Riverwalk Outlet Mall: Y'all, I am not going to lie: the Riverwalk Mall is the best kept secret in NOLA. I went last week and purchased two pairs of overalls for my Halloween costume for $12 total from the American Eagle Outlet. Next on my list was 40% Crocs (sure, you can still knock Crocs. 'Till you get a pair) and then cleaned up on Under Armour workout masks and rounded things out with a sweet 60% pair off New Balance shoes. Seriously, this place has the best deals, it's unreal.
Buffalo Exchange on Magazine: This isn’t super cheap but I usually go for their sale rack, which has some great stuff for under $10. Especially great for costumes (Tara, '22.) The staff is really nice and if you have pieces you’d like to exchange then they’ll work with you. (Rula from Admission)
Red White and Blue Thrift in Metairie: It’s cheap and there’s tons of options. Bonus tip: buy business professional at thrift stores. You can buy really nice stuff that’s not super used for wayyyyy less than you’d normally pay! (Lela, '22)
Goodwill Industries on Tulane: In terms of the mega-sized thrift stores in NOLA, this one is the biggest and the best. Great for anything from Mardi Gras costumes to Saints gear to everyday clothing and furniture. Under renovations right now, but head back as soon as they reopen!So much junk! (source)
Habitat for Humanity Restore: Habitat Restore has super affordable home goods, which was amazing when moving off campus to furnish your home on a budget. The best find in my house was a wood tv stand for 5 dollars. (Didi, '21)
Tulane Classifieds: This site is a great way to find second-hand things from people in the neighborhoods around Tulane. Anything you find on this site will usually come at a great discount and are barely used. In my house, our couch was originally $1500 from West Elm and we got it for only $75! Both of these places are great because buying second hand is a great way to recycle and help the environment! (Didi, '21)
Trash to Treasure is ah-mazing
Tulane Trash to Treasure: Tulane Trash to Treasure redirects these otherwise-destined for the dumpster dorm supplies, stores them over the summer, and sells them back to students and community members during the August move-in period at heavily discounted prices. All proceeds then go to local New Orleans-area nonprofits combating some of our city’s most pressing environmental and social problems. Literally everyone wins.
A few years back, I read an article that's stuck with me since. Long story short, not everyone at Tulane has money to drop on dinners out on the town, or even lunch somewhere other than our brand new dining Commons. We need to do a better job here about making sure our students are aware of the socioeconomic diversity that Tulane has. Here's the good news: NOLA is pretty cheap, relatively speaking! Today is part one of a three part blog about how you can enjoy NOLA for very little — or any — money. We're starting with cheap eats. Today's blog is all about where you can eat within walking distance from campus without breaking the bank. Between Freret Street, Oak Street, and Maple Street, there are plenty of great spots that students can get some affordable and delicious meals. I surveyed our student interns and a few staff members and here's what we recommend. Let's check 'em out!
Adam's Street Grocery: I'd argue that Adam's has the best bang for your buck in New Orleans. Their po boys are on Don Phuong bread (iykyk) and they've got a solid selection of snacks and drinks as well. (Owen, '14)
Liberty Cheesesteaks: One of my Philly fraternity brothers opened this Freret Street staple a few years back and they're still sligin' up the cheapest and best Philly Cheesesteaks south of PA. Get it wiz wit!
Singleton's Mini Mart: A lesser known spot for the Tulane crowd, Singleton's is just a few blocks off Audubon Park in the Black Peral neighborhood. They serve up a great mix of Vietnamese Po Boys and traditional ones as well. And you can't beat their prices!
Favori: Another great NOLA bucks spot, Favori has a great spicy chicken wrap and you can walk next door to Insomnia cookies for a cheap dessert. (Y’vonne '23)
El Taco Loco: I think it’s better than Felipe’s (another Tulane staple.) El Taco Loca has great Al Pastor tacos. You can also walk there from campus and sit outside! (Tara, '22)
Lebanon Cafe: The best affordable and delicious Mediterranean food in the city, hands down. Located on Carrolton right next to El Taco Loco.
Camelia Grill: Generations of Tulane students and alumni know all about this true icon of the affordable Uptown restaurant scene. The line out front might be intimidating, but it's worth the wait for their pecan waffles. They have new outdoor seating added for covid purposes.
Pizza Domenica: In the pizza wars, Domenica might be the best. Head over for their happy hour half off pizzas to save some.... dough. Happy hour is every weekday from 3-5. (Alex, '21)
Mint Vietnamese Bistro: I love mint. It’s not super expensive. They have big dinner dishes for $9 - $11 and the service is super quick. My favorite dish is definitely the lemongrass chicken with rice. I save it for leftovers the next day too!! (Lela, '22) My addition- try their Vietnamese coffee! You'll be wide awake and happy all day.
Ba Chi Canteen: Order any of their bacos! This place is great because it’s within walking distance of campus and it’s also cool to get to experience the rich Vietnamese culture of New Orleans through their cuisine. (Didi '21) I'll add that this places has the best Bahn mi po boys in the city, for $8!
Barracuda: Come for the legit tacos, stay for the cute garden out back. It isn't walking distance from Tulane, but it's worth the trip! (Ali from Admission)
Ancora Pizza: The Bianca pizza is my favorite along with the crab meat gnocchi. Italian sodas are also a treat. They also have pizza happy hour on Wednesdays with some of their most popular pizzas for only $9. Walking distance on Freret - what more can you ask for? (Becky from Admission)
The question of the year for college seniors is definitely this: should I submit (or even bother taking) the SAT or ACT? Today's blog is going to give you the most candid answer we can give, straight from the Dean of Admission. Here are two things to remember, first and foremost: One, you are competing for YOUR spot in the class and not against anyone else. If you don't submit scores, you won't be compared to an applicant who does. And two, the answer to this question is not one-size-fits all. For some students, submitting a 31ACT makes sense, for others it does not. The Dean hints at this in question 6. Let's turn it over to Dean Satyajit Dattagupta for the rest of his answers. Thanks, boss!
By they way, you can meet Satya and get any other questions answered at our final Ask the Dean event on October 13th.
I just cannot find a way to take the test. All of the test dates around me have been cancelled. Will I truly still be considered for admission at Tulane?
Yes, you will. At Tulane, we are 100% committed to give students an opportunity to be considered for the Class of 2025 regardless of their test submission status. Your world has been turned upside down due to this pandemic.
Are colleges and universities aware of how hard it’s been to register and actually take the test right now?
Yes, unfortunately this has been brought to my attention multiple times. This is why I am emphasizing that you do not need to lose sleep if you cannot take your standardized test. I would focus instead on doing well academically in class and participating in extracurriculars activities that bring you joy.
I’m relying on a merit scholarship and don’t have scores. Can I still apply for the Deans' Honor Scholarship or Paul Tulane Award? Will kids with no scores still get those awards?
All students will be considered for merit-based aid. Our merit award criteria is being adjusted to accommodate test optional students. DHS and PT are highly selective awards. The process involves thorough and multiple layers of review. In addition to the strength of the essay, we emphasize the academic achievements of a student. In this test optional world, we will consider students for this award whether they have submitted their scores or not.
I have decent scores, but I am really struggling to decide if I should submit them. Is there a general range you’d recommend we submit?
A good score will never hurt you. Our middle 50 % of ACT is a 31-33 (SAT is 1410-1510). We admit students above and below those ranges. I share this number with you to give you a sense of the middle ranges. This does not mean that you should not submit a score below that range. It is just a guideline. No dean can ever tell you that a minimum score is required to get accepted because of the holistic nature of the process.
Tulane has an admit rate of 11%. Do you think that means 11% of students who submit scores will be admitted and 11% of those without scores will be admitted? Or is it not that simple?
It is not quite that simple. The process is layered and holistic. My advice is to not worry too much all these permutations. It all depends on the strength of the applicant pool. It is too early to tell.
I am a junior right now. Do you think this policy will still be around next year or is it too soon to tell?
We will make a decision on next year in early spring.
Any advice for how to not overthink this?
Don’t listen to too many people. Pick a few informed people (hint: your school or CBO counselor) and seek their advice. Submit an honest application that is a true reflection of yourself.
* * *
This is all great advice straight from the dean. I'll answer the last question too- my advice is pretty simple. If you think your scores make your application stronger, send them. If you don't, or didn't take the test, don't send them. Then, most importantly, trust us. Trust us at Tulane to give you a full and holistic review, regardless on if you have scores or not. Test optional means test optional. Also remember Tulane is totally-self reported for testing. You can wait till you have your scores and then make the decision to submit them yourself, for free. Submit your application (with or without scores) and then trust the process and know that you'll land exactly where you were supposed to. Easier said than done? We got you covered there too. Good luck, all!
So... what are you looking for in an applicant?
A common question, but in my many years in this profession, it's always been the hardest one for me to answer. I've said this before many times in this blog; we never want for our applicants, especially in the Corona era, is to participate in specific activities, write about essay topics or in general just do specific things because they think its what colleges "want to see." There is almost nothing, literally, in this entire process that every university you are applying to is searching for in your application. Each of us have different institutional priorities and university missions and communities we aspire to create. I've also even written an entire blog about the mania that colleges have created among high school students. Sorry again about that whole thing.
Now, with that caveat in place, there are character traits that can authentically shine through your application that hint at what type of college student you'll be when you arrive on our campus in the fall. I took some time to survey the admission team here to see what personal attributes we enjoy seeing in your applications. Sometimes, they show up in your letters of recommendation and other times, they shine in a an extracurricular activity you enjoy. And I'll say it again — these are not checkbox items that we search for in your application. Rather, they might help us to see if you'll fit in here and make a positive impact on the Tulane and New Orleans communities. None of these character traits are things that you can force upon yourself, but perhaps they are things that you can aspire to have. They'll make your college life more fulfilled and will allow you to add a great deal to your personal wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of the community you join in the fall.
I surveyed the team here, and here's what we came up with. This might be one of the longer posts on this blog, but it was one of my favorite ones to write. We appreciate seeing applicants who demonstrate that they...
Are self-aware: You don't have any control over the family you were born into or the community you grew up in... but you can be aware of it. I won't shy away from the P-word: Privilege. In reading applications, I try to get a sense if the applicant is aware of their privilege, if they come from it. When I read applicants who have travelled the world for service trips and done internships with doctors and hedge funds (nothing wrong this doing these thing), I also want to see that the student is aware that participating in these kinds of things is only possible for a small percentage of people on this planet. The topics of privilege and self-awareness come up a lot in my blog: you'll see it in one of my essay writing tips blog as well as in the COVID-19 section blog. I also talk about it in detail on this webinar at 21 minutes. When you've completed your application, take a look back over it and read it with a few questions in mind: if I come from a place of privilege, am I aware of it? Am I using it for good? And, am I presenting my application in a way that shows a sense of self-awareness and that I can put my experiences into perspective?
Have an interest in hanging with people outside their traditional social circles. I am going to pick on Long Island for a moment. WAIT don't get mad yet, 516-ers: I positively love Long Island. My grandparents have lived in Great Neck for almost 50 years, my dad grew up on LI and I have spent hundreds of amazing trips, personally and professionally, enjoying all the glory that Long Island has to offer. That said, I find that Long Island is so great that sometimes students from that region go to college elsewhere, but never "leave" Long Island — they seek out friends who are from the same area high schools they came from and share many of their same identities, backgrounds and beliefs. On the flip side, a lot of Long Islanders come to Tulane and create best friendships with kids from Texas and Mississippi and China and Los Angeles. I want students like that — who are not going to stay in the same bubble they were in in high school. You have four years in college where you establish relationships with anyone you choose. Do it, even if it's not the easiest thing or most comfortable thing to do. We learn the most when we learn from people who are different from ourselves. Don't miss the opportunity to create lasting friendships in college with people from different ethnicities, hometowns, socioeconomic backgrounds and, dare I say it, political beliefs.
Are authentically themselves. This one comes from my colleague Angel Carter: "A lot of times, students go through this process and try to tell us what they think we want to hear and 10 times out of 10... we don't need to hear it! We want to hear from you about your stories and your experiences, not what you think is the most impressive or the most flashy. A tip that I always give, specifically for essays, is write your essay and tell your stories as if you were telling your family or best friend. As weird as that may sound, think about it like this: when we tell our family and/or best friends about our experiences, it's probably the most authentic that we are in telling that story. That's what I want to see in an applicant: you are giving us a sense of who you are and your originality." Amen, Angel!
Have connected with teachers, young children or others from different generations. Thanks to Valerie Calenda for this one: "I love learning about students who have developed a strong bond with someone from a different generation in their school community or broader community. Bonds with peers are typical, but connecting with someone who is in a different stage of their life requires an open-mind and develops empathy. I once read about a student who regularly conversed with the custodian at their high school. While sharing about these bonds from a first-hand perspective is great, hearing about them in school counselor's letters of recommendation provides an additional perspective on the inter-generational connection." When you get to college, lots of your interactions here are going to be intergenerational. We want to see you are interested in forging these kinds of relationships.
Are intrinsically motivated. This one's from Owen Knight: "Tulane students work hard in school because they legitimately like to learn. They aren't afraid to geek out about Neuroscience or their upcoming internship. Tulane students are pretty much all capable of getting a 4.0, but they won't ruin their life to do so. They aren't cutthroat and don't care what YOU got on the exam. They'd rather study together to make sure they are all prepared. They work hard in school because... why wouldn't you?" A.k.a., as we said in summer camp, it's OK to leave your "cool hat" at home. I want you to be the student who gets excited about the non-credit field trip your professor offers and rallies other students to go with you.
Are not afraid to say they do not know or they are still learning. Rula Thabata provided this excellent one. "Oftentimes the college application process can leave students feeling like they need to be perfect, and we’re human and it’s okay not to be. Sometimes we do not know things as humans and it’s okay! For example, struggling in one class and doing better later on in your high school career is something we'll always be impressed by." I agree. I sometimes read essays where it's framed that the applicant has everything nicely wrapped up and totally figured out at 17 years old and all of life's struggles have sun-setted. I've mentioned this in my previous blog about your college essay. We don't expect you to have this whole thing figured out yet. No 17-year-old does!
Are genuine and not necessarily well-rounded. Here's Sam Reich's suggestion. "When reading applications, I see hundreds of students who have resumes a mile long. They spend 20 hours a week volunteering, they're student body president and treasurer of the theatre club, they spend every summer building homes with Habitat for Humanity, they play six instruments, AND they have a part time job at the local pizza joint on the weekends. There's nothing wrong with being the Renaissance person, but it can sometimes make it hard to know what the applicant is genuinely interested in. Last year, I read an application of a student who had taught herself three different languages and spent time after school tutoring in one of those languages. She didn't have a list of activities a mile long but she clearly spent her time outside of school doing something she really enjoyed. And guess what? She was admitted to Tulane. I could tell that language was her passion and seeing that dedication to one particular area allowed me to learn so much more about her than if she had 16 different activities on her application. All that to say, find your thing. And don't be afraid to stick to it."
Are balanced. Kristin Guidry offered this one: "I do not mean balanced in the 'well-rounded' sense; rather, I am looking for an applicant that has the ability to manage their time between academics, activities and social interests. One of the biggest challenges first year students face, at any institution, is the ability to balance the academic rigor of college with the abundance of interest clubs and social activities. I had an applicant share with me a couple years ago that when he got to high school he was invited to join a car restoration club at his school and he became completely engrossed in flipping and restoring cars, so much so that his academics began to suffer because he wasn't adequately managing the academic expectations of his school with his social activities. He further shared that he worked with his guidance counselor to map out a plan for each semester in order to balance his academic workload with his interests and that now planning and balance is just part of his daily routine. I have stayed in touch with him and he mentioned that he was able to help his roommate balance his interests during their first year! Applicants who can show that they have balance as part of their 'tool kit' in their application interest me. It also tells me that they will have a successful first year on campus." Tulane is going to throw A LOT at you if you come here and it isn't always easy to balance it all — and that's OK! We've got amazing success coaches that will help you find that perfect balance at Tulane.
Are curious: Henry Marrion is bringing us home with this last trait: "Curious people are the ones who will make the most of their Tulane experience. They'll be most willing to explore the wonderful city that Tulane is located in, and they'll make for more interesting and involved citizens on campus." I think this one is perfect for Tulane applicants. It takes a specific type of kid to want to go to college in New Orleans. Those who thrive here are the ones who are the most curious to discover all the incredible thing this town's got to offer.
Now, with all that said, do not take this as the gospel. And certainly don't go chatting up your school's custodian just cuz you want a teacher to see you and write about it (talk about inauthentic…). But do use this as some light guidance for what we aspire our undergraduate population to be comprised of. Some of these things might come naturally to you and if they do, we'll get a sense of it without you even having to try, just by reading your application. But lastly... don't overthink this. Don't worry if you don't feel like any of the above come naturally to you. Be yourself and concern yourself less with what you think we are "looking for." Because at the end of the day, we're looking for you... to be you.
One thing you can always count on us for at Tulane is transparency. We believe there should be no "secrets" in the college application journey. If you check out any of our webinars, you'll see plenty of candid and transparent information that will assist you in the entirety of the application process. I specifically recommend our webinars on Applying to College 101 and College Applications in the Time of Corona. We'll continue to share a robust list of virtual events on this page throughout the next two months.
So... with September kicking off and back-to-school in full swing, we've brought many of our previous blogs and tips together into this superblog: The Top 10 Tips for Applying to College. Let's go!
1) Do the optional statement: If the application asks "Why are you applying to [insert school here]?," take the time to write a thoughtful, insightful answer. Show you have done a little research, and really make your case as to why you think said school would be a good fit for you. If there isn't a question like this on the application, then send in a short paragraph as if this question was asked. You can read all about this in detail on my blog entry here. Quick tip — if you are struggling big time to write one of these, then ask yourself, should I really be applying here? TLDR: optional statements are anything but optional.
2) If we see something, say something: If you had a real tough semester in your personal life during your sophomore year, and we see a strange dip in grades, let us know. If AP Calc wasn't your thing, but you got two tutors and worked every night for two months studying, but still got a C, let us know. The more insight you can give into your grades, the better. The best spot to do this is in the "additional information" section, or if applicable, the COVID-19 section. That said, don't feel like you have to relive any challenging experiences or share a tough personal story for the benefit of colleges. Your school counselor can mention anything to us that they feel is important for the admission committee to be aware of, but that you'd rather not relive via an essay or the additional information section.
3) Pick an essay topic you enjoy writing about: It's that simple. We're more likely to love reading something you loved writing. We read thousands and thousands of these things, so make sure you get us engaged right off the bat. And remember, sometimes the best essays are the simplest ones — a slice of life or a moment in time. No need to dig for a tragedy, over embellish anything or try to change the world. Just be yourself. You can read all about my tips on the best college essays here. Don't worry about the topics you think colleges "want to see" (they don't really exist) or the topic you are dreading writing about, but your mom or independent counselor is pushing on you.
4) Less is More: Tulane will likely see over 45,000 applications this year. Schools like UCLA and NYU get 75,000+ applicants. We go through applications somewhat quickly, so sending in a lot of extra stuff won't benefit you. So, how can you best share your story without overselling yourself? Resist the urge to send in multiple essays, 4-page resumes and multiple additional letters of recommendation. I even boldly suggest that you shouldn't feel pressured to fill out every blank on the activities section. Some of the best applicants we see are concise, precise and get to the point. You can read more about what I mean by this here.
5) Avoid application redundancy: Take a 30,000 foot view of your application. If your activities section is all about tennis and your counselor letter of recommendation talks about tennis and your short answer is about tennis, what do you think your essay should be about? Anything but tennis! Decide where each "piece" of your application should fall and where your stories, passions and strengths will be shared. This might mean connecting with your school counselor (and it's a good time to get to know them better!). We read tens of thousands of applications a year, and as soon as we see something in your file that is identical throughout, there's a chance we'll skip over the repeated parts. You can also learn how to combine this tip and the one before it to stand out for the right reasons in the activities section.
6) Get Engaged with Tulane: I don't mean ask us to marry you. I mean take some time to purposefully research Tulane to find out if we are a good fit for you. We want to see applicants who are authentically and genuinely interested in Tulane. You can easily engage with us by attending one of our many virtual events, a MET Event (with our friends from GWU, SMU, Northeastern and Miami!), or checking if we'll be at virtually visiting your high school or Community Based Organization this fall. The most important thing to keep in mind is be purposeful in your interactions with colleges. Got questions? Let us know, but only if you really can't find the information elsewhere. Don't overdo it; simply research your top schools and meet with admission reps during their travels to your hometown. I posted a whole blog about this last month.
7) Be self-aware when using the COVID-19 prompt: Rather than re-litigating my thoughts on this new prompt here, I recommend you head straight to my blog written about this very topic.
8) Be cool, man: Put your best foot forward when you're applying to college (and after you are admitted). I'll help: here are eight emails you should never send an admission rep. Be cool — especially when you don't think anyone else is watching. This goes especially for TikTok, Snapchat, Insta, Twitter — we don't check your social media platforms here at Tulane, but every year, we'll get screenshots of dumb things students put on Snapchat or Twitter. This is, by far, the #1 reason why I rescind admission to students. Just be smart, nice, and treat your peers with some compassion and respect.
9) Do an Interview: With so many schools going test optional and many high schools going Pass/Fail, many colleges and universities have introduced interviews this fall. If a school you are considering is offering virtual interviews this year, do one! Virtual interviews with admission staff are brand new at Tulane this year and I've genuinely loved getting to personally interview hundreds of our applicants this summer. Any rising senior can sign up here. Participating in these casual (but evaluative) 20-minute interviews allows us to share with you the things we love about Tulane and allows you to tell us all about yourself and share the things you care about and are proud of. Put your best foot forward at these interviews but also don't overthink them — I can honestly say not one single interview I have conducted so far has reflected negatively on the student. Not one.
10) Test optional... means test optional: No one should be getting on an airplane to take this test. No one should be driving great distances to take this test. No one should be risking their health to take this test. We do not need the test from you, we do not expect the test from you and if you do not submit the test, you will still be given every possible chance of admission to Tulane. Remember this: you are competing for your spot in the class. If you don't send in a score, trust Tulane to not compare you to someone who did. We've always practiced holistic review here and we will continue to do so for every one of our applicants. Test optional means test optional.
Now... get to applying! What are you waiting for?
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