Chenoa - Tufts University - Class of 2011
Hometown: Springfield MA
High School: Public
Major: Spanish and premed
Goal: Become a pediatrician
Freshman Year Update
College is a lot different than I expected. There are fewer classes than high school, but they are a lot harder. This was a big adjustment for me. I was not used to so much studying. Now I schedule easier classes along with harder classes so my load is manageable. But life is not just about studying. I joined a pre-premed society and volunteer on Saturdays to help families learn English and find housing.
Sophomore Year Update
I learn new things here every day whether it be about myself, others close to me, or the world in and out of class. In particular, I learned two things this year. First, pace yourself. It's better to take longer than the rest of the students to truly learn a subject than to rush and get nothing out of a class. Second, keep an open mind. Even amongst the closest of friends, there are still great differences. You can learn from those differences whether they are cultural, personal, or related to ideals and beliefs. As for my studies, I have changed my major five times and finally decided on community health and Spanish. I am still premed and have decided to take an extra year before applying to medical school to give me time to complete the requirements.
Senior Year Update
I am enjoying my classes and continue to learn a lot. I continue to realize, however, that the sciences are a lot harder at Tufts than I expected. I got a tutor and studied practically every day to maintain my science classes. I'm positive that most other colleges are less rigorous. (In fact, I wish I had taken some of the science classes elsewhere and transferred the credits to Tufts.) I am still taking the extra year to apply to medical schools, but I dropped the community health major. I would rather focus on doing well in the science courses.
Like many high school students, my ideal college was Harvard. Over the summer of my junior year, however, I went to visit Harvard and to my surprise I did not see myself there as a student. The campus, while beautiful in places, did not live up to my idealistic expectations. This forced me to reevaluate why I had so desperately desired to go there.
Giving a college an early try out
Since I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor. So I attended a Tufts Medical School summer program for high school students. It was hands on and I loved it. The Tufts medical students really encouraged me. I felt at home at Tufts and very easily could envision myself there. The students are career-oriented, interesting, and fun without being wild and crazy.
After visiting Harvard, I realized that my reaction to Tufts was telling me something important. I should choose a college based on how it worked for me, not merely on a prestigious reputation.
Smith College was another strong candidate at first. I really liked their strong science curriculum. I am not, however, a nature person. I know their grassy campus appeals to many students, but it was not for me. I prefer city environments. The other three colleges on my list were "safeties" I would have explored further had I not been admitted to Tufts.
Applying for an early decision made sense
I made my final college choice very early and applied to Tufts as an Early Decision Round II candidate. My decision was based on the programs offered at the school, the opportunities presented, and the feeling I got from the students, faculty, and the campus. I took factors such as the majors offered and the close proximity to Boston into consideration as well.
What many people do not realize is that there is no one perfect school. But by figuring out what was important to me in college I was able to identify schools that could potentially work for me. Tufts was the one that fit the best.
My ups and downs
Finding time to write the essays was the most challenging part about applying to colleges. Often I had to choose to put off finishing my homework to leave time to work on essays. I wrote about my experience volunteering at my local children's hospital. It made me look at life differently. I worked with several kids with life-threatening illnesses. Yet they were cheerful every day.
What I learned
I highly encourage applicants not to skip applying to colleges they really want just because of money. It is always worthwhile to find out how much the school will give you before you make a final decision.
The money factor
I applied for an early decision without knowing what my financial aid package was going to be. I was very lucky to receive the great financial aid package that I did from Tufts. If I had not been so fortunate, money would have become an issue.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
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