Hello, dear seniors.
You're embarking on the final stretch of a process that is—how shall we say it?—a tad overwhelming. As January 1st creeps nearer, and well-meaning onlookers crowd in with questions about your future, you might feel more pressure than ever to have your act together. Let's address the elephant in the room: the next several weeks are super important. You're likely still working on your supplemental essays and finalizing portions of the Common Application—putting together the pieces that will be our best way, come reading season, of getting to know you. We don't want you to feel alone in that endeavor. Which is why we've compiled our best advice on this page.
First thing's first: we wrote some advice blogs. Sean offers 5 tips on essay writing. Virginia shares thoughts on what counts for extracurriculars. And Abby tells you to throw the thesaurus out the window!
If you gravitate towards advice in the form of Buzzfeed articles and Quote of the Day anthologies, this is for you. We asked several admissions officers to give you their most condensed words of wisdom.
It's best to be intentional about when you're working on college applications...and when you're not! Don't let senior year pass you by while you're stressing about college. Yes, set aside time for your apps, but also set aside time to hang out with your friends, go out for a run, bake a new recipe, spend time with family, and enjoy the things that you love! Don't let college applications consume your life!
-Rachel Brown, Associate Director of Admissions
Don’t leave writing your supplements until the last minute! It is not uncommon for students to focus mostly on writing their Common App Essay, but trust me when I say that the supplemental essays are the most important part of the application to us. By spending time and being thoughtful in your responses, you can show us not only how excited you are about Tufts, but also how you will fit into our community.
-Shanice Kok, Assistant Director of Admissions
Put your best effort into your applications, hit “send," and then let the process work. Realize that you’ve taken control of everything you can. Breathe. And enjoy your high school senior year.
-Karen Richardson, Dean of Admissions
Make sure to take the time to truly look over your extracurricular and awards section to add in any additional details or activities that you have been involved with. Tufts and many other schools (not all, but many) will not evaluate your resume as a part of your application. Instead, we use the Common Application's extracurricular section to understand your activities and passions outside of traditional classroom settings.
-Gracie Marshall, Assistant Director of Admissions
Be you and trust the process! Please make sure you plan a little treat for yourself after you have submitted all of your application materials. You are doing a lot of work, so do a little something to reward all your efforts.
-Derrick McCarthy-Gunter, Associate Director of Admissions
Don’t let the college application process consume your life at the expense of your other responsibilities. When your schedule feels jam-packed, I encourage you to prioritize your academic success in your senior year courses – this will pay off most in the application process. Aim to break your applications into small, more manageable parts and set intermediate deadlines to keep you on track: finish Extracurricular Activities section by 11/30, complete “Why Tufts?” supplemental essay by 12/10, complete second supplemental essay by 12/20. Focusing on one component at a time will help the process feel less overwhelming.
-Sean Ashburn, Assistant Director of Admissions
Authenticity shines through more than most students could imagine. Don’t focus on being uber-unique or pulling out every favorite word from your prolific vocabulary. Don’t paint your life as the climax of an epic story. Just make sure you sound like yourself and speak to things that you care about.
-Alex Most, Assistant Director of Admissions
For students applying to the SMFA at Tufts, make sure you spend a couple minutes (or more...) thinking about the order of your portfolio. Is your strongest work first? Are you happy with the overall flow of the portfolio as you scroll through it?
-Thomas Radovich, Admissions Counselor, SMFA
We talk a lot about writing essays in your authentic voice, but what does that mean? How can you tell if you've been successful? My advice: Finish your essays a few days early (I say this as a renowned procrastinator, but this one really is worth it). That will give you time to print them out on actual paper. Then read them aloud. Do the words roll easily off your tongue? If you've attempted a joke in one of your essays, does it make your mom eavesdropping in the next room chuckle a little out loud? Do the sentences have some kind of rhythm? If so, you've written in your own voice and should feel confident hitting submit.
-Abby McFee, Admissions Counselor
And now for some videos...
In our "Essays That Matter" series, admissions officers talk about recent essays they loved, and explain what made them work. Click to watch the four videos below! (Using a mobile device? You can find the videos here.)