Tufts & Change Makers

April 13, 2022

My roommate brought up the idea last night that Tufts often says they want you to become a change maker in the world, but that they don’t really want you to be a change maker if that change creates an existential threat to the university.

If you became such a good change maker through your Tufts education that you moved the world away from higher education, the university wouldn’t be such a fan of you being a change maker anymore.

But I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I want people to be happy, but if your happiness involves bashing my face in, I’d rather you not be happy. Is that selfish? Faintly, but it also seems justified.

But I had another thought: does Tufts actually want you to be a change maker? I mean yes, they’d say that they do. But do they actually?

Cynically, maybe they just want you to believe that you’ll be a change maker. It’s the vision they’re selling you, the advertising they feed you. The higher purpose for the product they’re selling.

It’s like when Logan Paul tells you that buying his clothing means that you’re buying into a movement of “mavericks” who follow their dreams and do what they want. It’s a way of elevating clothing into something that’s more valuable and more enticing. You’re not just buying clothing, you’re buying a more fulfilled, more exciting life.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT BY SHOPPING OUR INSTAGRAM
- Mavericks by Logan Paul website

So perhaps it’s just an advertising tactic that the university employs. Sure, the university thinks it would be great if you became a driver of change in the world, but more important to them is that you feel like you’re going to become a driver of change in the world after purchasing their product. That’s what makes people feel good about spending their money on a college education.

Plus, it feels crass for the university to say that their product, a college education and degree, is a means to a higher-paying job. It’s much nicer to say that it’s the path to becoming a better person.

This definitely isn’t unique to Tufts, though. It’s good to remember that every single university is a business, and that students are their clients.

At the end of the day they’ve got the same motivation that a standard business under capitalism does: how they’ll convince enough consumers to buy their product, as to turn a profit. Marketing their institution as one that turns regular people into people who will change the world is one way to entice sales.