To support what Jerzgrlmom and Just the Facts are saying: what attracted me to Tufts was my visit. My tour guide had studied abroad in the Middle East, interned with a film company, was taking two languages and acted in a play at Tufts--and that's what I remember but she had done a million other things. She was attractive and talked about hanging out in Boston. And everyone on stage that day gave off a similar vibe. They talked about what they were DOING, and those things were substantive academic, artistic and socially engaged activities==EPICC, internships through the Ex College, scientific research, study abroad. They were all really intelligent but NORMAL (the intellectualism was in contrast to another college I had visited that day) No one talked about weird hobbies or being a nerd. The admissions person who spoke to us emphasized the academic and extracurricular activities at Tufts and the extreme selectivity of the process. I was blown away and my perception that this is a dynamic, intellectual place that is also fun and relaxed. The reality is so much better than the manufactured messaging the adcom does on its site. The warm fuzzy we're all just a bunch of offbeat teens reading applications is condescending and misses an opportunity to communicate what the school and the community is really about. I think in an effort to be accessible--which I get in theory--it talks down to applicants. And the fact that a few insecure high school students find that comforting does not mean its an effective approach. As one of the posters said earlier the people who post gushing messages on Facebook and on the admissions site are usually a little off. Most people would never do that so don't take that for evidence of success.
On a side note, and this is not in the hands of adcom but up to Tufts students, if you want to help your school give it better grades on College *******. People take that stuff seriously. Don't leave it in the hands of the haters.
I continue to agree with you, smartgrad. We also had a very dynamic tour guide and, more than that, I remember being blown away by the four students who spoke at accepted students day: two very poised women, a graduating drama major who was a spell-binding speaker who described this pretty wild idea that he had made into a short film, which had just won an award or been accepted for release (can't quite remember the details) followed by a junior engineering student. When that student got to the podium and began to set up his power point presentation, I wondered what Tufts was thinking in having this guy follow the drama major, but he was the best of all: he had started his own alternative energy company that was up and running and he was captivating, amusing and frankly, had I been a high school student, a little intimidating. Not a nerd among them.
As I said before, I have for some time been irked by the pushing of the quirky label. I believe that Tufts has to be very careful how it defines itself, particularly in view of the fact that it can easily be overshadowed by Harvard and MIT, and Larry Bacow last spring gave an excellent interview to the Boston Globe in which he discussed how Tufts has flown under the radar because it really has failed to brand itself successfully. I donít think quirky/nerdy is the way to go (I donít see any evidence that MIT is overtly advertising its geekiness). Tufts is now very hard to get into and the students are very bright and talented, and I worry that employers who readily recruit at Harvard and MIT donít quite realize how great the Tufts students are, so having the school itself define them as bright but perhaps a little weird does not advance the cause.
Frankly, choosing any one label would be a mistake. I think that one of the real assets of Tufts is that itís small enough to provide a top-notch education while large enough to accommodate a large variety of personality types. Our daughter only looked at Nescac schools because she thought it was the perfect conference in which to continue her sport, and within this conference she was most drawn to Tufts, in part, because of its larger size and the more diverse student body that that larger size can provide. Anyone can find his/her niche.
The one point where I do disagree with you, though, is regarding the application supplement. I think itís nice for kids to have the option to be represented by more than the hard numbers and Dan repeatedly has said that the optional essay is indeed optional and students contributing to this forum have said that they were accepted without submitting that essay. Also, we both agree that the Tufts student body is wonderful, very bright but unpretentious, and maybe that is due in no small part to the adcomís ability to identify those students from their essays (or maybe itís just self-selection).
Momiac, I totally agree that Tufts should have a supplement. My suggestion was simply that the one essay--the optional one--should be dropped. That would still leave several other essays. Two or three essays on top of common ap is already a lot. Just hated to see Tufts lose good candidates because people think it has one of the hardest applications out there.
Location: SUBURBAN BOSTON 2012--> TUFTS 2016 BABY!
I know, smartgrad. A lot of people in my school laughed at my desire to apply to Tufts because they said that the application required 'more thought than an Ivy League application' (direct quote).
Seriously, people, what distinguishes Tufts IS their willingness to read what applicants have to say beyond the Common App--and their essays REALLY make you learn more about yourself in the process. It was pretty fulfilling for me!
Even without the optional essay, there are many opportunities to talk about yourself and why you love Tufts. I think people who apply early are generally okay with the optional essay and welcome the chance to strengthen their applications but the issue is for people who are applying to several schools and end up skipping Tufts because its all too much. It's not easy for most applicants to pass on an optional prompt so I have problems with the optional concept. I think both sides of this debate have good points to make. But it seems like there would be a happy medium between gaming the stats by having no supplement and requiring a push of a button--something several of peer schools do-- and requiring more essays than any other school.
Wow - interesting thread. And civil too boot. Nice to see some really good back and forth here on CC. I hope this reaches some ears in campus admin.
My oldest graduated from Tufts this past spring, so my opinions will soon be outdated -- but with three younger children, college will be on my radar for a long time to come. I have to agree with some of the comments I've read here.
S1 had one of those inexplicable love-at-first-sight reactions on his first visit to Tufts. Within 10 minutes he knew it was where he wanted to go. But - what brought him to campus in the first place was the strength of the IR program, and the outward, global focus -- probably similar to what impressed smartgrad in post #76. He himself may even have been considered a bit nerdy/bookish in HS, but even so, when he arrived freshman year he was relieved to find a much more balanced atmosphere than he felt had been ‘advertised’ (for lack of a better word) by Tufts.
I recall reading with him the applicant essays that Tufts had chosen to publish online. Almost all the writers seemed to be bending over backward to convince the reader how out-of-the-mainstream (or quirky) they were - to the point that some came off as a bit precious. I think the same goes for some of the videos published online. Admissions staff should remind themselves that future potential applicants and their parents do not have the benefit of seeing those (in most cases, probably excellent) students’ transcripts or resumes, and may be forming an opinion of Tufts based largely on those videos or essays.
The school has so much to offer, but not sure substance always comes through in the advertising.
Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but I just want to emphasize the optional essay is truly optional. With her heavy academic workload, sports schedules, volunteering, other ECs, summer study abroad and some medical issues, my daughter just couldn't find time to do anything optional. She applied RD and was accepted anyway. Luckily, I think she showed her personality through the Tufts essays she did write. She clearly wanted to be at Tufts and I think that showed.
From what I can tell, Tufts adcoms choose friendly, approachable, nonjudgemental, intelligent students who show enthusiasm for academics and life in general. They have a curiousity for the world around them and will bring something unique to the student body and get involved in all kinds of activities on campus just as they did in HS.
Despite the perceived marketing approach, perhaps Tufts isn't (or shouldn't be) actively seeking quirky kids but rather doesn't hold being quirky against them. I suspect Tufts recognizes that interest in non mainstream activities are just as valid as the traditional clubs and sports. I don't think Tufts kids are looking for clones of themselves, but rather fascinating classmates who enjoy thought-provoking discussions, cultural activities, political banter, and also the typical college experiences like hanging out, pulling all nighters, late night munchy indulging, sleeping in, and yes, even partying.
It makes me want to go back to college, choosing Tufts this time.
But now that it's swinging the other way, I have to add... there's nought wrong with Quidditch or Star Trek Conventions!
But yes, just wishing there was a bit more balance in 'marketing.' There's nothing wrong with quirky, but it's a shame if it comes at the expense of losing kids who'd be more interested in the amazing education Tufts has to offer.