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Director of Admission
Updated: 1 hour 15 min ago

Top Five Outdoor Spots in NOLA!

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 09:00
If you have read my blog in the past, you know I am big into health and fitness. I even teach a spin class called RIDE at a studio down the street from Tulane. With fall temperatures finally approaching, I love to take many of my workouts outside. Whether it's a bike ride around town, a sunset jog through your favorite NOLA neighborhood or just an afternoon at the park, New Orleans offers a myriad of options for enjoying a life lived outdoors. In this blog, I’ll take you on a quick tour of my five favorite outdoor workout spots around (and slightly out of!) town. So grab that bike, those running shoes or just your picnic blanket and let’s go!

Crescent Park in all her glory! 1) The Crescent Park: If you haven’t checked out this park that stretches from the very tip of the French Quarter through the Marigny and all the way down through the Bywater, make this place the first stop on your list. To me, this park is very reminiscent of the High Line Park in New York City. The Crescent Park is 1.4 miles long and over 20 acres set up in a linear fashion along the Mississippi River. The park offers some of the best skyline views of the city and makes for a perfect jog down the main running path. Access to the park is easily on Piety Street in the Bywater or the staircase/elevator right past the French Market. Trust me on this one- you’ll love this spot from the second you cross over the massive bridge at its entrance.

2) Couturie Forest: For the perfect shaded run for any nature-lover, head over to the Couturie Forest in City Park. They bill it as “a natural escape in the heart of the city,” and I think that is spot on. I love running around the wooded trails and getting lost here. Sometimes I end up at a huge lake; other times you’ll find yourself atop Laborde Mountain- the highest point in the city of New Orleans at a whopping 43 feet above sea level. The forest is over 60 acres and one of my favorite spots in town for a run.
Hiking around Jean Lafitte with Drew last month 
3) Jean Lafitte Nature Trail: I love a cypress swamp, and you’ll feel like you are miles and miles away from any city when you check out this trail. Located just 30 minutes from town, it’s a great escape for a gorgeous hike through the bayou. I love this trial because you are guaranteed to experience some serious gator sightings. I think the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve is relatively unknown, especially being so close to town. But I don’t mind keeping it that way- the trail and preserve are peaceful and a total oasis. The boardwalk trial through the Barataira Preserve leads you to a stunning view of the bayou.

4) The Mississippi River Trail- A.k.a. the Levee Top Trail, this has been a common spot to see me when I am training for various triathlons. It starts right in Audubon Park and will take you all the way out through River Ridge, Kenner and all the way out past Destrehan for a nice 40 mile round trip ride. You can even connect and take it up through Baton Rouge. The MRT offers 3,000 miles of trails from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, and our little strip in town is a great spot for a long weekend ride. You’ll see tons of pro cyclists and triathletes out there every weekend. Be forewarned- a few spots are currently close for levee work, so plan accordingly.

Esplanade running trail 5) Esplanade Avenue: We all know the most popular spot for an outdoor run is St. Charles Avenue and the Audubon Park loop. For a change of pace, replace St. Charles with Esplanade (the streetcar drivers will thank you) and Audubon loop with the Big Lake Loop in City Park. Start your run anywhere in the Quarter or Warehouse District, head down the Moonwalk on the river and lower North Peters and hang a left on Esplanade. This shaded neutral ground will set the perfect scene for a run through the Quarter and Marigny, up through Mid-City and finally arriving at City Park. Feeling strong today? Take a few loops around the Big Lake in City Park before you make your way back down and home. It’s the same path you’ll see if you ran the Crescent City Classic. There is a reason- it’s one of the most beautiful running routes in the city.

There you have it, folks! Now get out there and enjoy the great outdoors that NOLA has to offer!

The splendor of Jean LafittesThe end of the trail in Jean Lafitte. Worlds away from NOLA in only 30 minutes!
The Couturie Forest in City Park

Apps 101: The "Why College X"? Statement

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 13:17

Ah, the "why are you applying to College X" question, a.k.a.: the optional statement. You'll notice a growing number of colleges and universities are now including this as a part of their application. As students apply to more and more schools, it's become difficult for us as admission officers to gauge a student's level of interest in our school. The optional statement is a perfect time for you, the applicant, to express to me, the application reader, why you are selecting us as one of your potential schools. So is it worth it to take the time to fill out that question? Let's just go through a (very hypothetical) situation. My boss, Satya, tells me, "Jeff, we have one more spot left in the class of 2024. You can only pick one more student." I come back to my office and notice I have two applicants left to read. They are identical in terms of grades, scores, extracurricular activities, and both have glowing recommendations. One took the time to write an entertaining, engaging, and smart essay about why Tulane is the perfect fit for her, her passion for studying public health, and her love of BBQ Shrimp from Pascal's Manale. The other student? Well, she didn't write anything—at all. The decision for me? An easy one.

Case in point: I renamed this blog and am no longer calling it the "optional statement," because it is anything but optional.

Now, we'd never get to a point where I can only select one final student from two. But, you get the idea. So... now that the question has been addressed, you might be thinking: "what makes a great optional statement?" Let's check out four great ways to write a killer optional statement for any school that you may be applying to.

1) Tell a specific story. The more specific you can be about the school you are applying to, the better. We can see right though the generic answers, so be specific. Tell me about your tour guide (if you've visited), the thought process that drew you to a college in New Orleans, what resonated with you when you attended the info session in your hometown. I remember vividly how one student last year told me about the literal blast of humidity that she felt the second she stepped off the plane at MSY. I have felt that blast a hundred times and I loved how she mentioned it. I like hearing specific stories about your research on Tulane. The optional statement is an opportunity for you to show your interest in the school, so even if you aren't able to visit, be specific about why you are applying. We know New Orleans is a great college town and an amazing place to live. I want hear, why YOU want to live here, what attracts you to New Orleans culture, and how those facets factor into your decision to apply. Remember how your college counselor tells you to "show rather than tell" in your essay? Make sure to do that in your optional statement. I want to read a narrative about riding the streetcar or the conversation you had at that crowded college fair with the Tulane rep.

2) Holler at your hookups. Did your cousin go to Tulane and love it? Did your 9th grade history teacher tell you about his experiences as a masters student here? Do you love following that senior from last year on Snapchat and seeing all her cool shots of New Orleans? Tell us! And tell us who! Feel free to name drop people who turned you on to Tulane, especially if they are current students. Many of us recruit from the same region each year, so it's cool to see who is helping us in the recruitment effort. Our current students and alumni are your best sources of research on our school, so use them and tell us you did. Don't know anyone at Tulane? Find some students to connect with here.

3) It's not a 'Why College?' statement. As in, if I can read it and replace "Tulane" with "USC" or "Vandy" or "Miami," then it will not come across as genuine. Avoid generic essays here at all costs. We know we are medium-sized and are well respected. Delve deeper; we read thousands of these and can easily tell when it's an essay that's going out to all the schools you applied to (see point two above for tips on doing this). Horror story: last year I got an optional statement that actually said [insert school] where "Tulane" should have been. Yikes.

4) It should not be all about you. Sometimes, we'll get an optional statement that is all about the applicant. It will be a description of a great service project they did or a sport they love to play, and then the last line of the essay will be "and I want to keep doing this at Tulane." You've got the whole rest of the application to talk about yourself, so instead, use this section to speak more on the connection between you and the school. Why is is a great match? Why are you a great fit? It's okay to draw on some of your own experiences, but you should only mention them in context of the school.

Writing these Why College? statements should be somewhat painless. If it's a school you love and can authentically see yourself happy at, writing about it should come naturally. If it's not, reconsider why you are applying there. Have fun with them and hopefully this blog helps in your writing process.

Seven Emails Better Left Unsent

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 09:00
It's back- application season! Our admission team is currently scattered all around the world recruiting our future members of the class of 2024. I've been meeting some really great students, and I look forward to reading your applications. My favorite trip is coming up soon, too (listen, someone has to recruit students from Hawaii, okay?)

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. 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 7 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 resulted in two students having their admission rescinded this summer. 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 pick up the phone to chat with our incredible team of student interns. They are great and talking to students is literally their job! 504-314-2151. 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.

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) Hey! 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 SmithFamily@aol.com. 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."

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. From October 23 till mid-December, the entire admission team is hunkered down in committee review, so to make sure we can fully focus on your application at that time, my suggestion would be to go easy on emailing admission reps then. Instead, take advantage of the resources I gave up in #3.

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!)

Our Favorite Restaurants Close to Tulane

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 16:18
Welcome to New Orleans! Owen Knight here, taking over Jeff's blog to talk about one of my favorite things: food. We are excited to host our large Campus Preview Days over the coming few weeks. When you are here for CPD, what better time to explore the incredible food that NOLA has to offer. New Orleans is ranked time and time again as one of the best food cities in the world, so picking one spot is always tough. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite restaurants close to our Uptown campuses that we hope you get to try during your trip. Bon appetit!

Our Favorite Restaurants Close to Tulane 

Saba: Just a few blocks from Tulane, Alon Shaya opened his new restaurant last year and it does not disappoint. Similar to his previous restaurants, Saba offers incredible modern Israeli food which would make sense as Saba means grandfather in Hebrew. The pita and lamb hummus will probably change your life forever.

Clancy’s: Located Uptown just on Annunciation Street, Clancy’s is tucked in a residential neighborhood but is home to amazing Creole cooking. Drawing influences from French cuisine, Clancy’s serves up delicious plates of everything from veal to tuna to lemon icebox pie. They also have an extensive drink menu.

The Camellia Grill: Right on the streetcar line where St. Charles meets Carrollton, The Camellia Grill is a classic. Opened in 1946, it is famous for its diner fare, friendly staff, and countertop dining experience.



St. James Cheese Company: Located on Prytania Street just a few minutes from campus, this cheese shop also serves up some of the best sandwiches and salads in town. Our office faces a constant debate over which sandwich reigns supreme. You also can’t go wrong with a cheese board. Prytania Street is also home to Creole Creamery, just a few steps away so you can get your dairy fix all in one fell swoop!


Dat Dog on Freret: It was hard to pick just one place on Freret to highlight. However, Dat Dog is just such a fun and unique place we had to talk about it first. Dat Dog is home to amazing hot dogs, sausages and fries and a renovated gas station. You can get anything from a fried fish dog to alligator sausage to the Guinness dog. Dat Dog is a huge hit with students and they have multiple locations around town.

Freret Street has seen huge growth in recent years. There are tons of great places to eat. Some of our other favorites include Liberty Cheesesteaks (owned by a Tulane Alum), The Company Burger, Good Bird, High Hat Café, and many more. Freret is also home to Cure, a classy bar with food that recently won a James Beard Award. Basically, you can’t go wrong with a jaunt down Freret! See Jeff's previous blog all about it.


Domilise’s: Almost 100 years old, Domilise’s serves up amazing po boys in a no-nonsense setting. Some could describe it as a hole in the wall, but you simply can’t deny the combination of a shrimp po boy and a cold beer.



Ba Chi Canteen: A lot of people don’t realize how strong a Vietnamese influence there is in New Orleans. Ba Chi on Maple is a favorite of students and staff alike. They offer a wide spread of Vietnamese dishes from vermicelli bowls to pho to bahn mi sandwiches. They also are known for their steamed bun “bacos” that are simply to die for. Come hungry!




Pizza Domenica: An offshoot of one of our favorite restaurants, Domenica, Pizza Domenica offers many of the same great dishes at their Uptown location. Their prosciutto pizza is a favorite, but the star of the show might just be the roasted cauliflower. Jeff claims that it will change your life.

Satsuma: I had to make sure I got a student opinion our list, so I asked Shelby Strattan (B '18) for her best restaurant choice! I happen to agree, Satsuma is exceptional. Shelby says; "If you're looking for some zesty, healthy flavors near campus, try out Satsuma Cafe! This breakfast and lunch place is located on Maple Street in an area populated with coffees shops and boutique stores. They offer options ranging from fresh pressed juices to the most savory homemade pancakes. They also offer constantly changing daily specials. Personally, my favorite order is the three egg scramble with the most delectable and fluffy biscuit known to New Orleans. Check out this student hot spot—you'll want to be here every morning for breakfast!" There is also a location down in the Bywater if you are up to explore the city.

10 Tips to Make the Most of a College Visit at Your School

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 09:00
Me in NYC, Nora in Panama, Jorge in Texas Happy fall, all! I hope you high school seniors are getting into the 12th-grade groove nicely. You’ve probably noticed by now that admission representatives from around the world have started to visit your high school or Community Based Organizations to spread the word about their institutions. Personally, I head to Los Angeles next week and the rest of our team will be out visiting nearly 1,400 schools and CBOs over the course of the next two months. If we’re not coming to your school, be sure to check out our Tulane Comes to You events near you and the MET tour which is in 12 cities this fall.

Now’s a great time for me to share a few tips for students as this cavalcade of admission reps arrive during 3rd period or lunch or after school over the course of the next few months. Here we go!

Come! We love meeting students on the road. People always ask me if I ever get sick of the travel, but I genuinely don’t. It’s my sixteenth year on this beat and for some reason it doesn’t get old to me. We love meeting students and sharing how our institutions might be a great fit for you. We also like to know who is interested in Tulane and has taken the time to attend our visits. Coming to the visit also gives you great content for your “Why This College?” essay and lets you authentically see which of these schools you can see yourself at. Plus, it’s free!

Ask great questions. I get asked about study abroad and internships around 600 times a year. There is nothing wrong with this, so if you have these questions, it's okay! That said, I’ve got some blog posts you can check out about great questions you can ask admission reps when they visit to get a sense of if a school can be a good fit for you. Again, nothing wrong with the abroad/internship questions, we just get it all day every day again and again and again and again.

Chat with us at the lunch table. I have a confession: admission reps really aren’t fond of a lunch visit. But, we understand that some schools have this as their policy and some schools don’t have the resources to have a college or career office capable of welcoming admission reps. So, if you happen to see us lookin' all lonely at a cafeteria table set up with a banner next to the class ring guy, come chat and ask a few questions. Even if it’s not a school you’ve heard of. You might learn something new or get some great tips about the college admission process. Trust us, if we have to do a lunch visit, we’d love to at least be able to have a few meaningful conversations.

Remember you’re an ambassador for your school. Admission officers take great notes. We  write notes about each school we visit, down to the best place to park when we arrive or the best spot to grab lunch afterwards. So... remember that the way you behave at these visits doesn’t just represent you, but it represents your school and community for years to come. I love observing schools and communities and seeing what the vibe is in the school. I also like to see what kind of people the students are when they think no one’s watching. Last year at one of my high school visits, I rode the elevator up with a bunch of girls from the school (it's NYC! That’s how they get to class!). None of them knew I was an admission rep but I listened as they engaged with the elevator operator, called her by her first name, asked how her day was going. I loved that. It went right in my notes because that gave me a sense of what type of community the school has.

Ask the rep when their next visit is before one-on-one questions. We pack a lot into our days on the road, so you’ll want to be cognizant of the admission rep’s time. I usually am darting off to my next visit and it can be tough when I wrap up the session and there is a line of students with more questions. If you love us, set us free.

Let the rep know if you plan on taking notes on your cell phone. I totally know that many students take notes on their phone, but some of my colleagues do not. If you plan on taking notes on your phone, just let the rep know because otherwise they’ll assume you’re texting and then they’ll write in their aforementioned notes that “students texted during my visit here.”

Fill out the inquiry card, even if you’re on the mailing list. We like to remember who we meet so we can reach out to send a quick thank you.

If you can’t make it the whole time, no problem. I know AP Bio is hard to miss. Instead, swing by right before class or right after to catch the rep to let them know you can’t attend. They might have you fill out a card just so they can reach out with more info. If you can only stay the first ten minutes, let the rep know you gotta jet early. We totally get it.

Attend a few visits with a school you might not have heard of before. Tulane is lucky to get great turnouts on our visits. Smaller schools might sometimes have a few visits where no one attends, which makes our trips feel less fruitful.  If you have a class you can miss and there is a school attending that you only know a little about, give it as shot! You will be surprised with what you might learn.

There you have it. Happy visits, all!

Ten Things to do as a Junior

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 10:42
It's hard to believe it, high school classes of 2021, but you're getting close to college! With summer wrapping up, the second half of high school now gets underway. You're probably new to this whole "college application" thing, so in the spirit of first time experiences, this blog is for you. Have a look at these helpful hints to get your college search off the ground in the best way possible.

Here are my ten tips for you future (college) class of 2025-ers!

Tour a college in your hometown! 
1) Your coursework and grades matter the most in this process. Stellar ACT and SAT scores can give you a big boost, but at the end of the day, the grades you earn in your high school classes are king. We look for a balance in your schoolwork: taking the most challenging courses that you can that still allow you to maintain a strong GPA. And yes, your freshman and sophomore year grades matter. Big time. Take challenging courses but don't overdo it, leaving you with a sub-par GPA. Again, it is all about finding that balance. Easier said than done, I know. Some students can load up on all the hardest classes and get a 4.0, some (like me in high school) do well with a good mix of some challenging classes, and some students are on the other side of the spectrum. Wherever you land, there is mostly likely school out there for you. Granted, if you are on the high end of the spectrum with both grades and rigor, you'll be most appealing to those super selective schools.

2) Consider taking both the ACT and the SAT. Tulane will look at both and has a conversion chart that shows us that XXXX on the SAT is worth roughly XX on the ACT. But, we only look at the higher of the two. Some students do better at one test over the other. Taking both may end up helping you out. We're also fully self-reported these days, so you can send in all of your scores on our application portal for $0.

3) Build your relationship with your high school. First step, get to know your school counselor. Even if you are at a big public school, get to know them. They know what they are doing and can be your best advocate in this process. Next, really get to know your teachers. Invest your time in the classroom. Wow them. Make yourself missed when you leave. Become indispensable to your school.

4) Be open to a wide range of schools. Big, small, public, private, local, community, international, research universities and small liberal arts colleges. Explore them all, this is your time to do so. Keep an open mind! Just because you haven't heard of it or if it's not a "bumper sticker" college, don't rule it out. Seriously. There are over 3,000 colleges and universities out there; take the time to give some of them a shot. Found a few that strike your fancy? Here are some great questions to ask your admission rep to get to know the school better.

5) Use your summers wisely. We think that the programs to foreign countries or exotic service trips are fine. But we also think working at Subway as a sandwich artist all summer is great. So is coaching a local youth sports team. Summers might mean taking a class at a community college. Don't worry if you can't take an amazing trip or do service work abroad. Trust me when I say some of the best summers are spent in some of the most humble ways. We love that. You might even consider some of Tulane's summer options.

6) Read books. Read the news online. Watch documentaries. Read more books. Listen to podcasts. Know current events. Know what is going on in the world. Be a conversationalist. Whenever I interview people, one question I like to ask is "what's the last good book you read?"

7) Participate in a few extra-curricular things you love. We don't need the seven page resume laundry lists here at Tulane. We like those concise, one page resumes—the two or three most important things to you. Begin to identify your areas of impact and stick with them. You can read all my resume tips here. Wondering if something will look good on your application? I have the answer to that.

8) Stay out of trouble. I was in high school once, too. Be smart and make good decisions. I don't know when I turned into my dad, but just please don't make bad choices that will wreck your future. This mostly applies to how you act on Snapchat and other social media channels. Trust me, it matters. Just ask these people.

9) Start visiting colleges soon! Take spring break or a few days off to do so. Summer is fine, but not it's not the best time to see a college when most of the student body is away from campus. Take a road trip to a school close by to you to get a feel for college campuses. Even better, come visit Tulane! Shoot us an email and we'll enlighten you to all kinds of great hotels with Tulane discounts, great places to eat, great festivals to check out, and oh, yeah maybe take a tour of Tulane, too. You can read all my tips for a great campus visit here. Also, visit a college near your hometown, even if you don't think you'll apply there. Just start to get a feel for what college tours (and college in general) is like. I've got tips for visiting colleges here.

10) Meditate. Trust me on this one. It's a superpower that will pay you back in dividends over the next two (somewhat stressful) years. I help you get started here.

Good luck, 2022!

Eight Tips for a Great Teacher Letter of Recommendation

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 09:00
Hey high school teachers! Today, we're talkin' teacher recs. This is actually the first time I've ever written a blog to this group of unsung heroes in the college application process. While I have never been a teacher myself, I can imagine that there are plenty of teachers who view writing countless recommendations as a pretty daunting task to add on top of your already full plates. This blog should shed some light onto what colleges are looking to glean from your letters and how you can write effective and informative letters on behalf of your students.

First off, I think it's important to mention that the vast majority of teacher recommendations we get are fantastic. Because of this, it's very rarely going to be this single letter of recommendation that becomes the deciding factor in an admission decision. Rather, they allow for our admission committee to gain a bit more insight into what the applicant is like aside from scores and grades. So if you're staring down a huge list of recs that need to be written between now and November, rest assured that you're making a great impact on this student but also you should not stress that the weight of your student's admission is resting on your shoulders.

So, here are some tips to get you going on this year's recs!

Share a specific story: We love it when teachers dive right in to a great story about an interaction or experience you had with this student. It keeps us reading and gives us a great picture of what the student is like. Rather than just stating the student's character traits, share a story that illustrates one of them.

Include a power line or two: When it boils down to it, once we read your letter, we're likely going to pull one or two lines from it that I like to call the "power lines." This is the one sentence or phrase that we'll copy into our summary and notes of the application, or the line that an admission officer will read aloud in committee when they present the applicant. Make sure you've got at least one noticeable power line that can be pulled out to summarize the whole letter. Like it or not, that one line is probably going to be the one that's shared when your letter is summarized. Chances are this line is in the first or last paragraph.

Consider your audience is probably a millennial: Newsflash—a very large portion of folks who will have the first read of your letter are 24-year-old admission reps semi-fresh outta college. Plan accordingly.

Avoid Application Redundancy: We get around 44,000 applications a year at Tulane and frankly, go through teacher LoRs fairly quickly. If we see the same achievements or same topic repeated, we might skim it. Meet with your student so you can cross reference what you plan to write about with their essay, resume, short answer, etc. We've already got a list of their extracurricular activities and don't necessarily need you to repeat them all to us as they've been listed elsewhere in the app. Consult with your school counselor as well to get feedback. We'd rather hear about their character than a list of their achievements. 
Cut the Fluff: "My name is Dwight Schrute and I am a teacher at Scranton High School and I am writing a letter to support Michael Scott's admission to Tulane." We know all this already. 
Keep it to a page: That's it really; just keep it to one page. 
And now, a few ideas for how to get the ball rolling and the narrative written:
Tell us about how the student interacts with adults: We love learning about how the student carries them self around their elders (for lack of a better word.) We want to know what they'll be like once they arrive on our college campuses, so detailing a story about their maturity or interpersonal skills can be valuable to us. 
Tell us about how the student interacts with people outside of their close social circle: How do they treat younger students? Students in different cliques? How do they treat your cafeteria staff? Their parents? 
Some questions to ponder that we'd love to know the answer to: Has the student demonstrated a willingness to take intellectual risks and go beyond the normal classroom experience? Does the applicant have any unusual competence, talent or leadership abilities? Where have you seen them outside of the classroom? What motivates this person? What excites them?
There you have it, teachers! On behalf of all of us on the college side, thanks for all you do. 

20 Tips (Part 3) For Making the Most out of Tulane

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 13:49
You can read part 1 and part 2 and then check out my final list of tips for maximizing your time here.


Save money and go eat. If there is one thing NOLA does well, it is food. We are rated time and time again as one of the best food cities in the world. So, if there's one thing worth spending your hard-earned money on, it's food. Go out with a small group of friends and try an amazing restaurant. Research Eater.com and find cheap eats and specials (like Coolinary New Orleans) and eat your way through this town. You'll be glad you did. Want to know my top choices? I got you covered. I also have a solid list of great eats near Tulane.  I also think it's important to remember that students at Tulane come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and you shouldn't assume the friends you make will be able to afford to go out to expensive meals. Take that into account when planning- it can go a long way to being an inclusive person. My top cheap eats in town are Marjie's Grill, Liberty's Cheesesteaks, Filipe's, Mint and Dat Dog and this list of cheap NOLA eats.


Stay fit and find fit places. This one goes hand-in-hand with my tip above. You can gain a lot of weight in New Orleans if you aren't careful. In high school, you're in the routine of sports practice and eating home-cooked meals. That healthy routine is not automatic in college. So, if you're going to be exploring the food in NOLA, be sure to explore all of the amazing outdoor parks and places to stay fit in town. Trust me on this one; you will want to make health and fitness a top priority when you arrive at Tulane. As a local spin instructor, I blog about staying fit all the time. You can read about my top outdoor spots in NOLA here and my tips for avoiding the freshman fifteen here. I also have to plug meditation, as I always do. Mental health is so important in college and a daily meditation session has the potential to be life-changing. It was my #1 tip for when you applied to college, so consider making it a part of your life now that you're here. It's okay to ask for help here- that is what places like the Goldman Center, Success Coaches and The Center for Academic Equity are for.


Stalk your professors. A little. Here's the biggest secret about doing well at Tulane: meet your professors in their office hours. Engage with them. Talk with them out of class a bit. Show up, do your work, but take a little extra time to get to know them and their fields of study. Meeting your professor in their officer hours is, quite literally, the difference in an 89.4 being a B or an 89.4 being an A. Professors like you to be responsible and engaged and if they know you, they're more likely to lean towards that A. Going to miss a class? E-mail and let them know. Found a cool article about women and the Olympics? Send it to your women's studies professor. We even have a program where you can take your professor to lunch in the 1834 Club.



Do Mardi Gras a little differently. If you are a member of the class of 2023, man, I don't even know where to begin to describe to you the joys that Mardi Gras brings. As you get a bit older, I suggest you branch out your Mardi Gras activities. We all know St. Charles Ave and The Boot are fun, but try something different. Get your friends together and see if you can score tickets to one of the big balls (a life-changing experience). Head to local thrift stores to start to build your costume box and save everything year after year, and then go down to the French Quarter on Tuesday during the day and take in the sights and sounds of Fat Tuesday. Don't miss the Bourbon Street Awards, the best costume contest around. As a student, I never did anything on actual Mardi Gras day. There is so much to see! Also: get a fanny pack. Various student orgs hand them out for free. Get one! You can read more about the myths of Mardi Gras on my previous blog here.


Take advantage of our grad schools. We have some incredible programs here at Tulane, some of which you can dabble in while you are an undergrad. Also, our 4+1 Programs are fantastic; the opportunity to graduate in 5 years with a master's degree is really unique. Work with your adviser to see classes and programs that are interesting to you. We've got everything from a master's in Sustainable Real Estate Development to a master's in Management of Energy. Check some of this stuff out, it's very cool and nearly every undergraduate school has programs you can check out before your first four years are over. Bonus: looks great on your transcript as you apply to grad school. Consider a double major (30% of our students do) or a major + a minor (over 70%!) And if you have no clue about what to major in, you're in luck. We're super flexible here at Tulane and over 70% of students will change their major at least once. We want you to do that. Lastly, sign up for CRDV!


Pick your passions and take leadership roles. For you incoming freshmen, you'll be inundated with opportunities to get involved once you arrive, especially after the Activities Expo. While it’s great to get involved in many things at first, it’s okay to trim down your involvement as you get older. Find the clubs and organizations that you really care about and put more energy into them. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Run for leadership positions and by the time you are a senior, bam, you have one or two things you love, and do really well. Employers will be impressed.

You can read part 1 and part 2 of this blog, ICYMI. Also, be sure to read up on my 5 Tips for your first 5 weeks here.

There you have it. 20 ways to make your Tulane experience unforgettable, magical, impactful and all around excellent. Keep in mind that this is a brand new page. No one here cares about whatever went down at Prom. It's in the past. Start new, start fresh, and enjoy the next four years. They go by in a flash.

Go get it! 

20 Tips (Part 2) for Making the Most of Tulane

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 10:10
We're back! Missed part one? Read it here. Let's get right back into it!



Volunteer at festivals to go for free. You probably already know that here in the New Orleans area, we have more festivals than we do days of the school year. And one of the biggest secrets of them all? You can go for free if you volunteer at them. Many Tulane students will volunteer at the Crawfish Monica tent at Jazz Fest and after a few hours of work, you get the rest of the day to enjoy the shows. Same goes for Voodoo Fest, Hogs for the Cause, New Orleans Food and Wine experience, Zoo to Do, etc. In college, I volunteered to sell raffle tickets for a few hours at Zoo to Do, the big fundraiser/festival across the street at the Audubon Zoo, and then spent the rest of the night eating free food from 100 of the best restaurateurs around the city. For a poor college kid, this was a dream come true. Plus, resume booster! Two of the big music festivals during the school year Voodoo and Buku and they are always looking for volunteers.


Explore new neighborhoods. Uptown is awesome and home to so many great shops, restaurants and things to do. But, as you grow up at Tulane, pop that Uptown bubble and get out and explore. One of the best things about New Orleans is that it truly is a city of neighborhoods, each with their own unique and distinct characteristics. I blog about NOLA neighborhoods all the time; there is so much to see and do in this town! Go check out the Bywater and head to Crescent Park, Pizza Delicious and the Studio BE. Head down to the CBD and go to Auction House Market, Wednesdays at the Square, Willa Jean, The Ace Hotel and the WWII Museum. Get to the heart of it all in Mid City and check out Bayou Boogaloo, New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), the Fair Grounds Race Course, and Parkway Bakery. You get the idea.


Get interested in local current events. There are few things more exciting than Louisiana politics. If you need an example of this, just read about NOLA's Confederate Monument removal. Louisiana is your home now, at least temporarily. So take a bit of time to find out what is going on in your city and state. The neat thing about New Orleans is that it's big enough that a lot goes on, but small enough that you can easily have your voice heard. I was able to speak to the City Council a few years ago in support of bringing Uber to NOLA. Last month, we had the mayor come to speak to our office about her vision for New Orleans. Your Tulane education and voice carry a good deal of weight in this town, so find out what the issues are and educate yourself on local issues you are passionate about. The best place to start is by simply liking pages on Facebook for following them on Instagram: NOLA.com, WWLTV, and even stuff like EaterNOLA and CurbedNOLA. Stay in-the-know about the happenings in your new home. Basically, just care. A little. You'll be glad you did.



Grow Up. Kind of. Okay, bear with me on this one. The growth and development you'll see in yourself between freshman and senior year will be remarkable. Embrace this and take note of the things that now interest you but didn't used to, and vice versa. That said, don't grow up too much to where you are too cool for school. It's cool to do things like Outreach Tulane every year; it's not just for freshmen and CACTUS leaders. Help be a rallier in your class. Find mentors on campus (this is a real thing in college.) Actually GO TO the football games. Donate to your class challenge. Visit the alumni house. You're technically considered a Tulane alum after attending Tulane for one semester, so take advantage! There are so many neat things that this school will offer you as you grow up here. This all leads to being a more engaged person on campus and when you graduate.


Be engaged on campus. This one kind of goes with the tip above, but on a more micro scale. When I say engaged on campus, I don't mean join a bunch of clubs (but that would be great, too). What I mean here is literally engage with campus. When you are walking from one class to another, don't wear headphones. You'd be amazed at how much you miss when you plug in and disengage: friends calling your name, someone protesting something, someone yelling about free food, etc. When you are on campus, smile. Look people in the eye as you pass. It's amazing how much this can affect your mood, and the mood of those around you. When you see that prospective student on campus (they are pretty obvious, aren't they?) ask them if they need directions anywhere or have questions about Tulane. These little things; they go a long way, both for you and for those around you. Also... notice how kind the people are who perform services for you at Tulane. Allied Security staff. Sodexo Staff. The people who clean your bathroom. Engage with them, be kind to them, befriend them. We used to have this tradition of leaning under the dish washing wall to thank the dishwashers at Bruff. It's not as easy to do that at the new Commons, but still be the person who does that. Get out of your internal zone and get engaged!

Part 3 of this blog can be found here. 

20 Tips for Making the Most out of Tulane

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 09:00

Move in day is here! Tomorrow, we'll welcome over 1,800 members of the class of 2023 to Tulane. Move in day is one of my favorite days of the entire year and I am so excited to see y'all on campus soon. I usually give this blog as a presentation during orientation, but with how packed the schedule is this year, I am presenting it in blog format instead. It's good reading while you are in waiting line to get your car unloaded at Monroe!

This blog will focus on your future and what to make of your next four/three/two/one year(s). It's not just for freshmen either- these are 20 tips that will allow you to absolutely crush your experience here at Tulane, no matter what year you are here. After four years as a student here and fourteen as somewhat unofficial mentor to my current students, I truly hope you take even just a few of these tips and run with them. I guarantee they'll take your Tulane experiences to the next level. Let's do it!

Spend at least one summer here in New Orleans. There is something different about New Orleans in the summer. Sure, its exceptionally hot, but you'll gain a completely different understanding for life outside of the standard Tulane bubble when you live here for a summer. Find a great summer job or internship locally and make it a summer to remember. There are absolutely epic festivals (see Running of the Bulls, White Linen Night, Red Dress Run) awesome summertime activities to participate in (everyone must go tubing at some point, not to mention summer is the best time for a swamp tour) and there are great ways to make new connections and friends around town. Another great aspect of spending a summer in New Orleans is you'll forge friendships with new people outside of your traditional social circles. It will open you up to new and amazing people you would not usually cross paths with. 

Take road trips. Because the average student comes to NOLA and Tulane from 900+ miles, you've got a totally new region of America right here at your fingertips to explore. This might go hand in hand with the tip above; there is so much to see just a road trip away! A few of my biggest suggestions would go to: Austin, TX (be sure to hit up Barton Springs!), Fairhope, AL, Pensacola, FL, Natchez, MS, Lafayette, LA, The Northshore (Manchac, Madisonville, etc), and Oak Alley Plantation. All of these spots are less than a half day drive away. You can read all my tips on great NOLA road trips here

Pick a service project you are passionate about and stick with it. Tulane is, in many regards, Community Service University. There are quite literally hundreds of ways to get active and engaged in the community around you. CACTUS alone has dozens of organizations you can link up with. My suggestion for you is to find one that you are passionate about, and stick with it for all four years. Match the service up with something that interests you so it keeps your attention. Love music? Roots of Music is calling your name. Do puppies capture your heart? TUSTEP will be your jam. Stay active in the service organization at least once a month. It can be linked to Tulane and your service here, or totally separate. Stick it it, make an impact, see it through till gradation; you will be so glad you did. The photo above is me with one of my youth runners in Youth Run NOLA. It's been something I have stuck with since Outreach Tulane years and years ago, and I am so glad I did. 

Learn New Orleans history. You're officially living in one of the oldest cities in America. In fact, you are starting your first year here at the same time that NOLA is celebrating her 300th birthday. This is a city worth knowing something about and you owe it to yourself to educate yourself a bit about this town, even just a little. Did you know we have more buildings on the National Historic Registry list than any other city in America? So get to know NOLA in all her glory. Read books and watch moves about New Orleans, and then go visit the paces they were filmed and written about. Read A Streetcar Named Desire, A Confederacy of Dunces, and A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. Next time you binge watch a show, check out Treme on HBO. Watch Interview with the Vampire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Big Easy, The Pelican Brief, and sure, even 22 Jump Street. Learn our history, where we have been and where we will go. The best way to get to know NOLA? Follow Tulane professor Richard Campanella on Twitter

Go off the beaten path. At Tulane, is easy to get in the same social circuit every single week. Once you are old enough to drink, of course, there's noting wrong with hitting up the standard places with the rest of Tulane. But... be a leader in your group of friends and suggest things off the beaten path. There are amazing music venues and tiny craft cocktail bars and all kinds of neat things in NOLA that you need to see. Here: I'll plan a week for you: Sunday go to Bacchanal (in above photo), Monday go see a Charmaine Neville at Snug Harbor, Tuesday tear yourself away from the Boot and go check out Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf. Wednesday in the spring, head down to Wednesdays at the Square. Thursday, Soul Rebels kill it at Le Bon Temps. Friday, pick a totally new neighborhood and explore. You get the idea. 
Part 2 of this blog is here.
Part 3 is here. 

5 Tips for Your First 5 Weeks of College

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 12:03
Hard to believe it, but move-in day is just under a week away! All that hard work is about to pay off. And if you’re starting your freshman year here at Tulane, you’re arriving at the perfect time to be a college student here. You’re joining an amazing community. And we’re not just saying it – everyone’s saying it! Check out some of the most recent Princeton Review rankings:

#3: Best College City
#1: Most Engaged in Community Service
#4: Happiest Students
#2: Their Students Love These Colleges
#6: Best Quality of Life
#9: Best Run Colleges
#15: Most Active Student Government
#10: Most Popular Study Abroad Program
#13: Impact Schools
#14: Most Politically Active Students

Good stuff right? That said, this blog is going to be a very candid one as I’ll be touching on some of those rankings that Tulane was on that I just happened to not list above. More on that later.

For me, move-in day is the best day of the year.  In the Office of Admission, we’ve established great relationships with both you and your family as you navigated the college admission process and selected Tulane. I love my role because I got to play some small part in that selection. So, with that said, I’d like to impart my closing advice to you as you officially begin your career here at Tulane.
Again, much of what I am sharing with you is candid and straightforward; I’ve been through the experience you’re about to have and seen thousands of students make this rite of passage as well. I’m also halfway in between the age of our students who are starting classes next week and your parents. So I write this blog with equal parts student and parent mindset.

Here goes nothin’:

You’re not going to meet your best friends in the first five weeks. In fact, you might not even meet them in the first five months. If you ask Tulane graduates this question, many will share the same advice. Most will tell you they didn’t fall into their “crew” until well into sophomore year. Tulane is big enough that you’ll still be meeting new friends well into your four years here. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your friends or roommate to be super tight as soon as you arrive at college. And don’t feel dismayed if you aren’t able to replicate your high school crew in college. You’ll get there eventually. Trust me.

Stop comparing yourself to others on social media. All at once, your friends from home are going to head to colleges around the world. And all at once, it will become a contest to see who can show how incredibly epic their first few weeks are. It can be so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of looking at everyone else’s experiences and comparing them to your own. The reality is that everyone has ups and downs in the first five weeks. There will be times of loneliness, homesickness and anxiety: even at a school ranked #4 for the happiest students. When you look at Instagram, you are comparing your worst moments to everyone else’s best moments. So, next time you experience the natural low points that everyone experiences when they arrive at college: put down the phone. Go for a run. Head to Reily. Meditate. Just don’t compare yourself to others.

Find out what sexual consent really means. This is a big one. By now, you’re likely familiar with Tulane’s Climate Survey released last spring that showed a disturbing level of sexual violence being experienced in our community. The response on campus has been compassionate and driven to make a real change, both at Tulane and on college campuses across the country. For us to be successful, that commitment to change starts with you. You will really want to spend some time learning what it means to give sexual consent. Here’s a big one: if someone is drunk, or incapacitated in any way, they are not able to give sexual consent. That means if you engage someone in sexual activity when they are intoxicated, they are unable to provide consent and you can very realistically be charged with sexual misconduct. This is something that Tulane takes very very seriously. Read up on it and get to know your resources and you’ll be in good shape.  At Tulane, we are committed to ending all sexual and gender-based harassment in our community.

Don’t mess up your Tulane career in the first five weeks. Here’s where I am going to touch on those other rankings that the Princeton Review handed us. This year we dropped to #5 on the list that no school wants to be on. You know the one: the ranking that shall not be mentioned by name. Being ranked so high on this list left many in the Tulane community shook (as you kids say.) That is not a list that Tulane wants to be on and as a campus, we want to create a community that is fun, but also safe and also might land us lower on that list down the road. Tulane and NOLA will always be fun and will always be incredible places to have great social experiences, rest assured. But here’s my tip: Take it easy in your first five weeks. Freshman orientation is a dry week and Tulane means it. Don’t make a mistake as soon as you arrive here that will have negative implications for the rest of your career. I graduated from Tulane over ten years ago and I can still recall, by name, the kids who acted like total dumbasses during our orientation. I know college can be a big adjustment, especially here at Tulane where our average class of 2023’er will arrive from over 900 miles away. Pace yourself, don’t overdo it, and ease your way into your social life.

Call your Parents: Ugh I can’t believe I am sharing the same advice I rolled my eyes at my freshman year. But seriously. Your parents love you and are going to miss you like hell. They also likely helped you get here and will support you as you spend these four years here in NOLA. Text them photos, keep them posted with how your classes are going and if you're so inclined, even tell them you love them from time to time.

There you have it, future first-years. I’m hoping you view this blog as genuine and honest advice that I am offering you with the true intention to make your first five weeks the best they can be. See you at orientation!

Ten Cool Classes

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 15:59
In just two weeks, the Fall 2019 semester officially begins! As it always does, summer flew by. Our students will soon be back to the books, back in class and reengaged in some pretty cool discussions. Speaking of cool discussions, I've worked with my colleague Myron Shaffer over in Academic Advising to gather our annual list of Ten Cool Classes being offered this year for Tulane students. Check them out!

Yes, this is a class. (source)
COLQ 4120 The Grand Canyon
This course will explore the Grand Canyon region with expert faculty in the Earth and Environmental Science, Anthropology, and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Departments. You have the opportunity to fulfill the writing intensive requirement. The course fulfills elective requirements for majors in Environmental Studies, Environmental Earth Science, Geology, and Anthropology. Oh, and the class ends with an 8 day trip to the Grand Canyon itself!

COMM 2720 Media and Reproductive Rights
This course focuses on the relationships between reproductive politics, popular and social media, and movements for reproductive rights and justice in the United States. Students will learn key concepts and theories related to reproductive rights and justice, as well as media studies and analysis. The course covers historical and contemporary portrayals of reproduction within popular and alternative media with a focus on their racial, sexual, class, and gendered dimensions. Students will also learn about various ways in which television, film, and new media technologies function within government and nonprofit advocacy around reproductive issues. In sum, this course maps the intersections between reproductive politics and media technologies, while helping students develop their analytical prowess, communication skills, and knowledge of media, culture, and social inequity in the United States.

Study this! (source
TIDE 1016-01 Tolkien as Translator: Language, Culture and Society in Middle Earth

In this course, we study the role of language in The Lord of the Rings, applying concepts and perspectives from linguistic anthropology to shed light on Tolkien’s methods and purpose as the ‘translator’ of Middle-earth. Students are introduced to Tolkien's invented languages (and their real-world inspirations) and two of his invented alphabets. An appreciation of the linguistic foundations of Middle-earth greatly increases one's understanding of Tolkien’s achievement, and provides insights into one linguist’s view of the intricate and interdependent relationships of language, culture, and society.

TYLR 3000 Taylor Your Life
Learn how to approach your future with the mindset and toolkit of a designer. TAYLOR Your Life is an innovative career development lab that teaches students how to ideate multiple life paths, clarify their interests, focus and target their search, protoype and test elements of careers that interest them, market and brand themselves to stand out from the crowd, and map their community to effectively join the network of movers and shakers in their field.

BMEN 3400 Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering
This course will focus on fundamental materials science and biological principles that impact the engineering design of biomaterials and tissue-engineered products. Topics addressed will include structural hierarchies of materials and tissues, physical and chemical properties of surfaces, degradation of materials, and cell-surface, cell-cell, and cell-matrix interactions. The course will conclude with inflammatory, immunological, and pathological events associated with responses to such products. Laboratory exercises will be utilized to illustrate selected concepts, introduce assessment methods, and provide hands-on experiences with cells and materials. Fulfills departmental “domain” requirement.  An additional non-graded once a week lab section to accompany lectures. Pre-requistites: ENGP 3120 and BMEN 2600, or permission of instructor.

Why not study jazz in it's birthplace?
MCGS 2000 Introduction to Musical Cultures of the Gulf South
An introduction to the culture of the Gulf South region with an emphasis on New Orleans music, history, ritual, dance, and cultural geography. Explores the musical relationship of the Gulf South region to the Caribbean and African diaspora. Introduces critical tools for analysis of the relationship of music and place. Themes of the course include ethnic migrations, social diversity, vernacular architecture, and slavery. Field trips to second-line parades, Mississippi River access points, diverse neighborhoods and historical slave markets.

This is Ichthyology! (Source)
EBIO 4280 Ichthyology
Biology of fish-like vertebrates, including taxonomy, evolution, anatomy, physiology, and biogeography.  Class Hours:  Lectures supplemented by weekly labs, some day field trips, and one weekend field trip.

ANTH 3200 Magic Witchcraft and Religion
This course is an exploration into religion and the occult. We will examine a wide range of topics, such as hauntings, spirit possession, the role of evil in the moral imagination, and the construction of symbols as well as various practices associated healing, witchcraft (or sorcery) accusations, and the experience of suffering and death. Anthropological approaches challenge the categories of "religion" and "witchcraft", which stem from Western conceptions of reality, Christianity, and ethnocentric views of the "other".

Make this! Eventually. 
ARST-1170-01 Foundations of Art: Glass (Glass Blowing)
This course focuses on the history and theory of glass art, and also introduces basic techniques with attention given to issues of composition, perception, communication, and expression. Emphasis also will be placed on the relationships between glass art, other art mediums, and the history of art. See my previous blog about the time I sneaked back into the glass studio! Oh and by the way, just a few days after I got dropped off at Tulane, I took glassblowing!
me.

TIDE 1680-01 Hot Topics in Sports Law
This course will explore the authority of commissioners in the major professional sports leagues to discipline players, owners, coaches, and others for conduct deemed injurious to the interests of the league or the sport.  Students will explore the origin and evolution of the office of the commissioner, tracing the development of the position from Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to Bud Selig, Paul Tagliabue, and David Stern. Students will focus on and discuss actions taken by commissioners in specific cases involving gambling, performance enhancing and recreational drug use, brawling during games, mistreating game officials and opposing players, and other types of misconduct both on and off the playing field.   Students will be asked to think critically about the scope of the commissioner’s power to act in these situations and the propriety of the actions taken by the commissioner.  The course will also analyze the commissioner’s regulatory authority to take action “in the best interests of the game,” and will look at notable cases where this authority was challenged by players and owners.

Apps 101: When to Apply

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 15:04
Wow and just like that, August is upon us, which means the Common Application is officially live! Here’s my suggestion for you: if you plan on applying early to any schools, take a little time in August to put some work into your Common Application. Get going on that essay, input your extracurricular activities and start a few of the “Why College X?” statements. Does even the thought of doing this stress you out? I got ya covered. See my previous Apps 101 Blogs on the essay, the activities section and the Why Tulane statement. I recommend putting a little legwork in during the month of August for two reasons: 1) you know how crazy things are going to get once school starts at the end of this month; 2) if you put in some work now and then take a break from applications, you’ll be able to see your work with fresh eyes in a few weeks, and that’s really valuable when it comes to evaluating the strength of your application.

Today’s blog is focused on the big question about WHEN you should apply to colleges. Colleges have made things pretty complicated these days with the various methods and timetables for applying, so I am going to lay out for you the four ways you can apply to Tulane and the benefits of each. Let’s go!

Early Action: Tulane receives the majority of our applications under our non-binding, early action plan. EA is a great way to get an early application in to Tulane as well as the biggest benefit of all: an early admission decision. If you apply to Tulane EA, which has a deadline of November 15th, you’ll hear back from us before January 15th and potentially even before our winter recess. If admitted, this gives you your entire spring semester to visit campus, weigh your scholarship options and use your entire semester to make an educated and thoughtful decision as to if Tulane is the best fit for you. Applying EA also allows you to apply for our major scholarships: The Paul Tulane Award, the Dean’s Honor Scholarship and the Community Service Fellowship all require students apply EA in order to be considered. If you truly feel ready to apply by 11/15, I strongly recommend you take advantage of our early action method of applying.

Early Decision: First things first: if you are considering applying to a school ED, you should not be saying to yourself “I want to apply ED somewhere, I just don’t know where.” That is the same as saying “I want to get married tomorrow, I just don’t know to whom,” or “I want a tattoo, I just don’t know what I want it to be.” Rather, the school should really resonate with you and feel like your perfect match; then, you can make the educated and thoughtful decision with your family and school counselor to apply early decision. Our ED deadline is November 1st and is a binding contract and for us at Tulane, has our highest rate of admission. It’s the ultimate demonstration of your interest in a school and admission committees do take that into account when reviewing your application. Before making a decision to apply ED, you should have a very pragmatic and realistic conversation within your family about financial aid. We offer a comprehensive program for need-based aid for EA and ED, and your family should fill out the Net Price Calculator to see if Tulane is the right financial fit. It's important to keep in mind that ED students have a different pool of merit-based scholarship available to them and as this pool is smaller than other application rounds. One final great benefit of both EA and ED—the option to participate in our alumni interview program.

Early Decision II: In an effort to maintain fairness and ensure that our incoming class doesn’t get too ED heavy (a common complaint in the world of higher education these days) Tulane may offer an Early Decision II. Similar to ED I, ED II is a binding decision, and students admitted through the ED II timeline are committed to withdrawing all applications from other universities and enrolling at Tulane. If the Early Decision II timeline is made available, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will make the announcement in December, and students may apply directly into Early Decision II or switch their current application from Early Action or Regular Decision to Early Decision II.

Regular Decision: Applying RD gives students and your counselors the most amount of time to complete the application process as our deadline is not until January 15th. If you need additional time to apply to Tulane, this is the best method of applying. We offer both need and merit based aid to our RD applicants, but keep in mind you won’t be able to qualify for our three application-required merit scholarships. If you apply RD, we’ll get an admission decision to you by the end of March.

And there you have it! Four options, four different ways to apply. For more info, you can visit this site to see additional details about applying. The good news is that even if you are apply early, you still have at least three months to make this decision. Deep breath!

Ten Application Tips from the "Experts"

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 07:00
The entire Enrollment Management team is seaux excited to have you apply! Today is the day! August 1st marks the launch of application season! Remember, we accept both the Common Application as well as our own application and don't have a preference between the two. There's also never an application fee here at Tulane. With today's app launch, what better day to share with you all my ten tips for applying to college. 


Jeff's Ten Application Tips 

1) Do the optional statement: If the application asks "Why are you applying to [insert school here]?," take the time to write a thoughtful, insightful answer. Show you have done a little research, and really make your case as to why you think said school would be a good fit for you. If there isn't a question like this on the application, then send in a short paragraph as if this question was asked. Tulane does have an optional statement that asks why you are applying—fill it out! You can read all about this in detail on my blog entry here
2) Explain everything! If you had a real tough semester in your personal life in your sophomore year and your grades suffered, let us know. If AP Calc wasn't your thing, but you got two tutors and worked every night for two months studying but still got a C, let us know. The more insight you can give into your grades the better. The best spot to do this is in the "additional information" section. 
3) Pick an essay topic you love to write about, no matter what it is. We're more likely to love reading something you loved writing. We read thousands and thousands of these things, so make sure you get us going right off the bat. And remember, sometimes the best essays are the simplest ones. No need to dig for a tragedy, over embellish anything or try to change the world. Just be yourself. You can read all about my tips on the best college essays here
4) Less is More. Tulane will likely see over 40,000 applications this year. Schools like UCLA and NYU get 75,000+ applicants. We go through applications somewhat quickly, so sending in a lot of extra stuff won't benefit you. So, how can you best share your story without overselling yourself? Resist the urge to send in multiple essays, 4-page resumes and multiple additional letters of recommendation. I even boldly suggest that you shouldn't feel pressured to fill out every blank on the activities section. Some of the best applicants we see are concise, precise and get to the point. You can read more about what I mean by this here
5) Avoid application redundancy. Take a 30,000 foot view of your application. If your activities section is all about tennis and your counselor letter of recommendation talks about tennis and your short answer is about tennis, what do you think your essay should be about? Anything but tennis! Decide where each "piece" of your application should fall and where your stories, passions and strengths will be shared. This might mean connecting with your school counselor (and it's a good time to get to know them better!) We read tens of thousands of applications a year, and as soon as we see something in your file that is identical throughout, there's a chance we'll skip over the repeated parts. 
6) Get Engaged with Tulane. I don't mean ask us to marry you. I mean take some time to purposefully research Tulane to find out if we are a good fit for you. We want to see applicants who are authentically and genuinely interested in Tulane. You can easily engage with us by attending a Tulane Comes to You event, a MET Tour (with our friends from NYU, GWU, SMU, Northeastern and Miami!), or checking if we'll be at your high school or Community Based Organization this fall. The most important thing to keep in mind is be purposeful in your interactions with colleges. Got questions? Let us know, but only if you really can't find the information elsewhere. Don't overdo it; simply research your top schools and meet with admission reps during their travels to your hometown. I posted a whole blog about this last month. 

7) Visit a college or university nearby. This will give you a sense for what college campuses are like. I know it's hard to visit every school on your list, especially with a tight budget. Check out a school in your hometown or somewhere in driving distance to get a sense for what a college campus feels like. It will make you better prepared as you start filling out applications. You can read my top tips for visiting colleges here
8) Be professional. Get a college email address. Something professional. While the email I received a few years back from cupcakez or LaxStud6969 may sound cool to your friends, it looks silly to me. And I'm actually pretty cool, too. Just put your best foot forward. Speaking of connecting with admission reps, here are five emails you should never send us. Same goes for Facebook, Snapchat, Insta, Twitter—we don't generally check your social media platforms here at Tulane, but keep make sure your picture is something you'd be okay with your grandma seeing. What usually happens each year is we'll get screenshots of dumb things students put on Snapchat or Twitter. Just be smart, nice, and treat your peers with some compassion. Sometimes, it can get your admission decision rescinded.  Last summer, I rescinded admission to multiple students because of their commentary in a social media space. 
9) We like jobs. So if you have one, tell us about it. Working 15 hours a week at your local Subway as a Sandwich Artist carries just a much weight as playing a varsity sport. Whatever takes up your time, we want to know about it. I have some additional resume tips that you can read about here
10) Begin to identify your passion. We don't care what you do, as long as you do it well and you love to do it. What makes you tick after the bell rings? Where do your strengths lie? What makes you... you? You're welcome to send us a nice, clean, one-page resume with the above listed. Keep this resume simple. Just give me a quick description of those three or four big things. Do not send me a six page resume listing out every time you donated blood. I won't read it, and few colleges will. We don't need a list of everything, just the most important things to you. I've got a blog that goes into more detail about the best ways to fill out the activities section here
Hope this helps! Now I have one final question for you: What are you waiting for?







Apps 101: Demonstrated Interest

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 11:36
You don't have to make a jacket out of beads to demonstrate your interest. Or do you?Welcome back to part three of our Apps 101 blog series. So far, we’ve talked about what makes a great essay and how to stand out for the right reasons in the actives section. Today, we’re talking about a less tangible part of the application process: the concept of demonstrated interest. First off, this will be almost the last time I’ll use the words “demonstrated interest” in today’s blog. Instead, I refer to this as engagement with universities as you start to narrow down your list and fill out applications. As opposed to demonstrated interest, engagement is the thoughtful and authentic interactions that you have with universities as you navigate this process of deciding where you’ll spend the next two or for years of your life. And yes, I’ll transparently say that how you engage with us is something that we look at at Tulane; it is one part of our holistic review process. So… how do you engage with colleges and universities in a genuine and authentic way as opposed to the “box checking” that is usually affiliated with demonstrated interest? That’s what today’s blog is all about. Let’s explore what engagement IS and what it IS NOT.

What Engaging with Universities IS:

Writing a great Why Tulane? statement. First off, I am no longer calling this essay the “optional statement.” That is trickery and I won’t subscribe to it! True, it’s not mandatory that you complete it, but it’s absolutely the most important part of engagement that we look at. I’ve previously written an entire blog about the Why Tulane? statement, so take a look. Bottom line: this should be an easy, genuine and fun essay for you to write. If you are pulling teeth to get one of these things written for a school you’re applying to, I recommend you pull the plug on that entire application.

Attending a Tulane Comes to You or MET event. Universities and colleges put countless hours, human capital and funding into traveling the world to meet prospective students. This fall, Tulane will head to almost 60 cities to have our Tulane Comes to You events. You can register for them here. Later this summer, check out our Metropolitan University Tour’s (aka the MET) website to see where we’ll be heading with our colleagues from NYU, Northeastern, SMU, GWU and Miami. We purposefully visit regions of the country that are less frequently visited by college admission reps. Many universities travel in groups, so be sure to sign up for various school’s mailing lists to get info on where they’ll be and when.

Attending a visit at your school or CBO or attending a college fair. In additional to our large events, Tulane also visits over 1,400 high schools and community-based organizations (CBO) each year. This year, we’re even more committed to visiting schools we’ve not been to in the past as well as increasing the number of CBOs we visit. Check with your guidance office to see if we’re in your school or organization soon. Got an AP test during our visit? No worries, plenty of other opportunities to engage with us—class takes priority! Check out the list of NACAC fairs around the country. Tulane will be at plenty of them!

If possible, applying in our early rounds. Here is me being as transparent as I can be: Tulane typically admits a higher percentage of students that apply in the early rounds. We offer both Early Action and Early Decision. If Tulane is on your list and you are prepared with your application materials, you’ve got nothing to lose by submitting your application in November. We’re on the Common App, have no application fee, and if you apply Early, you’ll hear back from us before winter recess. This gives you the entire spring semester to make a college choice. I want to reiterate: I’m not telling you to apply early if you are not ready, but if you are, go for it.

Participating in an alumni interview. Aside from visiting campus, there are few better ways to get a sense on if you’ll be a good fit at a specific school than by talking to someone who actually went there. After you complete your EA or ED application, we’ll reach out to you to get an interview set up with a local alumni nearby (or via Skype) We’ve got interview prep here and great questions to ask your alumni interviewer here.

What Engaging with Universities is NOT:

Doing every single thing above as much as possible. Do not let this whole idea of “engagement” stress you out. Take a look at the colleges that are visiting your area in the fall and attend the ones that interest you. If you’re able to visit campuses and it makes financial sense to do so, do it. But don’t feel like you absolutely have to check off every single box above and do as much as you humanly can. That is inauthentic demonstrated interest. Doing what feels right, what comes naturally to you and what are the most authentic things for you— that is engagement. This whole thing is just one part of the many aspects of the admission process at Tulane. Don’t let this demonstrated interest thing add to the stress of an already stressful process.

Emailing us. I once got an email from a student that said, “My counselor says I need to demonstrate my interest in Tulane so I am doing it here.” We have a whole team of admission representatives who are here to help you with anything we can. But truly, only email us if you really want or need to. For example, if you live in a rural community and we’re not coming anywhere close to you this fall, shoot us an email and we would be happy to connect you with our great students and faculty from your academic area of interest. If you’re coming from a school that doesn’t have the resources to guide you through this process, email us and we’ll answer every question you’ve got. If you are an international student, we'd love to connect with you via email! But don’t email for the sake of emailing. And for everyone’s sake, avoid these emails.

Lining up after the Tulane Comes to You event. OK, this one is purely and completely selfish! Last fall after my event ended in Los Angeles, I spent just shy of two hours with a line of students who were waiting to say hello. Yes, it seems natural to want to be remembered and make a personal connection with your admission rep and we love getting to meet you. But in reality, we meet tens of thousands of students each fall and these types of interaction are impossible to remember. If you have questions for us, please do stay and ask away—that is what we are here for! At many of these events, we bring our current students us and this a perfect time to chat with them. Otherwise, head home from those evening events and study for your AP Chem Test. Or head home and make some notes for your Why Tulane statement. Or just head home and do something totally unrelated to the college process for a bit!

What Engaging with Universities is KIND OF:

Visiting us. I know this seems like a strange one to put on the KIND OF list, but hear me out. We would absolutely love to have you see campus and explore NOLA. But we also understand that it costs money. The admission committee will never look at your application and ding you for not visiting. We don’t sit around in committee and say “why didn’t they visit?” Candidly, we love seeing that our applicants have come in town for a campus tour or attended a Campus Preview Day. If you have the financial means to visit or if you live not far from New Orleans, yes, you should consider a visit. If you don’t have the means to get here, follow the steps at the beginning of this blog instead as a way to engage with us.


Here is the deal with engagement: we’re not doing this to trick you. We’re not doing this to trap you. We take note of your engagement with us because we genuinely want you to research the best college fit for you. When we started looking at demonstrated interest a few years ago it had some really interesting results. Our students were enrolling at a higher rate but they were also returning for their sophomore year at a higher rate— 94% as of last year! It even led to higher graduation rates and our highest student experience satisfaction rate we’ve ever seen. It’s why I always smile when we land in the top five list for happiest students. Simply put: we want you to be happy here. We want you to do some genuine and authentic research to find if this place could be a great fit and an even better home for the next four years.

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 12:54

Lauren Gaines, '20 - Communications MajorIntern - Smithsonian's National Museum of American HistoryWashington D.C.
This summer, I have the incredible opportunity to intern with the Office of Special Events at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. It is an extremely exciting and important time in the history of the National Museum of American History, which has just appointed its first woman Director, Anthea M. Hartig, Ph.D. I am most excited about witnessing her leadership firsthand, and working within an office completely headed and staffed by women. I am grateful to Tulane for equipping me with the tools and skills to best serve the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian Institute, and the families, students, scholars, and visitors that the Institute continues to engage, educate, and inspire.


Nicholas Patrick Bonin, '19 - Digital Media  Production & Communication Double MajorProduction Assistant - NCIS: New Orleans New Orleans, LA
After working as an intern on Season 5, I got hired as a full-time production assistant for Season 6! Prep for the new season just started on July 1st, so I've just started my time there and I'm pumped to be a member of this show's awesome crew and officially become a part of the Louisiana film industry!


Anna Battaglia, '22 International Relations and Finance Double MajorAltman Program Study Abroad Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand has been amazing so far! We have visited an elephant sanctuary, spent a weekend in a mountain village doing community service, taken a weekend trip to Chiang Rai to see the white temple, and gotten to know our home city of Chiang Mai. We have spent so much time bonding in our cohort and with our professors that it feels like we're the Altman family. After our next stop, Hua Hin, I'll be traveling with my friends to Vietnam and Japan. It’s been the adventure of a lifetime!



Sanjali De Silva, '21 -  Public Health & International Development Majors, Spanish MinorSummer Intern - Office of the President, Planned Parenthood Washington D.C.
This summer I am working with the Press Secretary and Communications Directors for Dr. Leana Wen, the President of Planned Parenthood. I am working with them to create briefing memos for her press appearance, gathering talking points and monitoring reproductive justice in the news. In addition, I am working on projects that bolster Planned Parenthood's recognition as a public health organization. In just my first three days at PPFA, I was on the hill twice, watched Busy Phillips testify to the House Judiciary Committee and have gotten to know Dr. Wen herself! At a time when there is a nationwide debate on abortion rights, it is important to be speaking up. The people I am meeting and the experiences I am having in D.C. can only be defined one way: defiance.


Cami Hallagan, '21 - Economics and Political Science Double MajorGlobal Solutions Intern - Harvard Business PublishingBrighton, MA
I was drawn to apply to my internship at Harvard Business Publishing through my work in my leadership class with Dr. Cowen. We studied many different styles of leadership and I thought that there was no better way to truly understand leadership than by working at a company that dedicates its mission to leadership development. My internship is incredibly fascinating because I'm not only exposed to the best content on leadership development in the world, but I also get to help companies around the globe find the right training style and teaching methods for their own leadership development and help design their months-long programs. By working for the global solutions team, I get to work with people all around the world, learning about their lives and cultures. For example, my meeting this morning composed of people from India, the Middle East, Sydney, Los Angeles, London, and the East Coast. I cannot wait to see what other opportunities will arise this summer.


Ra'Janae Morris, '22 - Neuroscience and Public Health Double MajorTeaching Fellow - Breakthrough Collaborative New Orleans, LA
I am a Teaching Fellow for BTNOLA! I teach 8th-grade science to students from all areas of New Orleans. Breakthrough teachers receive extensive training in curriculum design, classroom management, and adolescent development, as well as support and feedback from professional teachers. For students Breakthrough New Orleans is a tuition-free, multi-year college-preparatory program for middle and high school students. Breakthrough students commit to three full years, in grades 6-8, in our intensive Middle School Program. I love this position so much because of the students who enthusiastically chant our BT cheers, chat with me during lunch, and most importantly engage in the classroom. I hope this experience helps me pursue my mission to advocate for K-12 STEM Education and beyond for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.


Jared Imber, '21 - Cell and Molecular Biology and Spanish Double MajorTulane Honors Summer Research Program, CPS Internship Program New Orleans, LA
This summer, I am working in Dr. Wang’s lab on Tulane’s Uptown Campus. In the lab, we study the molecular mechanisms of cell death of Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) cells present in Age-Related Macular Degeneration, one of the leading causes of central vision loss among today’s elderly population. Specifically, I am attempting to determine the cell death mechanism present after treatment with Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein (a cell death inducer). Then, I will attempt to find inhibitors that rescue the cells from death. I am fortunate to receive funding from the Honors Summer Research Program, which allows me to continue conducting my research here this summer. I am also interning at Ochsner Medical Center’s main campus throughout the summer. I will be working in the Emergency Room, helping out in any way that I can while also gaining first-hand experience with the medical and New Orleans community. I am excited to participate through the Center for Public Service’s Internship Program, which allows me to complete my second-tier service during the summer through something meaningful.



Adolfo Garcia, '21 - Finance and Legal Studies in Business Double MajorSophomore Intern - AllianceBernstein Manhattan, New York
This summer I'm interning at a AllianceBernstein (AB), a leading investment management and research firm based out of New York City. I found out about this internship while giving a campus tour of Tulane! I'm rotating through private wealth management and sell side sales, two of the strategic business units (SBUs) of the firm, and I couldn't be more excited. I'm currently working on some super cool things, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say what I do, so I'll just allude to the fact that I'm getting MAJOR finance experience all while meeting great people in one of America's best cities (sans New Orleans).


Didi Ikeji, '21 - Public Health and Asian Studies Double MajorPatient Care Coordinator and Clinical Research Intern - Ochsner MedVantage ClinicNew Orleans, LA
This summer I am working at Ochsner in a geriatric clinic that was started in order to provide better service to the aging population of New Orleans. My schedule varies daily which makes it really exciting. Some days I go on home visits with doctors and other days I do research, sit in on meetings, and shadowing. I also help the clinic with finding grants and will hopefully put together an academic poster to present at conferences this fall. The clinic's current research focuses on lowering emergency department misuse by the elderly. My favorite part of working in the clinic is being able to apply the things I'm learning in class and seeing how research I'm doing at the population level can impact individuals. I love the masters students in the office that I can learn from and the head of the clinic Dr. Carstarphen. It is especially inspiring to work in a clinic headed by a female doctor of color and see diverse role models in medicine.



Alexa Topolski '22 - Psychology major with a double minor in Economics and French
Communications Intern at Lancel 
Paris, France

I’m currently working at Lancel, a French luxury leather goods company, in Paris. I work with the Communications department and with the Design Director conducting research on modern branding and possible collaborations with artists and groups. I’m also engaged in event planning and assisting with French to English translations for social media. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a fashion shoot and meet many different people in all aspects of the business.

I’ve enjoyed everything about my experience and have been inspired by the products and staff. It’s heartening to learn the tremendous amount of work and dedication that countless people put into creating each product from the design prototype workshop, where I work, to the tannery and final assembly stage. The immense effort, skill and creativity that goes into making a single bag, such as the Charlie, can take up to four weeks. Having the opportunity to be part of and contribute to this team has been an honor and a privilege. I look forward to using the skills I’ve learned in my future academic and professional pursuit

8 Tips for the Activities Section

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 11:00
Welcome back to our weekly blog post all about my best tips for the application process. Last week we talked all about the essay. Today's blog is going to address what makes a great (and not-so-great) extracurricular list. Here's the best advice I can give you: you don't need to be well rounded. Yes, I said it. As Director of Admission, it's not my job to only find well-rounded students. It's my job to build a well-rounded class of students. That means I need artists, musicians, soccer goalies, feminists, researchers, people passionate about community service, running backs and baristas. You don't have to be the Renaissance Man or Woman; you just have to have a few things that you love to do and are good at doing. We're looking for much more depth on your extracurriculars than we are breadth. In fact, we're kinda turned off when the resume is ten pages long (or every single box on the activities section is filled out) and we struggle to really get a sense of where your passions are and what you'll be involved in when you arrive on our campus in the fall. Take a look at my previous blog about what your overall resume and experiences in high school should generally look like.

Now, let's delve into my...

8 Tips for the Activities Section

Less is more. This applies directly to what I said above. You don't need to list every single time you walked around the park for a charity or the club you went to three times sophomore year. What we are looking for is the main points of passion. We don't need a laundry list. Nearly every student we admit to Tulane is in their school's National Honor Society, for example. It's just not needed to list each of these things out. We want the big picture stuff.

Avoid repetition of the same activity. From an admission perspective, we don't need to see soccer or trumpet written multiple times. While I know that club soccer outside of school is totally different from the varsity team at your school, my suggestion is to consolidate this into one activity on the list. Use the description to share all of the various ways you've been involved in soccer rather than spreading each one out, especially if you are also talking about this in your short answer.
Yes, we get it. You are a soccer player.
Put things in the proper order. The first activity should be your biggest, most passionate one that you committed the most time to. Then, "de-escalate" from there. Don't hide the most important ones at the bottom and remember that when we're flipping through tens of thousands of resumes and activities lists, you want to grab our attention from the start. You know how we want you want to hook us in with that first sentence of your essay? Same thing here.


Don't wait until the end to tell me the stuff you are awesome at! No one gets admitted to college based on those first three.
Don't overdo the service trips and travel. We know there are some amazing service trips and programs all around the world. For a school ranked #2 for students most involved in community service, we absolutely value the time you've spent involved in service. But if we get a resume packed with only trips to Fiji and Costa Rica, it can come across as privileged. Again, I think there is value in these trips, but I also think there is value in a service project or job in your own backyard.

Get a job and tell us about it. Speaking of the above, we love a job here at Tulane. In an era when fewer and fewer teenagers are holding summer jobs, we're now at the point were an old fashioned summer job is something that can truly make you stand out in this process. Last month at a smoothie shop in Los Angeles, I told my high school-aged smoothie maker how proud of her I was for spending her summer working part-time. She looked at me like I was crazy, but hey, maybe she'll apply to Tulane this fall. We think jobs teach time management, responsibility and great communication skills. It might even be at the top of your activities list if you've committed that much to it. When I was in high school I was a stock room boy at Pier One Imports. You want to talk about character building? Try working at Pier One over the holiday season.

Be specific. This is a tip that you'll get when you create an actual resume as you apply to jobs in the real world. Use data, numbers, and anything that I can cling on to and share with the admission committee when I go up to bat for you. It's much easier for me to say "this student increased membership in his school's Queer Student Alliance by 100 students" over "this student made the QSA more popular."

Don't overlook what you think might be mundane. There are things you might not consider as traditional extracurricular activities that we on the admission committee might find quite interesting. I had a kid collect coins from around the world by scouring various antique shops with his grandfather. You might not think your quirky hobbies are activity-list-worthy, but sometimes it's those things that make you stand out the most in this section. Read 15 books for pleasure this summer? I want to know about it. Have a penchant for yarn and knitting? That's kinda neat to me too.

Avoid abbreviations. This one's a quick one, but spell it out for us and assume that we know nothing about what goes on in high school clubs these days.

Let's see some examples of this:


WHAT NOT TO DO: What is ACAM? What did you do at Meals on Wheels? And why downplay that awesome job?
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Ah, good. No abbreviations. Specifics on the Meals on Wheels. And you didn't sell yourself short on how important being a busboy is! 
There you have it! Now get to work on crafting that dynamite activities section. Happy applying!

Ten Tips for an Epic College Essay

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 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 Lindsey 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.

That said, I also wanted to put in a plug for the Tulane Office of Undergraduate Admission which offers several access and inclusion programs to increase college admission and success for diverse and underrepresented populations. These programs include our college preparation workshop on August 17th as well as PreviewTU, our fall multicultural fly-in, which also has a built in application workshop. The application for our fly-in has just opened.

If you can't attend either of these, here's one last offer. If you are the first in your family to attend college or would benefit from a pair of seasoned eyes on your college essay, we're here to help. We're in the second year of our essay assistance project. Between now and August 15th, if you send us a copy of your college essay, a member from the Office of Admission team will review it and offer you candid feedback before you formally submit it to colleges in the application process. Simply follow this link to submit  your essay to us and shortly thereafter you'll get some helpful feedback from us.

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? Most memorable road trip? We love these simple yet personal topics.

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)

Be aware of the light-switch essay. They 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.

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. 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 about camp. That's all. Just don't.

Go forth and prosper, essay writers!