How to Write the Tufts University Essays 2020-2021

Founded in 1852, Tufts University enrolls over 5,600 students across its three undergraduate schools. A mere 5 miles away from Boston, Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus is home to the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. Next door to the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Boston, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) is located on Tufts’ Fenway campus. In addition to its undergraduate schools, Tufts also comprises a number of graduate schools including the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the School of Medicine. 

 

Tufts is esteemed for its strong academics and interdisciplinary approach to education. The university’s programs in international relations and medicine are especially credited. Additionally, with over 25 Division III athletic teams and 15 national championships won since 2010⁠, Jumbos are not only excellent students, but also reputable athletes.

 

Tufts University is ranked #29 by U.S. News and World Report with an acceptance rate of 15% for the Class of 2024. Tufts is frequently accused of practicing yield protection, also known as “Tufts Syndrome.” Yield is the percentage of accepted students who matriculate to any given university. Since higher yield is associated with greater prestige and desirability, Tufts is accused of rejecting or waitlisting “overqualified” students they believe won’t ultimately enroll.

 

To avoid falling victim to “Tufts Syndrome,” it is extremely important that applicants demonstrate a genuine interest in Tufts. One of the best ways to demonstrate interest is through your supplemental essays. The college applications process may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry⁠—Collegevine is here to help you tackle Tufts’ supplemental essays! Want to know your chances at Tufts? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

Want to learn what Tufts University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Tufts University needs to know.

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: Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, “Why Tufts?” (100-150 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?
  • 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: Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice?

 

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

 

Prompt 1: Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (150 words)

 

Prompt 2: Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. Whether you think of Ai Weiwei’s work reframing the refugee crisis, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald’s portraits of the Obamas reimagining portrait painting on a national scale, or Yayoi Kusama’s fanciful Infinity Mirrors rekindling our sense of wonder, it is clear that contemporary art is driven by ideas. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (250 words)

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

Prompt 1: Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, ‘Why Tufts?’ (150 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
  • Kind
  • Collaborative
  • Civically engaged
  • Globally minded

 

With only 150 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 150 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, 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. 

 

Choose from one of the three following options for Prompt 2

Prompt Option 2A: It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity? (200-250 words)

To answer this prompt, you need to choose one interest, topic, or subject as the focus of your essay. For this reason, this prompt is great for applicants who have specific interests they want to showcase. Whether you choose history or puzzles, you need to be able to explain why and how your topic excites your intellectual curiosity. 

 

A good place to start your answer is by explaining when and how your interest in the specific subject was sparked. A great way to do this is by beginning your essay with an anecdote. For instance, you could begin by telling the story of how your interest in marine biology was ignited the first time you saw a stingray at an aquarium while on a school field trip. Your story does not have to be impressive or complicated; even the most simple stories will do as long as they reflect the origin of your interest. 

 

Next, you need to ask yourself “Why do I want to keep exploring this topic?”. What is it specifically about your topic that makes you interested? Whether it’s because math is logical and always has one finite answer or because novels transport you to other worlds, you need to delve deep to uncover the reason behind your interest since this is also the reason your topic or subject excites your intellectual curiosity. 

 

Lastly, you need to explain how you attempt to quench your intellectual curiosity. This prompt is a nod to Tufts’ value of intellectual playfulness. Intellectual playfulness involves taking your love for a given subject, topic, or academic interest beyond the scope of the classroom. This could involve learning from peers who share your interest, exploring real world applications of your interest, or combining and expanding your interest. 

 

You should conclude your essay by discussing how you can further explore your intellectual curiosity for the topic or subject you wrote about at Tufts. Look into specific classes, programs, or activities at Tufts that relate to your topic. By connecting the interest you wrote about to Tufts, you are further demonstrating your interest in Tufts. 

Prompt Option 2B: 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.” Anyone could write that line, and it’s boring to read. 

 

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 waltz 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 Option 2C: Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice? (200-250 words)

For applicants who are very involved in advocacy or community service, this is a great prompt choice. This prompt requires you to discuss the social causes you care about, and how you fight for the change you want to see in the world. Since this prompt asks about your “journey,” you should recap your past involvement as well as your plans for the future.

 

At the beginning of your essay, explain when and how you first became involved in fighting for social justice, and which movements or organizations are most important to you. An anecdote can be a great way to tell the origin story of your involvement. For example, you could tell the story of the time you saw a homeless person on the streets of New York City and decided you wanted to find a way to help people living in poverty. Just like with prompt 2A, your story does not have to be impressive or complicated, it just has to reflect the origin of your involvement. 

 

After explaining your interest in fighting for social justice, you can then explain the early stages of your involvement. What was the first action you took to combat the injustice you saw or experienced? No matter how simple the action, it should be included in your answer. 

 

The next step in answering this prompt is to talk about your current involvement in fighting for social justice. Explain not only the actions you are taking now, but also how your involvement has changed from when you started. Maybe you began your advocacy by fundraising for Planned Parenthood, but now you are volunteering to organize activists in your local area. Whatever movements or organizations you participate in, make sure that you are connecting the dots between your initial and current involvement. 

 

You should end your essay by discussing how you plan to continue your involvement in fighting for social justice. While you should detail your bigger-picture goals, you should also share how you’ll engage with your causes at Tufts. Research the social justice movements, clubs, and organizations that exist on Tufts’ campus or in the surrounding area. For instance, a student interested in combating poverty through government policies might join the Poverty and Power Research Initiative, which “investigates the hypothesis that poverty is often a product of distorted national governance structures.”

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

Prompt 1: Which aspects of the Tufts curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (150 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.  

Prompt 2: Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. Whether you think of Ai Weiwei’s work reframing the refugee crisis, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald’s portraits of the Obamas reimagining portrait painting on a national scale, or Yayoi Kusama’s fanciful Infinity Mirrors rekindling our sense of wonder, it is clear that contemporary art is driven by ideas. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (250 words)

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. 

 

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