If you have read any of my other blog posts, you know that I am a very proud Tufts alumna. I wear my class ring every day, have my graduation tassel hanging in my apartment and was way too excited when I went to India and found elephant trinkets around every turn. That being said, my experience as a Jumbo was not quite what I expected it to be- in a good way. There are definitely some things that I wish I had known before I stepped foot on the hill, so I figured I would share them with you (also I know this is long, but hang in there)!
· You do not have to be interested in some of our most popular majors- like biology, international relations or engineering- to find your place here. The size of the department is no way indicative of the strength of the department. For instance, Hayden (who is also a recent alum and an admissions officer) graduated with a major in religion, a major that graduates anywhere from three to twelve students a year. Hayden said, “I loved being in a small department – professors at Tufts want to teach and want to spend time mentoring students, so in the smaller departments they sometimes have less outlets. It was great to have an advisor who was always offering me research opportunities or asking me to edit his soon-to-be-published articles. The department also facilitated a community of people excited to have in-depth conversations about the same topics – a really invaluable experience.”
· I wish I had known how helpful the distribution requirements are! When I first sat down to register for classes before beginning my freshman year, I was shocked by the number of options. I later realized how overwhelmed I would have been if the distribution requirements had not been in place- they gave me a lot of much needed guidance and direction in my first two years. Besides giving me some guidance, the distribution requirements stretched me outside my comfort zone (but still gave me the chance to take classes I was genuinely interested in taking), made the classroom diverse and helped me discover new and exciting departments.
· The faculty here is not just intelligent- they are also fun and want to be your friend! While I was told about the strong student/faculty relationships on campus, I did not expect that my professors to be so fun. I think at Tufts, there is a level of intellectual trust that goes both ways between student and teacher, which allows professors to not just teach, but also be mentors and friends. Some of my favorite moments at Tufts were going to office hours with a professor, not just to talk about an exam, but to talk about life in general. A good example for you- Sam Sommers from the department of Psychology, who recently won the Lerman-Neubauer Prize for Outstanding Teaching and Advising. Besides being renowned in the field of social psychology and teaching a ton of classes at Tufts (and always arriving early to class to chat with students), he is currently working on a podcast (and book) with Sports Illustrated called “Brain on Sports”. Professor Sommer’s biography states, ““In his free time, Sam enjoys hanging out with his wife and two daughters, batting lead-off for the vaunted Tufts Psychology summer softball team, and exerting far more effort than he probably should looking for Seinfeld and Daily Show clips to use in the classroom.” Doesn’t he just sound fun?!
· The diversity of the student body is not just found in race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, but in everyone’s unique perspectives as well. While you are obviously going to learn from your Professors, college also gives you the opportunity to learn from people who have a different way of thinking than you. During my time at Tufts, I found it fascinating to listen to the diverse perspectives of my classmates, which often made me question my own thoughts. I wish I would have known that diversity can be seen and felt on campus, even in the most subtle ways.
All in all, my experience at Tufts ended up being quite different than what I originally anticipated- and this proud Jumbo would not have it any other way.