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Tufts accepts 26 percent of pool, suspends need-blind admissions

Published: Thursday, April 2, 2009

Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2009 07:04


Sarah Korones/Tufts Daily

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions was still able to review 95 percent of applicants on a need-blind basis, despite the economic downturn.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions reported a 4 percent drop in applications this year but accepted 26 percent of applicants to the Class of 2013 -- down less than 1 percent from last year, the Daily learned yesterday, the date by which all applicants were notified of a decision.

The admissions office also stopped practicing a need-blind admissions policy toward the tail end of the process, a decision that affected five percent of applicants, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Lee Coffin said.

Admissions officers were able to first read every application in a need-blind manner, during which they did not consider an applicant's ability to pay. But with more families requesting larger amounts of aid due to the recession, officers suspended need-blind practices for the final 850 applications -- of 15,038 total -- when potential financial aid ran out.

"We read every application need-blind, conducted committee need-blind, and then we ran the numbers and realized that we just couldn't do it, that we had gone as deeply as we could go," Coffin said. "It's a disappointment to me as a dean, but when I think that we reviewed 95 percent of a pool need-blind, I can live with that."

The overall four-percent drop in applications parallels a trend that many other private universities are witnessing nationwide as the economic climate redefines admissions models and strategies.

"From my own conversations with other deans of admission, most places saw slight to large decreases in their applicant pools that will recalibrate selectivity," Coffin said. "It's no secret that financial aid is a concern across the board."

Fifty-five percent of accepted students qualified for financial aid this year, a one-percent drop from last year. More applicants qualified for aid this year, Coffin said.

The university's financial aid budget for the incoming class was the same as last year's, though, Coffin said. While next year's financial aid budget will increase by 12 percent, the additional funds will only go to current students, not incoming ones.

Despite this year's setback, Coffin said that he hasn't lost hope for Tufts to be completely need-blind in the future. Tufts practiced need-blind admissions for the Classes of 2011 and 2012 and for Early Decision applicants to the Class of 2013.

"We'll be back at it," Coffin said. "The goal has always been to be need-blind by the end of the capital campaign. We almost got there in the last two years when we had the resources to be need-blind. This year the economy proved to be too severe."

Ninety percent of students admitted as part of Regular Decision rank in the top 10 percent of their high school classes, and 30 percent are Americans of color.

"We saw the same racial profile that we typically get," Coffin said.

The average SAT score, not taking into account the writing section, hit a record high of 1449, seven points higher than the Class of 2012's average score and 65 points more than six years ago.

The admissions office did see a 13-percent drop in applicants who did not apply for financial aid, compared to last year, Coffin said.

"The only thing the economic factors had an effect on was whether students chose to apply to Tufts or not," Coffin added. "Some families held back applications because they realized they wouldn't qualify for need-based aid."

While the volatile economy has proven to be a new variable in the admissions process, Coffin said that all of the admissions models are projecting that the Class of 2013 will take an average size of around 1,275 students.

He said that Tufts has stuck to its core values in producing a demographically diverse freshman class. He cautioned, though, that it remains challenging to predict how many accepted students will choose to enroll at Tufts.

"While a lot of schools are fearful that they will under-enroll this year due to the economy, having a giant class wouldn't be in our best interest either," Coffin said. "We haven't had a year as turbulent as this one on an economic front to know what families will do."

It is too early to tell whether Tufts will go to the waitlist this year, Coffin said, adding that "if there was every a year where the waitlist may be viable, this is the year."

The university admitted 9.5 percent of international students, up 2 percent from last year. Of the 370 international students accepted, 25 qualify for financial aid.

Coffin attributed this year's rise to increased recruiting abroad.

"As we've pushed our travel plans, we're seeing applicants from places that we typically don't get them," he said, adding that admissions officers have spent a lot of time in India, China, Korea and Hong Kong, and that they traveled to Russia for the first time this year.

Admissions officers plan on traveling more to the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the future, he said.

Back before the economy took a turn for the worse, Coffin expected this year to stand out across the board, he said yesterday.

"By all of our recruitment markers, we were on our way to a record pool," Coffin said. "We had a record number of visitors; we saw huge crowds on the roads. But in mid-September, things changed."

In a few weeks, the admissions office and the university as a whole will host admitted students and their families for the annual April Open House, and Coffin said that the program will not change in light of the economy.

"Although we're mindful that there are different circumstances, we're doing what we've always done [to attract students] because it's worked for us in the past," Coffin said. "When families come for those three days, they will see a very dynamic place that is taking the economy seriously, but hasn't let it stop it."

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19 comments Log in to Comment

Jack Nicolay
Mon Jan 18 2010 01:52
Tufts rejects a game in which it doesn't play well.

Tufts in generally is a backwater school for top 20 hopefuls.

Your name
Sat Jan 9 2010 17:57
I don't know what you guys are talking about. Tufts IS definitely an elite school.
Thu Sep 3 2009 14:02
Tufts was ranked 23 ( top tier) in the 1990's. Why has it dropped in the rankings?
Thu Sep 3 2009 14:01
Tufts was a top tier school if you go by the rankings. It ranked 23 in the 1990's (about 1994/1995ish).
I'm just wondering why the school has dropped in rank...
Wed Jul 29 2009 14:13
Has anybody noticed what has happened to the Harvard endowment? Or any other endowment at the "tier one" schools? Please, there are so many Tufts haters out there that chant the same verse, but I wonder how much time they spent on campus talking to the truly amazing students that attend, or sitting in on a class taught by a highly renowned and excellent professor, not a TA, Have those haters spoken to President Bacow about his vision for Tufts, or sought to understand why Tufts doesn't automatically select the students with the highest test scores, but rather the students who they believe will best fit the school. For parents whose little Johnny got a perfect SAT but wasn't accepted at Tufts, move on, it wasn't a fit, johnny will do just fine elsewhere, and so will Tufts.
Lisa Ann
Tue Jul 14 2009 18:41
So silly--u people who look at US News and World Report to decide appropriateness of a school for your child is bizarre, and the claims about Tufts 2nd "tier-ness" is simply fallacious. Tufts has one of the highest undergrad retention rates (contrast that with Swarthmore, which loses up to 6% of its freshman class because students are so unhappy, there--academic but not collegiate) because its students are happy, which, in turn, means productive. As well, there is meaningful camaraderie/solidarity among its student population. It has the #1 school for international study (or whatever you call it), one of the top 2 dental schools in the country, and 1/15 now get into their medical school. And it has the undeniable attraction of Boston.

My daughter is likely going to be a National Merit Scholar--she has qualified for semi-finalist status, thus far, and she is being solicited by many "top" schools--they say they don't solicit, but the abundant letters, brochures, e-mails, invitations to particular events would suggest otherwise. Mostly, I applaud that my daughter knows what a lot of vicarious parents don't know--that you pick a school for its psycho-socio-geo compatibility. She has done a lot of research, talked to students (and visited campuses) from Northwestern to Dartmouth to Duke to Washington University (in St. Louis) to Penn, and she has concluded that she wants a coastal school with access to a city with a significant Jewish population who favors its own undergrads for its medical school with a liberal sensibility with students who are really, really happy at the school, who would have chosen the same school, the second time around. She would give her eyeteeth to attend Tufts, and she has a very good shot, but picking a school that was merely contained in the first 10 slots of the U.S. News and World Report would have been foolhardy and inappropriate for her, for anyone, really. I hope that she gets her heart's desire. As a Stanford undergrad alum and Harvard grad school grad (awk), I think that she has made a thoughtful choice.

Uh, Williams and Amherst saw their applications drop by 10%, last year, so the claim that Tufts is not equivalent to either of those schools doesn't pan out in terms of sheer numbers of applicants. Tufts did not see their applications fall by 10% and, in fact, saw their applications rise.

Just my thoughts--I don't have a proprietary interest in Tufts. I would merely encourage any prospective applicant to dig deep into what a school is really like and what the student is really about.

Mon Apr 27 2009 19:18
That explains some of the lesser qualified admitted vs. more qualified wait listed students at my son's school.
Your name
Thu Apr 16 2009 16:15
Hey guys, grow up. I went to Tufts undergrad and Columbia law. Tufts is a great school. Don't focus so much on the stupid US News and World Report list or what tier you think Tufts is or isn't in. Do you work, live with passion, make the world a better place, and embrace every gift you're given (including the opportunity to go to Tufts). And stop whining.
Tue Apr 14 2009 19:37
To the comments below - elitism is absurd, but pining to be included in said absurdity is simply disappointing.
Your name
Tue Apr 14 2009 09:19
It is no Amherst or Williams
Your name
Mon Apr 13 2009 15:40
Perhaps other families held back applications because: they no longer had home equity to borrow against, did not want to use up savings needed for survival, had too much crushing debt to assume any more, or thought the Tufts degree no longer justified the astronomical cost. I hope you will publish the final figures on need based enrollees and percentage of foreign students receiving aid.
Sun Apr 12 2009 19:06
It is true that Tufts was never a top tier school, but it was a strong second tier college with a few specific strengths (such as life sciences, etc). However, with the hit to their endowment, the schools has already dropped plans for construction of a new life sciences building and its sports center must be about fifty years old. Will the school be able to keep the stronger members of its faculty in light of the deteriorating physical facilities, and will the top tier students bother with Tufts, given its declining fiscal situation. Everything is relative and while Brown had recently opened a new health sciences building, Dartmouth is breaking ground for a new health sciences facility, and Brandeis is about to open a new health sciences center, Tufts is rapidly becoming truly second rate.
Mr. Naive
Sun Apr 12 2009 00:13
ap is naive
TuftsLuver LOLHarvard
Tue Apr 7 2009 19:37
Tufts was never really in the top tier... more like 1.5
Mon Apr 6 2009 13:46
20 million dollars, 100% lost in a single investment and not a single comment from the Dean about the loss effects to the admitted students.
The ones responsible for such financial disaster are still in power making decisions for the school's future.
Ultímate Dishonesty.
How the students and the academics feel about it and what will be done to correct such manipulation of the college's endowment and limited resources?
Will it be business as usual?
Mon Apr 6 2009 02:10
obvious troll is obvious.
Sun Apr 5 2009 21:41
Tufts is a safety for elite hopefuls.
Your name
Fri Apr 3 2009 00:07
Tufts IS a "true elite."
Steve Farber
Thu Apr 2 2009 16:48
It's really a shame that the Tufts endowment took such a bath in the Maddoff scandal. I suspect the school will struggle to get top-notch students to apply for the coming few years as they flee to the next tier down (where merit scholarships are still abundant) and to the tier above (Ivies and other true elites) where endowments still can support aid packages that allow middle class students to attend. It really is the "perfect storm"...

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