Currently viewing the tag: "Transcripts"

Last fall, I invited readers to suggest topics for the blog.  I think I covered them, more or less, except for one.  An applicant asked whether there are aspects of international applicants’ backgrounds that the Admissions Committee finds difficult to understand.  I would say that there are, fortunately, few issues that fall under that heading, though we certainly benefit from having Committee members who bring geographic diversity to our conversations.

Though I missed my chance to answer the question last year, I’m here with a response for this year’s applicants.  If I were to tell readers what element of an application is likely to tie us up for a little extra time, it would be the undergraduate transcripts.  Most, but not all (I’m looking at you, Hampshire College), U.S. colleges and universities issue a similar looking document, generally grading on a four-point scale.  Even for those few colleges that use a different system, we’re familiar enough with them that we can easily make the adjustment.  Transcripts from Japan, France, Korea, and China are equally straightforward, even if they don’t use the four-point scale.

But that still leaves many countries to confuse us, which is why we ask applicants to explain their university’s grading system.  Not everyone does a good job with the explanation.  In that case, we might do some research, possibly going as far as contacting the applicant to ask.  In any event, we won’t make a decision on the application until we’re confident we know what we’re looking at.  Even with some grading systems we see frequently, such as that commonly used in the U.K. and universities worldwide that follow the same system, we need your explanations!  Guide us to a thorough understanding of one of the most important elements in your application.

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Let me say at the outset that we know the whole transcript requirement is easier for graduates from U.S. colleges and universities than it is for those from many other parts of the world.

What we require is a scanned and uploaded copy of an official transcript.  You don’t need to mail us the official transcript (though you may, if you prefer), but regardless of the method of transmission, we want to see an official transcript, with the names of each class, the associated grade, the indication you actually graduated (or will graduate before August 2016), and the dates of your enrollment.

For most students, that means you will either scan the official transcript you already have, or you will need to request one.  And it also means that we don’t want you to send us an unofficial grade report.  Check the application instructions for additional guidance on the transcript requirement.

Experience tells us that nearly all applicants can submit the transcript we require.  Though the deadline is coming fast, you still have the time to line up the correct document and upload it shortly after you have submitted the application.  And we also know that there will be a very small number of applicants who truly can’t access an official transcript.  We will work with them.  But everyone else should scan and upload a copy of their official transcript.

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As I mentioned last week, Application Boot Camp is a joint effort between my Admissions pal, Christine, and me.  Today, Christine gives you the skinny on test scores and transcripts.

Test scores and transcripts are two key parts of your application, and they can take time to prepare.  Let’s start by delving into what standardized tests are required.

All MALD, MA, MIB, and PhD applicants are required to submit scores from either the GRE or GMAT exam.  Fletcher does not use cutoffs for GRE or GMAT scores, as we review all applications holistically and the scores are just one part of the overall application; however, they are an important part, and should be taken seriously.  Preparing for the tests can be time consuming and some locations do not offer testing days as often as others.

A good strategy for picking a test date for the GRE or GMAT is to work backwards from the application due date.  Pick a test date early enough for the scores to arrive by the deadline, but also leave yourself time to at least familiarize yourself with the exam format (or even put in some serious review).  Do you want the option of taking the exam twice?  Be sure to factor in the extra time for two exam dates.  For applicants who have taken the tests more than once, we look at the highest score from each section.  Additionally, we require official test score reports that must be sent to us directly from the testing service.  This typically takes about two weeks, so if you are planning to apply by the January 10th application deadline, you should have your scores ordered by the end of December.  GRE and GMAT scores are valid for five years — after that you will not be able to order an official score report.

International applicants for all programs (including the LLM) may be required to take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE in addition to the GRE or GMAT.  You must submit this additional test if your native language is not English and you have not earned a university degree (undergraduate degree, or graduate degree lasting two or more years) in which English was the language of instruction.  A score of 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL (with sub-scores of 25 on each section), 7 on the IELTS (with sub-scores of 7 on each section), or 68 on the PTE is generally considered evidence of sufficient English language ability for admission to Fletcher.  As with the GRE or GMAT, it does take some time for these test scores to reach us, and you should plan accordingly.

TRANSCRIPTS are another central part of your application as they provide us with insight into your prior academic work.  A transcript is required for all previously attended undergraduate or graduate institutions.  (Note that we do not need high school results, regardless of where you attended high school.)  Transcripts are required for study-abroad semesters if the grades and course names do not appear on your home institution’s transcript.  If you transferred schools during your studies, you will need to provide transcripts from both the transfer school and graduating school.  Additionally, if your transcripts are not in English they will need to be accompanied by a certified English translation.  This means you cannot translate it yourself!  You will need to take the transcript to a certified translator, and then submit to Fletcher both the original transcript and the translation, accompanied by the translator’s signed and stamped declaration of a true translation.  A bank, post office, or university may be able to help you find translators.

Unlike test scores, transcripts can be uploaded to your online application and do not need to be mailed to us in hard copy.  (We actually would prefer not to receive any hard copies at this stage!)  You will need to upload a scanned copy of your official transcript.  We cannot accept a copy of your unofficial online print-out.  Like test scores, transcripts can take time to obtain and we would recommend that you start gathering these as soon as possible.

Covering a few topics in one post, I want to catch up on some late-summer news items.

First, and most important to prospective applicants, is that our application for January or September 2013 admission is ready!  Set up your account, and any information you enter on the application will be saved until you’re ready to submit it.

Second, and related to the first point, is that I want to highlight our new application deadline.  If you have been thinking about Fletcher for a while, you’ll notice that we’ve moved our regular application deadline forward a few days to January 10.  We didn’t want to ruin your New Year’s holiday, but we needed a little extra time to compile applications.  Plus Mother Nature always seemed to find joy in complicating our work.

Next, we will now officially accept either official or unofficial transcripts for your application.  Here are the new instructions for the uploading of transcripts, snipped straight out of the application instructions for each of the degree programs, which you’ll find to the right on just about all of the pages under Apply to Fletcher.

We think this change is going to make life easier for all of us, however it’s very important that you know that all enrolling students must have official transcripts in their file.  The change in our policy relieves some time pressure, but you still need to ensure we receive an official transcript.

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Sorry for the silence for the last few days.  At the end of last week, Kristen and I went down to New York for a conference on the evaluation of transcripts and other credentials.  It was offered by World Education Services, which is probably familiar to more international students than those in the U.S.  WES calls itself a source of “international education intelligence,” which is an interesting way of saying that they facilitate the admission of international students to U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities by helping those universities understand the prior education of the applicants.

Having enthusiastically signed up for the conference, I started to have second thoughts earlier last week.  Would this really be worthwhile?  We think we do pretty well with international transcripts, and we see so many of them.  Would a day of discussion of Turkey, China, India, Hong Kong, Mexico, Nigeria, Canada, and the Bologna countries really be a good use of our time during a very busy summer?  Well, it turns out that it was.  While my approach won’t change fundamentally, I feel better equipped to evaluate a transcript from a previously unfamiliar university.  Best of all, since we have new application readers every year, I learned about resources to which I can direct them.  All in all, a productive day (plus travel time) even if the blog went through a brief hiatus as a result.

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