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Apps 101: Ten Tips for an Epic College Essay

Jeff's Blog Feed - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 11:00

Happy July, everyone! This month, as we lead up to August 1st when the Common Application goes live, I'll be breaking down the application into four parts. Each week, I'll provide the best advice I can as you tackle the application at the end of the summer. Don't stress about any of this now, but periodically take a look at the blog this month to get some of our best tips on the essay, the activities section, the Why Tulane? statement and lastly tips on when to apply. This week we kick it off with the essay.

I'll start this blog by mentioning a quote that my colleague likes to use about the college essay: "it can heal the sick but it can't raise the dead." By this, we mean that while your essay is an important part of your application, it's very rarely going to be the make-or-break factor in your admission decision. As a school that practices holistic review, the essay is just one factor among many as we review your application. In my 15 years here, I can count on two hands the amount of times the essay was the sole reason an applicant was admitted (or was not admitted) to Tulane. So... take some time this summer to hammer out a solid essay, but don't let this thing become a massive time-suck that increases your anxiety every time you sit down to write it.

Now, on to some tips for crafting a killer college essay:

Pick a topic that you enjoy writing about. Seems like a very obvious tip, right? Here is the easiest way I can frame this one for you: If you are writing your essay and it's coming together pretty naturally, you're kinda vibing with it as you write it and it makes you happy as you're wrapping it up... that is probably how we are going to feel as we are reading it. If writing this feels off, if expanding on your selected topic feels forced or it leaves you not-so-happy with the outcome.... well, that is how we are going to feel when we read it.

Sometimes, the simplest topics are the best ones. You don't have to dig for tragedy. You don't have to have some life-changing experience or express your impassioned worldviews. Some of the best essays I've read have been on the most simple of topics. What is it like to eat dinner with your family on Sunday night? What was your first concert like (remember those?) Most memorable road trip? We love these simple yet personal topics. By the same token, if you have had a pretty challenging experience in life, don't feel pressured to bring it up in your application, especially if doing so brings you back into that difficult time in life. Your school counselor can detail any situation in your life that you'd prefer not to relive in their recommendation.

Tell a good story. Most people prefer reading a good story over anything else. So... tell a great story in your essay. Worry less about providing as many details about yourself as possible and more about captivating the reader's attention inside of a great narrative. I read a great essay this year where an applicant walked me thorough the steps of meditation and how your body responds to it. Loved it. (yes I'll admit I'm a predisposed meditation fan) The human brain best-remembers great stories over anything else.

Be aware of the light-switch essay and be cognizant of your own personal privileges. These essays usually read something like this: "I went to do this service project in my community thinking I was going to change the kids lives ... and they ended up changing mine!!" Nothing is particularity wrong, per se, but the light switch essay (where things start one way and then totally change in a different way) can sometimes trap you and come across as inauthentic. Also, we talk frequently about privilege and savior complex here at Tulane, and we hope as an applicant, you can be in touch with your own awareness of these as well.

It doesn't have to all work out at 17. We want your essay to come full circle, but we don't expect you to have life figured out by the time senior year kicks off. Life will always have its ups and downs and that is totally okay. We don't want you necessarily ending your essay leaving us with concerns for your well-being, but ending with an optimistic tone while still knowing the best is yet to come is great too.

Don't brag... too much. We've got a great list of your extracurricular activities and some glowing letters of recommendation on your behalf. So, no need to self-promote too much in the essay. Some of my favorite essays have been humble, authentic, and honest.  We don't need a list of your accomplishments here; we'd rather read a story behind a time when maybe getting to one of those accomplishments wasn't as easy for you.

Avoid application redundancy. If you've chose to use the "expand on one extracurricular activity" section to talk about tennis, and your tennis coach has written us a great letter of recommendation, and your counselor mentions how much of a star you are on the tennis team... what do you think your essay should be about? Anything but tennis! We want to see consistency and fluidity in your application, but your essay should introduce us to a new side of you and a different dimension not seen in another part of the application.

Use your authentic voice. We know what the voice of a 17 year old sounds like. It sounds a lot different from the voice of a 45 year old. Write in your own voice and avoid using grandiloquent words like adumbrate or laconic (see what I did there?) If you're ever wondering what your authentic voice sounds like, take a few days to free-form write in a journal about your day and what's on your mind. Or speak your essay into your phone and record it. That is your voice. Bring it into your essay.

Have a theme, somewhere in there. A great format of your essay: Part one; hint at whatever theme or message your essay will conclude. Part two: tell a great story that illustrates that theme. Part three: circle back to the theme in a clear and powerful way that ties the story into it. Done. See? Simple as that.

Don't write entirely about Coronavirus . I know that this has consumed your entire world the last six months and it can be tempting to write your entire essay about it. If you do, you run the risk of blending in to many many other applicants. Quite literally, every single high school senior on planet earth is going through this experience. Certainly, many of you have had your life forever altered by this pandemic. But I will candidly say that come November, if we get 15,000 essays about it, it will be super tough to stand out. It also might give application readers some serious fatigue. All of us are ready to put this behind us even though we're still in the thick of it. Instead, now is a great time to do some journaling. Write about your thoughts, feelings, emotions right now. Maybe this moment of pause has given you a different worldview? A different academic passion? An interest in public health? Some of those journal entries you are writing might turn into a fabulous essay, not to mention you'll be captivated by them when you read them 15 years from now. It’s not about the destination, it's about the journey, and you are on a major life journey right now. You've also got an opportunity to mention your corona experiences in a new specifically dedicated Coronavirus section on the Common App. Stay tuned for blog about how to best make use of that section in a future blog.

Go forth and prosper, essay writers!

Rollin' on a River: 5 Spots to be Socially Distant on the Mighty Mississippi

Jeff's Blog Feed - Thu, 06/25/2020 - 08:00

New Orleans is situated at the very base of one of the most important rivers on the planet: The Mississippi. The Port of New Orleans is one of the busiest in the world with over 90 million tonnes of cargo passing through it each year. Our location directly on the Mighty Mississippi plays a big role in the identity of our city, both in a historical sense and in our modern day infrastructure. And the best is yet to come, too. The city is expected to have one of the largest continuous public riverfronts in the nation, measuring over 4.5 miles, according to Curbed.

As we are socially distancing more outside these days, today’s blog features five great spots to take in the river in all her glory. It's also the fourth part of my series of New Orleans at 300 (well, technically 302.) You can check out my other 300th birthday posts about the film industry here, our best restaurants here and 30 amazing things about NOLA here.

Now let's get rollin' on the river with 5 Great Spots to Socially Distance on the Mississippi...

Ahhhh the wonders of the Fly. 
The Fly: Easily one of the most popular destinations for college students in NOLA, the Fly is the area that encompasses the very tip of the extension of Audubon Park. Access to the Fly requires you to simply cross over the giant earthen levee just past the Audubon Zoo. There, on a busy pre-covid weekend, you’ll find hundreds of people making the best of life on the Mississippi: grilling, crawfish boiling, spike-balling and just taking in one of the best river views in town. I took a great sunset run through the Fly last week and was reminded just how lucky we are to have this incredible body of water serve as the backdrop for our city.

The brand new Moonwalk as seen from Artillery Park. (source)
The Moonwalk: The recent renovation of the Moonwalk was the catalyst of this blog. Next time you’re in Jackson Square, walk the steps up to Artillery Park and down the back side to the brand new Moonwalk. Visitors to the French Quarter can now easily access sweeping views of the Mississippi River and the Greater New Orleans Bridge (aka the Crescent City Connection.) Stay tuned for future renovations of this part of the riverside, as a new extension is currently under construction that will connect the Moonwalk to Crescent Park. Speaking of Crescent Park...

Crescent Park. Isn't she lovely? (source)
Crescent Park: I’ve blogged many times before about this awesome park. I genuinely believe that Crescent Park has been the best and most utilized new addition to the city of New Orleans in the last five years. The park stretches for miles along the banks of the river, all the way from the base of the French Market down through the Marigny to the Bywater. Grab a bike, take a run, enjoy an evening stroll - do whatever you have to do to enjoy this truly perfect slice of riverside real estate. Added bonus if you grab some Pizza Delicious or check out Studio Be while you’re down here. See that bridge in the photo above? That is where I proposed to my now fiancee!

The Bywater Institute! It's the building next to the neon green and blue in center left of the photo. 
The Bywater Institute: Tulane has recently built a greater physical presence directly on the Mississippi River. Enter: the Bywater Institute. The Institute, which was just completed two years ago and sits quite literally on the banks of the river, was created to advance applied interdisciplinary research and community engagement initiatives around coastal resilience and the urban environment. Students and faculty alike use this facility for research and educational purposes to gain a better understanding of our city and region's relationship with the river where we make our home.

This is what came up when I Google Imaged "End of the World New Orleans." So, enjoy. 
The end of the World: I’ve never been here, only heard about this place. From what I can tell, it’s somewhat of a downtown version of the Fly with a distinctly more, um, Bywater feel to it. I have heard this is where they have mini Burning Man parties. Check it out and let me know what you think. This definitely puts the "distant" in socially distant!

Action Items from the Dean of Admission

Jeff's Blog Feed - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 11:15
Today's guest blog comes straight from the top. Welcome Dean of Admission Satyajit Dattagupta.

Black lives matter. That’s it.

They always have and they always will.

Simply condemning doesn't suffice. Talk is cheap. We have to do more. As your Vice President and Dean of Admission, I am starting the creation of the following action plan to help combat systemic racism. It begins today. It is a start and one of many initiatives that our university and division will implement:

Scholarship and Aid: I will support President Mike Fitts and other campus leaders to raise funds to significantly increase the amount of scholarships funds available to students who demonstrate leadership in racial equity and justice or diversity initiatives at Tulane or their high school. I am committed to increasing the number of full-tuition Louisiana Excellence Awards we offer.

Community Outreach:  New Orleans is one of the most diverse communities in the entire world. While we have made progress, we still have a long way to go in achieving diversity. I will be appointing a task force with members of our division to review, analyze and create a plan that supports Black students from our community and their families as they begin their search for higher education. I am looking for leaders across the three departments who will commit to this mission. I will announce members of this task force by July 1.

Anti-Black Racism Training: This starts with education. Our entire team will go through training in the coming months so we are educated on how to combat racism. Learning that not being racist doesn't equal being anti-racist is just the beginning. I am mandating this for every member of our team. Details will be shared in the coming weeks.

Open Dialogue: I want to hear from you. Some of you have already reached out but I would like to hear from you about what our institution and more specifically our division can do to fight systemic racism that exists in society today. I welcome you to write to me directly with your thoughts and ideas.

This plan will evolve as I talk to more people across our division, institution and community.

I am resolute in my commitment to fight systemic racism. I urge each and every one of you to join me, President Fitts and the entire Tulane community in this fight. I have heard people often lament that they can't change the world. The reality is that you can change your world. You just have to start somewhere.


NOLA Lingo

Jeff's Blog Feed - Mon, 06/08/2020 - 11:00
I always tell prospective students that attending Tulane is the closest you can get to studying abroad while staying in the United States. There are five main reasons I always give to attest to that; New Orleans has its own culture, music, food, architecture and language. This blog is going to focus on that last one: our language. Some of you have gotten to tune into our Uniquely NOLA virtual events we've been hosting where I've touched on our unique lingo.

French spread in Louisiana. Parishes marked in yellow are 
those where 4–10% of the population speak 
French or Cajun French at home, orange 10–15%, red 
15–20%, brown 20–30%. (courtesy of Wikipedia)Throughout Southeast Louisiana, we speak all different kinds of languages. French, Spanish, Haitian French, Cajun French, Cajun English, and Louisiana Creole, to name a few. In fact, there are places near Lafayette, LA (around 3 hours from NOLA) where over 30% of the population speaks a dialect of French. See the map on the right.

Here in New Orleans, we have our own kind of language that, in all honesty, really only makes sense to us. We have a bunch of words that no one use in the country uses, that just become a natural part of your vocabulary when you live here. So for you new freshmen, or any prospective students, here is a quick rundown of a few words we use around town. Add them to your vocab, and you're that much closer to being a local!

Lagniappe: (pronounced lan-yapp) It means "a little something extra." Usually, it's just a free or added bonus or benefit. When Katrina closed Tulane for a semester, we had a free "make-up" semester over the summer, and it was aptly named Lagniappe Semester.

Here is a neutral ground on Carrollton AvenueNeutral Ground: Many streets in NOLA have a green space running down the middle (see: St. Charles Ave.) Most cities will call this area a median strip, but not us; we call it a "neutral ground." It got its name because of the Canal Street neutral ground where the American part of town (Garden District, Uptown, etc.) met up with the French or Spanish part of town. They'd meet on the "neutral ground" which was an area of trade/peace/neutrality. Also, we call sidewalks "banquettes" here too.

Making Groceries: In New Orleans, we don't "buy" groceries, we "make" groceries. That's just the way it is.

Y'at: This is basically a greeting that we use. So, "where y'at?" means "What's up/What are you up to/Where are you?" A "Yat" is also used to describe a true-blooded New Orleanian.

Y'all: This one will slowly creep its way into your daily usage, whether you like it or not! The Washington-DC native in me resisted for a a few years, but it's just such an easy, great word. It sounds much better than "you guys" or "you all." Get used to hearing us say it!

Parish: A.k.a."county." In Louisiana, we don't have counties, we have parishes. So we live in Orleans Parish. Side note, it's pronounced "New Orluns" or "New Or-le-ans" but NEVER "New Orleeens." When locals hear "New Orleeens," it's like nails on a chalkboard! However, it is pronounced "Orleeens Parish." Go figure.
Traditional shogun home ( Describes the style of houses here in NOLA that you will see all over town. They are the long, narrow houses you see in the Lower Garden District, Uptown, and other neighborhoods all over town. Shotguns are aptly named because you could fire a shotgun from the front door and the bullet would travel down the whole house and out the back door.

Krewe: A krewe is a Mardi Gras Parade. We have over 80 of them that roll during Mardi Gras season. Krewes (such as Endymion, Bacchus, Rex, Zulu, Muses, etc.) all have a membership of riders and their own specific floats, routes and traditions.

Throw: Anything thrown off a float by a member of a krewe.

Beaucoup: It means "a lot." We use it in our everyday vocabulary. You French-takers will recognize this one. You may even have seen it in some of our admission publications.

Faubourg: Translated into "neighborhood." We have Faubourg Treme, Faubourg Marigny, etc. In French it literally means suburb.
This po boy sure is dressed! 
Dressed: You're going to get asked this on day one: "You want that po boy dressed?" It means: do you want lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickles on that. The answer is yes.

King Cake: Mmmmmm boy. Basically an every day occurrence during Mardi Gras season . King cake is a large, donut shaped pastry with colorful sugar on top and various fillings inside. Each cake has a small plastic baby inside of it, and if you get the baby in your piece, you buy the next king cake!
Who got dat baby? (photo from Taste of Home)
Laissez Le Bons Temps Roule: Let the good times roll! You'll hear this a lot this time of the year.

So now you know! Hope this helps you expand your NOLA-cabulary. Here is a list of even more terms you may come across in town.

GiveNOLA Day!

Jeff's Blog Feed - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 15:30
It's easy to watch the news right now and feel angry, frustrated and helpless. Many folks are asking themselves "what can I do to help?" but not really knowing how. Sharing Instagram posts isn't going to be enough. Today happens to be GiveNOLA day, a 24-hour event hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation to inspire people to give generously to nonprofits making our region stronger, creating a thriving community for all. If you are like me and want to find a way to help immediately, I encourage you to turn your emotions into donations to a cause that you believe will help ignite a change to the current state of affairs in our world. Last year's GiveNOLA event raised nearly $5.9 million from over 50,000 donations across the nation and around the world. This year, I feel like this event will take on a whole new meaning as we witness such images of anger, despair, yet also hope on our TV and phone screens.

Here are a few organizations that I think will help positively impact our communities, but you can peruse over 700 participating organizations here. The descriptions of the ones listed here come straight from the GiveNOLA page. Find one that works for you! Here's a great start:

Peace by Piece: The mission of Peace by Piece is to support and mobilize Black youth and young adults through political education and community organizing in order to realize sustainable, sovereign and equitable communities rooted in self-determination and community control. The program works in Hollygrove to promote healthy and whole neighborhoods by providing education in urban agriculture and supporting activism that addresses the inequitable distribution of resources and climate degradation.

100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans: The mission of the 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Inc. is to provide support and improve the quality of life for African Americans, and youth in particular, in New Orleans. The Chapter addresses four key areas to strengthen the future of our community: Mentoring, Education, Health and Wellness, Economic and Empowerment. The Brothers of the 100 focus educational and economic resources toward our city's students and future leaders to empower the city's challenged communities.

College Track: College Track is a college completion organization that empowers students from underserved communities to graduate from college. Their10-year program removes barriers that prevent students from marginalized communities from earning their 4-year college degree by providing them with comprehensive academic, social-emotional, and financial support for success in high school, college, and beyond. Tulane is a proud partner with College Track and welcomes a cohort of scholars each fall from College Track sites around the USA.

HandsOn New Orleans: The organization achieves its mission with 213 collaborative community partnerships and a suite of synergistic programs. HandsOn leverages its core strengths of volunteer engagement, design and execution of high-impact community revitalization projects, and disaster response services to strengthen families and transform neighborhoods in the seven parish metro area.
They believe in human dignity and relate to the human condition. They believe our community partners - those closest to the problem - know the best solutions. They listen first then act. They raise financial resources to address the issue second. Third, they recruit and manage volunteers at high-impact service projects to meet the needs. As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, HandsOn New Orleans has delivered hundreds of thousands of meals to the elderly and immunocompromised here in NOLA.

VOTE: VOTE is a grassroots organization founded and run by formerly incarcerated people (FIP), our families and our allies. We are dedicated to restoring the full human and civil rights of those most impacted by the criminal (in)justice system. Together we have the experiences, expertise and power to improve public safety in New Orleans and beyond without relying on mass incarceration.
We are communicating with nearly 1000 incarcerated people, and our membership includes hundreds of family members of incarcerated people. VOTE is working hard to expose the medical conditions inside jails and prisons, create a more health-focused COVID-19 response, and increase the releases of medically vulnerable people.

From all of us at in the Office of Admission at Tulane, thank you for considering donating anywhere right now. The world is a tough place, but small steps like these are the very steps we need in the right direction.

Now Would be a Great Time to Major in Public Health

Jeff's Blog Feed - Thu, 05/21/2020 - 14:44

Many of our Public Health classes are taught on our downtown campus, seen here. It's smack in the middle of downtown NOLA's medical district. If one of your reactions to the global pandemic has been: what can I do to help? Well, then the title of this blog says it all. Now is a really good time for you to consider a career in public health. It just so happens that Tulane has one of just a dozen undergraduate programs in Public Health in the USA, plus an incredible graduate School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine as well. In fact, back when we were founded in 1834, we were founded as a response to the major public health issue at the time: Yellow Fever. Almost 200 years later, Tulane continues to be a global leader in Public Health. Even before COVID-19, public health was one of the fastest growing undergraduate majors in the world.

For today's blog, I am going straight to the source and featuring two amazing guest bloggers: Sierra Cason and Didi Ikeji. Sierra is one of our admission officers and just wrapped up her Master's in Public Health at Tulane. Didi is a rising senior and enrolled in our undergraduate program for Public Health and was just admitted into our 4+1 program. I posed a bunch of questions to them both. Take it away, ladies!

*    *    * 
Didi Ikeji and Sierra Cason
In the basic sense, what is public health? Sierra Cason: In a basic sense, public health is working to keep people and communities from becoming ill in the first place. Many people ask me if public health means you’re a doctor, and I always tell them Doctors treat individual people who are already sick; public health officials are executing plans that make the environment healthier, not just a person, they create services for communities and not just individuals, because when we approach health from a population lens we eliminate health disparities and inequities that are impacting a larger number of people.

So... why public health now? SC: I think it’s obvious why public health matters right now! Our world has changed in a matter of months. We are spending every minute on vaccination testing, battling with the controversy around public health decision-making, implementing social distancing guidelines, struggling with shortages of critical supplies, and seeing how social determinants of health (race, socioeconomic status, environment, etc.) can lead to high mortality rates, and impact incidence and prevalence rates. We need more students over the next decade to pursue public health, so that we have more professionals to guide us during life post-COVID-19, better prepare us for future disease outbreaks, and continue to address the health inequities we see around the world. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health has received greater recognition and new appreciation.

Didi Ikeji: Public health has always been an important topic but is rarely given enough funding or attention. Often times the areas of health that you hear about are doctor/patient specific and focus on individuals and their health. However, the most important, first step, most cost-effective bang for your buck way to improve health is through education. Public health individuals at all levels are primarily educators. Their goal is always to educate the population before the unwanted health outcome occurs. With the current COVID-19 pandemic many areas of public health are now getting increased attention which is great but has unfortunately come at the cost of many lives. This shows how important it is to train the next generation of public health students who can prevent a crisis like this from happening again. It should not take a crisis for things like mass sanitation, health disparities, and insurance to finally be given attention. My hope is that the next class of Tulane public health graduates will learn from the things happening right now to become the next pioneers in United States and global health.

What's so special about Tulane's undergraduate Public Health program? DI: My favorite aspect about the public health program is all students have to do are take two core classes and then they are able to take almost any other public health course offered. There are 7 more core classes after the first two, but students can fit those in at any time throughout their four years. There are also six elective class requirements, but students can select any courses they find interesting. The courses range everything from nutrition to global maternity and child health to research methods. Every semester there’s also special topics courses that are offered that semester only. Another amazing aspect of the program is the option to do a combined degree and graduate in 5 years with both a BSPH and a master’s degree. Tulane offers 6 different public health masters programs so students can find any program within their interests.

What's been your favorite class? SC: In the Master of Public Health program, my favorite class was “Violence as a Public Health Problem”. This class provided a broad view of various types of violence, from a public health lens. I studied the epidemiology of violence first followed by public health solutions to these issues. What kept it interesting was each class covered a different type of violence (child abuse, gun violence, domestic violence, etc.), so each class was taught by a different local academic or expert in the field. We also discussed related fields such as social work, psychology, law, and politics. This class was not for the faint hearted.

Any favorite professors in Public Health? DI: It is hard to pick a favorite public health class as most of them are different and interesting in their own way. I would say the more exceptional thing about Tulane’s public health program is the amazing faculty members. Some of my favorite by far have been Lina Moses and Elisabeth Gleckler. Professor Moses on top of being a faculty member is also working for the World Health Organization coordinating outbreak relief. This means when there are major outbreaks, she is one of the individuals on the forefront. She told amazing stories of organizing teams to help with Ebola and Lassa fever outbreaks in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. During this COVID-19 pandemic she flew directly to their headquarters in Switzerland to serve on a strategic planning team. Professor Gleckler is another one of my favorite professors because the vast number of things I have learned in her courses. They were instrumental in developing my writing abilities. She has also done amazing work through the Louisiana Office of Public Health and began her career working with individuals with end stage HIV/AIDS. These are just two out of the dozens of faculty members at Tulane doing cool work! One time my friends texted me because their professor was on CNN! And every month there’s a faculty member getting large grants or featured in the news because of their work. Professors like these are amazing because students can learn not only about the specific course they're teaching but also through their lives and work.

Can you give me some examples of research, internships or study abroad at Tulane? DI: There is such an expansive offering of research, internships, and public health study abroad programs at Tulane. Every Monday public health students are sent an email with information regarding guest lecturers, exhibits, and public health events happening at Tulane and in New Orleans. These events are very informative and a great way to make connections that can lead to future positions. Students can do technical lab research, sociological population-based research, design their own research, and complete an honors thesis. Most labs at Tulane allow anyone to work in them regardless of major. Additionally, public health students have access to the downtown campus which has large portions dedicated directly to research. The Louisiana Cancer Research Center, Ochsner, and other nearby hospital systems are easy ways to get connected to shadowing, research, and internships. Most professors begin the semester by explaining their research interests and let students know if they are looking for any undergrad workers. Clubs and organizations are a great way to connect with fellow students as well as gain research and internship positions. Tulane offers a public health specific study abroad program on every continent except Antarctica. Students also have the option of selecting a program of their choosing regardless of it is specifically labeled a public health program. With summer, semester, and yearlong options it is easy to fit into your schedule. Personally, while at Tulane I joined a club through Newcomb called Women in Science. Every year the club hosts a panel where female doctors in the community are invited to come speak to club members and answer questions. After the meeting I really loved the work one of the doctors was doing. A senior club member was working with the doctor at the time and gave me her contact information and invited me to come see the work she was doing at Ochsner. Starting that semester, I began shadowing the doctor and have worked summer internships through Ochsner two years in a row. I am now writing my thesis based off the clinic I work in. And it all began from a club I joined freshman year!

What’s the MPH program like? SC: Tulane prepares students for careers in public health domestically and internationally with study in all five areas of public health plus tropical medicine. You gain classroom knowledge from faculty who are diverse, committed public health professionals, who are regularly recognized among their peers with awards, prestigious memberships, and important roles and responsibilities on task forces, boards and within associations. You gain real world experience through the 300 hour practicum, an opportunity to apply your classroom experience in a variety of settings outside of the university. There are endless opportunities to participate in research, academic institutions, student clubs and organizations and be active in the New Orleans community.

Any final advice for anyone considering this career? SC: Public health is a diverse field, it has so many different avenues, and is related to so many other fields. A few tips:

  • Learn a bit about each area of public health offered at Tulane, before making an assumption about what it is. We cover the following areas of public health: • Biostatistics • Epidemiology • Environmental Health • Global Community Health and Behavior • Health Policy and Management • Tropical Medicine (Some of these areas have sub areas like, maternal and child health, nutrition, health education, etc.) 
  • Study public health as a major or a minor, and pair it up with another area of study. From what we can see during this pandemic, public health impacts all areas of life, so having public health knowledge and skills, might now be critical regardless what field you enter. 
  • Gain field experience while you are studying, many jobs seek that you have some practical experience in the field. So make sure you do internships, research or volunteer work to gain real world experience. 

Thank you, Didi and Sierra! And to our readers, we hope you're interest in Public Health has been substantially piqued. The world needs you right now!

Junior Tips Part 3: You've Earned This.

Jeff's Blog Feed - Wed, 05/06/2020 - 13:16
Courtesy of slate.comOne thing is for sure right now- when things do get "back to normal" it will definitely be a new normal. Anyone can predict what the next few months will look like, but no one really knows for sure. There is one thing, however, that I know for sure: when we finally flatten the curve, when we can finally hug and gather and celebrate and eat out and play again: I want you to go out and live your life. Blast out the front doors of your Quarrenhome and soak up the awesomeness in this world!
OK, let me backtrack a bit. You may be wondering where I am going with this one. Last year, my friend and colleague Ashley Brookshire from the Office of Admission at Georgia Tech posted a great blog called "But... What Do Colleges Prefer?" I loved this blog because it transparently told high school students that the reality is, when it comes to how you spend your time, we prefer that you do what you want to. As Director of Admission at Tulane, I will be straight up with you: I don't want your experiences in high school to be a constant stream of things you think will look good on your college application. When you life finally starts to feel more normal, the last thing I want you to worry about is making up for lost time and doing things just to add to your college applications. This whole concept of doing stuff to impress admission officers has reached a fever pitch this decade and COVID-19 has added even more complexity to this. We colleges are mostly to blame for this: we have helped create an admission frenzy among high school students. I am sorry for that. This is even more pertinent now than ever. You will be cooped up for a while now. And when we are finally free, I want the last things on your mind to be:

- Feeling like you have to make up for lost time to impress colleges
- Feeling like you need to do as many extra curricular activities as you can to impress colleges
- Feeling like you need to do anything in life solely to impress colleges.

You get the idea. 
Colleges expect you to engage in activities outside the classroom, and that hopefully, you enjoy doing those activities. But what we don't want is you feeling like you need to be doing specific things to impress us. I know that it's really easy as a high school student to dwell on the past and worry about the future. What we want here is for you to experience high school and the future as it comes. Take advantage of these experiences and opportunities for growth that happen when you are 17 and stop constantly worrying what colleges think of you.
Let me break it down further. Here are ten things I want you to remember as you experience, I mean really experience, your time in high school once we finally are through this mess.

If you really missed doing something during quarantine, dive back in with excitement! If there was something that you haven't been able to do recently and you, frankly, don't miss it all that much or are dreading getting going with it again... bag it altogether. This advice comes straight from the lips of the incredible Director of Admission from Georgia Tech, Rick Clark. If you don't check out his blog, it's fabulous. Sage, honest, candid advice runs throughout his posts. His advice is perfect. Once we get going again, do the stuff you love, not the stuff you think colleges will love. You have earned this right. 
We don't expect that you've traveled the world and solved the planet's problems. Travel can expand your mind and completely change your outlook. Doing community service for those around the world is a spectacular way to give back while enjoying your time abroad. Keep in mind though, some of the most meaningful service projects are right in your own back yard, especially in the age of Corona. We live in a country of great wealth inequality and if serving your community is your passion, consider the amazing opportunities you might have to help those in need—right in your own hometown. Our hope is not that you are helping your community because you think it will impress Tulane. Rather, the goal is that you authentically have a passion for service and are doing good things for good people. If that travel program you were planning on doing this summer was cancelled, don't sweat it. 
It's okay if you are doing something just because. If you love to read, cook, surf, mediate, DJ, or something else—let us know! Yes, we do expect that you have done something more substantial than just reading a few books, but don't completely sideline your passions. Just because you think a college might value certain experiences over others, it's not worth it to stop doing the things you're passionate about. An applicant who reads 20 books for pleasure during their senior year, will add way more to a college classroom than someone who takes a class at a local college just because they think it will impress me. Why? Because you are doing something you love and have a passion for. Shoutout to the applicant last year who sent me his knitting portfolio. We know activities will continue to be limited. We have zero expectations for what you can and cannot do these days. 
We don't expect a laundry list of extracurricular activities. Here is what we want: a somewhat brief list of the things you love to do, the things you do well, and the things you might continue when you arrive on our campus in the fall. My job is not to find well-rounded students. My job is to build a well-rounded class of students. Don't feel like you need to load up on every club or organization your school has. We don't need or want that. We also know your list is going to look wonky these days.

We don't expect you to cure cancer or impress the CFO of Morgan Stanley. I see a lot of great applicants who have done some pretty incredible research or amazing internships. That is great! If you have your sights set on medical school one day and research experience is something that you think will help you decide on that career path, then, by all means, do it. But don't feel like your application will be lacking if it doesn't have impressive research or internship experiences. Also... you're teenagers! No one can expect you to be mapping the human genome or starting your own business. If you actually end up cleaning beakers or taking people's Starbucks orders during these experiences, that's fine too. In fact, that's actually what I would expect a high school intern or research assistant to be doing. I've read applications where students have said they learned how to administer anesthesia or perform heart surgery. Maaaybe they actually have, but if I were about to go under the knife, I would rather not see a high school student with a scalpel next to my hospital bed.

We believe in the humble job. A student who works at Chipotle or Starbucks or Pier One (rip) or Sprinkles Cupcakes or Jamba Juice knows about time management, communication skills, problem solving, and humility. Again, I don't want you to get a job because it looks good for colleges, but frankly, the skillset you'll develop at a job will prepare you nicely for college. You'll make some money, learn some great skills and as an added bonus, stand out in the application process. If I am being one-hundred percent honest: having a job IS something that impresses the admission team at Tulane. I also know that jobs might be totally impossible to find these days. If, down the road, they become available again, give it a shot. If it's not possible, don't sweat it. 
We're impressed with things that you think won't impress us. And honestly, we've seen it all. I get the sense that our applicants are doing some of these big-name extracurricular activities to stand out. For better or worse, everyone is doing many of the same things. They are great activities, don't get me wrong. But because we see so many great applicants with great resumes, as it turns out, some activities are not as memorable as they may seem. If you are doing these things because you love to, that is great. And that is WHY you should be doing them. Worry less about if you think we'll be impressed and just enjoy and learn from the experience. If you were to ask me about the most memorable activities I have seen from students, I honestly can only truly remember one and that was an incredible applicant who had hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail. So basically what I am saying is the only way to stand out these days is to hike 2,600 miles from Canada to Mexico. 
If you can bear it, consider an online summer class. Just remember, many schools aren't going to give you a leg up simply because you took their online classes. So, don't just say "oh I should go to Duke's summer online classes so I have better shot at getting into Duke." It doesn't work that way. Instead, research courses that you actually believe will allow you to learn, grow, and enrich your summer. Shameless plug: we have over 20 summer classes at Tulane for STEM, research, women's leadership, and architecture. Check them out! Again, if you are totally burned out on virtual classes, skip this option. 
We expect that you'll do some research and engage with us. So, there is one thing we DO think looks good in the application process: students who have taken the time to research what Tulane is all about and authentically engage with us. Again, think less "what are the boxes that Tulane wants me to check?" And more, "what are the steps I can take to genuinely find out if Tulane will be a great fit for me?" We'll be offering virtual events all summer, and most colleges will. My recommendation is you pick one school a week to really dig into. Do a virtual campus tour and a virtual event that they host. Each week, immerse yourself in one school. It's the most you can do right now to engage in this virtual space. The best resource right now? Our current students. They are home, bored, and dying to talk to people about Tulane. That said, don't feel like you have to email me five times and demonstrate your interest in nine different ways. What we really want is for you to find out if Tulane is somewhere you'll be happy and if so, let us know in your application. Speaking of happy... 
We want you to be happy. The college admission process should not define you. We want you to take a step back and realize that at the end of the day, your personal contentment and self-confidence are the most important parts of growing up, especially in the world we are living in right now. Life is always going to have its ups and downs. The more you can be in the moment and eliminate the constant ruminating about the past or anxiety for the future, the happier you'll be. I know it's easier said than done, but take a moment to BE in the moment and not worry about what we think of you. 
We want you to be good people. I've always loved the "Check This Box if You're a Good Person" article written by Rebecca Sabky from Dartmouth. We get these beautifully packaged applications chock-full of inspiring extracurricular activities, but at the end of the day, it's nearly impossible to tell what type of person you are based on a college application. I love reading recommendation letters about students who treat the cafeteria people with kindness and respect. Or the compassion some students show to kids outside of their friend group. These are the important things you do when you think no one, and no college, is looking. 
At the end of the day, you have earned the right to go out and live your life (when your state and local officials deem you are allowed to!) Do what makes you happy, what improves your life and the lives of those around you. Try not to worry so much about what you think a group of strangers in a school far away will think. What you'll end up finding is that you'll be leading a much more fulfilled life, one that allows you to live in the moment, have joy, and one that allows you time to emerge from this as a stronger person. Like I said: you've earned it. 

Class of 2024 Facts and Figures

Jeff's Blog Feed - Mon, 05/04/2020 - 16:32
Future Tulanians! 
Hey y'all! I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend and is staying safe and healthy. May 1st has come and gone and we've had a banner year here in the Office of Undergraduate Admission. We could not be more excited about the group of students who have chosen to attend Tulane as a part of the Class of 2024! This spring has been unlike anything we have ever encountered, and we feel very fortunate that so many students still decided on Tulane without the ability to squeeze in that spring visit. Our team has been working hard this spring hosting countless virtual events, and it looks like our work has paid off. Here's our VP of Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission, Satya Dattagupta, to introduce you to Tulane's Class of 2024.

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As an institution founded in 1834 to work on a cure for the yellow fever and cholera, Tulane has been on the front lines with research to combat COVID-19. Our enrollment numbers are indicative of the fact that students are drawn to our mission and want to join the Tulane community we move forward.

The Class of 2024 is another stellar and diverse group of students who will be coming to New Orleans from all over the U.S. and the world. They are academically brilliant, globally-oriented, and come from a diverse set of backgrounds. They are one of the most extraordinary classes Tulane has ever welcomed to campus.

We received nearly 44,000 applications this year, which marked a 4% increase over last year and a 67% increase since 2015. This year was the most selective class in Tulane's history. This is also the most academically accomplished class Tulane has enrolled. This group of well-rounded students full of potential will accomplish great things in the coming years, both during their time at Tulane and their lives beyond our campus. The average ACT score of the Class of 2024 is a 32. My projection for the first day of class based on historic yield will be between 1795 and 1820 first year students. 
The Class of 2024 is also the most diverse group of students Tulane has ever enrolled. Since I have arrived at Tulane, I have made it one of my priorities to make the Tulane community more representative of both the United States and of the world. 33% of the incoming class are students of color or international students, an 10% increase over last year and a 65% increase over the class of 2019. I am very confident that the campus experience of our students with such a wide range of backgrounds, ethnicities, and life experiences will be extraordinarily positive. Learning, working, sharing, and living with people unlike oneself is one of the ways we grow as people. This enhances our understanding of our differences and our strengths, builds strong bonds, and greatly benefits our community.

This class is also the most global in Tulane’s history. We had the honor of hosting the International ACAC annual conference on our campus in July 2018, and we will be welcoming over 160 international students to our campus this fall. Bringing more international students to Tulane provides another dimension to the classroom and campus experience that is incredibly important. The world is getting smaller, and the interconnected nature of people has never been more apparent. An informed global outlook is so crucial to personal and professional success for international and domestic students alike.

We're also very excited to welcome our fourth class of Spring Scholars in January of 2021. Over 200 students will be a part of this group!

I can't wait to welcome the Class of 2024 to New Orleans!

*   *   *
Me again! I've got a couple other things worth highlighting as well:

Our yield rate improved by over 4% this year to 39%. For those of you not in the enrollment management world, that number may not seem that impressive or significant. The yield rate is the percent of students who are admitted that end up enrolling. In general, a half-percentage point increase in yield, within a single year, is a significant accomplishment. To jump 4% in one year is a great accomplishment. To put that into context, it took us roughly four years to achieve a 4% increase in yield following Katrina. So what took us four years, we were able to do in just this year alone (after increasing by 5% last year and 4% the year before). This tells us that more and more students have Tulane at or near the top of their list and want to join our community.
Our admit rate was 11%. This is a bittersweet statistic. I like to say that I am not the kind of Director that takes pride in denying students. We are an "admission" office, not a "denial" office. That sentiment is shared across our office and we know that "more selective" does not mean "better" in the world of higher education. This number simply means that Tulane had its most selective year for admission. We were admitting over 25% of our students just 4 years ago, so this is a strong indication of how competitive admission to Tulane is becoming.

The class is very international! As Satya said, one of his goals has been to make Tulane more representative of the world. We will welcome just over 160 total international students this fall. They hail from 20 different countries: Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. We'll also have 15+ US citizens living abroad coming to New Orleans.

The class comes from all over the country, too! We have 44 states represented in the Class of 2024. The top five states in order of representation are: New York, California, Louisiana, Illinois and New Jersey. Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania round out the Top 10. We've got one student each coming from Idaho and West Virginia.

And, we have to highlight some of our most represented high schools! There are 4 high schools around the country that are sending us 10+ students this year. They are: New Trier HS (IL, 22), Benjamin Franklin HS (NOLA, 12), Deerfield HS (IL, 10), and Mount Carmel Academy (NOLA, 10). On the flip side, there are 750 students who will be the only student form their high school in the class!
That's all I've got. We can't wait to see you in New Orleans, 2024!

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All About Residential Learning Communities (RLCs)

Jeff's Blog Feed - Tue, 04/28/2020 - 10:29

Hey there, Class of 2024, and welcome to Tulane! My name is Andre Hebert and I am an Assistant Director in Housing & Residence Life at Tulane University. Living on campus can be a daunting experience but know that there are so many people there to support you in your transition.  Those of us here to support you are your Resident Advisor (RA), a student staff member who lives on the floor with you; and your Resident Director (RD), a professional staff member who lives in the residence halls, supervises the RAs, and helps build community in your residence hall. For first-year students, we also have eight Residential Learning Communities (RLCs) that you can apply to live in.

RLCs are immersive spaces in a residence hall where students live together to learn about and participate in activities centered around a theme. Students within each RLC live on a designated floor(s) with other RLC students who are interested in a deeper exploration of the community's focus. While each RLC is different, all of them involve increased interaction with Tulane staff and faculty, unique programming and off-campus experiences, and designated TIDES courses so that students are learning together both in and out of the classroom.
The eight RLCs being offered for the 2020-2021 academic year are: Changemaker, Current, Health Wave, Honors, Kaleidoscope, Squad, Spark, and Third Coast. With the exception of the Upperclass Honors RLC in Weatherhead Hall, all other RLCs are first-year students only. I would highly recommend checking out the RLC website to learn more about each RLC.
Although I work with all of our RLCs, I don't experience them first-hand, so I have provided two perspectives with you below regarding the RLC experience.
This first blurb comes from Jack Blitz, RA, who works with the Squad RLC.

“This [Squad] RLC is built around three main pillars: teamwork, leadership, and school spirit. And we get to combine all those pillars with our love for athletics. Some of the really cool perks about being in the RLC is you get courtside seats at volleyball and basketball games and you get on field access at a football game. There’s even a chance to meet some pretty cool superstars… you never know.” 

This second blurb comes from Gabe Christian-Sola, who manages the Current RLC beginning in Fall 2020.
“The demand for computer science careers is quickly outpacing supply, yet only 14% of women graduate with STEM degrees. Increasing women's participation in STEM careers has the power to close the gender pay gap and boost women's cumulative earnings by an estimated $299 million, expediting global economic development. Sponsored by Newcomb Institute, Tulane’s newest RLC, CURRENT, provides a place for first-year students to build a community and cultivate their interests in STEM. As a member of the inaugural cohort, you’ll forge meaningful connections with your peers and with faculty, staff, and alumnae through STEM- and gender-focused programming, research, and development opportunities provided by the Newcomb Institute. You will:•                     Engage in activities, events, and courses that focus on academic success, research and internship preparation, career exploration, and leadership development. •                     Explore careers in STEM-related fields through mentorship, research, and conferences that examine topics ranging from leadership styles to time management, self-care, career exploration, and community engagement. •                     Participate in special TIDES courses and monthly dinners with faculty and practitioners from a variety of disciplines, gaining unique access to Tulane’s academic community, local culture, and the Women in STEM community.
‘I am incredibly grateful for the Newcomb Tech programs. They are the reason why I have found a job post-grad that allows me to do what I enjoy and what I am good at. These programs have given me the opportunity to lead in a way I never would have imagined for myself, and they have given me access to innumerable resources/jobs/professionals/etc.’ Addie Jasica, Digital Research Intern and Grace Hopper Grantee, 2018-2020. []”

Remember, your Housing Application and RLC Application are due by May 8th!

You can find the supplemental RLC application in your Housing Portal when you are filling out your Housing Application. You will be taken to a separate form where you will select which of the eight RLCs you would like to apply for and you will need to fill out some supplemental essay questions for each RLC to which you are applying. I highly recommend reading through the questions, answering them in a Word document, and then pasting them into the RLC application. Our system sometimes times out or does not let you go back to a previous page, so it is best to have everything ready to go when you want to apply.
After RLC applications close on May 8th, I work closely with our campus partners who oversee each RLC to review applications and make decisions about who will live in each RLC. Due to the size of the RLCs, there may be some students who will not get into one. Therefore, we highly recommend applying to any of the eight you are interested in as that will increase your chances of being placed in one of the RLCs.

If you have any questions about RLCs, please don't hesitate to reach out to me ( or Housing & Residence Life (

You've Got Questions, We've Got Answers

Jeff's Blog Feed - Fri, 04/17/2020 - 08:00
During this wacky time of social distancing, you might be signing up for one-on-one virtual info sessions or interviews with various colleges. Got a school you're super interested in? You've got nothing to lose by reaching out to your admission rep to see if you can set up an informal Zoom session with them. I have spent a good portion of the last two months answering your questions about Tulane and life in New Orleans. It's probably one of my favorite parts of this job- sharing my Tulane experiences and giving prospective students as much insight as I can into the world of all things Tulane. In that light, I thought it might be helpful for me to let you know about some of the best questions that we as admission officers get.

I'll give you six examples of good types of questions to ask when you connect with admission reps our current students at our schools. These are interview questions and questions you could be asking students on these campuses when you visit, too. These are also great questions to ask when an interviewer inevitably says "so... do you have any questions for me?" It will lead to great fodder for those eventual "Why College X?" statements. And... what blog of mine would be complete without a list of a few questions not to ask? We'll save those for last.

Ready? Let's go!

1) What is the political climate on campus? Great question here. I think it's cool to find out if the campus is red or blue, conservative or liberal. It says a lot about if that place is a good fit for you, and what kind of kid goes to that school. Especially with our politics in the USA right now, it's a very interesting time to be on a college campus! You don't want to be on a college campus where everyone shares your same political beliefs, by the way. You want to be somewhere you can engage in healthy discussions and be receptive to opinions that might be different from your own.

2) What kind of student fits in (or doesn't) at your school? This one may put us on the spot a bit, and for some schools may be tough to answer, but I still think it's a great question to ask. Every school out there has a personality and character traits. One of my favorite student tour guides at Tulane tells her tour to look at students' shoes as they walk around Tulane on the tour (when schools are back open, of course.) That will tell you what kind of kid can be found at that campus (and it will also show you just how crazy diverse our kids at Tulane are). Birkenstocks, Chacos, hightops, Converse, Sperrys, barefoot... you get the idea.

3) What is your favorite class or professor at Tulane? Or better yet, ask our current students about their favorite class. We like talking about this kind of stuff. Ask about unique majors, or less commonly referenced majors.

4) What did you do last night? This is one to ask our students once classes are back in session. Put them on the spot and I think you'll enjoy hearing what our kids do with their nights. It's everything from late nights in the library to late nights on Frenchman Street. This is a great question to ask a student panel if you happen to hit one up to get a range of responses. Granted, everyone is going to have the same answer right now (stayed home, hopefully!) These days, this question would be rephrased to what do Tulane students typically do on a Thursday night? 

5) What is the cost of living like in your city? And how easy is it to get around town? Good questions because they will make a real impact on you once you arrive on campus. Luckily for you NOLA fans, we are inexpensive and that there streetcar will take you to the heart of downtown for just a buck .25!

6) What kind of support can I get on campus? Schools have great resources that we want you to take advantage of. Tutoring, academic advisers, Tulane's success coaches... ask us about them and use them when you get here. If you are the first in your family to attend college, you should be asking universities and colleges what kind of resources will be made available to you. If you are an underrepresented minority considering attending a PWI, you should be asking that school what support you'll get there. Coming from a rural community? A member of the LGBT community? Have accommodations? Ask what kind of resources will be made availability. At Tulane, we've got everything from the Center for Academic Equity to the Goldman Center for Student Accessibility.

There you go! Remember these are just a few examples of great questions to ask during your interview or (someday) visit; there are many more. And also, keep in mind that these are good questions to ask in person, rather than via e-mail (I take it you've read my previous blog on said topic before...).

Now... selfishly, here are just a few questions that may not be the best ones to ask. If you have asked me these in the last 7 weeks, (and every single one of them has been asked many-a-time) do not fret! Seriously! I am just offering positive suggestions for the future. You'll thank me later, I swear. A good rule of thumb, if you're asking a question just for the sake of sending an e-mail or just for the sake of asking anything, your question likely could end up on this list. We don't track demonstrated interest that closely, so don't feel the need to ask just for the sake of asking or e-mail just for the sake of e-mailing.

Here are just a few...

1) Does your school offer internships? I said the word "internship" 78,192,120 times in the last fifteen years. I counted. Maybe that is an exaggeration. But in all seriousness, I am going to blow your mind with a fact right now: every single school in America can offer its students an internship. Every. Last. School. If you are a motivated student, are doing well in school, and take some time to explore options online (both your school's site and a regular ol' search), I can nearly guarantee you that you'll be able to find yourself an internship. Northeastern has a great co-op program, GW offers great internships on Capitol Hill. Every school from Harvard to your local community college can help get you an internship, and, dare I say it, an internship is possible no matter where you go to college. If you apply yourself, use your school's resources and put in a little legwork, you can make this internship dream a reality! The same goes for study abroad- we've all got it!

2) What is your school's best major? Instead, try this: "what are some smaller majors that are very strong but not well known, or are doing some really cool things?" The best major thing... well to be honest, we would probably not have it if it wasn't a strong major. You can even ask what Tulane is known for; that is better than asking our best major.

3) These

4) How's your math major? See also: chemistry, English, communication, etc. Some of the schools you apply to may have over 150 majors. We, as admission staff members, know a lot about each major but when you zero in on a specific one, you'll probably get an answer that includes things like "it's interdisciplinary! "it's broad!" "its' focused!" "it's great" or "it's strong!" We're never going to say "Oh, our psychology major? It sucks. Don't bother."

5) Should I answer the optional statement? The answer is always yes.

So there you go! Hope this helps get some good ideas generated for what you should be asking student and admission reps at the schools you are applying to.

Best of luck, you all! Stay safe, stay home!

Eight Emails Better Left Unsent

Jeff's Blog Feed - Wed, 04/08/2020 - 09:00
I know, I know. Trying to ascertain if a college or university is a good fit for you is different now that a few months ago. In the absence of college visits, college fairs, info sessions and the like, at this point your reliant on only the virtual offerings that colleges and universities are putting out right now. Tune in to as many as you can! On top of those virtual experiences, now's also a time when we're all using email more than we usually do.

Speaking of reading, I read a lot of emails. A lot lot. Like, thousands a week. Our admission team enjoys hearing from students with your questions, your interest in Tulane and your follow-up emails. However, there are seven kinds of emails that admission officers around the country generally bemoan. In the time of coronavirus, I thought it would be a great service to you, the applicant, and to us admission officers to give you all a few tips on emails that you should not send, or at least be very wary of sending. So, here is a list of 8 emails to not send to your admission officer. Hope this helps you all as you enter the application process. Selfishly, I know it will help me!

1) Take the time to communicate effectively with your admission counselor. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but "i" is a lot different from "I". When emailing with your admission counselor, take the time to write thoughtful, error-free messages. I suggest sitting down at a computer to do these. Don't treat these like text messages. In my years of getting emails from students, I can officially confirm that the two most challenging words for 17-year-olds to get right are "deferred" and "piqued." Also, here's a pro tip: always start your email to an admission staff member with "Dear Mr. or Ms. so-n-so." Then, see how they reply. I'll reply with "Sincerely, Jeff" and that's your cue that it's cool to address me as Jeff. Always take the lead from the admission rep for how formally they want to be addressed. I like to keep it casual, others may be more formal.

2) This hasn't been as much of a problem in recent years, but please do create a professional email address to communicate with colleges. Listen, I know the times they are a-changin' and things that used to be illegal are now not. That said, where this comes more into play is your social media presence. Be careful with your Tweets, Snaps, and Instas. I honestly don't check them (we don't have the time troll you, nor do we want to) but remember, all it takes is someone else pressing two buttons and a screenshot is sent to me of you doing something dumb. This happens every single year and is the most frequent reason we rescind admission at Tulane. It's pretty simple- be a good person on social media (and in life, too.) Just be smart, compassionate and good to each other. Think that this would never happen to you? I bet those Harvard students thought the same thing.

3) I really do love replying to your emails. But, it gets hard when we get very vague or broad questions that become difficult to type out responses to. For questions that are not really easy to find out by reading our website, I'd love for you to chat with our incredible team of student interns. They are great and talking to students is literally their job! You can visit our website and click that green box in the lower right corner to chat (M-F from 8-5.) Or, connect with our amazing team of ambassadors who you can reach here. You should definitely have these kinds of broad questions, but since we do get such a high volume of emails, don't feel the need to email an admission rep just for the sake of emailing us. I read this great story on CNBC that says emails should be kept to five sentences or less and if you have broad or long-winded questions, it's best to pick up the phone and call. During our social isolation, admission officers and student ambassadors would love to set up FaceTimes or Zoom calls with you. It's the best way to get long lists of questions answers.

On a related note, I'd like to dispel a myth: emailing us plays no role in your admission to Tulane. We don't count the number of times you email us; don't feel pressured to reach out with a question unless you genuinely have one. I once got an email that started "my counselor says I need to email you to demonstrate my interest in Tulane, so I am doing it here." Don't feel like you have to email us if you don't need to, especially with the broad and vague questions. Instead, give us a call or reach out to our students as they truly are our best resource.

4) Oh man. Okay, great questions. Really! But again, see above on this one. For the most part, you can get the answer to every single one of these questions on our website. We want you to ask us questions, but we also expect that you do your own research as well. There is so much information out there on Tulane, and on school sites in general- use it! When you list out 24 questions on an email to me, it just is not the best use of our time.

5) I get an email like this every single week, without fail. Don't cut and paste! We can tell! Especially when just the name and school are different. Take the time to send individual emails to each school, even if they say the same thing. We want to know you have taken the time to contact us personally with your questions, especially if you are expressing your interest in our school.

6) This one obviously comes from a time when campus is open for visitors, but, come on! Admission officers have lives, too. I always chuckle when I get requests to meet up on the weekends. I love my job but I like to use my weekends to get out and enjoy NOLA. If you are visiting during our Saturday tour, we'll always have one admission rep on duty to meet and answer your questions. We also offer a great alumni interview program that you can participate in if you apply EA or ED to Tulane.

7) Admittedly, we really don't know who the emails we get come from. But there are some times when it's just painfully obvious that a parent has written an email posing as their student. Sometimes there are easy clues like a parent's work signature or an email address that is It's okay to email me as a parent, it happens all the time! No need to fake it as your kid. I've blogged about this once before. Let them take charge of this process, even if they make a few mistakes along the way. I can't remember a time in life when a 17 year old used the term "please advise."

8) Choose only one person to direct your email to. We are all here to help! But when we all get one email it's hard to know who is going to reply and ends up just duplicating everyone's work. You can always address your emails to someone and CC anyone you think needs to be in the loop.

Don't worry, all of the above are fabricated emails I made. But, they represent real email situations that happen all the time.  If you've emailed one of the above to an admission rep in the past, don't fret. No big deal. I just want to make sure you put your best foot forward when you apply, and I also want to make the very hectic and very busy lives of college admission staff members a little bit easier. I know its not easy in this time of isolation, but hopefully these tips on how to best connect with admission reps in this virtual world we are all living in will be helpful.

I'm never one to only look on the negative side and tell you what not to do, so here are my tips for great questions to ask!

Hope this helps. Email me if you have any questions about it! (Seriously!)

Waitlist... Now what?

Jeff's Blog Feed - Mon, 03/30/2020 - 09:00
Well it is official; our decisions for the Class of 2024 have all gone out. For those of you who are placed on the waitlist, here's a blog to answer all of the questions you may have.

What is the waitlist, anyway? Every year, colleges and universities have a group of students who are qualified to gain admission yet these institutions are unsure yet if they have space available in their class to enroll these students. Colleges monitor the number of students who accept their offer of admission and will pull from their waitlist in order to create the size and desired makeup of their incoming class. Its a necessary part of the enrollment management process at many schools yet we also understand the frustration and anticipation it can cause for our applicants.

So, who is on the waitlist? While Tulane does not release the exact number of students who have been waitlisted, I will tell you that the group is not huge, but there are a sizable number of students who make up this group. The number will get smaller as we ask students if they would like to remain on the waitlist over the course of the coming month or two.

Is the waitlist larger because of COVID-19? It sure is. There are many uncertainties right now, so you are going to see a lot of colleges and universities with large waitlists. The number of enrolling students in our freshman class is uncertain- with the added complexity of international students and when they will be able to attain Visas to enroll here.

Is the waitlist ranked? No, it is not. All students on the list are in the same boat, none are necessarily stronger than others.

So, will you go to the waitlist this year? That all depends on one main factor: space in the freshman class. We have a finite number of spaces in the class, and thus cannot admit every single student who is both qualified and interested in Tulane. As we get closer to May 1st, we compare our numbers to previous years and predict how large the class is going to end up. If we are seeing that our numbers are a bit lower than we would like, at that point we can admit a few students off the waitlist. If the numbers are up, it is less likely that we will be able to admit anyone from the list.

What has happened in previous years? Some years, we admit a group of students off the waitlist, some years it is zero. This year we admitted a smaller group of students so as to not over-enroll the class. This might mean some movement from the waitlist this year, but time will tell. We'll let you know as soon as we can. COVID-19 has made these numbers completely unpredictable this year.

If I am admitted from the waitlist, will there be financial aid available? Yes, there will be, for students who qualify based on their application. You can also apply for need based aid through the Office of Financial Aid.

What can I do to strengthen my case? For the most part, the ball is in our court. It will come down to numbers; this is why we need to wait a few weeks to see how many students have replied that they will indeed enroll. There is no need to send in additional documentation at this point. Be sure to reply to every one of those emails we send out asking if you would like to remain on the list. My personal tip? Only request to stay on the waitlist if you are pretty sure you'll enroll here if you are offered a spot.

When will I know? We now plan to make final decisions for students who opted to accept a place on our waitlist by June 30, but it will likely be sooner than that.

So... doesn't that mean I need to have a backup plan, in case I am not admitted from the waitlist? Yes.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. Feel free to email your admission counselor with any questions at all you may have. Best of luck!

Coping in the Time of Corona

Jeff's Blog Feed - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 11:43
Sigh... I miss this place! (source)Whew man, where to even begin? These are trying times, to say the least. You’ll be telling your grandkids about it. Today’s blog is going to address as many things as I can in one post. I’ll be splicing tidbits of how to cope in this time of crisis with a few pieces of advice, particularly for high school juniors and seniors. I am no mental health expert but I did a great deal of research and advice-seeking from friends and colleagues to provide as much support as I can in all this. A long blog, but bolded sections are here for you TLDR’ers to scroll to the stuff that might apply to you.

Don’t underestimate human resilience. This one comes from a blog I read about ways to cope with COVID-19 anxiety. I am sitting here in my living room as I write this blog and I look outside my window to the glory that is all things New Orleans. Fifteen years ago, many thought New Orleans would never recover from Katrina. Many thought that we would never be back. But here we are, stronger and smarter and better than ever before. We humans are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for sometimes. The human spirit is a remarkable thing.

Check on your friends. And your parents. And your grandparents. As much as possible. Also remember that everyone responds differently to this. Sometimes it might be tempting to think “come on, every single high school senior in the world is going through this, lock it up/get it together!” but remember, every person is dealing with it differently and every person has their own set of anxieties to work through. Maybe people haven’t dealt with so many people in their world experiencing these feelings before. The best way to respond to people is to validate their feelings. Their feelings could be anxiety, fear, boredom, and more. In these unprecedented times remember to be supportive of everyone. Empathy goes a long way and all it takes is to say “This is all really hard. I am here for you and to listen when you need it.”

Become acclimated with the uncertainty. I told many Tulane students this: You cannot control what is happening right now (except by social distancing and washing your hands). So, if you cannot control it, can you control your response to it? This is the same message I've shared in this blog about reacting to college denials. You can’t control them, but you can control how you respond to them. Your friends and family will feed off of your energy and your vibe. A student who is enrolling at Tulane this year told me “your vibe attracts your tribe.” If you can respond to everything that is being thrown your way right now with care, compassion and strength, those around you might just feel that, too. You’re going to be cooped up for a while now, and those in close quarters with you will feed off of your energy. It’s also okay if your response right now has you feeling low energy or defeated. Those are valid feelings in a time like this. Lean on your people for support and experiment with different hobbies or activities that may bring back that energy.

Don't feed into any false narratives. You’ve probably seen this one a lot. The news ain’t good, but it's even worse if you spread anything false. Usually it starts with “I heard that…” or “I saw on Facebook that…”   Do your best to only rely on the facts that you see from credible and respected sources.
Isn't she lovely? We'll be back here soon! (source
I'm a junior in high school and all of my spring extracurricular activities have been canceled. We totally get it. There are no sports. There is no spring musical. There is no dance recital. Listen, if you include on your Common Application activities section a list of all the books you read for pleasure during your social distancing, I’ll love it. Get creative. Maybe you love to paint and you go Instagram Live a few times and teach people to paint? You could be the next Bob Ross. Or maybe you’re a soccer player and you do a live video teaching people how to dribble a soccer ball on your own? We will love seeing anything you did during this whacky time.

That brings me to some tips on how to stay busy right now: 

  • Get some exercise as much as you can. Check out all these free workouts
  • Walk a lot. And when you do, leave your phone at home. The bad news and Instagram Memes will be waiting for you when you get back. Take a break from it for a bit. 
  • Medidtate. I blog about this all the time. Calm has free stuff right now. 
  • Learn a new language. Duolingo is a great place to start. 
  • Learn Excel like a pro.
  • Learn to code with these free coding sites
  • Tour some museums! So many are offering free tours right now. 
  • Pick up a totally new skill: car maintenance, gardening, cooking, baking, etc.
  • Learn to cook from NOLA’s best chefs! The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute goes live with online cooking classes
  • Go for a cleanup. Grab a trash bag and walk around a neighborhood and pick up litter. Why not?
  • Volunteer to get groceries or run errands for elderly family or neighbors. It’s a great way to contribute right now.

What about the SAT? AP and IB testing? A lot of this is TBD, but rest assured we are going to support you as much as we can. We understand that the decisions College Board and ACT are making are completely out of your control. Tulane evaluates applications holistically and test scores are just a part of the application. We completely understand that you may only be able to take one test before you submit your application. We also will not ding anyone who does not take the AP test for their class.

Take a news break. It’s so tempting to refresh the news sites every hour to hear the latest. This is only going to get you trapped far down that rabbit hole. Stay tuned to the big stores but you have to give you head and your heart a break from time to time. Big tip: do not charge your phone next to your bed at night. Charge it somewhere where you cannot reach it. If the last thing you do before sleeping is reading the news, you’re gonna dream about it. If the first thing you do when you wake up is read the news, that will be a really tough way to start the day. Stay in the know, but don’t go overboard.

I am starting to notice a theme to these photos! (source)
I am a senior and thinking about taking a gap year. Tulane, and most schools, are still fully supportive of a gap year if you feel it's in your best interest to do so. We approve each one on a case-by-case basis. We generally have around 35 students per year take a gap year.

What about Demonstrated Interest? Tulane is very candid about our use of Demonstrated Interest as one part of the holistic admission process here. You’ll notice that on my previous blog about the topic, I mention that visiting is just one factor among dozens of ways that students can engage with us. My recommendation for juniors is to join as many virtual sessions as you are able to. Join the mailing lists of all schools that are on your radar and aim to tune into a few virtual sessions a week. I know it can seem overwhelming, but colleges and universities are going to great lengths to get as much virtual content up as possible. Chime in for a bit, ask a few questions and attempt to pick up on the values of each school. We’ll never ding you for not visiting Tulane (not now, not before coronavirus) but I can guess that some schools who use demonstrated interest might check if you tuned into any of our virtual sessions. In some ways, this levels the playing field- no matter what your socioeconomic status is, we’re all in the same virtual boat right now. 

Should I write my college essay about coronavirus? Too soon to tell, but I am going to guess maybe not. Come November, if we get 15,000 essays about it, it will be super tough to stand out. It also might give application readers some serious fatigue. A lot of us, at that point, will be ready to put this all behind us. Instead, now is a great time to do some journaling. Write about your thoughts, feelings, emotions right now. Maybe this moment of pause has given you a different worldview? A different academic passion? Some of those journal entries you are writing might turn into a fabulous essay. It’s not about the destination, it's about the journey, and you are on a major life journey right now.

I’ve been admitted to college but now my college savings have been depleted. Will I get or need more financial aid? It doesn’t hurt to ask, but I suspect that most colleges and universities will be just as limited as you are and have lost just as much of their financial resources. Next year, when you apply for need based aid, these losses will be taken into account on your FAFSA. For now, you have nothing to lose by reaching out to your admission or financial aid counselor, but I don't envision a lot of schools will be able to make any drastic financial aid changes to your package at this moment.

Create Boundaries and Routines. You are probably spending a lot of time in the house, maybe with the same people who may or may not be reading the news and it could add to collective anxiety. Try to stick to a routine as best as possible. It is helpful to even write this out hour by hour so that you have something you can control. Boundaries are also incredibly important for maintaining your mental health. Boundaries do not have to be physical walls put up or holing yourself in your room alone, but maybe you have a friend or a parent that won’t stop regurgitating the news and it is causing you to have anxiety. It is okay to express to them “hey, I understand you are trying to gather and disseminate information, but right now I don’t have the capacity to talk about this and it’s causing me some stress. Do you mind if I excuse myself? Do you mind if we talk about something different? Would it be okay to watch a comedy special together right now instead.” It’s sort of like how we recommend families have “college free nights” where parents and students don’t talk about the college process together one night a week. These do not have to lead to fights, but rather just a genuine expression of your needs rights now while respecting their needs to communicate. Whatever it is that can make you feel better, while still collectively maintaining relationships.

My high school is going pass/fail. Is that OK? Whatever your school does, we’ll support it. If you have only P/F in the second semester, we’ll totally understand. It might mean we put a bit more emphasis on your first semester, but we’ll also completely understand your circumstances. If you’re currently on an upward trend, we’ll make the assumption that that trend would have continued in the second semester. We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt in every single way we can. Tulane just announced that students can opt to take their classes Pass, Minimal Pass, Or Fail, so we get it. Go to your online classes, do the best you can, make your presence felt, try your hardest. We’ll notice, trust me.
Back. Here. Soon. (source)
What about teacher recs? Later this year, I'll be doing a virtual session on how to write great teacher letters of recommendation, especially in the time of coronavirus. We’ll completely understand the absence of time that they would have spent with you and we’ll give them the tips they need to still write great letters for you. We got you covered on this one.

I am a senior and wondering, what about the waitlist? I am going to be honest: they are likely going to be very big at a lot of schools this year. There are so many uncertainties right now and most schools are going to need to keep that big waitlist as a safety net. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s a consequence of all this. I’ve got a great blog for what to do next if you land on a school’s waitlist. We’ll release all admission decisions for deferred students and Regular Decision applicants on Tuesday, March 31st.

And lastly, remember how much we still have to be grateful for. I know it's so challenging to be away from your friends, and for my Tulane students, to have to pack up and leave this place. But, how lucky are we to get to have places we miss so much? How lucky are we to have things in our lives that we adore so much that it makes it hard to be away from? Remember that. I am about to pull the trigger on postponing my wedding in May. But hey, how grateful am I to even get to plan a wedding in the first place? I have been waiting my whole life to meet my fiance. What’s having to wait a few extra months to get to marry him? There are some folks out there, even some who are reading this blog, who have had to plan some unexpected funerals right now. Everyone is struggling with something right now, but everyone also has many things in their life that we should be grateful for. Never forget this.

Stay strong. Stay safe. Reach out to us if you need anything- Tulane is here for you. And one day, as hard as it can be to remember right now, this too... shall pass.

Here's an engagement photo of Drew and me. We might not be getting married when we planned, but when we finally do, it will be the happiest day ever! And also, very Tulane-y. Stay tuned :) 

Huge thank you to everyone who helped with this blog: Allie Blum, Jill DeRosas, Owen Knight, Angie Cooksy / Bradley University, Bart Gummere / Eastside Prep, Marcia Hunt / Pine Crest. Mercersburg Academy, Brian Leipheimer/ Collegiate School, Lauren Avalos / Gann Academy, Amy Baumgartel Singer / The Wheeler School, Andrea Satariano / Sewickley Academy, Ari Worthman / Lakeside School, Lee Nuckolls / FVS, Margot Dorion / Cate, Isidore Newman School, Matthew DeGreeff / Middlesex School, Quenby Mott / The Kinkaid School, Lew Stival / Blair Academy, 
Amy Rogers / Miss Porter's, Kate Ramsdell / Noble and Greenough School, Scott Chrysler / Episcopal School of Acadiana, Moira McKinnon / Berwick Academy, Sarah Miller / Marymount High School.