Essay Scoop: How to Answer Tufts Essays

Julia de Raadt
Julia de Raadt

Julia has dedicated much of her career to education. Since commencing with Empowerly, Julia has looked after the research team which handles student questions on different topics about college admission.

Are you facing down the Tufts essays? Let’s dig in together. Tufts University is a private research university in Massachusetts. Tufts is a selective college to get into with a 14.3% admission rate for its class of 2020. It is particularly well known for its  academic programs in the area of international relations, engineering and medicine.

One way to outshine other students in the application process is to write stellar short answer responses. The supplemental writing component of the Tufts application gives students the opportunity to tell the admission committee about their personal attributes, unique experiences and interests. Here we provide some advice on how to incorporate these aspects into the responses.

In this article, we will discuss each of the Tufts essays one-by-one.

Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: “Why Tufts?” (Required length is 50-100 words)

This is a very straightforward “why us” question that requires research on aspects specific to Tufts that match your interests. Show that you have done some research on academic programs, professors, courses, clubs, or traditions, and mention your extracurriculars that prove your interest in those specific Tufts areas. It is important to talk about both Tufts and why you would be a good fit.

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. (Required length is 200-250 words)

Answer one of the following questions. Think outside the box: take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Keep in mind the optional Notre Dame prompts and convey the background to your passions and explain your goals for the future, in other words, why are you interested in something and what do you hope to accomplish (typically a solution to a problem you identify).

(Please Respond to one of the following six prompts. Your response must be between 200 – 250 words.)

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—the first elected female head of state in Africa and winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize—has lived a life of achievement. “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough,” she once said. As you apply to college, what are your dreams?

Make sure to answer the prompt directly in the first two paragraphs – what exactly are your dreams? Remember, they should be somewhat related to your experiences but do not have to be directly correlated to what you have done. On average, students change their major 3 times in college.

What makes you happy?

Be thoughtful but don’t overthink this prompt – they want a genuine essay here. We would rather you wrote it from the heart from the mind.

Science and society are filled with rules, theories and laws such as the First Amendment, PV=nRT, Occam’s Razor, and The Law of Diminishing Returns. In baseball, three strikes and you’re out. A green light on a roadway means “go.” Pick any law and explain its significance to you.

This is a great prompt for those with at STEM background who are applying to college. We can both show our interest in sciences and tell a story. Do not worry too much about which rule you choose – instead focus on what it means to you. That is the heart of this essay.

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

This should be an essay that focuses on one or two academic ideas at the maximum, and takes the time to explain why those ideas are important. We usually like to answer this in a 5 paragraph style.

Nelson Mandela believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Describe a way in which you have made or hope to make a difference.

This is a future-looking essay that should have some basis in the past. Make sure you use at least one or two experiences that tie into the future-looking element. The last paragraphs should be about what you hope to do in the future.

Celebrate the role of sports in your life.

We usually recommend this prompt for athletes, and ask non-athletes to focus on other prompts.

That concludes all of the short answer prompts for the Tufts essays! These tips will help you frame your responses with the correct mindset for success. I highly recommend reading through the Empowerly Guide to Essays, which you can find right here. Don’t forget, you can always reach out to Empowerly and book a free consultation if you have more questions.

Questions? Let us know!