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Updated: 1 hour 13 min ago

Our Top Ten Application Tips for 2020

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 15:32

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?

Enjoying the content of our blog? If you're a high school student, current college student looking for a change, or a parent seeking information about the college search and admission process, consider joining our undergraduate mailing list by filling out the form below. Not all fields on the form are required, only those denoted by an asterisk*. 

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Apps 101: The "Why College X"? Statement

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 01:17

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. Today's edition of App 101 is all about this part of the application --- be sure to check out all five of the previous 101 blogs as well!
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 one of our virtual events. 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, which most students can't these days. 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 school 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 your new passion for Public Health or the great interview you had with a 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. Reach out, set up a FaceTime call, and then mention the student you chatted with. 

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. Yes, I know researching colleges in a pandemic is... different, but each of these essays should be different too. 

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.

Enjoying the content of our blog? If you're a high school student, current college student looking for a change, or a parent seeking information about the college search and admission process, consider joining our undergraduate mailing list by filling out the form below. Not all fields on the form are required, only those denoted by an asterisk*. 
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Apps 101: When to Apply

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 03:00

ow... somehow this summer has sluggishly wound down and we find ourselves almost in September. Late summer also is the time for Princeton Review rankings- our new ones came out last night and we've featured a few above. I can say... I am pleased :-) 
The end of summer also means we are starting to get into college application season. Here’s my first suggestion for you: if you plan on applying early to any schools, take a little time in late August to put some work into your Common Application. Get going on that essay, input your extracurricular activities and start a few of the “Why College X?” statements. Does even the thought of doing this stress you out? I got ya covered. See my previous Apps 101 Blogs on the essay, the activities section, demonstrated interest, and the covid section. I recommend putting a little legwork in during the month of August for two reasons: 1) you know how crazy things are going to get once school starts at the end of this month; 2) if you put in some work now and then take a break from applications, you’ll be able to see your work with fresh eyes in a few weeks, and that’s really valuable when it comes to evaluating how your application will look when the committee reviews it.

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

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

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

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

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

And there you have it! Four options, four different ways to apply. If you want my candid opinion: consider applying in the early rounds. With the level of uncertainty in the world right now, having an admission decision from us in December will add a level of certainty to your life right and will give you and your family peace of mind moving into the spring semester. For more info, you can visit this site to see additional details about applying. The good news is that even if you are apply early, you still have at least three months to make this decision. 
Deep breath!

The Best Restaurants in NOLA 2020

Mon, 08/10/2020 - 13:50
This is always my favorite blog of the year to write! It's good timing too. During the month of August, many of the restaurants below will participate in Coolinary New Orleans and offer some incredible discounts on their favorite meals. Restaurants are a part of New Orleans' economic lifeblood and they need all the support they can get right now so even if you aren't ready to dine-in, most of these places are also offering take out. 
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. This is a list of my (and our admission team's) personal favorites and allows for a wide range of budgets and types of food. So forget Zagat and Michelin, without further ado, the Office of Admission presents to you...
The 13 Best Restaurants in NOLA: 2020-2021
My favorite restaurant in NOLA is.... a BBQ joint? You bet! (photoBlue Oak BBQ: New Orleans has an excellent collection of great BBQ joints, but in my humble opinion, Blue Oak is by far the best of the best. They have won Hogs for the Cause, our city-wide-BBQ-off, a number of times and their BBQ pork sandwiches are the best in the city. I love their vibe in Mid City- it's casual and family-friendly and has a great outdoor patio with long picnic tables that are very conducive to a socially-distant (and affordable) group dinner.

Mmmmm Saba is so good and now you can get Saba Cares sent right to Tulane! 

Saba: A his restaurant located just a mile from Tulane, Alon Shaya has cemented himself as one of NOLA's best chefs of all time. Saba has become an Uptown staple and 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. Can't make it to the restaurant? Fret not- they offer college care packages that parents can easily order online that ship straight to Tulane. They have ample outdoor dining for a comfortable, socially-distanced family or friend dinner. 
Everything on the menu at Que Rico is incredible. Every. Thing. (photo)

Que Rico: Oftentimes, when folks think of New Orleans dining, they immediately envision the traditional Creole and Cajun food we are so well-known for. That said, NOLA is also home to some incredible Vietnamese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and now... Cuban restaurateurs. Que Rico cannot be missed as it serves up some of the most delicious Cuban food you'll find outside of Havana. This Magazine Street joint is perfect for a satisfying lunch or dinner and you can't go wrong with anything on the menu- but I recommend their chuletas fritas. Their Cuban coffee is also a can't-miss. My mother-in-law is Cuban and she told me this week that this was the best Cuban sandwich she'd ever had! If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is. 
Chien and Nhat grillin' up everything from burgers to lemongrass beef at Farmacy. (photo)
Framacy: Fharmacy has a casual comfort food theme with a Vietnamese twists on some home style classics. The young guys behind the diner counter greet everyone jovially while manning the grills, calling out a regular’s drink order and bantering with each other in Vietnamese. They stack burgers and deli sandwiches, slice lemongrass chicken from a rotisserie for tacos and tend whatever traditional Southeast Asian dish they have as a special. Can't go wrong here. Thanks to my colleague Makenzie for this rec, another great minority-owned spot. 
Chef Jeffrey at Heard Dat (photo)

Heard Dat Kitchen, a true staple of the CBD, is well worth the trip off campus. From iconic dishes that have placed New Orleans on the culinary map to their signature dishes that Gambit Magazine described in their review as "dishes cooked with techniques that enhance flavors" you make one visit to Heard Dat Kitchen and it surely won't be your last. Heard Dat is a Black-owned business that my colleague Aidan says is his #1 in the city. 
Could Taqueria Guerrero be the best Mexican food in NOLA? We say yes! 

Taqueria Guerrero has some of the best, most authentic Mexican food in New Orleans. Located in Mid-City right off the Mid-City street car, Taqueria Guerrero has an extensive menu of all of your traditional Mexican classics for a low, student-friendly cost! It is one of my favorite restaurants, I recommend it to anyone who's new to the city. (Thanks to my colleague Nora for this rec of this amazing Mexican-owned business!) 
AVO is new to me, and jumped into my top ten best restaurants this year after two amazing meals there. Its a can't miss, and close to campus too! (photo)

AVO: Fairly new to the NOLA restaurant scene, AVO has jumped into my top ten after some incredible meals I have eaten here in the last few months. Located on Magazine street just a short drive from Tulane, AVO serves up some of the best New Orleans / Italian food I have ever eaten. The space is also gorgeous- perfect for a date night or Tulane-family send off dinner. AVO's meatballs are truly out-of-this world. Their head chef, Nick Lama, is a Top Chef Master's alumni, so you know you are in for a treat. 
Marjie's is opening again soon and when it goes, Go! (Photo)

Marjie's: In the battle for the best chicken int the city, there are many great contenders, but only Marjie's rises to the top. Their grilled yardbard is the best out there- and I am a chicken connoisseur too. Marjie's menu offers a melange of options but focuses heavily on Southeast Asian bar food mixed with local gulf-style options. They plan on reopening later this month and as soon as they do, put this restaurant on the top of your list to visit. As a white-owned business in a predominately Black and Hispanic neighborhood, they are keenly committed to creating a diverse workplace and investing both financially and through actions in the BIPOC community of New Orleans.
LPG is very local and very excellent. (photo)

La Petite Grocery: Honestly one of the best restaurants in NOLA and a true staple of the Uptown dining scene. They have plenty of outdoor seating and I have eaten here twice during the pandemic and felt totally comfortable the whole time. You can't leave this place without ordering their blue crab beignets. My personal favorite? Believe it or not, its their cheeseburger. Chef Justin Devillier is a Top Chef alum and a James Beard winner, so you know you've picked the right spot. 
There will be your life before the cauliflower at Domenica...
and then your life after it. It won't be the same. (photo)

Domenica: Everyone who knows me knows that, hands down, this is my top pick for the best restaurant in New Orleans. Domenica, located in the historic and gorgeous Roosevelt Hotel, serves up some of the best Italian-meets-NOLA (shall we say Italianola?) food in town. Order the cauliflower appetizer and prepare to have your entire existence on earth altered. After, complete the meal with their prosciutto pizza.
Bywater American is so cute and so good. (photo)

Bywater American Bistro: Last year, Chef Nina Compton was adorned with the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South and- boy, oh boy- is it well deserved. Chef Nina opened her new spot, Bywater American Bistro, last year. When it opened, I went on a Thursday and it was so good that, I kid you not, I made another reservation for two days later. Quite frankly, they were the two best meals I have had in NOLA in many years. If you can, grab a spot at the bar and watch your entire meal be prepared in the fully open kitchen. My personal favorite is the fried gulf oysters, the blue crab dip and, for your entree, the duck. Prepare to be amazed! This is another one of NOLA's incredible Black-owned restaurants. 
If you are like me and you love Burrata, then you'll love 1000 Figs. (photo)

1000 Figs: Tucked into a tiny room in Mid-City, 1000 Figs has quickly become one of the best spots in New Orleans for healthy, delicious food. You can’t go wrong with the menu – from their incredible falafel platter and burrata plate with fresh herbs to their innovative salads and veggie options, you’ll walk out of the restaurant feeling like you've just eaten on the beaches of the Mediterranean. The menu stays fresh with seasonal herbs and vegetables from local Louisiana gardens. It’s a great way to support local business and local farmers. Thanks again to Nora for adding this incredible place to the list.
If you are looking for some of NOLA's best traditional foods plus so much more,
you've come to the right spot! (photo

Beaucoup Eats: A Black-owned restaurant with just about anything you could ask for, Beaucoup Eats offers all the New Orleans Favorites with some Caribbean and Asian flair thrown in the mix. They also have a hot bar with daily specials and offer "authentic New Orleans’s classic flavors in a modern healthier rendition." I also love that they strive to source their ingredients fresh, seasonal and locally from farmers in neighborhood-friendly gardens. The restaurant focuses on sourcing responsibly and minimizing waste, "while maintaining the traditional flavors our community loves."
There you have it! Now get to eating (or ordering take out!) here in NOLA. 

5 Tips for Your First 5 Weeks of College

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 11:03
These are your classrooms now! 
Hard to believe it, but our first year students will begin their phased arrival at Tulane next week! You can check out all of our return plans here. Before I get into my specific tips for our incoming first year students, I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on Tulane's reopening. Personally, I am someone who believes very deeply that we have taken every single possible step to protect the health of our students, faculty and staff. You might have read on various social media channels that "your university does not care about you." Or maybe you've seen the buzzword "hygiene theater." Perhaps you saw somewhere that "colleges are getting ready to blame their students." The fact is, what Tulane "is getting ready" to do is everything we possibly and humanly can to promote the safe return to campus here in New Orleans. We are "getting ready to" make sure we can provide our students with the mental health and academic resources they so desperately need right now. We are getting ready to ensure that we can still pay our most vulnerable employees, including our food service and custodial staff. We are getting ready to support our first generation students through the Center for Academic Equity. We are getting ready to make sure that every single student has the physical and mental space to be happy, successful and safe here in New Orleans. I've personally witnessed thousands of Tulane folks, from the Registrars' Office to Campus Services to Student Affairs, literally get on their hands and knees (desks are all six feet apart!) to make sure we are doing every single thing we can to promote safe behavior and succeed as an institution of higher ed. We take guidance from experts like Anthony Fauci who recommend opening schools because "students need the psychological and nutritional benefits of being in school." Wait until you see our campus these days—it's a seen an incredible transformation. For us here at Tulane, a school that was completely shuttered in the wake of Katrina fifteen years ago, we've got some of the best minds in the business working on a whole new type of re-opening. For you students, I know you already know that your actions and responsibilities are paramount to our success as we reopen.

Now, back to our first year students. For you incoming class of 2024ers, all your hard work is about to pay off. College is finally here! There's no doubt that this rite of passage will be different than anyone has experienced before. Before you read this blog, take a moment to watch our webinar College: Disrupted. The webinar features four Tulane graduates who began college in the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina. The alumni—now in their 30s—discuss maximizing the freshman experience when it doesn't go as imagined.

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

Here goes nothin’:

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

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

Find out what sexual consent really means. This is a big one. We are driven to make a real change regarding the disturbing rate of sexual assault at Tulane and on college campuses across the country. You will really want to spend some time learning what it means to give and get sexual consent. Here’s a big one: if someone is drunk, or incapacitated in any way, they are not able to give sexual consent. Here's what I mean in black and white terms: if you don't put a stop to something where you know the other person is unable to give consent, you have no idea what kind of world you might be waking up to in the morning. Take a rain check instead. This is something that Tulane takes very very seriously. Read up on it and get to know your resources and you’ll be in good shape.  At Tulane, we are committed to ending all sexual and gender-based harassment in our community. Any college that tells you they have no issues with sexual assault is not being truthful with you. 

Don’t mess up your Tulane career in the first five weeks. The first few weeks at Tulane are going to be different than we have ever had before. It's super simple- your actions, now more than ever will have a dramatic impact on this campus and community. The more you abide by Tulane's student expectations, the better chance we have at staying open. So, here’s my tip: Take it easy in your first five weeks. Don’t make a mistake as soon as you arrive here that will have negative implications for the rest of your career. I graduated from Tulane over fifteen years ago and I can still recall, by name, the kids who acted like total jackasses during our orientation. I know college can be a big adjustment, especially here at Tulane where our average class of 2024’er will arrive from over 900 miles away during Coronavirus. Pace yourself, don’t overdo it, and ease your way into your social life.

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

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

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Apps 101: Demonstrated Interest

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 10:29
You don't have to make a jacket out of beads to demonstrate your interest. Or do you?Welcome back to part four of our Apps 101 blog series. So far, we’ve talked about what makes a great essay, info on the new COVID-19 section, and how to stand out for the right reasons in the activities section. Today, we’re talking about a less tangible part of the application process: the concept of demonstrated interest. First off, this will be almost the last time I’ll use the words “demonstrated interest” in today’s blog. Instead, I refer to this as engagement with universities as you start to narrow down your list and fill out applications. As opposed to demonstrated interest, engagement is the thoughtful and authentic interactions that you have with universities as you navigate this process of deciding where you’ll spend the next two or four years of your life. And yes, I’ll transparently say that how you engage with us is something that we look at at Tulane; it is one part of our holistic review process.

So… how do you engage with colleges and universities in a genuine and authentic way as opposed to the “box checking” that is usually affiliated with demonstrated interest? And how can you best engage with schools in the time of COVID? That’s what today’s blog is all about. Let’s explore what engagement IS and what it IS NOT.

What Engaging with Universities IS:

Participating in a virtual interview. 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. Out team has already conducted thousands of interviews and we'll continue to do so throughout the fall. 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. We’ve got interview prep here and great questions to ask your interviewer here. 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.

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

Attending a few of our many virtual events. We have been firing on all virtual cylinders ever since we shut down for COVID. The team here at Tulane puts a tremendous amount of thought and effort into our virtual events and we'd love for you to check out a few to get a sense if Tulane will be a good fit for you. They're not just virtual campus tours and info sessions, either (but of course we've got those!) In August, we've got a whole week dedicated to self-care virtual events as well as a slew of events specific to anything you might be interested in. Check them all out here. My rec s is to do one of our live streamed tours as well as another event or two that appeals to you!

Applying in our early rounds. Here is me being as transparent as I can be: Tulane typically admits a higher percentage of students that apply in the early rounds. We offer both Early Action and Early Decision. If Tulane is on your list and you are prepared with your application materials, you’ve got nothing to lose by submitting your application in November. We’re on the Common App, have no application fee, and if you apply Early, you’ll hear back from us before winter recess. This gives you the entire spring semester to make a college choice. I want to reiterate: I’m not telling you to apply early if you are not ready, but if you are, go for it. Especially with the current state of affairs, having an admission decision from Tulane in December will make the spring a whole lot easier for you to make an educated decision, factoring in financial aid, scholarships and the potential campus visit after you've been admitted. If you apply Regular Decision, you'll have to wait till April 1st to hear back from us.

What Engaging with Universities is NOT:

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

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

Visiting us. These days, the most healthy thing you can do for your mental well-being is remove the concept from your head that you have to visit a school to know if it's a good fit. At most schools, visiting isn't possible, even if you wanted to.  Sure, we would love to have you see campus and explore NOLA. But we also understand that it costs money and that most folks aren't totally comfortable getting on an airplane or touring a college campus these days. The admission committee will never look at your application and ding you for not visiting, especially in the COVID era. Candidly, we love seeing that our applicants have come to town for a campus tour or attended a Campus Preview Day because it's a great way to learn more about Tulane. If you have the financial means to visit or if you live not far from New Orleans, you can consider a visit. If you don’t have the means to get here or are not comfortable travelling yet, follow the steps at the beginning of this blog instead as a way to engage with us. Ask your parents- back in the day, most kids went to college sight unseen!

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

Apps 101: The COVID-19 Section

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 09:59
Welcome back to week three of our Apps 101 blog. We here at Tulane believe in offering as much candid and transparent guidance as we can as rising seniors launch into the college application journey during these uncertain times. Also, am I the only one who is so sick of the term "these uncertain times?" I digress.

Today, we're taking about a brand new section of the Common Application: the COVID-19 Question. Here is what that question will look like:

Whether you answer this question or not it completely up to you. I can't imagine any admission committee will say "oh, we were going to admit this student but decided not to because of what they said (or didn't say) in this section." This section won't get in to college nor will it prevent you from admission. What it will do is add more context to your overall experiences during the pandemic and let admission committees know about how you've been impacted. It might also shed some light into our applicant's self-awareness.

So, here are five questions to ask yourself before you answer the question:

Are my experiences rdifferent from others?

Right off the bat, if you are going to use this section, it's important to remind yourself that, quite literally, every single senior on planet earth has been impacted by COVID in some way. Everyone was in quarantine and had to shift their academic and extracurricular activities. So, ask yourself if the things you are including in this section are different from what most students have experienced. I am not saying this to minimize your experiences. Rather, I am suggesting you put them in the context of what the world is experiencing. Examples:

"I was living at home with my brother and sister and it was challenging to always be around them all the time!"  Probably best not to include.
"Both my parents are  both nurses and they spent the entirety of the pandemic working in a hospital so I was the main adult in my household for my two younger siblings" Yes, this is the info we'd very much appreciate knowing about.

Are there noticeable changes on my transcript?

If any normal person would look at your transcript and see something was somewhat off during your second semester junior year, then you might want to use this section to let us know why. We're already prepared to review Pass/Fail transcripts and we'll assume that any upward trend that was starting in 10th or 11th grade would have continued. We'll give you every possible benefit of the doubt when we review your transcript. If there's anything that isn't clear, let us know more. If you went from a 3.98 to a 3.91, please do not mention it here.

"Taking classes on Zoom was annoying for me and I was really tired of being in front of my laptop all day." True, but so was everyone. If your grades didn't take a hit, we don't necessarily need info about your academic experience during distance learning.
"First semester, I was on a roll with my best GPA ever. Second semester my grades took a hit as I had to be switched out of my favorite class which was no longer offered virtually. The instructional method that my biology class was so challenging for me that I made the tough decision with school counselor to drop the class." Better and more informative about a specific dip in grades.

Am I aware of my privilege? 

Everyone's struggle through COVID-19 is real. Everyone is going through something. And everyone's response to this should be respected and validated. With all that said, there's no doubt the this pandemic has impacted certain populations in much more drastic ways than others. Low income and BI-POC populations are much more likely to have faced extreme challenges during the pandemic. It is imperative that you are cognizant of this. For example:
"I knew people whose grandparents got coronavirus in my community and that was challenging for me to witness." Probably best not to share that as many folks have had it worse including the loss of a loved one.
"I live in a very rural community with no broadband internet. When my school went all-virtual, it was challenging to get reliable internet throughout the day and I therefor wasn't always consistent with being able to be online." That we definitely need to know.
"I have to share a bedroom with my twin sister and it's been hard!" No need.
"My father lost his job." Absolutely include.

Am I being specific? Am I explaining rather than complaining?

We would like the specific facts rather than anything vague, emotional or wide-reaching. Be specific, succinct and give us the facts. You're also not going to hear college admission reps say "be resilient! show grit!" This is the biggest challenge many of you have faced in your 18 years of life and we don't want you to feel like you need to have fully bounced back or took this all in stride. That said, this section is best used if you make an attempt to keep it to the point and remove your emotions from it. Every single person who will read your application has also been through the 'Rona; we don't need long-winded details about the Pandemic. We've also all faced our own personal challenges and already know everything we need to know about the overall state of affairs in the world. And please, do not go over 250 words.

"As a student who has experienced a anxiety in the past, COVID-19 exacerbated these challenges leading me to miss a the first two weeks of online learning. I met twice a week virtually with my therapist to talk through these issues and am working on getting back on track now."  To the point, honest, candid and succinct.
"Tears streamed down my cheeks. I'd spent six months preparing for the statewide science fair. As a laid my project in the trashcan, knowing the science fair was cancelled, I felt like I was also lowering my heart into the ground with it." Just... no.

Is this information being included elsewhere on my application?

I've mentioned this before, but we're strongly discouraging students from writing their main essay about COVID-19. This new section is the best spot, and hopefully the only spot, that you should be talking about coronavirus and it's impact on you. Only use this space if your life has been pretty seriously altered by the pandemic. Instead of using the Additional Information section or your personal statement to write about coronavirus, use the COVID-19 section instead. Admission reps are going to be reading tens of thousands of applications that mention the pandemic and I can anticipate some reader fatigue with the subject.

This new section is perfect to place reflect on the last few months. Ask yourself all the questions in this blog and then make an educated decision as to if you should fill out this part or not.

Keep your head up, too!

Apps 101: 9 Tips for the Activities Section

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 09:00
Welcome back to our weekly blog post all about my best tips for the application process. Last week we talked all about the essay. Today's blog is going to address what makes a great (and not-so-great) extracurricular list. Here's the best advice I can give you: you don't need to be well rounded. Yes, I said it. As Director of Admission, it's not my job to only find well-rounded students. It's my job to build a well-rounded class of students. That means I need artists, musicians, soccer goalies, feminists, researchers, people passionate about community service, running backs and baristas. You don't have to be the Renaissance Man or Woman; you just have to have a few things that you love to do and are good at doing. We're looking for much more depth on your extracurriculars than we are breadth. In fact, we're kinda turned off when the resume is ten pages long (or every single box on the activities section is filled out) and we struggle to really get a sense of where your passions are and what you'll be involved in when you arrive on our campus in the fall. Take a look at my previous blog about what your overall resume and experiences in high school should generally look like.

Now, let's delve into my...

9 Tips for the Activities Section

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

We expect a giant gap in your activities section during COVID. Don't stress about it. Don't feel like we're going to have any questions, concerns, or issues with you not doing anything at all the last few months. If you managed to find something to take up your time the last few months, let us know about it. If you got nothing- it's all good. I have an entire blog dedicated to this very topic.

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

Don't wait until the end to tell me the stuff you are awesome at! No one gets admitted to college based on those first three.
Don't overdo the service trips and travel. We know there are some amazing service trips and programs all around the world. Or at least there used to be, in a pre-pandemic world. For a school ranked #1 for students most involved in community service, we absolutely value the time you've spent involved in service. But if we get a resume packed with only trips to Fiji and Costa Rica, it can come across as privileged. Again, I think there is value in these trips, but I also think there is value in a service project or job in your own backyard. If you have had the opportunity to take some of these service trips abroad, you are welcome to include them on your activities section, just make sure you are well versed on everything from savior complex to authentic allyship.

If you are able to, get a job and tell us about it. Speaking of the above, we love a job here at Tulane. We are keenly aware that the job market is very much out of whack these days and that a summer job isn't easy to come by. That said, if you are able to snag one, we think jobs teach time management, responsibility and great communication skills. It might even be at the top of your activities list if you've committed that much to it. When I was in high school I was a stock room boy at Pier One Imports. You want to talk about character building? Try working at Pier One over the holiday season.

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

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

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

Let's see some examples of this:

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

Apps 101: Ten Tips for an Epic College Essay

Thu, 07/02/2020 - 11:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go forth and prosper, essay writers!

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

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 08:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Action Items from the Dean of Admission

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

Black lives matter. That’s it.

They always have and they always will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NOLA Lingo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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