My Denied Appeal Letter For Early College Graduation

Annie Altman
May 22 · 3 min read

March 30, 2015

Dear Dean Dean,

After several meetings I am writing to make a formal request to graduate at the end of this spring, with almost seven semesters of Tufts residency. I have been a full-time student for six semesters, and spent last summer 2014 on campus taking Organic Chemistry with lab and working in Professor Professor’s Lab Lab. At the end of this semester I will have completed my Biopsychology major, as well as the university’s distribution and credit requirements. I have gone to many sporting events and public speaking engagements, and even more dance, musical, and theatrical performances. I am a co-leader of the Tufts Buddhist Sangha meditation group, as well as a member and treasurer for the student hotline Ears for Peers. I have volunteered with LCS as a dog-walker and blood drive assistant. I have taken dance classes all but one of my semesters and experienced my deepest sense of community at Tufts both within the dance department and as part of the Sangha. I firmly believe that, academically and experientially, I have earned my Tufts diploma. I am aware that Tufts is not a “credit mill,” to quote Dean Dean, and I understand the explanation of the residency requirement as ensuring the fullest college experience for all Tufts students.

Because I have so treasured my experiences, choosing I was ready to leave was extremely difficult. There is simply no need for the sadness and anxiety I’ve felt relating to school; but it took me a while to both figure that out and to accept it. Education should be a gift, however I’ve recently found it to feel more like a burden. I came to Tufts on the pre-medical track, and it was not until this semester that I let go of my rigid attachment to that plan. While a MD or DO degree may still be in my future, I want to more openly look into becoming a nurse or physician’s assistant, as well as a therapist through psychology or social work graduate programs. I feel confident that I want to go into the healthcare field but I am still discovering what role would be the best fit for me and my happiness, allowing me to make the greatest possible positive contribution to the world. I feel extremely thankful for the support I’ve had, both from teachers and friends, in working through this decision. I am also very fortunate for my relationship with my parents and the emotional and logistical support they have given me in this process.

My dream would be a summer of my own therapy: taking counseling seriously in a way I have never before felt ready to, focusing on art projects, dance classes, and guitar lessons, as well as attending yoga and meditation retreats — working towards whatever euphemism you prefer for “getting my head on straight” or “re-centering.” I then want to spend a year traveling the world, creating my own education while carrying with me many important lessons learned from Tufts.

Sometimes in meditation the most mindful moments come not from feeling fully aware, but rather from realizing you had momentarily lost your awareness and coming back to the present moment. Depressed feelings usually linger from the past, and anxious thoughts are often about the future — a focus on the present brings me a sense of peace. I have come to the realization that being at Tufts is not giving me the potential to be my best self, and I feel as though staying here another year is not in my best interest. I would like to reiterate that many of my issues are not specific to Tufts, but rather regarding where I am at this point in my life. I am grateful for your time and consideration in reading my words and I hope that you will honor my request.

Sincerely, Annie Altman

~a selfie from my time at Tufts~
Annie Altman

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One human’s thoughts and (mostly) feelings on humaning. For the podcast and other expressions head to @theanniealtmanshow