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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Some schools more likely than others to be hungry for the Hill


For sophomore Ian Duncan-Brown, Tufts provided the perfect combination of location and reputation — and many of his classmates at Newton North High School agreed.

 When Duncan-Brown matriculated last year, he was one of many representatives from the Greater Boston area, an indication of the university's positive in-state reputation.

 "I was always familiar with Tufts growing up, since it is a local school," Duncan-Brown said. "I remember my Latin teacher went there and talked about it frequently, but I didn't seriously consider it until junior year. [Attending] the tour and open house sealed the deal for me."

 His high school, along with others nearby, has consistently been among Tufts' "feeder" schools, which send numerous applications here every year. Today, 12 students will be arriving from Weston High School and nine each from Belmont, Lexington and Lincoln-Sudbury High Schools.

 Though the university continues to receive a large percentage of its applications from local-area schools, Tufts has seen a steady rise in out-of-state feeder schools, a trend that not only indicates the arrival of a more diverse population, but also reveals an increased familiarity with the Tufts name. Punahou High School in Hawaii, the alma mater of presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), is one example.

 "I've been here a total of 16 years, and from when I first started, the variety of places where students are coming from has definitely broadened," Director of Admissions Susan Garrity Ardizzoni said.

 International schools also form part of the pattern. The Hong Kong International School, for example, has several representatives in the incoming class. 

 While Tufts' prestigious academic reputation has influenced its increasing popularity, Ardizzoni said that the connection between a student's high school and college experiences is another driving force.

 "I think that there are some schools where the philosophy of the high school matches the philosophy at Tufts," Ardizzoni said. "Some students have already seen active citizenship at work, so when people read about and talk to people about Tufts, the school's vibe comes through, and they can make that connection with us. For others, it may be an academic connection, or the ability to be involved on a larger scale in an extracurricular they enjoyed in high school."

 A graduate of Georgetown Day School (GDS) in Washington, D.C., a school with a Tufts enrollment rate of three to four students per year, junior Alex Masurovsky believes the atmosphere at his high school piqued his interest and eventually persuaded him to enroll at Tufts.

 "My high school was a very progressive and liberal school," Masurovsky said. "Tufts definitely has that reputation as well and has a similar mindset to GDS compared to other universities."

 The appeal of Tufts' International Relations program also holds great weight for students, said GDS college counselor Christopher Miller.

 "A lot of our students are interested in global issues, and many do a lot of community service abroad, so Tufts' focus on international education is very attractive," Miller said. "However, I think that the biggest reason is that our students who have attended Tufts have had great experiences, and that [precedent] says a lot."

 Junior Becky Gallagher, who attended Princeton Day School (PDS) in Princeton, N.J., said that Tufts offered the perfect transition from the small, personal environment she experienced during high school.

 The fact that Tufts is urban and more concretely pre-professional than schools like Williams or Dartmouth College appeals to many students at PDS who are ready to go out into the world, Gallagher said. Class size also figured into her decision.

 "At PDS, we got accustomed to small classes and knew that they were useful, but I also think people really craved a big anonymous lecture too," Gallagher said. "Tufts offered both."

 Beyond class size and academic opportunities, many students are initially attracted by Tufts' location and the opportunities a big city like Boston offers, but, in many cases, Tufts' academics and extracurricular activities eventually overshadow Boston's allure, Ardizzoni said. 

 "For students who are coming from outside New England to visit, Boston is the initial attraction," she said. "But once they dig a little bit deeper, students develop a level of comfort seeing that their interests in the classroom or extracurricular activities are going to be fulfilled. For students who are excited about learning and have a variety of interests yet are struggling to make them all work together, attending Tufts is an academic adventure." 

 Marlborough School, a small private school in Los Angeles, reported 21 Tufts applicants and two enrollees in a graduating class of 97 students this year. In an organized tour of the East Coast during spring break, Marlborough provides its sophomore and junior students with a glimpse of 20 of the region's top universities. 

 "Before I went on the college tour my sophomore year and visited Tufts, it wasn't even on my radar," said junior Allison Turrill, an alumna of Marlborough School. "[But] it was the last school that we visited on the tour, and we were all so exhausted. I don't think I would have applied to Tufts if my college counselor hadn't suggested it two years later."

 The thorough counseling process provided at many private schools, including Marlborough School and GDS, assists in exposing students to small liberal arts schools outside of their typical scope.

 Marlborough students are asked to meet multiple times with an assigned college counselor, in addition to filling out a six-page questionnaire that focuses on the aspects a student desires in his or her college experience.  

 "One of the things we ask our students to do is talk about the characteristics they are looking for in a college," said Susan Lewandowski, director of college counseling at Marlborough. "Whenever East Coast, urban and mid-range are on the list, we definitely promote Tufts, which typically gets more students than any other East Coast school."
 While these particular relationships may seem strong in comparison to other high school ties, Ardizzoni insisted that any connections are a result of the volume of students enrolling, not vice versa. 

 "I think there is a natural reason why we may have more contact with counselors from schools that have a higher volume of applicants," Ardizzoni said. "There are more students, so they have more questions. It is not at all favoritism."

 Each fall, the Tufts admissions staff travels extensively throughout the United States and internationally to Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East in an attempt to identify new schools from which Tufts can attract students.

 "We are visiting many different types of high schools, and while schools that send large numbers of applications are important, we are looking to expand the reach of Tufts [to students] who normally wouldn't think of applying," Ardizzoni said.