A little over a week ago, I began my sophomore year at Tufts. It seems like just yesterday that I was moving into my freshman dorm and beginning my Tufts journey. This year, a friend from a summer program is a freshman here at Tufts. Over the summer she’s been asking me a myriad of questions about classes, clubs, student life, and more. When I came to Tufts, I did not know a single person, but since I’ve started answering questions about Tufts from my friend, I realized how valuable it would have been to have someone to answer my burning questions. As I was answering my friend’s questions, I realized that the answers I was telling her could be useful to other freshmen and other future college students. With that said, here are a few questions she asked me (and some questions that I thought would be most helpful) and my answers.
Q: Have you finished your World Civilization credit yet?
A: I have not. There seems to be a lot of stress over this requirement for some reason, however, many classes in various areas of study count towards the World Civilization credit. Though I haven’t completed this requirement yet, there are many different classes that I’m interested in that will fulfill this credit. Unlike other required classes, the World Civilization requirement is one that you will probably complete without even realizing it.
Q: I want to take a fun class in my first semester, what would you recommend?
A: A “fun” class can look very different for everyone. For me, I took a music class last Spring that I loved, but for others, this might be the complete opposite of fun. If you’re looking to take a “fun” class, my recommendation would be to take something that sparks fascination; Maybe that’s a class on feminist literature or yoga, but either way, a fun class should be something you are excited to take not just to fulfill a requirement, but also to learn about the content or to try something new.
Q: Do you have any advice for picking classes first semester?
A: Firstly, try to get your writing requirement out of the way. Not only is it good to get it done, but it will also help you learn how to write in college, a skill you will need to know how to do in every discipline. Secondly, vary your courses. Don’t take all humanities or social sciences at the same time, at least during your first semester. Freshman year is the time to explore different things, so take classes from many different departments. Also, varying your courseload can help with academic burnout as your homework will likely be different. For example: having different kinds of homework assignments helped me because sometimes I needed a break from reading, but I had to get homework done, so I would do something like do some science problems for my astronomy class.
Q: How many credits should I take?
A: In my first semester of Freshman year, I only took 14 credits (four classes), and that was a great decision for me. College is an adjustment, so making sure you aren’t too overwhelmed is important, One of the ways to make sure you aren't overwhelmed is by not overloading yourself. If you are an incoming freshman, I wouldn’t take more than 15 or 16 credits your first semester, just to give yourself some breathing room.
Q: Is it okay to drop a class?
A: Yes! I was so afraid to drop a class my first semester, so I stayed in a class that I did not enjoy. As a freshman, you don’t have a major yet (most likely) so take classes that you enjoy and if you don’t enjoy a class, it is okay to drop it, I promise your professors won’t be mad at you.
Q: How many clubs should I join?
A: My advice for choosing clubs is to visit the club fair and sign up for the e-list of anything that even remotely interests you. Then, pick 5-10 clubs you are more interested in and attend their GIMs (general interest meetings). After that, choose 3-5 that you are really interested in and attend those club meetings/practices for the first month or so. After that, depending on the level of commitment of a club, focus your energy on 2-3 clubs you enjoy. Some clubs are more committed than others, so you may only have time for one club, but that’s OK!
There are so many other good questions that I could have answered about beginning your freshman year at Tufts, but I felt like these were some that I am asked most and also the ones that I would have wanted the answers to. Freshman year can be daunting, but it’s more than okay to ask questions like these to help you orient yourself. If after reading this, you have thought of some other questions you would like answered, feel free to email me @ email@example.com