Help Stop Tufts Syndrome

If you thought your stress levels were high, one reader just emailed to say that she is proofreading her triplets’ college apps today. She mentioned that she had dug into the Neurotic Parent archives and found a wealth of information. These tips bear repeating for the current generation of applicants. So, take a Xanax, sit back and enjoy a week of provocative reruns, slightly tweaked for the new year.
The website 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 super humans 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.”
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
GPA W: 5.2
SAT: 780 CR/800 M/760 W
SAT II: Math level 2 800/ French 760/ Chemistry 780/ Physics 800Took 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?
The response comes from randomname25, who nailed it:
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 routinely waitlist or reject these students in order to keep their admissions yield high. They want to admit students who are really going to attend.

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 in 2014. It has become 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 (or GWU, Skidmore, or WashU, which now lead the ranks). 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 WashU…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 wait list.


Help Stop Tufts Syndrome — 14 Comments

  1. Our son seems to have encountered Tufts Syndrome at the Colorado School of Mines(waitlisted). He is valedictorian, 4.0uw/4.8w, 2200 SAT, 34 ACT,National Merit Finalist, SAT2 Math2 800, Physics 780, Good ECs, IB Diploma Candidate. They offered him an “express” admissions form with no fee, no essay. He has friends with lesser stats who were accepted. I like your solution!! :)

    • Sounds like classic Tufts syndrome! But I’m sure he has some other great choices.

  2. tufts is a safety school and the school knows that, but brandeis is a safety school for people who actually want to attend tufts! maybe , 5% of tufts students want to actually be at tufts (IMO)and brandies has at least 75% of it’s students who were rejected by harvard,yale and tufts. (IMO)

    • Tufts is not a safety school. Check the average SAT scores of admitted students at Tufts. Look at Business Insiders. Tufts was #18 in the nation by highest average SAT score, which was a tie with Rice. Notre Dame, Amherst, Williams, and Brown came after Tufts, which means that their respective average SAT scores were lower. (this is the link!KDA3P). When you check the admission data, you will find that Tufts’ selectivity in its test score is on the level of JHU (Tufts having CR and W scores slightly higher). Of course, admission is much more than the scores, but Tufts syndrome got its name for “not accepting students with high scores,” when it actually has higher scores than most of schools they mention otherwise. And for this round, the acceptance rate was 17.4%, which is Gtown’s level (but Tufts has higher average score). So, the term “Tufts syndrome” in the first place is non-sense. Tufts can be a great match school, but it’s never a safety school. I actually thought Tufts as a lower-ranked school, until I actually saw the admission data. By the selectivity, they should be in mid 10s in US News Ranking, but somehow it’s #28, and that’s why people think Tufts is so easy… But that’s because Tufts doesn’t have huge endowment like schools in the same caliber and the grad schools are very small, except for Fletcher. Two professional schools (med and vets) are well-known, but still they’re professional school, rather than grad school that’s geared toward research. I’m sure there are lots of kids applied for HYPSMs and didn’t get in, but it’s in no lower level than what high achieving students call “Ivy Plus”, or “a match school”

      • When Tufts Syndrome was discovered, Tufts was not nearly as selective as it is today. Although the namesake of the Syndrome is now as cutthroat as Ivies, that doesn’t mean other schools (certainly some of the known cases can be explained by their use of demonstrated interest) don’t suffer from it.

        • Absolutely. WashU and GWU have the most extreme cases of Tufts Syndrome. Tufts has gotten over it.

      • You’re not passerby. You’re a hit and run alum…or worse, and admissions officer with way, way too much time on your hands. Sit back, have a scotch, and dream of Mother Harvard…your first choice.

        • Tufts admission officer doesn’t have time for this. Sorry, man. Check the admission stat and your decaying brain and time.

    • Tufts Syndrome is false. Tufts’ acceptance rate is only 2~3% away from Cornell, which is an Ivy, and so as SAT/ACT scores. So why call it “Tufts Syndrome”? How about other top schools that have lower admission stats like CMU and Emory? Schools you’re considering as “top universities” probably have pretty much similar admission stats with Tufts. Don’t even compare Tufts and Brandeis when it comes to admission. Those two schools are of different caliber.

      OP, I know your blog is satire. I’m just responding to the idiot who left this comment. You said “IMO”, and yeah, your “IMO” is wrong. Tufts ED wouldn’t survive if what you think of Tufts is true.

  3. Wow. They should re-name it Tuchy. Sorry, it’s not an Ivy. Wesleyan, Williams, Swarthmore, and Amherst have all just been crowned Ivy-lites.

    • Tufts Syndrome thrives at Ivy Lites, but the schools you named in some cases are just as impressive as the Ivies.

  4. Don.t I know it, J.D. But you told me that this blog is satire. Now what am I to believe. And let’s go ahead and call Duke an Ivy-heavy while we’re at it!

  5. And OP, you say this blog is satire, but it’s unclear, and people take words for words. Tufts is one of the hardest schools to get in, and the admission selectivity at Tufts can be compared to schools that rank in US News top 20 like JHU and G’town. This type of posts make people look down on Tufts, and when you make “satire” or just make fool of one specific school and make false posts, it’s not funny at all. This isn’t even a clever satire, so I hope you don’t feel you’re super clever for making this type of post.