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To:                  Trustees and Members of the Boards

From:             Anthony P. Monaco and David R. Harris

Re:                  The Role of Trustees and Board Members in the Admissions Process

Date:               September 25, 2017


Applicants and their parents, relatives, and friends often contact trustees and members of the Boards to see how they can support an application.  This memo lays out some guidelines and suggestions that we hope you will find helpful both in dealing with these requests and in working with our staff.  It focuses on undergraduate admissions because it is the area about which we receive the most questions, but we have included some general information about graduate and professional admissions as well.


As you know, Tufts is one of the most selective undergraduate institutions in the country. Last year the acceptance rate was just 14.8%, the second lowest in university history. Transfer admission was similarly selective last year with a 10% acceptance rate. While fewer high schools are providing a class rank, the incoming freshman class posted mean SAT scores of 724 evidence-based reading and writing and 736 math; students enrolling in the School of Engineering had a mean SAT math score of 767.  We expect a similarly large and talented pool this year for the Class of 2022.


This past year marked the first that admissions for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts was conducted solely through the Tufts admissions office.  In addition to the Common Application and the Tufts supplemental essays, students applying to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree and to the combined degree (BA/BFA) were required to submit a portfolio of their work that was evaluated by SMFA at Tufts admissions staff. The number of matriculated BA/BFA combined degree students doubled last year.  The admissions staff will continue to search for evidence of artistic talent and fit for the Tufts undergraduate program.


We invite input from you if you know an applicant personally.  Knowledge of an applicant’s family is far less useful than direct knowledge of a candidate for admission.  It is especially helpful to know if Tufts is unambiguously an applicant’s first choice.


Please communicate your knowledge of an applicant in writing.  To ensure that your comments are noted in the applicant’s file, please send them to Paul Tringale, Jonathan Kaplan, or Eric Johnson. (Please refrain from direct contact with the Admissions Office.)  Given the volume of applications, a written recommendation is critical.


It is perfectly reasonable to request that a case receive a close read.  Given the large number of applications we receive, you can provide assistance to an applicant by requesting that his or her file gets a “close read.”


Feel free to ask for a heads up on the outcome.  We will also be happy to provide you with advance (24-hour) notice of an admissions decision so you can soften the blow on a negative decision, if you wish.  For equity considerations within a given high school, the Admissions Office requests that “good news” should be delivered in the form of the official letter of admission itself, with a congratulatory call afterwards.  Please let Paul, Jonathan or Eric know if you would like to receive such advance notice.  Typically, Early Decision Round I notifications are mailed by December 15; Early Decision Round II notifications are mailed by February 10; and Regular Decision notifications by March 31.  Transfer applications are reviewed and selected on a “rolling” basis from mid-April to the end of May.  Opportunities for transfer admission are very limited.  Similarly, the Wait List may or may not activate each year.


We can sometimes arrange for applicants to meet individual faculty or students who share their interests, or to receive a special tour.  You can make these arrangements by contacting Paul, Jonathan or Eric.


You might find it helpful to remind people who ask for your assistance that your role is limited to providing input into the process.  We ourselves make it a point never to intervene in an individual admissions decision and hope that you too will respect the process.


We find it is best never to suggest based upon your own review of an applicant’s qualifications that an applicant is “likely” to be admitted.  It is very hard to predict who will be admitted based on the data that is shared with you, even when it appears to be “strong.”  Family members and advocates often do not know the full story of an applicant’s record.


Please do not promise admission or suggest that an applicant’s admissions prospects would be enhanced if the family were to make a donation to the university.  We always tell people that while we appreciate their desire to support the university, they will have plenty of opportunities to support Tufts in the future, after the admissions process has run its course.


These same general principles apply with respect to application to our graduate and professional schools.  We receive an increasing number of inquiries about graduate school admissions.  These should also be channeled through Paul, Jonathan or Eric.


We appreciate your understanding of the difficult job our Admissions staff faces.  Many candidates in Tufts’ applicant pool are highly qualified, and there is an art as well as a science to college admissions.  Our staff seeks to achieve diversity across a broad range of factors as well as to assemble a class that will meet the challenge of a Tufts education.  From outside the Admissions Office, it is impossible to assess where a particular applicant stands among the group of students who are applying to Tufts from an individual school.  Your understanding will help to ensure that we have a strong class where each student is capable of contributing significantly to our academic community.  We are grateful for your engagement and support.