Often when people think of admissions officers, they envision a grumpy old man with a red pen, ruthlessly slashing through admissions files with one goal in mind: to deny applicants. I can assure you that this is not the case (I like to think of admissions officers as jovial. Also, sweatpants. Lots of sweatpants.) We are always looking for reasons to accept an applicant, not reject them. A minor grammatical mistake is not the kiss of death. We are all human, errors are bound to happen. However, there are some faux pas that are worse than others. We often call these “womp womp” moments (think *palm-on-face emoji*). Here are a list of them. Read them and avoid them.
In addition to the personal statement essay you write that gets sent to all schools you apply to, Tufts applicants respond to two additional questions. This is known as Tufts-specific questions or the supplement. We use the supplement as a tool to gauge fit. We encourage students to write in their authentic voice and talk about whatever facet of our campus excites them-whether that is an academic department or the Quidditch team. There is not one right way to approach the supplement. There, are however, a couple pitfalls to avoid. First, the “Why Tufts” essay should be about Tufts. The ultimate palm-on-face moment is when we start reading a response to this question and the applicant includes the name of another college. We know we you are applying to other schools, many of whom have a supplement that also asks its applicants “Why ____ University?” However, you should still be proofreading to ensure that the “Why Tufts” essay is actually about Tufts University. For the second essay, you have the option to respond to one of three different prompts. You can write about what excites you intellectually, the environment you grew up in, or where you are in your social justice journey. Our applicants approach these questions in many thoughtful and creative ways. The only approach that definitely does not resonate is when you copy-and-paste a paragraph from your personal statement and call it a day. I strongly recommend that applicants take each essay prompt as an opportunity to showcase a different side of themselves. Recycling a paragraph from your personal statement certainly does not accomplish this goal! The last nugget of advice I will give about the supplement is minor but we can’t help but notice it… There are two grammatically correct ways to write “Tufts” in possessive form. Can you spot which of the following is incorrect? Tufts’ Tuft’s Tufts’s.
Ghosting the alumni interviewer:
Ghosting is not cool in any scenario, but it’s especially uncool when it comes to college admissions. In our application process, interviews are optional and are conducted by current Tufts seniors and alumni via Zoom. You have the option to sign up for an interview after submitting your application. (You can check out the interview request deadlines here.) We cannot guarantee that everyone who requests an interview will get one, but if you do, you will be contacted via phone or email. Therefore, it is very important that you list a phone number and email address that you actually use and check regularly! If you are contacted, respond in a timely manner (within 24-48 hours is a good rule of thumb) and follow up with your interviewer if something comes up and you need to change plans. It is disappointing to open up an admissions file and see “student never responded” when viewing the interview tab. Don’t be that guy!
Senioritis is real! I caught a case of it myself when I was in high school. However, finishing your senior year strong is super important in the admissions process. We not only consider your senior year grades when you apply to Tufts but also after students enroll. It is a huge bummer when you are assessing a student who performed strongly in 9th through 11th grade but took their foot off the gas in 12th grade. We are not only talking about GPA but also your curriculum. We expect applicants to take five classes in major subject areas (math, science, social science, English, and foreign language) every year of high school. We understand that come senior year, you might drop one of those subject areas and double up in another. Either way, the total should still amount to five! A senior schedule that only includes two or three core classes does not show admissions committees that you are particularly excited about the rigor of college. As a rule of thumb, your senior year schedule should be as rigorous, if not more rigorous, than your junior year schedule. For students who are admitted and choose to enroll at Tufts, we look at your second semester coursework and grades. This is when students tend to fall prey to Senioritis the most! It’s important that you remain in the same curriculum you listed on your application throughout the entirety of the school year. We also expect to see comparable grades first AND second semester of senior year. You can do it. I believe in you!
The good thing about these pitfalls is that they are very avoidable. The keys to success are: proofreading, checking your email, and staying motivated throughout senior year. And just know that if you catch an error in a written response after you submit your application, you can always be in touch with our office to address it. The same is true if something comes up senior year that impacts your performance. Informing admissions officers about extenuating circumstances that affect your schoolwork is encouraged!
Now go and work on those thoughtful, interesting, womp-womp-free applications!
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