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Climbing the Hill: A New Look at Tufts’ Old Reputation

Opinion | November 7, 2011

Chizorom Izeogu

When I got into Tufts my senior year of high school, I felt like a failure. I applied to every Ivy League school and got rejected from every single one. I cried myself to sleep many a night and tried to look deep inside myself for a sense of self-worth. Now that I was going to this “Ivy-league reject” school, I would get a good education, let alone a decent job. My life was over… right?

Wrong. First of all, none of this happened.  Not only was I overjoyed when I got into Tufts, but it was the only school that I even applied to. I’m not going to claim that Tufts’ reputation as an “ivy-league reject” school isn’t still alive and well. However, I think that this idea is not only ridiculous and overblown, but hardly true.

When I was applying to college, I stayed the hell away from the supposedly hallowed “Ancient Eight.” What kind of name is “the Ivy League” anyway? Not only is it incredibly pretentious, but also it makes me think of some sinister society like the “Free-masons” or the “Illuminati.” But enough of my ranting. The Ivy-League schools are definitely impressive; they’re well-connected, offer prestigious academic programs, and have been around forever. They are some of the top schools in the country.

But so is Tufts. When I first started out here, I thought people would respond by saying they’d never heard of Tufts or simply feigning interest. However, the news has been met with overwhelming interest and respect from professionals, interviewers, and peers.  I certainly don’t feel like I’m getting shafted education-wise because its academic programs, research opportunities, and resources are ranked as top-notch.  The perception of Tufts as the “reject” school is definitely still out there; the question is, is it still true?

Statistically, it’s certainly not. As evidenced by slimming admissions rates, Tufts has become extremely competitive, joining its exclusive ivy-league peers as one of the most selective schools in the country. This past year, Tufts accepted less than 22% of its applicant pool, mirroring the admission trends of other Ivy-Leagues. This signifies not only that more people are hearing about and applying to Tufts, but that it’s attracting a more intelligent and overall impressive student body. I even know some people that got into Ivy League Schools and got rejected from Tufts. Wouldn’t that classify the Ivy schools as Tufts reject schools?

I can’t speak for other people, but the reason I applied to Tufts wasn’t because I didn’t consider myself “Ivy-leave” caliber.  First of all, I didn’t want to deal with the boiling levels of competition that tend to characterize student life at Harvard or Yale. Not to mention the high rate of suicide at Cornell with its notorious “death bridge.” The academic atmosphere at Tufts is stimulating and challenging, but it isn’t absurdly competitive or backstabbing. I have never felt like I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get a leg up on my classmates; instead, I just learn.

And of course, I love the social life at Tufts. There are countless things to do to occupy your time, from student groups and club sports to the nearby city of Boston. From my experience, the students have all been diverse, imaginative, passionate, and just crazy in the best way possible. I  love how we get really amped up about ridiculous events like Naked Quad Run and TDC, which speak to Tufts fantastic sense of unity and student camaraderie. We don’t need to be defined by how we compare to the supposedly almighty Ivies; we define how great we are all by ourselves.

Petty jabs at the Ivies aside, Tufts is a prestigious and truly unique university, one that shouldn’t be consistently judged against the famous Ivies Likewise, I don’t think the Ivy League schools should be lumped into one group either. Every college and university is special its own right, embodying a unique sense of intellect, community that far surpass any one label.

I’m proud to be attending Tufts University. It’s certainly becoming more and of upper echelon university, on level ground with Ivy-League schools. Maybe it’s just my inherent bitterness and cynicism, but anyone who thinks that my university is simply a “reject school” aren’t fit to come here anyway.