Even though some of the questions on the supplement change year to year, one always stays the same. The first question we ask our applicants is "Why Tufts?" While this is a pretty straightforward question, it can be deceptively hard to answer. Why is that? Because it's a big question and you don't have that much space to answer it! When I am giving application advice during my information session I always say this (basically word for word)- PLEASE do not give me an essay that goes "I want to go to a medium sized research university near but not in a city that has the major of biology". While those are all true characteristics of Tufts, I can name ten additional schools off the top of my head that fit that description.
In my opinion (and yes, I know I am biased) there are a LOT of things that make Tufts special, but you should not try to cover them all when answering this question. As an admissions officer, I want to know what specific part of our community you connected to. Maybe it is a major that only we have, maybe you are dying to be in a lab with one of our professors or maybe it is something that your tour guide said when you visited campus. Whatever it is, no matter how small it is, I want to know! In addition, you do not need to visit campus to have a good answer to this question. There are plenty of other ways to get a sense of our community, such as Jumbo magazine, talking to students or talking to an admissions officer when they visit your high school. To give you all a better sense of what I'm talking about, here are some of my favorite examples from the Class of 2019.
"Pianos. While visiting Tufts campus this past fall, my friend Katie showed me the Granoff Music Center. I don't intend to study music, but I immediately fell in love with the practice rooms. I could easily envision myself sitting at one of those baby grands, jamming to my personal version of Disney's "Let it Go"; before tackling homework or going to Davis Square with friends. In short, a place where undergraduates can pursue intense academic paths and form new relationships while staying true to what makes them happy is a place where I want to be."
"Leafing through a pile of redundant college mail, something from Tufts catches my eye; "Reimagining Shakespeare" in the Jumbo magazine. After spending the past five weeks studying, I am intrigued. If a gang of college students can bring new light to Hamlet through YouTube videos, I want to know more. Like me, the students cared about what they were doing, and found a way for the public to care about it too in an unconventional style. At Tufts, students find unique ways to express and reinvent their passions, and that's a place I want to be.
"If my college search were a romantic comedy, Tufts would be "The One"; that the occasionally cynical main character (me) falls for. Why? This quote from a student posted on Evan in Admissions' Twitter puts it quite nicely; "You have the power to make a difference. You can't tell a Tufts student no"; Tufts' very existence as this progressive community of individuals-- a place where Jumbos can organize a Zombie 5K and then take classes like "Rise and Decay of the West"; (get it?)-- disproves Thomas More's theory of the impossibility of a true social Utopia. And that's a pretty awesome feat."
The length of this response (50-100 words) is short, but these words are powerful! I'll leave you with one final note- When my colleagues and I discuss an applicant in committee, we are much more likely to go back and ask ourselves "What did they write for their Why Tufts question?" than "What did they get on the writing section of the SAT?"