When I was applying to Tufts as a senior in high school, I didn’t know much about it. When I asked others about it, the main thing I heard was that it was “quirky.” I didn’t know what that really meant, and today I don’t really know either. It made sense in some things, like the interesting essay questions and the fun elephant mascot. To me, quirky meant the kid who had obscure interests that were weird but also cool. It was the cool kid who was just too different (in a good way) to have that many friends in the mainstream high school community. I always wanted to be that kid. Honestly, when I was waitlisted at Tufts as a senior, I immediately thought that I wasn’t “quirky” enough in my essays. Those sample essays on the website are intimidating, and I thought that my essay wasn’t as interesting, so Tufts waitlisted me. I wasn’t that cool kid; I was just fooling myself, and Tufts could see right through it.
After applying to colleges as a transfer, I realize that quirky isn’t exclusively a Tufts thing. Teachers, guidance counselors, parents, friends will name different universities that are “quirky.” More importantly, I realized that none of these schools, including Tufts, label themselves as quirky. It’s an image made up by outsiders that perpetuates throughout the community where it matters most: prospective students. And it becomes a dangerous way to choose colleges. I applied regardless of this image and just chose to be me...and that turned out well.
Once I arrived at Tufts, I think the “quirky” factor really hit me. People really did have those elusive interests, and I still wanted to be one of them. However, people were inclusive in their interests. They shared their interests and didn’t look down on the fact that I didn’t know what “acid rap” was. As second semester hit, I’ve realized that everyone is “quirky.” Everyone has their own interests. Some might seem like “boring” interests to you, but someone else may find them fascinating and uncommon. What Tufts does is simply help you feel less afraid to pursue them freely. Tufts encourages you to fight the urge to categorize yourself in a neat little box, and this isn’t an attitude you’ll find at every college.
Last year I was a biology major pre-med, taking physics, orgo, bio, math, and the required English courses. I chose the most immersive, challenging English course I could, but I was recommended against it because how would that help me on the MCAT?
This year I’m a psychology major, hopefully film and media minor, who is also pre-med. I’m still trying to take electives in religion and education, and I love it. My dean, although concerned I’m taking on too much, still encouraged me to take classes in philosophy and classics.
Tufts creates a community of individuals. Students here have their own interests and are unafraid to pursue it on their own. However, they’re willing to share them with others. Faculty support the exploration of different activities and classes that don’t stereotypically belong together. Students here tend to do their own thing; they are more than meets the eye. There’s some pressure because of that, but it’s more motivating than degrading. If all these people are doing things they’re interested in, what can I do to find what I’ll enjoy?
Say what you will about Tufts students, but “quirky” may not be the right word.