One thing you can always count on us for at Tulane is transparency. We believe there should be no "secrets" in the college application journey. If you check out any of our webinars, you'll see plenty of candid and transparent information that will assist you in the entirety of the application process. I specifically recommend our webinars on Applying to College 101 and College Applications in the Time of Corona. We'll continue to share a robust list of virtual events on this page throughout the next two months.
So... with September kicking off and back-to-school in full swing, we've brought many of our previous blogs and tips together into this superblog: The Top 10 Tips for Applying to College. Let's go!
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. You can read all about this in detail on my blog entry here. Quick tip — if you are struggling big time to write one of these, then ask yourself, should I really be applying here? TLDR: optional statements are anything but optional.
2) If we see something, say something: If you had a real tough semester in your personal life during your sophomore year, and we see a strange dip in grades, 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, or if applicable, the COVID-19 section. That said, don't feel like you have to relive any challenging experiences or share a tough personal story for the benefit of colleges. Your school counselor can mention anything to us that they feel is important for the admission committee to be aware of, but that you'd rather not relive via an essay or the additional information section.
3) Pick an essay topic you enjoy writing about: It's that simple. 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 engaged right off the bat. And remember, sometimes the best essays are the simplest ones — a slice of life or a moment in time. 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. Don't worry about the topics you think colleges "want to see" (they don't really exist) or the topic you are dreading writing about, but your mom or independent counselor is pushing on you.
4) Less is More: Tulane will likely see over 45,000 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. You can also learn how to combine this tip and the one before it to stand out for the right reasons in the activities section.
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 one of our many virtual events, a MET Event (with our friends from GWU, SMU, Northeastern and Miami!), or checking if we'll be at virtually visiting 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) Be self-aware when using the COVID-19 prompt: Rather than re-litigating my thoughts on this new prompt here, I recommend you head straight to my blog written about this very topic.
8) Be cool, man: Put your best foot forward when you're applying to college (and after you are admitted). I'll help: here are eight emails you should never send an admission rep. Be cool — especially when you don't think anyone else is watching. This goes especially for TikTok, Snapchat, Insta, Twitter — we don't check your social media platforms here at Tulane, but every year, we'll get screenshots of dumb things students put on Snapchat or Twitter. This is, by far, the #1 reason why I rescind admission to students. Just be smart, nice, and treat your peers with some compassion and respect.
9) Do an Interview: With so many schools going test optional and many high schools going Pass/Fail, many colleges and universities have introduced interviews this fall. If a school you are considering is offering virtual interviews this year, do one! Virtual interviews with admission staff are brand new at Tulane this year and I've genuinely loved getting to personally interview hundreds of our applicants this summer. Any rising senior can sign up here. Participating in these casual (but evaluative) 20-minute interviews allows us to share with you the things we love about Tulane and allows you to tell us all about yourself and share the things you care about and are proud of. Put your best foot forward at these interviews but also don't overthink them — I can honestly say not one single interview I have conducted so far has reflected negatively on the student. Not one.
10) Test optional... means test optional: No one should be getting on an airplane to take this test. No one should be driving great distances to take this test. No one should be risking their health to take this test. We do not need the test from you, we do not expect the test from you and if you do not submit the test, you will still be given every possible chance of admission to Tulane. Remember this: you are competing for your spot in the class. If you don't send in a score, trust Tulane to not compare you to someone who did. We've always practiced holistic review here and we will continue to do so for every one of our applicants. Test optional means test optional.
Now... get to applying! What are you waiting for?
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