How to Write the Tulane University Essays 2021-2022
Located in the vibrant and multicultural New Orleans, Tulane University is a private research university that began as a medical college to combat cholera. To this day, the school continues to uphold their commitment to service. Tulane has integrated community service into its curriculum and mandates it for all students. If you’re looking for ways to give back, the school has ample opportunities including service learning courses, public service research, and service-based study abroad programs.
Tulane offers three optional supplemental essays where you can showcase aspects of yourself that aren’t as present in the rest of your application. The first is about your extracurricular activities, the second about why you want to attend Tulane, and the third is about diverse perspectives.
Below we cover how to respond to these essay questions. Our essay team is here to breakdown tips and tricks to writing the Tulane University supplemental essays.
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Tulane University Supplemental Essay Prompts
Prompt 1: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (20-250 words)
Prompt 2: Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University (50-800 words)
Prompt 3 (optional): Tulane values the lessons gained from pursuing an education alongside a student body that represents a wide range of experiences and perspectives and is reflective of our multicultural world. If you would like to share a perspective related to your family, cultural group, sexual or gender identity, religious group, or some other aspect that has shaped your identity, please do so here. (50-800 words)
Prompt 4 (optional): Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. We care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. (No word limit)
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words max)
Although you probably already listed out your extracurriculars on your application, chances are you those one or two lines didn’t accurately capture the hard work and dedication you put into your extracurriculars. This prompt attempts to mitigate that by allowing you to expand on one of your extracurriculars. This is an opportunity to add depth to your application in a way that shows rather than simply telling readers your passions and character traits. Answering this prompt also lends credibility to your application overall by detailing your specific contributions to the organization or activity you previously mentioned.
When choosing an activity, use the following steps to determine which one would fit best into this prompt:
Choosing the activity:
- Step 1: Replicate your extracurriculars list from the Common App on a piece of paper or in a spreadsheet.
- Step 2: Create a column to the right and write down any accomplishments, interactions, conversations, phrases, or words that are particularly memorable for each activity.
- Step 3: Further to the right, write down in a separate column the corresponding/related student organizations, events, and programs available at or in the vicinity of Tulane.
- Step 4: Rank your activities in order of content, with the ones with the most impressive accomplishments, most interesting conversations, and most corresponding Tulane programs at the top, and the ones with the least at the bottom.
- Step 5: Choose the top-ranked activity to write about, unless you feel very strongly for another high-ranked item.
You can approach this prompt multiple ways, but we recommend either a narrative- or collection-based approach. A narrative approach involves focusing in on one particular memory, event, or instance for the majority of the response. A collection approach would entail detailing a few of these events in a way where your response emulates some sort of connecting, underlying theme. Because of the smaller word count, a narrative approach will probably be easier to tackle, unless you have two or three strongly interconnected instances.
When constructing this prompt, it is important to focus on showing, and not telling your audience what you have done. While listing out the number of hours you spent volunteering or the board positions you held over the years does quantify your efforts, the essay prompt is a space to demonstrate these things more creatively, so avoid stating these facts directly unless they can be smoothly woven into your narrative.
The key to showing and not telling is specificity and descriptive language. A natural inclination many students have is to list out every event they volunteered at or contribution they made to the extracurricular, but within this word limit, this approach can leave much to be desired in terms of detail. Rather than pursuing quantity, try to zero in on one or two quality instances that you feel best showcase your contributions to the extracurricular, and use descriptive language rather than plain statements to illustrate how you feel about the activity rather than merely describing the steps you took to complete it.
Here are two versions of an essay about dance.
In my sophomore year, I stumbled into the dance studio by chance one day, and was invited to audition to be placed on a team. During the audition, I noticed how free yet powerful the advanced dancers looked when performing, and became determined to emulate their techniques. Ever since then, I have become a loyal member of the dance club at XXX High School.
In that first audition, I was selected to perform with the largest dance organization in school, which performed a variety of pieces, including house, modern, and freestyle at school fairs, annual productions, and charity events. As I learned to nail down the basics of hip-hop and modern dance, I began to choreograph for the team on occasion, and organizing extra practices for other members to perfect our upcoming set.
Dance is the newest thing I have learned in my life. In exploring this novel territory, I have learned the determination and humility necessary in nurturing a craft from scratch, characteristics that will certainly help me succeed in performing with the Newcomb Dance Company at Tulane. Other than this prestigious student dance organization, I am also interested in joining the Tulane Ballroom Dancing Club to supplement my repertoire of dance styles. It would be very interesting to experience and investigate the roots of social dance that we see today and I look forward to bringing my expertise in modern dance and choreography to the Tulane dance community.
Upon first pointe, I was immediately enraptured by the power (and delicacy), freedom (and discipline) of dance. Ever since, I have committed my creative spirit to cultivating the dance subculture at XXX High School, in a consummate mélange of my passion for hip-hop and community building.
With no prior training, I auditioned and was selected to perform with the largest dance organization in school.
To perfect our set and provide fellow budding dancers with the opportunity to expand their repertoire, I taught snippets of other styles — house, modern, freestyle… — in the bi-weekly extra practices I coordinated for the team.
The rest of my spare time I spent configuring my limbs into novel silhouettes in choreography for our upcoming set.
In exploring the exquisite art of dance, I grasped the humility and tenacity necessary in nurturing a craft from scratch, characteristics that will surely assist my transition into performing with the Newcomb Dance Company in the successors of its current production Above the Oaks. This annual student-run performance will prompt me to hone my technique in the three core styles that cement the foundation for all creative choreography: ballet, modern and jazz, perfecting my grand jété in the process.
Between rehearsals, I can be found waltzing into the Lakeside Room of the Reily Center to take lessons with Tammy Clark as a member of the Tulane Ballroom Dancing Club, foxtrotting across the floor, further into my dance journey.
While version 1 and version 2 both discuss the same activity, sequence of events, and even mention joining the same organizations at Tulane, version 2 is much more effective in illustrating an image of you enhancing the dance community’s spirit with your choreography of “novel silhouettes” in the admissions officers’ minds.
Here are some of the mistakes found in version 1:
- Failed to highlight the most impressive part of the candidate’s accomplishment in dance, which is being selected to dance with the largest organization in school with no prior training. While version 1 does mention performing with that organization after the first audition and mentions stumbling into that audition accidentally, it does not spell out the candidate’s lack of experience in plain words, and hence does not sufficiently emphasize her talent.
- Used very plain and commonplace phrases on applications such as:
- “I noticed how… and became determined to…”
- “Ever since then, I became a…”
- “Other than this… I am also interested in joining…”
- “It would be very interesting to…”
- Try to avoid these commonly used sentence structures. Otherwise, embellish them by rearranging the structure of the sentence or packing the rest of the sentence with unique words (that fit the context of course) and vivid imagery.
- Version 1 “told” without “showing” anything. Version 2’s “Upon first pointe, I was immediately enraptured by the power (and delicacy), freedom (and discipline) of dance” effectively conveys the idea that the candidate was hooked by dance upon her first encounter, but with much more powerful illustration than version 1’s statement of events that led to the candidate’s participation in dance. Version 2 also makes reference to “pointe,” which is a ballet term, further showcasing her true depth of experience in dance. If possible, try to incorporate relevant references to the activity throughout your essay.
Just remember, less is not more in terms of the level of detail in admissions essay-writing. In your first drafts, try to pen as many details about your anecdotes as you can possibly think of; you can decide which ones are not essential later.
Writing them all down on one page allows you to make a more objective decision about which ones are critical and which ones are not. Besides, in revising your essay, you never know which details you will need later on; therefore, it is beneficial to have an archive of all possible details in a longer first draft.
Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University. (optional, 800 words max)
Many universities employ a “Why This College?” prompt to better assess your interest in the school and knowledge of their current offerings. Writing a strong response serves to set apart candidates who may have similar academic statistics and extracurriculars. You should absolutely respond to this essay, even though it’s technically optional.
Your response to this prompt helps admissions officers determine if Tulane is a good fit for you – and in return, doing this type of research can also help you determine where it falls on your prospective school list. Therefore, it is important that you paint a detailed and accurate picture of what you are looking to get out of your college experience at Tulane. While it is impossible for you to truly know what your college experience holds, you can use your current skills and interests as a starting point to determine which communities you may inhabit at Tulane.
Since you have up to 800 words, you have ample space to talk about multiple aspects of Tulane that interest you, and you’ll be able to also provide plenty of detail on how those Tulane resources connect to your interests and goals.
One potential starting point is thinking about your prospective major and potential courses you could take. A great starting point is Tulane’s website, where there is a list of Majors and Minors. Under this tab, you can choose your prospective major and then see a list of course requirements with course descriptions. You can also browse a list of professors and find one that participates in research that intrigues you.
However, it is important to note that simply name-dropping a class or professor can have an adverse effect rather than contributing to your application. This might be the case if you choose courses that are too generic or mention professors without connecting them to your interests. Remember, while this essay is about your interest in Tulane, it is also about you. Therefore, establishing a personal connection to the college is important.
For example, think about your current clubs and which of them you would like to pursue in the future. Tulane’s website has a Campus Life tab that contains multiple avenues to learn about the school’s offerings and its connection to the surrounding community. Just as with classes and professors, it is important to find clubs and events specific to Tulane and your interests. For example, if a student has a history of fighting food insecurity, Tulane has a Food Recovery Network organization. Because most schools have some form of community service, it is important to name the specific club and also specific goals and activities that you wish to participate in. You should describe what you wish to do at Tulane and tie it back to work that you have already done in this field.
Here are two potential responses:
Bad: “I have always been very passionate about community service; in particular, fighting food insecurity is very important to me. I am interested in Tulane because I wish to make a difference in the community and there are clubs that fight food insecurity in the local area. I can use the resources at this college to further pursue my passion and help others. This will also help me gain leadership skills for my future career, which I hope will involve some form of community service in this manner.”
Good: “At my high school, I established a program to combat food insecurity where students could drop their unopened leftover food from the cafeteria lunches in a box that anyone could grab from. I worked with my principal to establish a program where the food that was left at the end of the lunch period was taken to a local food shelter. My passion for food redistribution is one that I hope to continue at Tulane, a school that prides itself on its commitment to community service. Through an organization like the Food Recovery Network, I can help package leftovers from The Commons to donate to a homeless shelter. I also plan on starting my own initiative to fight food insecurity on campus, by working with dining hall staff to create a program to increase accessibility to food insecure students.”
The first response may be factual but lacks the detail and depth necessary to sound convincing. The generic approach does not really convey the student’s background in this topic, or how they plan to pursue it at Tulane. The second response bridges the student’s past with their potential future at Tulane, and establishes a realistic and goal-oriented path for readers to follow. Adding these specific details signals a deeper interest in Tulane itself while also communicating your passion for this type of community service.
Finally, because Tulane is a small, private university, it can be helpful to mention people affiliated with the university, especially if they influenced your decision to apply. Tulane espouses this as it can be helpful for their admissions office to know if you have an indirect link to the school. This can include current students, alumni, and recruitment officers. If you don’t know anyone yet, no worries! Tulane has a Green Wave Ambassadors program where prospective students can read about and contact current campus tour guides at the university. Networking can both help you learn more about Tulane and also give you valuable information for this essay prompt.
Tulane values the lessons gained from pursuing an education alongside a student body that represents a wide range of experiences and perspectives and is reflective of our multicultural world. If you would like to share a perspective related to your family, cultural group, sexual or gender identity, religious group, or some other aspect that has shaped your identity, please do so here. (50-800 words)
This is a great prompt that is essentially asking about what makes you diverse. Tulane draws attention to our multicultural world and how we all have different experiences and perspectives that make us unique and add value to our community. Your range of experiences and perspectives can stem from your ethnicity/race, gender, country of origin, language, hometown, socioeconomic status, illness/disability, and so much more. You can even mention interests you have or activities you participate in that have allowed you to gain a perspective that is different from others.
Notice that the question asks you to not only share something that makes you diverse, but also how it has “shaped your identity.” This is an important part of the question because you do not want to just list off fragmented aspects of your identity that you think make you unique. Instead, you want to create a cohesive story that explains how your experiences and perspectives have shaped you into the person you are today, as well as how they will influence who you will be in the future. Choose a couple aspects of your identity to focus on and weave a story that helps admissions officers understand how all of those aspects fit together.
A common misconception about diversity essays is that you must mention something that applies to ONLY you – this is not true. You can mention aspects of your identity that you believe make you unique, but these do not have to be qualities that no one else possesses. It would actually be quite difficult to find qualities that only apply to you. The goal here is not to find something that only applies to you, but rather to find something that has a unique impact on you.
For example, a handful of applicants may believe that their public speaking skills make them unique. However, each of these applicants will have a different story regarding public speaking. One applicant may have struggled a lot with self-esteem. However, after developing their public speaking skills, they became more confident in their abilities. To help others in a similar boat, they may have started a public speaking club at their school to help increase students’ confidence. Another applicant may be really interested in both public speaking and healthcare equity, so maybe they meshed both of these interests to speak at local events and advocate for equal access to healthcare. Notice how both of these students like public speaking and believe it makes them unique, but each has their own story that gives more insight into what public speaking means to them and how it has shaped them.
Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. We care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. (No word limit)
We at CollegeVine only recommend responding to this prompt if you have had truly unique circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have experienced significant hardships that impacted grades like a family member losing a job or passing away, this would be the best place to mention it. You can also use this prompt as a space to mention something really unique that you did to help out, like building a COVID vaccine informational website for those who are hesitant to receive the vaccine.
If you are applying through the Tulane website, this prompt will be listed in the ‘Writing’ category. However, if you are applying through the Common App, this prompt will not be listed in the Tulane supplemental essays because there is already a COVID essay on the main application portion of the Common App. Regardless of which application platform you choose, you will have the opportunity to mention how COVID affected you.
Where to Get Your Tulane University Supplemental Essays Edited for Free
Do you want feedback on your Tulane essays? When you are engrossed in the writing process, it is sometimes difficult to disconnect and realize the potential weaknesses of your essay. To help with this, we created the Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get your essay reviewed for free by another student. Since they don’t know you, they will be able to provide a completely unbiased review of your essay. We highly recommend checking this out!