Last fall during my high school visits, I was dazed and overwhelmed as I saw all the college posters lining the walls of guidance counselor offices. Beautiful trees, monolithic buildings, smiling and laughing students, big block white text. Words like ‘explore,’ ‘discover,’ ‘adventure.’ They blended together and looked THE SAME!
Our job in Admissions, and specifically when we work in communications, is to convey the vibe of our campus, both in writing and through photos. It’s a hard job to sum up Tufts in just one sentence, or in just one photo, but that’s sometimes all you get with a poster/brochure/postcard. And you, high school student receiving all of this college content, end up seeing the same photo over and over and over again—the classic photo of students outside, conversing, laughing, having a good time.
I needed some photos for our website and social media, so this morning, I asked a few tour guides to be models for the day and take some photos. And while you may end up seeing some of those same cliche photos I describe above, I want to tell you about the behind-the-scenes experience of the photoshoot because I think that story very much captures the Tufts vibe.
I met the three tour guides, Alekya, Nicole, and Alex, in the lobby of our office—they were bright and cheery and immediately asked me how I was doing and genuinely cared about my response! In my one year at Tufts, that has been consistent in my interactions with students—they care about other people! We brainstormed a few places on campus to take these photos and went out for a walk. We discussed the impending thunderstorm and crazy Boston weather. First up for a solo shot was Nicole. I snapped a few photos, and told the other two students to make her laugh. Without missing a beat, Alekya shared a punny joke: “I'd make a joke about our summer construction, but I'm still working on it!” Nicole burst out laughing. *CLICK* Got the photo.
Next up was Alekya. Same thing. A few staged photos, the other two making absurd jokes, *CLICK*, got the picture.
Alex was last up, took his spot, and immediately the two women said “You’re a natural, you’re doing great!” So supportive—another consistency in Tufts students.
We next moved to group shots. I wanted them to be talking to each other, but it can be awkward without a topic to discuss. So they started talking about this prompt: if you could carve a new Mount Rushmore of any faces, which faces would you pick? As I snapped away, the conversation went all over the place—to political figures, pop icons (Beyonce was a favorite), sports heroes (Tom Brady), to scientists (Einstein). So yes, the photoshoot was absolutely arranged and staged, but the conversation and laughter were absolutely real. And the photos that came out of the photoshoot show a real representation of the types of conversations Tufts students are having while walking around campus. I wish you could read a transcript of the whole photoshoot because what you'd read is that these Tufts students are really kind, creative, supportive, and intelligent. I had a blast chatting with these students, witnessing their camaraderie, and hearing their authentic opinions about their time at Tufts.
As we wrapped up the photoshoot, Alex remarked, “It took giving tours at Tufts to realize how much I love this place.” Alekya agreed and said, “Sometimes when I’m having a tough day, it’s great to give a tour and fall back in love.” We agreed that it's easy to work in admissions when you genuinely love the place where you work.
So when you see photos coming out of our office, I hope you can look through the marketing ploys, set aside your suspicion of canned stock images, and see the real students in the photoshoot while imagining the funny and interesting conversations they're having during the one hour we spent together.