On your marks.
That was yours truly signaling the opening bell of the 2013-14 admissions cycle. Yes, it’s a muggy moment in mid-July (at least in Boston) but the admissions infrastructure is already gearing up for our next adventure in selectivity. (As I type, it’s about 110 days until the ED deadline. Just sayin’…)
On campus, admission officers are beginning to map out our fall visits to high schools. Tour groups are swelling as minivans and rental cars filled with prospective families return to our parking lot now that high schools are out for the summer. On August 1, the Common Application goes live. And, on our website, our supplemental short essay questions (a.k.a., “The Writing Supplement to the Common Application”) have been posted for your early consideration.
To get your writing juices flowing, we penned questions that won’t sound like the ones you’ll encounter on (most) other college applications. That’s not an attempt to make it “harder” to apply to Tufts; it’s our way of saying “think outside the box.”
Here they are (imagine a drum roll):
The first two are required of all applicants:
Let me add a quick note about suggested length: 50-100 words is a couple of sentences, 250 words is a paragraph. These are not intended to be encyclopedic discourses.
And then #3 (“Now we’d like to know a little bit more about you…,” also 250 words or less) invites you to pick one of these six options:
A. “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people,” Virginia Woolf. Respond to Woolf’s quote in the medium of your choice: prose, video (one minute), blog, digital portfolio, slam poetry... For media other than writing, please share a link (video can be submitted via YouTube but we recommend using a privacy setting) that is easily accessible.
B. What makes you happy?
C. Sports, science and society are filled with rules, theories and laws like the Ninth Commandment, PV=nRT, Occam’s Razor, and The Law of Diminishing Returns. Three strikes and you’re out. In English, “I” comes before “E” except after “C.” Warm air rises. Pick one and explain its significance to you.
D. Celebrate your nerdy side.
E. The ancient Romans started it when they coined the phrase "Carpe diem." (Horace gets credit for it.) Jonathan Larson proclaimed "No day but today!" and most recently, Drake explained You Only Live Once (YOLO). Have you ever seized the day? Lived like there was no tomorrow? Or perhaps you plan to shout YOLO while jumping into something in the future. What does #YOLO mean to you?
F. Boston is famous for its teams, its fans and its rivalries. Whether you are goal-tending or cheering from the stands, celebrate the role sports plays in your life.
Oh yes, we did. Quakers, Virginia Woolf, nerds, an ancient Roman, Drake, a principle of physics and the Red Sox (at least by inference) all wiggled their way into one of our essay questions. Have some fun as you introduce yourself to Tufts. Think about it: two of the questions use the word “celebrate” as a way to frame your answer. Celebrations are lively.
I hope our questions underscore Tufts’ vibe. They are an invitation to showcase your personality, your passions, your point of view and your pasttimes (I know, “pasttimes” is a bit anachronistic but I’m running out of Ps…). Be playful. Be purposeful. (This paragraph was brought to you by the letter P.)