The application deadline is two weeks away!? OMG!!
Sound familiar? For students, the imminent end of your college “search” is a race against the clock that threatens to take the “happy” out of “Happy Holidays!” There are so many details to remember, too many forms, so much pressure…
Take a breath. Have some hot chocolate. It’s more soothing than coffee.
On the receiving end of your mad dash to the application deadline, the admission staff in Bendetson Hall is also racing the clock as your on-line and paper-based submissions land with a collective thud in our operations room. Consider this: 16,000 students will send at least four or five different application elements to us, mostly over the course of the next 21 days. Imagine dozens of tubs of mail arriving each day; several hundred electronic files waiting to be downloaded each morning; and scores of messages on our voicemail and e-mail as you puzzle your way through the final details of your application.
Organized chaos reigns on both ends of the process. Call me crazy but it’s my favorite time of the year.
So as you face your blinking cursor and grip your mouse over the next several days, here are answers to The Top 10 Most Commonly Asked Questions We Receive as You Finish Your Application. (I know this is a long post but bear with me. You guys ask a lot of questions.)
- The suggested word limit for our supplemental short essays is 200 words (it’s actually a long paragraph more than an “essay”) but the on-line character limit is much more generous than that. In other words, you will not be “cut off” if you exceed 200 words. The suggested “limit” is our signal that we are looking for a short response rather than a two-page essay. Less is more but 250 words is not a problem either.
- Speaking of the Tufts supplement, the submission of Optional Essay #6 (“Use an 8×11 piece of paper to create something…”) stumps a lot of you since you can’t send it electronically. Put it in an envelope (or a box, if you employed some poetic license with our instructions, which would be okay…) and drop it in a mailbox. I know, I know, that’s so 20th century but we like to keep the Postal Service in business. And it’s okay if the envelope (or box) arrives after January 1 so there’s no need to Fed Ex it. Save the dough.
- If you are an ED2 (that’s Early Decision Round 2) candidate who applied somewhere else as an ED1 candidate but didn’t get in (no, really, it’s okay that you loved someone else first…), the Common Application requires some fancy footwork to submit your ED2 application (even though it’s perfectly kosher). On the Common Application, check Regular Decision and then check ED2 on the Tufts supplement. That will do the trick! Alternately, you can print the ED form and send it to us via snail mail.
- Speaking of ED2, if Tufts is your clear first choice but you didn’t realize that it was your first choice when our ED1 deadline passed on November 1, consider ED2! We will notify you about your admission decision on February 6 rather than March 31, when Regular Decision letters are released. The enrollment agreement is binding but the option is worth pursuing if you know Tufts is the place you want to be. (See #3 for instructions on how to identify yourself as an ED2 candidate.)
- The Common Application and the Tufts supplement invite you to identify an area or two of academic interest (i.e., an intended major), and the question includes a drop-down list of majors. If your area of academic interest is not an option on the drop-down list, don’t panic. (See a theme here?) Pick the closest subject to that academic area or add a sentence to your “Why Tufts?” answer. The admission officer who reads your application will capture that info and include it in our evaluation. And if you’re “undecided,” which most of you should be, list whatever subjects pique your curiosity. You have permission to change your mind later. Tufts is a flexible place; you can be, too.
- We request official scores for the SAT1, SAT2 or ACT, with January 2009 being the latest testing date you can use. Yes, the January test date is after our deadline but consider our volume: it takes us eight to 10 weeks to read every application. If you take a test in January, your scores will arrive in plenty of time for us to read and evaluate your application. To submit official scores, you have two options: ask the testing agency to send the scores to us directly or ask your school if it includes the scores on your transcript. Both are “official” results. We will use your highest individual score on each section of the SAT (regardless of the test date) or the highest composite on the ACT. It’s all automated on this end, so no worries.
- Speaking of subject tests, we require two (any two, unless you’re an engineer, in which case we recommend Math 2C and either chemistry or physics). If you don’t have two subject test scores, you can take the subject test(s) on the January test date.
- If you check the on-line status of your application via the Tufts Admissions Management System (TAMS) on January 2, don’t panic if your application status is “incomplete.” Your application is not a text message or an IM; it doesn’t arrive instantaneously. Remember all the bins and electronic files that arrive in the Admissions Office later this month: it takes a couple of weeks to download, open, sort, track, and file all the pieces of an application. Be patient. We’ll let you know if something is missing. I promise. (I was a Cub Scout so my promise is good.)
- We understand that the formatting of your essays may get scrambled when you cut and paste the essay into the on-line system. Actually, the formatting we see from the Common Application looks pretty good, but we’re more interested in the content, grammar and “voice” of your essay.
- Our supplement asks if you would like to have an alumni interview. If you answer “yes,” your name and contact info will be referred to your local interviewing committee, if there is one (in some places, a committee does not exist), and a volunteer will contact you to schedule a time to meet. If you answer “no” to this question, your chances of admission will not be jeopardized. The interview is an optional part of the application to Tufts; schedule one if you think a conversation with one of our alumni will add a useful dimension to your candidacy. If you’re shy and the idea of an interview fills you with dread, don’t worry. Spare yourself some anxiety and decline the interview option. But beware one technical issue: once you answer “no” and submit your supplement, you cannot change your mind later.
Finally, here’s a piece of advice that will make me sound like your mother: don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to submit your application! You should be celebrating as 2009, your long-awaited graduation year, finally arrives!! If your supplement is finished, send it today! If your Common Application is finished but you’re still working on our supplement (see my blog called “Supplemental Insights”), send that in. Either one creates your application record at Tufts. And the sooner we receive one of these pieces, the sooner your transcript and various recommendations will find a home and your application status will be “complete” (see #8…). Procrastination makes stress worse. Seriously.
Go make some cocoa. Chill. If you live in a northern place go play in the snow, and see if that does the trick. No snow where you live? Go see a movie. Keep things in perspective.
And if you have a question I didn’t answer, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. One of us will get back to you.
The blinking cursor is not your enemy.