WMFO Sponsors the First Tufts Radio Q&A

Post by Dan

I cannot wait for 3:00pm today (Thursday), when I co-host our newest admissions experiment with Chase Gregory: a live radio call-in show.  Much like the agricultural revolution, the genesis of this idea happened simultaneously in separate environments.  Last week, Chase and I saw each other and said (basically at the time time), “let’s do a radio show!”  The premise is simple – put a bunch of current students in a radio booth, have fun, and answer questions from prospective students about Tufts.  Broadcast the conversation, live, over the airwaves and through the internet so that the our collective aural contributions can reach anyone (go internet tubes!) and the world can hear radio at Tufts.

When the time comes (from 3-5pm *cough cough*), you can tune in here: http://webcast.wmfo.org

If you’re a prospective student with a question to ask – we want to hear from you!

1.     Call in. This is the best way to pose questions to our panel! You’ll get to chat with live Jumbos on the air one-on-one, and other admitted students will get to hear your voice and get to know you. To call in to the air, dial (617) 627-3800.

2.     Instant message us. This is also a great way to take advantage of livestream. If you have AOL Instant Messenger, you can chat up the DJ at screen name “djwmfo.” I’ll read your question aloud to everyone.

3.     Tweet @TuftsAdmissions. Those of you with Twitter accounts can reach us at our normal home.

4.     Email. The account is g0jumb0s@gmail.com. Send questions and we’ll read them to the panelists. Be sure to give your name and where you’re from! This should be a chance for prospective Jumbos to meet-and-greet each other as well.

Personally, I’m as excited as a kid with a Nintendo 64 to be back on the air.  I (briefly) hosted a show at WMFO in the fall, and I need a thesaurus to find enough adjectives to describe my enthusiasm for learning the radio ropes – and then actually hosting a show.    I love the station, its constant weirdness, and the amazing community of students that run it.  Tune in this afternoon to find out why.

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Reflections from an Applicant

Post by Isabel

Some of you may recall a quick post I made in early January about letting go. You see, Isabel the Admissions Officer was also Isabel the Applicant this year. The graduate school process is typically a few weeks head of the undergraduate schedule, so I have heard from my schools and am about 90% sure of where I will be heading next year. However, as the tides turn for all of you anxious undergrads out there, I wanted to revisit this topic quickly, both from my vantage point as an Admissions Officer and as an Applicant.

1) You’re still awesome, no matter what happens. The very ‘you’ that you are, the essence of what makes your family love you and your friends enjoy hanging out with you – that does not change depending on what a college admissions office decides about your application. Don’t lose sight of that. It’s ok to feel happy or sad about decisions that come in, but try your best to not let them define how you feel about yourself.

2) As my decisions began to come out, a relative said to me, ‘That’s a nice feather in your cap!’ The phrase stuck with me as I think it’s a balanced way to handle your decisions, particularly if you receive a lot of good news. Admissions decisions should not be like trophies, put out on display or eagerly counted as you receive them. They can be exciting, life changing and a lovely recognition of the hard work & thought you put into an application. But for every piece of good news you receive, you can be sure that a peer or friend may have received not as great news. Now is a great time to be classy – to be proud of your accomplishments, but not boastful.

3) Be straightforward and upfront with colleges and universities that you have no plans on attending. Early on in my grad school search, I applied to an institution outside of Boston, as I liked their program and was considering relocating. Over the course of the last few months, my husband got a new job, so relocating was no longer an option for me. After I received my decision from that school, I was excited about the acceptance, thought about it for a week or so to make sure of my decision and then politely declined the offer.  If you have no plans on attending, let an institution know as soon as you feel comfortable making the decision. For some institutions, this may mean opening up a seat for another student.

Those are my few little tidbits and thoughts from my vantage point this year. Regardless of the outcome, what has stuck with me most at the tail end of this process is anxious excitement. Our world will be changing next year – from the people we interact with on a daily basis to the classrooms we inhabit – and this is a change that feels both daunting and thrilling. As you move through the month of April, mulling your decisions and making your choice, remember that energy of excitement, looking forward to the future about also enjoying the moment!

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Yield Event in Bogotá!

By Becky and Matt

Last Monday as we were working tirelessly to round out the class, Susan (the Director of Admissions) let us all know that since we were going to finish by the end of the week, all the admissions counselors would have off work Thursday and Friday (but our bosses had to stay, cackle cackle cackle!).  We wanted to take advantage of our “Jumbo Days” off, so we immediately opened faircast.com to find the cheapest plane tickets to go anywhere in the world!  Morocco caught our eye, as did Oberammergau, but in the end we decided the $600 it would cost to get to Bogotá would be the best use of our money.  We could even do a yield event there, and meet with all the students interested in Tufts.

Then we realized that was crazy.

Instead, we took the commuter rail to Concord for the more budget-friendly cost of $6.25.  The reasons for this were threefold: Concord is the heart, soul, and beginning of the American Revolution and the birthplace of transcendentalism (love history!); our dear colleague and fellow blogger Peter was celebrating his day off by working at his other job at Concord; our much-missed colleague Kerrin (job swapping with Peter this year so working in his spot at Concord Academy) wanted to show us her house and new office.

We wrote a live blog about this but it got long and boring.  So here are the highlights:

  • We stopped in to ask for directions at the general store where George Washington bought the cloth they used to wrap their feet at Valley Forge.  (This is a lie. They did sell delicious cheese though.)
  • We got a personal tour of this awesome school by Peter and Kerrin.
  • We ate in the dining hall!  Becky had 3 ice cream cones.  It was so cool to see faculty, staff, and students all eating together at the same tables—what a great sense of community.
  • Kerrin showed us her new condo in West Concord.  Gorgeous!  That woman knows how to decorate with style.  Also she has her own parking spot; clearly the essence of luxury.
  • Peter’s rambunctious children (he lets them run wild, there is NO discipline in that household!) showed us what was what in Wii MarioKart.  Noah and Hayden beat us easily, though it should be noted that Becky beat Matt.  We had a delicious snack of cheese, crackers, and chocolate graham squares.

We took the redeye back from Boston but we had lots to think about—traveling to South America is eye-opening, as many of you know.  Bogota is beautiful this time of year.  We hope all of you are getting equally excited about the adventures you’ll be taking to campuses around the world this fall!  Best of luck.

Becky uses self check-in at the train station (we didn't have bags so this was a cinch!)

Matt starts the day off with breakfast--he'll need energy to get through our busy day!

Kerrin's new office is warm and friendly, in part due to her new sweater from Ireland and in part because the Concord staff are all so wonderful!


Peter as jungle gym. No discipline!

Really, we let them win...then stole the controllers and played each other.

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Filed under Admissions Life, Fun, Real Life (Not Admissions), Travel

And we March into April

Post by Dan

If you work in admissions, March is a fast month.  During the aptly named month of March, I needed to finish reading all the files from my territory, head to committee, and help make decisions that will define the Tufts community for the next four years.  Throughout, I strive to match the thoughtful and deliberate consideration that my peers afford to the 866 applications from my territory as well as the thousands of other applications I hear about in committee.  It’s exhausting, but rewarding.

For me, the encroaching deadline of April 1st and the hastening speed of the admissions process quickly fills March with ups and downs.  I agree with the other admissions officers, then we disagree, then we argue, then we agree again.  We have a lot of fun – I’ll never forget the time Lee laughed so hard gum fell out of his mouth – but there are times when I desperately want nothing but to sit with a box of cookies and a big glass of milk.  Often, our decisions are elating, as applicants I’ve loved since December finally and officially become admits. Occasionally, our decisions are agonizing and difficult as applicants I’ve loved since December don’t make the class.  And I lament that so many really incredible young people will never know how much I adored their voice, while paradoxically looking forward to meeting so many others in April.  And such is the nature of admissions at Tufts and at many institutions; far too many awesome applicants, and only so much room.  It’s sometimes painful, but inevitably rewarding.

For you, there is stress from the encroaching deadline as well. This process, which some of you began more than a year ago (my god!), will come to an end. Internet message boards and Facebook are already getting jumpy with dozens of posts speculating about when, exactly, to the minute, decisions will be released.  And, in the end, you’ll be faced with the choice of where you will happily call your home for the next 4 years of your life. Maybe longer; hell, I’m *still* at Tufts after 8 (do not click on that link).  For some of you, the choice will be easy; you’ll know immediately.  Others will engage in wrenching internal debates before they stumble onto an answer.  Either way, the best part of flipping the calendar page from Harry to Hermione as we enter April, besides the impending warming temperatures, is being able to look ahead, finally, to imagine the future.  Admissions: it’s daunting, but oh so rewarding.


Filed under Admissions Life, Applications, Committee

Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more…

Post by Emily

As we all crest the Mount Everests of our piles of applications, admissions committee begins again. Of course this “once more” will last us two and a half weeks or so as we meet in teams to render decisions on our regular decision candidates. Today I start with a committee of five trusty colleagues as we dive into the sea of applicants to the School of Engineering at Tufts. Next week we’ll begin to move through the applications for A&S.

I’m excited. It’s a combination of a family reunion and story time as well all emerge from our reading holes and gather around tables of snacks (be jealous: engineering committee gets my pumpkin bread today) to share the stories of the dynamic individuals we met through your applications. I continue to marvel each year at how after reading 1000+ applications I can still be touched by your words in March for your humor, your sensitivity, your smarts, your optimism.

Now before I head into aforementioned “breach,” I wanted to share a little something. I’ve been keeping a list this reading season of names of classes that appeared on high school transcripts in my territory. Some I just loved the title, some I was jealous of your opportunity to take such a class. So below I submit to you some of my favorite classes offered in high schools in IL, TN, NY, MA and FL:

Food that Changed History

The Oscar Wilde Seminar


Voices from the Edge

Media and Society

Clothing Construction

The Literature of Money

Women of Faith

Rattling the Cage

Dynamic Earth

Personal and Social Ethics in Society

Myth and Modern Man

If you have a great class title to add to the list, share it in the comments and I’ll update the post after committee.

I’ll part with a little more of Henry V:

“O! for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.”

Off to the kingdom to hear the tales of you princes!


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Optional Essays Over The Tubes

Post by Dan

The Boston Globe ran a front page article on Tufts’ YouTube optional essay prompt yesterday: A Fresh Pitch on ‘U’ Tube.  The New York Times publishes one today called: Tufts Turns to YouTube to Aid Admissions Process.   Here’s what the headline of these articles should have been: Dan Loves his Job.

I mean, really, let’s make a list of the things I do in the course of my work as an admissions officer.  I use Facebook at the office, I tweet, and new to this year, I spend time on YouTube watching wonderful and (often) strange videos.  There are days when I want to find the guy who implanted me with my Career Chip so that I can shower him with the affection he so richly deserves.

Alright, I’ll confess I was initially skeptical of the addition of YouTube to our application, but much like Persia after Alexander the Great, I’ve been won over.  Because this is a blog, a perfect online space to divulge personal anecdotes and internal monologues, I’ll tell you why.

Because they are awesome.

(I actually got to read this application.  Connor is a really, really interesting guy – even without a video like that – but I love the juxtaposition of two different dexterous skills like that)

I’m a huge fan of our supplement, and asking me to pick which essay prompts I like best is like asking me to pick which ice cream flavor at Toscanini’s is my favorite.  It’s impossible, and frankly, kind of a stupid request because I love so many flavors of ice cream.  Let’s list a few: Earl Grey, Aztec Chocolate, Bourbon Black Pepper.  What I love about Toscanini’s is the variety.  And the daring it takes to make a Black Pepper ice cream.  And, I suppose, also the necessary ice-cream-execution-skills to make Black Pepper ice cream actually taste good.  So: variety, daring, and execution, those are the things I love about our supplement.  There are so many different approaches to take and so many possibilities.  Normally, the insight I have into an applicant is restricted to the written word: items fit into manila envelopes.

My shelf of files to read

The video provides a totally new way to explore identity, creativity, and personality. To venture beyond the confines of a folder in that exploration is not only interesting, it’s fun.  I’m not trying to encourage anyone to do a YouTube video over the other prompts, but rather acknowledge that the spirit of innovation that led us to add the YouTube option is a a huge part of why I love, love, love working at Tufts.

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Presidents’ Day

Post by Emily

It’s almost eerie in my office on the second floor of Bendetson Hall.  There are only three other admissions officers here with me today while everyone else is hiding at home reading applications. I say hiding because the lobby of Bendetson is nearly bursting at the seams.

It’s Presidents’ Day which is always a very busy day in the world of admissions. It’s the unofficial (or perhaps in some high schools the official) kick off of junior college visits. We’re likely to see over 1,000 visitors on campus today between two general information sessions, an engineering information session and many, many campus tours. I’ll be giving the engineering session today; get ready for an hour packed with stories of engineering projects!

It’s nice to step out of reading for a little while. You heard from Matt and Laura how they spend their time reading. I’m sure you can imagine we can start to go a little stir crazy. I’ve been bouncing between my kitchen table and the office for reading this season, with the occasional trip to Tisch Library (my new favorite spot!). Though I change up my surroundings, sometimes I need a mental break. Reading can be draining. The stories you and your recommenders share are often personal, sometimes hysterical, sometimes tragic, most of the time just beautifully honest. The day I stop laughing out loud or smiling knowingly or shedding the occasional tear while reading applications is the day I think about changing careers.

(I must admit that I am a crier. I cry at all things sad, sweet, touching and inspiring. I have been known to cry at incredibly cheesy things as well; once my sister found me on the treadmill at home crying like a baby. She said “If it hurts, stop.” I was too embarrassed to tell her I was watching the end of The Wedding Singer while running.)

But today I’ll tell a few corny jokes and answer more than a few questions. I’ll probably give (hopefully correct) directions and a few recommendations for dinner or things to do before driving back to Connecticut or flying back to Texas. Today I play host.

Later this afternoon when the crowd has died down, I’ll turn on the white noise app on my iPhone (gentle rain onto forest foliage) and do some second reads. Second reads are just what they sound like: the application is read first by the territory manager and then by another member of the admissions staff. As the second reader you read the contents of the application and the write-up of the first reader. Think of it as the application’s safety net to make sure we didn’t miss anything. It will be nice to step into the territories and narrative voices of my colleagues. I’ve said it before, but I work with some incredibly smart and funny people. Don’t worry; I have a box of tissues at the ready.

Until next time…

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