This is a super short “Why us?” essay.  

Because it’s so short, the key will be finding 2-3 reasons that set Tufts apart from all the other schools you’re applying to.

Here’s the “Why us?” essay guide—in this case, check out the Cornell example to understand the effect you want your short “Why us?” to have without all the length. We do talk a bit about possible approaches for tackling the shorter version of this essay, and there’s a nice older Tufts example as well. 

Even though it’s short, this essay should focus on unique reasons that you and Tufts connect. 

Try to avoid these common mistakes: 

Mistake #1: Writing about the school’s size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking.

Mistake #2: Simply using emotional language to demonstrate fit.

Mistake #3: Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors or names of any important people or places on campus.

Mistake #4: Parroting the brochures or website language.

Mistake #5: Describing traditions the school is well-known for.

Mistake #6: Thinking of this as only a “Why them” essay.

Below is a great recent Tufts essay for prompt #1.


My interest in Tufts began with bubbles. On a campus tour, our guide talked about blowing bubbles with her roommate at 1am and watching them freeze. The tour was actually five years ago when I accompanied my sister on a campus visit. This story highlights what excites me about going to Tufts: the students share an intellectual curiosity that carries beyond the classroom into the friendships and memories they create. After imagining myself at Tufts for five years, I can clearly see myself there. I will use my own intellectual curiosity to research infectious diseases in Dr. Aldridge’s lab, learn about nuclear nonproliferation in Nuclear Weapons and International Politics, and teach Climate Action workshops on the climate change-social justice intersection. Although my interests are diverse, I know Tufts will not only support my freedom to explore, but encourage it. 

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Tips + Analysis

  1. Paint a vivid picture. Bubbles freezing in midair is a memorable image, and memorable is exactly what you want. Bonus points that the story came from a campus visit five years prior, which shows the author’s demonstrated interest over time. If you choose to reference a college visit or tour, take the extra time to research the name of the admissions rep or guide you met and make a clear and specific explanation, or “so what?” as to why that information is relevant to your desire to attend. And heads-up: You totally do not have to visit campus in order to write a great “Why us?” essay, as you’ll see from the example below. If you can’t visit campus, you can search for virtual campus tours, webinars with admissions officers, or simply Google “a day in the life of a Tufts student” to find great short video clips and interviews that will help you visualize yourself there and provide great potential “Why us?” references.

  2. Name one clear value. Even though this is an undergraduate prompt, intellectual curiosity happens to be #1 on the list of values for Tufts’ School of Medicine. This is no coincidence given her expressed research goals, and with such a small word limit, this student cleverly chose to ground her short essay in a value that’s shared by both Tufts and herself. Make sure to keep your whole list of core values handy as you peruse Tufts’ strategic plan, mission, and values statements to see what lines up for you.

  3. Connect specific wants to specific resources. Despite the length, the author manages to name her desires to contribute to Dr. Aldridge’s infectious disease lab, learn about nonproliferation in a class on nuclear weapons, and teach extracurricular climate activism workshops. Use your internet research superpowers to find the most specific resources possible, and make sure they overlap with interests you’ve described elsewhere in your application.

Here’s another example essay (that’s not about visiting the campus) that also works well:


At Tufts, I will major in Environmental Studies, choose the track of Environmental Policy and research under Professor Ninian R.Stein to find out effective ways to use community resources for sustainable development. Afterward, I will participate in the Tufts Civic Semester under Tisch College at Urubamba, Peru to learn about how NGOs address sustainable development and community health issues. Back at  Tufts, I will apply my classroom and study abroad knowledge to my Yuanyang project (see additional info), become a Tisch International Project Summer Fellow, and minor in Entrepreneurship to upscale the project into a mature social enterprise that can address the sustainable development issues at the villages. After all, Tufts is also the place I can have fun! With its close-knit community, Quidditch games and novel experimental college courses such as The Avengers and Beyond (seriously?), I cannot find a better place where I want to belong.

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