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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Editorial: The Daily’s 2024 declassified Tufts survival guide

The Editorial Board’s quick recommendations for first-years and anyone else who wants to make the most out of their time at Tufts.


If you’re reading this article right now, you might be a newly admitted student to Tufts University. First of all, congratulations! As the Tufts Daily Editorial Board (that’s us), we hope to make your years at Tufts better by providing our infallible wisdom as students slightly older than you. Even if you aren’t an admitted student, we hope the quick tips and tricks we’ll lay out for you in this guide are still helpful.

  1. Don’t buy textbooks before the first day of class. Professors will explain the extent to which textbooks will be useful for their class and often reveal that they are not necessary. If you do need a textbook, there are alternative avenues that are almost always more affordable than the bookstore: Some are on reserve, some you can find online. For literature classes, check out ThriftBooks for cheap and reliable secondhand books.  
  2. Get a city library card for discounted admission to museums, among other benefits. It’s free with proof of your Massachusetts mailing address. In our experience, a letter mailed to your on-campus address or even an email from the Office of Residential Life & Learning has sufficed. The Somerville Public Library West Branch is a short walk away in Davis Square, and the Boston Public Library in Copley Square is well worth the visit and accessible on the Green Line. In addition to books, you can reserve museum passes for free or reduced admission to the Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, Institute of Contemporary Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and others. (The MFA is also free with a Tufts ID, but the free passes are useful if friends and family are visiting.)
  3. Sign up for the free food e-list. You’ll get emails when events end with extra food — it is both free and is usually better than the options in the dining halls.
  4. Classes to consider in the fall: First-year Yoga, Technical and Managerial Communication with Amy Hirschfeld, Introduction to Psychology with Lisa Shin and Samuel Sommers, Introduction to the U.S. Healthcare System with Amy Lischko, or any class with David Proctor or Jess Keiser. The Experimental College Explorations seminars are also a unique first-year experience that provides interesting commentary on often unconventional topics.
  5. If you’re having trouble navigating SIS — the Student Information System — on your phone, the easiest fix is to “Request Desktop Website” in your mobile browser before you log in to SIS. This may not mean anything now, but it will save you when you’re frantically trying to find the listed classroom on the first day of classes.
  6. Give upperclassmen meal swipes. It’s a rite of passage for first-years, who are required to purchase the premium meal plan, to use their eight guest swipes to treat upperclassmen to a meal at Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center or Fresh at Carmichael Dining Center. Sharing a meal is a great way to make a new friend and get advice from someone who has been in your shoes.  
  7. If you want to get onto the Dewick roof, which you shouldn’t, whether it’s for “Pumpkining” (the tradition of placing pumpkins on high places for Halloween) or just to hang out, which, again, you shouldn’t, walk in between Hodgdon Hall and Dewick, go behind the line of trees on your left and you’ll see the lowest part of the Dewick roof. From there it is up to you to climb. Or don’t! This fun spot is not recommended by the Editorial Board.
  8. Get coffee from the Sink — it’s good! Tufts’ student-run coffee shop, the Sink, lives on the second floor of the Mayer Campus Center and serves beverages such as chai, mocha, drip coffee and cappuccinos as well as snacks like muffins, cookies and bagels. However, the real stars of the Sink are the specialty drinks: Lucy in the Chai, Medford Fog, Cinny Vanilly and Hot Karl, to name a few. This Editorial Board recommends ordering a small iced Beesting with oat milk.
  9. If you’re ever in the mood for free ice cream, the Dean of Students Office on the seventh floor of Dowling Hall has a freezer usually stocked with ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, drumsticks and more. When you walk in from the front entrance, go through the first hallway on your left and then into the first room on the left every Monday through Friday from 9 a.m–5 p.m!
  10. Vote! Make sure you figure out your absentee ballot situation before you come here. Consider whether your vote is more valuable in the Medford/Somerville area or in your hometown. JumboVote is a great resource.
  11. The MBTA offers $10 unlimited commuter rail passes on the weekends. For less than the cost of an Uber, you can take a day trip to towns like Salem, Rockport, Gloucester or Providence.
  12. Mystic River is a 30 minute walk away. Bring a blanket, food and friends for a scenic picnic on the water.
  13. Things you should bring to Tufts: Two towels. Comfy slippers. A fan. Cold medications. Notebooks/paper, if you take notes by hand. A fighting spirit to tackle the Targets shared by other Boston schools. Go to the Somerville or Everett Target, not the Porter one for dorm stuff. Somerville’s Target is easily accessible by bus.
  14. Things you shouldn’t bring: A TV or expensive electronics for your dorm room. New versions of household essentials you already own — dishes, pillowcases/pillows, decor, laundry basket. Phone wallet (you’ll get free ones).  
  15. Some of our favorite local restaurants in Davis Square are Diesel Cafe, Foundry on Elm (get the grilled cheese) and Dakzen. Our favorites in Porter Square are Yume Ga Arukara and Bagelsaurus. For local chains we recommend Flour Bakery + Cafe and Life Alive.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t delay in joining the independent student newspaper of Tufts University: The Tufts Daily. Joining clubs is a great way to make friends and get involved on campus. Whether you’re a writer, editor, filmmaker, entrepreneur or influencer, there is a place for you in the Daily, and we would love to have you.