Have you ever heard the saying “life comes at you fast”? That’s the college process. It’s overwhelming. When I started looking at colleges, I created a list of questions to the best of my ability. My list included the standard questions about academics, average class size, percentage of classes taught by TAs, social life, internships, and housing. But, since I had never been to college, I didn’t really know what to ask beyond these questions, and getting answers to these questions wouldn’t particularly help me know which school was THE school for me. Writing my “Why Tufts” supplement encouraged me to do a lot of extra research about Tufts, which really helped me become more confident that Tufts was the school for me. However, when I was accepted and faced with making the decision between Tufts and other schools, I wanted to know more. When I revisited Tufts for Jumbo Days, I was able to sleep over and talk with students who gave me a lot of valuable information that was integral to my decision to come to Tufts. During my revisit, I couldn’t help but think that if I knew to ask certain questions earlier on, my college process would’ve been a lot simpler and my decision to come to Tufts would have been much easier. Here’s a list of things that I learned more about during my revisit and what I wish I knew to ask about earlier during my college search.
Always ask about the tutoring services during your college visit and if the costs are covered by tuition. Yes, some colleges charge for tutoring services (and yes, that is ridiculous). Tufts offers subject tutoring, writing support, time management & study strategies support, and career consulting all for free to all undergraduate students. Subject tutoring is available in math, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, computer science, all areas of engineering, and all foreign languages. Even if you have never met with a tutor before, this may change in college. College academics can be a huge learning curve and it's not uncommon to look for extra help outside of the classroom.
Always ask how many office hours professors are required to provide. In addition to tutoring, office hours is a great way to keep up with course material and also a great way to get to know your professors. Although you may not have met with teachers outside of class during high school, this also may change in college. Beyond academic help, getting to know your professors is a great way to come into contact with various opportunities such as internships and research. Also, allowing your professors to get to know you will be critical if you ever need to ask for a letter of recommendation (heads up: this will probably happen more often than you think).
Colleges all have different requirements for the amount of office hours that professors must offer, and some do not have any formal requirement at all. At Tufts it is recommended that all faculty members have at least three office hours per week and it is required that all full-time professors in the School of Arts and Sciences have a minimum of two office hours per week. Click here to read another blog about how important office hours are!
If you want to study abroad during college, first and foremost you should check what percentage of students study abroad. Some schools may choose to emphasize that they are above the national average, which hovers around 16-20 percent. However, how high a school is above the national average is very important. 40-45 percent of Tufts students study abroad. The fact that this number is so high above the national average gives a good indication of the ease with which Tufts students can study abroad.
If you want to study abroad, you should also check to see what restrictions a school places on the courses that you are allowed to take during your time abroad. These restrictions can affect your ability to study abroad, especially if you are double majoring. One great aspect about Tufts-affiliated study abroad programs is that all courses you take are automatically eligible for credit towards graduation. Each department is also more familiar with the course offerings at Tufts-affiliated study abroad programs and can make general guidelines based on this. For instance, I participated in Tufts-in-London and before I left the Tufts campus, the Economics Department was able to tell me that any economics elective I took would be accepted and that I could transfer up to three elective credits. My other department, Political Science, told me that I could transfer up to two elective credits and that any course I took would be approved.
I also suggest researching what benefits and systems of support that each university you’re looking into offers to students who study abroad. For each Tufts-affiliated study abroad program, there is a program director who is based in the city of the program. The program director oversees all academic and administrative aspects of the program and also acts as an adviser to all students in the program. Our program director for Tufts-in-London, Meredith Hyde, was always a text or phone call away. She helped us receive our Tufts stipends (all students in Tufts Abroad programs receive a stipend that goes towards living expenses and activities), gave us the inside scoop on things to do around London, and also organized various activities that were funded by Tufts (yay free things!). Some of these activities included a tour of the Houses of Parliament, tickets to the play &Juliet in the West End, tickets to the Opera, tickets to Hampton Royal Court Palaces, and many more. Having a support system while abroad and also being able to experience so many opportunities, many of which were free (!), helped make my study abroad experience amazing.
Food! Always ask multiple people about the food on campus. It is important. One of my older brothers went to a different university where the food was not up to par at all. He complained about it all the time and wasted all his money ordering food. I have a friend at another university who was also in the same boat. The lack of good food options was an unforeseen stressor: some days she would only have an hour in between classes where she would want to each lunch, but ordering food can often take an hour (or more) to arrive. She would then have to watch the clock during class and order food just at the right time so that it wouldn’t come while she was still in class, but would still arrive in time for her to eat before her next class. It was a lot. Not to mention that the food that you often can get delivered to you typically isn’t the healthiest option to be eating every day.
Tufts is consistently ranked among the top schools in the nation for the best food. This is, in part, due to our many dining options. In our two buffet-style dining halls, Carm and Dewick, we always have a salad bar, sandwich bar, pizza options, burgers, and hot dogs in addition to the food offered in our hot lunch/dinner lines. We also have vegetarian and gluten-free options in both locations. Oh, and let’s not forget that they both have ice cream machines! In addition to Carm and Dewick, we also have a grab-and-go style dining hall called Hodgdon, Pax et Lox Kosher Deli, Kindlevan Café in the Science and Engineering Complex, Tower Café in Tisch Library, and three dining options in Mayer Campus Center.
All First-Years are placed on an Unlimited (or “premium”) meal plan, which basically means that you can eat to your heart’s desire. Tufts does this because they understand that relationships are often formed over food, which is particularly important for those new to campus. For instance, you may have a class at noon where some people may eat lunch before class and others may eat after. Say one day you decide to eat before class, but then you go to class and meet new people who are headed to the dining hall afterwards. With the Unlimited meal plan, you are able to go back to the dining hall with them, whether or not you are ready to eat again. Unlike other meal plans, when you’re on Unlimited you don’t have to keep track of the number of times you swipe into a dining hall or another eatery throughout the semester because you can never use all your swipes on Unlimited.
With the Unlimited meal plan also comes $75 JumboCash. You can use JumboCash for laundry or any eatery on campus. You can also use JumboCash at the locations approved here.