Not that it matters, but back in the 1980s, Tufts absolutely was a safety school for kids at Andover, Choate, or Hotchkiss. So was BC. Northwestern. And UPenn and Cornell were the safety Ivies--unless you wanted full-on engineering, then Cornell was a solid choice if you didn't get into M.I.T. and weren't really cut out for Princeton. In those engineering cases, your safety school was Carnegie-Mellon--or Lehigh if you were really hurting. You can see all this if you look at college acceptances of those elite schools back then. No interwebs, not as many people applying, sure, but anyone in the 21st century saying that Tufts was ever a first choice school is fucking high. And likely completely fucking ignorant. Maybe both. Even the University of Chicago, with its reputation as a hive of weird and intensely intelligent undergrads was a pretty easy admit well into the 90s if you did pretty good at Exeter.
Yay for everyone who is at schools like Duke and Stanford now, but back in 1987 those places were about as respected as the University of Miami. This is not cutting-edge or anything; back in the 20th century, many people were clueless about college admissions and most schools were far less selective and far less respected. Even now many/most public high schools are shit for the smart kids when it comes to college and college counseling. Letting your smartest kid with eyes on engineering apply only to M.I.T., Cornell, RPI, and state flagship would never fucking fly at even St. Marks or Loomis Chaffee in 2017.