If you came from a high school that allowed you to take AP's/IB, then you're going to have more freedom in picking your courses because they cover a lot of the general requirements. However, I found out along the way that many courses (often the ones for your major) can fulfill these. Most majors require around 11 courses, but not all of them are specific required courses, so you do have a decent amount of wiggle room to take what is most interesting to you. With advising, I recommend getting to know your advisor well and early because they can be very helpful in giving you advice on your courses/major/study abroad etc. Also, they can write you a nice recommendation letter! Professors are generally fairly accessible because they have required office hours (usually twice a week) and if you can't be free at those times, then you can just email them to set up an appointment. It's almost better to have an appointment so you don't have to feel rushed when you're talking to them (because during office hours, often many students are waiting to see the professor). I believe Tufts is underrated in its research opportunities. The majority of students participate in some form of research during their four years here, and it is not too difficult to find such opportunities. They are also quite rewarding (for me, I learned that I would like to never do research again, but it was an invaluable experience). Regarding competitiveness, the most aggressive kids are in the International Relations program (since it's one of the nation's best schools for the field, it attracts some of the best students). Beyond that, however, most students aren't really competitive with each other (they are very nice and encourage each other to do well). Instead, they are competitive with themselves, pushing themselves to stay up til three in the morning at the library five days a week, play a varsity sport, and work three jobs (I actually know someone who does this). Grading is very inconsistent across teachers. Unlike many Ivy Leagues (sorry to diss you, but you deserve it sometimes), Tufts does not have grade inflation. So, things can be harsh for kids who work hard in a class, yet still don't do very well. Some classes are a cake walk, while others give out one A a semester. We have some great faculty, and there's pretty much guaranteed a few fantastic and relatively famous professors in each department. Sol Gittleman is so entertaining, Joseph Hurka is inspirational, and Paola Servino is invigorating, to name a few. Tufts has one of the best study abroad programs in the nation because it is so comprehensive, and for the International Relations students, it flows very well with their major. The Tufts programs themselves are fantastic, yet they do not exist in as many countries as students often wish. But, Tufts deals with this very nicely. They do an absolutely fantastic job of getting students connected with non-Tufts programs in basically every country in the world and making the transition smooth, easy, and understandable. Workload can be quite hefty at Tufts, and most of the people I know are stressed out 90% of the time. However, it does depend on your own work ethic and coping strategies. I, for instance, do not spend hours upon hours in the library cramming almost every night (I do my work consistently in small bursts), yet so many people do. Lastly, even if people work hard, they play harder! We like to have fun too!
Quality of Life
Housing is kind of a mixed bag because during freshman year, you get randomly assigned to dorms, and then afterwards you get to pick rooms based on lottery numbers. So, you could get lucky and get assigned to a good dorm first year and then get a good lottery number, or you could get bad luck and live in not so nice dorms. Cost of living is pretty much the same as it is anywhere. You don't have to spend any more money than you are already spending on tuition (especially freshman year, with the unlimited meal plan). When you get older and live off campus, housing can get kind of expensive, but if you search well, you can find the right place for the right price. The campus is very beautiful because it is on a hill overlooking Boston. It has lots of trees and is not too big or too far from downtown. The facilities are somewhat lagging behind those of other schools similar to ours. As someone said, we are a "first-rate institution with third-rate facilities". This is partially true because we are consistently improving our facilities, and I think they are doing a very good job at it. The library, dining halls, and music center are all new and improved, whereas they are still upgrading the gym, campus center, and dorms. The library is huge and is a great place for many people to study (both alone and in groups) and it even has a little cafe so you never have to leave. The food is fantastic at Tufts, no matter what other people say to the contrary (they are just spoiled). You have to remember, this is a dining hall after all. They can't give you as much attention as a 4 star restaurant. There is a lot of variety in the food and it is usually of very good quality. The immediate neighborhood is inhabited by Tufts upperclassmen and graduate students, and then beyond that there are locals, who we don't interact with much. Davis Square, which is only a ten minute walk away, is very nice and has plenty of good places to eat and hang out. We connect with the community a lot, whether it be working with the Somerville Homeless Coalition or tutoring at the local elementary schools. Tufts is rated one of the most dangerous campuses, but that is a misconception. That rating, calculated by the Daily Beast, includes the Tufts graduate schools, which are located in Chinatown, not a very safe neighborhood. The Tufts campus is much safer than that area, but it is not quite a haven. You always have to be careful and watchful, and don't walk around alone (on the edges of campus) at night. Students are rated as some of the happiest in the country, and I definitely think it is true. Everyone loves the school and is really involved in pretty much everything. People are generally very nice and like to support each other.