8.51 Extracurriculars? A dean of admissions had this to say.

Are you wondering what extracurricular activities might make you stand out? Lee Coffin, former Dean of Admissions at Tufts University (below), just outside Cambridge, Massachusetts, had this to say in his introduction to a class he welcomed to Tufts:

“Say hello to the Thai photographer featured in Italian Vogue and the Teen Jeopardy contestant from Chicago. A teen blogger for The Huffington Post, an Appalachian clog dancer from Michigan, a Bulgarian rocker, and a chicken farmer from Cape Cod join us today. We welcome the tap-dancing chemical engineer from Bend, Oregon; the Medford altar boy who works as a box office attendant at the Somerville Theatre; a tour guide at the U.S. Capitol; and the tomato at Vermont’s annual Chili Festival. Joining them are 215 recruited athletes, the Singaporean naval officer trained in underwater combat, and a three-time Surf Cup champion from San Diego. And how could we ignore the culinary talents of the bio major from Dallas, PA, who worked at her parents’ pizzeria: “I can make a half BBQ, half extra bacon pizza on whole-wheat crust, thick style, in less than 10 minutes.”

Athena Advises

After that litany, you may be asking yourself just how weird you have to be to get admitted to Tufts! But think about it: not everyone is everything. A highly selective university like Tufts can pick and choose among academic achievers, to compose a class of people who not only have great grades, but are simply interesting. And they’re interesting because they care about something.

It doesn’t matter so much exactly what you choose to do with your time, but you must do something that you care about.

By the time an admissions committee puts together a class, there will be people from all ends of the earth; but each one of the students is from somewhere in particular, and threw themselves heart and soul into something in particular.

If you think about it, the last student on the list . . . worked in a pizzeria. That’s not particularly exotic. But the verve she brought to that special-order pizza suggests that she will bring to life every moment of her years at Tufts.

Only you can make your life. It’s time to make it unforgettable.

Dr. Marlena Corcoran
Founder and CEO

The full text of Dean Coffin’s speech welcoming Tufts’ Class of 2019 was originally published at admissions.tufts.edu/blogs/inside-admissions. I read an excerpt of his speech in Jumbo: The Tufts Admissions Magazine (Issue 13/Fall 2015).