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How to Write the Tufts University Essays 2023-2024

Tufts University is consistently ranked in among the top 30 universities and wants to admit students who demonstrate a genuine interest in Tufts. One of the best ways to demonstrate interest is through your supplemental essays.

All applicants will answer two prompts, but the prompts will depend on the school you’re applying to within Tufts.

The college applications process may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry⁠—CollegeVine is here to help you tackle Tufts’ supplemental essays! 

Read these Tufts essay examples to inspire your own writing.

Tufts University Supplemental Essay Prompts

Applicants to the school of arts and sciences, school of engineering, and 5-year tufts/nec combined degree:.

Prompt 1: Please complete the following statement: “I am applying to Tufts because…” (50-100 words)

Prompt 2: Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words)

  • Option A: It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity, and why?
  • Option B: How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
  • Option C: Using a specific example or two, tell us about a way that you contributed to building a collaborative and/or inclusive community.

Applicants to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree)

Prompt 1: Please complete the following statement: “I am applying to SMFA at Tufts because…” (50-100 words)

Prompt 2: Please answer the following question – we encourage you to think outside the box. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Your response must be between 200-250 words. Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)

Applicants to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree

Please complete the following statement: “i am applying to tufts because…” (50-100 words).

When first approaching this prompt, take a step back and think about why you added Tufts to your school list. Location, size, and prestige may contribute to your desire to apply to Tufts, however you must dig deeper into why and how you, as an individual, are a good fit for the Tufts community. 

As stated on their website , Tufts students are often described as:

  • Interdisciplinary
  • Multidimensional
  • Intellectually playful
  • Collaborative
  • Civically engaged
  • Globally minded

With only 100 words, you won’t have a ton of space to delve into every way you embody the characteristics of a Tufts student or list everything you love about Tufts. Instead of using generalities such as “great location near Boston” or “strong math major” or trying to squeeze all your ideas into 100 words, be sure to pick just 2-3 specific reasons you want to apply to Tufts. 

Remember that attending college is not only about academics, but also what you do outside the classroom. So, make sure to mention at least one extracurricular/social factor that drew you to Tufts, along with at least one academic aspect.

Reflect on your life, characteristics, and interests, then do your research and tie those aspects of yourself to Tufts’ values and traditions (refer to bullets above). 

  • Maybe you’re a passionate, civically engaged environmentalist who is drawn to Tufts’ Food Systems and Nutrition minor, as you want to learn more about ways to increase sustainability in the food industry. 
  • Or, maybe the 1+4 Bridge Year caught your eye, as you’re globally minded and want to live and intern abroad in Mexico before beginning your studies at Tufts, to better understand the border crisis and explore your interest in immigration law. 
  • Or, perhaps the Traveling Treasure Trunk theatre group caught your eye, as you love being collaborative and putting on imaginative plays for children. 
  • Or, maybe you’re multidimensional and have completely varied interests, such as ballet and neuroscience, and are drawn to Tufts’ interdisciplinary learning style. 

Regardless of your interests, whether academic or extracurricular, be sure to use them as an opportunity to form a connection between yourself and the Tufts community. 

Additionally, this prompt is a great place to include any notable experiences you had on any of Tufts’ campuses, or with Tufts students and faculty. You should avoid generally discussing an information session you attended or a campus tour you took, as those experiences are not unique to you and thus won’t help you stand out in the applicant pool.

However, you should definitely consider discussing a memorable conversation you had with a group of students, a particularly interesting class you sat in on, a meeting you had with a Tufts professor in the department of your intended major, or a Tufts club meeting you attended. While these experiences are not essential to your essay, they will certainly enhance your answer and further demonstrate your interest in Tufts.

Prompt 2, Option A

It’s cool to love learning. what excites your intellectual curiosity, and why (200-250 words).

To answer this prompt, you need to think about a topic that you enjoy studying and explain why you find it interesting. This prompt is great for applicants who have specific interests they want to showcase, like ancient Greek theater or quantum theory. Regardless of what you choose to write about, you need to be able to explain why this topic ignites your passion for learning and how you will continue to explore this topic at Tufts.

To start your essay off strong, begin by describing what sparked your interest in your topic. A great way to do this is by beginning your essay with an anecdote.

For example, you could explain that you became interested in civil engineering in sixth grade, when your science teacher challenged your class to break into groups and try to build the tallest structure possible using only marshmallows, tape, and uncooked spaghetti. As you worked to determine the perfect spaghetti-to-tape ratio, you realized that you had never before felt so focused on a school project. Keep in mind, your story does not have to be impressive or complicated; even the simplest stories will do as long as they reflect the origin of your interest. 

From here, your essay could go in a couple of directions. You might continue the narrative of your initial anecdote as you elaborate on your passion for your topic. For instance, you could write, “After winning the spaghetti structure challenge, I continued to enter engineering competitions throughout middle and high school, like the High School Bridge Building Contest. The thrill of competing deepened my enthusiasm and sent me to the library in search of books on seismic loads and renewable building materials.”

Alternatively, you could express your intellectual curiosity by explaining what specifically about your topic you find interesting. A fan of art history may identify a special interest in Ming dynasty ceramics; a computer science scholar could describe their fascination with machine learning.The details you share here provide evidence of your interest in your topic, so feel free to show off what you know!

Now that you’ve established your topic of interest, you need to explain to the reader why your topic excites you intellectually. If you are curious about biomedical engineering, you may refer to its many life-saving and life-changing applications, such as bionic eye technology. A Shakesperean may cite how his plays, despite being centuries old, can feel distinctly modern. In explaining why you enjoy learning about your topic, you reveal more about your character and personality to the admissions committee.

Finally, anchor your response in your interest in attending Tufts by explaining how you will continue your studies during your college years. Be specific, and think about how your topic aligns with courses and activities offered at Tufts. For example, if you were writing about your passion for Meso-American archaeology, you might state your intention to further explore the subject by enrolling in Tufts’ annual Archaeology Field School in Belize. Try to think outside the classroom as well—Tufts’ value of intellectual playfulness encourages learning in unexpected ways.

Prompt 2, Option B

How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today (200-250 words).

This prompt is a great opportunity for applicants who want to discuss the influence of the culture of their upbringing on their personality, interests, and values. Additionally, this can serve as an opportunity to discuss a specific event that was particularly impactful for one reason or another. Whether you want to discuss culture or a particular event, you must specifically describe not only the culture or event, but its impact on different aspects of your identity. 

The first step in answering this prompt is to provide some background information. Describe what makes the culture, experience, environment, or event unique. For instance, if you’re going to discuss the caring environment of your community, you need to explain the specific scenarios that illustrate that, such as a weekly potluck. 

The next portion of your essay should be dedicated to how your culture, experience, environment, or event has impacted you. Go deeper than the surface level and show what aspects of your identity have been shaped by the experience you’re discussing. 

For example, if you’re writing about how you grew up in a low-income neighborhood, don’t just tell us “This experience taught me to be resourceful.” Instead, show us your resourcefulness through anecdotes and indirect details:

“Since money was tight, my siblings and I tried to ease the burden on our parents by dumpster diving for food, furniture, and toys. We scoured the streets of the city for overflowing trash bins. We figured out the delivery schedule of local grocery stores. I always looked forward to Wednesdays, when the corner shop would receive new produce shipments, and discard anything that hadn’t been sold. We’d scramble home with our arms full of perfectly-edible apples, carrots, and onions.”

Finally, you should connect the aspects of your identity that were shaped by the culture, experience, environment, or event you wrote about to the Tufts community. Discuss what values you have gained that would allow you to make a positive impact at Tufts. Whether it’s your desire to learn, care for others, collaborate, or advocate, explain how that characteristic will make you a good community member at Tufts. 

In the above example, the student may wish to join the Food Rescue Collaborative at Tufts, to use their resourcefulness to rescue food and help feed people in need.

Prompt 2, Option C

Using a specific example or two, tell us about a way that you contributed to building a collaborative and/or inclusive community. (200-250 words).

The final option Tufts gives you is to write about a community you are part of. Contrary to the belief that a community essay has to be about something large like an ethnic or religious community, you can actually choose just about anything. Community can span from a club you are in to an online forum of people who share a similar hobby. Don’t let the “seriousness” of your community prevent you from picking this prompt—anyone can write a compelling and personal essay about any community.

The key to success lies within the prompt: “using a specific example or two.” In other words, tell us a story! Anecdotes that are full of imagery will be your best friend for this essay. 

However, just setting the scene with an anecdote isn’t enough. Use your anecdote to explain the natural state of the community prior to your involvement—did the community exist, were members active in the community, did the community lack diversity, were people excluded from joining, etc.

Then, continue the anecdote to demonstrate your contribution. Really show the reader what you did, if you recruited members don’t just say that, explain your process for advertising and the conversations you had with prospective members. Finally, you need to highlight the positive impact you had on your community. This last part tells the admissions officers what you are capable of achieving, so don’t be afraid to brag.

Let’s look at some examples of what sample students could write:

  • Online Book Club: A student who loves to read always turned to online reviews and forums to find her next great read, but she wished there was a way she could talk about the book she was reading in real time with others. This inspired her to start an online book club which she shared on social media to get the word out. Within two weeks she had 10 teenagers from across the country sign up and they read Where the Crawdads Sing for their first book. Not only did she find new friends and get to experience the nuances of the book through other peoples’ perspectives, she created a sense of belonging for the other members of the club.
  • Jarabe Tapatio Dance Team: A student with Mexican heritage who’s part of a larger Mexican community of families felt awkward as she got older and became more distant from the other teenagers at community gatherings. Since she loved to dance, she decided to approach the other kids and suggested they learn a traditional Mexican dance, the jarabe tapatio. Every week, they would meet after school and learn the steps. She coordinated with adults planning the Hispanic Heritage month festival and arranged for the newly created dance team to perform.
  • Caring Older Cousin: A student with a brother his age and a bunch of younger cousins might have always been exclusive at family events and refused to play childish games with his cousins. However, one Thanksgiving he was passing a football with his brother when his 10 year old cousin asked him to teach her. Through the process of explaining how to throw a spiral and what a pass looks like, he began enjoying the company of his cousin and invited the other kids to join. Soon he was running a football clinic in his backyard and playing a touch football game with all of his cousins. 

Each of these examples demonstrates how you can turn anything into an essay about community. Just keep in mind to show the before state, what you did to foster collaboration and inclusion, and the end result from your involvement.

Applicants to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts ( BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree)

Please complete the following statement: “i am applying to smfa at tufts because…” (50-100 words).

The first question is very similar to the “Why Tufts?” essay. However, this one asks you to tie your experiences back into why you want to enroll in SMFA. 

Your goal here is to make admissions officers clearly see you maintaining a presence in their SMFA program. If you don’t like being bound to the restrictions of having to be shuffled into a major, write about how the SMFA program’s freedom of delving into a specific medium or exploring a variety of options caters to your goals.

Let’s say that you are interested in both the arts and doing research in a STEM field. Instead of having to choose between one or the other, at Tufts, you can take the shuttle to SMFA in the morning and research the impact of certain elements on human cells in the evening. 

Tufts is one of two schools in the nation that is affiliated with a museum. If you want to gain more insight into art history and see paintings for yourself, SMFA will allow you to do so. SMFA’s Morse Study Room even gives SMFA students access to papers that are not available to visitors. Therefore, those who wish to seek more than what is offered in the classroom and explore ranges of art will be well-suited to the program.

If there was a specific instance where you realized that you didn’t necessarily “fit in the box,” this prompt would be a good one to address that. But if you want to knock this question out of the park, ask yourself what you can contribute to the program. Tufts looks for students who want to add to the intellectual vigor of its campus. If you can convey the kind of person you will be on campus, Tufts will be able to visualize the impact you will make more clearly. 

Please answer the following question – we encourage you to think outside the box. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Your response must be between 200-250 words. Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work?

As an artist, you have most likely developed some kind of theme or style that is recurring. Look back through your past works. Is there a pattern that seems to repeat itself? If so, write about that pattern and why it comes across your work so much. Did you grow up in New York City?

Maybe your art reflects the bustle and diversity of the countless people you see every day. Or perhaps your art could signify the tranquility you seek away from the honking cars and glistening lights. If your work does not have a common theme, or if you are gravitating towards a different theme in your work, explain why this is.

Tie your work back to Tufts and explain how a Tufts education will break the current limits you face as an artist. 

Where to Get Your Tufts University Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your Tufts essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free  Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools.  Find the right advisor for you  to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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Tufts University Essay 2023-24

Tufts essay 2023-2024.

If you’re considering applying to Tufts this cycle, you’ve come to the right place. In order to know how to get into Tufts and impress the admissions committee, you’ll need a compelling Tufts essay. To learn more about how to master the Tufts supplemental essays, read on!

Tufts University is a prestigious university located in Somerville, Massachusetts . Tufts is ranked #32 by U.S. News, and the Tufts acceptance rate is 11% . As with most liberal arts colleges, Tufts evaluates each student holistically. Tufts is also test-optional since 2021. Because of these factors, your Tufts essay is more important than ever.

Tufts essays are crucial to your application, which is why we’re here to help you master all of your Tufts supplemental essays. These essays include the “why Tufts” essay, and other program-specific short answer questions.

Read on to read our full breakdown on how to approach any Tufts essay.

Tufts Supplemental Essays: Quick Facts

Quick facts about the tufts supplemental essays.

Tufts College Ranking: #32 in National Colleges

Tufts Acceptance Rate : 11% — U.S. News ranks Tufts University as a most selective school. 

Tufts College Essay Requirements :

  • 1 (~ 250 words) required essay for applicants to the School of Arts & Sciences or the School of Engineering:
  • 1 (~ 250 words) required essay for applicants to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts
  • 1 (100 words) required short answer

Tufts Application : Students can submit their Tufts application through the Common Application , QuestBridge , or Coalition Application . Before you apply, make sure that your supplemental Tufts essays are prepared and thoroughly edited in a separate document.

Application Deadlines for Tufts:

  • Early Decision I deadline: November 1
  • Early Decision II deadline: January 4
  • Regular Decision deadline: January 4

Tufts College Essay Tip: The Tufts essays consist of two short answer questions, and these questions vary based on which program you’re applying to. The second Tufts essay is your “why Tufts” essay, and it’s just one sentence! 

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website. 

Does Tufts have supplemental essays?

So what’s everyone talking about when they talk about the Tufts essays?

Like many other colleges, especially high-ranking ones, the Tufts supplemental essays are an important part of your application. There are two Tufts supplemental essays, including one “why Tufts” essay.

You’ll prepare your Tufts supplemental essays in addition to your personal statement , the 650-word essay required by the Common App. Like your personal statement, the Tufts essays help admissions officers get to know you better as a person and an applicant. What are your values, what’s shaped you throughout your life, and what would you bring to the Tufts community?

There are two required Tufts supplemental essays. One of the Tufts essays is required of all students, while the other depends on the program you apply to. The Tufts essay that all applicants must answer is your “why Tufts” essay, which is a (very) short answer question. In these essays, you’ll show Tufts why you and the university are the best possible fit for each other. 

What are the Tufts essay requirements?

The Tufts essay requirements can be found on the Tufts website in the section describing short answer questions. Both of the Tufts supplemental essays can be categorized as “short answer questions,” because they ask for 100-250 word answers. However, just because your Tufts essay is short, that doesn’t mean it requires any less thought or planning. In some ways, short essays are the hardest, because you have to express yourself as succinctly as possible. 

The Tufts essay requirements differ based on the School within Tufts you apply to, of which there are three: 

  • Tufts School of Arts and Sciences
  • Tufts School of Engineering
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts

If you’re applying to one of the first two programs, your Tufts supplemental essays will be the same. If you’re applying to the Arts BFA or combined BFA+BA/BS, your first Tufts essay will be a little different. However, applicants for all programs must write the one-sentence Tufts essay which will serve as your “why Tufts” essay.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the Tufts essay requirements, let’s dive into the different Tufts supplemental essays.

Tufts Essays: School of Arts & Sciences and School of Engineering

Do you want to experience the nationally lauded liberal arts education at Tufts provides? Are you interested in disciplines like the humanities, pre-med, or the social sciences? If so, the School of Arts & Sciences is likely the best choice for you. The School of Arts & Sciences offers the broadest educational experience at Tufts. It’s the best choice for a student who might not know exactly what they want to study. 

Alternatively, if you are set on engineering, the School of Engineering is a perfect fit for you. There are sixteen majors under the engineering umbrella, from computer science to biomedical engineering. While lacking the breadth of the School of Arts & Sciences, it offers an in-depth, high-caliber course of study.

Luckily, whichever of the Tufts schools you choose—Arts & Sciences or Engineering—you write the same set of Tufts supplemental essays. From the Tufts website , here are your Tufts essay prompts if you’re an applicant for one of these two programs:

Please respond to one of the following three prompts in 200-250 words:

1. it’s cool to love learning. what excites your intellectual curiosity and why, 2. how have the environments or experiences of your upbringing—your family, home, neighborhood, or community—shaped the person you are today, 3. using a specific example or two, tell us about a way that you contributed to building a collaborative and/or inclusive community., school of arts & sciences and school of engineering: a closer look.

These Tufts supplemental essays prompts allow for a lot of flexibility in your answer. They also have pretty strict restrictions because of the word limit. It can seem daunting to elaborate on your intellectual curiosity or upbringing in 250 words, but consider it a challenge! Plus, all of these Tufts supplemental essays are very common topics. You’ll likely be able to reuse your Tufts supplemental essays and their ideas for another application. 

An important thing to remember when drafting your Tufts supplemental essays is that ultimately, these essays are about you . The Tufts admissions committee wants to learn more about who you are and what you value. In light of that, the Tufts supplemental essays ask questions that will help them understand you better as an applicant. Therefore, the best thing you can do when writing your Tufts supplemental essays is to think deeply about yourself and brainstorm . 

For School of Arts & Sciences or School of Engineering applicants, the Tufts supplemental essays also include a “why Tufts” essay. The “why Tufts” essay question is a little bit different from other schools: you only have 100 words.

We’ll dive deeper into the “why Tufts” essay later in this guide under the “short answer” section. First, let’s take a look at the Tufts supplemental essays for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Tufts Essay Prompts: School of the Museum of Fine Arts Essay Prompts

The Tufts supplemental essays are different for applicants for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, or the SMFA at Tufts. SMFA at Tufts “ offers a conceptually rigorous, interdisciplinary visual arts program.” If you’re applying to the SMFA program, here’s the question for your Tufts essay: 

Please respond to the following prompt in 200-250 words:

Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. what are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work.

Of course, applicants to the SMFA program are likely artists or have a strong interest in art. Accordingly, for their  Tufts supplemental essays, Tufts is asking these applicants to speak directly to their artistic vision. For students applying to the SMFA program, this question is more tailored to their academic intentions than the previous prompt.

Like with all of the Tufts supplemental essays, there’s no right way to answer this question. Instead, use this opportunity to be vulnerable and honest about your ideas and goals as an artist. If you have space, you can tie your intended artistic pursuits to Tufts and the SMFA program. However, keep in mind, you’ll write a “why Tufts” essay as part of your Tufts supplemental essays. In that question, you can dive into why Tufts in particular is where you want to grow as an artist.

Your Portfolio and Your Essays

If you’re applying to the SMFA, you have more components of your Tufts application than the Tufts supplemental essays. You also need to submit an artistic portfolio . This portfolio comprises 15-20 images of recent work, and/or up to 10 minutes of work like video or audio.

The Tufts portfolio is intended to demonstrate your “conceptual development” as well as your skill. Regardless of what media you submit, consider carefully whether it demonstrates your skill and potential. You should submit something that you feel best represents your skills and experiences with your artistic medium. 

Just like your Tufts supplemental essays, this Tufts portfolio is a way for Tufts to get to know you better. Your pieces should not only show skill, but also help the admissions committee better understand you. Choose pieces that you feel represent who you are and what you want to pursue as well as your abilities. 

Mentioning your Tufts portfolio

In your Tufts supplemental essays, especially the program-specific question, don’t be afraid to reference art in your portfolio. This especially applies if the pieces you submit are representative of a project you plan on expanding upon. They may also show something you’ve learned as an artist that you plan to carry into your next piece. 

Indeed, your Tufts supplemental essays and your portfolio can and should work together to deepen your personal narrative . Remember that your application should build a personal brand that draws a thread through your high school experiences. By the same token, your Tufts portfolio and Tufts supplemental essays together should create a clear, complex picture of you for admissions officers. 

Now that we’ve covered the program-specific Tufts supplemental essays, we’ll move into some tips on how to write the best Tufts supplemental essays—including the “why Tufts” essay.

How to “Think Outside the Box” for your Tufts Essay

Tufts receives over 30,000 applicants each year—and the Tufts acceptance rate is only 11%. When writing their Tufts essays, students often wonder: how can I distinguish myself? One way to do this is to get a little creative: think outside the box! 

So what does thinking outside of the box mean in terms of writing college essays?

First, think about your topic. The most important thing to consider when deciding on your topic is whether it feels true to who you are. However, there are topics that many students tend to gravitate towards, and sometimes these feel a little overdone. Think sports victories or other extracurricular successes, a relationship with a mentor like a grandparent or parent, or service-based extracurricular activities.

These aren’t off the table entirely but should be approached with caution. Ultimately, it’s not the topic you write about, but how you write about it. An essay about a meaningful relationship can still be a fantastic essay— if it’s focused on your own personal growth. Keep the focus on yourself and how the relationship (or event, or activity) influenced you positively.

Going Even More Outside the Box

Another way to write an attention-grabbing essay is to vary the classic structure and form of your essay. Most students, especially with a word limit as small as 250 words, will write in a fairly straightforward paragraph structure. Many write narratively, starting their essay with an anecdotal hook or incorporating dialogue. Why not change up the structure? Start at the end of your story and write backwards, or write from an unusual perspective. 

You could even incorporate non-traditional forms of writing like writing the whole thing in the second person. When drafting Tufts supplemental essays about your upbringing, you might spend most of your essay talking directly to your admissions officer: “You awaken to the sound of your mom banging on your door, the same door in the same room you’ve woken up in every day since you were born. You open your bleary eyes and take in your faded lilac wallpaper, plastered with Justin Bieber posters and your highest-scoring spelling quizzes from middle school: another morning in Omaha, Nebraska.” Now you’ve got an admissions officer’s attention!

To recap: there are many ways to write a college essay. The most important thing to remember is that this essay should tell Tufts something new about you. But even the most overdone topics (upbringing, community, academic pursuits, etc.), offer ways to grab your reader’s attention.

Tufts Short Answer Response

Now we’ve made it to the highly-anticipated “why Tufts” essay. Tufts has certainly issued a challenge with this “why Tufts” essay question. Most schools provide 250–650 words for this essay. In contrast, Tufts wants you to boil down why you want to attend into a mere sentence. 

Here’s how Tufts will ask you to answer their “why Tufts” essay on the application: 

In addition, we will ask all applicants to complete this sentence in 100 words or less:

“i am applying to tufts because…”.

When writing a “why Tufts” essay, or a “why school” essay in general, it’s important to be specific. On their website, Tufts suggest that you look at the Jumbo Magazine , Tufts’ student magazine, or student blogs . Even with only 100 words, you should still be as specific about what you want to do at Tufts as possible. That is to say, why do you have to be at Tufts to follow your dreams? 

What are you planning to major in , and why? Have you always planned on researching elephants, and are attracted to Tufts because of their beloved mascot Jumbo ? Are you a Revolutionary War buff, and can’t wait to explore Boston (maybe join a reenactment club)? Whatever you say, no one should read your “why Tufts” essay and mistake it for a “why school” essay for another college.

However, don’t confuse being specific about Tufts in your “why Tufts” essay with only talking about Tufts. Your reader wants to know what you’ll bring to the campus community, and what kind of Tufts student you’ll be. The ideal “why Tufts” essay, and any “why school” essay, combines two answers: why Tufts is right for me, and why I’m right for Tufts. Link your passions and aspirations to opportunities at Tufts. 

Since your “why Tufts” essay is only 100 words, you should be concise about why you want to attend Tufts. The beauty of your writing is less important than including as much information here as you can. When you’re writing your “why Tufts” essay, don’t be afraid to write a longer essay first. Get all your ideas out first, and then condense them into the perfect sentence-long “why Tufts” essay. 

If you’re still stumped on how to write your “why Tufts” essay, try reading “why school” essays that worked. They may inspire you in your own “why Tufts” essay.

Read on for more advice on writing short responses.

Advice for writing short responses

Up to now, we’ve covered the Tufts supplemental essays that you’ll encounter when building your application. Now, let’s talk about more advice for writing short responses. In fact, both of the Tufts essays could be considered short responses, since they are both under 250 words. 

Show Them Something New

It must be remembered that short answers, as well as other supplemental essays, should include new information. Your Tufts application will already include a lot of information about you: your GPA, classes, personal statement, and extracurriculars. Don’t rehash information available elsewhere without adding depth.

Use these extra supplemental essays to highlight something about you that the Tufts admissions committee otherwise wouldn’t know. This doesn’t mean you can’t elaborate on the information you’ve already included, like an extracurricular . But in that case, try to focus on a new perspective, or go into further detail. A 50-word description leaves out a lot: how did that extracurricular change you? What will you carry with you from that experience?

Analyze Successful Essays

Another way to prepare is to look at Tufts essays that worked and break them down. Why do you think that the Tufts essays that worked, worked? Was it the structure of the essay, or the prose itself? Was the topic especially unique, or did the applicant just do a great job of making a common topic their own? By reading Tufts essays that worked, or other college essays , you can learn tactics to write your own stellar essay.

You may even read the admissions blog from Tufts, which may yield insights into the admissions process. And of course, since it’s written by Tufts students and staff, you’ll learn more about Tufts. That could become the inspiration for your own essays.

Just Write!

If you’re stuck and can’t think of a topic, or know your topic but don’t know where to start, try free writing. Sometimes the best way to start writing is, well, to start, without any pressure to write something good or even intelligible. No-stress writing exercises like free writing can help you get those creative juices flowing. 

Free writing is for you to get out all your ideas, without editing or stopping. Set a timer for 30 minutes and answer one of the short answer questions. If that’s like pulling teeth, you could also make a mind map or do word association to generate ideas. If you can’t choose a prompt, or if you have too many topics on your mind, repeat the process as needed. Now that you’ve got a few pages of brainstorming writing done, review your writing. Find the points that feel important to include in your answers and go from there. 

For more detailed advice on how to tackle the Tufts essays, check out this guide on Tufts essays from years past. 

How important is my Tufts essay?

Your Tufts essay is only one part of your application. Everything, including your GPA , your letters of recommendation , your personal statement, and your extracurriculars , are considered by Tufts. With that said, the essays are you at your most direct and expressive, so they matter a lot .

Tufts is also test-optional , so if you choose to include SAT / ACT scores, they will be taken into consideration. If you choose not to include test scores, you will not be penalized. However, without test scores, each other part of your application increases in importance—and that includes your essays.

Overall, you should consider your Tufts essays very important parts of your application. You’ll never know how exactly the admissions officers weigh your essays in comparison to the other parts of your application. Therefore, you should act as if these essays could make or break your chance of admission to Tufts. College essays should always be taken seriously. Even if they’re only 100 words long, each of those 100 words matters. 

More key Tufts admissions requirements

What other Tufts admissions requirements should you take into consideration?

Make sure to remember deadlines when you’re working on your Tufts application. Tufts has Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. ED I is due November 1 st , and ED II and Regular Decision are both due January 4 th . 

Should you apply ED or RD to Tufts? That depends on a few factors. First, is Tufts your dream school ? If Tufts is your first choice and you’re 110% confident of that, you should consider applying ED. If you get into Tufts ED, your enrollment is binding—so you should be confident that Tufts is the school for you.

However, applying early means that you don’t have the opportunity to compare financial aid packages from different schools.  If financial aid is a significant factor for you and your family you should take that into consideration. Also, applying early isn’t a good enough reason to rush your application. If you feel like your application isn’t as good as it could be, don’t submit it before it’s ready.

Tufts Essay – Final Takeaways

Writing college essays can be daunting, and that’s true even for short answer essays like the Tufts supplemental essays. The Tufts acceptance rate is 11%, so your essays are crucial to making sure that your application stands out .

Here are some key takeaways to remember when writing your Tufts essays:

Five Tufts Essay Takeaways

1. Every student applying to Tufts must answer two required supplemental essays.

2. The supplemental essays you will answer depend on the program you’re applying to. If you’re applying to the School of Arts & Sciences or the School of Engineering, you will choose from three prompts. If you’re applying to the SMFA at Tufts, you’ll answer a different first question than the other applicants. 

3. All applicants have to write a “why Tufts” essay. This essay is quite short, at only one sentence.

4. The most important things to remember about writing your Tufts essays are to be honest and specific. Include information that the admissions officer couldn’t find anywhere else in your application.

5. Tufts has Early Decision and Regular Decision—do your research to find out which deadline is right for you. Whichever you choose, prepare your essays ahead of time so you have time to write and edit multiple drafts! 

We hope that after reading this article on Tufts essays you feel more confident tackling your Tufts app. For more advice on how to get into Tufts, check out our guide !

This article was written by advisor, Rachel Kahn . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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27 October 2015

More Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

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This blog post includes five essays, as well as video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the admissions team.

Click here for the essays.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write an excellent "why tufts" essay.

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College Essays

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If you're applying to Tufts University, you should already have an answer to "Why Tufts?" But answering the "Why Tufts?" essay question as part of your application requires more than acknowledgement that it's a good school.

This guide to the "Why Tufts" essay prompts will guide you through the requirements, expectations, and strategies you need to write an exemplary essay.

Feature Image: HereToHelp /Wikimedia Commons

What's the Purpose of a "Why This School?" Essay?

To craft a good "Why Tufts?" essay, you need to understand the prompt. It's not about listing a school's qualifications or discussing how beautiful the campus is—a good essay will explain not just why the school is good, but why the school is good for you .

This essay is a common one at many schools. Colleges want to know what brings you to them specifically, including what interests you and how you'll contribute to the student body. Though the question of "why" may feel simple, it's a lot more complex than it appears at first glance .

First of all, the college admissions office wants to know what sets their school apart from others. In Tufts' case, that could be their history as a research university , which puts undergrads in closer contact with graduate students and encourages more communication between people in different fields of study. It could also be their emphasis on interdisciplinary studies , or a positive experience you had while touring the campus .

Use the question of "why" as a starting point . Don't stop at, "because I like that I can study engineering and English." Develop that idea further—What does that mean to you? Why does it matter?

The "Why This College?" essay also invites students to think about how they'll fit into the academic environment. Schools want to know that you're a good fit—it's to their benefit to recruit students who are passionate and committed to getting the most out of their college education.

If it wasn't, Tufts wouldn't have an acceptance rate of around 11 percent . They want students who will contribute to the learning environment and bring creativity, innovation, and curiosity to the classroom. Read and understand Tufts' mission statement before writing your essay so you're informed about what these traits mean, and how you can contribute to realizing their vision as a student .

But it's not just about whether you'll fit in—it's also important that Tufts is a good fit for you. That doesn't mean having your major or whatever clubs you might want to join, but also that your goals align with theirs. The interdisciplinary approach isn't right for every student, and others may prefer the more classic separation of undergrads and graduate students. Having a clear idea about your goals as well as theirs will help you excel, and Tufts will appreciate the clarity .

Your "Why Tufts?" essay isn't just good for the school, it's good for you, too. When you think deeply about why you want to attend a particular school, it makes you even more excited to attend, and that passion is precisely what schools want to see.

Thinking in-depth about your college choices also makes you learn more about schools and how they support your goals, which is instrumental for choosing the right school.

As you're thinking about your Tufts essay, you might learn things about the school that may not be a good fit, and it's better to learn that now than six months after you've moved onto campus. Though one or two missed checkboxes in your dream school criteria isn't necessarily a reason to pull your application, having realistic expectations for your college experience will set you up for a more positive time at the school of your choice.

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What Is the "Why Tufts?" Essay Really Asking?

"Why Us?" essays may look as if they're asking a simple question—why do you want to attend this school—but there's more to it than that. These essays are also often asking one of two questions: "why us?" or "why you?"

In essence, these essays want you to describe why they're the right school for you, or why you're the right student for them . Paying attention to how the question is framed will give you a better sense of what kind of answer they're looking for, which will help you shape your essay.

Tufts actually has two versions of the "Why Us?" essay, depending on which department you're applying to. Each one asks a different version of the question, with one version emphasizing your role as a student in a community ("Why You?") and what appeals to you about the school ("Why Us?").

To figure out which one you'll be responding to, use Tufts' Majors and Minors page . This tool allows you to select which programs you're interested in and displays the school department beneath.

If You're Applying to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, or 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree:

This prompt has a 100 to 150 word limit. The prompt asks:

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

This prompt is a pretty standard "Why X School?" style of essay. Notice that the prompt is asking you to discuss certain aspects of your undergraduate experience. That means the prompt expects you to talk about one or two elements of attending Tufts in detail, not write a laundry list of the things you love about the school.

Put another way: this essay wants you to be specific about why you want to go to Tufts and prove to the admissions committee that it's the right school for you!

If You're Applying to the BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree at the SMFA:

This prompt, also 100 to 150 words, applies to students who are on one of the above listed fine arts tracks. This prompt reads:

Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (100-150 words)

This question still asks about your application, but pay attention to the focus—it's more interested in why you want to be part of the SMFA program in particular. In answering this question, stay away from blanket statements about the university as a whole, like the robust number of extracurricular programs or Tuft's other undergraduate degree offerings.

Your answer should discuss what draws you to this program, not the school in general. Look through their mission statement, the experiences of other applicants, and preferably visit the campus for a tour to help you better explain why this school draws you in over others .

Because you're applying to the SMFA, you need to know what that is and how it differs from the rest of Tufts University. Why this program specifically? What will the SMFA add to your experience that education at a different school would not?

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How to Write your "Why Tufts?" Essay, Step by Step

With only 100 to 150 words to answer these prompts, you'll likely need to go through multiple essay drafts to get your response into prime shape. Not only do you have a low word count, but these are also complex topics. Though planning might feel like more work in the short term, it'll help you write a stronger essay from beginning to end .

Step 1: Brainstorming

Start by reading the question. Not just reading the words that are there, but really striving to understand the question beyond the prompt.

Spend some time writing down different potential angles, then sort through them to find the one that works best for you. Your essay should be clear and specific to Tufts— if you can substitute in the name of another school and have it make sense, your essay isn't specific enough .

During brainstorming, come up with as many ideas as you can. Set a timer for five to ten minutes, and think of lots of different answers to the prompt. Don't worry if they're kind of out there or undeveloped; you can always cut them or expand later !

The General Prompt

For the first prompt, consider how which aspects of going to Tufts make it the best school for you. To do this, it helps to reframe the question like this: "What can Tufts do for me that no other school can?" It's also worth thinking about how you can contribute to the school in ways that are...well, uniquely you!

Maybe you're interested in tackling issues related to climate change, and you want to be part of Tufts's research on water purification because you know clean water will become a scarce resource. Or maybe you want a career in museum curation and education, so Tufts's Museum Education combined degree is perfect for you.

The point is that you need to be specific and clear about how Tufts is the only school that can help you achieve your goals.

Along with researching programs and professors, it's also a good idea to cite specific moments from tours, if you've taken them. If you haven't taken a tour, you could refer to alumni who inspire you, courses you find on the website, or other features unique to Tufts. "Unique" is key—whatever you say, Tufts' curriculum, mission, or other specific features should support it .

For example, you could mention the school's emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. Does it matter to you that your education at Tufts will be inclusive of other disciplines rather than focused entirely on your field? Why or why not?

The SMFA Prompt

For the prompt that's SMFA focused, consider the program and what makes you want to be part of it. Why an art degree? Why an art degree at Tufts? Why an art degree at Tufts in the SMFA program, specifically?

These might seem like redundant questions, but considering every angle of "Why SMFA?" will lead to a stronger essay . Look through the course catalog and see what it has to offer—courses like "Creative Futures: Business Essentials for Artists" are unique to this program, and it's worth understanding what they offer that other programs don't. Tying that into your essay along with why you want an art degree proves that you're serious about your discipline and understand what exactly Tufts will add to your education.

Also consider how the SMFA and Tufts University intersect. SMFA is a school within a school, and it's important to understand how it differs from the School of Arts and Sciences.

Again, cite moments from a tour if you can, or be specific about particular artists, artworks, or other features of Tufts that inspire you to attend there. The more you can tie your response specifically to Tufts rather than any other school, the better .

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Step 2: Avoid Generalities

When writing, avoid being too general. Again, if you can substitute in the name of another school and have your essay still make sense, you need to make it more specific . The question is, "Why Tufts?" so be sure that you answer that as thoroughly as possible—and stay within your word count, of course.

Some students default to talking about sports or campus appearance to set the stage. Avoid that, if you can. Tufts already knows about their sports teams and how pretty the campus is, and if other people are doing it, you don't want to follow suit. Your essay should be uniquely you !

"Why Tufts?" may be the question, but avoid being too shallow. Think beyond academics and reputation; your essay should consider how Tufts will help you, and how you'll help Tufts .

Step 3: Write Efficiently

The essay is short, so you're really going to have to hone in on one particular feature or event . Be prepared to edit and revise multiple times—have people you trust look over it and give you feedback, and do your best to follow it.

Eliminate extra words; in the first sentence in the previous paragraph, I could easily change "you're really going to have to hone," into "you'll have to hone" and save myself three words. It's a small change, but three words means a lot when you only have 150!

Summarize any experience you want to draw on quickly so you have time to talk about why it matters. Be brief; you want to expand where it matters rather than spending a lot of time on scenic details ("The sun was rising as I first arrived in Medford, my hands trembling from nervousness and too much coffee on an empty stomach," is great detail, but if it's not telling the school "Why Tufts?" then it has to go!).

In short, every word should be pulling weight in your argument rather than taking up space .

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"Why Tufts?" Essay Writing Checklist

As you progress through each draft, run through this checklist to be sure you're on target.

Are You Being Specific?

Can you rewrite the essay with the name of another college? If you can, be more specific.

Have You Mentioned Real-Life Experiences?

Tying your essay to a specific, real-life experience (such as a tour of the college) or a person (a representative of Tufts that you've spoken with, someone who's graduated, or similar) gives it more specificity. Concrete detail will make your essay feel more solid.

Have You Answered What Makes the School Special?

Think beyond academics, sports, or prestige. What makes Tufts the right school for you above all others? Why not Columbia , UC Berkeley , or the University of Minnesota ? You don't have to answer "why not?" in your essay, but you should know the answer when you're writing.

Have You Connected What Makes the School Special to Your Interests?

Readers should be able to draw a clear line from the answer to "Why Tufts?" to you as a student. Okay, so you met an adviser who not only got your love of botany, but who understood exactly how a love for grass-type Pokemon led you to pursue gardening and eventually botany. What does this mean to you, and how does it contribute to your desire to attend Tufts?

Have You Demonstrated an Understanding of School Culture?

Tufts is quite clear about their campus culture—intellectual curiosity, research, and interdisciplinary learning are all core parts of their mission. If you can demonstrate this in your essay, you'll be set to impress!

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What Does a Great "Why Tufts?" Essay Look Like?

One of the best ways to understand what Tufts is looking for in responses to their "Why Tufts?" prompts is to see what people who have gotten in have written. Thankfully, Tufts makes this easy, putting several essays that worked online for you to read . Keep in mind that the prompts for these essays may have been phrased slightly differently, but at their heart, they're all "Why Tufts" essays...which means good essays in this category all share the same characteristics!

Here's an example of a successful "Why Tufts?" essay:

As a girl interested in computer science it's common when visiting university websites to utter "you go, girl" to the lone female faculty member smiling proudly amidst a male-dominated CS department. However, Tufts is a unique community that not only encourages minorities in STEM, but actively recruits female faculty like the spunky and inspirational activist/engineer/professor/entrepreneur Dr. Laney Strange, who I met at Girls Who Code. With my passions ranging from multimedia art to Latin American culture to CS, Tufts excites me since it's where diverse interests are celebrated and where I can have stimulating conversations with anyone I meet on campus.

Let's go through this essay using our checklist to understand exactly why it worked.

Notice how this essay uses specific faculty (and a specific experience with that faculty member) to discuss what appeals to the writer about Tufts. Substituting the name of another school in for Tufts wouldn't work, because this essay goes out of its way to be clear that this is something Tufts offers that other colleges don't.

Participating in Girls Who Code not only demonstrates the writer's interest in computer science, but also gives her a connection to the school beyond its reputation. That tie to Tufts gives her some additional insight into campus culture.

This writer frames her essay around empowering women in computer sciences, but, more importantly, how Tufts excels in a way that many schools do not.

As a female computer sciences student, prominent female faculty in the CS department is clearly important to the writer—something that comes through because of how neatly she ties her field to her specific experience and again to Tufts.

The writer not only cites female faculty in the CS department, but also the school's interdisciplinary education. She clearly has a familiarity with Tufts educational goals, making this essay an excellent example of not just, "Why Tufts?" but also "Why You?"

As you can see, this writer ticked all the checkboxes for a great "Why Tufts?" essay ...which is the goal!

Let's take a look at an SMFA-specific essay that worked. Another writer answered the "Why SMFA?" prompt like this:

As an artist, I believe that one's work should reflect the world beyond it. Thus, I'm most attracted to Tufts SMFA's combination of rigorous artistic study with a challenging liberal arts curriculum at the School of Arts and Sciences. I want to inform my art-making with in-depth exploration of sociology, justice, and international relations, creating works that comment on global issues--a prospect uniquely possible at Tufts SMFA. With numerous opportunities for combining art and community work on campus and in Boston, the SMFA program shows art isn't only meant for the classroom; it's meant for the world.

This student shows familiarity with the specifics of SMFA, the kind of works the organization produces and showcases, and also how the program is also part of the larger Massachusetts community. While many schools have great art programs, the specificity here ties it uniquely to Tufts.

The previous essay mentioned faculty the student had met with, which isn't always possible. This student may not have had the opportunity to tour campus or meet with representatives, but they still go out of their way to situation Tufts within a place—the wider area of Massachusetts. The more specific you can get, especially mentioning a community, as this writer did, the better.

The last line is particularly good, as it starts out quite specific and balloons out to a wider statement about art's place in the world. The mentions of SFMA's "rigorous artistic study" in conjunction with the "challenging liberal arts curriculum" show that the student has a good understanding of what this program entails, and how it will help them reach their goals.

This essay doesn't mention a particular field, but it does begin with a statement—"I believe that one's work should reflect the world beyond it"—and then goes on to demonstrate how that's true of Tufts. This short essay reads a bit like a condensed five-paragraph essay: thesis, supporting details, and conclusion that tie the whole theme together.

References to SFMA and the School of Arts and Sciences curricula show that the student knows the difference between the two and how they feed into one another. They've clearly done their homework, and it shows in a polished, well thought-out essay that got them into Tufts!

Once again, this writer hit all the important parts of the "Why Tufts?" essay, which ultimately showed admissions counselors that Tufts is the perfect school for them.

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What's Next?

The "Why Tufts?" essay is just one of the essays you'll be writing for your application. It pays to understand them ahead of time, so check out this handy guide to the Tufts supplement !

If you need help writing essays for other colleges, this compilation of tips and tricks will help get your writing on track.

Tufts University uses the Common Application, so you'll also be writing essays in response to those prompts as well. This guide will help walk you through the Common Application prompts as well as best practices for answering them!

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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27 October 2015

More Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

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This blog post includes five essays, as well as video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the admissions team.

Click here for the essays.

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Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, "Why Tufts?"

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The cross-curricular focus and freedom of study at Tufts would allow me to pursue an interdisciplinary major and draw together my love for Spanish, Portuguese, Linguistics, and the natural sciences. This unique ability to design my own major by combining elements from a variety of academic fields definitely excites me. To support this, I intend to participate in the study abroad program in Chile or a civic semester in Urubamba, Peru that will allow me to practice my language skills while also benefitting the local community and gaining an invaluable cultural understanding through intimate homestay experience. Other than the academics, the vibrant community at Tufts also attracts me, with the warm and compassionate students acting as flattering adverts for the school. One student I spoke with described the average Jumbo as “goofy and loving” which I feel accurately matches my own character and outlook.

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Real Tufts University Supplemental Essay Examples!

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Up first, the “Why” Essay.

James Gregoire ’19 (South Burlington, VT):

It was on my official visit with the cross country team that I realized Tufts was the perfect school for me. Our topics of conversation ranged from Asian geography to efficient movement patterns, and everyone spoke enthusiastically about what they were involved in on campus. I really related with the guys I met, and I think they represent the passion that Tufts’ students have. I can pursue my dream of being a successful entrepreneur by joining the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society, pursuing an Entrepreneurial Leadership minor, and taking part in an up-and-coming computer science program.

Lena Novins-Montaque ’20 (Denver, CO):

Before my tour, my dad and I stopped in Brown and Brew for coffee. We saw a stack of The Tufts Daily, and beside it, copies of Canon. The poetry and prose I read was carefully curated and well written. As a writer, this instantly excited me. During the tour, my guide Ed enthusiastically said, “Tufts is full of people who are interested and interesting.” Tufts offers an environment that encourages intellectual curiosity that matches perfectly with what I want for my college experience

Megan Rivkin ’20 (Lincolnshire, IL):

Give me a blank page– I’ll draw all over it.

When I visited, a Jumbo studying theatre and psychology was directing “Next To Normal.” That sounds like me. I want to make theatre useful by studying other areas as well. At Tufts, interdisciplinary thinking is a key part of the culture.

Playwright Neil Labute told me to find a college where I can pave my own way, not be force-fed opportunities. I need a creative space that will hand me a blank page and care how I use it.

Though he may not have known it, Mr. Labute described Tufts.

Next up, the “Let Your Life Speak” Essay (from a previous admission season)

Justin Dorosh ’20 (North Reading, MA)

As a child, my family’s TV got only 33 channels. It’s never good when the Home Shopping Network is considered  “good TV.” As a result, my kindergarten entertainment was a Leap Pad rather than Cartoon Network. I used the interactive learning device to memorize all 206 bones in the body as well as every state and its respective capital. I did this not only because my parents thought it was good for me, but because I was interested in the world around me. I sought to understand life beyond the 150 square-foot room I shared with my brother.

Even after we upgraded to basic cable, I found that traditional mental exercises were more fun. I like to think and problem solve. No sitcom gives me the rush of excitement that I get from filling in that last number in a Sudoku puzzle or penciling in the right word to a crossword. Puzzles and riddles are challenging and I embrace challenges.

My curiosity for my Leap Pad is largely responsible for my hands-on approach to doing things. I am a doer rather than a spectator. I’m one who would rather toss a football in the yard than watch the big game on TV. One who would rather work on a project than listen to a presentation. More importantly, I am one who believes in self-education and thinking beyond the classroom. I think that thinking is cool.

Ray Parker ’19 (Waitsfield, VT)

All my life I have been surrounded by science, filled with science, covered in science. I grew up with an electron microscope in the house, a holography lab and darkroom in the basement, and a cleanroom next door. While my friends were playing in sandboxes I was playing with dry ice in the sink. It is not impossible that I may have been influenced by this. I grew up with an interesting mix of science and art, which comes from my parents. My mother is a photographer and holographer, as well as an optical engineer; my father is an entrepreneur and the creator of the plasma ball light sculpture. They embrace both science and art and have taught me to embrace both as well. When I was young my mother taught me how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and at about the same time my father introduced me to BASIC programming. This laid the seeds for nearly everything that has come after. I kept much of my childlike creativity, and infused it with technology. Nearly all of my school projects have had an extra element that made them much more interesting; a book project on Cities in Flight was a magnetically levitating model of a city, a tectonic map project became a Blender animation, an English class final project was a trio of holograms.

My family has taught me to do interesting things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, and fun.

Quincey Kras ’20 (Madrid, Spain)

Raised by an architect and an interior designer, I learned at a young age that creativity and imagination are integral parts of life. My dad would let my sister and I sit with him while working, placing a pencil in our hands and pointing at objects for us to draw. I also have fond memories of sitting on piles of fabric swatches “organizing” them for my mom. I grew up believing my purpose in life is to wonder and create. Even after my parents divorced, art was the thread that kept us connected to each other.

At age 14, I moved to Madrid with my mom, step-dad, sister and new baby brother. It was quite a challenge at first–mostly because of the language barrier and my Spanish school. But the experience allowed me to appreciate and absorb a new culture, make new friends and discover strengths in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. For the past three years, I have tested my courage, and language skills, and used my love of art as a way to navigate the city–its architecture and museums are especially energizing to me. Conquering my relocation has made me a more inquisitive and adventurous person and will help me to transition to university life. I have grown as a person, and as an artist, and I look forward to continuing on that arc.

Finally, the “Choose Your Own Prompt” Essay (from a previous admission season)

Miranda Janice Macaulay Miller ’20 (Sacramento, CA)

“It’s Cool to be Smart”

Most languages have, on average, 200,000 words. There are 6,912 living languages. At this moment in history, that is roughly 1,382,400,000 words being used to express emotions, to carry out transactions, to run countries.

For every language, there are words that have no equivalent in any other language. It is like a secret that only those with the special code can share. “Mamihlapinatapei” is the Yaghan word for the look that two people give each other when they both want to initiate something, but are hesitant to act. I have felt this way, but have never been able to express it because I am bound to the limits of the English language. And then there are words like “rakhi,” the Hindi term for a string that a sister ties on her brother’s arm, asking for eternal protection. I have never considered a need for this word because the idea of it is not a part of my world. This ritual does not exist in other cultures, so there is no word for it.

To know multiple languages, to be able to communicate with various groups, is to transcend multiple realities. By breaking down language barriers, we open countless doors to understanding the politics, traditions, and values of millions more people. And if that’s not “Θpoustouflant,” or mind-blowing, then I don’t know what is.

Jonah Loeb ’20 (Rockville, MD)

“Celebrate the Role of Sports in Your Life”

While it is not featured on ESPN and does not fill stadiums each week, backpacking is my chosen sport. It has a home team, the group of Boy Scouts whose friendship and encouragement kept me going and made huddling under a small tarp hung three feet above the ground in the pouring rain the best part of the trip, and an away team, the mountain range that stared us down each time we looked up at it. It has a score, (most often: mountain: 1, me: 0) and buzzer beater shots, as we raced to set up tents with the sunlight rapidly fading and the rumble of thunder echoing ominously.

I started backpacking the summer after ninth grade. Full of naivete, I thought, “It’s just walking, how hard could it be?” It was only on my first overnight, climbing up the umpteenth hill, hunched over from the weight of my pack, unable to see anything but the rubber toe of my hiking boot, that I realized what I was getting myself into. But then, like in most sports, in the heat of a game something clicked and with my backpack sliding off my shoulders once again, I found the determination I needed. A backpacking Zen propelled me forward and taught me to succeed when every part of me said otherwise. Now, with more experience, better equipment, and focused training, I often find myself drawn to the backcountry, sampling dehydrated cuisines and knowing this time, the score will be different.

Tessa Garces ’19 (Larchmont, NY)

My first vivid memory of swim practice is of being yanked by the ankles from underneath the kitchen table, my nails scratching against the wood floor and my screams loud enough to elicit the neighbors’ concern.

Clearly, I hadn’t “gotten” swimming yet. As a first grader, I simply couldn’t understand how shoving my hair into a cap, wearing goggles that almost pressed my eyes out of their sockets, and flailing my limbs in freezing liquid for an hour could possibly be worth my while.

However, as I came to understand the mechanics and elegance of the sport, my attitude started to change. It really changed in 4th grade, when I began to win races. The little gold medals gave me a confidence that was addicting. More than that, they motivated me to cultivate good habits before I learned that discipline, daily practice, and just being part of a team are rewards in and of themselves.

Swimming has definitely influenced the way I move through the world. To avoid head-on collisions with lane mates, swimmers are taught from the beginning to always stay to the right of the lane, called circle swimming. Sometimes I feel as though I “circle-live”-walking on the right, driving on the right (naturally), even sleeping on the right. Yet, thinking of how focused and alive I feel after swimming, I think it’s more accurate to say that my time in the pool keeps me centered.

We hope you found some inspiration in these successful college essays! If you’re looking for more tips on what you should and shouldn’t do in your college essay, we’ve got you covered .

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27 October 2015

More Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

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This blog post includes five essays, as well as video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the admissions team.

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08 November 2016

Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

Posted in Class of 2021 , Essays , Perspectives

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This blog post includes successful responses for all of the essay prompts included by Tufts, as well as some video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the admissions team.

Click here  for the essays.

  • Tags: Class of 2021 , College Admissions , Essays , Tufts

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Short Answer Questions

When you visit the Common Application or the Coalition Application by Scoir platform to fill out and submit your application to Tufts, you'll notice that the application includes Tufts-specific questions. There are two required short-answer questions, which vary depending on the program to which you are applying (read carefully below). We’ve created this page to allow you to peruse the questions without having to leave this site. Visit the Common Application site or the Coalition Application by Scoir site when you’re ready to apply online.

Updated Short Responses for the Class of 2028

Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. Take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it, but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. 

Applicants to the School of Arts & Sciences or the School of Engineering:

Please respond to one of the following three prompts in 200-250 words:

  • It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity and why?
  • How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
  • Using a specific example or two, tell us about a way that you contributed to building a collaborative and/or inclusive community.

Applicants to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts:

Please respond to the following prompt in 200-250 words:

  • Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work?   

In addition, we will ask all applicants to complete this sentence in 100 words or less:

“I am applying to Tufts because…” 

As you begin to plan for the upcoming application cycle, know that we are here to help! We encourage you to learn more about the Tufts admissions process by exploring the admissions website, reading Jumbo Magazine or our student blogs , and following us on Instagram .

Essays That Worked

tufts college essays that worked

The essays are a place to show us who you are and who you’ll be in our community.

It’s a chance to add depth to something that is important to you and tell the admissions committee more about your background or goals. Below you’ll find selected examples of essays that “worked,” as nominated by our admissions committee. In each of these essays, students were able to share stories from their everyday lives to reveal something about their character, values, and life that aligned with the culture and values at Hopkins.

Read essays that worked from Transfer applicants .

Hear from the class of 2027.

These selections represent just a few examples of essays we found impressive and helpful during the past admissions cycle. We hope these essays inspire you as you prepare to compose your own personal statements. The most important thing to remember is to be original as you share your own story, thoughts, and ideas with us.

tufts college essays that worked

Ordering the Disorderly

Ellie’s essay skillfully uses the topic of entropy as an extended metaphor. Through it, we see reflections about who they are and who they aspire to be.

tufts college essays that worked

Pack Light, But Be Prepared

In Pablo’s essay, the act of packing for a pilgrimage becomes a metaphor for the way humans accumulate experiences in their life’s journey and what we can learn from them. As we join Pablo through the diverse phases of their life, we gain insights into their character and values.

tufts college essays that worked

Tikkun Olam

Julieta illustrates how the concept of Tikkun Olam, “a desire to help repair the world,” has shaped their passions and drives them to pursue experiences at Hopkins.

tufts college essays that worked

Kashvi’s essay encapsulates a heartfelt journey of self-discovery and the invaluable teachings of Rock, their 10-year-old dog. Through the lens of their companionship, Kashvi walked us through valuable lessons on responsibility, friendship, patience, and unconditional love.

tufts college essays that worked

Classical Reflections in Herstory

Maddie’s essay details their intellectual journey using their love of Greek classics. They incorporate details that reveal the roots of their academic interests: storytelling, literary devices, and translation. As their essay progresses, so do Maddie’s intellectual curiosities.

tufts college essays that worked

My Spotify Playlist

Alyssa’s essay reflects on special memories through the creative lens of Spotify playlists. They use three examples to highlight their experiences with their tennis team, finding a virtual community during the pandemic, and co-founding a nonprofit to help younger students learn about STEM.

More essays that worked

We share essays from previously admitted students—along with feedback from our admissions committee—so you can understand what made them effective and how to start crafting your own.

tufts college essays that worked

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Resident Assistants at Tufts, Barnard Form Unions to Improve Their Jobs

By Andrew Menjin

RAs at Tufts

As my sophomore year at Tufts University comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on enjoyable moments and my accomplishments that have occurred over the course of the school year. One of the achievements I’m most proud of is that my union — the United Labor of Tufts Resident Assistants — ratified our first contract. The union contract was the result of about seven months worth of negotiating with the Tufts administration over resident assistants’ pay, benefits, and working conditions, and we ratified the contract with 96% “yes” votes. What excites me the most, though, is knowing we’re part of a wave of resident assistants organizing at campuses across the country.

RAs at Tufts

Resident assistants at private colleges and universities have only had the right to unionize for seven years. In 2017, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the government agency that has jurisdiction over enforcement of private sector employees’ workplace rights, recognized that resident assistants at private schools are workers as well as students and have the right to join together in union . The NLRB reaffirmed this ruling just last year when it recognized the University of Pennsylvania’s resident assistants’ ability to unionize.

Not only can resident assistants organize unions, but we need to form unions for our jobs to be sustainable. It’s easy to think that resident assistants are fairly compensated when our housing costs are reduced or fully covered, but we're working a 24/7 job that requires responding to difficult — sometimes even dangerous — situations. Some colleges and universities also reduce or modify resident assistants’ overall financial aid packages due to the subsidized housing costs that come with the job, which means many resident assistants on financial aid are essentially receiving less pay than student workers who are not on financial aid. Housing is just one of many expenses for student workers. We still need to be able to pay for food and other basic necessities.

Fortunately, more and more student workers are realizing what can be gained by exercising our right to come together in union. In the last year and a half, resident assistants at 12 private colleges and universities, including those at Swarthmore , Barnard , and my school Tufts , have formed unions with the Office of Professional Employees International Union ( OPEIU ). By negotiating collectively with our administrations, we have been able to address our compensation, safety concerns, lack of transparency, and many other issues that affect our livelihoods and college experiences as resident assistants. Additionally, many resident assistants who are represented by unions have been able to secure holiday pay and extra pay for working over a certain amount of hours. My union contract at Tufts University increased compensation from $0 to a $2,850 stipend with a meal plan, and it improved job security. Our contract also creates staffing ratios of no more than 30 first year students or 50 continuing students per resident assistant to help foster manageable workloads. Crucially, we are no longer “at-will” employees who can be disciplined or fired at any time for any reason because with our union contract, we secured “just cause” protections, which means management must have just and fair reasons for disciplining or dismissing us.

All workers, including student workers, deserve to have a say in the terms and conditions of their work. From what I’ve seen, having a legally protected voice in our workplace has improved morale, working conditions, and fostered more of a community amongst resident assistants here at Tufts. Next year, I will again be a resident assistant and my union membership largely led me to that decision. I encourage all student workers to think about what you would do with a greater voice in your workplace. Are there needed improvements, or would you like to codify the things you already like about your job? If so, I would encourage you to look into joining together in union with your coworkers.

RAs at Tufts

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Tufts engineering studnets with newly built greenhouse

For engineering students Natasha Wan and Max Harrington, a solar-powered greenhouse provides a large framework for food: it carries forward an Engineers Without Borders experience in a Malawi village as it also elevates the meaning of sustainability to include community service and global cultural understanding. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Students Kindle Connections to Nature, the Environment, and Culture

In settings as varied as museums, an ExCollege classroom, and a greenhouse, students are stepping up to meet the future with 'active hope' 

As the world reckons with climate change, optimistic solutions have never been more important. Tufts students are responding with creative projects that focus on strengthening connections between people and nature.

From an Experimental College class to museum exhibit proposals and a greenhouse with a global perspective, their ideas reflect what eco-philosopher Joanna Macy calls active hope, the “practical hope of rolling up your sleeves and getting to it. Intentions are fine, but the meaning lies in the doing.”

Here, two individual students and a duo working together describe their efforts to live sustainably on a fragile planet—and help others learn to do the same. 

Lauryn Weigold Tufts Museum Studies

Lauryn Weigold, a master’s degree candidate in Tufts’ Museum Studies program, proposed exhibition and teaching projects that encourage children to notice and experience nature. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Lauryn Weigold, AG24 Major: Museum Education Program, Museum Studies   

Flowers that inspired a celebrated New England poet, nature that enlivens illustrated children’s books, and native plants that feed “lepidoptera friends” all have been spun into creative exhibition designs by Lauryn Weigold. 

Weigold, a master’s degree candidate in Tufts’  Museum Studies program , came up with three proposals for exhibition and teaching projects over the academic year, each for a different class assignment and all three, designed to encourage children to notice and experience nature.

“My push for climate solutions and my own effort to try to be more sustainable came out of my own feelings of being connected to nature,” said Weigold. “If you feel connected to your local plants, then you're able to take that knowledge and expand it into a global understanding.”

In one project, Weigold translated a Junior Girl Scout badge about flowers into an idea for the  Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. Dickinson was an avid gardener; her poems and letters mention flowers that include roses, lilacs, peonies, daisies, poppies, nasturtiums, and zinnias. For one badge requirement, Weigold proposed that scouts sit quietly in the  Homestead garden and closely observe a flower of their choosing for 10 minutes, then spend another 10 minutes composing a flower-inspired poem.

Weigold also brought her environmental concerns and “deep and abiding love for picture books” to another Amherst cultural institution, the  Eric Carle Museum , named for the celebrated illustrator.

For the museum, which collects, preserves, and presents picture books and picture-book illustrations, she proposed an exhibition of artwork that depicts how nature, most notably plants, can be found in rural, suburban, and urban communities. She captured that idea with books by Ekua Holmes, Jason Chin, and Chris Allsburg. 

“I have really strong opinions about a divide that we have between nature as trees and cities as concrete jungles” devoid of nature, she said. “It was my way of showing that nature is everywhere; connections are possible wherever you live.”

And in a third project, she focused on the  Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University , where she looked at plants thriving in a cosmopolitan meadow that is part of the 281-acre preserve. Her idea: a pre-field trip lesson plan and slideshow for middle-schoolers that looked closely at keystone plantslike goldenrod, milkweed, and asters “that are a food source for the most insects and butterflies and moths and all of those lepidoptera friends.” 

Weigold, who earned a master’s in children's literature from Simmons University followed by master’s of education from Teachers College, Columbia University, said the Museum Studies program has given her new and exciting ways to reach young audiences.“Museums are exactly the place where my ideas and approach to working with students across all grade levels can flourish,” she said.  

At Tufts, her creative expression has indeed found free rein and fed the optimism she intentionally cultivates. “I'm relentless in the pursuit of optimism; it's the way I get through the day,” she said. “I follow Mary Oliver's instructions for living a life: ‘Pay attention. / Be astonished. /Tell about it.’ That's the work.”

Laura Harvey Tufts

Laura Harvey, A24 took inspiration for an Experimental College course from Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass. Kimmerer's essays on rethinking our connections and responsibilities to the Earth, provided a springboard for conversations and hands-on learning, including basketmaking with cattails. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Laura Harvey, A24 Majors: Colonial history and the environment  (independent Studies) and Studio Art

In Braiding Sweetgrass , the best-selling collection of essays by Potawatomi botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer , Laura Harvey, A24, found a philosophy for how she wanted to live her life. “That book changed my outlook,” said Harvey. “I wanted to talk about it with other people and also build a community where we could go through that experience together.” 

Harvey found that community by teaching a course in the Experimental College this spring that used Braiding Sweetgrass as a springboard for wide-ranging conversations. Kimmerer’s essays helped students “to interrogate their own upbringing and cultural context, to question why they’ve come to their views, and then build an ethical framework that they can move forward with,” Harvey said. “I believe that the only way we solve the environmental crisis is for each of us to develop our own more conscious, intentional environmental ethics. That cultural change has to happen in all of us.”

The Experimental College’s Peer Teachers program, she said, offered an exciting opportunity to create a “focused space” to unpack  Braiding Sweetgrass ideas, as it also allowed her “the freedom and creativity to test out hands-on learning in the classroom,” she said. “It was one of the most liberating introductions to being an educator I could imagine.”

Her creativity found expression in nature-centered activities that included paper making with recycled paper and plants, and basket weaving using dried cattails. Individual projects spanned volunteering with environmental justice organizations and creative endeavors. One student explored how to source wood from trees native to the region for carving bowls and spoons; another how to incorporate natural dyes into a quilt. 

Guest speakers, including a local food foraging expert Russ Cohen and Vernon Miller, director of the Indigenous Center at Tufts , added their perspectives to the class.

 “It was heartwarming to experience how people connected to environmentalism were so excited to talk with us. There has been so much generosity and goodwill; it was incredible,” Harvey said. “That’s a lesson for students too. If you want to be in this world, and make it better, you’ve got to lead with the heart.”

Tufts engineering students Wan and Harrington with greenhouse

A new greenhouse, spearheaded by engineering students, "allows us to reflect on the similarities in what we all need in life--food, water, power, self-sustainability,” says Natasha Wan, E25, project lead with Max Harrington, E25. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Max Harrington, E25 and Natasha Wan, E25 Majors: Biomedical engineering  

Inspired by their Engineers Without Borders experience , Tufts undergraduate engineers have big plans for a solar-powered greenhouse that not only brings a distinctive world perspective to growing vegetables on campus, but also deepens connections to both the Tufts community and its partner community in Malawi.

“We are excited by this opportunity that allows us to reflect on the similarities in what we all need in life--food, water, power, self-sustainability,” said Natasha Wan, E25, project lead with Max Harrington, E25. “These overlapping missions give meaning, care, and heart to a local greenhouse project.”

In a show of strong team spirit, engineering students made the greenhouse on the Medford/Somerville campus in just a matter of weeks this spring.

The greenhouse will support foods central to the village of Solomoni, Malawi (and staples of well-remembered Malawian meals), including cabbage, tomatoes, beans, and kale. The plants will be labeled in Chichewa, a language spoken by more than half the people of Malawi. 

Constructed of polycarbonate panels from a kit, the 12 foot by 7 foot greenhouse also supports sustainable practices. It relies on solar energy to power lights and a programmed water system. Heating and cooling systems are expected to be worked out next year. A rain catch basin also conserves water. 

And located on the lower campus next to an existing community garden, the greenhouse has potential for outreach and partnerships. The design accommodates three beds for the Tufts Garden club, Malawian crops, and local elementary schools. There’s also a “half-height table” for starting seeds that is designed to support future programming with local schoolchildren. 

“We want to show them this is how your own little garden in your backyard could work,” Harrington said. 

The greenhouse is an idea with roots in the Tufts chapter of Engineers Without Borders and its work in Malawi last summer completing a solar-powered water pump connected to a gravity-fed water delivery system. The system now provides running water to primary and secondary schools, eliminating the need for schoolchildren to hand pump and carry water to school from the nearest borehole. 

But the project also built a strong, and indelible, connection to the Malawian community. “Anytime we met with someone in the community, we ate with them,” said Harrington. “Eating together was such a great introduction into that community. We wanted to find a way to bring that memory back with us.” 

Wan, project lead for the Tufts Malawi Chapter of Engineers without Borders , said this summer students will monitor and evaluate the water system, and they’re looking forward to building other ways to help the community be self-sustaining economically, such as by building a composting system that creates fertilizer that can be sold, or a brick or a water system that allows for improved irrigation.

It is with similar long-range vision that Wan and Harrington are optimistic about the future of the greenhouse – a structure that, in principle and aspiration, exceeds the sum of parts. 

“We see this project as a great way to show how Tufts engineers are taking the initiative to learn outside the classroom, to take the lead, to collaborate, and to bring their ideas into the community,” said Wan. “If more incoming students see what we have accomplished, they won’t hesitate to dive into engineering.” 

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What I’ve Learned From My Students’ College Essays

The genre is often maligned for being formulaic and melodramatic, but it’s more important than you think.

An illustration of a high school student with blue hair, dreaming of what to write in their college essay.

By Nell Freudenberger

Most high school seniors approach the college essay with dread. Either their upbringing hasn’t supplied them with several hundred words of adversity, or worse, they’re afraid that packaging the genuine trauma they’ve experienced is the only way to secure their future. The college counselor at the Brooklyn high school where I’m a writing tutor advises against trauma porn. “Keep it brief , ” she says, “and show how you rose above it.”

I started volunteering in New York City schools in my 20s, before I had kids of my own. At the time, I liked hanging out with teenagers, whom I sometimes had more interesting conversations with than I did my peers. Often I worked with students who spoke English as a second language or who used slang in their writing, and at first I was hung up on grammar. Should I correct any deviation from “standard English” to appeal to some Wizard of Oz behind the curtains of a college admissions office? Or should I encourage students to write the way they speak, in pursuit of an authentic voice, that most elusive of literary qualities?

In fact, I was missing the point. One of many lessons the students have taught me is to let the story dictate the voice of the essay. A few years ago, I worked with a boy who claimed to have nothing to write about. His life had been ordinary, he said; nothing had happened to him. I asked if he wanted to try writing about a family member, his favorite school subject, a summer job? He glanced at his phone, his posture and expression suggesting that he’d rather be anywhere but in front of a computer with me. “Hobbies?” I suggested, without much hope. He gave me a shy glance. “I like to box,” he said.

I’ve had this experience with reluctant writers again and again — when a topic clicks with a student, an essay can unfurl spontaneously. Of course the primary goal of a college essay is to help its author get an education that leads to a career. Changes in testing policies and financial aid have made applying to college more confusing than ever, but essays have remained basically the same. I would argue that they’re much more than an onerous task or rote exercise, and that unlike standardized tests they are infinitely variable and sometimes beautiful. College essays also provide an opportunity to learn precision, clarity and the process of working toward the truth through multiple revisions.

When a topic clicks with a student, an essay can unfurl spontaneously.

Even if writing doesn’t end up being fundamental to their future professions, students learn to choose language carefully and to be suspicious of the first words that come to mind. Especially now, as college students shoulder so much of the country’s ethical responsibility for war with their protest movement, essay writing teaches prospective students an increasingly urgent lesson: that choosing their own words over ready-made phrases is the only reliable way to ensure they’re thinking for themselves.

Teenagers are ideal writers for several reasons. They’re usually free of preconceptions about writing, and they tend not to use self-consciously ‘‘literary’’ language. They’re allergic to hypocrisy and are generally unfiltered: They overshare, ask personal questions and call you out for microaggressions as well as less egregious (but still mortifying) verbal errors, such as referring to weed as ‘‘pot.’’ Most important, they have yet to put down their best stories in a finished form.

I can imagine an essay taking a risk and distinguishing itself formally — a poem or a one-act play — but most kids use a more straightforward model: a hook followed by a narrative built around “small moments” that lead to a concluding lesson or aspiration for the future. I never get tired of working with students on these essays because each one is different, and the short, rigid form sometimes makes an emotional story even more powerful. Before I read Javier Zamora’s wrenching “Solito,” I worked with a student who had been transported by a coyote into the U.S. and was reunited with his mother in the parking lot of a big-box store. I don’t remember whether this essay focused on specific skills or coping mechanisms that he gained from his ordeal. I remember only the bliss of the parent-and-child reunion in that uninspiring setting. If I were making a case to an admissions officer, I would suggest that simply being able to convey that experience demonstrates the kind of resilience that any college should admire.

The essays that have stayed with me over the years don’t follow a pattern. There are some narratives on very predictable topics — living up to the expectations of immigrant parents, or suffering from depression in 2020 — that are moving because of the attention with which the student describes the experience. One girl determined to become an engineer while watching her father build furniture from scraps after work; a boy, grieving for his mother during lockdown, began taking pictures of the sky.

If, as Lorrie Moore said, “a short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage,” what is a college essay? Every once in a while I sit down next to a student and start reading, and I have to suppress my excitement, because there on the Google Doc in front of me is a real writer’s voice. One of the first students I ever worked with wrote about falling in love with another girl in dance class, the absolute magic of watching her move and the terror in the conflict between her feelings and the instruction of her religious middle school. She made me think that college essays are less like love than limerence: one-sided, obsessive, idiosyncratic but profound, the first draft of the most personal story their writers will ever tell.

Nell Freudenberger’s novel “The Limits” was published by Knopf last month. She volunteers through the PEN America Writers in the Schools program.

tufts college essays that worked

Men's Lacrosse 5/9/2024 10:10:00 AM

Men's Lacrosse Heads To Union College For NCAA Tournament

Jumbos take on illinois wesleyan saturday in ncaa second round, players mentioned.

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Paying for Tufts needs to be easier to navigate

The cost to attend tufts is rapidly increasing; information about financial aid should be easier to access..

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For the 2024–25 academic year, Tufts’ undergraduate tuition will increase, making the estimated cost of attendance a staggering $92,167 . Although 38% of the class that matriculated in the fall of 2023   doesn’t pay  that full ‘sticker price, ’ the cost itself is shocking. Even so, over 60% of students pay that full sticker price; over the course of a four-year degree, that sums to over $350,000 .

Crossing the $90,000  mark for the first time  poses the question of where our tuition dollars go, a question without  a clear answer .

In the midst of tuition increasing, the Office of the President sent Tufts faculty and staff a message about the financial state of the university , generally citing increased expenses as the reason for the institution’s need “to perform a delicate balancing act.”

Phillip Levine, a professor of economics at Wellesley College, told the Boston Globe that $90,000+ is the highest number that someone would pay. At Wellesley, according to him “you’d have to be making at least $300,000 with typical assets” to pay the full sticker price.

There are no quick solutions to the issue, but Tufts could take steps like reducing or  eliminating the 1.5% per month  interes t  on late tuition  so students have more leeway if they need more time to pay.

Most of all, information about paying for Tufts is key. Current and prospective Tufts students need to understand what meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need means.  If students and families understand that they’re not expected to be able to afford over $90,000 per year, but instead it could be closer to $40,000, $20,000 or even $0, then more students outside of the ultrarich would approach Tufts. More extensive resources,  such as Washington University in St. Louis’ Financial Aid Dictionary ,   show   us that better information is possible .

At the same time, Tufts must forge ahead toward growing its endowment. Having an endowment smaller than our peer institutions, like   WashU, Brown  University and Dartmouth College has  been an issue  since at least 2001 .

Lastly , Tufts should bring us, the students, into the conversations about the university’s finances.  As noted by a two-part   series  on where Tufts tuition goes , a significant amount of information isn’t accessible to students , and students aren’t notified about Tufts’ finances.

Tufts is often called on to reduce the residency requirement, which currently sits at   eight semesters  of full-time study. This has been changed in the past, with students who were enrolled  in the fall of 2020   required to attend Tufts for only six semesters , showing it’s possible to complete the undergraduate requirements on a shorter timeline and remain part of the Tufts community. There was also a 2007 change that added exceptions to the requirement . However, seeing that much of Tufts’ funding comes from tuition , it makes sense why it may not be a strategic move for the university.  There is an opportunity to learn from our peers and institute a formal 3+1 master’s program, like those offered by Harvard  University and the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, in addition to the 4+1 programs  currently offered . Students in these programs would stay a part of the Tufts community for four years, Tufts would still collect four years of tuition, the requirements of the bachelor’s degree would not be compromised, and students would be able to earn a master’s degree they likely would not have otherwise pursued.

Tufts’ housing and dining is required for first-year and second-year students. Tufts should make those resources more powerful and support students using them. Tufts should make more of its meal plans usable , removing limits for frequency and expanding their functionality to all “retail” locations , and even off-campus  locations.

I know firsthand  how complex understanding the process of financial aid is at large and here at Tufts. When I accepted federal loans through the university, I knew it would show up on my credit report, but it wasn’t clear that it would add two separate accounts and increase the reported balance long after the loans were drawn from. I was also unaware that a switch in loan servicers would cause my credit report to show two brand new accounts, impacting my credit report unexpectedly. If that sounds complicated, imagine how many other examples there are of students struggling to navigate the complex maze that is financial aid.

These ideas may seem like a chaotic combination of patches, but collectively, they improve the position of Tufts’ financial aid program. An issue that draws from a myriad of components should be met with an equally complex numbe r of coordinated solutions .

The pandemic showed us how quickly it’s possible for Tufts to act — when motivated. The university should use the same level of coordination to make Tufts more accessible, affordable and valuable to students to make progress on  University  President Sunil Kumar’s goal of Tufts “opening its doors as wide as possible.”

letterfromtheeditors

Letter from the Editors: The Tufts Daily Diversity & Inclusion Report, 2023–24

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It’s time to level the playing field between athletics and academics

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Editorial: Tufts’ summer glow up

Unions are on stage at tufts and smfa, stop denying women their bodily autonomy, breaking: ‘gaza solidarity encampment’ ends without deal with university, letter to the editor, op-ed: today’s jewish life remains connected as ever to the past, faculty told to prepare for upcoming budget cuts, op-ed: tufts administration should respect protesters, not silence them.

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  2. Article: College Essays That Worked

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  3. This is How You Write a College Essay in 2020

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  4. 001 Tufts Essays Essay Example Ref Tib Report B117 ~ Thatsnotus

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  5. College Essays That Worked

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  6. 006 Common App Essays That Worked Awesome Sample College Admission

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write the Tufts University Essays 2023-2024

    Prompt 1: Please complete the following statement: "I am applying to Tufts because…" (50-100 words) Prompt 2: Now we'd like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words) Option A: It's cool to love learning.

  2. 3 Key Tips for Writing Successful Tufts Supplemental Essays

    How to Answer Prompt A. In this prompt, Tufts wants to hear about your curiosity and interests. There are two ways you can approach this essay, each of which has its benefits and drawbacks. First, you can choose an intellectual interest you have that relates to your future major.

  3. Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

    08 November 2016. Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition) Posted in Class of 2021, Essays, Perspectives. Still looking for ideas on how to write a compelling admissions essay? Then check out this set of essays that worked, courtesy of Tufts admissions. This blog post includes successful responses for all of the essay prompts included by Tufts, as ...

  4. Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

    Then check out this set of essays that worked, courtesy of Tufts admissions. This blog post includes successful responses for all of the essay prompts included by Tufts, as well as some video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the admissions team. Click here for the essays.

  5. Tufts Supplemental Essays & Why Tufts Essay- Expert Guide

    Tufts Essay: Quick Facts. Tufts Acceptance Rate: 11%— U.S. News ranks Tufts University as most selective. Tufts University Essay Requirements: 1 (~150 word) essay: Why Tufts essay. 1 (~250 word) essay: Choose from 3 prompts essay. NOTE: Applicants to the BFA or 5-year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree must complete two alternative Tufts supplemental ...

  6. Updated Tufts Short Answer Prompts · Inside Admissions

    Jun 21. Tufts Admissions Team Inside Admissions. We are excited to announce our short answer prompts for the 2023-2024 application cycle. These prompts are designed to provide undergraduate first-year and transfer applicants with opportunities to share with our Admissions Committee context about your lived experiences, the ideas and passions ...

  7. Tufts Essay

    By reading Tufts essays that worked, or other college essays, you can learn tactics to write your own stellar essay. You may even read the admissions blog from Tufts, which may yield insights into the admissions process. And of course, since it's written by Tufts students and staff, you'll learn more about Tufts. That could become the ...

  8. More Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

    In search of college admission essay ideas? Here's a great post from Tufts admissions, with five recent essays that worked and commentary on why. ... Then check out our latest set of essays that worked, courtesy of Tufts admissions. This blog post includes five essays, as well as video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the ...

  9. How to Write an Excellent "Why Tufts?" Essay

    Your essay should be clear and specific to Tufts— if you can substitute in the name of another school and have it make sense, your essay isn't specific enough. During brainstorming, come up with as many ideas as you can. Set a timer for five to ten minutes, and think of lots of different answers to the prompt.

  10. Essays That Worked

    Essays That Worked is a community of students and parents to share their successful college application essays, inspire others, and learn how to write your own outstanding college essays. With over 230+ essay examples from real students who got into the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, UCLA, and more, you'll learn what it takes to write essays that ...

  11. More Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

    Then check out our latest set of essays that worked, courtesy of Tufts admissions. This blog post includes five essays, as well as video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the admissions team. ... Essays (9) College Kickstart (54) Product Announcements (12) Perspectives (101) College Rankings (27) Affordability (11) AP Exams (3 ...

  12. How to Write the Tufts Supplemental Essay

    How to Write the Tufts Supplemental Essay #1. Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. Take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it, but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Pick one of the following (200-250 words): It's cool to love learning.

  13. Explore 231 College Essay Examples

    Our entire database of the best college essays. Read college admissions essay examples from top schools. EssaysThatWorked.com. Open menu. ... Join the Essays That Worked community and get access to our entire database of 231 essay examples from admitted ... Emory University Northwestern University Tufts University University of Southern ...

  14. "The cross-curricular focus..." Tufts University ...

    The cross-curricular focus and freedom of study at Tufts would allow me to pursue an interdisciplinary major and draw together my love for Spanish, Portuguese, Linguistics, and the natural sciences. This unique ability to design my own major by combining elements from a variety of academic fields definitely excites me.

  15. Real Tufts University Supplemental Essay Examples!

    Up first, the "Why" Essay. James Gregoire '19 (South Burlington, VT): It was on my official visit with the cross country team that I realized Tufts was the perfect school for me. Our topics of conversation ranged from Asian geography to efficient movement patterns, and everyone spoke enthusiastically about what they were involved in on ...

  16. More Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

    Then check out our latest set of essays that worked, courtesy of Tufts admissions. This blog post includes five essays, as well as video commentary on why each one proved compelling to the admissions team. ... Essays (9) College Kickstart (46) Product Announcements (12) Perspectives (99) College Rankings (25) Affordability (10) AP Exams (3 ...

  17. Essays that Worked (Tufts Edition)

    In search of college admission essay ideas? Here's a great post from Tufts admissions, with recent essays that worked and some commentary on why.

  18. A Short Guide to the Tufts Supplemental Questions

    At Tufts, we require two responses: The first is to complete, in 100 words, the following sentence: "I am applying to Tufts because…", and one other that is your choice from three prompts (which you can read here ). These are your chance to show us that you have done your research on who we are beyond a cursory Google search, and to ...

  19. Short Answer Questions

    Short Answer Questions. When you visit the Common Application or the Coalition Application by Scoir platform to fill out and submit your application to Tufts, you'll notice that the application includes Tufts-specific questions. There are two required short-answer questions, which vary depending on the program to which you are applying (read ...

  20. Essays That Worked

    The essays are a place to show us who you are and who you'll be in our community. It's a chance to add depth to something that is important to you and tell the admissions committee more about your background or goals. Below you'll find selected examples of essays that "worked," as nominated by our admissions committee.

  21. Resident Assistants at Tufts, Barnard Form Unions to Improve Their Jobs

    Resident assistants at 12 private colleges and universities, including Swarthmore, Barnard, and Tufts, have formed unions with the Office of Professional Employees International Union.

  22. Students Kindle Connections to Nature, the Environment, and Culture

    Laura Harvey, A24 took inspiration for an Experimental College course from Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass. Kimmerer's essays on rethinking our connections and responsibilities to the Earth, provided a springboard for conversations and hands-on learning, including basketmaking with cattails. Photo: Alonso Nichols

  23. What I've Learned From My Students' College Essays

    Most high school seniors approach the college essay with dread. Either their upbringing hasn't supplied them with several hundred words of adversity, or worse, they're afraid that packaging ...

  24. Men's Lacrosse Heads To Union College For NCAA Tournament

    Story Links MEDFORD, MA (May 9, 2024) -- The No. 8 Tufts University men's lacrosse team will get back to work this weekend with the start of the 2024 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament, as the Jumbos will travel to Union College in Schenectady, NY to battle Illinois Wesleyan University in the NCAA Second Round Saturday at noon.

  25. Paying for Tufts needs to be easier to navigate

    For the 2024-25 academic year, Tufts' undergraduate tuition will increase, making the estimated cost of attendance a staggering $92,167. Although 38% of the class that matriculated in the fall of 2023 doesn't pay that full 'sticker price,' the cost itself is shocking. Even so, over 60% of students pay that full sticker price; over the course of a four-year degree, that sums to over ...