How to Write the Tulane Supplement 2019-2020

Tulane is a private research university in New Orleans, Louisiana. Just over 8,500 undergraduates attend the school and the average class size is 21 students. Tulane is hugely involved with the community in New Orleans, and service work is an academic requirement. Tulane’s acceptance rate has been dropping rapidly over the past few years. Last year, it was 13%.  

Before we begin, we have three bones to pick with Tulane’s supplement.

  1. The first prompt is not optional. That’s a trap. There is no such thing as an optional prompt for a school with a 13% acceptance rate. They just want some people to think that so they have a bigger applicant pool. And @Tulane, saying this prompt is “optional” is a pretty obvious and transparent way to juice your numbers. If we’re wrong, please send us the percentage of students accepted who did not write this supplement.

  2. The range of the first prompt is 50-800 words. We called the school to ask about the ridiculously wide range, and they said that they want to give students “as much or as little room as possible to express themselves.” It’s completely unfair to do this to teenagers. Our advice to Tulane is to cut the range and provide a word count. 800 words is longer than the common app essay, and suggesting that you can write that much is anxiety inducing for students. We suggest a response of around 500 words for our clients. It’s enough to get your point across (wrapped up in a story about yourself,) and should cut out all of the unnecessary findings you’re stretching to make relevant.

  3. Tulane has a hidden supplement. It’s in the activities section. Can schools please start putting all of the supplemental questions under the “Writing” section? 

Anyway… the two prompts are broken down below:

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

Again, not optional.This “Why Tulane” prompt is very straightforward. Your response should include:

  • Your intended major

  • Two upper level courses you want to take

  • A professor you’d like to work with

  • An extracurricular activity you’d like to join

  • SOMETHING ABOUT NEW ORLEANS (More on this later)

Start by looking at the list of majors available at Tulane. They have a lot. Pick a major that makes sense within the context of the rest of your application, so look at courses that you’ve done well in during high school and find something that aligns with that. You can’t say that you’re undecided because Tulane needs to balance their class, and they want to know that you have a plan.

Let’s say that you pick Art History because you’ve done well in Art, worked at a gallery, and did an art focused summer program last year. Then look at the course catalogue and find two upper level courses (2000-3000) that you want to take. Skip over the introductory level courses because those are not Tulane specific. Don’t just name the courses, explain why you want to take them. Perhaps you read an interesting book or can relate it to course work or job/internship experience.

Next, find a professor whose work and/or research you find interesting. Pitch yourself as their next research assistant by telling them how you’re familiar with an area within their expertise.

You now need to consider how you’ll be spending your time outside of the classroom. Tulane has over 200 student organizations, so look at their clubs and activities. You’re searching for something that is an extension of what you’ve done in high school. Once you get in, you can join any club you want. But for now, you need to find something that meshes well with the picture you’ve painted of yourself with the rest of your application.  

You can’t submit a Tulane application without talking about New Orleans. The city and the school are deeply intertwined, and not mentioning the school’s setting in your supplement would look like a complete oversight on your end. Of course, this part is easier to write if you’ve visited the school. If not, Google is your best friend. Look into the ways in which Tulane is associated with New Orleans (there are a lot) and find something that speaks to you.

You just did a lot of research. Congrats! Now look at your findings. Compare it to the list at the top of this document to make sure you have everything. Your next task is to tell a story about yourself with your Tulane facts weaved throughout. The goal is to prove that there is a strong link between your interests and Tulane’s offerings. This goes back to the original question: If you can study Art History anywhere, why Tulane? Think about your origin story, which is a story about how your academic interests came to fruition. Maybe there was a project or extracurricular activity you did that was the impetus for applying to Tulane. Whatever you choose, make sure that the story has a beginning, middle, and end. And remember, cap it around 500 words.

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

The second (and hidden) supplement requires no research. Tulane wants another glimpse into your life. The best way to go about this question is to think about meaningful work or extracurricular activity related experiences that you’ve had. The key word here is meaningful. Don’t write about what you think sounds most impressive.

Again, both answers (work or extracurricular) should come in the form of a story with a beginning, middle, and end. If you’re writing about work, think about memorable days on the job. Why do they stick out in your mind? Tell them the story of that day. The job that you choose to write about can be literally anything.

If you’ve never had a job or would prefer to write about an extracurricular, make sure that you’re writing about activity that you cared about for longer than a day. You should be really committed to it and passionate about it. Tell them a story that you think exemplifies what it’s like to be a member of X club.

Researching can be overwhelming, but we can help. Contact us here if you’re lost in the sauce.