Welcoming New Jumbos

The university greets another record-breaking undergraduate class, including students at the SMFA at Tufts, and transfers
Watch a photo gallery from Tufts’ 2017 Matriculation. Photos: Alonso Nichols and Anna Miller
August 30, 2017

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Be curious. Say “I don’t know” at least once a day, and then listen—really listen. And “be wrong often,” said President Anthony Monaco, addressing incoming undergraduates at matriculation ceremonies on August 30. “As a scientist, I can tell you that being wrong can be the most efficient way to learn something that you didn’t know.”

These were among the words of wisdom—and congratulations—shared with incoming freshmen and transfer students at matriculation ceremonies on the Medford/Somerville campus. The new Jumbos and families gathered under a brilliant blue sky on the Academic Quad for a program that touched on Tufts ideals of compassion and understanding as well as the sheer joy of starting a new life chapter.

Karen Richardson, dean of admissions and enrollment management, gave a heartfelt greeting to the students, noting that they make up an “intentional class.” The admissions team worked through a record 21,101 applications from the “incredibly talented” pool, aiming, in the end, to “jumpstart a community of smart, engaged, creative and collaborative individuals,” she said.

“You are here because not only did you prove yourselves academically accomplished, you also showed us that you would bring intangible and significant gifts to this campus,” she said, including “a high level of curiosity.”   

“We’ve done our part in bringing together an intentional community of artists, engineers, scientists, philosophers, all of them learners,” she said. “Now it’s your turn to reach out to others, take in knowledge about new things, and contribute your own special brand to this dynamic campus.”

Monaco reiterated his praise for the class. “Whether you believe it or not you are ready for this challenge. How do I know? Because we chose you. We chose each of you because we saw in you the curious minds, compassionate hearts, and commitment to action that we prize in our students and alumni.” 

Provost and senior vice president David Harris encouraged the class to think about college not only as a personal journey, but one rich with new connections. He recalled his experience running with the 2013 Tufts Marathon team, and shared the proverb: “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.” He urged students to appreciate “the power of teams—how, by working together with a diverse set individuals, you can accomplish far more than you could have accomplished alone.”

This is the first year students in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (SMFA) were admitted through the Tufts enrollment process; Tufts acquired the SMFA in July 2016. Fifty-one students are set to earn either B.F.A. or dual degrees.

Twice as many students as last year enrolled in Tufts’ 1+4 Fellowship program, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life’s bridge-year initiative that provides accepted students the opportunity to experience a gap year of full-time community service before beginning their studies at Tufts. Twenty-four students—including 22 who are serving their fellowships abroad and two who are serving fellowships in Washington DC and New York City—are participating in the program, up from 12 last year.

The Class of 2021 by the Numbers

Number of applicants: 21,101, a record

Percent admitted: 14.8

Class size: 1,414

Need-based financial aid:  $21.9 million, a record

Amount of average grant: $41,419

Percent of women in incoming engineering class: 44

Students in the first generation in their families to attend college: 163, up from 132 last year

International students: 10 percent

Number of countries: 44

Number of states: 45, plus District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

U.S. undergraduates identifying as students of color: 31.7 percent

U.S. undergraduates identifying as black: 4.2 percent

U.S. undergraduates identifying as two or more races: 5.8 percent

U.S. undergraduates identifying as Hispanic: 8.2 percent

U.S. undergraduates identifying as Asian: 13.5

Mean SAT score in Reading and Writing: 724

Mean SAT score in Math: 736

National Merit Scholars: 40

Top potential majors in Arts and Sciences: economics, international relations and biology

Top potential majors in Engineering: mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and computer science

Laura Ferguson can be reached at laura.ferguson@tufts.edu.

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