How to Write the Tufts Supplement 2019-2020

Tufts is a private research university in Medford, Massachusetts. With an acceptance rate of about 14%, Tufts is considered to be highly selective. The university emphasizes community service and leadership, and academic focuses are integrated with outside institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. They also have a campus in the French Alps.

The Supplement  

Applicants must answer, not one, but two supplemental questions to Tufts’ section of the Common Application. Fret not, both are fairly short…but that doesn’t mean they’re straightforward.

Part One

The first prompt reads:  

Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, ‘Why Tufts?’ (100-150 words)*

The thing about the supplement is, it’s generally meant for schools to get to know who you are in a way that’s not already demonstrated on your application. The ‘why x college’ component is also meant to ensure that you’re a match. Start off by doing deep research into Tufts. Identify the major you wish to declare, classes you’d like to take, and clubs you intend to join. Here’s the thing: this is an exercise in branding yourself. Your application, your classes, extracurriculars and recommendations need to brand you as having a niche. Maybe you’re the kid who loves electrical engineering, or maybe you’re a foreign relations nerd. Whatever you write about in this supplement needs to be an extension of the brand you’ve already cultivated. Even if you want a clean break from your academic pursuits in high school and just want to go in undeclared, for the purposes of this exercise, stick to the program. Nothing you say in the personal statement is binding. Go undeclared when you get there if you must.  

First, talk about the academics at the school. Pick specific (non entry-level) classes. Discuss research in your field a professor or department head is currently conducting and discuss how you’d like to be involved.  Do the same thing with extracurriculars and student organizations. Finally, discuss the community. This school is big time into community service and big time into the city in which it’s located, and there are numerous opportunities to get involved with both.  

Part Two   

The second prompt provides applicants with an option:

We want to hear your authentic voice as you answer the following questions. Be serious if the moment calls for it, but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Simply put, be yourself. 

Pick one of the following (200-250 words):*

From recognizing break dancing as a new Olympic sport, to representation in media, to issues of accessibility in our public transit systems, what is something that you can talk about endlessly? What do you care about and why?*

This one is a trap.

What you should not do here is get on a soapbox and start talking about grandiose ideas. Instead, if you must choose this one, take it as an opportunity to weave in your niche. Pick a subtopic within your area of academic interest in run with it. Discuss things you’ve already learned and accomplished, perhaps an idea you struggled with at first but really got hold of in the end.  

Whether you've built circuit boards or written slam poetry, created a community event or designed mixed media installations, tell us: What have you designed, invented, engineered, or produced? Or what do you hope to?*

If you choose this one, don’t talk about your hopes. You need to demonstrate who you are based on things you’ve already done in your life. These things should not be represented anywhere else on your application. Think small. Pick a character trait and tell a story from your life that illuminates this trait.  Don’t talk about the blood drive you put on with student government. They should see that on your resume. Talk about an inventive, but kind of gross recipe you used to make for your siblings when you’d babysit them as a kid.  They invited you to be “playful” at the top. Take advantage of that opening. If you can pull it off, be funny when possible.


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