The number one goal of our holistic application review process is to get to know you, the human behind the application. Not to filter out apps by a certain GPA. Not to fill a class of 1,600 students with the first 1,600 apps we receive. Not even to tally up the number of truly amazing pieces of cat art that we receive (that’s goal number two). It’s called a holistic application review process because everything in your application and supporting materials contributes to our achieving this goal of getting to know you. In this series we want to highlight the writing in your application as one of the best ways to share your voice with the SMFA at Tufts admissions committee, starting with the letters of recommendation.
For applicants to the BFA program, we ask for two letters: one from your school counselor and one from your art teacher. For the Combined Degree program, it’s three: school counselor, art teacher, plus one from another academic teacher (language, science, math, etc).
These letters don’t exactly come from your voice, since they’re written by your teachers and counselors, but they still have a big impact within your application. You shouldn’t stress too much about what’s inside your letters of recommendation; in fact, you probably won’t even get a chance to read them before they’re submitted. If you’ve chosen teachers that know you well and you’ve given them plenty of time to write the letter, you shouldn’t have to worry.
When it comes to letters of recommendation, we’re hoping to hear about you as a community member and about your personal, academic, or artistic growth. The best recommenders often go beyond “this student submitted their assignments on time” to tell us how you’ve made an impact in a classroom environment or extracurricular. We love to hear about a time that you collaborated with classmates, a subject that really lit up your intellectual curiosity, a project that pushed you out of your comfort zone in a transformative way, or a passion project that you’ve invested tons of energy into. When you request a letter of recommendation from your teacher or counselor, feel free to bring some of these topics and stories up as a jumping-off point. Each student is unique in their interests, their strengths, and their role as a community member, and the best letters of recommendation make those unique qualities stand out. We can’t wait to get to know you through your rec letters and the rest of your application!