Was our live virtual tour reflective of Tufts student body?

Reality check. D took a live on-line virtual tour of Tufts led by two current students. At the onset, Tufts was near the top of her list, but the tour guides were “vapid” (her adjective). One chatted constantly and swore mildly several times through the presentation. D was pretty put off by it all. Not that she doesn’t ever swear, but it was inappropriately casual for someone acting as a public representative of a major university. In addition, they couldn’t answer any of her question about research opportunities in science, although one was pre-med. On one hand, they were clearly not using scripted speeches for the tour (yay), but for an institution that purports to be academically challenging, these students were somewhat of a disconnect from expectations. Is this what Tufts means by saying they are intellectually playful and quirky. Any insights?

Virtual anything is hard. I’d explore Tufts more before disregarding it.

Interestingly, when we toured Tufts back in 2015, we used the exact same word to describe our guide: vapid. However, my daughter felt a good vibe about Tufts and liked the students she saw on campus. So from this sample of two, is it fair to determine that all Tufts kids are vapid? Probably not.


My feeling, based on having watched a distant relative grow into a successful career in sports broadcasting, is that unless the school has a standout major in Communications, its student volunteers are going to come across as “vapid”. Tufts is a large liberal arts college within a universe of small professional schools, including a med school. These are not powerhouses of glib and polished spokesperson/models by today’s standards.


My initial thought…have you ever done in-person tours? I’ve been on tours with those kids before.

They can’t possibly know the details of every major…they’re there to show you around. I think it’s fair to pass judgement on the school’s decision to allow certain individuals to conduct tours, but that should never be the sole factor is assessing a school, even though it has been for many of us. My kids wouldn’t apply to one school because of a tour guide that my 8th grader was offended by her grammar. Oh well.

The one thing you do miss online is the chance to see others interacting around you, and to have the random encounters that would completely change your opinion. It’s the non-tour aspects of the tour that always impacted us…who’s holding doors…how much laughter was there in the hallways or quad…did people see you wandering and ask to help. You can’t get that balance online…so I would place very little value in an online tour.


Not the job of a tour guide, either in-person or virtual. To put it as politely as I can, if the volunteer is considered vapid based on that criteria, then I would posit that it is the applicant, not Tufts, that needs a reality check.

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@skieurope, generally, you’re right on point. But this is one where I have to disagree with you.

Swearing, mild or otherwise, during a tour, live or otherwise? Not good.

Can’t/won’t answer basic questions or at least give some idea where to get the info? Not good. One of the tour guides was pre-med and was asked a fairly basic question about research. Ok, fine, they don’t know. But any helpful “guide” would do just that: guide. Even if they didn’t know, they should at least know where the person asking the question could go to get more detail: website, admissions office, science departments, or just SOMETHING.

It sounds like they don’t care. I wouldn’t rule out Tufts on this alone, but I sure wouldn’t prioritize either if this is the kind of selection of/training to guides that Tufts gives.

Schools are businesses. If I went into a retail store or a car dealer and got this kind of reception, it would suggest to me that the business doesn’t care. I would do a 180 degree spin of my heels and go somewhere else. I am not sure why this doesn’t apply to education as well. I would just want someone to show me they CARE.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou (emphasis added).


Agreed. But that was not the student I was referencing, and OP painted them both with the same brush.

Assumes facts not in evidence. Where did OP say that student did not give a referral?

Additionally, we are hearing a one-sided story from a woman who heard it second hand. So there is a communication breakdown along the way, but I am unconvinced it is entirely Tufts’ fault.

We have been on numerous in person campus tours. The tour guides are always polite, respectful, and have been capable of talking about a broad variety of topics. D has a standard set of questions she asks everywhere, and other student tour guides were able to discuss when students commonly begin independent research and how common it was. Our expectations are modest.


The second tour guide was essentially just along for the ride and said virtually nothing. Perhaps they were in training by the more senior student. She had remarkably well versed tour guides elsewhere, and was perhaps expecting too much, but Tufts is the academically most selective school she is considering and was left thinking “why”? She hasn’t ruled it out but I was wondering whether this was somehow part of their plan- to be outside the box, unscripted, real. Some of their YouTube links are also very noncanonical. This can be refreshing rather than the same old same old text and I was just wondering if anyone had similar experiences or insights

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I do think more selective schools have less need to, or interest in, selling the school on the tour


I think it depends on the school. When DS was looking at schools, Yale (which certainly doesn’t need to sell itself) did a very good job with its tour/information session. Brown (which doesn’t need to sell itself either) was terrible. Didn’t really matter in the end as DS didn’t get into either school. In any event OP, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in a virtual tour one way or the other.


Be careful what you wish for. It wasn’t that long ago that faculty ran everything, including the dean’s office, admissions and even the chapel services. Then, someone got the bright idea that maybe these non-academic functions were better run by paid staff. If colleges were truly businesses they’d just hire a handful of actors, maybe put them in mascot costumes and set them loose like at Disneyland.

It’s funny what our kids take away from college visits. My youngest was excited about Dartmouth until the tour, which was very generic. We both left thinking, eh. Obviously it’s a terrific school with lots to offer, but my son didn’t even apply. Meanwhile, I had to twist his arm to visit Tufts–he did not think he wanted an urban location–and he was so excited by the tour he moved Tufts to his “apply” list. And guess where he’s going this fall.

Should the tour matter that much?


My daughter attended a virtual tour and was not impressed. It’s too bad because her interest is in IR, which is a standout program at Tufts. We are urging her to give the school another chance and booked an in-person tour now that that option is finally available.

Basically, the students who led her session were listless and impassive.

What really got her was their disinterest in exploring beyond the campus. In addition to its strength in IR, Tufts also appealed to my daughter because it is the urban/inner-suburban NESCAC. But when one of the Tufts students was asked about going into Boston, she basically said she only did so a couple of times – she was content to stay on campus. My daughter couldn’t relate to that at all. (I know the MBTA’s Green Line is about to begin service right from the edge of the campus, but the Red Line is already a mere 15-min. walk away.)

My daughter also places a priority on school spirit, but there seemed to be little of that in the presentation. Her presenters highlighted quirky activities like a “bad dancing” competition, but indicated the student body isn’t all that enthusiastic about cheering on their athletic teams.

Her takeaway was strong academics, weak campus culture (or at least one she would have difficulty relating to).

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What an odd experience! I get the sense (from our in-person tour guide and from a family friend who recently graduated from Tufts) that Boston is a big draw for most students. In addition to the easily accessed T, our tour guide touted the free shuttle to the Fenway campus and Tufts students’ free admission to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Several of Tufts’ pre-orientation programs involve activities in Boston; the school encourages students to explore right from the start. Our Tufts grad friend has been feeding my son a list of her favorite things to do in Boston, and my son has already connected with some Tufts clubs that do activities in Boston and at other colleges in the Boston area. If anything, I’m worried that my son will spend too much time off campus! :wink:


The other presenter on my daughter’s session did take a course at the Tufts/MFA campus, but didn’t elaborate on doing anything other than point-to-point travel between the two sites. I just think the presenters were atypical, so fingers crossed for the campus visit.

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My son and I found this to be true of the virtual sessions we viewed of the more selective universities. UMich was an exception - loved their virtual sessions and videos. Motivated my kid to add it to his reach list , a small curated list of 3 universities.


They’re people…they have bad days…they have good days. Some are amazing…many are not. Welcome to your entire existence. Assess and move forward.

If you’re offended…don’t apply. If it has a program you really want to be part of…apply and decide later. Sometimes these discussions spin about singular events or experiences that have no relevance for another soul on the planet.

Should I cut my hair? Talk amongst yourselves…


Yup. In the same way a bad interview could really hurt an applicant to a school, a bad experience in the first contact with a school might shape an applicant’s view of a school.

No need to talk amongst ourselves, as that’s life, and it works both ways. I’m pretty sure we understand that.


I can’t comment on the tour guide. I do know that, oddly, some of the seemingly contradictory statements are true.

Underclassmen live on campus, and while it’s easy to get off campus, many will have a full and lively social life without venturing far. To that end, the student who didn’t venture much into Boston may be telling her truth. At least for now.

At the same time, as many upperclassmen live in houses near (but off) campus, their social lives may also move off campus and for many, this also means into Boston. This also dovetails with being of age, so going to a club to hear music, etc. is much easier (and legal!) It’s not unusual for students’ lives to “evolve” this way and to also include internships, etc. (And with dating apps, students also may find dates off campus far more easily than they would have “back in the day”.) It is also more likely that older students will have cars. Hardly necessary but helpful if you’re living part of your life away from the Medford campus.

So yes, the student who rarely ventures off campus as a freshman may be the same one who is in Boston every weekend senior year. Tufts proximity to the city is great AND it can siphon a fair amount of energy off campus. It’s a trade-off but I think that it can be a way of getting both a campus experience without feeling claustrophobic by senior year. But it’ll vary by the person.

Tufts has a number of excellent teams. It’s not unusual for friends, family, and alums to become loyal supporters, and there will be students at games, but if you are hoping for a big tailgate football environment, this isn’t it! Although Tufts is much larger than the other NESCAC schools, it is similar in that there are so many “doers” relative to “watchers” that few students make much of a pasttime of watching sports. You can, of course, but don’t expect Penn State!

There are a lot of different kinds of students at Tufts. When we toured, there were several tour guides and we just divided ourselves up. As it happened, ours was not one any of us really clicked with but she did a decent job. As she talked about her sorority and her mom’s concern for her safety and how great it was that she could call campus security for a ride at night, all I could think was “I knew this girl in college and I couldn’t stand her then.” But I’m sure there were others in the group who thought “My kind of people!” and were greatly reassured. I relay this to illustrate that there is such serendipity in who you tour with, even virtually and that it’s unlikely most guides will have universal appeal.