Why Tufts? That’s a Tufts admission prompt and a question I hear often. I moved from Dallas, Texas to attend Tufts. For a regular undergrad to come from another state is normal. I am one of the few REAL students who moved all the way across the country to attend Tufts. So what is this whole REAL student thing and how are we so different from regular undergrads?
Special programs that accommodate returning adults are fairly common these days at most universities. I looked at my fair share of them during my community college days. However, the Tufts REAL program stood out to me for several reasons, primarily because I considered myself capable and didn’t want special educational accommodations. The admission process for REALs is slightly different from that of regular undergrads, but that’s the only thing that’s different. Once admitted we have the same classes, professors, and majors as regular students. Many of the returning student programs focus on the community aspect of sharing classes with others who have similar experiences. Tufts offered me the REAL community along with a solid education. This is why I’m here.
As I’ve come to know the REAL community, I learned to think of them as people who’ve done awesome things in their lives, but lack the validation of a degree to be able to put it on a resume. We’re not failures who are getting a second chance at life; we are people who succeeded is overcoming certain obstacles in life, and are now looking for a different form of success. Our stories are part of the admission process. Our time at Tufts becomes another story to add to our history.
The current REAL student group is one of the most diverse on campus. We are a mixture of nationalities and ethnicities. The age gap between the youngest and oldest member of our group is 10 years at the very minimum. We have married couples, single parents, veterans and a variety of other life-stories mixed in. This is why it’s unusual for a REAL student to come from out of state, especially as far away as Texas.
The majority (if not all) of us are financially independent adults. When I was accepted at Tufts, I quit my job, packed up what I could of my life, and transplanted myself to Massachusetts. There is no ‘home’ to go back to on breaks; wherever I live is home. That being said, like anything in life it’s been a mixture of good times and bad, but I have no regrets. The amount of support I’ve received here for the ‘bad’ times is incomparable.
My ‘joyful’ challenges are worthy of their own blog posting.