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How to Write the Tufts University
Supplemental Essays

For students applying to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree, there are two required essays: a ‘Why Tufts?’ essay, and a short essay responding to one of three possible prompts (your choice). Tufts is looking for students who are academically accomplished, but also a bit quirky and intellectually playful. The supplemental essays are the perfect place to convey your personality to the Tufts admissions committee, so when crafting both of your responses, don’t be afraid to take risks, show off your voice, and express your playful, creative side!

Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, “Why Tufts?” (100-150 words)

This short essay is a classic ‘why this school?’ essay. It should highlight your knowledge of the unique opportunities at Tufts, and your own special interests and perspectives. A great way to approach this essay is to do some intensive research on Tufts’ website in order to find academic programs, research opportunities, extracurricular activities and student groups, and unique aspects of student life that interest you. Focus on linking your past experiences and passions to your plans for making the most of your potential time at Tufts. For example, if you’re a high school senior who is interested in global politics, involved in Model UN, and aspires to become a diplomat, you should refer to these specific aspects of your profile and write about the resources at Tufts that will help you reach your professional goals. You might mention how Tufts’ 1+4 Bridge Year Program will broaden your perspectives on global issues and service learning, or discuss how you could complement your International Relations major with Tufts’ Peace and Justice Studies minor. If you have any other special connections to Tufts–e.g. a campus visit and tour, a friend or sibling who attended Tufts and raved about any special features of its academic or student culture–these details may also find their way into your essay.

After you’re done writing your Why Tufts essay, it’s time to choose a prompt for their second, slightly longer supplemental essay. When considering whether to answer prompt A, B, or C, you should be sure that you can write something new about yourself that hasn’t already been communicated in your Common App personal statement or Additional Information section (if applicable). As always, you should share something that feels authentic to you, and the more unique, the better.

Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words):

A) It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity?

Even the way this prompt is phrased (“It’s cool to love learning”) hints at Tufts’ down-to-earth culture. You could either write about a specific subject or a specific experience or story. For the former, try to hone in on a particular unique interest within your intended field(s) of study. Instead of writing about how much you enjoy reading, for example, you can distinguish yourself from other prospective English majors by writing about your love of the 17th-century Metaphysical poets, the short story that turned you into an aspiring novelist, or how you noticed that the TV series Dickinson’s cinematography parallels the mood of some of Emily Dickinson’s poems. Alternatively, if you’ve had an educational experience that was particularly powerful–e.g. an immersive Mock Trial program, attending an intensive academic summer camp, conducting research in a lab–you could write about how the experience influenced you and shaped your passions and goals.

B) How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?

This prompt asks you to reflect on the world you come from and how your background has shaped your worldview. According to Tufts’ Dean of Admissions Lee Coffin, the admissions committee at Tufts hopes to “bring perspectives together that are different and push you to think about your own frame of reference.” Therefore, it’s important to think about and clearly express what your particular frame of reference is, and what you can bring to campus that no one else can. This may be related to a geographic identity, a religious community, a unique intersection of identities that you occupy, a family background, a place of work, a school you attend or have attended, or any other environment that has been meaningful to you. What are the life lessons you’ve gleaned from growing up in your particular neighborhood, or in your particular family? What are the most important communities in your life, and how have they shaped your values?

C) Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice?

Tufts offers excellent programs in civic service and a culture on campus that, like those of nearly all higher education institutions in the U.S., will lean towards liberal and progressive politics. The admissions committee at Tufts is certainly seeking to admit students who are politically conscious and passionate about fighting for social causes that are important to them. Keep in mind that “social justice” is a broad term and may encompass issues of racial and gender inequality, immigration, LGBTQ rights, access to basic needs like health care and education, climate justice, and much more. If you’re deeply involved with advocacy and activism around one or multiple causes, this prompt could be a good place to showcase that involvement. Similar to prompt B, this essay is an opportunity to share the context behind why social justice is important to you, your social justice activism, and other aspects of your personal identity and background.