For the 2018-2019 admissions cycle, Tulane University presented applicants with two essay prompts. The first essay prompt, which is optional, asks students why they’re interested in attending Tulane. Our regular readers are quite familiar with this type of question: it’s a Why College essay. Many highly selective colleges ask students why they wish to attend as a way to gauge if they really would matriculate if they earned admission. You see, highly selective colleges seek to admit students who are going to come because their yield impacts their “US News & World Report” ranking. One of the best predictors of whether or not a student has any intention of actually matriculating is the student’s answer to this essay prompt. Is it filled with generalities that could apply to any given university or is it filled with specifics that apply only to this particular school?
A Note on the 800-Word Why Tulane Essay
So while the Tulane prompt itself shouldn’t be all that surprising to our readers, the maximum word count is a bit of a surprise. Applicants are asked to respond to the question in 50-800 words. 800 words…that’s a whole lot of words. We can’t think of another highly selective college that asks students to respond to a Why College essay prompt in 800 words; Tulane wins that prize. Think about it. Cornell and Penn ask 650-word Why College essays. But 800 words, well, that’s more than 650 by our calculus.
So how many words should an applicant write if Tulane’s word limit ranges from 50-800 words? Whenever a highly selective college offers applicants a word limit, as it does in this case, we always encourage them to use all of the real estate available to make their case. Applicants shouldn’t write 50 words. They’d be leaving 750 words on the table, which is a bad idea (as we informed some fellow who wrote in about this year’s Wash U essay prompt)! They should write 800 words. Use that track you’re given to run your race. Don’t not run. Don’t run only part of the race. That’s crazy! And when an essay is marked “optional” as this particular essay is for Tulane, know that it’s not really optional. If you want to give your candidacy the best shot possible, you’ll write that essay, it’ll be just about 800 words, and it’ll contain a whole lot of specifics about Tulane that don’t apply to any other school in America.
Tulane also asks applicants to write about one of their significant extracurricular or work experiences — in 250 words. So how many words should applicants write when responding to this prompt? …You guessed it. 250. You’re learning so fast! We’re so very proud.