How to Write the Tulane Supplement 2018-2019

Tulane is a top-ranked research university in New Orleans, Louisiana. Emphasis on top-ranked, of course, but also on New Orleans. New Orleans is at the core of the Tulane experience. In fact, engaging with the New Orleans community through service work is part of the university’s required curriculum.

Despite being a big-time research university, Tulane isn’t overwhelmingly large. The undergraduate student body is just 8,452, and the 2017 Princeton Review ranked Tulane #4 in the nation for happiest students and #9 for student quality of life. The buzz has caught on big time. In the past five years, Tulane’s acceptance rate has nearly halved. Last year, it was a mere 17%.

Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University. (50-800 words)

We love Tulane, but this prompt is profoundly annoying. The prompt itself is nothing special. If you’ve been reading our supplement how-to’s, you’ve probably seen it a dozen times already. What is annoying is the word count. Giving the 50-800 word range was probably based on the notion that they were doing you a favor by giving you options, but we all freak out when “Am I writing enough?” is a question on the table. This is the very stress they were presumably trying to avoid, and some students even let it stall them out.  

We think 500 words is the sweet spot. It’s long enough to say everything you need to say about the school within a story-forward frame, but not so long that you sound like you’re stretching your answer by becoming redundant or rambly.

The minimum that you need to hit on in this question are a proposed major, two professors you’d like to work with, two courses you’d like to take, two extracurriculars you would like to take part in. You also must talk about New Orleans. As we’ve mentioned, Tulane and New Orleans are deeply intertwined, so to leave the city out of your answer would be like cutting it off at the waist. You don’t want to do that, so make sure you mention New Orleans.

Once you’ve hit all the basics, remember that, with 500 words, you have plenty of space to wrap this one up in a pretty package. Tell a story that goes beyond the expected, “I toured and fell in love with it,” trope. Tell them something new.

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)

Alert! Alert! Confused why you didn’t see this in the supplement section of the Tulane application? That’s because this is a hidden supplement. They’ve tucked it into the more general (and generally pedantic) “questions” section. More and more schools are doing this, and we don’t think it’s very nice.  

The frustration of its location aside, this is a fun question. If you have had a meaningful work experience, write about it. Meaningful doesn’t mean it was life-changing, just that you did it, or have been doing it, for long enough to have had it make an impact on your high school experience. Maybe you were a waiter, a lifeguard at the town pool, or spend your weekends painting houses. All of those are meaningful and worth writing about.

If you don’t have work experience, you need to focus on an extracurricular that is long-term and that you are actually committed to. They aren’t asking this question to hear about something flashy. They are trying to learn something new about you, so flashy just gets in the way. If you think “wow, that might look good,” about an activity, you should immediately throw it into the “no” pile.

So the big takeaways for the Tulane supplement are to remember that New Orleans is a huge piece of Tulane, that service is at the core of the relationship between the two, and that meaningful work is always better than the club you were the head of just because you were the only member.  

If you think you could use some help navigating the intricacies of college applications, we’re clearly more than a little obsessed with writing stellar supplements that are the perfect fit for each school.