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Class of 2018 expected to be most competitive to date

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 07:01

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions received a record-breaking number of applications this year, indicating the Class of 2018 will be Tufts’ most selective to date.

According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Lee Coffin, the admissions office had received 19,051 applications as of last Thursday — a 3.5 percent increase over last year’s total. Coffin said he expects the tally will increase slightly as a few late-arriving paper applications come in. 

“It’s exciting for Tufts to see another increase on top of last year’s record pool [and] to cross 19,000 [applications] for the first time,” he said.

A sixteen percent increase in School of Engineering applications, from 3,177 to 3,701, largely drove the rise in undergraduate applications, according to Coffin, who noted there was not an increase in School of Arts and Sciences applications.

According to Coffin, the number of early decision applications also jumped 10 percent from last year, with a new high of 1,744 applications.

“We are set up for a really historic admissions cycle for the second year in a row,” he said.

The increase in admissions comes despite hiccups in the application process technologies. After technical difficulties with the Common Application (Common App) early in the admissions process, Coffin explained Tufts began also accepting the Universal College Application (UCA). While many of these issues were quickly resolved, Coffin said the high volume of applications submitted on the Jan. 1 deadline caused the Common App website to temporarily crash.

The admissions office’s revamped communications strategy — including an admissions magazine and regular use of new technologies — influenced the increase in applications, Coffin said. 

“The quality of Tufts is generating these [record] pools,” he said. “I think the way we’re communicating that quality to students has shifted.”

Associate Director of Admissions Dan Grayson further explained how the admissions website has contributed to the school’s increasing number of applications.

“You have to be able to migrate [prospective applicants] from the pieces of information they want to know regarding getting in to the things that demonstrate stuff about the Tufts culture,” Grayson said. “The website that we have now gives us a tremendous number of tools to be able to do that in both explicit and implicit ways.”

Coffin noted that the website has recorded an increasing number of page visits.

“It’s a much more interactive web capacity, and when we look at the Google analytics on [the new site], it’s off the charts,” Coffin said. “We’re seeing these giant spikes in web traffic.”

International applications increased by five percent this year, representing the largest application region for the second year in a row, a title historically held by applicants from Massachusetts. Coffin cited the improved website and admission staff members’ international travel as factors contributing to the increase in overseas applications. 

“As we go to places like the Middle East...the schools start to know us [and] the students get to talk to an admissions officer,” he said. “Not as many American colleges are going to some of these countries, so when you go you get on the radar pretty quickly.”

Coffin explained that while Tufts is expanding its outreach to other Asian countries, the largest number of overseas applications continue to come from China.

“All the Asian countries are very well represented...China, Singapore, India are usually in the top five [and] we are seeing Vietnam start to develop,” Coffin said. “What we are trying to do through the admissions process, to the extent possible, is create a global community.

Overall, this year’s applications pool consists of applicants from all 50 U.S. States and 115 countries — a record, according to Coffin. Massachusetts and California had the first and second largest number of applications; New York ranked third and registered a nine percent increase in applications this year, Coffin said.

With the majority of applications now submitted, Coffin said the lengthy evaluation process will begin soon. He explained that the increase in applications will likely lead to another record low acceptance rate.

“You’re saying ‘yes’ to great people, and you’re saying ‘no’ to really good people because you just don’t have space,” Coffin said. “If the acceptance rate winds up at 17 percent, a lot of really wonderful people were at the 18, 25, and 28 [percentages]. Each of the ticks downward [in the acceptance rate] represents a group of people that are really quite talented.”

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