In the days preceding the blizzard, I was the one who watched every news channel (at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 12:00, 5:00, 6:00, 10:00 and 11:00) while constantly refreshing several weather websites, and (in what felt like a new neurotic low) even dusted off the Twitter I made over a year ago so I could have faster access to updates. I was clamoring for the tiniest detail on what was happening, when it would happen, how it would happen, where it would happen, what had already happened, and what the impact on me might be. This was all after I bought a month’s worth of milk and eggs. I don’t even drink milk.
Clearly, none of it mattered and my neuroses made no difference in the outcome but, when the next blizzard comes, I’ll do the same thing. Because even if waiting is stressful, I’m always happier when I have some sense of what’s going on. I feel like you’re in a similar spot so, from one chronic refresher to another, here’s an update:
It’s February. All files have now undergone what we call “Academic Review.” Some of you have heard us talk about “the tricky tango of data and voice” (the Dean’s words, not mine), and this is the part of the process where we analyze the data. We comb through transcripts, school profiles, curriculum descriptions, SAT scores, SAT2 scores, ACT scores, sub scores, rankings, bar graphs, pie charts, grade distributions and more, all in an effort to answer one question: How prepared are you for the academics at Tufts?
While the deep dive into your essays, recommendations, and voice doesn't occur until later, there is much more to this than raw data. If the numbers were just numbers, we could put your scores and GPA into a computer and have that determine your academic preparedness. It would be cheap and efficient and I could go get a much-needed manicure. But we don’t do that. Instead, I sit at my dining room table with a pot of Barry’s Irish tea for hours on end because no data exists in isolation. For every student, there is context.
One important piece of context is the school you attend. Each time we open a new file, it is our job as admissions counselors to figure out where you spent the last four years and how that might impact your numbers. This is why we don’t publish an average GPA because they can be weighted or unweighted or simply not exist at all. Scales range from 4.0 to 5.0 to 7.0 to 100 and beyond. Sometimes everyone gets A’s, sometimes no one gets A’s. Same goes for curriculum. A transcript without a single AP class is just fine… when a school doesn't offer AP classes. It takes time, but we figure it out.
The other piece that matters right now is your background. Where were you raised? Who were you raised with? How many students in your community go to four-year colleges? Did your parents go to college? Is there anything in your living situation that might impact academics? Have you faced any hardship? Financial issues? Illness or death of a family member? Your own illness or injury? Parents’ divorce? You’re real people, and real people are dealt a tough hand sometimes. A junior year full of B’s on an otherwise flawless A transcript could be read as a downward trend, or it could be the logical outcome of a bright student dealing with something big. Context matters.
The order of events changes from reader to reader and university to university, but some version of this process is happening everywhere. I write this not to stress you further, but to satisfy your need for information and assure you that your numbers are in good hands. Thousands of potential baby Jumbos are, as I write, being reviewed by a very capable and compassionate staff here in Bendetson (and in apartments and homes across the greater Boston area). They’re people who aren't bothered if they need to take time to understand a transcript blip, people who don’t hesitate to call a guidance counselor if things don’t add up, people who make the effort to see you and your academics in the best light possible.
So that’s what your file has gone through since you hit “Submit.” The next step is what we call a “Full Read” aka what I should be doing instead of writing this blog. More to come!