Record Applications for Fall

More than 17,000 vie for spots in the Class of 2015

A record number of students have applied to Tufts this year, which will make it the most competitive undergraduate admissions cycle in the school’s history. Lee Coffin, dean of undergraduate admissions, reports that 17,097 students, up 11 percent from last year, have applied to the Class of 2015.

That means the acceptance rate will also drop to a historic low, Coffin says.  Last year’s acceptance rate was 24 percent, the second lowest in Tufts history. The previous application record was 15,641, for the Class of 2012.

The higher number of applicants is due to an improving economy and to strategic shifts in recruiting strategy, says Coffin. “We made a plan last summer, calling it Operation 16K, to see if we could recruit a pool of 16,000,” he says. The admissions office has expanded its use of social media in the undergraduate recruitment process and also focused on increasing applications from different parts of the country—and the world.

Coffin says admissions officers have expanded their recruitment visits to states like California and Texas, where the population of high school-age students is increasing. In addition, the office has recruited overseas in China, India and, for the past two years, a number of countries in Africa. “We talk about globalization in the curriculum,” he says, “so it’s important to enroll undergraduates from these parts of the world as well.”

The changes in recruitment have paid off. Applications from California are up 12 percent, a record for that state, while overseas applications rose 21 percent to a record high as well. Coffin attributes the upsurge in international applications to “multiple years of very steady recruitment. We go back to rebuild and expand our presence,” he says. “And those new relationships start to pay off.”

The large number of applications has not diluted the quality of students seeking admission, Coffin notes. “We are evaluating a top-notch pool of students, which makes our job challenging. That speaks to the privilege we have at Tufts: we’re able to consider an outstanding pool and make some decisions about what our values are and who best represents them, and then frame the class accordingly.”

Coffin says his office is still working on who it will accept in its Early Decision pool and expects to make around 450 offers, or 35 percent of the next class. Regular decision results will be released in late March, and deposits that ensure acceptance are due May 1.

Marjorie Howard can be reached at


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