March Madness

Okay, I lied. 


I promised a new blog in a short time frame, and it’s been seven weeks since my last posting.  My bad.  (“Did the dean of admissions at Tufts just say ‘my bad’?!,” you ask. I did.) 


Tomorrow, at long last, Tufts will release admissions decisions for the Class of 2013 (around 2 p.m. Eastern Time, in case you’re wondering) and my colleagues in Undergraduate Admissions are excited to watch as the new class takes shape.  We’re also excited to watch our server swarm with nervous traffic as 2 p.m. approaches, kind of like O’Hare International when it snows and the planes do slow circles over Chicago until the runways are plowed.


I’m also relieved to pass the decision-making back to you:  March Madness doesn’t just mean NCAA basketball when you work in admissions.  (We do have an office pool, although UConn is the only one of my picks that made it to the Final Four, so my “picking” skills as dean are clearly much better than my athletic prognostication.)



March Madness in Bendetson Hall meant 12 consecutive days of committee (including weekends) as we rendered decisions; too much junk food as we debated each case; and too many slices of pizza and Thai food as we worked late.  The junk food was comforting: there were too many kids who we loved and too few spaces in the class. 


March in Medford witnessed a slow, deliberate march as the Selection Committee sorted the pool of 15,039 applications to the 3,960 who will be invited to join the Class of 2013 tomorrow afternoon.  Actually, 512 of those 3,960 were Early Decision acceptances or students who were accepted last year but took a gap year, so the number of students getting good news from Tufts tomorrow is 3,448, an uneven, messy number that proves that the admission process is not neat and clean.  Who would deliberately pick 3,448?  Why not add two more and make it an even 3,450? 


To get to this moment, the 19 admission officers and five adjunct readers (seasoned people who work at Tufts for six months each year as we read and evaluate your files) read and reread and discussed each of your files.  I reviewed all the files slated for admission, so I’ve read lots of essays and teacher recs and mid-year grade reports since I last blogged.  Words like “compelling,” “oomph,” “octane,” “boom!” (you had to be there…) and “Obama” (lots of you did Optional Essay #3) echoed across the committee room as we reviewed your applications.  I even got bifocals, an occupational hazard.  Personalities emerged.  A class took shape. 


Tomorrow, some of you will scream with delight as you read our e-mail, a few will need to wait 30 more days for a final verdict, but most, I’m afraid, will sigh with disappointment.  15,039 people don’t fit comfortably into a class of 1,275 and hard decisions must be made.  If the letter says “sorry” please remember that our inability to offer you a place at Tufts is a by-product of a very competitive selection process; it’s not a negative reflection on you.  Saying “no” is the least appealing part of my job but it doesn’t mean you are not appealing.  That’s the thing about a place like Tufts: there’s a lot of quality to sort.  We really do see merit in more candidacies than we can accommodate.


Anyway, your admission process at Tufts is about to conclude and then it’s up to you to make a choice. We hope you pick Tufts but, unlike an invitation to the prom, we won’t be hurt if you chose another college.  That’s the way it works; that’s why we picked more people than we can ever enroll.  You’ll have options, just like we had too many options during March Madness. 


I hope your Final Four (college options) are more promising than my bracket proved to be. 



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7 responses to “March Madness

  1. Grace

    Ahhh! Thank you so much for the update, though the numbers seem very daunting…I like your airport analogy, though!
    I’m nervously waiting…

  2. John G.

    Your blog may take time away from reading those glorious applications as you suggest, but you should know that these posts have made my three month wait much more tolerable. Only 15 more hours!

    Thank you so much and do keep it up!

  3. Rezwan

    My brother applied to Tufts. I hope he goes through the same excitement as I did, three years ago!

  4. ted


    Thanks for the thoughtful words.

  5. Grace

    Decision: waitlist! But I just want to say ‘thank you’ to you and to Tufts for playing a part in helping me define what I’m looking for in a college. 🙂

  6. Stanley

    The lack of a formal letter, good or bad, on admissions to Tuft’s is inexcusable. For the 14,000 plus applicants (at $65 an application) Tuft’s decision to allow early access on the decision via the Website is nice (for Tuft’s) but a very poor decision when informing those who are not accepted. The Tuft’s way should not adhere to this policy, most major institutions know that the effort of applying deserves a formal response, not a login in denial.

    • tuftsdean

      Stanley, you are misinformed. As a matter of fact, Tufts sent paper decision letters to candidates who were accepted and wait-listed; an offer of admission is a formal matter and it deserves a formal form of communication. We do that. However, we relied on electronic notification for applicants who were denied admission. Since more than 90 percent of Tufts’ 15,039 applicants checked their decision electronically within 24 hours, a paper letter seemed redundant. However, we mailed a paper letter to any denied applicant who did not check his/her status on-line within 72 hours of our release date. We mailed approximately 700 letters to this group. I stand by our policy.

      Tufts’ notication policy

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