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Tufts University 2018-19 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

Psssst! Hello to all you early birds checking out last year’s prompts! Since Tufts released new prompts in late July last year, we are expecting to have this page updated around the same time this year. We’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, feel free to familiarize yourselves with last year’s prompts. There’s a good chance they’ll stay the same for the 2019-20 admissions season.

Tufts University 2018-19 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: Answer two essay prompts of roughly 250 words each.

Supplemental Essay Type: Why, Oddball

Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. 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.
Applicants to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree answer the following two questions:

1. What excites you about Tufts’ intellectually playful community? In short, “Why Tufts?” (200-250 words)

This is a why essay with a twist. The admissions department doesn’t just want to know why you want to attend Tufts University, they’ve actually given you a hint about the qualities they expect to see in your essay. What does “intellectual playful” mean to you? What makes learning fun, and where do you see opportunities at Tufts? To nail this essay, you’re going to want to explore what Tufts means by this and how you see yourself fitting in. Start by browsing the Tufts website and reminding yourself why this school is on your list to begin with! Does Tufts offer a major that’s hard to find at other institutions? Is there a professor you’d really like to work with or club you want to join? And how will you fit into Tufts’ community? This could even be an opportunity to work in a brief anecdote to illustrate how your own personal qualities align with the ones in the Tufts community. Maybe your favorite classes are the ones in which you and your classmates discuss literature and debate symbolism. Perhaps you are the punniest person you know and think this core part of your character will help you assimilate into Tufts’ playful culture smoothly.

2. Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following two questions. (200-250 words)

       A) Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, created slam poetry or mixed media installations, tell us: What have you invented, engineered, produced, or designed? Or what do you hope to?

Do not be overwhelmed by this prompt! You don’t have to have curated an art gallery in Chelsea to impress admissions with your response here. The prompt even says itself, your invention could be as seemingly unimportant as a blanket fort, admissions just wants to know how you think. What kinds of things do you make and what motivates you to make them? This prompt is as much about ingenuity and problem-solving as it is about creativity. Did you build a lemonade stand when you were in third grade that allowed for customers to select their own plastic cup without contaminating any others? Did it increase sales or make your mom proud?

       B) Our Experimental College encourages current students to develop and teach a class for the Tufts community. Previous classes have included those based on personal interests, current events, and more. What would you teach and why?

What are your special skills? What could you talk about for hours? This prompt allows you to showcase your greatest passions while also demonstrating your fit. Neat! A savvy applicant will think not just about the content of the course, but also the resources available at Tufts. Your why essay research will continue to serve you well on this prompt, but make sure you have a feel for how the program works. Presenting a course that uses the right terminology and follows the basic structure of other student-led courses will demonstrate your attention to detail and commitment to the school without you ever having to say it outright. In other words, geek out but be informed! Once you’ve got the basic structure down, the sky is the limit! Have fun and don’t overthink it. Writing up your dream course will show admissions a lot about the way your mind works. Nothing is too silly or out there. Maybe you’d want to spend a semester unpacking the nature of fame in the digital age: from influencers to trolls. Perhaps you grew up on a dairy farm and you’d want to teach a practical on the chemistry of cheese-making. This is a great way to reveal something new about yourself, show what you know about your major, and/or demonstrate how well-rounded your interests actually are.

Applicants to the BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree at the SMFA at Tufts answer the following two questions:

      1. Which aspects of the Tufts curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (200-250 words)

This question is extremely similar to the first prompt of the School of Arts and Sciences application, and the same advice applies here. So scroll up for the nitty gritty. But keep in mind that Tufts want to know why you have specifically chosen the SMFA program, so go beyond the basic school details and drill into the details about the arts education you expect to receive. Why get a BFA rather than a BA? What goals will this degree help you achieve?

      2. Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. Whether you think of Ai Weiwei’s work reframing the refugee crisis, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald’s portraits of the Obamas reimagining portrait painting on a national scale, or Yayoi Kusama’s fanciful Infinity Mirrors rekindling our sense of wonder, it is clear that contemporary art is driven by ideas. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)    

This is it! Your mission statement as an artist. We couldn’t possibly assume what issues you’d like to tackle or how, but we’d advise you to pay close attention to the way the prompt frames the three examples of Ai Weiwei, the Obamas’ portraits, and Yayoi Kusama. Each example goes beyond the question of craft or material to the purpose of their work. So: what matters to you? Where does your inspiration come from? What change or impact would you like to inspire in your audience? While this is an inherently philosophical question, try to anchor your response with concrete details from your personal experience. Explain how you came to care so deeply about a particular issue and how it found a way into your art.

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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