Does “test optional” REALLY mean optional? This is a question I’ve gotten many times throughout my travels this year. Tulane is now in our second year of Test Optional admission, and yes, we really do mean they are optional! While a good score will never hurt your application, applying as a Test Optional applicant will not hinder your application. For the Class of 2025, 46% of our class applied Test Optional, and Test Optional students were still awarded merit scholarships, were offered spots in the Honors Program, and even received our full tuition scholarships.
Now, the question is- what score should I send? For that, I will turn it over to today’s guest blogger, none other than our VP of Enrollment and Dean of Admission, Satya Dattagupta. Take it away, boss!
By they way, you can meet Satya and get any other questions answered at our final Ask the Dean event on October 21st.
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Will I truly still be considered for admission at Tulane if I don’t submit my test scores?
Yes, you will. At Tulane, we are 100% committed to give students an opportunity to be considered for the Class of 2026 regardless of their test submission status.
I’m relying on a merit scholarship and don’t have scores. Can I still apply for the Deans’ Honor Scholarship or Paul Tulane Award? Will kids with no scores still get those awards?
All students will be considered for merit-based aid. Our merit award criteria is being adjusted to accommodate test optional students. I am not going to lie- the DHS and PTA are highly selective awards. The process involves thorough and multiple layers of review. In addition to the strength of the essay/project, we emphasize the academic achievements of a student. In this test optional world, we will consider students for this award whether they have submitted their scores or not.
I have decent scores, but I am really struggling to decide if I should submit them. Is there a general range you’d recommend we submit?
A good score will never hurt you. Our middle 50 % of ACT is a 31-34 (SAT is 1410-1510). We admit students above and below those ranges. I share this number with you to give you a sense of the middle ranges. This does not mean that you should not submit a score below that range. It is just a guideline. No Dean can ever tell you that a minimum score is required to get accepted because of the holistic nature of the process.
Tulane has an admit rate of 10%. Do you think that means 10% of students who submit scores will be admitted and 10% of those without scores will be admitted? Or is it not that simple?
It is not quite that simple. The process is layered and holistic. My advice is to not worry too much all these permutations. It all depends on the strength of the applicant pool. It is too early to tell.
I am a junior right now. Do you think this policy will still be around next year or is it too soon to tell?
We will make a decision on next year in early spring.
Any advice for how to not overthink this?
Don’t listen to too many people. Pick a few informed people (hint: your school or CBO counselor) and seek their advice. Submit an honest application that is a true reflection of yourself.
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This is all great advice straight from the Dean. I’ll answer the last question too- If you think your scores make your application stronger, send them. If you don’t, or didn’t take the test, don’t send them. Then, most importantly, trust us. Trust us at Tulane to give you a full and holistic review, regardless on if you have scores or not. Test optional means test optional. Also remember Tulane is totally-self reported for testing. You can wait till you have your scores and then make the decision to submit them yourself, for free. Submit your application (with or without scores) and then trust the process and know that you’ll land exactly where you were supposed to. Good luck y’all!
Happy Friday! It has been a wild few weeks as much of our office has begun our travel season. I am coming to you live from a parking lot at a Georgia high school!
In addition to traveling and meeting all of you, something that all of us Directors enjoy about our jobs is that we get to legitimately help people. We were once all lost high schoolers applying to college. I know I personally was miserable while applying to school, and often felt lost. We know many of you are experiencing some anxiety now as application season has begun, so we banded together to provide some of our top tips for applying to Tulane. Let’s get to it!
Our first tip is a short and sweet one from Director of Midwest Recruitment Keith Stanford: Beat deadlines rather than meet deadlines!
Make an effort to make sure that you are taking the time to put your best effort into your application, scholarship applications, and financial aid documents. Applying to college is stressful enough on its own, and you don’t need to add procrastination to the mix! Sending things off earlier than the last minute can be a huge relief, and can even provide you with a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Don’t undervalue the satisfaction of crossing something off your to do list!
Our next tip is from Director of International Recruitment Paul Burgess. He says:My top app tip is for students to stay organized. Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets are a great way to keep track of all the universities you’re considering, along with details on deadlines, financial aid, and tidbits/anecdotes from visits or programs you do with the university. Organizing everything in this way will make it far easier to keep track, and to have easy access to details for supplemental essays, scholarship apps, or any quirks that a particular school has.
The third tip is from me. Engage with us!
I wouldn’t be much of a Director of Engagement if I didn’t mention its importance to our applicants. My whole title and main job is about connecting with students and coming up with creative ways that you can connect with Tulane. That is something we value a lot here at Tulane. We want to admit students who want to be here. You can show us that you want to be here by investing some time into Tulane by attending our virtual events, seeing us while we travel, or coming here to New Orleans. Remember that physically coming her for a tour is not required- there are infinite ways that you can demonstrate your interest. That engagement becomes the trail of breadcrumbs us counselors need while we try to advocate on your behalf. It makes all of our jobs more fun when we can root for students who are not only a good fit for Tulane, but are excited about our school too! Don’t forget to write your Why Tulane essay!
Another tip comes from our Executive Director of Communications Leila Labens. She reminds y’all to be yourselves!
Don’t try to say and do what you think we want to hear. Be genuine! Tell us about yourself, write the essay you want to write, and don’t join activities you don’t care about just to “look good for college”. When it comes to essays, we’d rather hear things in your own words. A slice of life is much more interesting than a forced story where you try to embellish or try to change the world. It is totally fine to just be you!
Our final tip comes from our Director of Technology, Neill Aguiluz, where he reminds you that having a family talk about finances is better to do sooner rather than later.
Have a serious family conversation about how much your family can reasonably contribute to your college expenses each year, and have it as early as possible! This can be a difficult conversation to have, but if everyone commits to transparency, it can help you understand what level of merit scholarships and need-based financial aid you’ll need to receive at each school you’re applying to in order to attend. You should also recognize that this discussion is going to be a heavy lift for your parents or guardians, so try not to be too hard on them! It’ll take time and mental effort on their part even to prepare for such a conversation, but once it’s done, you’ll have a clear picture from the get-go of which schools are most reasonable and which are more of a reach financially for you and your family. It’s never fun to get an admission letter and what looks like a generous financial aid offer, only to find that it’s not generous enough to make it work for you. Allow yourselves the space to discuss this early so that you can set concrete goals for yourself!
We hope these tips help you feel a little more at ease as you begin your applications! Remember that we accept both the Common App and the Tulane application, and neither one is preferred over the other. We look forward to reading them!
Hi folks! We hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. This was certainly not the fall semester we were anticipating. After just a few days on campus to kick off the year, Hurricane Ida made her landfall in Southeast Louisiana. It has been a stressful few weeks for everyone, but things are on the upswing. Tulane went toe to toe with Oklahoma, power has returned to New Orleans, and President Fitts announced that we will be able to resume in-person classes on September 27th- two weeks earlier than anticipated! You can read his full message here.
When it comes to admission events, we are ready to host you- soon! We will begin hosting information sessions and Q&A sessions on September 17th. Tours will resume once our students return to campus. As always, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test are required to visit our campus in-person. Our staff is also beginning our travel season, where we visit your towns and high schools. We are excited to meet many of you in real life! Remember, we still have tons of virtual offerings if you are unable to travel or aren’t quite ready for face-to-face interaction. Physically visiting campus is never a requirement to be admitted!
I personally think that Tulane handled Ida incredibly well. Ida intensified from “Invest 99L” to a Category 4 hurricane in a matter of hours, and defied most of the projections that weather experts were using. Tulane’s plans evolved at a similar speed. Some students chose to evacuate when Orleans Parish instituted an optional evacuation, while others sheltered in place on campus. After Ida left New Orleans without power, Tulane shuttled the students who remained on campus to Houston, where they could fly home or stay in hotels if they could not get home. The Admission staff also set up a base in Houston, so our staff could return to virtual work. I’ve heard rumors that they demolished 45 plates of sushi at one of those conveyor belt places, but I need some photo evidence.
Of course, the sun always returns after a storm, and some silver linings were found. While power was out in all of Orleans Parish, the levee system did its job. Flooding was minimal, and New Orleans fared well. Unfortunately, many communities to our west were not as lucky. Please continue to send thoughts, prayers, and any support to our neighbors in parishes like Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. John the Baptist, Jefferson, and more. They will need our help for the foreseeable future.
While many Tulanians remained in a holding period, Entergy was hard at work restoring power to New Orleans. Nobody really knew how long this process would take, leading to the uncertainty about our return. Entergy originally said it could take weeks! I loved seeing the pictures from The Commons hosting the line workers for a meal.
Thanks to the hard work of countless people out there, we are getting ready to move forward. It is impossible to say “thank you” enough times to the Tulane staff and contractors who worked around the clock (and continue to) to take care of our campus and students. We are very grateful to be able to return to campus soon, and for the spirit of New Orleans and Tulane! See y’all soon!
It is hard to believe that August is already here, and our application is live! This is always an exciting time in the Office of Undergraduate Admission, as we get our ducks in a row for our travel season and start thinking about recruiting our next class. It is also an exciting and nerve-wracking time for families, as the stress of applying to college starts to build. Something I have always loved about working here at Tulane is that we try to reduce this stress to the best of our abilities. I appreciate that we “peel back the curtain” and keep families and counselors abreast of our process. If you ever have a question, you can always ask your admission counselor for an honest answer.
One great way that we were able to communicate a lot of our philosophies, tips, and general advice was through Jeff Schiffman’s blog. As many of you know by now, Jeff no longer works here at Tulane. He took an incredible opportunity with the Greater New Orleans Foundation and we will miss him! While he is no longer working with us, the spirit of the blog will remain: we want to provide everyone with level-headed, transparent, and human advice as you navigate this whirlwind process.
With our new office structure, we have created an Admission Leadership Council. While I (Owen) will publish most posts, the entire leadership group will work as a team to curate this blog. Jeff was actually my admission counselor when I applied to Tulane, and I’m honored to keep up the tradition of serving families with honesty, empathy, and a sense of humor. Our leadership team carries a wide range of experience and different specializations that we will bring to the blog. We have visited thousands of high schools, read countless essays, served on scholarship committees, written Tulane emails, made TikToks, and everything in between. We will all contribute our knowledge to the Directors’ Blog to ensure that you, as readers, still get useful information as you navigate the college application process. We’re excited to keep in touch! Bookmark this page, and we’ll be seeing you soon!