Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
College Within, 1971-1977
The College Within was a short-lived undergraduate program founded at Tufts University in 1971. It attempted to offer an alternative for students who couldn't function at their best in a conventional course framework.
Attempts to create an individualized, interdisciplinary program date back to 1964, but it wasn't until 1970 that John Wade Professor of Modern Languages Seymour Simches' proposal to create an entity called the College Within was approved. College Within was organized in modules of five to seven students, with a faculty member and two graduate students as advisors. Students were allowed to pursue more independent work and explore areas of particular personal interest. Projects completed during College Within's first year included "Children's Education and Minority Culture in Depressed Areas of the United States," and "Perspective of Life in a Kibbutz." Students had to come up with a project topic, submit biweekly reports, and had to present their research once during the semester to their entire module. The length of the papers varied, with longer projects receiving more credits at the end of the semester.
College Within met with problems after only one year in existence. The program experienced a fifty percent drop in enrollment after the first year, and by April, 1972, organizers were faced with the threat of mass desertion of the faculty. Many students didn't realize the amount of work necessary to keep up with the program, and a lack of publicity kept many upperclassmen from finding out about the program at all. Also, program administrators encountered a fear of unconventional programs among students worried about finding a job out of college in a tough market. Financially, College Within developed early problems. Although the program had won a $600,000 grant from the Spaulding-Potter Fund, it could only be used if Tufts raised matching funds. Tufts never solicited donors to match the grant, and it was lost.
By the end of 1972, the College Within had begun to stabilize, and used its available funds to initiate a lecture series and sponsor a number of forums dealing with important campus issues. In fact, a non-university committee commissioned to study the program in 1974 found that College Within was better than it was reputed to be, although it did face major problems, including a university wide lack of integration between the various disciplines. By 1977, the College Within was forced to disband, citing a lack of funding and a lack of student interest.
Source: UA019/5, OBS