Tufts University Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

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Not sure where to start with the “Why Tufts” essay? With tips from our Admissions Experts, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Tufts supplemental essays will show you exactly how to write engaging Tufts essays and maximize your chances of admission. If you need help crafting your Tufts supplemental essays, create your free account or schedule a free consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Tufts Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • Tufts has an acceptance rate of 11.4%—U.S. News ranks Tufts University as a highly competitive school.
  • We recommend answering all Tufts supplemental essays comprehensively and thoughtfully.

Does Tufts University Require Supplemental Essays?

Yes. In addition to the personal statement that you’ll write for the Common App or Coalition App, the Tufts supplemental essays are one of the few opportunities to stand out beyond your application forms. One of them includes a “Why Tufts” essay. Keep in mind that like any supplemental essays, your Tufts essays should both demonstrate why the university is a good fit for your goals while also sharing your personal experiences. A popular rule of thumb is that if you can replace the name of the university in the sentence and it still makes sense, your essay may not be specific enough!

Remember that the stronger your Tufts supplemental essays, the better the admissions officer reading your application can advocate for admitting you! Tufts admissions can be incredibly competitive. This means you should do your homework so that your personality, passions, and goals shine through in all of the Tufts essay prompts.

How many Supplemental Essays does Tufts Require?

Tufts has two school-specific essays in the 2021-2022 Common App. Applicants to the BFA or 5-year combination BFA/BA program will complete another set of essays. We won’t cover the BFA/BA essays in this guide. However, you use can our breakdown of the “Why Tufts” essay to help you answer the similar “Why SMFA at Tufts?” question.

As you consider each Tufts supplement, you’ll notice that while the Tufts essay prompts are unique, both essentially ask you to introduce yourself to the admissions team. In the Why Tufts essay, your response should not only reflect the research you’ve done on Tufts and the things that you look forward to experiencing while studying there, but it should also highlight how your experiences and goals tie into what Tufts offers. In the second Tufts supplement, you’ll share more about your interests, passions, and community. While there are multiple ways to approach each of the Tufts supplemental essays, remember to cover new information in each of your responses. The exception to the rule, however, is if you are covering a new aspect of a previously mentioned experience/activity.

How do I Answer a Tufts Supplemental Essay?

With over 31,000 students applying to Tufts University this past year, you should be sure to put your best foot forward in your Tufts supplemental essays. Try to stand out while also remaining true to yourself. This set of application advice can get you started on your Tufts essays and help you figure out “Why Tufts?”

Wondering how you can find opportunities that are unique to Tufts University? Fortunately, Tufts also offers online open houses to help you get a glimpse of the greater community. Additionally, check out resources such as the Tufts YouTube channel. These resources can give you insider insight to make your Tufts supplemental essays pop!

What is Tufts University known for?

So glad you asked! The Tufts essay prompts will intentionally push you to explore what Tufts provides its students. The more you know about Tufts, the stronger your Tufts essays will be.

Chartered in 1852, Tufts is a research university with a low student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. They also offer nearly 150 majors and minors. Tufts is located in Medford, Massachusetts and has a unique mascot—Jumbo the elephant. Unique traditions abound that make life at Tufts all the more exciting.

Famous Tufts alumni include Nobel Prize winner Roderick MacKinnon, singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, and the former prime minister of Greece, Kostas Karamanlis. It could be beneficial for your Tufts supplemental essays, especially the Why Tufts essay, to reflect on the university’s rich history and expansive offerings.

How to Write Tufts Supplemental Essays – Question 1 (Required):

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

The Tufts essay prompts are a way for you to channel both your personality and the fine research you have done. Hopefully, when you put your school list together, you asked yourself, “Why Tufts?” If not, now is the time to consider this. In fact, to answer this prompt well, take a moment to consider why you want to attend college. Do you know what you want to study? Do you have clear personal and professional goals that tie into your college education? Are there activities that you hope to continue or try during your undergraduate career?

Leverage your word count

To help this Tufts supplement shine, to leverage your 150-word limit to concisely explain why Tufts is the place for you. Rather than listing every single reason you’re interested in Tufts, focus on just one or two things in your Tufts supplement. It may be a good idea to start with two lists. Title one, “Why college?” and the other “Why Tufts?” Under the “college” list, write general goals like what you want to study, the experiences you hope to have, and the professional goals that you’d like to achieve after college. Under the “Why Tufts” list, write the specific things that drew you to Tufts. Stay away from general attributes like “prestige” and “reputation,” as you can find these things at many other schools.

Once your “Why Tufts” list is complete, look at both lists for parallels. For example, if you’re excited to find new friends and community in college and one of your personal goals is to advocate for civil rights, you can talk about how excited you are to join the student organization ACTION (Advancing Civic Thought In Our Nation) and help in their after school programs. You might also consider some unique opportunities, classes, or faculty that connect with your educational goals. For example, a student planning to study engineering might discuss Tufts’ focus on socially-conscious engineering in their “Why Tufts” essay.

Consider the future

The best “Why Tufts” essays will also consider a student’s future beyond Tufts. The student interested in socially-conscious engineering, for instance may want to discuss how they hope to channel what they will learn to solve a problem in the world or contribute to a new field of study.

This Tufts supplement gives you some flexibility. Perhaps you have been a leader in one of your extracurricular activities. How do you see yourself applying these experiences to a specific organization or opportunity at Tufts?

This Tufts supplement is relatively brief. Don’t waste words when establishing the “why” in your “Why Tufts” essay. This is not the time to share your love of Medford or Boston at large—unless you can tie in a specific connection with Tufts. Instead, channel your excitement for Tufts’ location into a description of how you’d like to get involved in the local community through Tufts’ own offerings.

Tufts Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Are the experiences or interests you are sharing something you hope to explore further in college?
  • Does your essay provide information beyond the rest of your application?
  • Do you provide college-specific examples that address “Why Tufts?”
  • Is it clear that Tufts fits your ideal college experience?

How to Write Tufts Supplemental Essays – Question 2 (Required):

Now we'd like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (250 words max.):
A. It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity?
B. How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
C. Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice?

Here, you have multiple Tufts essay prompts to choose from. Which Tufts supplement is the best choice? While no individual topic is automatically better than another, consider what you have already shared in your application apart from your Why Tufts essay. Keep in mind that these Tufts essay prompts also give your audience a sense of your writing ability and overall readiness for college.

Try not to repeat material you have already shared elsewhere in your Tufts essays. An exception to this rule—you can share something new with your readers within a topic that you’ve already discussed. For example, in our “Why Tufts” essay overview, we described a student hoping to study engineering through the lens of social consciousness at Tufts. That student could also talk about how their understanding of social justice (the third Tufts supplement) has led them to ask bigger questions about engineering—specifically, why do some individuals have access to resources and others don’t? They may talk about how in learning about social justice, they have learned the importance of representation and diversity in fields like engineering.

Now, it’s time to dive into the prompts for the Tufts supplements!

Second Tufts Essay: Option A

Let’s look at Option A in the second Tufts supplement. While you could use this prompt to describe your potential major, you could also reflect on another intellectual interest. How have you explored this subject in the classroom and beyond? With over 150 majors and minors available at Tufts along with many student organizations, you have plenty of options. You might tie your intellectual curiosity to a class, organization, or activity that you hope to experience at Tufts.

Not sure what you want to major in? Check out our blog article that walks you through choosing a major for your college applications. Your intellectual curiosity may not be related to your major at all. You should avoid, however, stating generic interests like “reading.” Instead, be more specific in your Tufts essays. You may want to say how you stumbled upon an old Dutch-to-English translation of your favorite children’s book which sparked your interest in the Dutch language. In this Tufts supplement, admissions officers want to see that you’re a self-motivated learner who will bring your diverse interests and passions to the Tufts community.

Second Tufts Essay: Option B

Considering Option B in the second Tufts supplement? Remember that your Tufts essays are for you to share where you have been, where you are, and where you hope to be. The best place to begin may be with another set of lists. Similar to the “Why Tufts” essay, create four lists—family, home, neighborhood, and community—and write big events and people that have shaped you in each. While “family” and “home” may seem identical, they’re not. For example, you may want to talk about how your family’s immigration story has shaped who you are today. This is completely different than someone who wants to talk about how living in many different types of homes (apartments, single-family houses, and townhomes) shaped how they live with and interact with others. In other words, you’ll want to think outside of the box.

In each list, try to zoom into one or two examples and then expand on how they have made an impact on you, how you think, or how you approach new situations. And while it may seem intuitive to share gratitude towards people or places that have been most impactful on you, remember that you are the protagonist of your Tufts supplemental essays; you wouldn’t want the admissions team to learn more about your hero or community than they do about you!

Second Tufts Essay: Option C

Option C is probably the toughest of the Tufts essay prompts. Done incorrectly, this Tufts supplement can be preachy or veer into vague, philosophical musings on social justice. To answer this Tufts supplement correctly, therefore, you should be specific.

In general, Tufts supplemental essays give you plenty of leeway to be creative. However, you should still give concrete examples wherever possible. For this essay, think about ways that you engaged with social justice in your community. Perhaps you have participated in discussions or events near you. Or, maybe you have educated yourself and others through books, articles, conversations, etc. Whatever experience you highlight, make sure that your essay stays away from performative social justice. In other words, avoid mentioning how many likes your social justice-themed posts garnered, name-dropping prominent activists that you’ve met, and/or co-opting the stories of others.

Tufts Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you focus on your own experiences instead of those of others?
  • Does your response share what distinguishes you from other applicants?
  • Does your draft use active voice instead of passive language?
  • Do you focus on one or two experiences instead of sharing a laundry list?

Tufts Supplemental Essays—Final Thoughts

Tufts University’s acceptance rate is low—11.4%. This means your Tufts supplemental essays can help you stand out in the admissions process, especially the “Why Tufts” essay.

Remember, grades and test scores are only two pieces of the application equation. Your Tufts essays should help your reader learn about what really makes you tick. Remind yourself that the Tufts essay prompts are not trying to stump you. Instead, each Tufts supplement can shed light on the passion and potential that you would bring to the Tufts community.

Start early

To submit your best responses to the Tufts essay prompts, you’ll want to start drafting your Tufts essays early—a few months before applications are due. The Tufts supplemental essays are not especially long, but you will need time to revise and get another pair of eyes (or two) on each Tufts supplement. Make sure to pay special attention to the “Why Tufts” essay. Clearly articulating why Tufts is the place for you will form the foundation of a strong application. Then, look at the second set of Tufts essay prompts as an opportunity to share your passions and experiences with the admissions team. Use strong, dynamic language to draw your reader into your Tufts supplement.

In addition to the Tufts supplemental essays, be sure to request your alumni interview once you have submitted your application. Although they are optional, interviews can add value to your overall candidate profile. Wondering where to start? Check out some of these Tufts YouTube videos on Tufts supplemental essays.

Also, the Tufts Associate Director of Admissions, Lauren Wilkes, helps give students some tips on how to succeed in your interview. A strong interview and well-crafted Tufts supplemental essays can help you submit the best possible application to this great research university. Good luck!


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This 2021-2022 essay guide on Tufts University was written by Christopher Zhou, Williams ‘15. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on applications click here. Want help crafting your Tufts supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a free consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

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