Ballou Hall at Tufts. (Photo by Gabrielle Levy)
Starting college, even for the overachieving, highly-qualified, talented Tufts-bound student is bound to be one of the most exciting changes he or she has experienced, ever. Most likely, it’s the first time he lives on his own, the first time she gets to choose what classes she really wants to take, and the combination of so many opportunities and distractions can be both stimulating and overwhelming. The following is a list of truisms that are oft-repeated, but so often come with a such a deluge of information that they get lost in the jumble. What follows is not necessarily unique to Tufts, but might apply to any university.
1. College is only four years long. Don't get caught up in the stuff that doesn't matter - it only takes away from a great, memorable, educational experience. You will have amazing opportunities to meet people and participate in projects and events that will only be available to you because you’re a Tufts student, but you won’t be able to do everything.
2. Go abroad. You'll never regret spending a semester or a year in a cool foreign locale. You'll make friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Tufts offers a number of exceptional abroad programs and facilitates easy participation in external programs.
3. Get involved on campus. Tufts doesn't have a huge student body, but it's still possible to feel adrift if you don't have something (a volunteer group, an extracurricular activity, a team) on which to anchor. The Greek system is not extensive (with 5 sororities and eleven fraternities, Greeks make up about ten percent of the Tufts general population), but is active and well-organized. There are also numerous student-run groups that provide tons of opportunities to perform, volunteer, or hang out with others who share your interests.
4. Attend seminars and lectures. The University brings in top experts and leaders from numerous fields that almost always have something valuable to say. Or at the very least, will get you out of your dorm room for a couple of hours on a lousy winter evening.
5. Your professors actually care about you. Especially if you show a real interest in their subject. They'll want you to do well, and they love when you make an appointment to talk about a lecture or just to pick their brains. Most students never take full advantage of their teachers, but those who do find that they get a lot more out of their classes.
6. You will probably change your major. If you already know what you want to do for the rest of your life, congratulations! You're one of the lucky few. Numerous statistics say, though, that you'll still probably end up changing your mind. Fortunately, being a Tufts student is all about figuring out who you are, and then learning how to be great at it, and changing your mind comes as part of the package. Declaring your major is pretty easy to do (just get a professor signed on to be your advisor and fill out the paperwork), and fortunately, switching your major is equally simple. The University has no interest in locking you into a course of study you hate - they know you'll do better if you like your classes - so don't hesitate to make changes when you need to.
7. Explore Boston. You’re now living within easy distance of an amazing city. Boston is chock-full of exciting cultural, sporting, social, and political events. See a concert, go to a Red Sox or Celtics game, or attend the annual pumpkin festival on the Boston Common.