Explorations and Perspectives: Our First-Year Advising Program

E:P Fall 2016Congratulations to the 46 students who will be co-leading Explorations and Perspectives advising seminars for incoming first-years in the Fall! Explorations and Perspectives are signature programs of the ExCollege. Through courses designed and led by two upper‑level undergrads, they offer new students a special kind of participatory learning, a team approach to advising, and a sense of support and community.

PERSPECTIVES QUOTEThe Explorations program began in 1972 to meet the overwhelming demand from entering students for advising through an ongoing, small-group experience. The Perspectives program was added in 1989 to focus specifically on topics related to media. All seminars are full-credit courses that are graded on a pass/fail basis.

Explorations can be designed around any topic, and some of next fall’s creative courses include Immigrant Food; Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Play; Art of Revolution; rs_1024x759-150709052426-1024.Donald-Trump-Hillary-Clinton-JR-70915_copySport and Social Justice; The Borgias; and the Economics and Politics of Bad Habits in America. Perspectives will cover media topics ranging from The West Wing and the 2016 election, to environmental documentaries, The Wire, Star Wars, and Instagram fame.Explorations quote

Student-leaders are passionate about their topics, and come from all backgrounds and majors, including Biology, Art History, Environmental Studies, Community Health, and Film and Media Studies.

Past participants, both leaders and students, often remark that being part of Explorations and Perspectives was one of their most meaningful experiences at Tufts!

Explorations & Perspectives: Teach Your Fellow Undergrads Next Fall

Explorations and Perspectives are small seminars for first-year students designed and led by upper-level undergrads who teach in teams of two. Students choose a group as one of their advising options.  Explorations can delve into any topic; Perspectives topics have a media focus.  Applications are due March 18, 2016.

Perspectives: Race Representation in TV & Film

Perspectives: Race Representation in TV & Film

Who teaches an Explorations or Perspectives? One answer is juniors and seniors who are passionate about a topic and want to help guide incoming first-years.  Some work with an advisor to plan out a syllabus, and some were inspired by a class they took. Still others go on to teach in the spring through the ExCollege’s peer teaching program.


Here’s what three leaders have to say:1454438455825

“Through the Perspectives program, my best friend and I had the opportunity to design and teach our own class about something we were both passionate about: advertising. We discussed, dissected, and digested advertisement campaigns and strategies through class discussion, debate, creative projects, and a guest speaker. As a peer teacher, I not only learned from my own research and experience, but I learned the most from my fourteen first-year students. Over the course of the semester, we became a family, and Tuesday nights became the highlight of my week.” – Kate Sienko, Perspectives leader, The Medium is the Message: The Evolution of Advertising in America

George Killian

I took an Explorations as a first-year about alternative education, and I remember it as a great experience: it was a way to break into the college world with these two upper classmen who could help you out and a bunch of other freshmen who were all going through the same thing.  It was this fun, more relaxing, outside-the-box class.  So when my friend asked me to be a co-leader, I thought back to my experience and thought, yeah, I’d like to be that mentor/advisor for someone like I had had my freshman year.” – George Killian, Explorations leader, Food & Society

The Perspectives class I taught last semester was such a success and reinforced the idea that I can do this, I can come up with my own ideas and teach about something that I’m passionate about.  I wouldn’t be teaching my own class now if it had not been for this Perspectives experience.  It’s opened the door to my ideas of what I can do later in life.  I’ve been interested in film, I’ve been interested in clinical psychology, but then when you add the idea that I can also be an educator – the intersectionality of those skills and all of my interests – it just opens the door to what I can do in my life in the future.”1381841_10201792729767595_34118891_n (1)  Sam Kitchens, Perspectives leader, Intro to Horror Film; current instructor for EXP-0053 Horror Film: Why We Make & Consume ItHorror

Check out all the info and download an application on our website.  Feel free to contact us at excollege@tufts.edu if you have ideas for an Explorations or Perspectives course that you want to develop.

Trunking Around

Guest Post by Jenna Sherman

Yesterday, at a local Lexington preschool, I spent the first hour of my Monday morning frantically changing in and out of costumes that were pulled from a blue, raggedy bag roughly the height of a small adult. In periodic blurs I transformed from a giant mole to a rocket ship to a firefly to finally an astronaut. This is a weekly, if not bi-weekly or sometimes even tri-weekly occurrence for me and my ten co-performers—with varying costumes each time, of course. The name of this quirky cohort is the Tufts Traveling Treasure Trunk, a children’s theater group by trade, but with a bit of everything else in between.



Contrary to popular belief this does not mean that we are a theater group comprised of children, though at times that definition is applicable, rather we are a theater group comprised of Tufts students who perform plays for kids in schools, daycares, and other places kids are likely to be. The plays we put on are written by one, or two, or a few, “trunkers,” as we call ourselves, and then staged, costumed, directed, and performed by all of TRUNK! (as we like to spell it) as a hilariously goofy and loving unit. Each semester we have two plays in our repertoire, carrying one over from the preceding semester; and interspersed between these plays, which last around 10 minutes, are segments (“segues”) as well as songs. These segues are short skits which contain base premises but which almost always involve improvisation that at times can have me laughing harder than the kids in the audience.

Though I was aware of this to some extent prior to joining Trunk, my main takeaway from every show, rehearsal, or other various form of a Trunk gather is that there is truly nothing more liberating than “acting like a kid,” by whatever definition that means to you. For me, it is losing all inhibitions, all hesitations. Whether it’s a noise, movement, or an idea, the opportunity to just put something out into the universe with no concern of correctness or scrutiny can yield boundless levels of creativity—especially in a group, but also individually. At least speaking for myself, it’s astonishing how much you can surprise yourself and exceed your own arbitrary expectations by simply diving into the unknown and rolling with it. And this opportunity is one that many of us do not have, or do not feel that we have, in college but also our entire lives besides, well childhood—where even then that freedom is not available to everyone.

And I feel that is what I find most inspiring about this group I’m in, comprised of incredible individuals who I continue to learn from daily, as well as all forums that encourage creativity among children: it shows kids that this sense of curiosity, imagination, weirdness, does not have to be lost with age. That those are not characteristics limited to a certain period of life. I feel this is vital as I continue to realize the extent to which I have been socialized to believe that—to conditionally think that emotion, vulnerability, and deviation from the norm is a sense of weakness rather than what it actually should be: empowerment.

Even still I often struggle to truly lose all fear of embarrassment and go out on limbs. It’s irrational fears that perhaps I am not being “the right type of creative” or not reaching a certain level of comedy. And I think a significant aspect of this is the fact that I’m not implementing this outside of Trunk in other areas of my life. At the end of the Monday show, a little girl came up to us and handed us a piece of paper with a scribbled rainbow and the word “happy” written on the outside. In retrospect I’m realizing how happy I was in that moment (that we got a drawing from a cute kid of course), but also that we were just goofing off and making up ideas on the spot and that it produced something not only enjoyable and meaningful for kids but also for ourselves and our own well-being. I want to hold myself accountable to do this more: to say yes to more, to take risks, to dive into discomfort and put myself out there—and especially to strive to be happy with whatever comes out of it.

On Jumping Over the Hump of the Sophomore Slump

Guest Post by Morgan Freeman

Hi all! Office assistant Morgan Freeman here with nearly another semester of office assisting under my belt. With my sophomore year well underway I must admit that I feel pretty confident when I tell you, the sophoPicture1more slump is real. Don’t get me wrong, it feels good to have finished my first year of my undergraduate career. Jokes about my name (thanks, Mom) have lessened substantially, I have found an incredible community of friends to support me, and –  for the most part – established a regular routine on this campus. So why the all slumpage?

Let me start off by saying COLLEGE IS HARD. I say this for two reasons. The first being that, it is. To state the obvious: deadlines, multitasking, friends, social media, (lack of) sleep, bridging learning gaps… I really could go on and on. We know this. My second reason for saying this though, is that I really do not believe that this is said enough. Using tools like Facebook at Tufts, sometimes it’s easy to feel like I am the only one who hasn’t met President Obama or recently vacationed in the Galapagos. This is not to discredit or shame any experiences that are not my own. However, I want to acknowledge that it’s not so easy to find balance between academics and… everything else. Here are some things I find myself needing reminders for, so maybe they will help you as well:

  • Social media is a great platform for sharing, organizing, and finding community. That being said, don’t forget that it can be deceiving.
  • It’s okay to say no if you can’t afford to do something.
  • It’s healthy to leave campus once in a while and it doesn’t have to cost money either. Go for a walk to Porter. Remember that the MFA is free with your Tufts ID!
  • Please establish a regular sleep schedule. Believe me, I know that all-nighters must happen sometimes, but it is so important for your brain to get enough sleep. Sleeping enables your brain to remember things, so remember that next time you are cramming for an exam.
  • Ask for extensions!!! If you are struggling to get your work in on time, please talk to your professors. Having open and honest communication with your professors will relieve a lot of anxiety now and in the future as well.
  • Build relationships with your professors. They’re cool! They want to talk to you! They are, in fact, real humans! They like food and coffee, too!
  • (Warning: shameless plug) Take classes through the ExCollege! I am currently taking Social Psychological Dimensions of White Supremacy with Tufts Psychology graduate student Simon Howard. As an American Studies major, this has been an incredible opportunity for me to examine race through a social psychology lens that I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise (due to prerequisite restrictions). We work very hard here to make sure the student is getting what they want through ExCollege courses and I can genuinely say that I see this reflecting outside the office and inside the classroom.
  • It’s okay to get off track. You’ll get back on again and it’s okay if it takes time (a week, a semester, 2 years) to get there.

External Reviews and Student News

The Experimental College is currently undergoing an external review, which is an exciting opportunity to explore the department’s strengths and weaknesses. This also allows students and faculty to reminisce on the ways in which the ExCollege has enhanced their lives. As a student Board member and active participant in all things ExCollege, I was asked to participate in a lunch which took place earlier this afternoon with the reviewers and fellow student leaders of ExCollege programs. Not only did I get free food, I also got the chance to learn more about my peers.

At the lunch, I got to hear Board members, peer teachers, and Explorations and Perspectives leaders speak. As a sophomore, I was the youngest participant in the lunch, so it was really interesting to hear from older students about how they were so positively impacted by the ExCollege. I know that the ExCollege has made my collegiate life better and more interesting, so it was fun to hear from others who had similar experiences. I intend to teach a Perspectives class when I am a senior, and I got to hear former Perspectives leaders talk about what the application and teaching process entailed. To be honest, it made me even more excited for my future here at the ExCollege.

It was also interesting to hear the opinions of the external reviewers, who seemed to be truly interested and engaged with what each student had to say about the ExCollege. One of the things that I’ve always loved about the ExCollege is how much student input is valued, so it was nice to have that tradition continued in the external review. I liked hearing the accounts of other students, but I also really enjoyed talking about my own experiences with the ExCollege. I love to talk, and I love the ExCollege, and I love sandwiches, so this was basically the perfect lunch opportunity for me.

It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in my own little world, unaware of what’s happening beyond my own commitments and ambitions. This lunch was a nice reminder of the breadth of the ExCollege’s influence; it hasn’t just shaped my experiences, but the experiences of countless Tufts students before me and will continue to affect countless of students after I am gone. It was good to remember in a group what makes the ExCollege so great: its focus on students and student opinion. That aspect is what enticed me to take a Perspectives class my first semester freshman year, what drew me to apply to a position as an office assistant. I have been involved with the ExCollege in numerous capacities: as a student, as an employee, and as a Board member. In every position that I have held, my perspective has been appreciated and taken into account. It was nice to learn that the ExCollege has been such a positive influence on other students as well by hearing the accounts of my peers during this lunch.

I believe that the external review is crucial, not only because it gives the ExCollege the opportunity to reevaluate and revisit its purpose, but also because it is an opportunity to further inform outsiders of what the ExCollege is and the importance of its mission. The ExCollege is a large part of what makes Tufts unique, and I think that its strengths should be broadcast to the academic world. Hopefully what was said at this lunch, and during the external review in general, will be taken into account not only by those active within the ExCollege but also by those who may wish to emulate its tenets.

How the ExCollege Slowly Took Over My Life (In a Good Way)

Hi there blog-readers, my name is Grace and I’m the new student author of ExChange. I’m a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Mass Communications and Media Studies, with the vague goal of someday using these skills to become a writer. (Don’t ask me what kind of writer. I haven’t gotten that far yet.)

This is me. You can totally friend me on facebook or add me on twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won't think you're creepy.

This is me. You can totally friend me on Facebook or add me on Twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won’t think you’re creepy.

The ExCollege is probably my home away from home within the Tufts campus. I’ve been working here as an office assistant since I was but a wee first-semester freshman. When I first got to Tufts, I didn’t think I was going to get a good work study job on campus. But then I interviewed for a position at the ExCollege, and the rest is history. My little back office is a haven, and I have access to the Keurig Coffee Maker, which is nice.

I also took two ExCollege classes last year; a Perspectives course called “Superheroes in the Media” and a course taught by a visiting lecturer called “On the Record: Communicating for the Government.” I adored both of these classes, as I got to learn more about what I am passionate about (politics and fictional characters in spandex).

At the same time, the ExCollege was preparing for its 50th Anniversary Gala. I got to compile old documents, articles, and pictures regarding the ExCollege, send out invitations, speak with alumni about the event on the phone. When I attended the Gala in April 2014, I got to see how the ExCollege has helped and shaped the experiences of alumni across decades.

So I was working for the ExCollege, taking its courses, and attending its events. But that wasn’t enough for me! I decided to apply to become a member of the Experimental College Board, and was accepted. Now I get to plan the cool events and help pick out classes, a great power that comes with great responsibility and fills me with great glee.

I’m now taking another ExCollege course, “Gender, Sexuality, and Comics,” which is super fun and conveniently also counts for my minor. I spend half of my week working and attending meetings in the little brown house that the ExCollege calls home. I like to be here, and I like the people, and I want to be involved in any way that I can. If I could do more for the ExCollege, I would.

In addition to being a Board Member/office assistant/student at the ExCollege, I am also an Arts and Multimedia editor for the Tufts Daily and Co-Chair for the Entertainment Board. I’m also the secretary for the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society at Tufts, because if you hadn’t gathered this already, I’m a gigantic over-achieving nerd.

I firmly believe that college is what you make of it, and the experiences you have here can and will shape your life in the future. I know that deciding to apply for the office assistant position at the ExCollege was a wonderful idea with unforeseeably amazing consequences, and I know that my time here has and will continue to make my time at Tufts fantastic.

Power of e: spruce


Power of e, Logo by M. Regalado, 2014

“Power of e” is a series of my exploration of student innovative ventures and creations by Tufts students. Tufts students flex their passion through skills they’ve acquired in and out of the classroom and this is the stage to highlight these amazing students. “Power of e” will be featured on the blog at least once a month. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on these features and if there is anything you are working on, contact me 🙂

In my first feature, seniority takes hold. This week I’m featuring spruce created by current Tufts seniors Angus Schaefer, Bernita Ling, and Misako Ono. spruce heightens individuals visibility through  stylish resumés, elaborative logos, chic business cards, and eye-catching posters to gather a creative design edge against their competitors. But it doesn’t stop there! If you need a stylish design boost in any capacity you can run your idea by spruce.

All great ideas stem from a problem that an entrepreneur wants to solve with their product or service being a unique solution. I contacted Bernita Ling, a fellow Engineering Psychology major and design wiz who is one of the founders, to uncover spruce. Bernita explains: “Image matters. [The problem we] saw was many people here at Tufts who are incapable of generating the image they wanted for themselves, and we saw an opportunity for ourselves to help them.” 

spruce founders

Spruce founders from left: Angus, Bernita, and Misako

Once a great idea has been cultivated and formulated, an A-team is essential to generate this idea to life. This creative trio have been friends since freshmen year and approach their creative work together with immense passion, “which is one of the most important traits to have in a venture like this,” Bernita stresses. All of the founders had been doing creative work on their own before spruce: Angus – poster and logo design, Misako – photography and design, and Bernita – photography and design. Combining talent and centralizing skill set into one service, spruce was born. From the first glance at their website, the design layout is flat, straightforward, minimal, and clean. Bernita expresses the look and feel of the website maximizes the impact, while maintaining their own personal aesthetics without distracting from the content.

spruce has been showing great traction and the founders have been busy! Hopeful, the founders should see growth based on the positive reviews from their early clientele. “We aren’t positive what the future holds, which only makes it more exciting. Whatever happens, we are sure that spruce will remain as an essential starting point for all three of us in our future careers.” From one entrepreneur and designer to another, best of luck my friends! Excited to see what else is in store for you! If you would like to get in contact with spruce, you can use their contact form here on their website.

#PowerOfe #Entrepeurneurship #TuftsIdeas #Seniors



What I Learned From The Rugby Field

November… The month that is consisted of lingering midterms, the ending of sports seasons, preparing for final papers/projects, and Thanksgiving. The most surreal and bittersweet moment is when something you’ve been a part of is coming to a close. I am talk to all of you student athletes out there. Regardless of whether you’re on intramural, club, or varsity, it’s a groups of students who come together on their athletic interest and skill. A unity consisting of any and all types of people coming together to play the one sport you all love equally.

This is something I’m experiencing at this very moment. Tufts Women’s Rugby ended our season with a loss against a regional championship game against Stonehill College. On the pitch, I looked around the 25+ other women who I’ve been playing side by side either for just this season up to my entire college athletic career. This sport has given me the ability to learn something new, master a skill, and then mentor and teach others joining. I look back and remember when I was the confused freshman. The transitions of skill and identity shifting throughout my career. I had the pleasure of getting to know other women outside of their academic interest and see a side of people that a classroom just doesn’t set the stage for: camaraderie.

Of the million other extra curricular activities I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of, Rugby has been one of the few that I carried through all four years here at Tufts and where I can find community and friendship. I’m curious, what has your experience been with your sports team? What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned on or off the field? If there is one thing I could say I took away from rugby, it would have to be learning to mentor others. Mentorship has been a large part of my career regardless of I was the mentor or the mentee. Cheers to a great final season!

#TuftsSports #TWRFC #StudentLife

Course selections: Already!?!

It’s that time in the semester where soon after your blood has slightly cooled off from a hectic midterm season, it’s time to focus on the new set of courses you will endeavor for the following semester. Depending on the amount of course preparation you’ve done for your next installment of courses, this can be a breeze. However, for those of us preoccupied with our current work load, the list of our new course work could have easily been missed.

By the time this post is published, a quarter of the school will have already selected their courses for their final semester of their undergraduate career: the seniors. It’s a bittersweet moment for this round of course selections. It’s the last time we’ll be able to have the free range of course selection that Tufts has to offer, but at the same time finishing off our assigned rigorous course work. Seniors be sure not to waste your last semester and think critically of what you want to challenge yourself with or what else you will want to learn!

I’m not going to lie, picking courses for this last semester was a bit of a challenge. I could do the whole “seniorities” schedule and minor in yoga during my final semester to begin to unwind from the tight-winded course schedule I needed to follow that past three and a half years. But instead, I looked at my final semester as a chance to explore and add more toward my major and personal interest. After needing to complete my sign up for my thesis and capstone project, I had the liberty of taking an course I desired. So, the curious 7 year old me had me enroll in ENP 166: Computer Interface Design with Michael Wiklund, REL 145: Tibetan Buddhism with Professor Joseph Walser, and finally COMP 20: Web Programming with Professor Ming Chow.

This is far from the notorious spring semester senior schedule, but I rather put my young brain to use. Give my toolbox a few each tools to apply in the real world. Continue to meet other curious Tufts students because all I have left is one. One semester. So I’m going to make it count.

#SeniorYear #Scheduling #SIS


Maintaining Motivation During Mid-Terms

As a senior, a lot is required from you. Not only are you finalizing your courses for your major(s) and minors and applying for graduation, but due to competitive acceptance rates in the work force, you have to juggle job applications, current internships, senior swag (rings, portraits, etc.) at the same time. Hopefully, if you’ve mapped out your entire Tufts academic career just right, you may be in better shape of giving you leeway to juggle.

The juggle may be difficult, but the courses you are taking now and in the future may be a key factor in keeping you motivate during the entire semester. The biggest advice I always give to students is find courses that intellectually stimulate you, while giving you a breadth of knowledge that can be applied outside the classroom into other facets of your interests, work, activities, and even sports. The most interesting courses I’ve taken here at Tufts, are the ones that compliment my major, yet are not part of the list of required courses needed for my major. These courses assist in your critical thinking skills while encouraging an application of what you are learning to a different audience–truly supporting the interdisciplinary education an elite university like Tufts can provide to its students.

Many friends and colleagues of mine will do just this as well. These are the courses that keep you motivated during midterms and finals because you are applying knowledge and skill in a different manner. Courses offered here at the ExCollege can do just that! They can provide these intellectual stimulus or application of your skill set in a different manner, or even bring your perspective into the class which others benefit from. Keep up the great work! Tufts is a difficult school, but it’s here to teach you to critically think, critically analyze, and formulate opinions and ideas that will benefit you in life after your undergraduate career.

#Midterms #Motivation #Tufts #EngineeringPsychology #HumanFactors