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15 Tips for Avoiding the Freshman 15

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 12:36
If you do not recognize this man, you're doing it wrong! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Today we're talking about one of my favorite topics: health and fitness. As you might know, I teach spin down the street from Tulane at Romney RIDE and love to stay active. With the Holidays upon us and Mardi Gras on the not-too-far-off horizon,  I've created these 15 tips for staying in shape while at Tulane, especially during this heavy eating and drinking season. While the freshman 15 is a bit of fact mixed with a bit of lore, your college experience will be quite different from high school. You're likely not playing the sport you played every day in high school, you're not eating three parent-prepared meals, you're making your own schedule... you get it. It's a recipe for some big changes in your diet, activity level and life.

So, after 15 years at Tulane and a few years of teaching Romney RIDE under my belt, here are my 15 tips for staying in shape in college.
Ready? Let's go!

Take the stairs! Okay, small changes first and foremost. You'll want to make sure you are staying active as much as you can throughout the day. Do you live on the 5th floor of Sharp Hall? Get in the habit of taking those stairs each day. Need to get to class in Gibson Hall but live down Broadway? Don’t get in that car. Take the extra five minutes and walk there. Every little bit helps.

Eat smaller meals throughout the day. The unlimited meal plan at The Commons is both a blessing and a curse. You'll have access to amazing food 24/7 at Tulane. Instead of gorging on big meals whenever you feel like it, eat a healthy, small meal a few times a day. The Commons does a great job at labeling everything- actually pay attention to this. This whole "eat five or so smaller meals a day" craze caught on a while back, and there is some truth to it for a number of reasons. Best way to do this it to hit up one of our many food trucks. The Vietnamese one is my personal favorite.

Start a team! Eat a lot of fresh fruits, veggies and salads. Anything that comes in a crinkly bag or plastic, eat that in moderation. The best rule of thumb is that the healthiest foods you can eat tend to have fewer ingredients. Nearby, check out Poke Loa, City Greens, Satsuma or GoodBird for some healthy off-campus options. See a full list of healthy stuff off campus here.

Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. I sound like your dad, but hey- these are two rules to live by. Most of us don’t drink enough water. Grab a Tulane water bottle and keep it on you all day. You should be consistently drinking water throughout the day. It helps to cleanse you, suppresses your cravings for soda, and keeps your body in the healthy state it needs to be in. And let me just keep it short here with sleep: it will be your best friend in college. I'm not talking about naps; I am talking about legit going to bed at a normal hour and getting a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night as frequently as you can. This will be one of your biggest challenges in college.

Skip the soda. Even the diet kind. Drink soda water instead. Cutting soda out of your life will change everything, trust me on this one. The Commons has fizzy water on tap and you can add lemon or lime. Or head to Rouses and buy a case of La Croix. Soda is just bad. 

Get on a routine. Just like a class schedule, get a workout schedule. Plan out your runs, gym sessions, dance classes, yoga, etc. Just like you schedule your academic classes, mark down your health and fitness classes in your calendar, too. Reily's group exercise schedule can be seen here. Download the Campus Rec app here. Romney’s schedule is available here. I highly recommend you stop by Thursdays at 5:30 for the RIDE of your life. Seriously, though, pencil in your workouts and commit to them each week. Make life even easier on yourself by downloading a few apps for your phone – MyFitnessPal, Nike Training Club and Map my Run are my favorites. We also have ClassPass here in New Orleans where you can access classes all over town. And if you have not been to see Joe for ABT, do you even go to Tulane?

Nap time? Gym time. When you are tired at 4 pm it is so tempting to hit the sack for a few hours. You'll wake up feeling groggy and will have trouble sleeping that night. Instead, when you're tired, as hard as it is, strap on those running shoes and run Audubon Park. Grab your roommate for a game of racquetball at the gym. Throw a Frisbee in the quad, or use the sand volleyball court out front of Sharp. Aerobic activity will quickly squash your fatigue, make you feel energized and will allow you to sleep at a normal time later. No one ever said, “man, I really regret that workout."

Try to avoid the drunken munchies. Step away from the Boot Pizza! I had many a slice in my day and never felt good about it the next morning. If you can wait, get back to your room and have some healthier snacks- almonds, fruit, worst case even pretzels. Anything but that fat and grease. I know, I know, it's Boot Pizza and it's incredible. Just don't overdo it.

Be aware of what food you keep in your room. NOLA's got some amazing places to eat at and we want you to experience it. You should definitely reap the benefits of living in one of the best food cities in the world. But when you’re back at your residence hall, don’t waste your cheat food on gross stuff in your dorm. Instead, replace it with filling but tasty foods. SmartFood popcorn, bananas, baby carrots, readymade smoothies, etc. Mom can help: see below.

Skatin' round AudubonAsk your parent or guardian for a healthy care package. Moms want you to stay healthy. Have her hit the bulk food aisle at Trader Joe's to send some dried mango, some healthy nuts, some clementines. Stay away from the sugary candy in those care packages.

Take advantage of NOLA’s outside space. Run the neutral ground! Jog the park! Head to the Fly and play Frisbee, football, slack, anything. Just get out and do it. I have previously written about great spots to get this done. Check them out! There is so much free fitness in this town.

Start a team. Last year Tulane was ranked #18 on the list for "most active intramural sports," and there are plenty of people who want to play them. All they need is a leader to get the team organized. Flag football, dodgeball, volleyball- we've got them all. Take that leadership role and gather some friends from your floor to make a team happen. Tulane offers so many great ways to stay in shape- check out this week's twilight yoga class on the LBC quad!

I admit, I look crazy in this photo.
But still... come take my class!Check your booze intake. In my heavily researched, double-blind tested, sine/cosine formula, beer makes up for 65.78% of the weight you'll gain in college. Beer and all kinds of sugary daiquiris, fruity drinks and sweetened cocktails. I am not going to tell you what to drink or how much, I am just telling you to recognize the effect it has on you. If you abide by all 14 of the rules except for this one, you’ll negate everything else. Booze has calories, fats, sugars and all kinds of stuff that will stay in yer gut. Everything in moderation.

Love your body and don't obsess over it. Your weight may go up in college... It may go down. But love it no matter what. College is a place where you can improve your body but also your mind, heart and soul. So keep you passion about having the best body you feel you can, but don’t get caught up in that. There's more to having a perfect body than the actual figure itself.

So there you have it. Now... get your butt to the gym! And frequently. Campus Recreation and Romney both have a number of great classes. Grab a group of friends and head over to a yoga class, use your roommate as a weightlifting partner, or join up with me at RIDE. Read all about Reily in my Hidden Tulane post from a few weeks ago. And check out this great wellness site for all things diet and health-related at Tulane.

I hope this list helps. The last tip is the most important one. Enjoy Tulane and have a great Holiday season.

Sooo many group classes from Campus Rec!

Get active! 
How could you not want to get outside when you're on such a pretty campus?

Guest Blog: All About Transfers

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 09:00


When I was making the decision to transfer, I remember being met with all the same feelings of uncertainty that I felt when making my college choice as a senior in high school. I was an indecisive 18 year old who had not totally found their passion or purpose quite yet—and as it turns out—that’s a totally normal feeling to have at that stage in life. When I decided to transfer from a university close to home to a university halfway across the country in New Orleans, Louisiana, everyone thought I must be crazy. I had already started school, gotten somewhat settled, even made great friendships at my other school, but something there did not feel right. I craved an environment that challenged me academically and personally, an environment where I felt like I could contribute to my community and also learn from the community, an environment that made me a better person. When I got to Tulane, all the professors, staff members, locals, and students made me feel at home right away.

As a transfer student, you already have a leg up when integrating into the Tulane community. You have a story that everyone wants to hear. I remember being shocked at how friendly, inclusive, and even inquisitive people were to me as a transfer student. People went above and beyond to invite me to eat with them, to join study groups in class, and even to connect me with organizations across campus. Even though I transferred, I was able to pursue a major and two minors (in three different colleges at the university), I had internships for which I received academic credit, I studied abroad for a semester, and I even took classes like “Fundamentals of Acting” just for fun. I was so involved across campus that by the end of my senior year in everything from Undergraduate Admissions, to the Center for Public Service, to Greek Life, that I often heard, “I always forget you were a transfer.” After all this, I graduated in four years and I was even able to complete a Masters degree through one of our 4+1 programs.

Me getting emotional at graduationThat being said, being a transfer student still has its adjustments, similar to what happens freshman year. It is not like transferring schools will magically make everything fall into place. For example, I didn’t have the ideal housing situation and some of my classes did not transfer, but I was determined to make the best out of the decision I had made. Luckily for me, Tulane and New Orleans make it really easy to see the good in all things. There is a reason we are consistently rated by the Princeton Review as #1 Best College City, #1 Most Engaged in Community Service, and #4 Happiest Students. I can tell you, as a former transfer student, these rankings were absolutely true in my experience. Truly, by the time I graduated, I knew that transferring was the best decision I had ever made.
What I love most about working with transfer students is that each and every one of them have different experiences and unique perspectives that add so much value to the Tulane community. That’s not to say that deciding to transfer can’t still seem exciting, scary, or even confusing all at the same time. I am here to tell you that I understand you and your feelings are valid, whatever they are. I am here to help in any way that I can and I really hope you decide to join the Tulane family.While you are making your decision, I encourage you to reach out to current transfer students to hear how their experiences compared to mine and why they love Tulane. Additionally, if a little music helps you in your decision making process, have a listen to this transfer playlist I made all around embracing change. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll judge me a little bit for my blatant song choices, but most of all I hope you enjoy!

Admission Anxiety - And Ten Steps to Reduce It

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 10:00

Alright gang, EA and ED application deadlines have passed. It's all out of your control, and now, the waiting begins. Congrats to all of our Early Decision admits who found out last week! Speaking of which, for Tulane EA applicants who are admitted elsewhere ED, it's tremendously helpful for us at Tulane (and your peers applying to Tulane!) that you withdraw your application to Tulane as soon as you know you've been admitted elsewhere ED. It, quite literally, frees up a spot for another student to be admitted to Tulane. In the season of thankfulness, we'd be so thankful for your timely withdraw.

Speaking of being admitted to Tulane, Early Action letters will head out for most students in late December. Green Wave portals will be updated at 3:30 PM on December 19th. No need to keep checking the mailbox or portal until then. Hopefully, knowing exactly when you'll hear back will reduce anxiety and stress a little bit.

Speaking of anxiety... that's what today's blog is all about.

I’ll be the first to admit it; a few years back, I had some serious anxiety. Whether it was professional or personal, I oftentimes let my brain run wild, creating various scenarios and possibilities. For you high school students, I suspect that this feeling is not totally foreign, especially around this time of the year as you await your incoming admission decisions. The exams, the late nights, the application deadlines, the drama in school, etc. It is college application season and anxiety is, unfortunately, all too common in this process. For me, I couldn’t shake the stress. As soon as my alarm would sound in the morning, my brain would start racing with to-do lists, emails to send, and things not done from the day before. To be honest, it was nearly debilitating.

Then, it all changed.

Everyone has different ways of managing stress and anxiety and I know it seems somewhat dramatic to say, but for me, there was one main thing I can credit my anxiety-reduction to: meditation. I was a naysayer forever — I thought meditation was silly, too hippy-dippy, not for me. I was also certain that I didn't have the attention span for it. And then, I tried it. And... it worked. I am not saying it wiped out my anxiety, but there is no doubt it's had a profound impact on my life.

It has worked so much for me that I want to share some of my tips for reducing anxiety in your hyperactive high school lives.  It’s my hope that by doing a few of the things below, you can start to see some positive changes and maybe manage this crazy stressful and anxiety-inducing time of the year.

1) Meditate. All I'm saying is to try it. Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose. Even just ten minutes a day. Remember, they call meditation a “practice” for a reason: you’re not going to master it the first time you try it. Or even the first ten times. But keep at it for a few weeks. I promise you, you’ll see remarkable results, just like going to the gym. I use Calm when I meditate and I can't recommend it enough- it's one of the highest rated apps of all time. Try the 7 Days of Calm, it's a free trial. I know others love Headspace. Think you're too bro for meditation? Well, Marines, pro athletes, CEOs, and millions of Americans have introduced meditation into their daily life. This stuff is the real deal.

2) Don’t post all your college application decisions on social media. If you get into a school, that is great! No need to blast it all over social media, even though I know you are super pumped. Because as you get in, many of your classmates will not. Keep your results off social media and you'll be inadvertently helping those around you. Once you select a school to enroll at, by all means post about it. But in the crazy ED/EA season, it goes a long way to show some humility.

3) Let Thanksgiving be a college-free zone. Everyone is going to ask where you applied, where you got in, where you want to go. Set some ground rules with the family.  Mom and Dad, you might have to lead this charge by sending this blog out to the extended fam before they arrive. Let this be a time with your family to decompress, truly enjoy each other's company, and leave all that college-talk for some other time. There's not much that can be changed now, so getting into stressful conversations over the turkey won't help anyone. Go play some football instead or watch the Saints whoop Atlanta.

4) You can't control your thoughts. But you can control which ones you listen to. Here is something I learned from the concept of mindfulness and specifically from this great book I read called The Untethered Soul. Basically, your brain is like your college roommate. It’s always going to be nagging you, talking to you, reminding you of things, giving you its opinion in an endless narrative. The most important thing to remember is this: you can choose what you listen to. Just because your brain is always talking to you, doesn’t mean you have to listen to it. Imagine if all the negative or anxious thoughts that you have came from an actual person saying those things to you; they'd kinda be a real annoying jerk who you'd never listen to in real life. After all, if you could control your brain’s thoughts, you’d only think positive things, right? As soon as you starting thinking “I’ll never get into this school,"  "I am going to bomb the ACT," just remember — you don’t have to listen to negativity. Just like that annoying roommate, you don't have to listen to it.

5) Take note of how much time you're spending on your phone. Moment tracks the amount of time you spend on your phone and WOW is this an eye opener. Most smart phones can also give you data on the amount of time you're staring at that screen. The data from studies linking phone addiction to anxiety and depression is eye-popping. When I downloaded the Moment app I nearly threw up when I saw how many hours I spent on my phone in one day. In last year's iOS update, you can limit your screen time and put your phone in downtime mode at a specific time in the evening and limit your social media use. Do all these things.

6) Don’t charge your phone right next to your bed. This is a continuation of the previous tip. When you are on your phone right before you go to bed, the stimulation from the phone keeps you awake and also keeps your mind racing. Instead, read a book. Study for a test. Do something besides sit in bed and stare at your phone. If you have to look at your phone before bed, adjust the Night Shift on your phone before you do so. This takes out the colors that make it hard on your eyes in the evening. Right as you wake up, don't grab your phone and check Snapchat or Instagram. Just let yourself wake up. What good will it do to read aggravating political news before bed? Or wake up to look at someone else's filtered vacation photos? I made a big change recently and started charging my phone in the kitchen rather than the bedside table at night. I boldly suggest you try this.

7) Take it a step further and take a little break from social media altogether. This one is tough, I know, especially in the world we live in. It's remarkable how much anxiety it can give you when you are consistently comparing your life to your classmates and experiencing FOMO. One small step I recommend is getting rid of the Facebook app on your phone and just checking it when you happen to be on your computer. Or pick one to commit to: Insta Story OR Snapchat, not both. As it turns out, you're not missing as much as you think you are. Case in point — the people who don't us social media at all are always cooler than me and never seem to have any anxiety about not being on it. I've blogged about this before. Social media is you comparing your worst moments to everyone else's best moments. Last month, I finally did it: I got rid of Facebook. And then, at Homecoming, I ran into a fraternity brother of mine and told him, in person, that I'd gotten engaged. Seeing his overjoyed reaction to this made me realize how much we've lost by posting these moments on Social Media rather than telling people face-to-face.

8) Learn to respond, not react. This is one that is going to take some time and won't happen overnight. But by practicing some mindfulness and maybe a little meditation, you'll get there. Simply put, reacting is the knee-jerk reaction to a situation. Responding is taking a breath, collecting your thoughts, mulling it over, and then replying. Next time someone emails you something obnoxious, instead of immediately reacting with an equally obnoxious email, sit on it, even sleep on it, and write a well-thought-out response. You'll be glad you did. Great example: if you get deferred or denied from a school, don't react. Respond. You'd be shocked how many students and parents send me expletive-laden emails when they are not admitted to Tulane. That is called a reaction.

9) Be patient with others. I was on the airplane last week with a mom and her baby. The baby would NOT stop crying. Everyone was glaring at the mom with a "shut that kid up" look on their face. Now, think of it this way — who is the only person on that plane who wants that baby to stop crying more than you? Right. The mom. So be patient. I bet that baby will stop crying a whole lot sooner if the other people on the flight gave the mom a few compassionate looks of patience. Patience with others (your school counselor for example) can lead to a remarkable amount of anxiety reduction of your own.

10) Exercise. But like, REALLY, exercise. One of the absolute best ways to reduce your anxiety is to get a really good workout in. Not just a casual jog, but something where you really push yourself. Take a boot-camp class, maybe even a spin class, but do something that pushes you harder than usual. If you're a freshman at Tulane, your first spin class is on me! Or go try Joe for his infamous ABT class at Riley.

If you had told me a few years ago that I'd be writing a blog encouraging you to meditate, I'd think you had lost your mind! But here I am doing exactly that. Like I've said before, everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end. You'll get in somewhere, you'll go somewhere. You'll do fine in school and the drama with your friends will come and go. This goes back to deciding what you listen to in your brain. It's not always going to be perfect, but you can be assured, eventually things have a way of working themselves out. I am not saying all will be completely stress-free all the time, but over the course of the next few months, if you try a few of the tips above, you might just experience reduced anxiety in life, even at a time when you'd expect it to be higher than ever.

Good luck out there! And have a happy, delicious and hopefully college-talk-free Thanksgiving.

NOLA's Top Ten Hollywood South Cameos

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 14:56

From the Drake “In My Feelings” music video to the epic The Simpsons episode released last year, to the Green Book (which won best picture at the Oscar's last year!) New Orleans continues to get a lot of love from Hollywood, and we completely understand why! There are so many things to love about this city, and fortunately, popular musicians, movies, and TV series have been showing us off for years; so much so that our city has been nicknamed Hollywood South. A few years back, New Orleans was home to more major movie locations than any other location in the world.

Since it's a good time for a post to get your mind off of the application process, our admission team wanted to share a few of our favorite New Orleans cameos with you!

Sierra Cason-The Princess and the Frog
The Princess and the Frog not only introduced the first Black Disney princess, Tiana, but the fairy tale was based on Leah Chase. Chase was the queen of the kitchen at my favorite New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase! Unfortunately Chase passed away recently, but the legend was sent off with a celebration you could only find in New Orleans.

Owen Knight-22 Jump Street
My favorite NOLA production has to be 22 Jump Street! They filmed the movie during my senior year, so campus was buzzing for quite a while. Many students also had the chance to be extras- including me! It was so cool getting to see how a major Hollywood movie is made and I even got to fake party with Channing Tatum. I was bummed when that scene got turned into a montage, but the movie was still hilarious and it was a treat to see Tulane’s campus on the big screen.

Beyonce's Lemonade

From the Edna Karr Marching Band cameo in Algiers, to Destrehan Plantation, Beyonce’s visual album is full of Louisiana imagery.  She ends the album with "All Night", where you can see Beyonce, Jay-Z and Blue Ivy playing around in the Superdome, interspersed with scenes of Bourbon Street and various other recognizable spots in the city.  Beyonce and Jay-Z own a house in the Garden District, and her sister Solange lives here as well, so it’s no surprise that she used this beautiful place as the backdrop for this visual album.  You can check out all of the locations used in Lemonade here.

Jeff Schiffman-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Last year, I was on an international flight from China to Los Angeles and I was happy to see that one of my favorite movies of all time was available in-flight. By the time the two-hour-46-minute epic was over, I was literally sobbing in seat 44C, much to the shock of my Chinese seat mate. But how can you not shed a tear at this incredibly moving story of the human spirit, lasting love, and most importantly, New Orleans? NOLA plays a leading role in the decades-spanning narrative and we see iconic sites like the Bandstand in Audubon Park and the world-famous Clover Grill on Bourbon Street. If you ask me, nothing beats this movie when it comes to the all-time greatest NOLA-shot films. 

Leila Labens-Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts of the Southern Wild beautifully captured the sense of community, spirit, and resilience that is South Louisiana. While the film had a dystopian feel, some of the scenes (like the seafood boil) and the setting in the bayou felt all too familiar and comfortable. I left the theater with tear-stained cheeks and a stronger appreciation of how the people, the land, the food, and the culture of New Orleans are forever intertwined.

Julie Slusky-Scream Queens
New Orleans has been said to be a uniquely haunted, mystical place, especially around Halloween. I’m not really one for scary movies, but when I found out that Scream Queens, a campy comedy “horror” TV show, was being produced right on our steps with Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Lea Michele, Ariana Grande, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Nick Jonas, I knew I had to watch it. The hilarity and overall ridiculous situations the Chanels of Kappa Tau get into while escaping the Red Devil on the show was made only more enjoyable to watch since I recognized a backdrop or actor extra (including our own Admission Counselor, Owen Knight) at every turn. 

Jalin Carter-Ugly Delicious, Season 1: Episode 4 ("Shrimp and Crawfish")

This is a food show where they explore the meaning of authenticity and challenge what is and should be seen as fine dining. The host goes to Galatoire’s in the French Quarter, and also spends some time in Gretna exploring the Vietnamese influence on New Orleans cuisine and vice versa.

Lindsey Hoyt -Treme

I was a senior at Tulane in 2005, so my friends and I experienced Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath firsthand, and HBO’s Treme did a fantastic job portraying the storm from multiple perspectives to show what the storm meant to so many. Between its depictions of the city’s vibrant culture to the process in which that culture remained intact throughout the rebuilding of our community, the show always hit close to home while still managing to put a smile on my face. Watching Treme bring these characters' varied experiences to life made me even prouder to be a New Orleanian than I already was. All of that plus one of my favorite characters was a professor at Tulane!

Nora Colman-12 Years a Slave
One of my favorite movies that was filmed in New Orleans is 12 Years a Slave. In my sophomore year at Tulane, I read the book in a history course on the slave trade in Louisiana, and we actually got to go visit the filming locations throughout New Orleans and southern Louisiana before the movie was released. It was an amazing experience getting to read and analyze the book in an educational setting in the context of this city that was my new home, and then see it come to life on the big screen where I could recognize the locations, plantations, hotels, and streets. It helped remind me of the complicated, rich history of enslaved people in New Orleans and Louisiana and connect it to the city’s present day culture. 

Keith Stanford-Interview with the Vampire
I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire with Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt (though, I’m not too big a fan of either actor). I do, however, love Anne Rice and read most of the Vampire Chronicles and was excited to see the books come to life on the big screen. The city of New Orleans is as much a character in the books as the interesting vampires.  
Anne Rice seems to capture the city of New Orleans the way only a native can – with love and appreciation of the culture that runs deep. Her “hero,” the rambunctious Vampire Lestat, runs rampant in the city and sinks his teeth not only in his chosen victims, but the lovely French-themed homes and adorned streets of a central character of the novel – New Orleans. 

There you have it! Now get watchin'! 

What's the Deal with ED II?

Sat, 11/16/2019 - 07:00

By now, many of you seniors have probably gotten emails from us about our Early Decision II option.  Like Early Decision, ED II is binding, meaning that you are committing to attend Tulane in the fall if you are admitted through this plan. The application is due January 6th, and you will hear a decision from us by January 18th.  How's that for a quick turnaround?

ED II is a great option if you were planning to apply Regular Decision, but have decided that Tulane is now your #1 choice. Or, if you applied Early Action and your list of schools has changed throughout the process, you can switch your application to Early Decision II. You don’t have to let us know until January 6th, so you may wait until you receive a decision from us about your Early Action application, and then be in touch.

If you would to like switch your application from Early Action or Regular Decision to ED II, head to your Green Wave Portal and click the button on the right side. Since it is a binding agreement, you will receive an Agreement Form to be signed by you, your parents, and your guidance counselor. If you have not applied yet, you can simply start a new application and indicate you are applying ED II. You can read a bit more about the process here, and as always, be in touch if you have any questions!

Spring Scholars

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 09:00

Ciao Roma! Here I am last month with our Spring Scholars in Rome. Application review is in fill-throttle mode! We've seen another healthy increase in the number of students applying for admission to Tulane this year including a 29% increase in Early Decision applicants. Wowza! As we release ED and EA decisions over the next month (ED on 11/20!) a small number of students in this group will be admitted as Spring Scholars, our January admission program. If you were admitted as a Spring Scholar, congratulations! I thought I'd take a moment to share a few of my thoughts on this program. I visit both of our fall partnership programs every fall and I cannot say enough great stuff about both sites. More on that later. 
Here I am in Paris with our scholars! One common question I get from Spring Scholars is, "Why was I admitted for the spring?" The answer has to do with how we review applications coupled with the increase in popularity Tulane has seen over the past few years. Our admission office is big on the holistic review process which means we spend a great deal of time creating a class of students based on everything you present to us in your application. Spring Scholars have excellent applications in nearly all regards. There are amazing alumni interviews, great "Why Tulane?" statements, and outstanding letters of recommendation in every application. When reading your application, we knew immediately that you want to come to Tulane and that you would be a great fit here. I suspect that our overall admit rate this year will be lower than last year's which was around 13%. That means that over 80% of the students who apply to Tulane this year will not be admitted for either the fall or spring. Last year for example, we saw our strongest Early Action pool in history, with a middle 50% range on the ACT between 31-34 and SAT between 1440-1540. These are by no means cutoffs, but it does give you a sense of just how competitive Tulane is this year. We can't take every academically qualified student who applies, but for a small group who we believe will be fantastic fits, we admit them as a part of our Spring Scholars program. 
With those facts in mind, I have some suggestions for next steps to take if you have been admitted as a Spring Scholar. First off, get excited, and then take some time to think about about. The Spring Scholars option is a final decision and is non-binding; you have until May 1st to decide. There will be no Spring Scholars switched to the fall semester at any point. Before you reach out with questions, take some time to read the FAQs for the program; there's some great info in there about housing (we guarantee it!) and Greek life (you can still go through the recruitment process!). I also highly recommend you connect with our Spring Scholars ambassadors to hear firsthand what their experiences have been like. We've also got the incredible Julie Slusky as our point person for all things related to Spring Scholars. She's here to help answer any questions you or your family may have. Just to reiterate, Mom, no spring scholars will be switched to the fall.
Your other fall campus option! Next, consider your options for the fall. We're so excited about the fall abroad programming we offer Spring Scholars in both Rome and Paris and coming soon... London. You'll have the option to spend your fall term with a cohort of Tulane students at an incredible university abroad: The John Cabot University in Rome or the American University of Paris (AUP). Schools like Northeastern, Cornell, Miami, Delaware, and the University of Southern California also have freshman at these campuses during the fall. I visited both sites in October and was tremendously impressed with everything I saw. Both sites have absolutely perfect locations, wonderful faculty and excellent student support. Each year, I do a full Tulane orientation session with both groups and also get some great feedback from our students there. Everyone seems super happy with their experiences in Paris and Rome. 

If you'd prefer to stay stateside, you can take classes as a non-degree seeking student at a school of your choice, participate in a gap semester program, take a semester to work, or maybe participate in service. It's really up to you. We're no longer partnering with Loyola New Orleans, so instead we strongly recommend our abroad options. We've listed all of your options here

Next, plan a visit to campus during our Spring Scholar Destination Tulane date. It all goes down March 12th. This event is tailor-made for Spring Scholars. You'll be able to meet other students admitted into the Spring Scholars program this year, hear from current Spring Scholars, and attend presentations from both John Cabot and AUP. 
Your potential fall campus!

I've spent a lot of time blogging about the difference between reacting versus responding in this crazy world of college admissions. We try to take as much of the anxiety out of this process as we can, but there's no way to avoid the ups and downs that come each year. Nearly every student we admit as a Spring Scholar is so ecstatic to join this group. Sometimes I will get a call from a parent that is less than enthusiastic about their child being admitted as a Spring Scholar. I often tell these parents to take some time to consider the opportunity the program presents their student. If Tulane truly is where you see yourself, we'd love to have you join us in January. You can join the Facebook group here. Currently, we have 175 Spring Scholars excited to start at Tulane in just a few weeks! The goal is to have around 100 for this next group. 

And if you end up selecting AUP or JCU, you'll get a visit from yours truly next fall! 

Rooftop study space at JCU in Rome. 

Snapped this shot while I Lime Scootered to AUP

This is Mary Merva, Dean of Academics at JCU. She is incredible! And takes amazing care of our Tulane Spring Scholars. 
Here is me touring JCU. I want to go here! 

14 Things Better Left Unsaid

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 15:12
Hey there! We're in the thick of reading season here at Tulane and spending all of our days (and sometimes nights!) inspecting your transcripts, poring over your "Why Tulane?" essays and reading all about the incredible things your teachers and counselors have to say about you.

Speaking of things to say, today we're talkin' about things not to say. I've been doing this whole admission thing for going on fifteen years now, and in that time, there are a few frequently used words and praises that I might suggest you (and your mom) steer clear of. I thought now, as we're in the thick of college application season, might be a great time to share with you all 14 words/phrases/sentences/ideas that are better left unsaid. Disclaimer—if you read this and think "oh no... I have said that! Are my chances ruined?" No! Not at all. This is one of my blogs that aims to calm down this admission frenzy. If any of the statements below apply to you, don't sweat it. Teaching moments, people! Now let's get down to it...

"I heard that...." Examples: "I heard that Tulane only admits kids who visit," or "I read that you have to party to enjoy Tulane" or "I heard that Jeff is trolling your Insta stories." You get the idea. I hate to even utter these words, but sometimes the stuff you read online or hear from friends is actually fake news. If you have questions or concerns, just reach out to your school counselor or the colleges you are applying to and go straight the source. We aim to always be honest and as candid as we can be with you.

"Which do colleges prefer?" When it comes to how you spend your time, we at Tulane prefer that you do what you want to. As Director of Admission at Tulane, I will be straight up with you: I don't want your experiences in high school to be a constant stream of things you think will look good on your college application. This whole concept of doing stuff to impress admission officers has reached a fever pitch this decade. So when you want to ask "Should I take this class or that class? Should I do this summer program or this one?" The answer? At Tulane, we genuinely don't have a preference. Do what you want, what will leave you fulfilled, and what makes you happy.

"Would you rather see the A in the regular class or the B in the AP class?" Heard it a million times. It's an impossible question to answer. We're looking to see if students have found an overall academic balance. Every student has a different personal academic balance that is a four year process.

"He/She/They/You only got in because they are [insert underrepresented minority]." You can also fill in [alumni] or [athlete] or really anything. Enrollment management is a complex thing, so you'll never know what goes on as a student is reviewed by our committee (or what they have included in their application). It helps to remember you are competing for YOUR spot in the class, not competing against other people for one spot in the class. It's just not a good look to ever say someone "only got in because..."

"I need to find my one and only perfect fit." I talk a lot about how I believe there aren't any bad schools, only bad fits. That said, there is likely more than one fit for you. Yes, you might have a top choice, but keep in mind that there are many great schools where you will totally and completely flourish. Don't put the pressure too much to find that one perfect place where you'll have that a-ha moment.

"Safety School" There are no longer safety schools. There are Likely Schools, yes. But calling a school your safety a) might give you bad juju and b) kind of belittles that school and others who might be applying to it as their reach school.

"I was rejected!" Always remember this: if you are not admitted to a college or university, the school is denying your application for admission, not rejecting you as a person. Never forget that.

"You admitted Diane and Jack from my school and they don't even want to go there and/or are not nearly as qualified as my son/daughter." Probably one of the biggest things admission officers really dislike hearing.

"I am applying ED, 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.” If you're going to apply ED, 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.

"We are taking the SAT this weekend." Mom/Dad/Guardian, I know applying to college is a team effort, but your son/daughter is applying. "They are," not "we are." Unless you're Aunt Becky.

"You only applied to LSU (insert any community college/state school here)? But why? You are so smart. You could have gotten in tons of places." You never know the needs or desires of who you are speaking to. Maybe that school is that student's dream school or maybe family finances require a less expensive university.

"I know my son should be calling, not me, but..." I am just going to stop you there.

"This will look good on my college resume!" I have literally written an entire blog dedicated to this very subject.

There you have it. Again, if any of the above applies to you, don't sweat it! I have heard all of these a thousand times before. Go forth with this new knowledge and prosper!

5 Tips to Knock your Interview Out of the Park

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 09:56
I am turning today's blog over to my colleague Corinne Watson. They're going to give you all of their best tips for our Alumni Interview Program. Before we start, my one tip is for anyone interested in participating in an interview: keep in mind that the earlier you submit your application, the earlier you can get your alumni interview set up. Because it is an optional part of the application, we want to make sure we have plenty of time to get it into your file before we start reviewing it.

Okay, take it away, Corinne!

*              *               *
Here's Corinne. They were our Homecoming Queen,
so they know a thing or two about
making a great impression! This year, we’re expanding our Alumni Interview Program to include more students than ever! This means you could get real face time with some of our absolutely incredible alums all over the world. What better way to learn about being a student at Tulane, than to meet with a Tulanian face to face?!

I personally think this is a fabulous way to learn about what life at Tulane really looks like. While this is all fine and dandy, an interview can be daunting. The power dynamic can be hard to look past at times, but that’s not what we’re about here in the Big Easy. We don’t want you to stress over this – applying to college is stressful enough. Instead, we want you to crush it! I’ve wracked my brain and come up with five tips to make sure you feel fantastic about your alumni interview.

1. You’re almost a YoPro (young professional), so act that way!

I know, I know, it’s really the worst advice, but you have to be yourself. Be your best self! And I don’t think you should try to be anything other than yourself. This interview should be more of a conversation—professional, yet casual. Bring your personality. If you’re funny, go for it! If you’re not, I wouldn’t recommend trying. Either way, you should be thoughtful and professional in your communication. We’re going back to basics: capitalize the first word in a sentence, use (appropriate) punctuation, and be respectful. No emojis. When the interview itself rolls around, it’s okay if you’re feeling nervous or shy. Just think about what you want to convey and make it happen! Lastly, as far as attire is concerned, be appropriate. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident! And smile: the alum wants this to go well, too!

2. It shouldn't feel awkward. 

This isn’t some scary, intimidating job interview—it’s a conversation. This is an outlet for your personality to shine through in an otherwise rigid and impersonal process. As such, you should be thoughtful, honest, and sincere. There is no script. There is no cookie cutter mold of what a Tulane student looks like that all applicants must fit into. You can weave your personality and experiences into the conversation in a way that provides a foundation for who you are. Give yourself credit where it’s due, but don’t go overboard! Humility goes a long way, especially when you can talk about not-so-hot experiences and how you’ve grown and what you’ve learned from them. Even though you should talk about yourself to some extent, it shouldn’t be just about you. Find balance between that and talking about all that you could accomplish at Tulane.

3. Do some research.

You should know the basics, but you should probably know a little more than that. I like the phrase “tangible plans” to relate your passions and how you plan to translate that into involvement at Tulane. We have a phenomenal website with loads of information AND contact information for our exceptional tour guides. These are real, live Tulane students involved in what you’re interested in. Hit them up! You can learn firsthand about what being a Tulane student is like. At the end of the day, this is how you can dig deep and make it the most meaningful experience possible. There’s a fine line though—it’s obvious when someone has done research because they are passionate about learning more as opposed to someone who has just gone through the motions because their counselor told them to.

4. Soak up all the alumni member has to share!

There are approximately 156,000 alumni members who bleed olive and blue (maybe they should go to a doctor). They have an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and they’re excited to share it with you. This is the time to broaden your horizons, and this is the whole point of college, you know. Maybe you think you want to be pre-med, but you’re not entirely sure what Chemical Engineering means or you’ve never even heard of Africana Studies. Now is the time to learn! The best way to expand your own experience is by learning from others’ lived experiences! I do want to say this: the alum interviewing you isn’t expected to be a Tulane Encyclopedia. Technical questions should go to your Admission Counselor, but your alumni interviewer can speak to their own experiences. These alums have the power to help you visualize yourself on campus and better understand what it’s like to be a part of the Tulane community.

5. Come prepared with questions.

First things first: avoid Google-able questions. Yes, we have a psychology program. Yes, you can study abroad on all seven continents. When you’re asked if you have any questions in any interview, you should be prepared. Here are some go-to questions if you need some inspiration. Realistically, they’re casually interspersed throughout the whole conversation to create the perfect ebb and flow with the alum’s questions. By asking genuine questions founded in something you’re interested in, you can truly personalize this experience. Through your own questions, plus the conversation as a whole, we want to know what’s important to you. As a function of that, we want to know that you understand how Tulane can support you in attaining and then surpassing your goals.

Throughout this fall, you’ll be going through a lot. Don’t lose yourself in the process! I want you to feel fantastic about your interview, so I hope these five tips helped. Never forget that you can reach out to me at with any questions, comments, or concerns at any point. I’m here for you!

Me, Corinne and our friend Dylan are really jazzed you're doing an interview! 

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 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.