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Updated: 1 hour 48 min ago

What’s the Deal with “Engagement”?

Fri, 09/16/2022 - 16:09

Every year without fail, I get tons of questions about demonstrated interest. What does it mean? How does Tulane use it? Is it just “checking boxes”? Why do you call it “engagement” now?

I’ll be the first to admit that using student interest in the admission process is less than ideal. It can lead to inauthentic box checking, extra stress, and confusion. Students who attend less-resourced schools or who are first in their family to go to college may be unaware that interest is even a factor being used (more on that later). I totally understand the skepticism and fair criticism of its usage in admission at all.

Here’s the thing: at Tulane, we simply have more qualified students applying than we have space for. Last year, we had over 43,000 applications, and we can only comfortably house around 1,850 first-year students in our residence halls. Therefore, we have to be careful when admitting a class so that we do not enroll too many students. Engagement allows us to predict enrollment more accurately, as we can see who would seriously consider attending Tulane if admitted. We try to be as transparent as possible with students, parents, and counselors when we say that engagement is a major factor when it comes to Tulane. Read on to learn more!

What is “engagement”?

Engagement is what we now call demonstrated interest. Many schools use it as a part of a holistic review process, since a student who interacts with a school during their application process is generally more likely to come to that school if they are admitted. We changed the name to engagement to try to emphasize that we are looking for more than just “checking the box” and going through the motions. We absolutely want students to attend our events and do research, but it is about how you use that research to write a great Why Tulane essay and explain why you are a good fit for Tulane, and Tulane a good fit for you.

The example I always share to explain the difference between “demonstrating interest” and “engaging” came from a college fair a few years back. A student walked up to me at a college fair and literally said “I’d like to demonstrate my interest.” He filled out a card to share his information and sign in for the event. While he was doing so, I asked him if he had any questions about Tulane. He said no, handed me his card, and walked away. It was very bizarre and a prime example of what I’m talking about. Sure, his application reflected that he took the time to swing by the table at the college fair, but he did not actually do anything to learn more about Tulane or use it as an opportunity to add some humanity to his application. See the difference?

How can I engage with Tulane?

The good news is that there are tons of ways to interact with Tulane. From campus tours to virtual events, we have you covered. You do not need to physically visit New Orleans to prove that you are interested in Tulane. Of course, we appreciate it if you do, but it is NOT the only way to show interest. Our counseling staff also travels extensively, and we’re hosting Tulane info sessions around the country and visiting high schools. Basically, any time we are taking down your name and email address, we are making a note in your file that you attended an event. This way, when we go to read your application later, we can see that you’ve spent time with us and have invested time in Tulane. You are also welcome to email your admission counselor to ask questions. Try to ask those questions that cannot be found on a quick Google search!

Remember, you then need to use all of this research and turn it into a great Why Tulane essay! Engagement is not a competition to see who has attended the most Tulane events! It is much more of a binary question of if a student is taking us seriously or not. You do not need to attend 18 Tulane events to show us that you are!

How does Tulane use engagement?

Engagement is a very important factor in our admission process. Since we have more qualified students applying than we have space for, we have to use more than just academics to build our class. One analogy I use a lot is about high school dances. Would you ask someone to go to the dance with you if you knew they were going to say no? Probably not! The same goes for us with a hypothetical student who didn’t attend any events or write the Why Tulane essay. Engagement can absolutely be a difference-maker in the application process.

However, we know that using engagement is not perfect. Not every student knows that it is a factor, or attends a high school where they are close with a counselor that can clue them in. That is why engagement is not a one-size-fits-all metric. We understand that a student from a rural public high school who is the first in their family to go to college may not have the same tools available to them as a student who attends an independent school that costs $35k a year. We don’t just blindly use engagement without context. We try to use it in an equitable way that does not solely benefit the most privileged students in our pool who know a lot about the admission process.

Isn’t this just “yield protection”?

This is a question that I’ve gotten more and more recently. I think someone heard the term and posted it all over the applying to college subreddit and folks ran with it.

The idea of “yield protection” that I hear a lot is that students hypothesize that Tulane and other schools automatically defer/deny very high achieving students. Their theory is that schools assume these high achievers are going to go to the Harvards and Stanfords of the world, so we don’t bother admitting them. This could not be more wrong. We absolutely admit and enroll students who performed at an elite level in high school.

We do not automatically deny anyone, but having elite grades and/or scores does not entitle anyone to a spot at Tulane. High achieving students have to show us that they are taking their application seriously just like everyone else. And when they do show that, they’ve got a great chance of getting admitted! We want to build a class and a community of people who are not only strong students, but also people who are excited about Tulane and New Orleans.

Final Thoughts

I know this was a longer post, but I hope y’all found it helpful. I fully admit that engagement is a funky thing and is far from perfect. However, I’m glad we are able to peel back the curtain and explain to y’all how it is used.

I like to think of admission to Tulane as 3 big hurdles that everyone needs to get over: academic, personal, and engagement. It is quite hard to get into Tulane if you miss one of the three hurdles. We need to see that you are a capable student, that you will bring something to our community, and that you have shown that Tulane is a school you are seriously considering. Unfortunately, crossing all 3 hurdles does not guarantee admission, but covering all 3 elements of your application can seriously help your chances of getting in.

As you go through your applications this year, be aware of which schools track engagement and which don’t. Be respectful of your own time and be strategic about what schools you visit in the fall versus which ones can wait until the spring. Don’t let these events take over your whole life!

Thanks so much for reading, and hope to see y’all on the road!

Our Four Application Rounds

Tue, 08/30/2022 - 20:31

Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful summer and are having a great start to the school year! Our counseling staff has hit the road, and travel season is officially upon us! We visit high schools, host regional receptions, and answer all of your questions along the way. One question I’ve already encountered a few times is about our different application rounds. Tulane is offering 4 different rounds this year– Early Decision, Early Action, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. Read on to hear about each and figure out which might be the best for you and your family!

Early Decision (11/1 deadline):

Early Decision (ED) is a binding agreement. You sign the ED Agreement form that confirms that you will attend Tulane if admitted. This round is best for students who are 1000% sure Tulane is where they want to be. Oftentimes, these students have visited campus and have determined that Tulane is the definitive #1 on their list. Aside from Tulane being their academic and social fit, families also need to determine if Tulane is a financial fit for them. While ED students are still considered for merit aid, but to be honest, that pool of money is smaller and merit scholarships are less common for these students. Families should use the Net Price Calculator to get an idea of what Tulane’s actual price may end up being for them. Need-based Aid is offered the same regardless of round, but merit aid varies more with ED. ED students will hear back by December 15th, and enrollment deposits are due January 15th. Just like the case at other schools, our ED round has the highest acceptance rate and most of our class last year came from the ED and ED2 rounds.

Early Action (11/15 deadline):

Early Action is the round that most of our applicants use, and it is what I would recommend to most of you! Early Action has the largest pool of merit money, and the most flexibility. You will hear back by January 15th, and enrollment deposits aren’t due until May 1. This gives you and your family ample time to compare offers from other schools, make spring visits, and figure out which school is the best fit. While EA has a lower acceptance rate than ED, it is still a very viable option. My advice would be to make sure that you write your Why Tulane essay and attend a few of our events so that you have shown interest and voiced it. Remember that “demonstrating interest” is more than just going through the motions!

Early Decision II (1/13 deadline):

Early Decision II (or ED2) is another opportunity for students to tell us that Tulane is their first choice. The most common applicants in this round are students who originally applied EA and were deferred. Some other students apply after getting turned down at a different school or reevaluating their college list. ED 2 applications are due January 13th, and you’ll hear back by the end of the month. Deposits are due by February 10th, so it is a quick turnaround. Similar to ED, ED2 does not have as large of a pool of merit money as EA.

Regular Decision (1/15 Deadline)

I’ll be honest, RD at Tulane is extraordinarily competitive. We got over 40,000 applications last year, so there is rarely a ton of space left by the time the new year begins. Over the past few years, RD acceptances have been quite rare. More qualified students than we have space for apply ED and EA, so waiting for RD is hard to do. Honestly, I can’t recommend that you apply RD to Tulane for now. As you may have read, we have a new Dean of Admission and VP of Enrollment Management coming in September, so the percentage of our class that comes from each round may change in the future, but for now my advice remains the same: apply EA!

So there you have it! Hopefully this will help you strategize what round is best for you. Remember that you can always email your admission counselor and ask them what they think is the best option for you and your family!

Our New VP of Enrollment and Dean of Admission

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 15:10

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer. We have been very busy here in the Office of Undergraduate admission between our office planning retreat, summer conferences, and our search for a new leader. We’re very excited to share that the search is over, and Shawn Abbott will be joining us in September as our new Vice President of Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission!


Shawn is currently the Vice Provost for Admissions, Financial Aid, and Enrollment Management at Temple University in Philadelphia. Prior to Temple, Shawn served as Assistant Vice President and Dean of Admissions at New York University. His career also includes 6 years as the Director of Admission at Stanford, and years at Columbia University, Boston University, and Drexel University.


Shawn comes to us with a great reputation in the field. As Tulane’s Provost, Robin Forman said: “He has been enormously successful at each stage of his career and is well-known for his smart, strategic, collaborative approach to enrollment management. And throughout our selection process, Shawn showed a nuanced understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing Tulane and impressed everyone who met with him. I am very much looking forward to starting our work together”.


In his own words, Shawn says:

“I could not be more excited to come to Tulane. It’s always hard to leave a university and a city you love, but the allure of Tulane and New Orleans is too strong.” Abbott said. “My goal is to continue to attract the most academically qualified students to Tulane while also helping move the needle when it comes to ethnic, socio-economic and international diversity on campus, as there is nothing more thrilling to me than improving access to universities that haven’t always been the most obvious destination for underrepresented students.”


We are very excited to welcome Shawn to Tulane!