If you’ve spent more than five minutes with me, you’ve probably heard me describe something (usually something trivial) as “tragic.” Tragic is my preferred word for describing situations that are unfortunate, disappointing, or troublesome…really mature, right? Occasionally in my job as an admissions officer, I encounter tragic moments that leave me feeling “womp womp” inside. These include:
It’s a sad feeling when an otherwise smart, interesting, high-achieving applicant presents us with downward trending grades in their first marking period or takes a less-than-impressive senior year curriculum with only 2-3 core courses. Your final year of high school is an opportunity to present some of your strongest academic work in your most challenging courses. It’s tricky because we know senior year is also when you’re juggling the pressure of the college application process, leadership in your extracurricular commitments, and other responsibilities along with several intense classes...but the reality is that we’re relying on your transcript (including first quarter/trimester/semester senior grades in a rigorous curriculum) as the best evidence we have of your preparation for college. Steady academic performance or an upward trend = not tragic.
About a day after we receive your application, our office will send you an automated email with the login information needed to activate your Tufts application status page. Here you’ll find a handy dandy checklist of the required admissions and (if applicable) financial aid materials. I strongly recommend taking the extra few minutes to set up your account and logging in once in a while to ensure we have everything we need to review your application and make a decision. Now, there’s no need to immediately panic if something’s missing. As long as you submitted your part of the application on time, we don’t require or expect all of your supporting school documents to arrive by the application deadline. However, it’s certainly tragic when I see several dozen applications lingering incomplete during the final days of March. A forgotten teacher recommendation or missing standardized test scores prevent us from giving your application a thorough review, so let’s agree to not let that happen. Same goes for financial aid materials. If you’re planning to apply for financial aid, don’t forget to actually apply. For Tufts, that starts with the CSS Profile. Don’t neglect your application status page (for Tufts, and for other potential schools on your list) and you’ll be in good shape.
We value knowing that you’ve done your research on Tufts and can articulate why the culture and opportunities available here align with what you are looking for in a university. Given our highly-qualified applicant pool, knowing that you really, really like us can help your application stand out. That’s why there’s lots of helpful advice and inspiration for the “Why Tufts?” supplemental essay here on our website. Unfortunately, it’s not a great look when a student’s “Why Tufts?” essay references our “stellar business degree” or our “world-renowned nursing program” (hint: they don’t exist). Expressing your interest in a minor in Korean, the Tufts-in-Antarctica study abroad program, or the Tufts Shuffleboard Society will leave us disappointed in your lack of research and ambivalent about your fit for Tufts. Will you be happy here for four years if we don’t have what you’re looking for? Check your facts and show us you know us.
Our alumni interviews at Tufts are totally and completely optional. You won’t be penalized for not requesting or not receiving an interview, and we admit many students each year who did not have the opportunity to participate in an interview with a Tufts alumni volunteer. However, if you decide to request an interview and you receive an email or phone call from one of our alumni interviewers to arrange a time to meet, please don’t ignore them. It feels sad to see a note from an alumni interviewer that says they emailed you three times, called twice, and left a voicemail, but never heard back. That leaves us and the interviewer sad and wondering what went wrong. Check your email regularly, respond promptly, and be respectful of the interviewer’s time.
That’s it, friends. Avoiding these tragic circumstances will surely set you up for a greater chance of success in the college application process. Now, of course, none of these unfortunate missteps will guarantee a “no” from a school, but they certainly can result in some disappointment within the committee room. Let’s keep things positive by giving us as many reasons as you can to say “yes.”
Photo credit: Djahuti via Wikia; Clg997 via Tenor; and Giphy