When I started my college search, I think that I was in a little bit of denial. My rural home in New Hampshire was my safety net. I went to school with the same people up through 8th grade, and it was a ~big deal~ when we finally got to graduate and transition to the regional high school thirty minutes away. My high school typically sends about a third of its graduates on to four year institutions (with only a handful daring to flee the New Hampshire borders), so phrases like Common App and supplemental essays and demonstrated interest weren’t really a part of my vocabulary.
However, it was always an expectation that I would go to college. My single mom was, after all, my elementary and middle school principal (until your mom has been in a dunking booth for a school fundraiser in front of eeeeeveryone when you’re in 7th grade, you haven’t really lived). I ended up applying to a hodgepodge of schools my senior year with more help from Google (and our steady dial up internet) than my high school. Tufts somehow ended up on that hodgepodge list…and I’m thankful it did.
When decisions came out in March 2008, my mom, my sister, and I sat around the computer waiting for the decisions to load. A few days later, we held the same ritual waiting for the financial aid packages to load. Those financial aid decisions caused my list of “I might actually enroll here” colleges to shift a bit. And (don’t be shocked here) Tufts moved to the top of the list.
I will be honest. My “Why Tufts?” back then really came down to the financial fit. Of course, I liked the community vibe of Tufts (who doesn’t want to be surrounded by kind nerds for four years?), but my decision to say yes to Tufts rested on financial aid and the financial aid office. Meeting 100% of my financial need for all four years (which was very important with a younger sister starting college two years after me) on top of an informative and patient financial aid counselor sealed the deal. I kid you not, my mom still raves about my undergraduate financial aid counselor even eight years after my graduation.
So that’s where 18-year-old Beky in her lime green Aeropostale hoodie (the 2000s were rough) was in her decision-making process. But now 30-year-old Beky (with slightly better fashion taste) is still at Tufts. Why?
I came to Tufts thinking I would double major in math and history because those were the subjects I liked in high school. But then I took an art history class at Tufts that blew my mind (and I learned that art history was a real thing you could study). I ended up taking four classes alone on Armenian art and architecture because 1. I loved the professor (shout out to Christina Maranci) and 2. I really could not get enough of the stories around early Armenian architectural movements and churches like Zvartnots just rising up out of an ordinary landscape (Google it, trust me). At Tufts, I left the country for the first time thanks to a scholarship (much love to Tufts-in-Talloires!). I crafted a Pippin battle scene with painted mannequin legs thrown across the Cohen stage. I geeked out with my friend over her senior thesis on gender roles in The Hunger Games trilogy. I learned how to navigate buses and subways to my internships as a girl who grew up on a dirt road that washed away with every April rain.
Tufts is a place to challenge so much (yourself, your friends, your professors – heck, even the institution itself!) and to think critically, to grow always, and to care deeply. Jumbos show up for each other and sing one another’s praises because goshdarnit we are sometimes too nice and too humble for our own good. We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we take our work incredibly seriously. And I think those are all pretty special things.