Tufts' "#YOLO" Question: Creative or Offensive?

Tufts is engaging the Class of 2018 by asking prospective students to include a supplementalwriting essay to the common application. Students are asked to respond to questions 1 and 2, and can select one option from question 3:

  1. Which aspects of Tufts' curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: "Why Tufts?" (50–100 words)
  2. There is a Quaker saying: "Let your life speak." Describe the environment in which you were raised – your family, home, neighborhood or community – and how it influenced the person you are today. (200–250 words) 
  3. Now we'd like to know a little bit more about you.  Please respond to one of the following six questions:

    A) "If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people," Virginia Woolf.  Respond to Woolf's quote in the medium of your choice: prose, video (one minute), blog, digital portfolio, slam poetry...  For media other than writing, please share a link (video can be submitted via YouTube but we recommend using a privacy setting) that is easily accessible. .

    B) What makes you happy?

    C) Sports, science and society are filled with rules, theories and laws like the Ninth Commandment, PV=nRT, Occam's Razor, and The Law of Diminishing Returns. Three strikes and you're out. "I" before "E" except after "C." Warm air rises. Pick one and explain its significance to you. 

    D) Celebrate your nerdy side.

    E) The ancient Romans started it when they coined the phrase "Carpe diem." Jonathan Larson proclaimed "No day but today!" and most recently, Drake explained You Only Live Once (YOLO).  Have you ever seized the day? Lived like there was no tomorrow?  Or perhaps you plan to shout YOLO while jumping into something in the future. What does #YOLO mean to you?

    F) Boston is famous for its teams, its fans and its rivalries.  Whether you are goaltending or cheering from the stands, celebrate the role sports plays in your life.  

Not everyone appreciated the forward-thinking question: 

Tufts #YOLO
One alum of the school explains why he's offended by the question (excerpt here):

The college admissions process is the biggest freakshow of self-aggrandizement and hapless people pleasing in modern American society. On the one hand Drake is exceedingly worthy of being name-dropped in an application essay because his claim to legitimacy, at least in the early part of his career, was the fact that he did whatever it took to make people like him no matter if it made him feel hollow inside. The general internet consensus on the #YOLO question seems to be, "Drake is stupid, Tufts is stupid, kids are stupid, America is stupid." While I agree with each of these conclusions taken separately, I'm also legitimately angered by their intersection. Most people are mad at Tufts for the #YOLO question because it's a cornball "cool dad" appeal to applicants. I'm mad because Tufts isn't being criticized for admission and administrative practices that deserve scorn, practices that are a toxic mixture of profiteering and systemic racism and classism that are symptomatic of higher education as gestalt. Since we live in a country where it's pretty much legal to stalk, assault and kill a black kid walking to his dad's house, I feel a pressing need to call Tufts, my alma mater and cool dad, on its recent history.

Discussion Starters:

  • Regardless of your expected graduation year, answer the prompt. What do you think would be a good response to the admissions question?
  • What's your opinion of the controversy? Do you find the question creative, offensive, stupid, or something else?