Supply and Demand
March 28, 2012
Tomorrow, at long last, admissions outcomes will be released for students who applied during Regular Decision and those who were deferred from the early rounds.
While the admissions process will instantly turn to a celebration of those who were accepted, I’d like to pause at this penultimate moment to acknowledge the students who will get unhappy news from us tomorrow. Since we accepted 21 percent of the pool, an all-time low, simple math tells you nearly 80 percent (notwithstanding the wait list offers) have been denied.
When I visit our application processing room in Bendetson Hall, the expansive wall of files that were denied is a poignant reminder of the practical contours of “selectivity.” Let me be clear: I am not celebrating this fact. It’s simply an unavoidable aspect of a “most selective” admissions process: we must say no more than we can say yes.
To borrow a concept from AP Economics, competitive college admissions is a vivid example of supply (1300 places in our freshman class) and demand (16,378 applicants). The acceptance rate is our reaction to that proposition.
Making matters more complicated, the demand (the applicants) is quite strong. In fact, 71 percent of them were qualified for admission based on their academic credentials. Obviously, Tufts cannot accept that many students. So we assessed voice (as I’ve outlined in previous posts). We read and reread every file—the supplemental essays, the recommendations, the (optional) alumni interview, the list of extracurricular activities—and we made a competitive, holistic assessment of the sum of the many parts.
In fact, the various readers recommended 45 percent of our applicants as potential acceptances. In other words, almost half were compelling (competitive) in some way or another. During the long days of committee deliberation throughout March, we shaped our next freshman class from this large cohort of talent. It was a subjective process but it wasn’t random.
So if you get a denial tomorrow, it does not mean we did not like you or that your application lacked merit. We had an abundance of quality and a scarcity of space.