Tuesday, July 16, 2013


ERMAHGERD, More College Admissions Essay Prompts

This week, Tufts University released their supplemental essay questions, one of which asked students to contemplate, "What does #YOLO mean to you?" Here are some of the other essays Tufts considered asking students.

• Sometimes life presents challenges, and you are not always able to obtain what you want, when you want it. Discuss a time when you have been told you cannot haz something, and explain how this impacted your viewpoint of how important it is to haz things, in general.

• It’s Friday. Which of your mediocre talents are you going to post to the internet this weekend, and why?

• A great American writer once said, "pimpin' ain't easy, but it sure is fun." Examine a personal experience that was hard work, but worth the effort.

• Select an intellectual or creative opportunity (for example, community involvement, a summer program, a unique project, travel abroad, etc.) from your high school years that you have enjoyed and highlight the ways in which you're Never gonna give you up, never gonna let it down, never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you. Describe a project you have worked on that was interrupted, but still produced inspired results.

• Discuss how you successfully conquered a First World Problem, White Girl Problem, Overeducated Problem, Stoner Problem, or another exaggerated obstacle of social, racial or habitual origin.

• We are pleased to accept your application to the Class of 2018, and we will let you finish, but Beyonce’s college application essay was the greatest college application essay of all time. Discuss.

• In 2007, Miss Teen South Carolina delivered the following address on national television:

I personally believe, that U.S. Americans, are unable to do so, because uh, some, people out there, in our nation don’t have maps. and uh... I believe that our education like such as in South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like such as... and, I believe they should uh, our education over here, in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.

In 500 words or less, please help Ms. South Carolina make a fucking point.

• You have been tasked with naming a celebrity baby, but you can't use a name that has been registered in the United States since 1945, colors, or food items (even organic ones). What do you name the baby and why?

Stacey Brook is a writer, and the founder of College Essay Advisors in New York City. She will now be recommending that her students answer their essay questions in 140 characters or less.

48 Comments / Post A Comment

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

im just gonna sit here and think about how someone who writes an essay about #YOLO is somehow more qualified than me to have a job that pays a living wage.


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood A large part of education* is learning to do stuff that makes no sense because you were told to. This skill comes in handy if you have a boss with priorities you can't relate to.

*Pretty much every class you didn't want to take or care about.


@garli I'm convinced my masters' program was half me learning my field and half me learning to deal with bureaucratic nonsense.


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood I think you're vastly overestimating Tufts.


...says the guy who went to a large, southern state university best known for its football team.


Though in my day we didn't have YOLO, we just yelled "SPRING BREAK" regardless of the time of year.

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood The thing is, I would write an essay about how to me, "YOLO" means that my peer group is terrible.




@Scandyhoovian Right? It's kind of a depressing thought because I love learning and education and I think college was a pretty great experience.

On the other hand there's something to be said for like "it just proves you can do a bunch of shit that's required to meet a goal".


Dude, it isn't Josh's fault.
I went there, and there is a big cloud of apocraphy sitting over the metro-Boston area that Tufts is a good school.

A. Louise



@A. Louise [deep inhale] DOOOOOOOO


hahahahahahahahhahahaha I love this so much


...the last two would actually require some thought/creativity and be interesting to read?


I'm thinking about grad school in the spring. I should start making my cat macros now, shouldn't I?

Judith Slutler

@LacunaKale my grad school motivational statement and cover letter for all potential employers:

Pulpit rock


This is the greatest. THE GREATEST.


A++ Would choose to be prompted again.


500 words answering the question "Do you even lift, bro?"

Briony Fields

I could probably knock out a couple hundred words about the influence of the Nopetopus in modern society.


Not gonna lie, I've managed to conquer some White Girl Problems and I'm no where near remotely white. 1/8th Irish don't count.


Ahh the baby name one! These were all great.


@iceberg "I would name my celebrity baby Æthelred because fuck the Danegeld!"


"Discuss how you successfully conquered a First World Problem, White Girl Problem, Overeducated Problem, Stoner Problem, or another exaggerated obstacle of social, racial or habitual origin."

Pretty sure that's what 97% of white kid college admissions essays are already about.


@sophia_h "I think if I attach this vial of White Wimmenz Tears, it'll be the touch that puts me over the top."


@sophia_h Yup. I used to work for admissions in a "trendy" graduate program and I support your statistics.


@SmartCookie And I say this as someone who got myself halfway there in 2005 by writing about how my college "race and sociology" class was the first time I realized, in a multiracial environment, "hey, not everybody is interested in racial harmony or helping me overcome my white liberal guilt, I'm an idiot" for my law school admissions essay.

Tuna Surprise

But I had an essay prepared entitled: "How I got material for a college essay, solved world poverty and went on a luxury safari during a two week trip to Africa (that included a life-changing a 3 day stay stop over at a charity to build schools)"


@Tuna Surprise Oh man, mine was about a ten-day trip to Italy and how "freeing" it was, and I didn't even do charity work unless you count supporting the local gelato industry with my allowance money.


@sophia_h I completely include my highschool self in that 97%. I don't remember it but I'm assuming it was cringeworthy. My grad school essay was something like "I already have a project in the works with the dean. There's no way you're not letting me in."


"But what can a decent man speak of with most pleasure?

Answer: Of himself.

Well, so I will talk about myself.

I want now to tell you, dear admissions committee, whether you care to hear it or not, why I could not even become an insect. I tell you solemnly, that I have many times tried to become an insect. But I was not equal even to that. I swear, gentlemen, that to be too conscious is an illness -- a real thorough-going illness. For man's everyday needs, it would have been quite enough to have the ordinary human consciousness, that is, half or a quarter of the amount which falls to the lot of a cultivated man of our unhappy twenty-first century, especially one who has the fatal ill-luck to inhabit New York, the most theoretical and intentional town on the whole terrestrial globe. (There are intentional and unintentional towns.) It would have been quite enough, for instance, to have the consciousness by which all so-called direct persons and men of action live. I bet you think I am writing all this from affectation, to be witty at the expense of men of action; and what is more, that from ill-bred affectation, I am honking my own horn like a celebrity's ghost-written Twitter account. But, gentlemen, whoever can pride himself on his diseases and even swagger over them? #YOLO"

Lush Life

+5 For Rick Roll.


"What exact color do you think Tami Taylor's hair is and what does it mean for women's rights?"


...did...did I just get Rick Rolled in the middle of a post? I feel so violated.

George Templeton Strong

@lepidoptera A few years ago I got tickets to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade bleacher seats at the end of the route, where they make the turn and wind up outside of Macy's itself. Really cold day. Toward the end, off in the distance, I heard something familiar. "Could it be...?" Yes, Rick Astley on a float, singing that song, a good two decades after his time. HE RICK ROLLED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, and millions more watching at home. Well done, Mr. Astley. I would love to meet the talent coordinator with a puckish sense of humor who booked him for that.

George Templeton Strong

@George Templeton Strong And if you don't believe me:


He's still hot, IMHO.


@George Templeton Strong That was absolutely delightful. He seems good-humored and charming.

Olympic Hopeful

This is terrific. Does anyone over 25 remember their college admissions essays? Only if they're cringeworthy, perhaps. I wrote law school admission essay about what bullshit law school admissions requirements were. Too meta?


@Olympic Hopeful I'm pretty sure my brain wiped all knowledge of my college admissions essays roughly 10 seconds after I submitted the applications. All I remember is this vague sense of feeling really, really dumb as I was writing. Unfortunately, this describes most of my experience writing, so I don't even know if my admissions essays were actually cringeworthy or not.


@Olympic Hopeful I'll be 25 in a couple of weeks and I remember the essay I wrote for the college I attended. It was about how I'd bring diversity to the college.

My original draft was just "I'm black." Later amended to "I'm black and this is a private, liberal arts college in the South that is named after a dude most known for writing about how good slavery is and using the Bible to defend it."

The other one I remember was several short prompts about overcoming adversity and such.

Be But Little

@Olympic Hopeful I don't remember what my admissions essay was about (yay for the Common App!), but I do know that my alma mater included this prompt a couple of years ago: "How do we get down from here?" The answers were... interesting. Some were pretty creative! Others were not.


@Olympic Hopeful
At my college, they give you a copy of your admission essay when you graduate. Humiliations galore.


Cool story bro, but Beyonce didn't even GO to college!!

In other news, I'm going to finish my lunch here at my desk. I bring it from home since I can't afford to eat out. ::weeps::


I went there.
People always say 'OH!' at me like that's impressive.
Maybe now I won't have to explain anymore that it isn't.


I created an account just so I could participate in this most fantastic saunter down memory lane. I do remember both my collegiate and grad school admissions essays (@Olympic Hopeful, I am 3[censored] so I guess my memory of school daze is more creaking than cracked). The former was "OMG we read a poem in AP English and none of us understood the metaphors because nobody ever taught us Greek mythology WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CLASSICS." (For good measure, I took classics courses my freshman year just to prove I meant it.)

The one for grad school (a JD/MA program) was far more personal: "I was GOING to be a doctor but then the medical system failed my grandfather and he died and now I want to SUE ALL THE THINGS...and PS also maybe fix them."

If only I could have gone to Hypothetical Tufts U! Can I apply now? I have a baby name ready: "Hazbeen" (rhymes with "mean") - twofer name and prediction!


As a high school English teacher, I am strongly considering using all of these prompts + the YOLO one for an introductory diagnostic essay to get to know my students and also laugh and laugh and laugh and not be as miserable while grading 180 essays.


At the risk of tooting my own horn, Emmettalie is the best celebrity baby name of all time. Of all time. (Source: Growing Up Cullen... "WE ARE NAMING OUR KID EMMETTALIE IF WE EVER GET ONE...BOY OR GIRL, THAT'S IT'S NAME. IT'LL KICK THIS KID'S ASS. THE MIDDLE NAME IS GOING TO BE BASEBALL, THOUGH.")

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