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Is Tulane University a good school?

PhiloBuff7PhiloBuff7 Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
edited September 2010 in College Search & Selection
Hi, I've been looking at Tulane and don't know much about it. I'd appreciate some insight.
Post edited by PhiloBuff7 on
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Replies to: Is Tulane University a good school?

  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Posts: 12,073Super Moderator Senior Member
    The easy answer is yes. But to really have a meaningful answer, what do you consider a good school? Are you a senior? If so, what are your stats? That means unweighted GPA, class rank if you know it, SAT or ACT scores, how many AP courses if any, that kind of thing. Knowing these things it is easier to say if it is a good fit at least academically.
  • ghostbusterghostbuster Posts: 1,590- Senior Member
    I have to laugh at these type of questions. Perhaps inartfully drafted. Yes, Tulane is an awesome school. New Orleans is a special place to attend college. Don't overlook Tulane's neighbor school as well: Loyola New Orleans. Just a GEM of a school. Jesuit. Fabulous and caring professors. My D1 spent a summer down there and knew faculty from both Tulane and Loyola New Orleans. Just rave reviews.

    Good luck.
  • PhiloBuff7PhiloBuff7 Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
    Yeah, I apologize for the horrible wording of this question. The truth is that most schools are "good schools", but some just stand out as more academically competitive than others. To be honest, Tulane is sort of an outlier among the schools I've looked at (Middlebury, Williams, Bowdoin, etc) because of its larger size and urban location. I also don't know too much about Tulane, and I think that people on CC usually give candid reviews. Anyway, I'm particularly interested in philosophy and Latin American studies as possible major--hope that info helps in your answering of this question.
  • PhiloBuff7PhiloBuff7 Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
    I do, however, already know from the 2010 Princeton Review that Tulane has a very strong history department.

    I also have a few more questions:

    Is the Greek life/drinking/partying at Tulane over the top? In other words, would be people consider Tulane to be a "party school"?

    What is it like for only 51% of the student body to live on campus? Does it hinder the social scene?

    Thanks for reading and answering (if you do).
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Posts: 12,073Super Moderator Senior Member
    OK, that's great and far easier to answer.

    As far as atmosphere, while it is not an LAC it is one of the most undergraduate oriented research universities out there. President Cowen and the school take a great deal of pride in having a lot of the characteristics of an LAC (small classes, close relationships with the professors) while having greater resources. My D is a sophomore there and a top level student (Presidential Scholar finalist, accepted at all the top 20 schools she applied to, for example), and she chose Tulane and has found my statement above to be true. She has found the classes stimulating, the profs and deans very accessable and helpful, and the atmosphere and New Orleans exciting and very interesting. Tulane is very academically competitive, it is #29 in the country regarding the average SAT scores of the incoming students. They also have two students attending this year as freshmen that won the Presidential Scholars award, a national recognition from the White House awarded to only 110 or so academic students from the entire country. There are also some for artistic merit for a total of, I think, 144. For Tulane to have two attending in the freshman class, the same as Duke and Vanderbilt, for example, I think tells you something about the school. I know in my D's class besides herself there were at least two other finalists (there are 500 finalists in the country in total). Tulane also has a strong history of winners for Fulbright and Marshall scholarships for post graduates, and has recently made a renewed commitment to have students win more of these as well as Rhodes and others.

    To get to some of your other questions, Greek life is about 25% of the campus these days. I wouldn't call that over the top. The drinking and partying is similar to other schools, don't let the New Orleans location fool you there. Many people say that it is often worse at more rural schools where there is little else to do. I don't know about that, but all schools have groups that party hard, groups that are more moderate, and groups that prefer not to drink at all.

    Your 51% figure for on campus living is incorrect, and here is why. Tulane has one of the most extensive continuing education schools in the country. This is mostly local adults that take classes part time at night, often called "non-traditional" students. It raises the apparent number of undergrads from the 5700 or so that are full time traditional students to something like 8000. But in the day-to-day life of the full time student, you would hardly know this program and these students are there. Now of course none of these local students live on campus. Tulane full time freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, and quite a few upperclassmen do also. I think in the final analysis the % living on campus in more like 72% or more. There are something like 4100 beds on campus and the dorms are full. So 4100/5700 = 72%. I might be off a bit on either of those numbers, but not much. But if you use the 8,000 students because you count the part timers...well that is where the 51% numer came from. Bottom line, the final result is that you will find the campus feeling to be similar to schools like Vanderbilt, Wash U, Duke, etc. The big difference with schools like Middlebury is more that it is in New Orleans than the LAC/research university difference, although the latter does make some difference of course. New Orleans is either a big positive or it isn't, depending on your personal preferences. I strongly encourage you to visit and see for yourself.

    Finally, the history department is very good, and the Latin American Studies program is nationally recognized. There was some study that ranked it #2 at one point. While I think that is rather meaningless, it is very strong. Tulane has significant historical ties to Latin America. The president's house was the "mansion" of Samuel Zemurray, who became head of United Fruit Company and apparently coined the term "banana republic". There is a lot of Zemurray money in the history of Tulane. There used to be a Zemurray Hall, but I think it is gone now. Anyway, you cannot go wrong picking Tulane if that and history are areas on which you want to focus. The possibilities for combining those two areas into a double major (easy to do at Tulane for good students) and a senior thesis are endless. Oh wait, you said philosophy, I got confused because you mentioned history. Philosophy is actually another very strong area at Tulane, and is a fairly popular major. Also, Loyola University, which is literally right next to Tulane and is Jesuit, offers some philosophy courses that Tulane students can take if Tulane does not offer the same, so you get a really broad selection. I haven't looked into it, but I can imagine Loyola might offer some religious philosophy courses Tulane might not.

    Hope that helped.
  • dwhitedwhite Posts: 639Registered User Member
    Fallenchemist - thank you for the post. I have started to research Tulane for my second S (junior) as he has expressed an interest in the school. We are hoping to visit either this fall or spring. Interesting that you compare the vibe to Vanderbilt (our older S is there) - all in all, sounds like Tulane is a special place. Any hotel recommendations for when we visit? I understand that some hotels have easy streetcar access to the campus which may be betterr than renting a car. Thanks.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Posts: 12,073Super Moderator Senior Member
    Hi dwhite - I meant that comment pretty strictly in regards to the fact that most students live on campus and it is a "classic" college atmosphere, but having visited Vandy about a dozen times over 30 years, I think it is fair to say the schools have a similar feel in many ways. They both have beautiful campuses, on campus activity is high, the number of "suitcase students" are few, and the students themselves are similar in many ways. Vandy of course is more selective, but not enormously so, and certainly not to the point where the type of student is very different.

    OK, that clarification out of the way, there are a number of hotels right on St. Charles, where the streetcar runs. It is indeed the way to go. There is a Hampton Inn that I have stayed at often, and there is a Best Western next to it that people say is perfectly nice. Try those two first, but if you want something down towards the French Quarter, there are nice affordable places a couple to 5 blocks away on the other side of Canal Street that also are close to the street car. Just adds about 15 minutes to the ride to Tulane. Let me know.
  • PhiloBuff7PhiloBuff7 Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
    Fallenchemist, thank you for your very thorough and insightful post. I have to say that initially I was put off by the percent of students living off campus, but now I don't have such qualms. I have one more question about New Orleans. How does the crime rate in the city, albeit the reportedly excellent campus security, affect the student experience? I just finished watching the Spike Lee documentary about post-Katrina New Orleans, which cites the high crime rate and police corruption in New Orleans, and I would love to hear your perspective. Thanks.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Posts: 12,073Super Moderator Senior Member
    Sure thing. This is good news for you also. Like many situations, this is one where it would give one the totally wrong impression by not knowing the specifics. Tulane is in a wealthy and gorgeous part of New Orleans, the Uptown/Audubon District. As you head down the streetcar line, you go through the Garden District. These districts are where most of the great, old homes are. Just amazing, really, and the streetcar that goes right up St. Charles (the street that fronts Tulane) passes all these beautiful homes. Now that is not to say there is no crime, it is in a city after all, and of course even rural campuses have crime. Most of it is petty theft, alcohol related, that kind of thing. The number of violent crimes in the area is no more than most other urban schools, and less than a lot. There have been a number of threads about this on the Tulane part of this forum. Common sense is all that is required to avoid poor situations.

    The crime you hear about is almost all criminal-on-criminal, gang and drug related, and in areas miles from Tulane. To answer your questoin more directly about how it affects the student experience, I would say not much. My D walks off campus during the day all the time. At night you want to be with a group, of course, especially if you are going on side streets rather than on the more highly traveled St. Charles, Broadway or another busier street. On campus itself it is extremely safe, but campus security will walk with anyone from building to building if it is very late and they are nervous about it, but there are almost always people around. There are also arrangements to have security get you from off-campus if it is in the vicinity, and United Cab has a deal where your parents can set up an account so you can just call and it will be charged to them, if that is needed. So lots of safety precautions, but that all makes it sound worse than it is, probably. You just have to see for yourself, I suppose. Bottom line, it is safe, in the sense most of us would use that word. Put another way, thousands of students go through 4 years with no incidents at all, thousands more with maybe just something taken like a phone or whatever, and only a very very few have some significant incident. I mean like a handful over many years.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 61,172Registered User Senior Member

    What is it like for only 51% of the student body to live on campus? Does it hinder the social scene?


    That is actually a pretty good number for a residential college of a decent size.

    Remember, there are often off-campus apts right across the street from various universities, so no real difference from being on campus (distance-wise) and therefore no hindering of social scene. If all or most of the off-campus housing were blocks away, then that would be different.

    Every school is going to have some students who don't live on campus...perhaps they're married, have families that live in town, or are going to school at night (non-traditional). At many residential schools, some upper-classmen choose to move to nearby off-campus housing for a variety of reasons.

    Also...don't know how the students who live in Greek houses are counted. Are they considered "on campus" or not?
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Posts: 12,073Super Moderator Senior Member
    Tulane has very limited Greek housing for men, and virtually none for women. So that is not much of a factor. The houses are mostly on Broadway, within a couple blocks of campus.

    I think you are right M2CK that 51% really wouldn't be bad, but since almost 100% of the freshman/sophomore classes live on campus and there is junior and senior housing, the number is in fact higher by a fair amount. But I suspect you are right that it would be hard to tell the difference in atmosphere between a school that was at 51% and one at 70%.

    Tulane off campus housing is mostly within 10 blocks, I would say. Some just a couple of blocks, some at the edge of that. Some live even farther because they can take the streetcar. Housing not on the streetcar line it is a bit tougher proposition. You can have a car at Tulane as an upperclassman, but it is a pain in the tush. That's pretty much the lay of the land, so to speak.
  • EastCoastGirl715EastCoastGirl715 Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
    Greetings:

    As with any school, I would encourage you to research the professors who would be teaching in your field of interest.

    Tulane has some very strong professors in History and Latin American studies. Go to their website and check out, in particular, Justin Wolfe, Ph.D. He is brilliant and very highly regarded in his field.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Posts: 12,073Super Moderator Senior Member
    EastCoastGirl - While I agree there is nothing worng in general with what you say (clearly it cannot hurt!), I take the position that at the undergrad level this makes less of a difference. After all, they are going to take something like 2/3 or more of their courses outside of their major, and I would be quite surprised to find a top university (by which I mean the first 100 or so listed in USNWR) who don't have a decent history department for undergrads. Same would be true for chemistry, anthropology, English, so on and so forth. For something a bit more specialized like Latin American studies I could see a situation where this might not be offered by some schools, so certainly one would want to check that out. But otherwise I feel it is better to focus on where you are a good fit overall academically and socially, as well as being somewhere where you like the size of the school, the weather, the sports, the Greek scene, the rock climbing nearby, whatever is important to you. You are going to be there 4 years, after all.

    Nonetheless, nice to hear a rave review for a Tulane prof. Is he your brother? LOL.
  • EastCoastGirl715EastCoastGirl715 Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
    Greetings:

    Actually, no, but I live near Tulane University (my husband and I are alums, I for grad school, he for undergrad and grad), and Dr. Wolfe happened to live next door to us. We became friendly with him and his wife (also a highly-regarded prof at Tulane), but didn't know much about their work until we saw in the alumni mag that Dr. Wolfe had received a prestigious award. Out of curiousity we did some reseach and were very impressed with what we discovered in terms of his research and also how beloved he is by his students.

    You are right on the money with your suggestion that the original poster check out all aspects of college life, not just the one department s/he thinks s/he would be interested in. However, I had a bit of a rude awakening along these lines with my own undergraduate experience. My overall college experience was outstanding and I wouldn't change a thing...except that I wish I had researched my area of interest a little better. I was very disappointed in the facilities, attitudes and many of the professors in my chosen major - I'll never forget the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach on my first day of class in that department. However, I loved everything else about the school so much that I chose to stay. I don't regret the decision at all, but I wish I had known more about what my major department was like before choosing this school.
  • fallenchemistfallenchemist Posts: 12,073Super Moderator Senior Member
    OK, that is really interesting. Thank goodness the rest of your undergrad experience was so postitive.

    I don't know how much you read the Tulane threads, but I am pretty active on there. I am an alum also (undergrad) and my D is there now (sophomore). Good to meet a fellow Tulanian.
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