact date still TBD).

Finally, the decision options for Early Notification fall in three groups.  We may choose to admit applicants (occasionally with a condition, such as additional foreign language study); to defer the decision to the spring, when we’ll look at the application in the context of the larger pile; or to deny.  Last year was the first year we denied some applicants and, while I appreciate how disappointing this is, we believe it’s better for the applicant to have clear information that can be used in deciding which other schools to apply to in January.

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A little extra frenzy around the Admissions Office this week.  First, we’ve had some coming and going among staff members, with several of us taking a few days away from work for post-decision family visits.  Then, Monday was a public holiday and the office was closed, which increased the phone calls/emails/foot traffic from Tuesday onwards.

Continuing through the week, yesterday was the deadline for most admitted students to make their enrollment decision.  (Next step for that process is to figure out how many admitted students have accepted our offer, and whether we’ll need to admit waitlisted applicants.)

And, finally, today is the deadline for our current students to submit an application for the renewal of their scholarships for next year.  This shouldn’t really create much work for us, since the application is fairly simple and routine, but you know how people are about deadlines.  At least a quarter of the applications have flowed in today.

From my own perspective, since I’m the scholarship application collector, this means a shortage of interesting blog posts for the rest of the week.  I’ll be back on Monday, once the scholarship applications (and related questions) are tucked in a box and I’ve managed to clear my email backlog.

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Admissions work, as you may have heard me say, is ultra-cyclical, but I still try not to repeat myself in the blog.  The exception comes in March and April, when I freely steal content from previous years.  Today’s stolen post covers the questions we answer most routinely for each year’s newly admitted students.  Here are the questions (and related answers) that may be on your mind.

Q: I hope to work when I’m at Fletcher.  How can I arrange it?
A: There are many administrative jobs available each year at Fletcher, as well as elsewhere at the University. Fletcher jobs are usually “advertised” via a student email list. Jobs elsewhere at the University can be found through the Student Employment office.

Q: What about research or teaching assistantships?
A: These positions are arranged directly with the hiring department or professor. It can be difficult for you to arrange a teaching assistant position for your first semester, regardless of your qualifications, but there are often opportunities in the second semester. Many professors hire research assistants in the fall, so even first-year students will be eligible. Research assistants are paid an hourly wage, while teaching assistants are often paid per course. (Note that teaching assistants do not teach Fletcher students. Professors teach, but the assistants might arrange course materials or do other “behind the scenes” work.)

Q: How do second-year scholarships compare to those awarded to first-year students?
A: We know that there are schools out there that reserve much of their scholarship budget to distribute to second-year students.  That isn’t Fletcher’s model.  We split our scholarship budget between first-year and second-year students.  Students who remain in good academic standing can expect their awards to be renewed for the second year.  Students who do not receive a scholarship in the first year can also apply for a scholarship for the second year, but funding cannot be guaranteed.

Q: I would like to pursue a joint degree. Will Fletcher allow me to defer my enrollment?
A: Fletcher will approve a deferral of up to one year (two semesters) to allow students to start a joint degree at another institution.  Prospective students needing more than one year before enrolling should plan to reapply.  Anyone wanting a deferral needs to request one — it isn’t automatic — but you can submit your request by email.

Q: I’m not doing a joint degree, but I want to defer for other reasons.  Can I?
A: Fletcher allows deferrals for up to one year so that candidates can pursue professional opportunities.

Q: Tell me more about how to request the deferral.
A: Follow these instructions.

Q: The law/business/other school with which I want to pursue a joint degree is not on Fletcher’s list of “official” joint or dual degrees.  How will that work?
A: Fletcher will support your efforts to arrange a joint degree that suits your career and academic goals. The process is to transfer courses from your other program so that you also receive Fletcher credit for them.  When I speak to students putting together an ad hoc joint degree, I always suggest that they contact the registrar as soon as they enroll at Fletcher. You won’t be able to transfer in your first-year torts/finance/language class, but with careful homework, you will find classes that meet Fletcher’s requirements. (You should also be sure to work with the other school. Our experience is that many other schools are less flexible than Fletcher.)

Q: Can I make my decision after the deadline named in my admission letter?
A: No. There are many administrative reasons why Fletcher needs to know how many students will enroll, but we don’t expect you to care about that. On the other hand, we want you to remember that there are students waiting on the waitlist, and we hope you will respect their need for a speedy answer as to whether they will be admitted. We won’t know if we need to go to the waitlist until we have heard from the students we have already admitted.

Q: Do I really need to respond officially?  Can’t I just email you?
A: We enjoy your emails, but we really prefer you respond through the online system or with the enrollment reply form.  It helps us keep track of information.

Q: What classes will be offered in 2011-2012?
A: The schedules for next year aren’t set yet, but many courses are offered on a yearly basis.  You can see the class schedules for 2010-2011 on our web site.

Q: I was put on the waitlist.  Can I request feedback now?
A: Although the waitlist is not the same as being offered admission, it’s also not the same as being denied admission.  We only offer feedback to applicants once their applications are no longer active, which is not the case for those on the waitlist.  On the other hand, there may be one key item we want to see from you, and it is reasonable for you to contact us and ask directly if there is a particular item the Committee on Admissions would like to see.  If there is, we’ll tell you.  If there isn’t, we’ll leave it to you to decide what you should send to update your application.


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Between Early Notification applications, PhD applications due December 20, and regular (January 15) applications, nearly all applicants will have been heard from by 11:59 tomorrow night (Eastern Standard Time = GMT-5).  We complicate our own lives with a few late deadlines, especially for those not seeking scholarship support, but even applicants with external funding tend to aim for January 15.

(If you have any last application questions, don’t forget our “virtual office hours” this morning!)

The office staff will be working at maximum effort for the next week, which will be about the time we need to process the applications for which we’ve received all needed materials.  We’ll be closing our doors every morning to minimize interruptions.

But, meanwhile, student life is gearing up after the winter break.  Yesterday and today, while continuing students are participating in the New York career trip, our newest students, the Januarians, are attending Orientation.  On Tuesday, the Hall of Flags will be buzzing with happy “shoppers” — students sampling an assortment of classes on shopping day.  And classes start on Wednesday.

So off we go — heading straight into the busiest time of year.

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A good proportion of the callers and emailers we’ll hear from this week will be asking some variation of the question, “What will happen if my recommendation/test score/transcript arrives after January 15?”  Ideally, all the bits and pieces of your application, including those that someone else needs to send on your behalf, will be here before January 15.  But life is often less than ideal, and we’re used to that.

If you haven’t already submitted your application (note that there’s still time to adopt the Personal Deadline approach), just be sure that you submit all the components of the online application by January 15.  (That is:  the form, the essays, the scholarship application, and anything you need to upload, such as your résumé.)  For the other materials, while we prefer that they also arrive by January 15, you can take advantage of a grace period until February 1.

I want to be sure that, in the process of answering one question, I don’t create ten others.  What I’m saying is that if (for example) you took the GREs on January 10, and scores won’t arrive for another two weeks, you don’t need to worry — we’ll still consider your application to have arrived by the January 15 deadline, so long as you have submitted your part on time.  Please don’t assume that I’m saying that everyone is free to submit all materials by February 1 just because it’s more relaxing.

The obvious reality is that we can’t process, let alone review, 1800 applications on the day they arrive.  Pulling everything together takes time.  So we’ll review applications in order, as they become complete, with the expectation that all materials will arrive by February 1.

And here’s one more answer to a question we’ll be hearing:  January 15 means that the online application should be time-stamped January 15 by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time.  But do yourself a favor, don’t wait until that almost-midnight hour.

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Excuse my nosiness, but I’m wondering why you haven’t submitted your application yet.

Is it because you only recently decided to apply, and you’re still putting everything together?  In that case, take your time — you have until January 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Is it because you’re waiting for some hidden voice to tell you that the time has come to hit “submit”?  In that case, let me be the hidden voice:  SUBMIT NOW!

Are you somewhere between the two?  Then I want to suggest that you assign yourself a Personal Deadline before January 15, when (if past patterns hold) a thousand of your prospective future classmates will all finally decide to let their applications come through.  We’re prepared for the paper.  And for the constant hum of the printer (more of a “mmmmmswosh, mmmmmswosh”) as each page is printed and shoots out.  And for the bags and bags of mail.  Yes, we’re geared up and ready for the January 15 crush, so I’m not suggesting the Personal Deadline for our benefit.  No, dear applicant, it’s for you.

Why?  Well…first, because teeny little troubles turn into mega-hassles when you wait until the last minute.  A half hour without internet access on January 3 is no big deal.  A half hour without internet access on January 15 is reason to PANIC!

Also, if you submit your application on January 15, it will take a week to ten days before you can confidently check the Graduate Application Management System and expect to find useful information.  Those 1,000 applications and all the transcripts, test scores, etc. that go with them need to be linked up, and that just takes time.  Organization, and time.  Organization, and time, and file folders.

If you adopt the Personal Deadline approach and submit your application on, say, January 5, we’ll have all your materials in a tidy folder within a couple of days.  We make every effort to keep up with the paper flow, and we’re going to jump on the opportunity to put your file together.

So, please.  Open up your calendar, be it electronic or paper.  Turn to a convenient pre-January 15 page, and assign yourself a Personal Deadline.  While your prospective future classmates FREAK OUT on the 15th, you can sip a frothy cappuccino and relax.

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Applications to the PhD program are, without a doubt, the most complex each year — both for the applicants, and for the Admissions Office and PhD Committee on Admissions.  In addition to the usual stuff (form, essays, transcripts, etc.), PhD applicants need to submit a dissertation proposal and master’s thesis or extended writing sample.

Because so much material needs to be compiled, we’ve adjusted the application deadline twice in recent years.  First we went from January 15 to January 1.  This year, we moved it up again — to December 20.  Having the extra time to collect and review all necessary materials helps assure us that we’re giving every application the consideration it deserves.

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Every September, there comes a day when I’m surprised to realize that the application deadline for January MALD admission is less than a month away. How can that be? We only just started the semester! Despite my schedule disorientation, we’ll be ready for those applications!

The question I’m asked most often about January admission is how it compares to September admission. And the answer is…they’re pretty much the same. Admittedly, we receive far fewer applications for January admission than September (by an order of magnitude), but we admit only a small group of students. So the “odds” are about the same, and the bottom line is that we still seek students who are academically talented and professionally experienced. After all, we want them to slip seamlessly into the student community — by February they should be indistinguishable from students who entered in any semester before them.

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