No one said decisions were easy, let alone big (shall we say, Jumbo?) decisions. It's okay if you don't know. This month is your time to prioritize yourself and celebrate your options. We asked some current students (who made this decision just a few years ago) and some admissions officers (who think about this stuff all the time) to offer their best, unbiased (okay, maybe a little biased) advice on how to decide where to go to college.
Marina Rueda Garcia '21
Before I begin, a big congratulations on getting into college! Your hard work has really paid off, and now you get the chance to choose the place where you want to spend the next four years of your life. It sounds scary, but let me tell you something: it feels like it was yesterday when I was in your position, and I am already halfway through my college experience. If I am being completely honest, I had a really hard time choosing where to go to college. I had visited universities in the United States the summer before my senior year, but when I got into schools, I felt like I had to visit again with a new perspective. I wanted to go to these schools and imagine myself as a student on campus. However, living in Spain and going through the college application back home (which takes place in the spring), I did not have the chance to visit the schools I got into, which made the decision very hard. If you have the chance to visit, please do!
When you’re on campus, talk to students, ask them questions about their experience, try to see yourself in their place, and see if the community is good for you. For my fellow international students or for anyone that does not have the chance to re-visit: reach out to students and even faculty if you are interested in any research or classes specifically, look for student clubs that you may be interested in, look at programs offered or opportunities to develop academically and personally, etc. Listen to yourself and ask if the colleges you are looking into are places you would thrive in. I pictured myself in all these places, but finally, the image of me at Tufts and the vibe of the School of Engineering made me feel like it was the right fit for me. As I arrived on campus for Orientation, I knew I made the right decision, and two years later, I am glad that I chose Tufts.
Susannah Murray '24
Something I know is incredibly challenging for the high school seniors of 2021 is having to choose a college without ever being able to visit the campus of any school you're considering. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that you do not need to visit a school and love it to know it's the right fit for you. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Tufts campus over spring break of my junior year in high school and I HATED it! It turned out, of course, that I'd had the flu my entire trip and had participated in the two-hour combined info session and campus tour with a low-grade fever. I'm sure Goddard Chapel was just as beautiful as ever that March, but the walk up the stairs to get there nearly did me in, and I was pretty set on never returning to the Tufts campus.
Clearly, I did not end up keeping that promise to myself. After returning home, recuperating, and resuming my college research process, I started to realize that Tufts had so much of what I was looking for. As you're doing your own Google deep dives into the schools you're considering attending, search for the school that has academic programs that excite you (or if you're completely lost on what you want to do like I was, somewhere that will give you ample time to explore), values that match your own, and people you want to surround yourself with. If you're watching a student-produced video on YouTube and think, "I want to be friends with these people," you've found a winner. College is less about the physical space and so much more about the opportunities you'll find and the relationships you'll form there. (Though, to be fair, Tufts isn't bad on the eyes).
Blake Anderson '24
My best bit of advice (as someone who was in your shoes a few months ago!) is simple:
College is about you! When I was stressed after submitting applications and applying for financial aid, I was given this wise advice from a close friend. These words humbled me; like some of you, I had become so swept up in numbers, stats, potential majors, and toxic online comment sections (you likely know the vibe...) and I forgot the most essential aspect of the college process: my choice.
College is four years dedicated to figuring out who you are. It’s about finding that little yearning in your heart that pulls you toward your passions. The application process is stressful enough already, try not to make it any harder on yourself by letting other people's thoughts cloud your own. Likewise, it is easy to romanticize your college search. You might wonder what kind of lifestyle a school can offer you. Applying to college is often a long and emotionally-fraught process, but it is also exciting and fun at the same time! Choosing your future is both a stressful and hopeful undertaking, yet, at the end of the day, the choice is yours.
Although I knew Tufts was my dream school, I was hesitant to leave the world I had always known as my home. I had never been to Tufts before my move-in day — I never got the chance to visit or tour. I remember having so much on my mind in April of 2020, but I wish I had someone to tell me that I would happily end up where I belonged. Tufts is my rightfully chosen place, and I have never had a reason to doubt that. This is a place where I found my passions inside and outside the classroom. This is a place where I have made friends filled with countless memories. This is the place where I find myself at home.
So, going back to my own advice, if you’ve committed to Tufts: GREAT! Welcome to the herd! I can’t wait for you to follow your heart onto the hill. But — if you’re like how I was last year and you haven’t committed yet — just know that it is okay to take your time to figure things out. Listen to what your heart is telling you to do, and don’t let any voices speak louder than your own. This is your future, and you should be very, very excited about it.
Pax et lux, Blake Anderson
Jason Rathman '17, Assistant Director of Admissions
We understand that the weight of deciding where to go to college can feel monumental, but chances are that there is more than one college where you can find success in your own definition of the word. I advise students to take a two-step approach to making the decision after receiving acceptance letters: essentials and intangibles. The essentials are the foundation of your undergraduate experience, but it’s the intangibles--the people and community--that will see you through your growth.
First, it’s important to make a list of the essentials: things you need to have at your college to set you up for a successful undergraduate career. Perhaps you had them on a list when you were first touring schools. Essentials can be size, location, cost/affordability, research or internship opportunities, a specific major, co-curriculars or resources. Make an essentials list that is uniquely yours, then cross-reference it with your list of acceptances.
Once you’re narrowed down your list to (hopefully) a few schools, it’s time to look at some of the intangibles: the things you won’t find under the statistics page on an admissions website. It’s the time to ask yourself, “is this the community I want to be a part of?” “Who can I become here?” Finding answers to these questions can feel difficult, but talking to current students and alumni, or attending an admitted student day, is a great place to start.
Beky Stiles '12, Associate Director of Admissions
Yay! You got into college! Take a victory lap, treat yourself to your favorite thing (a new book, marathon-ing Bridgerton with your friends, testing out that new Arduino…you do you!), and breathe. As you start to think about where you can see yourself in college, remember that a college isn’t just a random assortment of buildings with a big name that your great aunt in Enid, Oklahoma, will recognize; a college is a community of people (please excuse me for stating the obvious). My point is, you should think about what community you want to impact over the next few years, and what type of people you want impacting your own view of the world. So if you get to visit the campuses as you’re making your decision, talk to current students! Chat with your future classmates! I promise it’s not weird to sit down with a random group of people in the dining hall. And if you can’t make it to campus, your admissions officer can put you in contact with a student who has similar interests to you. We want to help you find your home and your people.
Evelyn Ocampo '17, Assistant Director of Admissions
There were two key things I did when I was making my final decision; make lists and picture myself as a sophomore in college (a bit strange... I know, but stay with me). I made pros and cons list for each school. Now that I had the practical reasons for each school written down, I went on to thinking about how I would feel as a sophomore in college. Would I feel accepted a year into my college experience? Would I have the time to explore new interests? Is the campus community one that I vibed with? At the end of the day, this will be your home for the next 4 years so you want to make sure that it is the right fit for you. Don't let others opinions dictate where you decide to go! Ultimately, go with your gut and go with a place that you'd be happy to call home.
Trenton Manns '19, Admissions Counselor
First of all, congratulations! You are now in the phase where you decide which college to attend. When it came time for me to make this decision, I made sure to think about the ways in which I wanted to grow and the goals I wanted to achieve. I remember searching the internet to learn more about the resources at each school on my list, as well as making sure that the communities at those schools reflected goals and values that I hold. In my research on Tufts, I found a vibrant community of Professors and students who supported and encouraged people to challenge themselves in new and exciting ways. I also found clubs and organizations that were fun AND academically stimulating. I made sure that my Journey to Tufts was charted with foresight of what I would be getting myself into and I encourage you all to do the same! Last but not least, trust in your ability to make the most of where you go to college. Best of luck!