Friday, August 31, 2012

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Go to Tulane University

#10 The Music.

You're probably already familiar with New Orleans jazz, second line brass bands, Cajun, and Zydeco. If so, you know that music in New Orleans is very much alive. Home to Ellis Marsalis and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the music of New Orleans offers rhythm, soul, and funk that sets it apart from other cities. Bands like Big Sam's Funky Nation and the Rebirth Brass Band offer modern takes on local styles of music that keep the New Orleans music scene thriving. Artists from other genres, such as alternative rock, hip hop, and dirty south rap, also lay claim to New Orleans and call it home. Have you heard of Better Than Ezra? Juvenile? Lil Wayne?

The vibrancy of the city's disposition toward music is impossible to miss. Tulane University's location in the heart of Uptown New Orleans gives students streamlined access to the best acts in town. Jazz Fest and VooDoo Fest take place in New Orleans every year, offering students a chance to celebrate music in a city that appreciates it most.

#9 The Weather.

In the summer, it's hot, humid, and unbearable. That's the way summers are supposed to be. Occasionally it rains hard, but that's what galoshes and rain boots are for. In the winter, it gets brisk: you can put on a sweater. The rest of the year, New Orleans offers perfect temperatures in the mid 80s. Flip-flops are the appropriate footwear for most events. Bikinis and sunglasses are required for afternoons after class at the levee behind the Audubon Zoo, right along the Mississippi River. This location is known lovingly to patrons as "the Fly," where students are found laying out on the grass, bathing in the sun, and doing their homework.

#8 The Social Scene.

Where do I start?

When I think about Tulane, my fondest memories are of singing (shouting) the words to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" at the top of my lungs with my fellow classmates at Bruno's (Old Bruno's, not New Bruno's) on Maple Street. I think about dancing atop pool tables at F&M's, snacking on cheese fries in the middle of the night. I think about the freakishly long line on Zimple Street for big slices of greasy, mediocre New York-style pizza that miraculously turn delicious at Boot O'Clock. Starting out Thursday nights at Grit's. I remember taking the yellow school buses to sorority theme parties, mixers, and formals. These references might not make any sense to you now, but they will.

And that was just freshman year.

By senior year, I recall venturing out to other neighborhoods. Discovering more about Frenchman Street, the Marigny, the French Quarter, Magazine Street, the Warehouse District. Wednesday nights at the Bulldog, seeing who could collect the most pint glasses. Doing the Cupid Shuffle at Red Eye. One Eyed Jacks for 80s Night. Waiting on the line for the powder room under the harsh fluorescent lighting at The Club Ms. Mae's. Dancing until dawn at Gold Mine. Finding myself at the Snake and Jakes Christmas Club Lounge. Asking myself what exactly I was doing at the Snake and Jakes Christmas Club Lounge. And why? [Also, according to Google, Zagat rated Snake and Jakes at 23/30. That's unprecedented].

Those of you who are worried about Greek life, you should know that only about 15% of the overall student body is Greek. That means 85% of the student body is not Greek. It doesn't matter which path you choose. Going Greek or not going Greek does not affect the quality of your social life at Tulane. Everyone socializes with everyone else. That's why the scene at Tulane is unrivaled.

[For the record, I did go Greek, and I loved it. But my other half, who is also a Tulane alumnus, was an independent. We both had fun at Tulane. Maybe I had more fun, but that's just me.]

#7 Mardi Gras.

Of course Mardi Gras is on this list. It's the carnival party that New Orleans is famed for. At Tulane, you get what is akin to the equivalent of two spring breaks. That's right. Two. One for Mardi Gras, and then one for Spring Break actual.

And keep in mind that Mardi Gras is a season, not just one day. There are literally weeks of parades, parties, and balls. Carnival krewes will toss beads and doubloons at you, and you'll love it. And there's King Cake with a little plastic baby Jesus baked into its sugary folds. You'll have to be careful not to choke.

It's hard to do Mardi Gras justice with mere words. You'll just have to experience it for yourself.

#6 The Food.

Yes, you'll still gain the Freshman 15 at Tulane University. But your fifteen pounds won't be wasted on cafeteria food and pizza. Your extra weight will be fed by the wealth of luxe restaurants situated within the New Orleans city limits. Local dishes such as jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo, and crawfish etouffee stir the hearts and stomachs of New Orleans newbies and natives alike.

And hey, there's a world-class gym on campus. Don't worry. You can work it off second semester.

#5 The Campus.

Not too big and not too small, Tulane is just the right size with a total undergraduate enrollment of about 8,000 students. When you walk down McAlister Drive, the main street down campus, you'll bump into classmates, friends, acquaintances, and people who just look oddly familiar to you. You can choose to say hi, or instead don your oversized sunglasses and pretend you don't see them. Your choice. But the point is, there's a very warm atmosphere on campus that has nothing to do with the great weather. It's a spirit of community. An active student body. It's about the Hullabaloo, Tulane's student-run newspaper. It's about the arts. It's about USG, the undergraduate student government, who divvies funding to student organizations like TUCP (Tulane University Campus Programming), who puts on events like concerts featuring Ludacris or Cake. It's about Crawfest, an annual festival that takes place on campus where thousands of community members and students join together to feast on over 16,000 pounds of boiled crawfish while listening to live music. [NB: If you don't know what crawfish is, it's a tiny crustacean that is basically a miniature lobster. This is not a scientifically accurate description, but I hope it gives you an idea of what I'm talking about. Imagine over 16,000 pounds of tiny lobsters].

Tulane is full of professors, administrators, alumni, and, above all else, students who actually give a damn. And that's what makes it so great. Also, the campus is gorgeous. Imagine green, picturesque quads tucked away behind academic buildings within a historical residential landscape.

#4 Scholarships.

When I applied for scholarships back in 2003 (omfg, that's almost 10 years ago), I received a number of scholarship offers from other schools that had larger endowments. However, what other schools offered was still far less generous than what Tulane University offered. To attend Tulane, I accepted a four-year Distinguished Merit Honors Scholarship, equivalent to about half of my total tuition and boarding costs.

A merit scholarship is an award for tuition that is based entirely on merit. If you have done well in school and scored high on standardized tests, you will be a competitive candidate for a merit scholarship. Merit scholarships have nothing to do with your financial aid status. [Scholarships based on financial aid involve a separate process: filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to check your eligibility for grants, need-based scholarships, loans, and part-time student employment. There are a variety of ways to fund your education based on financial need, but you must fill out the FAFSA to discover what is available].

Tulane's merit scholarship program still thrives today. All applicants are automatically considered for merit scholarships when they apply for admission. Merit scholarships range from $7,500 to $27,000 per year, renewable upon good standing with the university. Louisiana residents may qualify for additional special merit scholarships that are part of Tulane's Focus Louisiana program, such as the John Hainkel Louisiana Scholars Award, the Valedictorian Scholarship, the Tulane Book Award, and the Louisiana Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Award.

Tulane also offers prestigious full tuition scholarships: The Dean's Honor Scholarship and the Paul Tulane Award. These scholarships require completion of separate applications, but quite a number of them are available for the taking. Dean's Honor Scholarships are awarded to approximately 75 incoming students per year. The Paul Tulane Award is awarded to approximately 50 students per year.

Finally, Tulane also offers a Community Service Scholarship, which ranges from $5,000 to $15,000, renewable for up to four or five years, depending on your program.

If you are interested in these scholarships, you should check the Tulane website at for more information. Deadlines may be coming up soon.

#3 Academics.

Tulane University is a top-tier university with top-notch academics. Long regarded as an unofficial Southern Ivy, Tulane has an outstanding reputation, especially in the South. The incoming Fall 2012 freshman class had a median SAT score range of 1950-2150. Although Tulane's reputation is more prominent in the South compared to anywhere else in the country, the school continues to attract a demographically diverse student body. Approximately 85% of students come from states outside Louisiana.

Undergraduates can choose from a number of electives to fill their course schedules before deciding on a major. Although I graduated from Newcomb College in 2007 with a degree in Latin American Studies and English, I took classes outside of Newcomb, in the School of Architecture and the A.B. Freeman School of Business. I even devoted several semesters to glassblowing and sculpting in a world-renowned glass studio under the direction of Professors/Artists Gene Koss and Steven Durow.

Study abroad programs at Tulane also present excellent educational opportunities. If you are a recipient of a scholarship, your financial aid award will likely apply to the cost of studying abroad, unless you choose to study abroad in the summer. Worth considering is Tulane's Study Abroad in Cuba program, one of the most unique study abroad programs in the country.

#2 Hurricane Katrina.

The title of this subheading is a bit misleading. Just to be clear, getting knocked out by a hurricane bitch like Katrina is not a reason to go to Tulane University. However, joining Tulane's story of resilience and revival is.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the levees broke. The flooding that followed caused extreme devastation throughout the city and shut down Tulane University for the Fall 2005 semester. In the spring of 2006, Tulane reopened its doors and welcomed back the returning 94% of the student body. The retention rate was surprising, but goes to show how devoted Tulane students are to the university. I was one of the 94% of students that returned to the school. It's hard to think about that fact without my heart skipping a beat.

Tulane's energy and focus were almost palpable in the efforts to restore the school and surrounding area. Everyone was committed to volunteer work and service upon return to the school post-Katrina. There were changes that had to be made; some controversial, some unavoidable. Tulane wasn't exactly the same, and perhaps never would be. But it could be something more, something better. It was an opportunity to be more than just a school.

Tulane University today is the single largest employer in New Orleans and has been instrumental to the city's recovery every step of the way.

#1 New Orleans.

I've already discussed the music, the weather, the food, and the social scene. You must be wondering: What else is there to warrant New Orleans its own little place on this list? Tulane University and New Orleans are inextricably linked. That's why New Orleans takes the top spot.

Tulane and New Orleans go hand in hand. If Tulane is the heart, New Orleans is the soul. I can't imagine having attended any other university anywhere else for my undergraduate education.

New Orleans is more than a place; it's a feeling. It's a standing invitation to explore. To get lost. To discover. To learn. To grow. Eventually, you will fall in love here. With the city. With the school.

No comments:

Post a Comment