Tufts Asks Applicants What YOLO Means to Them

The Boston-area college hopes the quirky essay question will evoke more insightful responses

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With the fall application season already ramping up at colleges across the country, Tufts University is following through on its tradition of including zany essay questions by asking about one of the trendiest acronyms of the moment: YOLO.

The question, which was posted in the online application on July 10, reads: “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?”

The private university near Boston — which accepted about 21% of its 16,000 applicants for the Class of 2016 — offered prospectives some other fun topics to choose from as well, including “What makes you happy?” and  “Celebrate your nerdy side”.  Tufts spokeswoman Kim Thurler explained to Boston.com why the school includes such offbeat question: “Deceptively simple subjects can yield eloquent essays and important insights.”

Tufts admissions officers aren’t the only ones who make their applicants stretch their creative muscles. This year, University of Chicago asks, “Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it”. A 2011 essay prompt asked: “What does Play-Doh have to do with Plato?”, adding “Don’t write about reverse psychology.” And, in a now legendary, mindbending prompt from 2010,  Bennington College asked: “Can a toad hear? Prove it.”