Hello everyone I just joined CC, as in 10 minutes ago. I have read a lot of posts, so I hope to achieve the right tone:
My daughter was admitted to Brandeis last month, and has registered, etc. She has been and still is very excited about going there - but two days ago she was admitted off the Tufts' waitlist. We are still leaning towards Brandeis, but would love opinions/advice from all of you to help us out.
A bit about her (and just because I see this is what people do): She is graduating 2/550, with a 2350 SAT, 35 ACT, and maybe 16 AP's almost all of which are 4s and 5s. She has won national writing awards, and is thinking about triple majoring in English, Music and Bio, with the idea of being pre-med. She was rejected from the Ivies she applied to, and as you see, was initially waitlisted at Tufts (which we though was a bit strange?)
Socially: I keep reading (everywhere) about how awkward Brandeis students are overall, but while my D (I've learned some of the CC lingo) is not one to gravitate to parties characterized by red Solo cups, she has had plenty of friends in HS and is well liked. I don't think Frats would be a draw for her at all, but some version of parties, dinner with friends, movies, the occasional trip to Boston, theater, concerts (on or off campus) etc. would no doubt be attractive. Just how awkward is "awkward"? Seriously, I just can't tell. Are we talking boys who in HS had no girlfriends, and vice versa? Or is it more that the "average" Brandeis kid simply wasn't all that interested in getting drunk at blowout HS keg parties?
Back to academics: We have looked at a zillion webpages/reviews (as everyone must, I'm sure), and just can't get a handle on, to be frank, where the students are brighter, or if there is even a difference in that regard between Brandeis and Tufts. I have seen it stated both ways. I know that Tufts' SAT's etc are a bit higher, but that hardly seems the way to make this decision, as access to profs, for example, is very important too. We are not from the Northeast, and our pond is not that big, but my D. is regarded here as exceptionally bright, to be honest.
We love the "small liberal arts college while part of a research university" idea. A lot. We know that Brandeis will provide much more of that than I assume Tufts will. We are aware of I believe as much as we can be aware of at this point - although we have not been to either campus and cannot get there before her decision-deadline of this Friday. (Tufts would not extend it). Her AP's begin Thursday, and we're not going anywhere until after commencement.
We are Jewish, and understand I think that it is comfortable being Jewish at Brandeis.
Our instinct is to choose Brandeis. It just feels like a better fit for her for many reasons, but we're open to ideas.
I would sincerely love to hear from anyone who cares to reply.
I'm biased about Brandeis (current student) but I wanted to chime in on the awkwardness of the student population. I think this is one of the stereotypes about Brandeis that I don't understand. From my experiences here people are generally normal, exceptionally nice, and highly passionate. Maybe the mix of those things are what equates to awkwardness. I think the "awkward" campus is more of a running joke about the school than an actual truth. Of course, there are students who are largely stranger than others but you will find that at any school. Transfer students are probably the best people to talk to because they have to points of comparison whereas most people just have one.
There are people that enjoy blowout parties and did that in college and there are people that weren't interested. But again I don't think you can generalize a college campus. It's a gradient of experience. People have relationships here, people go out to Boston and see concerts and plays, people do a lot of social events. For what I wanted (small college + research university) it was a great fit and socially it also has been. I can go out and do things when I want to and if I don't no one will bat an eye.
I like both of these universities. I apologize to the company for saying this on the Brandeis forum, but I would choose Tufts in a heartbeat.
From my several observations of Brandeis, I think it's not so much that Brandeis students are too awkward to socialize with each other, but rather that Brandeis accepts (and then somehow fosters and amplifies) a kind of quirkiness that plays well at Brandeis, but not always so well in the outside world. This shows up in a lot of ways, but for the sake of brevity, I'll use one example: appearance. Lots and lots of the kids at Brandeis look as if it's still 1969. Many of the young men are still sporting a look that falls somewhere between Che Guevara and pile-of-rumpled-laundry-that-also-happens-to-need-a-shave. Everybody at Brandeis seems happy this way, and there's nothing really wrong with that, but if you venture off the Brandeis campus into 2012, it's going to look a little eccentric. Originally, I thought this trait might make Brandeis a good place for my somewhat eccentric, not-at-all-superficial daughter. In the end, she chose another university, and I'm kind of glad she did, because I wouldn't want that milieu to magnify her existing eccentricities. (Full disclosure: I think this very thing happened to my sister when she was an undergraduate at another institution known for the quirkiness of its student body.)
With respect to Jewishness: Tufts has a huge Jewish population and a thriving Hillel in a beautiful new building. Either Tufts or Brandeis is a place where a student can easily feel comfortable being Jewish (assuming, of course, that she's comfortable with her Jewishness in the first place). I don't see how one has a clear advantage over the other in this regard.
The main reason I'd choose Tufts over Brandeis, however, is location. Tufts isn't quite as close to Davis Sq. as I'd assumed it to be before visiting, but it isn't a difficult walk from Tufts to Davis Sq. and the Red Line. That means ready access to Cambridge and Boston. I know about the Purple Line and the Bran Van. They're good to have, but they don't compare to being on the T. Before they extended the Red Line to Davis Sq. and beyond in the 1980s, Davis (and Medford and Somerville generally) were kind of tired and shabby. The Red Line extension has made Davis Sq. itself a much livelier, more interesting place than it was 30 years ago. I think it's also a much livelier, more interesting place than Waltham. Couple the vitality of Davis Sq. with the superior access to Cambridge and Boston, and I think Tufts wins this one hands-down.
To be clear, though, I want to say I don't think there's a bad choice to be made here. But if other things (e.g., cost) are comparable, personally I'd choose Tufts, and I wouldn't have to think very hard about it.
Thanks Skie And thanks also to the others who replied to me. After looking at all the pros and cons, we have decided to go with Brandeis. Nothing wrong with Tufts at all, but Brandeis was simply the better fit for my daughter. She has already been in contact on Facebook with some of her future classmates, and they seem to have much in common. Tomorrow, I will answer the PM's that were sent to me, (for which I am very grateful), and will look for more replies here, but the decision has been made!
I know that you’ve made your decision, but I started writing this last week and didn’t get around to finishing this until this morning. I’m also a licensed Massachusetts school guidance counselor and have worked with kids on going to college for many years. So here goes…
The reputation here in Boston is that Tufts is a much more difficult school to get into and definitely more academic overall. My sister, who attended Brandeis and had a very social college life, said that she would often attend intercollegiate events and not find Tufts students there. She said she would meet Harvard, BU, BC, and Wellesley students but rarely Tufts students. I would tell her that most of us are in the library on the weekends and that there's definitely a lot of studying going on - mainly b/c a large portion of the students are pre-med, pre-law, or grad school bound. When I attended (back in the late 90's), there was definitely a feeling of "not being good enough" for the ivies which is why I think many Tufts students overcompensate by studying quite a bit, many hoping to go to an ivy med/law/grad school.
I'm not Jewish so I cannot speak from personal experience about that, but I do know that Tufts is very Jewish as well, of course not to the extent of Brandeis. My best friend in high school is Jewish, and she, along with her two older siblings, really enjoyed being at Tufts. The Jewish presence is quite noticeable on campus, from the students, the Hillel Center, and the specialty foods that the dining halls serve over the Jewish holidays.
Regarding the students being awkward, I’ve always found Brandeis students to be a little different, but hard to explain. So, I guess, awkward is the closest word that folks have been using on CC. Overall, they are a very liberal crowd of students, open to many types of experiences.
If your daughter is looking for a very academic, intellectually rigorous experience with students desiring the same, then I believe Tufts is the better choice. However, if your daughter is looking for more of a well-rounded college experience and looking forward to exploring her Jewish roots and identity with students desiring the same, then I believe Brandeis is the better choice.
I'm a Tufts student, so I'm biased but I would urge your daughter to spend a night at each place. This is a BIG decision and it's a good idea to spend some time on each campus because Facebook pages and admissions departments don't represent an entire university. Tufts' location is hard to beat and there is a nice mix of students here--believe it or not there are people who go to frat parties four nights a week and those who never do, and those, like me, who spend hours studying and still party quite a bit...It's a happy place with a top academic reputation. I think its tempting to try get the process over with and make a decision but if I were your daughter I would spend a night on each campus, then decide. Unless you applied early, your decision isn't binding so don't limit your choices. You will be at college for four years so it's worth a weekend of research....
Thanks ever so much for the input. I am so appreciative of the people I have found here on CC.
BostonNative, your points and advice rang very true. To some extent, that is how we approached the decision as well, although in the end everything was thrown into a big "pot", and then we went with the instinctive answer. Actually, my daughter did. It was her decision, with our input. We also factored in the recent experience of our older daughter, and what turned out to be important to her. She graduated from Yale last year.
Smartgrad, we would have LOVED to have visited. Actually, I visited both schools 5 years ago for my older daughter's application process, but this time we decided to only tour the schools which were accepting. As initially that was only Brandeis, there was no compelling reason to travel, and then it was impossible for us to make the trip in the week Tufts gave her to decide to accept their offer from the waitlist. A request for an extension was denied. That did not seem sporting of them.
This has been a very interesting process. Although my daughters have different tastes and goals, both had very very similar 'stats', including both finishing 2nd in their classes of 550, SAT'S within 20 points of each other, and actually my younger one had an ACT 1 point higher than the older, (not that 1 point means anything, but still), and so we had similar acceptance expectations. That did not occur, but having done exhaustive research in the last few weeks, we are completely not only at peace with, but thrilled with the Brandeis choice.
Even at this very high level, you still have to know your kid, and the kid has to know themselves.
I think college application process changed a lot in the last 5 years. With common apps more people apply so that floods the admission with a lot of extra apps. My son is in the similar situation as your daughter. Finished 2nd in his class, 2300 on SAT 34 on ACT. 5s on all his APs, varsity player though all 4 years, done some medical research over summer. In other words looks great on paper. He was waitlisted or rejected from all the Ivies. He's going to Tufts. Didn't want to apply to Brandeis even though they gave him a free application and kept sending him emails. We visited couple of years ago and for some reason he hated it on site. But I guess that's why it's good to visit. He is also going for pre-med. We're jewish but not religious at all. He went to a yeshiva for 3 years of middle school and that just turned him off judaism completely. When we visited Brandeis our tour guide said that the best thing to do on a Friday night was to go to a Shabatt dinner (and she was Asian!). That's all he needed to hear. It was the last straw for him. I know they probably would of given him some Merit Scholarship, but you want your child to be happy. But if your daughter is happy going there, that's all that matters. Academically both schools are very similar and ranking wise Tufts is 29 and Brandeis is 31, so no big difference.
SFloridaDad, sounds like your daughter has made the right choice. I’m a Brandeis alum who also chose Brandeis over Tufts and other top schools and can confirm for you that Brandeis, unique as a top-filght research university coupled with a true, small liberal arts college, is a special place. And not just as compared with Tufts but with any other major university you can name. The Brandeis students I know that chose it over MIT, Northwestern, Cornell, Chicago and so many other well-respected schools appreciate this fact as I know your daughter will come to as well.
Brandeis students are very bright, talented and accomplished like your daughter. They’re competitive with themselves while very supportive of one another and very accepting of different backgrounds and personalities. As I’m sure you’ve already discovered in your research, for a student, like your D, who is interested in triple majoring in English, Music and Bio/pre-med, Brandeis is incredibly strong in each of those areas.
Finally, the suggestions by some of the Tufts supporters in this thread that Brandeis is characterized by a “quirky, hippie” population or by the practices of religious Jews, are simply inaccurate. By its founding principles, Brandeis is committed to diversity. As a result, the student body is quite diverse, with a strong international flavor (116 countries and 17 different religions represented) with about 40% identifying as Jewish in the total population of undergrad and grad (which is a fair way to look at it since the grad students occupy the same campus and even engage in research alongside the undergrads). That is not drastically different from other top schools with significant Jewish populations. And even the undergrad body alone is no more than 50% Jewish, if that. Plus, even within the Jewish population itself there is great diversity as you would expect -- from non-practicing to religious. In short, contrary to the suggestions in this thread, the feel of the campus is not overtly Jewish. It is, however, intellectual, creative and, perhaps, activist in nature. In short, it’s a very cool place. Congratulations to your daughter!
My son applied to both schools and was accepted to Brandeis. He hails from one of the top HS in the state of Mass., and did very well academically and socially. I would steer your daughter to Brandeis. It is a young University with a world renowned reputation and one of the strongest alumni resource network that I've ever seen. At Brandeis she will have more opportunities to take advantage of which by comparison, I've heard that Tufts makes it more difficult for a student to "stand out." Tufts has a super competitive culture where Brandeis has opportunities for everyone. As far as my son, he decided to go to Boston University. Best of luck.
Brandeis or Tufts - A perspective from 5 years later
Good day, SFDad.
Obviously, your son made the Brandeis decision a few months ago, and this sure won't play into that. But, here's a bit of perspective from someone whose daughter faced the same decision in 2007, and was (to be honest) shoved towards Brandeis by circumstances.
Our daughter applied to a number of schools, didn't get into the Ivy she wanted, but did get into both Brandeis and Tufts (as well as some others). She had a definite preference (Tufts), but accepted the offer from Brandeis based solely on financial considerations (Brandeis offered her a merit scholarship, Tufts did not). She vacillated between the two for a few weeks, but as the deadline approached to make a decision, we sat down with her and essentially stated that there was no way that Tufts was worth the difference in cost that was being presented. She was told that if she attended Brandeis, we could cover all her remaining costs, but that if she attended Tufts we were going to need to take out extensive loans and she was going to pay half of them. Faced with the choice of graduating debt-free versus heavily in debt, she chose Brandeis, albeit somewhat grudgingly.
She was not happy her first year in school, added a second major sophomore year that she got great enjoyment from, and then got a lab job in her "primary" major that she fell in love with.
Because the school is small, she got to work face to face with the PI in the lab, essentially doing the work of a graduate student. Again, because of the smaller size of the school, the professor in one of her courses noticed her work in a laboratory course and also offered her a job as a TA the next year for that course. She was an undergraduate TA her junior year (essentially a gofer for the grad student who was the "real" TA), and was offered the lead TA slot (typically held for a graduate student) in her senior year.
Upshot of all the extra exposure and face time was that she and her roommate ran the boards for the awards at graduation. She graduated in 2011 with both a BS and a BA, a ton of academic awards plus a significant publication in her "primary" degree, and found a job using the second "fun" degree through the Brandeis alumni network. She's been there for a year, loving it.
She did, however, miss the science part of her life, and applied to grad school last winter. She was offered an interview at every school she applied to, and was accepted following every interview she went on. Her current boss was very supportive, recognizing she had mentioned wanting to go to grad school in a few years, and allowing her to work her schedule to enable her to go on the interviews. The grad school she ultimately decided to attend agreed to let her wait a year before attending, so she can work at her current job for another year before starting a new phase.
Her analysis of the situation is that this would not have taken place had she gone to Tufts. She would not have had the exposure to the professors nor the chance to functionally behave as a grad student. The lab experience she was able to show on the grad school interviews was top notch. She had a raft of research she could present, and could talk at a grad school level on current topics relating to the field of study she was interested in.
Tufts would have given her a name on a degree. Brandeis gave her a hard experience base that was invaluable. The opportunity is there for the taking at Brandeis. If you want to stand out, you can. Takes work, but it's far more doable than at a larger school.
While I think both are great schools, they each have a different feel and it is important to spend time on the campus.
As a Tufts Alum, I did want to clarify on the point made about Brandeis being smaller and therefore more access to research opportunities. I don't believe that that is necessarily true. At Tufts I had had many opportunities to work closely with my professors. I was offered research opportunities, a wonderful internship, and a TA job starting in my sophomore year. They were also in 3 different departments. I knew many other students who also had these options at both schools. The key was to make regular contact with professors and show a genuine interest in working with them in more depth. Students who are proactive will definitely find their efforts well rewarded.