How to Get Into Tufts: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into Tufts?
- What is Tufts Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Tufts
- How to Apply to Tufts
Tufts University, with its classic collegiate brown brick buildings, sits just outside of the historical heart of New England of Boston, in the town of Medford, MA. Undergraduate students at Tufts enjoy the resources of a mid-sized private research university while benefiting from the attention and education of a liberal arts college. Likewise, Tufts students get the serenity of a suburban campus setting while being just a steps away from downtown Boston.
Undergraduate students at Tufts attend one of three distinct colleges: School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (SMFA).
In this post, we’ll cover what Tufts looks for in its applicants, how you might stack up against its usual pool of admitted students, as well as how you can maximize your chances of acceptance to Tufts.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Tufts?
Tufts University consistently ranks in the top 30 universities in the country, and has an undergraduate enrollment of 5,825.
In the 2020–2021 application cycle, Tufts received 23,127 applicants, of which 3,770 were accepted, yielding an acceptance rate of 16.3%. Tufts does not have an early action option.
Tufts does not require applicants to submit test scores, but 59% of incoming freshmen submitted SAT scores with their application, and 41% submitted ACT scores. 75% of these students scored up to a 1510 on the SAT, and up to a 35 on the ACT. The middle 50% of these students scored between 1420–1500 on the SAT, and between 33–35 on the ACT.
In 2020, 84% of first-year students at Tufts who reported their class ranks were in the top 10% of their graduating high school class, and 97% were in the top 25%. While data regarding the average GPA of Tufts’ accepted students is not available, and there is no official minimum GPA, Tufts considers GPAs one of the most important factors in a student’s application. In addition to having competitive standardized test scores and class ranks, the average incoming Tufts student will also have a competitive GPA.
What is Tufts Looking for?
In a few words, Tufts looks for students who are intellectually playful, globally minded, civically engaged, collaborative, and kind. At Tufts, students will find themselves in an environment that values close student-faculty collaboration, interdisciplinary research, and all kinds of diversity.
Academics at Tufts, likewise, has a strong focus on interdisciplinary learning. Tufts believes that the world is never divided neatly into categories, and therefore an ideal education shouldn’t be, either. Students at Tufts are encouraged to explore a wide range of subjects and ideas and to connect them across disciplines. Students prepare themselves in the classroom to be problem-solvers in an interconnected world after Tufts.
Tufts wants students who are adaptable, creative, and with breadth in their skills and intellectual inquiry, and who are willing to expand their horizons.
How Tufts College Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Tufts considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
- Application essay
- Recommendation letters
- Character/personal qualities
These factors are “important”:
- Extracurricular activities
These are “considered”:
- Standardized test scores
- Level of applicant’s interest
- First generation
- Geographical residence
- Alumni relation
- Work experience
- Racial/ethnic status
And these are “not considered”:
- State residency
- Religious affiliation
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Tufts
1. Achieve a high GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
While Tufts doesn’t have a “cut-off” GPA, accepted applicants across the board have strong academics. As 84% of this year’s freshmen were in the top 10% of their graduating class, a competitive candidate for Tufts should aim to have A’s in nearly every class.
Having a competitive academic record is getting your foot in the door: the first step to getting the rest of your application read.
If your GPA is lower, and you’re still a freshman or sophomore in your high school, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.
2. Write engaging essays
Given Tufts’ emphasis on its students’ characters and personal qualities, as well as real-world applications of skills, it isn’t surprising that Tufts highly values the essay. In addition to the personal essay of the Common Application or the Coalition Application, Tufts requires you to submit two short-answer essays in response to their prompts. This is the ideal place to show your strengths, character, your authentic voice, as well as your specific interest in Tufts.
Tufts admissions is known for practicing yield protection (rejecting applicants who are expected to be accepted elsewhere) to the extent that it’s referred to as “Tufts Syndrome.” If you have a competitive application, Tufts may suspect that it’s unlikely that you will actually enroll. Creative and well-written essays that express your passion for Tufts can help you overcome this hurdle.
3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
When your academics are as equally strong as many other candidates for a college, extracurriculars are where you have a chance to stand out and help admissions officers form a better idea of who you are and what you might bring to their campus.
In addition, Tufts values extracurriculars because they give admissions officers a sense of how you will fit in on its socially-engaged and globally-minded campus.
In general, any activity that you do regularly outside the classroom counts as an extracurricular, as long as you can demonstrate that the activity has contributed to your growth as an individual. However, not all extracurriculars are created equal. Extracurricular activities can generally be divided into four “tiers.” To increase your chances at Tufts, you should have one to two “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” extracurriculars.
- Tier 1 activities demonstrate exceptional talent, achievement, leadership, or merit. Activities and roles on the national level or which garner field-wide recognition count as Tier 1 activities. This may include winning a national award, qualifying for international competition and therefore gaining prestigious recognition, or starting a nonprofit that gains national traction. Having a Tier 1 activity marks you as a distinguished youth in the field of your activity, so having Tier 1 activities is rare.
- Tier 2 activities are more common than Tier 1, but still show high levels of achievement and potential. Holding school-wide leadership positions like student government president, winning regional competitions or awards, and local recognition as a student athlete or musician are all considered Tier 2.
- Tier 3 activities demonstrate sustained participation rather than exceptional achievement, and are frequently seen in applications, both across the board as well as in any given individual student’s application, as some students may have more than one Tier 3 activity. These activities can include holding minor positions in school clubs or being on a Varsity team.
- Tier 4 activities are the most common and have the lowest entry bar; they demonstrate interest without particular dedication. However, they are still important to include, especially if you have higher tier activities, because they can help show the diversity of your interests. Tier 4 activities can include regular volunteering, general membership in clubs or organizations, or taking any kind of music or art lesson over several years.
Having extracurricular activities on your application shows colleges that you have personal passions and that you can take your skills beyond the classroom. While colleges are happy to see any kind of interest you’ve taken, you’re going to be a much more competitive candidate if you have a few Tier 1 or 2 activities that show dedication and excellence rather than many scattered Tier 4 activities.
4. Report your SAT scores if above 1510, and ACT if above 35
From 2021–2024, Tufts is introducing a test-optional admissions policy. Applicants’ profiles, whether or not they submit test scores, will be considered in a holistic and contextual way. Know that, everything else being equal, a student who does not submit test scores will not be at a disadvantage from those who do. That being said, a high standardized test score is a valuable way to display your academic aptitude in addition to your transcript. As 75% of the 59% of incoming freshmen who reported test scores scored an 1510 on the SAT and a 35 on the ACT, you should aim for these numbers as well if you want to submit standardized test scores.
5. Ask the right teachers for recommendation letters
Tufts requires two letters of recommendation: one from a teacher in a junior or senior year major academic course (math, natural science, social science, English, or a foreign language) and one letter from a school counselor. Tufts also specifies that an additional letter can be submitted if a student feels it may add new perspective to his or her application. Letters of recommendation should come from instructors who know you the best and who can speak positively of your character and abilities as a student in a classroom but also as a member of a class. Take some time to think about which teacher will write you the most promising recommendation letter, and take a look at tips from CollegeVine to help guide you through the process.
How to Apply to Tufts
Now that you have a good idea of what applying to Tufts entails, here are some dates to keep in mind for the 2021–2022 cycle.
Early Decision 1
Early Decision 2
Take a look at Tufts University’s website for a more detailed breakdown of the different deadlines for application materials.
Tufts accepts both the Coalition Application and the Common Application. Required materials include:
- High school transcript, including senior grades
- Two Letters of Recommendation: one from a junior or senior year teacher in a major academic course (math, natural science, social science, English, or a foreign language,) and one from a high school counselor
- List and description of extracurricular activities
- Tufts short-answer questions
- Art portfolio (required only for BFA or combined degree BFA/BS programs at SMFA)
- $75 application fee or fee waiver
Optional materials include:
- Standardized test scores
- Alumni interview
Learn more about Tufts
Thinking about applying to Tufts? Take a look at our other resources on the school to help you with your process.
- The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Tufts
- What is Tufts University Known For?
- What Does It Really Cost to Attend Tufts University?
- What is Yield Protection/Tufts Syndrome?
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