Welcoming the Class of 2024—Online
For more than six decades, matriculation at Tufts has been a well-choreographed celebration that unfolds on the Academic Quad, that leafy theater where first-year and transfer students, with the blessings of university leaders, embark on one of the most transformational experiences of their lives: college.
This year, university organizers didn’t have that quintessential New England stage, as large gatherings and events are put on hold because of COVID-19 safety protocols. Instead, they’ve drawn inspiration from different wellsprings, all of which collectively express the optimism inherent in matriculation.
The Matriculation 2020 online program is a first in the ceremony’s long history and offers fresh messages to uplift the new Jumbos. In addition to traditional remarks from university leadership, the virtual event includes greetings from fellow undergraduates, and a blessing, not from one chaplain as in the past, but, in relay-fashion, all seven members of the University Chaplaincy.
Carmen Lowe, dean of academic advising and undergraduate study, said that matriculation remains, as ever, a reminder that a ceremonial welcoming of new students into the Tufts community is an important milestone in their time at the university.
“Our aim is to use the versatility of online tools to reassure students that, while this year is distinctly different, as always they are part of a community supporting them in their adventures ahead,” she said. “I’m particularly pleased that we could add more voices than we have before—including alumni and other students—at the same time that we highlight the richness of Tufts’ history and traditions with these videos.”
A Historic Event—and Class
The 1,620 undergraduates who make up the Class of 2024—first years as well as 130 transfer students—has historical distinction of its own.
It is the most racially and ethnically diverse first-year class on record and was selected from the largest applicant pool on record, said JT Duck, dean of admissions and enrollment management, who had a blog post about the class. Tufts received 23,127 undergraduate applications; admission was offered to 16.3 percent, or 3,770. (More on the class “by the numbers” below.)
It’s also the first class to enroll in two formats, remote or in-person; about 88 percent chose onsite, and about 12 percent remote. The remote percentage includes 28 first-year students participating in a Tufts-organized residential experience at Beijing Normal University.
In his recorded remarks, President Anthony Monaco warmly welcomed the class and acknowledged the challenges that come with a global pandemic.
“I could not be more excited to say the following words: Welcome, Class of 2024,” said Monaco, who went on to say that “entering Tufts is a great privilege—and like starting anything new, it can also be a daunting prospect, especially in this moment as we face the evolving challenges presented by a global pandemic.”
He noted that they were “ready for this challenge—and I am confident that you will all thrive here at Tufts. We invited each of you to join this vibrant community because we see in you the curious minds, compassionate hearts, and commitment to action that we prize in our students and alumni.”
Jonah Apo, E22, Kānaka Maoli or Native Hawaiian, from Honolulu, began the ceremony with a land acknowledgment, the first for a matriculation ceremony. Tufts, he said, resides on the lands that once were home to Mashpee Wampanoag, Aquinnah Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Massachusett tribal nations.
In another first, undergraduates and alumni welcomed the new class. Hana Tzou, A23, and Siobhan Shamlian, A20, brought a light approach to the proceedings by playing their version of Truth or Dare.
“What should the Class of 2024 and incoming transfer students keep in mind as they become Tufts students?” Tzou asked Shamlian, who opted for “truth.”
“College, especially your first year, will not always feel like the best time of your life,” Shamlian said. “College is hard, and the restrictions we are all facing this semester will make it harder.... Just relax. Breathe. You don’t need to have everything figured out right now. Take it one day at a time. And don’t be afraid to utilize resources such as such as Counseling and Mental Health Services, the chaplaincy, or the StAAR Center. We all need help sometimes.”
“We dare you to be kind. In a world that profits from competition and greed, empathy is a radical act,” said Tzou. “We dare you to use your skills, talents, and time to help those around you. . . . We dare you to shake up our world and let it transform into one more equitable, just, and humane. We dare you to make your dreams a reality.”
The matriculation site’s videos include well wishes from undergraduate alumni and a brief lesson on the history of matriculation at Tufts. Things were certainly different in the early days, as one video shows: students who signed what’s known as the Matriculation Book in the years 1854-1869 affirmed they would abide by college laws—including getting permission from the college president before considering an off-Hill excursion to the likes of Harvard Square.
Class of 2024 By the Numbers
In the Class of 2024, women account for 54.9 percent of enrollment, and men 43.7 percent. Students who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, or preferred not to specify a gender identity account for 1.4 percent of the class.
- 264 indicate interest in the School of Engineering (49 percent of them are women); 1,356 indicate interest in the School of Arts and Sciences, with 61 intending to pursue a B.F.A. at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (SMFA) and 73 the combined B.F.A. and B.A./B.S. degree.
- 140 first-year students are taking a gap year.
- The most popular potential majors in the School of Arts and Sciences are international relations, economics, biology, political science, computer science, and cognitive and brain sciences. At the School of Engineering, they are mechanical engineering, computer science, biomedical engineering, and electrical engineering.
Identification and Diversity
- Among U.S. students, 44.7 percent identify as students of color; 6.5 percent as Black, 12 percent as Hispanic, 18.6 percent as Asian-American, and 7.6 percent as multiracial. 51.4 percent of students identify as white; 3.9 percent did not specify a race or ethnicity at the time of application.
- 30 identify with a Native or Indigenous heritage, nearly all as part of a multiracial identity. This includes 21 students who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native, including six students who are enrolled citizens of their tribe, representing five tribal nations (Cherokee, Navajo, Potawatomi, Northern Cheyenne, and Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria). Nine students identify as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.
- 11.9 percent are designated as foreign nationals.
- The most represented citizenships are from China, India, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea, Brazil, and Hong Kong.
- In total, enrolled students have citizenships from 62 countries, including eight citizenships that are not currently represented in the undergraduate community.
- Students hail from 49 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The three states that sent the most students are Massachusetts, New York, California; 45 students also come to Tufts from the university’s host communities of Medford, Somerville, Boston, and Grafton.
Access to College
- The class received $27.5 million in need-based grants. The average grant was $45,372; 11.7 percent of the class are Pell Grant recipients.
- 11.9 percent, or 192, are the first generation in their families to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
- One student of The Welcome Project, a Somerville-based immigrant empowerment organization, is enrolled, as are six students affiliated with the Boston-based Steppingstone Foundation, and five with Boston-based Bottom Line.
- 78 attended the fall 2019 Voices of Tufts Diversity Experiences program hosted by undergraduate admissions, supporting students interested in learning more about diversity and community at Tufts.
- 125 worked with community-based organizations that support students on their paths to college, including SCS Noonan Scholars, A Better Chance (ABC), NJ SEEDS, ASP Dallas, LA Vida Scholars and QuestBridge. Fifteen students enrolled through the QuestBridge National College Match program and 45 QuestBridge finalists enrolled.
Laura Ferguson can be reached at email@example.com.