Three years ago, when I first thought I would be going to college, Tufts wasn’t even on the list of colleges that I was going to apply to. I was (and still am) in love with idea of majoring in Education, and got accepted to two schools for that; life (aka scholarship requirements) pushed that completely out of the way, and I deferred college for a year while continuing to go through National Service in the Singapore Army. Two years ago, Tufts still wasn’t on my radar; I mean I knew of Tufts, I had a very good friend studying here (hi Alison Kuah), but I was also very much in love with another college (who rejected me for the second time) and the idea of studying in New York. I didn’t take rejection particularly gracefully; I just kind of assembled a list of schools I could be theoretically interested in and applied to all of them (it was a very painful time of writing in my life).
So, what changed? I could tell you about how I was all set to go to another college when I suddenly got a flood of emails from Tufts people, all writing long and detailed and personal accounts of why I should come to Tufts; or I could tell you about joining the Tufts Facebook group and realizing I really wanted to go to school with the people posting on it. I could even tell you about how I realized that I would never have wanted to live in New York and do that really cliché thing where it’s like “be careful of what you think you want because!”
But no. The truth is, as important as those things were then, as important as they were in drawing me here and leading to me making that choice, they’re not singularly distinct to Tufts. There are many colleges in the world who would send you very long and detailed and personal accounts of why you should go to them, many colleges that have people you would turn out to be best friends with, many colleges in places that you would end up hating. And as much as Boston is a lovely, safe, picturesque city, my relationship with the weather here is as abusive as my relationship with Chemistry (read: very). These personal tipping points come from all over; but they’re not the logical ones, they’re not the ones where you write them out on some piece of paper and they make sense, they’re the ones where you just reach out and they’re there and you know. And so I’m going to try to give a logical tipping point, one that I can write about and defend on paper, because at some point in the last two years my (rather long) debating career has started to feel like a distant memory and I really should try to upkeep those skills.
So, practically, rationally, why Tufts now? For me, because it’s the school where I ended up as a double major in English and Biology with a minor in Linguistics and a future Bachelor’s of Science (for now). There are plenty of schools that give you crazy requirements to complete a single major and force you to jump through multiple hoops to defend your specialization; Tufts isn’t one of them. It wasn’t a walk in the park to figure out how I was going to do a major in the humanities with a major in the sciences with a minor in the social sciences, but it wasn’t rocket science either, and that’s what I really appreciate about Tufts. Academically, it’s structured yet incredibly free; there aren’t giant restraints on what you can or cannot do every semester in the liberal arts program, and there is a ton of flexibility in how you can mix and match courses.
I’m not much of a rarity either on campus; as you meet people and ask what their majors are, you’ll realize there’s a lot of people chasing after very (traditionally) separate things. Off the top of my head, my roommate’s doing a major in Biology and a minor in Film, I know someone who’s a double major in English and Computer Science, someone else is doing a double major in Math and Greek with a double minor in Philosophy and Computer Science… Over here, people are both passionate about very different things just because, and also able to bring them together in an academically disciplined way. It doesn’t mean that everything’s completely up to you, but I appreciate the structure; that we have foundation requirements, needing us to try out classes from different disciplines, a foreign language and world civilization requirement that push for that exposure to places and people both different and yet the same as us. It doesn’t mean you have to specialize in very different things, but there’s always the possibility, and that to me is one of the most attractive parts of Tufts; that if you’re curious, there’s always space to grow and learn.
This space expands around you as well; in my experience, no one here is crazy competitive, breathing over your shoulder trying to figure out how well you’re doing. Everyone’s pretty chill, in all honesty; talking about grades is a matter of whether you’re happy with them, and no one’s subtly trying to prod you into revealing a letter or a number. This spreads to a great multitude of things as well; everyone’s busy chasing after their own dreams without trying to compete with yours, which means everyone’s pretty chill about letting people latch on. Asking profs for research opportunities has never felt like some rat race to be the first person who emails them, and profs are also really happy to talk to you about the possibility of doing that research. Academically and intellectually, there’s a lot of space to breathe on this campus; that’s why I’m sticking with Tufts.