Are you writing your supplement responses for Tufts right now? If so, pause and heed the wise words of Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall because I can almost guarantee you’re doing too much:
The Tufts Supplement is just that: a supplement to the rest of your application. It’s meant to provide glimmers and glimpses into your life as a seventeen-year-old, curated by a set of questions intended to highlight parts of your world that are a good fit for Tufts. To that point, your “Why Tufts?” does not need to contain more than one to three concrete reasons. Your answers to the second and third question do not need to cover more than one topic. And yet, I often find students cramming these spaces with endless but thin facts and tidbits about themselves. You need to do less.
Let me explain what this looks like. In the second question on our supplement, we ask you to “Let your life speak.” We want to know why you are the way you are, and how your environment/community/heritage/family made you that way. All too often, the answers we get read like this:
My mom is a manager and she taught me to work hard. My dad volunteers at church and he taught me to be moral. My sister is an artist and she taught me to be creative. My brother is lighthearted and he taught me to be funny. My dog is the best and he taught me to be loving. The End.
That’s a quick version, but you get the idea. Answers like this blow through half a dozen different points/thoughts/ideas in 250 words. And it’s not an incorrect answer. Nor is it an unflattering answer. Of course we want students who are hardworking, moral, creative, funny, and loving. But I don’t feel like I walk away from those answers with an authentic sense of who you are, how you think, and who you’ll be when you get here. Answers like that are the stuff of mediocre job interviews and pageant responses: positive platitudes that cannot survive a closer look.
So do less. Use this space to have a full thought. Just one. And let us see the depth with which you can process, analyze, articulate, and explore that thought. Give us a glimpse of not just a lone factoid, but of your personality and intellect. Dig into it. Wander around. Chew through it. There are a million ways this could go, and all of them are worthwhile as long as you give us a little depth and a sense of you along the way.
Maybe you’re nervous. Maybe you’re indecisive. Maybe you just don’t have the confidence to trust that one story or point is enough. But I promise you: it is. Do less, do it well, and press submit.