Class of 2017 student narratives embody “Tufts-y” qualities
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 1, 2013 16:09
The Class of 2017 has been breaking records from the beginning, and the statistics will prove it. This year, Tufts admissions officers saw the largest applicant pool, lowest acceptance rate and largest yield on record. You can’t argue with the numbers, which show an 11 percent increase in applicants — to a total of 18,420 — and the lowest-ever acceptance rate of 18.7 percent.
Now that the incoming freshman class is on campus, though, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Lee Coffin said that there is still much to be excited about — beyond statistics — when it comes to the next four years.
“I’m always struck, in August when I review the class one last time, by the student narrative, what comes through the files again,” he said. “It’s the sparkle of the people, which is harder to capture in a data point set. In all of those measurable, institutional areas, the class of 2017 is terrific.”
Coffin went on to pinpoint what it is that we truly care about when it comes to incoming students each year.
“We’re in this rhythm of matriculating people who are very ‘Tufts-y,’ and who embody all the attributes that we love about this place,” Coffin said.
So what are the attributes that make the student body “Tufts-y?” It comes down to how these 1,318 incoming students were chosen once academic requirements had already been taken into account.
“They’re people who are engaged, engaging, and they’re not bystanders ... there’s a spirit of being ... [willingness] to stand up and get involved. Whether that’s in science or politics or activism or the arts — you see students with an openness to being engaged and to being part of a community that’s got a global view,” Coffin said.
The Class of 2017 is hardly lacking in global voices. Applications from international students were also at a record high this year, with a total of 171 incoming students who live abroad, representing 47 countries.
“Thirteen percent are from international backgrounds — 10 percent are foreigners and another three percent are Americans abroad,” Coffin said. “The largest single group is from China, followed by India, Hong Kong, Singapore and then Canada and Turkey are tied for 5th.”
One of these students in particular, Coffin pointed out, is another record-breaker.
“As far as I can tell, he’s our first student from Bosnia,” Coffin said. “He’s the son of a beekeeper, and he wants to be a bio major so he can help his father increase the honey yield on the hives.”
This is an example of another “Tufts-y” quality — the Class of 2017 creates a community of students who can learn from one another.
“What I always think is important about Tufts is that people break the stereotypes about things that would typically go together in high school,” Coffin said. “So you have an artistic athlete ... People often do one or the other, but [it’s about] finding that mixture. Many of [the students] are more open to going down paths that are unexpected,” Coffin said.
In preparing for his traditional matriculation speech, Coffin reviewed applications and found individuals who were interested in cost effective arrow gels, the effects of pollution on lichen, the Aztec language, Henry VIII and his six wives, silk-derived proteins, election statistics, marriage equality, mica, Lincoln and Tolstoy.
Amongst all the varied academic interests, though, is a fundamental trait that Coffin stressed: kindness.
“It’s a fair characterization of the student body we’re trying to build,” he said. “We value people who are kind, and who are balanced. [Those] who have an optimistic way of looking at themselves and their friends and communities.”
This kindness, in conjunction with the diverse backgrounds of the Tufts student population, is what creates the campus atmosphere that Tufts students love, according to Coffin. With an engineer who has a passion for the American Revolution and another student whose life goal is to make the perfect oboe reed, the incoming class is a group bound to be a part of the “Tufts-y” vibe.
“I see a playfulness at Tufts. It’s a university that is serious in its academics but doesn’t take itself too seriously,” Coffin said. “That liveliness makes up Tufts. I hear applicants say ... that they don’t pick that vibe up everywhere.”