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Last Minute Tips for Tulane’s Competitive Scholarships

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 16:00

Happy December!

I hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving break. Our students had the whole week off, and I know they are excited to power through the end of the semester and get some time off for the holidays. Us counselors are busy reading through Early Action applications. Our goal is to release decisions before we leave for Winter Recess, and we will update you with the exact date and time once we know it.

I’ll fully admit I am behind schedule on this blog post. We have been reading furiously, and I was dragging on Sunday after getting my booster shot. However, I know I am not the only procrastinator out there and many students are likely finishing up their Dean’s Honor Scholarship, Paul Tulane Award, and Community Service Fellowship applications. I wanted to provide a couple tips for each as we approach the December 5th deadline.

For the Dean’s Honor Scholarship, try not to get too hung up on “the box”. While it can be wise to use the box as a launchpad into your project, you do not have to take it completely literally and ensure that your project is a square. People use the box as a metaphor for ballot boxes, televisions, post-it’s, canvases, and more. I’d encourage you to go on YouTube and poke around and see the diversity of great projects.

That leads me to my second tip for the DHS- be yourself and use what makes you YOU to your benefit! Are you a gifted artist? Do you love creating TikTok content? Lean into your personality and find a way to use your skills to make your project stand out! I can’t tell you how many times Leila and I have read DHS commentaries about “thinking outside the box”. You need to put your own spin on it!

Finally, don’t forget that this is a full tuition academic scholarship. We want to see something that shows some semblance of academic thinking. You are certainly encouraged to put your personality into it, but ultimately the Deans of our undergraduate schools will be choosing the final winners!

For the Paul Tulane Award, take some time to look over the prompts and think about which ones pique your interest. We have no preference as to which ones you respond to. Once you decide which essays you’d like to write, try to push yourself to find an idea that won’t be used by too many other students.

A few years ago, one prompt asked students to talk about a modern piece of technology that will be in the Smithsonian 100 years from now. You can only imagine how many essays about the iPhone we got. It became painful! While your first idea may be a good one, make sure it is something original, or that you have a way to make the idea your own!

By the way, both the DHS and PTA mention the average academic profiles and scores for past winners. Please note that test-optional applicants are still considered for these awards and won them last year!

Finally, for the Community Service Fellowship, you should really think about if you should apply for it. This fellowship is not a competition of who has completed the most service in high school. Strong applicants are typically students from whom service is their THING! Have you started your own organization? Are you spending every weekend on a project? Have you sought leadership positions in your community? If so, you may want to apply!

These students have a great opportunity to join a cohort and work closely with the Center for Public Service throughout their time at Tulane. They become the leaders of their class when it comes to service organizations. It is a huge honor and these students are respected figures on our campus.

So, there you have it! Just a few quick tips as we approach the finish line for these scholarship applications. Good luck!

ED Release and Spring Scholars

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:01

Hello friends!

We had a Helluva weekend here at Tulane with Homecoming and Parent’s Weekend. It was great seeing so many families on campus! Even in just a couple hours on campus, I was able to connect with a few families I had worked with over the years whose students are now killing it at Tulane! I always love catching up. Unfortunately, Tulane didn’t pull off the win, but the game was exciting nonetheless!

Congrats to Lucy and Kennedy for winning Homecoming Royalty! Lucy is a Green Wave Ambassador and Kennedy is one of our Interns!


The other big news from the past few days is that we now know when we’ll be releasing ED decisions! Those decisions will be released next Monday, November 22nd at 4:00 PM Central Time!


With ED decisions on the horizon, now is the time to remind people of the possible outcomes when you apply Early Decision. We do our best to avoid deferring or wait listing ED applicants- you have fully committed to Tulane by applying ED and we know we are your top choice. It doesn’t make sense to keep you waiting. We do our best to either admit or deny ED applicants, so that you can get on with your life.

Now, there are two forms of acceptances in this pool. First is your traditional admit where you will begin at Tulane in August of 2022. Then you have the Spring Scholar program, where you begin at Tulane in January. This is a tremendous option for students to see the world, work, or hone their skills before starting at Tulane. Both options are fantastic and deserving of a huge congratulations!

Students often ask us why they were admitted for the spring instead of the fall. The simplest explanation is that we physically cannot accept every student who is academically strong, interested in Tulane, involved in their community, or all three. Too many wonderful students are applying to Tulane, and our acceptance rate is only going down as our yield rate increases. It is a great problem to have, but it makes this time of year very challenging! My prediction is that our acceptance rate will be similar or even lower than last year’s of 10%.

Spring Scholars have excellent applications in nearly all regards. They’ve done amazing at their interviews, written great “Why Tulane?” statements, and had outstanding letters of recommendation. As ED applicants, we know Tulane is their top choice. Spring Scholars are that small group of students who we cannot accept for the fall, but who we know will be fantastic students at Tulane! If you are accepted as a Spring Scholar, that decision is final but no longer binding. No Spring Scholars will be reconsidered for Fall admission.

Spring Scholars also have the gift of having options! We have agreements in place with universities abroad in London, Rome, and Paris, so that our Spring Scholars can study abroad. I am personally incredibly jealous of this program! I did not study abroad in college and regret it immensely. What a cool way to start this next chapter of your life!

Our most popular SS destination is JCU in Rome. I wonder why…

Aside from being an amazing life experience, this allows students to take classes so that they can graduate on time in May 2026, and go through the recruitment process in January if they would like to join Greek life at Tulane. I’d encourage y’all to read up on these opportunities!

We have had 5 classes of Spring Scholars so far and they have done phenomenally at Tulane. They are still able to make friends, integrate into campus life, and become impactful members of the Tulane family. Some of my favorite students I’ve worked with in my career were Spring Scholars! If you have been accepted as a Spring Scholar, I’d recommend that you reach out to some of our Spring Scholars Ambassadors and pick their brains!

From there, TAKE YOUR TIME! Again, Spring Scholars are not bound to attend Tulane. You have until May 1st to make your final decision. Take advantage of this time to explore your options abroad or working, reach out to our ambassadors, and read our FAQs. We’ll also have a Spring Scholar-specific Destination Tulane in the spring! And one last time for mom, no Spring Scholars will be switched to the Fall.

AUP in Paris doesn’t look too shabby either!

Over the years, I’ve gotten plenty of emails from parents and students (let’s be real, it’s mostly parents) who are less than psyched that their student has been accepted for the Spring. I always try to flip the narrative to look at the Spring Scholar acceptance as an opportunity rather than a sleight. How many people get to spend their first semester of college abroad with students who will join them at their university some months later? Spoiler: it’s about 200 this year!

For the right student, it is an AMAZING opportunity. Take your time with this decision. We know it is a little different, but by choosing you for this option, we know Tulane is where you think you belong. If you agree, we’d love to see you on campus in January! Roll Wave!

Our Favorite Outdoor Spots in NOLA

Thu, 10/28/2021 - 16:53

I think fall has arrived! We’re looking at temperatures in the 70’s and even the 60’s over the coming days! It will be a great reprieve from the normal heat and humidity we’ve been working with since the summer. We’ve had tastes of this cooler weather, but it seems like it is here to stay.

With temperatures dropping, it is a wonderful time to get outside and explore the outdoor spaces New Orleans has to offer. While we don’t have mountains or anything like that, there are many wonderful places to take a walk, bring a picnic, or just sit and enjoy a sunny afternoon. Here are some of our favorites!

Crescent Park!

1) The Crescent Park: If you haven’t checked out this park that stretches from the very tip of the French Quarter through the Marigny and all the way down through the Bywater, make this place the first stop on your list. To me, this park is very reminiscent of the High Line in NYC. The Crescent Park is 1.4 miles long and over 20 acres set up in a linear fashion along the Mississippi River. The park offers some of the best skyline views of the city and makes for a perfect jog down the main running path. Access to the park is easily on Piety Street in the Bywater or the staircase/elevator right past the French Market. Trust me on this one- you’ll love this spot from the second you cross over the massive bridge at its entrance. I’d also recommend picking up some ‘za from Pizza Delicious while you’re over there!

2) Couturie Forest: For the perfect shaded run for any nature-lover, head over to the Couturie Forest in City Park. They bill it as “a natural escape in the heart of the city,” and I think that is spot on. I love walking around the wooded trails and getting lost here. Sometimes I end up at a huge lake; other times you’ll find yourself atop Laborde Mountain- the highest point in the city of New Orleans at a whopping 43 feet above sea level. The forest is over 60 acres!

3) Jean Lafitte Nature Trail: Cypress swamps are something else, and you’ll feel like you are miles and miles away from any city when you check out this trail. Located just 30 minutes from town, it’s a great escape for a gorgeous hike through the bayou. I love this trial because you are guaranteed to experience some serious gator sightings. I think the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve is relatively unknown, especially being so close to town. But I don’t mind keeping it that way- the trail and preserve are peaceful and a total oasis. The boardwalk trial through the Barataira Preserve leads you to a stunning view of the bayou.


4) The Mississippi River Trail– A.k.a. the Levee Top Trail, this is a great place for a bike ride! It starts right in Audubon Park and will take you all the way out through River Ridge, Kenner and all the way out past Destrehan for a nice 40 mile round trip ride. You can even connect and take it up through Baton Rouge. The MRT offers 3,000 miles of trails from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, and our little strip in town is a great spot for a long weekend ride. You’ll see tons of pro cyclists and triathletes out there, or even my parents!

5) The Fly: If you follow any Tulane kids on Instagram, you’ve seen the Fly! Be sure to stick around for the sunset. It will make you never want to leave as you watch the tug boats and barges mosey their way upriver. Here, you’ll see people balancing on their slacklines, frat boys playing Spikeball, and locals just taking in the perfect NOLA evening. Bonus—bring some boiled crawfish for a true Louisiana experience when they are in season this spring!


To Submit or To Not Submit?

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 16:38

Does “test optional” REALLY mean optional? This is a question I’ve gotten many times throughout my travels this year. Tulane is now in our second year of Test Optional admission, and yes, we really do mean they are optional! While a good score will never hurt your application, applying as a Test Optional applicant will not hinder your application. For the Class of 2025, 46% of our class applied Test Optional, and Test Optional students were still awarded merit scholarships, were offered spots in the Honors Program, and even received our full tuition scholarships.

Now, the question is- what score should I send? For that, I will turn it over to today’s guest blogger, none other than our VP of Enrollment and Dean of Admission, Satya Dattagupta. Take it away, boss!

By they way, you can meet Satya and get any other questions answered at our final Ask the Dean event on October 21st.

*    *    *

Will I truly still be considered for admission at Tulane if I don’t submit my test scores?

Yes, you will. At Tulane, we are 100% committed to give students an opportunity to be considered for the Class of 2026 regardless of their test submission status.

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. I am not going to lie- the DHS and PTA are highly selective awards. The process involves thorough and multiple layers of review. In addition to the strength of the essay/project, 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 31-34 (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 10%. Do you think that means 10% of students who submit scores will be admitted and 10% 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- 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. Good luck y’all!

Application Tips from the Directors

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 13:49

Happy Friday! It has been a wild few weeks as much of our office has begun our travel season. I am coming to you live from a parking lot at a Georgia high school!

In addition to traveling and meeting all of you, something that all of us Directors enjoy about our jobs is that we get to legitimately help people. We were once all lost high schoolers applying to college. I know I personally was miserable while applying to school, and often felt lost. We know many of you are experiencing some anxiety now as application season has begun, so we banded together to provide some of our top tips for applying to Tulane. Let’s get to it!

Our first tip is a short and sweet one from Director of Midwest Recruitment Keith Stanford: Beat deadlines rather than meet deadlines!

Make an effort to make sure that you are taking the time to put your best effort into your application, scholarship applications, and financial aid documents. Applying to college is stressful enough on its own, and you don’t need to add procrastination to the mix! Sending things off earlier than the last minute can be a huge relief, and can even provide you with a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Don’t undervalue the satisfaction of crossing something off your to do list!

Our next tip is from Director of International Recruitment Paul Burgess. He says:

My top app tip is for students to stay organized. Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets are a great way to keep track of all the universities you’re considering, along with details on deadlines, financial aid, and tidbits/anecdotes from visits or programs you do with the university. Organizing everything in this way will make it far easier to keep track, and to have easy access to details for supplemental essays, scholarship apps, or any quirks that a particular school has.

The third tip is from me. Engage with us!

I wouldn’t be much of a Director of Engagement if I didn’t mention its importance to our applicants. My whole title and main job is about connecting with students and coming up with creative ways that you can connect with Tulane. That is something we value a lot here at Tulane. We want to admit students who want to be here. You can show us that you want to be here by investing some time into Tulane by attending our virtual events, seeing us while we travel, or coming here to New Orleans. Remember that physically coming her for a tour is not required- there are infinite ways that you can demonstrate your interest. That engagement becomes the trail of breadcrumbs us counselors need while we try to advocate on your behalf. It makes all of our jobs more fun when we can root for students who are not only a good fit for Tulane, but are excited about our school too! Don’t forget to write your Why Tulane essay!

Another tip comes from our Executive Director of Communications Leila Labens. She reminds y’all to be yourselves!

Don’t try to say and do what you think we want to hear. Be genuine! Tell us about yourself, write the essay you want to write, and don’t join activities you don’t care about just to “look good for college”. When it comes to essays, we’d rather hear things in your own words. A slice of life is much more interesting than a forced story where you try to embellish or try to change the world. It is totally fine to just be you!

Our final tip comes from our Director of Technology, Neill Aguiluz, where he reminds you that having a family talk about finances is better to do sooner rather than later.

Have a serious family conversation about how much your family can reasonably contribute to your college expenses each year, and have it as early as possible! This can be a difficult conversation to have, but if everyone commits to transparency, it can help you understand what level of merit scholarships and need-based financial aid you’ll need to receive at each school you’re applying to in order to attend. You should also recognize that this discussion is going to be a heavy lift for your parents or guardians, so try not to be too hard on them! It’ll take time and mental effort on their part even to prepare for such a conversation, but once it’s done, you’ll have a clear picture from the get-go of which schools are most reasonable and which are more of a reach financially for you and your family. It’s never fun to get an admission letter and what looks like a generous financial aid offer, only to find that it’s not generous enough to make it work for you. Allow yourselves the space to discuss this early so that you can set concrete goals for yourself!

We hope these tips help you feel a little more at ease as you begin your applications! Remember that we accept both the Common App and the Tulane application, and neither one is preferred over the other. We look forward to reading them!


“Forward TUgether”

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 14:13

Hi folks! We hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. This was certainly not the fall semester we were anticipating. After just a few days on campus to kick off the year, Hurricane Ida made her landfall in Southeast Louisiana. It has been a stressful few weeks for everyone, but things are on the upswing. Tulane went toe to toe with Oklahoma, power has returned to New Orleans, and President Fitts announced that we will be able to resume in-person classes on September 27th- two weeks earlier than anticipated! You can read his full message here.

When it comes to admission events, we are ready to host you- soon! We will begin hosting information sessions and Q&A sessions on September 17th. Tours will resume once our students return to campus. As always, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test are required to visit our campus in-person. Our staff is also beginning our travel season, where we visit your towns and high schools. We are excited to meet many of you in real life! Remember, we still have tons of virtual offerings if you are unable to travel or aren’t quite ready for face-to-face interaction. Physically visiting campus is never a requirement to be admitted!

I personally think that Tulane handled Ida incredibly well. Ida intensified from “Invest 99L” to a Category 4 hurricane in a matter of hours, and defied most of the projections that weather experts were using. Tulane’s plans evolved at a similar speed. Some students chose to evacuate when Orleans Parish instituted an optional evacuation, while others sheltered in place on campus. After Ida left New Orleans without power, Tulane shuttled the students who remained on campus to Houston, where they could fly home or stay in hotels if they could not get home. The Admission staff also set up a base in Houston, so our staff could return to virtual work. I’ve heard rumors that they demolished 45 plates of sushi at one of those conveyor belt places, but I need some photo evidence.

Students board buses bound for Houston

President Fitts checks in with some students in Houston

Of course, the sun always returns after a storm, and some silver linings were found. While power was out in all of Orleans Parish, the levee system did its job. Flooding was minimal, and New Orleans fared well. Unfortunately, many communities to our west were not as lucky. Please continue to send thoughts, prayers, and any support to our neighbors in parishes like Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. John the Baptist, Jefferson, and more. They will need our help for the foreseeable future.

While many Tulanians remained in a holding period, Entergy was hard at work restoring power to New Orleans. Nobody really knew how long this process would take, leading to the uncertainty about our return. Entergy originally said it could take weeks! I loved seeing the pictures from The Commons hosting the line workers for a meal.

The Commons fed Entergy line workers while they were in town helping restore power

Thanks to the hard work of countless people out there, we are getting ready to move forward. It is impossible to say “thank you” enough times to the Tulane staff and contractors who worked around the clock (and continue to) to take care of our campus and students. We are very grateful to be able to return to campus soon, and for the spirit of New Orleans and Tulane! See y’all soon!

As a thanks for reading, here is Paul with Neill’s dog, Colin!