Tufts Supplement Example Essays

Past Essays That Mattered

From the Readers

Students always ask about the essays. We get it: between topic selection, length, style, and message, there is a lot to think about. To make matters worse, you're probably also wondering what we'll think. We realize that the essay process is not an easy process (unless you drop one "s" and swap the other...bad joke?). So it's our pleasure to share with you some essays penned by recent applicants to Tufts—essays that stuck with us, essays that mattered.

What we love about these pieces is that they capture the distinct voices of the applicants. Some were conversational, some sarcastic, some compellingly serious—but they all forged a powerful human connection with us: the readers. They helped to set these students apart in our applicant pool because we could picture them as human beings and community members. They made us pause to laugh, think, or shout to the nearest fellow reader, "This kid is incredible." We hope that these essays will inspire you to find your unique voice as you craft your stories in the months to come and even—dare we say it?— to have some fun.

The Essays

Common Application: Past Essays

Why Tufts?: Past Essays

Let Your Life Speak: Past Essays

Supplement Essay #3: Past Essays

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Supplement Essay #3

Looking for examples of past college essays that worked? These are some admissions essays that our officers thought were most successful.


Essay #3 on our supplement allows you to chose from six options. Some of the prompts below are no longer featured on the Tufts Supplement. For this year's options for Essay #3, click here. 

Matthew Rohrbach '21
Palo Alto, CA
"It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity."

“Think about it”  Since I started standup comedy this is a phrase that has defined how I view the world. Comedy is not simply something to get laughs; it is a medium to convey ideas and stories in new and interesting ways. Comedy can change a person's perspective. When I approach a new “bit”, the first place I look is in the news. I also pull from one of my favorite areas, history, and, of course, personal anecdotes. I choose topics that directly impact my audience and me. Most recently I used the presidential election. I seek to gain a complete understanding and appreciation for the content. I challenge myself to hold each piece of information up like a gem and look at it from every angle. In order to make something comedic a full understanding is required. But more than that, I look at things from a unique perspective. I try to tie the topic into a greater societal context and look for humorous angles such as hypocrisy and irony. The most important aspect of comedy is taking something as common as a political stance and framing it in a different way.

Now I have a new and exciting opportunity. I have been asked to teach the art of standup comedy to the advanced theatre classes at Paly. I do not see this as a way to teach people to make others laugh; instead I hope to teach them to use comedy as a device to “think about it."

Want to hear more from current students? Jumbo Talk has blogs from current students talking about every aspect of life at Tufts here! 

Muriel Horvath '21
Hanover, NJ
"It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity."

For the majority of my life I assumed that I would become an artist. This began to morph in an interesting direction two summers ago when I took up astrophotography and spent most evenings photographing the night sky. However, I wanted to do more than create dazzling photographs¡ I wanted to understand the cosmos. Daytime took me to the library, reading anything I could find on astronomy. Scientist by day, artist by night? I first began to explore the somewhat unexpected combination of art and science in AP Design that fall and chose as my concentration theme environmental sustainability conveyed through infographics. Although I was finding myself in a very different place than I had imagined, I relished each new step because I saw how the science and the designs I created merged into something powerful, reaching a wider audience than the raw data could on its own. My senior year independent study is my most ambitious attempt at combining visual studies and science. I amusing art to further unpack metastatic breast cancer and genetic testing. This involves exploring the biology of the disease and what it means to experience it, whether in yourself or a loved one. In addition to promoting understanding of this complex science, it also serves to uncover the emotional layer of the disease, often untouched by the medical world. I now see that melding the worlds of science and art might become my lifelong pursuit, a notion I find not only thrilling, but limitless.

August Moore '21
Chapel Hill, NC
"Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what you invented, engineered, created or designed? Or what do you hope to?"

When people talk about building something, creating it, they most often mean something physical. Engineers, architects, and laborers, these are the professions that I think of as making things. I've never been much of a builder, I lack that particular understanding of the world that is required to envision what you will build, and have never been coordinated enough to make much of anything with my hands, but I can create. What I have made is not something you can hold or touch, it spans no gaps and holds no weight, and I can't even claim to have laid a single finger on its construction. My creation is a poem, or rather, poems. Series of letters symbolic of sounds strung together to make words, which are in turn collected into lines and stanzas, pieces of a whole. My poems cannot be touched, but they can touch you; though they won't form a bridge, they can cross a divide; and while you'll never be able to weigh them on a scale, the weight of the ideas they hold can be felt the moment you read them. So I may not be an engineer or an architect or a laborer, but I am a creator. I craft words into meaning, forge lines into rhymes, and sculpt imaginations. So even if I can't hold what I make, I can watch it take shape and see its impact on the world.

Yufeng (Eric) Wu ’21
Beijing, China
"Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, created crayon masterpieces or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered or designed? Or what do you hope to?"

In a summer design course, I pitched my idea for a glow-in-the-dark tennis court and set off to build a model. After selecting the material, I sawed, I sketched, and I painted. I excitedly tossed the brush into bucket, splashing water everywhere, and hastily snatched the Super Glue with my left hand, shaking the entire table.

I enjoy how objects feel in my hands because I can imbue my spirit into my creations just like an artist's signature on his work. As I tried to place the 2-millimeter-wide wood stick onto the model, I could sense my mental strength and hands' subtle motion converging into the model court.

I once asked Mr. Boone, my engineering teacher, whether my rough edges needed to be level. To my surprise, he said, "The roughness of the edge gives me a sense of intentional randomness, which I regard as the beauty of your work."

The practicality and the artistic elements in modeling are equally important. I had been hesitant to model my tennis court with sophisticated computer programs because they diminish the artistic elements involved with the construction. While building engineering projects, I would envision myself creating not just a robust model with precise parameters but also a beautiful work of art. While strict measurements allow us to replicate reliable products, the aesthetic appeal makes consumers want to engage with the products.

The careful composition of chemicals allows my court to glow in the dark, but people admire the glow for its beauty.

Aidan Anthony '21
Carbondale, IL

"Celebrate the role of sports in your life."

If you were to walk into my house at any given time, there's a good chance you'd hear the dialogue of two ping pong paddles, pok-pok-pok-ing away, punctuated by a groan of defeat or a whoop of glory.    

While I'm certainly not bound for the Olympics, ping pong has been a profound part of my life ever since I woke up to “Santa” (built suspiciously like my dad) cursing as he dropped the half-built ping pong table on his foot late one Christmas Eve. My father and I played half-heartedly for a few years, but I was too young to play a decent game.    

The tenor of our matches changed, however, when my father suffered a stroke; he couldn't read or see well for many weeks. I was 14, and it was the first time one of my parents had had a significant health issue. Fortunately, he recovered, but the event instilled in both of us a desire to connect more, to make use of what time we had.     Ping pong was perfect for this connection--we played around three games a day, taking time to occupy the same mental space and, even if we weren't speaking, communicate from either end of the table. Now, three years later, our games have taken on a sacred quality. Our schedules are much busier, but we still reserve 20 minutes a day to be with each other and bond, even if the only phrases we utter are “nice shot” and “is that legal?”

Rachel Isralowitz '21 
Summit, NJ
"Celebrate the role of sports in your life."

The scariest part of the 100-meter relay is also the most beautiful. In the space of 20 meters, a sprinter must receive the baton without looking back. To execute this "blind" exchange, runners must have complete faith in each other. 

This moment captures why I love track: it requires more teamwork than expected. We develop the chemistry needed for relays not only through training, but also during downtime at eight-hour meets. Since the combined race time for a sprinter is under two minutes, our main event is waiting together. We motivate each other, console each other, dance to calm our nerves, impersonate each other's pre-race rituals, and conspire to convince our coaches to go for post-meet smoothies. 

The significance of these moments surprised me. I had assumed that track was about individual challenges. But I soon learned that the cliché of the lonely runner, battling personal demons, is wrong.

I found this out sophomore year, when I replaced an injured teammate in an 800-meter relay. I had never run that distance and was intimidated by it. When I took the baton, my nerves threatened to overwhelm me. Then, about 20 meters later, I saw them: six teammates, running with me along the inside of the track, screaming their support. They stayed with me every step of the way.

Track is a grueling sport that demands a huge commitment. When that commitment leads to victory, the personal satisfaction is great. But it's the bond formed with teammates that I will treasure.

Adriana (Addy) Robbins '21
Norwich, CT
"Artist Bruce Nauman once said: “One of the factors that still keeps me in the studio is that every so often I have to more or less start all over.” Everyone deals with failure differently; for most artists, failure is an opportunity to start something new. Tell us about a time when you have failed and how that has influenced your art practice."

Failure is understandably frustrating. There are times when I'm working the night before a deadline when I've wanted nothing more than to lay down, or stab my brush through the canvas and paint the whole thing with gesso. However late I stay up, though, I always reach a point where I'm comfortable turning it in; either the piece resolves itself, or I resolve myself to turning in something mediocre so I can soothe my horrible sleep schedule.

When I get a painting that I consider a failure graded and handed back, I resist the urge to destroy it. Instead, I listen to the voice (which sounds an awful lot like my gram) that insists that what I made is worthwhile and I shove my failure in the darkest corner of my closet I can reach.

Each time I fail, I put it away for a while. Sometimes I don't touch the piece for years. But I always tell myself, that no matter how long it takes, I will come back to it, and I will salvage what I can.

This method of coping with my mistakes has made me a better artist. Those paint-stained late nights before a deadline have taught me not just how to run on an hour's sleep and a sense of responsibility, but also to know when to let things go. After all, as da Vinci said, art is never finished. Only abandoned.

Sydney Peters '21
North Falmouth, MA
Nelson Mandela believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Describe the way in which you have made or hope to make a difference. (No longer a question)

A mentor of mine once described me as "quiet, but influential." I was humbly honored, yet also confused: why "but"? Is it not common to meet a quiet AND influential person? I know my mentor didn't intend to highlight any contrast, but her words still surprised me. A couple months later, I became a dorm proctor at my school. Although I am not generally outgoing, I eagerly started the school year by cheering while decked out in my dorm's colors during the annual interdorm competition. During Homecoming weekend, I painted posters for my dorm mates and lost my voice yelling on the sidelines at their games. However, while I pride myself as the dorm cheerleader, I usually support my dorm mates in ways that are, by comparison, less animated and more personalized. In fact, as I began my role as proctor, I quickly became regarded as the dorm "therapist" due to my advice, chocolate truffle variety, and the tissues I always have on hand. Embracing my quiet personality has helped me make a difference as a proctor. I relate to those who are more introverted; those who may be more likely to feel as if they don't "fit in" with the greater dorm community. By helping them figure out their role, I have been able to foster a sisterhood where every girl feels at home. I am quiet and influential. For me, at least, those adjectives are closely related.

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