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
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:
- Intellectually playful
- 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, 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 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!