Dean’s Note: As a blogger I suspect I am a disappointment: seven weeks have passed since my last posting, hardly a fast and furious pace for yours truly. As you might imagine, the aforementioned application deadline on January 1st produced a frenzy of activity on this end and, well, I guess I’ve been preoccupied. Times Square was not the only place that was jammed on New Year’s Eve: the Common App site was clearly the place to be that night. (You didn’t listen to my advice to go party…) In fact, Tufts received over 11,000 applications during the last week of December alone, an amazing volume that, I hope, explains my protracted absence from my blog. But since I’m probably old enough to be your father, imagine your father as a blogger. I knew you’d understand… I like to think I’m “hip” but I’m probably more of a Luddite.
So the deadline has passed, your applications are submitted, and you are suddenly, blissfully idle for the first time since your college search started. You probably feel like the Roadrunner after he skids to a stop at the edge of the cliff: you were moving so quickly for so long, and now you are at a complete stop. (And that cliff is really steep!) Here’s the good news: you don’t need to do anything else! Just send us your mid-year grades, have an alumni interview (if you requested one), and wait for us to do our thing. You can stop thinking about “college” for a couple of months and enjoy being a senior. Go to a movie. Embrace the fact that your part is done (for now) and the “work” has shifted to the college side of the admissions equation.
In case you’re wondering, the “college side of the admissions equation” means there is a lot of reading to do in a relatively short period of time. Tufts received 15,030 applications for our Class of 2013 and each one must be read twice. The 18 admission officers and five adjunct readers have roughly 10 weeks to read and reread each one before our selection committee begins in early March. Use your well-honed algebra skills: 15,030 applications, 23 readers, two reads per application, 10 weeks, 12 or so hours a day before caffeine fails us and our heads and eyelids droop. It’s not pretty. Each of us handles 1,200 or so files over that span; in addition, I read all the ones who are recommended for acceptance by the readers. (My eye doctor just prescribed bifocals for me.)
“Reading season,” as it is called, is actually my favorite part of the admissions cycle. Yes, it’s like being in final exams for 10 consecutive weeks, and there’s always a pile of manila folders on my desk at home, but the weather in Boston right now (it’s 10 degrees while I write this blog) is very conducive to staying inside with a cup of tea, and there is something fascinating and rewarding about sorting through a pile of applications each day.
Each application is a new story, an opportunity to meet one of you. As I open each file, I never know who will be “talking” to me or what I will learn. Your essays make me laugh, sigh and nod in appreciation; sometimes the latent English teacher in me corrects your grammar. Every once in a while I think “Wow, this kid is so much smarter than me…” It can be humbling. It is often inspiring. Your idealism, good will and earnestness are apparent.
You put a lot of work into your application materials (or so we hope) and, in turn, we put a lot of work into understanding what your materials tell us about you, someone who hopes to come to Tufts next September. It’s a slow, deliberate, thoughtful, individualized slog through a library’s worth of reading material.
So while you are “idle” we are busy. There is much to read right now, the clock is ticking and February is a short, cruel month. (Whoever decided to chop three days out of this month was not a college admissions officer!) And then March arrives and we will be debating, as the competitive group of applicants is presented in a committee format and we consider you, one by one, for about three weeks.
I’ll try to blog again before we get there but, if I’m MIA in cyberspace, you know where I am…