The Voices of Tufts Diversity Experience, a two-day program designed to introduce high school seniors to diversity and community at Tufts University, was hosted via Zoom on Oct. 16–17.
According to Rhiannon Pabich, associate director of admissions, diversity and access, the program is designed to introduce prospective students to the Tufts community and feature the BIPOC and first-generation student experience.
“We aim to create spaces where students can really get a sense of what life would be like for them on the Hill if they were to choose to attend Tufts — and we hope that they like what they experience, and decide to apply to Tufts for admission," Pabich wrote in an email to the Daily.
In terms of the programming, Pabich described a variety of activities, ranging from information sessions to interactive social events.
“We provided a range of programming across the two days, including informational sessions focused on the application and financial aid processes, meet-and-greet opportunities with Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion centers, a virtual campus tour, a panel discussion with current students, and some social programming - we aimed to provide a balance of educational and fun sessions, and tried to ensure there was something for introverts and extroverts alike,” Pabich said.
Praise Adekola, a junior on the Diversity Admissions Council, discussed the benefits of student representation in the leadership of the program for prospective applicants.
“It can be really difficult at times, for students of color or low-income students to see themselves at a prestigious school [like Tufts]," Adekola said. "Voices gives them the opportunity to see Tufts from a different lens, from a lens of students that look like them and to actually see themselves on Tufts campus. This will make it a lot easier and more encouraging for them to actually want to apply to Tufts and to think that they can get in, which they really [can].”
Sophomore Baljaa Borgil, another member of the Diversity Admissions Council, explained how Voices offers a unique experience for participants to gain valuable insight about Tufts.
“I think the most important thing that they're taking away from a program like this is [the fact that] they're getting an experience they wouldn't be able to receive in a normal info session, or a normal tour at Tufts, because there's so much about Tufts that you can't fit in a matter of two or three hours,” Borgil said. “The fact that we have a two-day program that's filled with hours and hours of programming … can help you in your application, but also [can help] you make sure Tufts is the right fit for you … and how you're going to spend the next four years.”
Since Voices is typically a fly-in program, Pabich discussed how the Tufts Admissions team and existing students ensured active engagement throughout the events given the transition to virtual programming.
“Our Diversity Admissions Council, made up of current Tufts students, did an incredible job of keeping the energy up during Voices, and making sure that prospective students felt welcome,” Pabich said. “We used a Zoom meeting format for sessions instead of Zoom webinar so that students could engage with one another as much as they wanted. In addition to connecting over Zoom, we also used a platform called Wisr to host discussion boards and facilitate conversations among prospective students, Tufts students, and staff.”
Last year, Voices received over 1,000 applications for approximately 280 spots. Pabich explained that given the rising popularity of the program, selectivity has increased over the years.
“We have tried to design a virtual Voices program that is interactive and engaging, so we have limited the size of the program to allow for that," Pabich said. "As applications to the program have grown significantly in recent years, this has made the program more selective.”
While Voices participants are considered strong applicants for the university, Pabich said that admission to the program does not guarantee admission to Tufts.
“The students that are admitted to the Voices program are strong and compelling students, and as such, they tend to present as strong applicants if they apply for admission to the university," she said "That said, admission to Voices does not guarantee admission to the university. When Voices participants apply for first-year admission, we give them careful consideration in our process, and are excited when they are admitted and choose to enroll at Tufts.”
Pabich emphasized Tufts’ appeal to prospective students as an anti-racist institution determined to foster a diverse and welcoming environment.
“That Tufts has made a commitment to becoming an antiracist institution is one of the appealing qualities of the university to many prospective students. Students tell us that they are looking for universities that are willing to examine themselves and willing to invest the time and resources into making progress on creating a more equitable environment for all students,” Pabich said.