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Pardon our Progress: The Eight Most Anticipated NOLA Construction Projects…

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 15:51
If you have been to New Orleans recently, you’ve probably noticed a lot of dust. From Uptown to Downtown, major construction projects dot this city and cranes are going up in the skyline with a fervor not seen here in decades. I was grabbing a drink a few days ago on the rooftop bar at the Ace Hotel and looked out over an entire neighborhood exploding with construction projects, large and small. Today's blog will explore a few of the major projects here in NOLA that I am most excited to see. It's the final part in my five-part series of blogs all about NOLA during her 300th birthday!

Let's check out the eight most anticipated projects in New Orleans as she winds down her 300th year:

Summer 2019 can't come soon enough! The New Tulane Dining Hall: If you have been to campus lately, you’ve already seen our massive new dining hall being erected in the central part of campus. Although I’ll be semi-sad to see it go, Bruff Commons is finally getting its replacement in the form of an enormous 77,000 square foot dining hall that will also house the Newcomb College Institute as well as a number of multipurpose student meeting spaces. This thing looks pretty epic, tbh, and you can see renderings here. This new dining hall will completely revolutionize dining on Tulane's campus.

Hellooooo new airport! (sourceThe New Airport: If Bruff Commons was number one on the list of “things in NOLA that definitely need to be torn down,” then our airport is a close second. Slated to open mid next year, the new New Orleans airport will be a much needed addition to our bustling city’s growth. Last year, MSY recorded a record-breaking number of passengers (up 35% from 2010) and was one of the fastest growing airports in the USA. Sure, I am excited for a new airport and its consolidated security and 650,000 square feet of gleaming glass windows, but mostly I am just excited for the food that will be in the terminal. From local favorites like Cafe du Monde and Emeril's to the much-anticipated Shake Shack, the new MSY is sure to be a welcome addition to the eating and traveling public. You can read all about the new facility here.

Many are calling NOCHI a "game changer for job training and talent development in the hospitality sector, an economic engine for New Orleans that is also one of its cultural cornerstones." Here's a training bar/classroom. (source)NOCHI: In a city famed for its hospitality industry, it always surprised me that we never had much of  an educational or development plan for what is one of our biggest economies in town. Enter: the New Orleans Center for the Hospitality Industry. Thanks to a partnership with Tulane's A.B. Freeman School of Business and NOLA's most famous restaurateurs, the Brennan Family, NOCHI will offer a range of professional and educational development opportunities for a myriad of New Orleans residents. In their own words, "Mixing great minds and industry leaders together to empower a new generation of inspired chefs and culinary visionaries, NOCHI provides students real-world instruction and training by some of the industry’s best talents."

Krewe! Satsuma! Romney! (source
Krewe HQ: Magazine Street is also a hub for new construction projects. The one I am most excited about is a complex being built in the Lower Garden District that will soon house a few staples of the NOLA community including Krewe Eyewear and a brand new Satsuma. We're really proud of Krewe here in NOLA. They are a local sunglass brand that got their humble start as a vendor at Jazz Fest and still continues to play relentless homage to NOLA. Krewes have recently been seen sported by everyone from Meghan Markel to Beyonce. The new HQ will have space for distribution of a half million pairs of glasses. Also in the Krewe Complex, dubbed Framework, is lunchtime favorite Satsuma. One last thing going in this location is, in my totally unbiased opinion, the highlight: a downtown version of Romney Studios, the studio where I instruct!

Rendering of the new Children's Hospital (source)
Children’s Hospital: Just last month, Tulane announced its partnership with Children’s Hospital, just a few blocks away from our Uptown campus. The partnership means that Louisiana's only hospital focused entirely on the care of children will join forces with Tulane to increase access to high-quality pediatric health care and enhance pediatric educational and training opportunities for medical students and medical residents in Louisiana. The hospital is currently undergoing a $300 million expansion that includes a same-day surgery unit, a cardiac intensive care unit, a neonatal cardiac intensive care unit, a cancer center, a 400-car garage, and a newly-designed entrance and lobby.

"The soaring Bollinger Canopy of Peace, set to stand 150 feet tall, will unify the Museum's diverse campus and establish the Museum as a fixture on the New Orleans skyline." (source)
WWII Expansion: Situated in the middle of the Warehouse District, arguably the neighborhood with the most amount of construction, the WWII Museum is expanding... and fast. Ranked as the #1 most popular attraction in New Orleans and the #3 highest rated museum in the world, it’s no wonder that this incredible museum continues to expand. Drive by it these days and you’ll see a massive 234-room hotel being constructed as well as 34,000 square foot Hall of Democracy. Next up is the addition of this giant sail that you see above which will be the crown jewel of the museum complex, dubbed the Canopy of Peace.

Low Barrier Homeless Shelters: Here is one that I am particularly excited about. New Orleans, like many major American cities, has a substantial homeless population. Cities across the USA are consistently researching innovative solutions for their homeless populations. One of New Orleans' solutions has been to construct a low-barrier homeless shelter. According to the city, "unlike some other shelters, the new facility does not place restrictions on how long residents can stay or require them to be sober. The shelter is open to both men and women around the clock — a boon for homeless people who have long complained about the hours and gender restrictions at other local shelters." The shelter spans 12,000 square feet and has 100 beds, a living and community space, restrooms, showers, a kitchen, and office space for operators and service providers.

The new Four Seasons Hotel in all her glory. (source)
The Hotels are Coming: Four Seasons, another Ace, Virgin, Hard Rock... and those are just the major projects. The most anticipated hotel project of the moment is undeniably the Four Seasons Hotel which is sure to revolutionize the foot of Canal Street. The project is a nearly $500 million renovation of one of the most iconic buildings in New Orleans' skyline: the former World Trade Center. Shout out to any of my fellow Tulane alumni who remember going to fraternity semi-formals on the top floor at Club 360. Anyways, the new Four Seasons will have a rooftop pool and observation deck as well as a beautifully landscaped plaza at its base on Canal. It's going to be substantially dope.

There you have it! Hundreds of other projects didn't make this list (including the dozens of new residential building projects all over town) but you can stay tuned to Curbed NOLA to see updates on many of these projects. NOLA in on the rise and I think it's safe to say she's celebrating her 300th birthday in a big way.

Rollin' on a River

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 14:22

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. 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. 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 Enjoy 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 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.

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.

Six Tips for a Great Dean's Honor Scholarship

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 08:15
President Fitts displays his DHS project For this blog, I went straight to the best source on all things DHS. Leila Labens, our Director of Strategic Recruitment, is taking over today to give you her best tips for a great DHS project. And she would know- she leads the committee that selects the finalists before they head to the Deans of each school. Let's do this!
*                   *                   *
Leila Labens, today's guest blogger It’s almost early December which means it’s almost one of my favorite part of the admission cycle – seeing the wonderful, brilliant, creative, expressive DHS projects come through the door (mostly figuratively, but sometimes literally). I’ve participated in the committee that gives the first review on all of the projects for a number of years and I wanted to share some tips on putting together a strong project.

Don’t get too caught up on “the box.” The actual box does not need to be part of the project. It can be but doesn’t have to be. So, if you can’t move past an idea that is strictly square in shape or message, I encourage you to “think outside of the box.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). 
Don’t completely ignore “the box.” I know- I just told you don’t get hung up on it BUT you should also have some reference to a square or box or something somewhere in your submission. Think figuratively (the box that defines you). Think big (the square façade of a building). Think tiny (pixels that make up a larger picture). Think logically (the mathematical area of the box as part of a larger equation that proves why you should get the scholarship). Think historically (an American history rap that mentions famous boxes throughout time- square stages where famous addresses were delivered, chests/boxes of tea in Boston Harbor, voting booth check boxes…) Think literally (hundreds of post-its that turn into an incredible flip storybook).
Express yourself. Take this as an opportunity to tell us about yourself. Maybe incorporate an artistic passion, or a skill for computer programming. You could use this as a chance to show off your ability to write an incredible screen play or as a vehicle to show your drive for service and your community. Help us know more about your without making the project completely about yourself. Think of this as a “humble brag,” a way to introduce yourself beyond just pictures documenting your accomplishments. 
Include some semblance of something academic. After all, this is the Dean’s Honor Scholarship- meaning some very bright members of the Tulane faculty and community (ahem, Deans) will be selecting the final recipients. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, humorous, or have fun while working on your project. Just remember to show off some of your impressive brain power in the process.
Put some time into it. After seeing hundreds of projects, it can become obvious which ones were thrown together in a hurry to meet our deadline. Have a plan in mind and give yourself enough time to submit a well thought out and seamlessly produced project.
Be proud of it. If you aren’t excited about your submission and didn’t enjoy working on it, the multiple reviewers may not be thrilled by it either. Do something that you would be excited to show your classmates, family, and friends.
One last technical point: if you opt to put something together online, make sure you are using a platform or host site that can be accessed by different computers across different networks.
We always get plenty of video submissions, so here are some of the best of those:
Gabreilla Runnels 
Evan Doomes from Louisiana 

Rebekah Oviatt from Washington 
Now get to boxin!

15 Tips for Avoiding the Freshman 15

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 12:36
Group Ex with my man Joe at Reily 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! 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, trust me!

Eat smaller meals throughout the day. The unlimited meal plan at Bruff is both a blessing and a curse. You'll have access to 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. 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 five food trucks. I had the Vietnamese one for the first time last week and it was a ten out of ten.

Start a team! Eat a ton of fresh fruits, veggies and salads. Anything that comes in a crinkly bag or plastic, eat that in moderation, if at all. The best rule of thumb is that the healthiest foods you can eat tend to only have one ingredient. Nearby, check out Poke Loa, Wayfare, Satsuma or St. James Cheese Company for some healthy off-campus options.

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 Nalgene (I can even hook you up with one if you come by my office) 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 La Croix or soda water. Cutting soda out of your life will change everything, trust me on this one. Bruff sometimes 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. Trust me.

Get on a routine. Just like a class schedule, get a workout schedule. Map 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. 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. 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!

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."

Avoid the drunken munchies at all costs. 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. It’s okay to have "cheat meals" when you are taken out to Jacuqes Imo's or your friends get together for a nice dinner on the town. But when you’re home, 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!

Start a team. This 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.

So there you have it, freshmen (or any college student in general). I hope this list helps. The last tip is the most important one. Enjoy Tulane and welcome back, or welcome for the first time!

There are literally always classes going on with TURec!

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

Admission Anxiety - And Ten Steps to Reduce It

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 11:00

Alright gang, EA and ED application deadlines have passed. It's all out of your control, and now, the waiting begins. ED decisions will be posted online on Monday, November 19th at 4pm. EA letters will head out for most students in mid December. Green Wave portals will be updated a few days after letters are mailed out. No need to keep checking the mailbox or portal until then. Hopefully, knowing exactly when you'll hear back will reduce anxiety a little bit. Speaking of anxiety...

I’ll be the first to admit it; for intermittent portions of last year, I had some serious anxiety. That's what today's blog is all about. 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 anxiety. 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, about a year ago, it all changed.

I know it seems somewhat dramatic to say, but 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. 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 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) Treat your brain like it’s your roommate. 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 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.

4) 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. 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 the new 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.

5) Don’t look at your phone before you go to sleep or right when wake up. 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. Meditate. 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) 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 fam.  Mom and Dad, you might have to lead this charge. 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. Speaking of which...

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.

If you had told me last year 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.

Spring Scholars

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 09:00

Here is me with our Spring Scholars currently studying 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. As we release ED and ED decisions over the next month, a small number of students in this group will be admitted int our spring admission program: Spring Scholars.

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 got the chance to visit both of our fall partnership programs in October and I cannot say enough great stuff about both sites. More on that later. 
The most 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 in a holistic manner coupled with the increase in popularity Tulane has seen over the past few years. Our admission office is very 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 17%. Unfortunately, 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, take some time to think about it. I know your preference would be to start class in the fall, but the Spring Scholars option is a final decision—it's non-binding and 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 first hand 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. 
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. You'll have the option to spend your fall term with a cohort of Tulane students at one of two incredible universities 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. I did a full Tulane orientation session with both groups and also got 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've listed all of your options here

Your potential fall campus!

Next, plan a visit to campus during one of our two dedicated Spring Scholar Destination Tulane dates. The dates you should plan on coming are either February 25th or March 11th. 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. Both programs are on a Monday so you'll have the weekend before to explore NOLA if you choose. 
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 2020. You can join the Facebook group here. Currently, we have 189 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! 

Travel Season 2018

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 17:03
We started our travel season by heading to the NACAC conference in Salt Lake City to meet with colleagues and share ideasNovember 1st has come and gone which means #TulaneTravel 2018 has come to an end. Our staff of admission reps spent the last two months quite literally travelling the world to meet the future members of the class of 2023. By the numbers alone:

1178: High Schools Visited10,372: Number of students who attended a Tulane high school visit40: Countries Visited 21: Community Based Organizations visited. We hit up places like College Track in Los Angeles, Seizing Every Opportunity in NYC and SF and Breakthrough in New York. 548: Total days spent on the road by admission staff members224: Number of individual flights taken by admission staff members 
We've met some great kids and are already knee-deep in reading some incredible Early Action and Early Decision applicants for the class of 2023. Good luck to each of you who has applied! 
Enjoy the travel photos, including yet another year of the Great Admission Sefie-off.

Brand new admission rep Tonia at one of her first school visits in Los Angeles 

Julie visiting her alma mater in Houston Joe got to visit Paul Tulane's grave in NJ! 

Jalin in So Cal
Dillon got an early start with this class of 6th graders! 
Owen with out friends from SMU, Miami, GWU, NYU and Northeastern on the MET Tour.

5 Tips to Knock your Interview Out of the Park

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:56
I hope your November is off to a great start, everyone! 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! 

The Optional Statement

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 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 becomes more 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 2023. 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.

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), what food you ate 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 how her tour guide seemed so smart, but laid back and even mentioned how she loved the green sundress the guide was wearing: "she struck me as someone who had the perfect work/life balance." I liked that. 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

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 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 2023. I've been meeting some really great students, and I look forward to reading your applications.

Speaking of reading, I read a lot of e-mails. 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 e-mails. However, there are seven kinds of e-mails 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 e-mails that you should not send, or at least be very wary on sending. So, here is a list of 7 e-mails 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 brainier, but "i" is a lot different from "I". When e-mailing 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 e-mail 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 e-mail address to communicate with colleges. 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 to!) but remember, all it takes someone else pressing two buttons and a screenshot is sent to me of you doing something dumb. This happens every single year and this year 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 e-mails. 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 e-mails, don't feel the need to e-mail an admission rep just for the sake of e-mailing us.

In this regard, 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 e-mail 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 e-mail to me, it just is not the best use of our time.

5) I get an e-mail 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 e-mails 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 e-mails I made. But, they represent real e-mail 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. E-mail me if you have any questions about it! (Seriously!)

Shelter from the Storm: Part II

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 21:16

This week marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria which devastated parts of the Caribbean and left the island of Puerto Rico with a long road to recovery which continues a year later. Shortly after the storm passed, Tulane made a commitment to welcome students from Puerto Rico and Saint Martin for a guest semester. It was our way of paying it forward for all of the kindness we received following Hurricane Katrina, something we're still continuing today. We were lucky enough to host 17 incredible students from Puerto Rico and Saint Martin during our spring semester this year. Truly, they were some of the most resilient, compassionate, thoughtful and endearing students that we have ever had at Tulane. Their impact on our campus will be felt for years to come.

With a year having passed since Maria, I thought now might be a good time to share some of the experiences that our guest students had here at Tulane. They squeezed every drop out of New Orleans and found many similarities between NOLA and PR. They joined our marching band, attended Jazz Fest and contributed to intense political discussions in their classrooms. They've all returned to Puerto Rico and Saint Martin this fall to assist in their region's recovery and apply everything they learned here in NOLA, a city that knows a thing or two about recovery and resilience, to their own recovery. I leave you with a bunch of photos of their time here in NOLA and two great quotes they wrote to us as they left to head back home.

"I will never forget my time at Tulane and the amazing people that worked so hard to make us feel welcome. Everyone truly helped our group turn a time of difficulty into a time of opportunity. My time there allowed me to recover and feel ready to keep working to build my home, Puerto Rico, back up."  - Veronica Ortiz

"One last time, I thank Tulane immensely for the opportunity that you gave me to attend and and interact the city of New Orleans. I would love, soon, to give back to someone else what Tulane did for me. As one of my favorite proverbs says: 'there is always a little fragrance in the hands of the ones who offers flowers.'" - Pura Arroyo Morales

Quick- Which one is San Juan and which one is the French Quarter? 
Puerto Rico does Mardi Gras Puerto Rico does late night at Howie T

Some of our incredible alumni donated a great dinner on the town for the who group! 

Puerto Rico does the Fly 
Orientation at Tulane with the help of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of International Students and Scholars, Newcomb-Tulane College and the Center for Academic Equity 
Puerto Rico does the Tulane Marching Band! 

Cooking Puerto Rican food in the dorms.Lunch at the President's House 
I am so lucky to have gotten to know this crew! 

Puerto Rico does... no comment. 

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

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 12:56
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 was in New York City all last week meeting with some incredible students who are interested in Tulane. I’ve been to CBOs in lower Manhattan (shout out to SEO and Breakthrough NYC) and both public and private high schools across all boroughs and been so impressed with the students I've met.

Reps from Tulane will visit nearly 1,400 schools and CBOs this fall and we can't wait to meet you. 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 fifteenth 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. Caveat: I got asked about study abroad and internships at 28 out of 28 visits this week. There is nothing wrong with this, so if you happened to have asked me about one of these two topics this week, don’t fret! 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 a brand 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 week 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!

NOLA's Top Ten Hollywood South Cameos

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 14:56

From the Drake “In My Feelings” music video to The Simpsons episode released earlier this 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. In 2013, New Orleans was home to more major movie locations than any other location in the world.

In honor of these two recent releases, 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 is the queen of the kitchen at my favorite New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase!

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.

Rachel Rosenberg- 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 week, 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.

Adam Griego-Treme

Growing up right outside of New Orleans, my family 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'! 

8 Tips for the Activities Section

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 11:00
Tulane offers students the opportunity to apply using our own application or using the Common Application. We've got no preference between the two, so it's totally up to you. We also believe in no barriers to apply; we're still one of only two schools in the top 50 with no application fee.

One part of the application that we take a good long look at is your activities section. 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, runningbacks and baristas. You don't have to be the Renaissance Man or Woman; you just have to have a few things that you love to do and are good at doing. We're looking for much more depth on your extracurriculars than we are breadth. In fact, we're kinda turned off when the resume is ten pages long (or every single box on the activities section is filled out) and we struggle to really get a sense of where your passions are and what you'll be involved in when you arrive on our campus in the fall. Take a look at my previous blog about what your overall resume and experiences in high school should generally look like.

Now, let's delve into my...

8 Tips for the Activities Section

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

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

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

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

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.

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!