Tufts Supplemental Essays – Prompts and Tips
Tufts University has long been a highly-selective school. Yet, the Class of 2026 was the first time the acceptance rate dipped into the single-digits at 9%. As at any college that rejects more than 9 of every 10 applicants who apply (the overwhelming majority of whom are supremely qualified), aspiring Jumbos need every single component of their application to shine brightly. The Tufts supplemental essays are one such area of focus.
(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Tufts? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into Tufts University: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)
Given this unprecedented level of selectivity, Tufts University’s supplemental section offers applicants a crucial opportunity to showcase their writing ability by generating powerful and detail-rich essays that will stand out to an admissions officer.
Essay Question #1
Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, “Why Tufts?” (100-150 words)
Tufts University is getting right down to business with this prompt. View this essay as akin to ending up in an elevator with a potential investor with 20 seconds to sell your million-dollar idea. In this “elevator pitch” essay, you only have 150 words to communicate why Tufts is a perfect match for you. As such, this one is going to require a fair amount of school-specific research. Further, plan on a good deal of editing in order to tighten up your essay enough to stay under the word limit.
How to write a winning “Why Tufts?” essay
- How will you take advantage of the university’s vast resources both inside and outside of the classroom?
- How will you become an active, contributing member of the student body?
- Show evidence of how your past/current endeavors will carry over onto the Tufts campus.
- Address a) why Tufts is the perfect fit for you and b) why you are the perfect fit for Tufts.
- Cite specific academic programs, professors, research opportunities, internship/externship programs, study abroad programs, student-run organizations, etc. (as in the examples below).
Below are some examples of unique facts about Tufts University that you may find helpful as you brainstorm your response:
- There are 41 arts and performance groups on campus for the artistically-inclined.
- There are 300 total student organizations in which you can participate—pick one or two to elaborate on.
- Students are able to double major across colleges.
- With a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, two-thirds of undergraduate sections are kept under 20 students.
- There are numerous undergraduate research programs and scholarships at Tufts. Which one appeals to you and what would you research?
- 40% of juniors study abroad and Tufts boasts a number of notable programs in Beijing, Chile, Ghana, London, and more.
- There are more than 70 undergraduate majors to choose from.
- The Experimental College is a one-of-kind program.
- Tufts offers internship grants to a number of non-profit and government posts.
- An annual Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium presents an exciting opportunity to present your original work to faculty.
Of course, these are just 10 out of the countless features that could be part of a successful essay. As you enter the prewriting stage, you’ll want to decide which elements will provide the most needle-moving value.
One last note on this essay—Tufts is nice enough to actually provide examples of their favorite “Why Tufts?” essays from the last admissions cycle.
Tufts University Essay Question #2
Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words):
A) It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity?
In our experience, this is the prompt that applicants tend to select most often, primarily because the “Why Tufts?” essay is so short, students don’t feel they have enough space to talk about the academic discipline they hope to study at the university.
Whether it’s a general love for math/science or literature or a specific interest in aerospace engineering or 19th century French novels, use this opportunity to share what makes you tick, the ideas that keep you up at night, and what subject inspires you to dream big. What topic makes you read books and online content until your eyes bleed? Share the manner in which you relentlessly pursue knowledge. Whether it’s falling down a Wikipedia rabbit hole about the nature of time or consuming thousands of hours of podcasts on game theory, this is a chance to illustrate the ways in which you are an obsessive learner with an endless thirst for information.
The admissions reader should emerge with the sense that you are a sincerely curious person with a strong intellectual drive. If that curiosity can be tied into your intended area of study, all the better!
B) How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
This essay encourages you to describe how your environment/community has shaped you into the present version of yourself. Community can be a “community” in any form: an ethnic, religious, family, or neighborhood community, or a group of individuals who gather for a club, sport, or service project. You are the captain of a team, the editor-in-chief of your school paper, the president of a club… but don’t just rest on those laurels—instead, bring your involvement to life. Use your writing ability to show the admissions officer the impact your community has had on your dreams rather than merely telling them. If your family/home (parent, grandparent, sibling) was a powerful force in your growth and development, that can be the sole focus of a successful composition here as well.
C) Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice?
Some students may have more direct experience with social justice than others, but—no matter your background—this is an opportunity to demonstrate that you care about justice and fairness in your local community as well as the global community. If applicable, you can speak about a time when you spoke up for a peer in a moment of need. Or, alternatively, share an instance when you got involved in a larger cause or movement (politics, activism, volunteer work, etc.). If you don’t have a deeply personal story to tell in this realm, you’ll want to select a different prompt. While there’s nothing wrong with simply articulating your basic beliefs in the values of inclusion, equity, tolerance, and diversity, it doesn’t necessarily make for the most compelling essay.
If you do choose this essay prompt, draw on past evidence of your commitment to being a positive force in your community and speculate how that is likely to manifest on Tufts’ campus. Research and cite Tufts’ student-run organizations, local nonprofit groups, or anything else you are drawn to. Drawing the link between your past efforts and future aims is critical here.
How important are the Tufts supplemental essays?
Tufts views six factors as being “very important” to their applicant evaluation process. These are: the rigor of one’s coursework, the GPA earned, class rank, recommendations, character/personal qualities, and—most relevant for our purposes here—the essays.
For all essays, we recommend heeding the advice of one Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Tufts University who stated: “Be yourself. When writing your essays, you don’t have to sound like you already have your PhD (spoiler: we know you don’t—you’re applying for an undergraduate program). Instead, employ a voice in your writing that feels authentically you, exploring the topics you actually care about. That’s the voice that will help you stand out in our process.”
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Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).