My question may sound snarky but I’m asking very genuinely: How is Tufts different from a public research university (aka state school)?
Tufts is currently my son’s top choice. We’ve visited and researched the school and have also spoken with friends whose kids are there now or have recently graduated. I’m satisfied that it’s a terrific school, but I’m not quite as clear on how it differs from a good state school. I would love to hear from others about what the differences are, because quite frankly I am trying to justify the price tag!
I have been a student and an instructor at state schools. I’m very familiar with that world. Looking at the courses my son would likely take in his first semester at Tufts, his experience would be pretty much the same as at a state school, especially one of the smaller ones. He would have freshman comp with an adjunct. His intro-level science class would be very large (200?), with lectures given by a prof but discussion sections with a grad student. Ditto his math class. His 4th class would probably be some GE requirement, and depending on what he selected that could be another large, intro-level class with TAs or it could be a small, seminar-style class led by a prof or an adjunct. He would have access to office hours and tutoring centers. He would form study groups with other kids in his classes, and they would have spaces around campus in which to meet. He would spend time in a lab run by a grad student. Just like every state school student.
I confess that when my son started looking at Tufts, I assumed it would be more similar to a LAC, in part because of the LAC price tag. But one of my kids goes to a LAC, and that is very different. No TAs ever. So far (and probably for the duration), only one adjunct, and only one class with more than 30 students. Labs run by profs.
Tufts also is more similar to a public research university in regard to senior theses; at Tufts and at state schools, only honors students do a senior thesis, but all LAC students do. Even for things like housing, Tufts seems more like a state school in that it doesn’t guarantee housing for four years. The main difference I’ve been able to discern is in the student body: students at Tufts are more similar to those I see on my other kid’s LAC campus.
Again, I want to emphasize that I understand Tufts is an excellent school. I would just like to know more about how it differs from a public university experience–especially in terms of academics–given that it has the private school price tag.