College Focus: Boston 

By Isabella Brady

Brandeis University

Quick Facts:

Mascots: Ollie the Owl, The Judges

Founded: 1948

Founder: Albert Einstein

Type: Private research University

Religious Affiliation: None; nonsectarian, inspired by Jewish core values

Students (undergraduates): 3,591

Students (total): 5,945

Ranking: #44 of 443 National Universities

Acceptance Rate: 33%

Avg cost after aid: $34,000

Graduation Rate: 87%

Location: Waltham, MA


Founded recently in 1948 by Albert Einstein, Brandeis established a refuge for academics everywhere, who, at the time were disproportionately rejected from the ivies and other universities due to antisemitism and racism. Louis Dembitz Brandeis, the school’s namesake, was the first Jewish Supreme Court justice and figure who embodied the university’s core values. A 20 minute drive outside of downtown Boston, the university sprawls on the vibrant green hillside of Waltham, Massachusetts.

My experience:

I attended a detailed, day-long tour of the university at an event named “Fall for Brandeis.” Ironically, my introduction to the school was a mistake: I joined an online Zoom introduction to colleges on the east coast—admittedly, I signed up to learn more about Boston University, I had never before heard of Brandeis and almost left early…but the admissions director for the new university caught my attention; I ultimately traveled across the country to visit Brandeis, not Boston University.

Driving to the event, the university felt uniquely isolated from the bustle of the majority of Boston’s suburbs; it was peaceful, and the campus occupied a space where students could wander safely without many outsiders. However, my experience at Brandeis was unique for the people. Upon arrival, we were greeted by happy administrators who offered us food, beverages, merchandise, and genuine smiles. 

With a tightly knit campus of 3,591 undergraduate students (just a bit larger than Westmont!) walking around campus, visitors got the sense of belonging rather than merely observing the student life. Nearby students waved, while others talked and laughed as they walked to their classes. Yes, it was a Friday and students were in a good mood, but beyond that, students conversed and stopped at numerous club events, grabbed a coffee (they have both a Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts on campus) and gathered together in large groups, just enjoying the beautiful day. Aki Yamaguchi, my student tour guide, was extremely kind and knowledgeable, taking the time to personally connect with each student on the tour and nuance the itinerary according to the potential majors we expressed interest in. 

Divided into an upper and lower campus, the only ‘danger’ students face are the notorious flights of stairs ascending to the humanities buildings, which ice over in the winter. Other than that, the naturally closed off nature of the campus paired with shuttles for ease of student transportation makes the university tightly knit and very safe for students. Students likewise have access to a historical Norman castle, named Usen Castle (previously serving as a dormitory) and a three floored library, each descending floor a quieter noise ranking—the lowest, playfully named “the dungeon” for its silent space. While the dorms are not the most glamorous, the freshmen/sophomore dorms are centrally located surrounding a fountain and quad, and conveniently adjacent to the dining halls—truly integrating new students into the culture of Brandeis.

As a R1 university, the small school receives large proportions of private funding when compared to the school population, allowing a multitude of students to participate in hands-on research and actively contribute to their field of study. I was likewise impressed by the flexibility of learning on campus: without the pressures of committing to a major until the spring semester of sophomore year, students are welcomed to explore their interests, adding minors and majors in their interests as they progress academically. With 52% of the student population double majoring, the academic experience as recounted by many students holds true community; a place where people share notes, study in groups, and collectively uplift one another rather than participating in the cutthroat competition all too common in the modern American education system. 

My day spent at Brandeis certainly fulfilled its promise. With every interaction with students, administrators and staff to wandering the scenic paths of the campus, I found myself smiling. I truly fell for Brandeis.

Tufts University

Quick Facts:

Mascot: Jumbo the Elephant

Founded: 1852

Founder: Charles Tufts

Type: Private Research University

Religious Affiliation: None

Students (undergraduates): 6,676

Students (total): 10,872

Ranking: #32 of 443 National Universities

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Avg cost after aid: $37,000

Graduation Rate: 93%

Location: Medford/Somerville, MA

Gorgeous architecture, views of the Boston skyline, and an exploratory education technique, the academic opportunities offered at Tufts University prove truly unparalleled. 

Arriving at campus at 9:30 in the morning, I was surprised by the six floor elevator ride it took in order to reach the admissions center and enter the elevated campus—perched on a hill doming down into the surrounding suburbs. Once I was there, wandering the picturesque campus, the voyage up to the university was well worth it. 

With the exception of applicants for the college of engineering, all students at Tufts are free to explore courses from a variety of colleges offered until committing to a major in the spring of their sophomore year. Tufts extends further support to students, assigning each two advisors; one within their chosen major; one, outside their major, in order to more comprehensively support students and all their aspirations. 

Fostering classes of well rounded students, the university requires extensive courses of core classes to ensure student proficiency in foundational subjects. Yet, students are free to interpret topics to reflect their interests and majors. With the extensive course offerings, there are math classes studying the philosophy behind the subject alongside rigorous courses in calculus and differential equations—both of which fulfill the given requirements.

Tufts’ engineering program proves all the more unique for the representation promoted in the field. With an even ratio of male and female identifying students, the university encourages women to enter the field of engineering, while learning material from accomplished female professors and mentors. Whereas the disparity between the genders proves amplified on the majority of college campuses, Tufts efforts effectively normalize the fundamental contributions of women in the field while eliminating the barriers which hinder female engineering turnout. 

As far as location, Tufts claims the sweet spot. Six miles and a ten minute drive outside of Boston, the university has a suburban atmosphere with all of the perks of an urban college. Quick access to the city enables important fellowships between the university and programs in the city, allowing a myriad of internship opportunities, such as undergraduate experience interning at the hospital, and immersive work experience. My tour guide, a female engineering student, described yet another perk of Tufts’ curriculum; if there’s a class you want to take, but the university doesn’t offer it—you can take it at MIT! In her case, she’s taking a python course at MIT, however, the school has close relationships with multiple neighboring universities, giving you the unique opportunity to explore new subject matter in new places. Although Tufts has their own police force, their location places them adjacent to yet another police department—when it comes to campus safety one police department, or the other (or sometimes both) have the university covered.

From the painted cannon to club fliers posted at every corner to the laughter in common living areas, student spirit enlivens the campus. Culture rich with tradition, Tufts proudly displays their painted cannon. During my visit, the cannon honored Latinx heritage month with many flags skillfully painted on by the Latinx Culture club on campus—at night, as according to tradition. Lighting candles on the first and last night of one’s Tufts career demonstrates yet another ritual separating the university from others. Walking through the dining area and around campus, students sold handmade items, along with old or thrifted clothing, all while laughing and calling out to one another when peers walked past. 

With an exquisite campus, abundant resources and blossoming cultural and social life, you should add Tufts to your college list.

Wellesley College

Quick Facts:

Mascot: The Blue

Founded: 1870

Founder: Henry Pauline Durant 

Type: Private Research University

Religious Affiliation: None

Students (undergraduates): 2,461

Ranking: #5 of 210 National Liberal Arts Colleges

Acceptance Rate: 20%

Avg cost after aid: $24,000

Graduation Rate: 92%

Location: Wellesley, MA

All ladies and female-identifying students! This school might be for you!

Perhaps it’s the vast green fields, the towering steeples, or the swooning trees filtering light onto the pathways, or the meandering stream, or the insects singing—whatever it is, a tangible sense of implacable peace overcomes all Wellesley visitors. 

Uncharacteristically flat (topographically, of course) compared to nearby colleges I visited, if you’re looking for a campus with lots of space and less stairs to commute to classes, Wellesley proves an excellent option. With all the space however, the walk will be longer as the majority of the buildings are decentralized to fully encompass the space available. However, just outside of campus lies my favorite college town of them all: Wellesley. With 28, 747 residents, the wealthy town boasts beautiful, estate-like homes and a picturesque downtown. Complete with a retail district, college students have access to ornate boutique shops, dining and nail salons just outside of campus. The streets are lined with trees, the buildings are charming and the atmosphere, just as exquisite as on campus. I may have just driven through the alluring town, yet part of my heart was left in the picturesque town of Wellesley.

Besides the beautiful architecture, one aspect of the student population took me by surprise: there were major cottage core vibes! Driving through the campus, girls dressed in floral summer dresses clutched bouquets of flowers, gathering in front of the church and taking playful photos on a rope swing (it honestly felt like the festivals from something out of Midsommer—you know, sans the horror movie parts). What stood out to me: students were gathering from all corners of the campus, yet when they arrived, they formed a collective group—all laughing and socializing together. The joy and familial atmosphere among the student population was extremely inviting and unlike any other university I have visited thus far. 

Sounds amazing right? Wellesley’s inclusivity leaves you no barrier from applying—it’s free! Spend some time, open your common app and submit your application, it might just change your life. 

Northeastern University

Quick Facts:

Mascot: Huskies

Founded: 1898

Founder: Frank Palmer Speare

Type: Private Research University

Religious Affiliation: None

Students (undergraduates): 15,747 

Students (total): 19,940

Ranking: #44 out of 443

Acceptance Rate: 20%

Avg cost after aid: $30,000

Graduation Rate: 87%

Location: Boston, MA


An urban campus nestled within the highrises of downtown Boston, Northeastern’s campus is significantly less horizontal than other colleges mentioned previously, and instead, vertical. Nonetheless, the modern architecture compliments the surrounding city while accommodating sheltered paths navigating between buildings. With the exception of the vast quad the campus is…bustling. Loud and filled with both students, and Boston residents, the school reverberates with the sounds of traffic and student conversing and laughter. If you’re looking for an exciting, more independent environment, Northeastern may be the place for you.

What piqued my interest was the academic opportunities. Consistently mentioned as in the other schools I visited, Northeastern does not force students to choose a major. Instead, aided by an exploratory program if desired and countless mentors, students have the ability to discover themselves like no other institution allows. Likewise, the innovativ co-op program captured my attention. Sort of like the dress rehearsal for your intended career, the co-op takes place over a semester (sometimes longer) to help students decide: do I have passion in this field? Do I want to do this for the rest of my career? If their passion falters, the university aids the redirection of their major, offering additional co-ops. When a student discovers a deeper love for their major, not only have they made decent money from their earnings on the job, the co-op establishes strong working experience, along with valuable contacts—often students spring their careers from the firm foundations earned working during their co-op and are quickly hired following graduation. Even if a certain co-op doesn’t pay, Northeastern invests money to enable students to pursue their working experience without worrying about paying the bills.

Boasting exemplary programs and a unique college experience, Northeastern proves an excellent choice.