All prospective Tulane students submit a personal statement, but Tulane also offers two optional supplement essays—let’s nickname them “Why Tulane” and “Describe an activity.” These supplements give you the chance to show sides of yourself not highlighted in the rest of your application, and to further demonstrate that you belong at Tulane University. We (and Tulane’s own admissions officers) strongly recommend writing them!
Let’s take a look at how to approach these “Why Tulane” and “Describe an activity” essays.
Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University (optional). (800 words)
Why is it so important to respond to this prompt, so much so that it actually borders on being non-optional (assuming you really do want to go to Tulane)? Whereas other parts of your application may show what a promising college candidate you are in general, the “Why Tulane” essay lets you show specific aspects of Tulane that excite you and align with your passions and goals.
Here’s an exercise to generate ideas: Write down what you’d tell your good friend about why you love Tulane. (Doing plenty of research on Tulane definitely helps here!) You could even imagine some insightful questions your friend might ask you. (Friend: “Dude, how’s Tulane going to help you with your goal to combat climate change?” “Ah, great question, my dear friend! Actually, Tulane was named as one of the most sustainable colleges in the U.S. and hosts a Tulane Climate Action Week, and I plan to start a “Combat Climate Change” club that collaborates with Tulane’s Office of Sustainability.”)
By thinking about writing to a friend, you’ll be less tempted to say things you think an admissions officer wants to hear, and more likely to talk about things you’re truly “stoked” about! Paint a vivid picture for them of just how cool Tulane is and how it has so many resources that interest and excite you. If someone personally recommended Tulane to you, explain to your friend why you value this person’s recommendation.
Note: be wary of focusing too much on Tulane’s New Orleans location, unless you can relate it specifically to your academic or career goals. It’s more important to show that you are interested in the college itself.
After completing this exercise, you’ll have lots of material to use for your “Why Tulane” essay!
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)
We recommend writing this “optional” Tulane supplement essay as well, because it’s a chance to show readers that you’ve engaged deeply with your extracurricular activities, and that these experiences have had a meaningful impact on your life.
But which activity or work experience should you pick?
Here’s an approach to try: First, think about everything you’re truly excited about doing at Tulane and in its surrounding areas. (Research on Tulane helps here, too!) For example, maybe you can’t wait to get involved in campus sustainability efforts. Now, list your extracurricular activities or work experiences—you might immediately home in on one that directly relates to your Tulane aspirations.
Let’s say you’re writing about your blueberry-picking job. Give only the key “technical details” of your daily duties; go into greater depth about any memorable interactions you had, lessons you learned, or realizations you gained. (For example: “Those early-morning hours working outside in nature made me realize I want to pursue a career that lets me study the natural world.”) Then look towards your future Tulane experience. (“That’s why at Tulane I hope to study X/join club Y/volunteer at Z in the Garden District...”) The overall focus of your response should be showing specifically why your chosen experience was so meaningful to you.
These Tulane supplement essays give you a chance not only to show readers more of who you are, but to connect your personality and interests directly to Tulane. So don’t skip these “optional-but-really-not-optional” essays!