For high school seniors, the last days of March are filled with gut-wrenching anticipation, a pounding heart, and sleepless, angst-ridden nights. However, 2,617 aspiring Jumbos can relax a little this weekend, as acceptance letters from Tufts will be arriving in their mailboxes and e-mail inboxes. The class of 2005 will be the first to receive acceptance notification electronically.
Tufts has become an increasingly selective institution over the past few years, a trend that continued with the class of 2005. Out of 11,000 students who applied to the college of Liberal Arts, a record-low 19.8 percent of students were admitted. The College of Engineering let in 27.2 of its applicants, making the overall acceptance rate 20.8 percent.
There has been an 87 percent growth in the number of yearly applicants to Tufts in the last decade, but this year's pool was slightly smaller than last year's. The competition, however, remained stiff. Only 45 percent of valedictorians that applied were admitted, and the average admitted student was in the top seven percent of his or her class. Almost a third of the potential Tufts students ranked in the top three places in their class, and over half were in the top ten.
Average class ranks and SAT scores have been rising upward for several years, and Admissions predicts this will continue in future years.
But, according to admissions officers, class ranks and SAT scores are just part of the picture when it comes to evaluating an applicant. "It's not a process of ranking or counting pieces of information. What we want to know is, 'Who is this person?' In the end, you want to find students who will make a difference at Tufts," Dean of Admissions David Cuttino said.
Other criteria in admissions decisions include the applicant's talents, interests, and experiences. "Part of education and the learning experience is what you learn from one other," Cuttino said.
Part of the reason for the decline in applicants for regular decision may be the increased interest of high school students and counselors around the country in the early decision option. More and more students are getting into their school of choice early, lessening the size of the general pool for many institutions across the country. This year saw the largest early decision group in Tufts' history, and also marked the first time that admissions actually rejected early applicants, instead of simply deferring them into the regular decision pool.
The group of admitted students is also the most ethnically and racially diverse class to date. With 19 percent of those accepted coming from overseas, international students outnumber those from the third most represented state. While last year's student body was six percent African American, seven percent Hispanic, and 13 percent Asian American, those numbers jump to ten, 12, and 15, respectively, for students admitted to the class of 2005.
"We are preparing students to live in the global community. We want to know, how will the shape of our conversation be changed or influenced by the students we admit?" Cuttino said.
Some admissions trends and statistics carry less weight than the rising academic qualifications. The number of applicants from Guam has increased 600 percent; Michael, Jennifer, and Sarah are the most common names; the youngest student admitted is 16 years old; and if all of the applications were stacked up, they would make a pile 19 stories high.
Between April 18 and 20, all accepted "pre-frosh" and their parents will have the opportunity to take part in the annual April Open House organized by the Student Outreach Program. They will be able to learn about Tufts through campus tours, overnight stays, class visits, panel discussions, and interaction with current students.