The website www.collegeconfidential.com is no place for neurotic parents. Just about every student who posts on the site has perfect grades, exceptional scores, grew up in an igloo with multi-generational Inuit relatives and has recently sold a patent to Intel. These superhumans usually want to know their chances at top schools, but occasionally ask others for nurturing and support.
Today I discovered a desperate College Confidential post from a senior, gender unknown, with the screen name of weisenheimer2u. Weisenheimer has a 2340 SAT and a 3.9 unweighted GPA, and wanted to know if anyone could figure out why he or she was waitlisted at Bard. There was an immediate response from randomname25, whose theory was that Weisenheimer was the victim of "Tufts Syndrome."
Here is the post (and yes, it is real – http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/bard-college/481804-waitlisted-2340-sat-3-9-gpa.html):
WAITLISTED with 2340 SAT, 3.9 GPA
I just got waitlisted today! I thought I was in for sure and Bard is my #1 school. Does anyone know WHY? I mean I know Bard is a great school but I thought I was qualified:
GPA UW: 3.9
Took the hardest course load at my HS: all honors freshman and sophomore year (no AP’s allowed until junior year); junior year APUSH (5), AP English Lang (5), AP Chemistry (5), AP Calc BC (5), AP Computer Science (5); senior year AP Econ, AP Euro, AP English Lit, AP Physics C, MV Calc/Linear Algebra, AP French.
ECs: Captain of the math team, co-captain of Science Olympiad, co-captain of the chess team, volunteer tutor, started own web design company.
Why on earth did they reject me? I know I must sound stuck-up but I really can’t figure out why, my stats are above their accepted averages, I’m a good student and I thought my ECs were good enough. What was missing?
randomname25: Tufts Syndrome?
What exactly is Tufts Syndrome? According to Wikipedia (Yes, I’m aware that you’re not supposed to cite Wikipedia as a reference, but I’m not a college student), Tufts Syndrome is a synonym for "Yield Protection". This occurs when a university turns down highly-qualified students who seem to be using that university as a safety school. Top colleges such as Tufts reject or waitlist these students in order to keep their admissions yield high. They want to admit students who are really going to attend. Thinking back to Case Study Night, this is why we rejected Makele and should have accepted Robert.
Now, as evidenced by Weisenheimer’s post, Tufts Syndrome has spread to Bard. I have also heard that UC Davis and Pitzer have been waitlisting valedictorians and dolphin trainers, assuming they’re not really interested and will go to Stanford or Pomona instead.
The Neurotic Parent Institute predicts that Tufts Syndrome will reach epidemic proportions by 2009. It will be impossible to find safeties because if you’re an outstanding candidate, colleges won’t want you because they think you won’t attend. And paradoxically, if you’re a nice, normal kid who hasn’t written an operetta, they won’t want you because they think you actually will attend. The trick will be to find a college that isn’t as sensitive as Tufts. Is there a school out there that doesn’t have an ego, that won’t have hurt feelings if smart kids turn it down? If so, in just one year, that college can become as selective as Tufts, or at least as Bard, because the Weisenheimers of the world are not getting in anywhere else.
But until that day comes, there is something you can do rather than sitting still, watching Tufts Syndrome spread from one fine school to another. I ask all of you to take a moment to help stop this dreaded pandemic. There is no time to be wasted, and you can make a profound difference in a most simple way: First, find a mediocre student. Then encourage this slacker to apply to Tufts…or Bard…or UC Davis. Once these institutions are flooded with applications from low-decile kids, their admissions people will begin to appreciate receiving apps from qualified candidates and maybe, together, we can get Weisenheimer2u off that waitlist.