Tufts Why Tufts Essay

Are you planning on applying to Tufts University for Fall 2018 admission? Not sure where to start on your supplemental essays? Tufts has been so kind as to release some real life college essay examples that helped students earn acceptance to the great school! We thought we’d share a few of our favorite with you so you can see what works!


Up first, the “Why” Essay.

James Gregoire ’19 (South Burlington, VT):

It was on my official visit with the cross country team that I realized Tufts was the perfect school for me. Our topics of conversation ranged from Asian geography to efficient movement patterns, and everyone spoke enthusiastically about what they were involved in on campus. I really related with the guys I met, and I think they represent the passion that Tufts’ students have. I can pursue my dream of being a successful entrepreneur by joining the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society, pursuing an Entrepreneurial Leadership minor, and taking part in an up-and-coming computer science program.

Lena Novins-Montaque ’20 (Denver, CO):

Before my tour, my dad and I stopped in Brown and Brew for coffee. We saw a stack of The Tufts Daily, and beside it, copies of Canon. The poetry and prose I read was carefully curated and well written. As a writer, this instantly excited me. During the tour, my guide Ed enthusiastically said, “Tufts is full of people who are interested and interesting.” Tufts offers an environment that encourages intellectual curiosity that matches perfectly with what I want for my college experience

Megan Rivkin ’20 (Lincolnshire, IL):

Give me a blank page– I’ll draw all over it.

When I visited, a Jumbo studying theatre and psychology was directing “Next To Normal.” That sounds like me. I want to make theatre useful by studying other areas as well. At Tufts, interdisciplinary thinking is a key part of the culture.

Playwright Neil Labute told me to find a college where I can pave my own way, not be force-fed opportunities. I need a creative space that will hand me a blank page and care how I use it.

Though he may not have known it, Mr. Labute described Tufts.

Next up, the “Let Your Life Speak” Essay

Justin Dorosh ’20 (North Reading, MA)

As a child, my family’s TV got only 33 channels. It’s never good when the Home Shopping Network is considered  “good TV.” As a result, my kindergarten entertainment was a Leap Pad rather than Cartoon Network. I used the interactive learning device to memorize all 206 bones in the body as well as every state and its respective capital. I did this not only because my parents thought it was good for me, but because I was interested in the world around me. I sought to understand life beyond the 150 square-foot room I shared with my brother.

Even after we upgraded to basic cable, I found that traditional mental exercises were more fun. I like to think and problem solve. No sitcom gives me the rush of excitement that I get from filling in that last number in a Sudoku puzzle or penciling in the right word to a crossword. Puzzles and riddles are challenging and I embrace challenges.

My curiosity for my Leap Pad is largely responsible for my hands-on approach to doing things. I am a doer rather than a spectator. I’m one who would rather toss a football in the yard than watch the big game on TV. One who would rather work on a project than listen to a presentation. More importantly, I am one who believes in self-education and thinking beyond the classroom. I think that thinking is cool.

Ray Parker ’19 (Waitsfield, VT)

All my life I have been surrounded by science, filled with science, covered in science. I grew up with an electron microscope in the house, a holography lab and darkroom in the basement, and a cleanroom next door. While my friends were playing in sandboxes I was playing with dry ice in the sink. It is not impossible that I may have been influenced by this. I grew up with an interesting mix of science and art, which comes from my parents. My mother is a photographer and holographer, as well as an optical engineer; my father is an entrepreneur and the creator of the plasma ball light sculpture. They embrace both science and art and have taught me to embrace both as well. When I was young my mother taught me how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and at about the same time my father introduced me to BASIC programming. This laid the seeds for nearly everything that has come after. I kept much of my childlike creativity, and infused it with technology. Nearly all of my school projects have had an extra element that made them much more interesting; a book project on Cities in Flight was a magnetically levitating model of a city, a tectonic map project became a Blender animation, an English class final project was a trio of holograms.

My family has taught me to do interesting things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, and fun.

Quincey Kras ’20 (Madrid, Spain)

Raised by an architect and an interior designer, I learned at a young age that creativity and imagination are integral parts of life. My dad would let my sister and I sit with him while working, placing a pencil in our hands and pointing at objects for us to draw. I also have fond memories of sitting on piles of fabric swatches “organizing” them for my mom. I grew up believing my purpose in life is to wonder and create. Even after my parents divorced, art was the thread that kept us connected to each other.

At age 14, I moved to Madrid with my mom, step-dad, sister and new baby brother. It was quite a challenge at first–mostly because of the language barrier and my Spanish school. But the experience allowed me to appreciate and absorb a new culture, make new friends and discover strengths in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. For the past three years, I have tested my courage, and language skills, and used my love of art as a way to navigate the city–its architecture and museums are especially energizing to me. Conquering my relocation has made me a more inquisitive and adventurous person and will help me to transition to university life. I have grown as a person, and as an artist, and I look forward to continuing on that arc.

Finally, the “Choose Your Own Prompt” Essay:

Miranda Janice Macaulay Miller ’20 (Sacramento, CA)

“It’s Cool to be Smart”

Most languages have, on average, 200,000 words. There are 6,912 living languages. At this moment in history, that is roughly 1,382,400,000 words being used to express emotions, to carry out transactions, to run countries.

For every language, there are words that have no equivalent in any other language. It is like a secret that only those with the special code can share. “Mamihlapinatapei” is the Yaghan word for the look that two people give each other when they both want to initiate something, but are hesitant to act. I have felt this way, but have never been able to express it because I am bound to the limits of the English language. And then there are words like “rakhi,” the Hindi term for a string that a sister ties on her brother’s arm, asking for eternal protection. I have never considered a need for this word because the idea of it is not a part of my world. This ritual does not exist in other cultures, so there is no word for it.

To know multiple languages, to be able to communicate with various groups, is to transcend multiple realities. By breaking down language barriers, we open countless doors to understanding the politics, traditions, and values of millions more people. And if that’s not “Θpoustouflant,” or mind-blowing, then I don’t know what is.

Jonah Loeb ’20 (Rockville, MD)

“Celebrate the Role of Sports in Your Life”

While it is not featured on ESPN and does not fill stadiums each week, backpacking is my chosen sport. It has a home team, the group of Boy Scouts whose friendship and encouragement kept me going and made huddling under a small tarp hung three feet above the ground in the pouring rain the best part of the trip, and an away team, the mountain range that stared us down each time we looked up at it. It has a score, (most often: mountain: 1, me: 0) and buzzer beater shots, as we raced to set up tents with the sunlight rapidly fading and the rumble of thunder echoing ominously.

I started backpacking the summer after ninth grade. Full of naivete, I thought, “It’s just walking, how hard could it be?” It was only on my first overnight, climbing up the umpteenth hill, hunched over from the weight of my pack, unable to see anything but the rubber toe of my hiking boot, that I realized what I was getting myself into. But then, like in most sports, in the heat of a game something clicked and with my backpack sliding off my shoulders once again, I found the determination I needed. A backpacking Zen propelled me forward and taught me to succeed when every part of me said otherwise. Now, with more experience, better equipment, and focused training, I often find myself drawn to the backcountry, sampling dehydrated cuisines and knowing this time, the score will be different.

Tessa Garces ’19 (Larchmont, NY)

“Celebrate the Role of Sports in Your Life”

My first vivid memory of swim practice is of being yanked by the ankles from underneath the kitchen table, my nails scratching against the wood floor and my screams loud enough to elicit the neighbors’ concern.

Clearly, I hadn’t “gotten” swimming yet. As a first grader, I simply couldn’t understand how shoving my hair into a cap, wearing goggles that almost pressed my eyes out of their sockets, and flailing my limbs in freezing liquid for an hour could possibly be worth my while.

However, as I came to understand the mechanics and elegance of the sport, my attitude started to change. It really changed in 4th grade, when I began to win races. The little gold medals gave me a confidence that was addicting. More than that, they motivated me to cultivate good habits before I learned that discipline, daily practice, and just being part of a team are rewards in and of themselves.

Swimming has definitely influenced the way I move through the world. To avoid head-on collisions with lane mates, swimmers are taught from the beginning to always stay to the right of the lane, called circle swimming. Sometimes I feel as though I “circle-live”-walking on the right, driving on the right (naturally), even sleeping on the right. Yet, thinking of how focused and alive I feel after swimming, I think it’s more accurate to say that my time in the pool keeps me centered.

We hope you found some inspiration in these successful college essays! If you’re looking for more tips on what you should and shouldn’t do in your college essay, we’ve got you covered.

Applying to Tufts? Here are this year’s supplemental essay prompts for Tufts University.

1. Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: “Why Tufts?” (50–100 words)

TIP: This is the most common type of supplemental essay prompt universities will ask of their applicants. What’s challenging about the Why Tuft’s supplemental essay is the word limit. You have to be very concise about what you like about the school. Whether it’s about a specific academic program or campus culture, use concrete examples to demonstrate how you feel and how much you know about the school. 

2. There is a Quaker saying: “Let your life speak.” Describe the environment in which you were raised – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – and how it influenced the person you are today. (200–250 words)

TIP: This essay prompt is wants to know more about your community. Whether it’s the physical location or your support group, how did that help you grow? Were there any restrictions or limitations that triggered you to initiate a movement? Or that forced you to venture out? Again, going back to the 5 big supplemental essay tips, it’s important for you to keep in mind the bigger picture. If you have a few different ideas on how to respond to this prompt, choose the one that you have yet to elaborate on in your application. 

3. Now we’d like to know a little bit more about you.  Please respond to one of the following six questions (200-250 words). Students applying to the School of Arts and Sciences or the School of Engineering should select from prompts A-E. Students applying to the SMFA at Tufts’ BFA program or the Five-Year BFA + BA/BS Combined Degree program must answer prompt F:

A. It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity.

TIP: If you talked about a specific academic program in the “Why Tufts” supplemental essay, then this would be a good area for you to elaborate on why you are interested in this field of study. How long have you been interested in it? Did you have a role model or someone that got you interested in this field? How have you taken an initiative in high school to follow these interests?

B. In a time when we’re always plugged in (and sometimes tuned out), tell us about a time when you listened, truly listened, to a person or a cause. How did that moment change you?

TIP: This reminds me of an old Common App essay prompt: a moment that changed you. This can be a challenging prompt, so if nothing immediately jumps out at you when you first read the prompt, I’d recommend you choose another.

If you do want to choose this prompt, perhaps it’s easier to brainstorm based on a person or a cause you care about. Why was that conversation important to you? Did it change your perspective? If not, were you able to empathize with the  other person.

If you were heavily involved in volunteering, this would be a good prompt to launch into your dedication to the organizations you were part of. Recall any little conversations with people you worked with or for, and how that renewed your dedication.

C. Celebrate the role of sports in your life.

TIP: The perfect prompt for all those student athletes out there! Sports and training is a commitment during high school. You have to set aside so much time to train and compete that it may have defined your high school career. What did you learn from being an athlete? How did it translate to your life outside of sports?

Remember, this prompt isn’t just student athletes. If you’re interested in sports, you can also utilize this essay prompt to demonstrate your varied interests. This might even be an important prompt for students who didn’t play sports in high school, but enjoyed it as a hobby. How are sports important to you as an interest?

D. Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered, created, or designed? Or what do you hope to?

TIP: If you did any independent project inside or outside of school, this will be a great place to elaborate on your project. Or perhaps something you worked on over the summer! The point is to demonstrate your creative thinking, building ability and entrepreneurial spirit. Even if the project was unsuccessful, share the thought process and experience of the project. What happened, and what could you have done differently?

E. What makes you happy? Why?

TIP: This seems so straightforward, but it is secretly a tough supplemental essay prompt to respond to. It is very open ended and you can talk about anything you want. It also requires a lot of reflection on yourself. Whatever you do choose to write about, make sure you’re able to provide insight into what you value. That’s the true point of the essay: to get an intimate glimpse of who you are.

F. Artist Bruce Nauman once said: “One of the factors that still keeps me in the studio is that every so often I have to more or less start all over.” Everyone deals with failure differently; for most artists failure is an opportunity to start something new. Tell us about a time when you have failed and how that has influenced your art practice.   

TIP: This is specific to students applying to the SMFA at Tufts’ BFA program or the Five-Year BFA + BA/BS Combined Degree program. This is a very common application essay question, but don’t take it lightly. While it’s easy recount a time you have failed, it’s not always so easy to let readers in on your thought process and emotional journey.

The failure experience is important, but it’s only to help you frame your essay. The focal point of your response is how it influenced in. What did you learn from what? What did you do differently? Were you surprised you failed? Did you take a different direction or did you embrace it into your future work? It’s helpful to write out the full experience and then cut and edit by drawing out the emotions and insight you had from the experience you had. 

Applying to college?

View the app files and essays of accepted students.


​Hope this was helpful to students applying to Tufts University this fall! Here are more general tips on writing the supplemental essays. For supplemental essay examples, you can now search by supplemental essay topics on our search page. Or, you can check out our curated packages to find what you’re looking! For further access, upgrade to our premium plans offer different levels of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school.

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

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