Tufts and Boston College
I traveled to Boston on Sunday of Presidents’ Weekend, 2012. In Boston, I visited Tufts University, MIT, and Boston College.
Tufts is located in Medford, a suburb close to Boston. The campus sits atop a hill and the buildings and grounds are very attractive. One parent described it as a “vertical” campus, as there are many hills to navigate when walking from one area of campus to another. It is a quick shuttle ride (or 10-minute walk) to Davis Square, a T stop on the Red Line. Davis Square has funky shops, jazz and improv clubs and some organic food stores. From there, you can hop on the T and be in Cambridge or Boston within 5 to 10 minutes.
A 2006 Tuft graduate who works in admissions gave our info session. The big theme he stressed was the importance of “connecting to the world around you”. He asked the group a series of provocative questions such as “How will you work in the world today, tomorrow? What will you need to know?” He spoke convincingly about how a Tufts education provides you with a worldview, perspective, and set of tools that is relevant now and for the next 50 years. At Tufts, they blur the lines between traditional disciplines, and this is necessary to solve the problems of the future.
The students are accomplished and involved and interested in the world. Classes are populated with people with different skills (art historians taking classes in Engineering) who can reframe a problem from a different perspective. This provides an environment where ideas and connectedness grow.
Tufts is a research intensive institution – they produce lots of new knowledge that is shared with others. Tufts is one of the smallest of the research intensive institutions and they believe this is an advantage for students as there are more research opportunities than students available. It is very typical for students and professors to form close relationships.
Study abroad abounds at Tufts. Even chemists and engineers are encouraged to go abroad as it broadens the culture and changes the dynamic of the campus.
Our tour guide, Natalie, from Houston, is an Art History major with a History minor and is very active in Greek life. Greek life does exist at Tufts but only a small percentage of the students participate (about 13%). Natalie said it is a small but very visible presence on campus.
Overall the students are attractive and hard working, and they do seem to have fun. The school is best known for its international relations program, but is also strong in pre-med and the arts. Tufts is a great fit for students who want rigorous academics, have a strong interest in the global community, and who want easy access to Boston.
Located not far outside of Boston in the town of Chestnut Hill is Boston College. BC is one of the premier Jesuit colleges in the country. 70% of the student body is Catholic, however the students we met said the best way to understand the Jesuit affiliation on campus is through the students’ commitment to community service. One stated goal at BC is to educate people and send them out to make positive change.
Each building on campus was more beautiful than the next. Many are new or newly renovated and are designed to fit in with the traditional Gothic architecture that dominates the campus. Our tour of the Business school building was especially impressive. The sports complex is located directly at the foot of the campus and it is easy to imagine how sports and school spirit are a big part of the BC experience.
Approximately 1/3 of freshman live on Newton Campus located 1.5 miles from the main campus. Newton is also home to BC Law School. A shuttle bus runs every 5-7 minutes from 7 am – 2 am transporting students from one campus to the other. Newton campus freshmen form strong bonds – it is a smaller, tight knit and self-contained community. Newton has its own dining facilities and gym. Some students describe it as “going home” after a full day. Housing is guaranteed for 3 years (a limited number of students are offered 4 years of guaranteed housing as part of their acceptance agreement.) Our tour guide said that many juniors study abroad or live off campus for a year and then return to campus for their senior year.
An interesting admissions fact – Early Action is more selective than Regular Decision at BC. They limit the percentage of students admitted under EA to 30% and the pool is heavily weighted by top candidates who wish to be considered for one of the 15 Presidential Scholarships (full tuition).
Overall the students we met were clean-cut, all-American types. They seem happy and proud of their school. The information session was a panel presentation given by six current students. Quick profiles follow:
Nick, a senior from Peabody, MA, in is a History and Philosophy double major with a minor in American Studies in the School of Arts & Sciences. He volunteers with Let’s Get Ready, a SAT prep for low income students in the Brighton/Revere area.
Abby, a junior in the School of Education, is a Human Development and Psychology major. She is originally from North Carolina and transferred to BC after spending freshman year at Georgia Tech. Abby is involved with community services helping abused teens get ready for college. She is also involved with the EaglesEye project at the campus school for students with severe developmental disabilities.
Samantha, a senior Biology and History double major in the school of Arts & Sciences, spoke about her research class where the ratio was 8 students to 1 professor. She is pre-med and teaches health workshops to 9th graders in Boston Public Schools through the Peer Health Exchange program.
Tyler, a senior in the Business school majoring in Finance and Marketing, was enthusiastic about a class he took on the financial crisis taught by executives in the field. Tyler is involved in student government on campus.
Kate a senior Poli Sci major did a direct immersion program in Madrid her junior year to improve her Spanish fluency. She is an intern for senator John Kerry, who went to BC Law.
Boston College is a very popular choice for students who want top-notch academics and school spirit, value community service, and want a traditional residential college experience.