Welcome to ThinkTank Learning’s “The Inside Scoop” (TiSc) blog series in which admissions officials from colleges and universities across the USA share their perspective on the admissions process at their school.
School: Tulane University
Tulane University is a top-ranked university immersed in the history and rich culture of New Orleans, LA. It’s 100+ acre campus is home to 8,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students. Notable alumni include former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, attorney Victoria Kennedy, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, and showbiz star Jerry Springer.
1. What are the key features that you seek in an undergraduate candidate?
(1) We ask, “How has the student performed over the four years of high school?” We strongly believe that this is the #1 indicator of how well they will do in college.
(2) The SAT/ACT is what we look for, though it’s not a “make or break” factor in the decision.
(3) We ask, “What are students passionate about?” It could be community service, athletics, or something else. Tulane University is big on public service.
2. What would be the biggest or most common mistake that students make on their application?
Not putting in the time that the application needs. We are on the Common Application. We expect every student to have put a lot of thought into their application. This means answering the optional statement about why they want to attend Tulane. We want to see that the student took an introspective look as to why they are applying. The biggest mistake is a rushed application.
3. What advice do you have for high school students who plan to apply in the future?
Find a school that is a good fit for you. I like to say that “There are no bad schools in America, only bad fits.” Don’t just think about rankings; think past that. Where do you think your passions will be able to flourish? What school is the right size and location? Tulane is a medium-sized school, so we offer the best of both worlds. Students don’t get lost in the crowd, while enjoying the resources that are characteristic of a large university.
4. What is the most common misconception that people have about your admissions process?
It’s that universities are only looking for well-rounded students. What I’m looking for is to build a well-rounded class. We want to different people who have different strengths. Sometimes, a shorter resume is better. You don’t have to be good at everything, just a few things. Not everyone has to be a violinist.
5. There is a trend of rebellion against standardized testing. Some say that standardized tests help make the process faster/easier, but adds bias and inaccuracy when assessing a student’s future potential. What are your thoughts on this subject?
I see both sides. Some students don’t have access to test prep resources that other students have access to. This does tip the scale in favor of certain populations. If there is a way to level the playing field, then we will look into that. However, it’s the one thing that is the same across the board regarding all our applicants. But we only see it as one piece of the puzzle, not the “make or break” factor.
6. What are some of the more popular/selective majors at your university?
We have five colleges. Our most popular major is business. We have a strong liberal arts program with popular majors being International Relations, Latin American Studies, and History. We also have a great pre-med program, biomedical science program, and neuroscience program. We have a strong School of Architecture and one of the best schools in the country for public health.
7. How does major selection impact your assessment of an applicant?
It doesn’t at all, because 70% of students will change their major at least once. We give flexibility, since we know major choice often changes. We don’t review applications based on what major is listed.
8. How “transfer friendly” is your school?
It’s one of our biggest priorities right now. We bring in a medium-sized group of transfer students each year. We are in the growing process of recruiting transfer students.
9. Tell us a fun fact, unique story, or piece of insider information most people don’t know about your school.
We are home to the largest student-run music festival in the country. It’s called Crawfest. The festival brings 24,000 lb. of crawfish to our campus each year. It’s totally planned by our students.
About The Author
Jeff Schiffman is the Interim Director of Admissions at Tulane University.
I was born and raised in Washington, DC, but love my adopted home here in New Orleans. I spend much of my time travelling the world recruiting international students for Tulane but also love coming back to the USA to recruit my SoCal students. In my free time, I enjoy anything related to health and fitness: snowboarding, lacrosse, pumping iron at the gym, fantasy football, triathlons, and indoor cycling. I’m the alumni advisor for my fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and I teach a variation of a spinning class called RIDE at a studio not far from campus. Feel free to check out my blog to get the best tips on applying to Tulane.
Editor: David H. Nguyen, Ph.D.