boston university application essay prompts

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Boston University | BU’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Additional info essay.

Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.

Select-A-Prompt Short Response

Boston University is dedicated to our founding principles: “that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community—local and international. These principles endure in the University’s insistence on the value of diversity in its tradition and standards of excellence and its dynamic engagement with the City of Boston and the world.” With this mission in mind, please respond to one of the following two questions in 300 words or less:

1. Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it?

2. What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community?

The mission of Kilachand Honors College is to offer a challenging liberal arts education grounded in critical and creative thinking, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and the real-world application of knowledge. Please see https://www.bu.edu/khc/about/ for more details about our program, and then respond to one of the following questions in an essay of 600 words or less:

1. What about the Kilachand Honors College resonates with you, and how would Kilachand‘s curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals?

2. If you could create a new Kilachand course, what would it be? How would your imagined course align with the core values of Kilachand?

Please write an essay of 600 words or less in response to one of the following two topics:

1: Nobel laureate and BU professor Elie Wiesel once said: “There is divine beauty in learning... To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests." Is there a book, film, podcast or life- experience that has made you feel more connected to your personal history/identity, and what is the most important thing you learned from it?

2: Describe a time when you felt out of your comfort zone or marginalized in a situation. How did you respond to that moment and how has it informed your actions moving forward?

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What will first-time readers think of your college essay?

Boston University Supplemental Essay 2023-24 Prompts and Advice

August 14, 2023

boston university bu supplemental essays

With almost 81,000 applications from those wishing to join the Class of 2027, Boston University has entered the realm of the most desirable private universities on the planet. It also continues to climb to new heights in terms of selectivity with just an 11% acceptance rate for entering 2023-24 freshmen. In contrast, just twenty years ago, BU accepted 70% of those who applied. This brings us to the topic of the Boston University supplemental essay.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into BU? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into Boston University  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Boston University has become a school where you may need more than just strong grades and test scores to gain acceptance—the average SAT for those submitting applications last cycle was 1441. Through its one required essay prompt, the BU supplemental essay affords applicants an opportunity to showcase what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below are the Boston University supplemental prompt options for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address them:

2023-2024 Boston University Supplemental Essays

Boston University is dedicated to our founding principles: “that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community—local and international. These principles endure in the University’s insistence on the value of diversity in its tradition and standards of excellence and its dynamic engagement with the City of Boston and the world.”  With this mission in mind, please respond to one of the following two questions in 300 words or less:

1. Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it?

2. What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community?

Note regarding word count: Although BU asks you to respond in less than 300 words, the Common App provides 350 words of space.

Prompt Option #1

Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it?

To craft a strong response to this prompt, you’ll first need to choose an issue that is important to you on either a global, regional, or community scale. If you pick something general (and popular), like women’s rights or social media, consider choosing a specific angle that relates to you personally. For example, while tackling “social media” in general would be a daunting proposition, discussing a particular platform or the impact of technology on your interpersonal relationships could be far more specific and accessible.

Boston University Supplemental Essays (Continued)

To answer the second part of the prompt, you’ll need to discuss how you’ve engaged with the issue in real life. Have you attended rallies, protests, or fundraisers? Did you create or join an after-school club or volunteer opportunity? Have you shared your perspective at community or school board meetings? On a smaller scale, have you made an effort to converse with peers and/or adults about your chosen issue? If so, what was the outcome?

This prompt is not asking for a hypothetical answer. Therefore, crafting an effective response will necessitate that you have outwardly engaged with your issue of choice on some level . As such, if you have trouble brainstorming an issue that you have addressed or raised awareness about, you’ll likely want to respond to the second prompt option instead.

Prompt Option #2

What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community?

This is your quintessential “Why Us?” essay which comes with the typical pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. We don’t want to label these as “mistakes” (there is nothing inherently wrong with them). They just don’t add any needle-moving value, which is, of course, the only goal here!

Common components of a vanilla “Why BU?” essay

  • Generalities about why Boston is an ideal location for your college experience.
  • Generalities about why Boston is an exciting/cosmopolitan/diverse/culture-filled city.
  • BU’s ranking, prestige, or reputation.
  • Too many generic expressions of feeling (e.g., I know with all my being that BU is the school for me… ).
  • Recycled statements from your other “Why Us?” essays that come across as stale, impersonal, or worst of all–irrelevant/inaccurate.
  • Lastly (and most importantly), mentioning Fenway Park.

How to write a winning “Why BU?” essay

First things first—consider why you’re excited to become a BU student. Is it the  academic programs , professors,  research opportunities ,  internship/externship programs ,  study abroad programs ,  student-run organizations , mission statement , etc.? Try focusing on 2-3 offerings that feel particularly significant rather than attempting to create a laundry list of everything you might possibly take advantage of. In addition, be sure to address how you will take advantage of the resources you decide to write about.

Secondly, you’ll need to discuss your prospective contribution to the BU campus. How will you be an active community member? Will your past/current endeavors carry over onto BU’s campus? How so? Will you bring special talents or passions?

In any “Why Us?” composition, you need to show that you’ve done your homework on a given school. However, you don’t want it to read like a robotic list of items that you Googled five minutes before writing the essay (even if the timing of the Google search is roughly accurate). In addition to the pure research element, a lot of the time and skill required in creating a stellar BU essay will involve connecting your selected opportunities of interest to your distinct values, talents, aims, proficiencies, and future goals.

Should I answer the optional BU question?

Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.

When considering whether or not to utilize this inviting blank space, consider that the BU admissions office is deluged with applications and will only want to see highly compelling and essential information included in this section. For more on how to decide whether or not to take advantage of any Additional Information section in an application visit our  blog on the subject .

How important is the essay at BU?

The factors that Boston University weighs as being “very important” in evaluating a candidate are the rigor of your secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, and talent/ability. The essay is “important” and sits alongside letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities.

Boston University Supplemental Essays – Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

In conclusion, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Boston University supplemental essay, we encourage you to  get a quote  today.

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College Essays

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If you're applying to Boston University this year, you're in luck: most applicants only need to submit one supplemental BU essay.

In this article, we'll cover what the Boston University essay prompts are, how to answer them, and provide key tips for writing the best application essays possible.

What Are the Boston University Essays?

Boston University requires all its applicants to respond to one Boston University essay as part of its admissions requirements (in addition to the Common App or Coalition App essay). You may also have to respond to an additional essay, depending on what school or program you're applying to.

Boston University accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application for admission , so you can choose whichever application you prefer and apply to Boston University (including submitting your essays) through that application's platform.

The essays are an important part of your application—they give you a chance to show the admissions committee a different side of your personality than what they see in the rest of your application. The Boston University essays also give you a chance to wow the admissions committee with your creativity and writing skills, so it's important to put a lot of effort into your essays to make them as strong as possible.

Boston University Essay Prompts and Requirements

There are a number of different Boston University essay prompts, depending on what program you are applying to and whether or not you decide to apply for a scholarship.

All students must answer the "Why Boston University" essay. You can also choose to submit additional work in the "Extra Space" part of the application. Applicants to the Accelerated Program in Liberal Arts and Medicine, Kilachand Honors College, and the Trustees Scholarships must also answer additional essays, each with their own word count and requirements.

Let's take a look at each of the prompts:

"Why Boston University"

"Extra Space" [OPTIONAL]

For Accelerated Program in Liberal Arts and Medicine applicants:

For Kilachand Honors College applicants:

The mission of Kilachand Honors College is to offer a challenging liberal arts education grounded in critical and creative thinking, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and the real-world application of knowledge. Please see https://www.bu.edu/khc/about/ for more details about our program, and then respond to one of the following questions in an essay (600 words):

Option A: What about the Kilachand Honors College resonates with you, and how would Kilachand's curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals?

Option B: If you could create a new Kilachand course, what would it be? How would your imagined course align with the core values of Kilachand?

For Trustees Scholarship applicants: Please select one of the questions below and respond with an essay explaining your perspective. (600 words)

  • Option A: Howard Thurman, who was the dean of BU's Marsh Chapel from 1953-1965, once wrote: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Can you describe a particular experience you have had or an activity that you participate in that makes you come alive? How would you try to integrate that experience or activity into your time at BU?
  • Option B: Describe a time when you felt out of your comfort zone or marginalized in a situation. How did you respond to that moment and how has it informed your actions moving forward?

Boston University Essay Prompts, Analyzed

Let's take a look at each of the Boston University essay prompts. In this section, we'll break down what each prompt is asking, how you should answer, what kind of topics will work to answer the prompt, and what you should avoid talking about.

What about being a student at Boston University most excites you? (250 words)

The Boston University Supplement Essay prompt is a classic "Why this school" essay prompt. These types of essays ask you to demonstrate to the admissions committee why this school is the one for you.

Your answer should be Boston University-specific. You should do your research on Boston University to be able to name specific classes, programs, or professors that excite you. Your essay should focus on why you want to attend Boston University—not why you want to attend college in general.

Don't speak generically—Boston University knows that it has great academics and interesting classes. You need to name specific parts of the school that are attractive to you as a student. Maybe you're interested in film and television and want to be part of BUTV10, or perhaps you want to work on a Senior Design Project in College of Engineering. Whatever your reason, make it specific to BU—something that you can't get at any other college or university.

For more information on how to answer the BU essay prompt, visit our article on the subject!

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Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider. (2000 KB PDF file)

This prompt may seem intimidating—what should you upload? First, remember that this is an optional prompt, and if you choose to leave it blank, that won't be a black mark on your application. If you do decide to answer it, y ou should use it as a chance to a.) demonstrate the quality of your work and/or b.) present yourself as a well-rounded person.

If, for instance, you are the first chair in your high school's wind symphony, you might want to upload a MP3 file of your playing. Boston University will have lots of students applying who are musicians—sending in a file of yourself playing can demonstrate the quality of your musicianship.

On the other hand, if you've been playing in a punk band with some friends for fun for five years but didn't mention it elsewhere on your application, this essay prompt gives you the perfect opportunity to present another aspect of your personality.

Whatever you choose to upload, make sure that it is high quality and well put-together. Submitting something that's confusing or sloppy can give the admissions committee the wrong impression, so if you don't have anything that stands out as something you'd want to submit, we recommend skipping it.

The Accelerated Programs Admission Committee is interested in learning more about you. Please write an essay on why you wish to enter the health professions, including what experiences have led you to this decision and what you hope to gain from your chosen profession. Please make sure your essay is completely distinct from the one you submitted on the Common Application. (750 words)

This prompt is only for students who are applying to the Accelerated Program in Liberal Arts and Medicine. This Boston University Supplement Essay prompt is a pretty standard example of a health professional admissions essay, but the long word count is tricky. You want to be specific and passionate, not redundant and long-winded.

You can break your essay down into two main parts: why you decided to enter the health professions and what you hope to gain from doing so. When you talk about why you decided to enter the health professions, be sure to highlight any specific experiences that influenced your decision. Don't speak in generalizations or platitudes—call out real experiences that made you decide to apply. Don't, for instance, say that you want to change the world through medicine, unless you can back it up with a solid explanation of why.

Discussing what you hope to gain from the profession is an opportunity to hammer home why Boston University is such an important part of your education. Talk about what you hope to achieve in your career and how Boston University can help you get there.

Students who are applying to Boston University's Kilachand Honors College must answer an additional 600 word prompt. You'll choose between two prompts, and both require you to discuss what about Kilachand is important to you and how you think it could help you achieve your goals.

The Kilachand Honors College is a living and learning community where you have the opportunity to participate in experiential learning activities, so it's a good idea to highlight how practical application and real-world experience is important to you in this essay.

The key to either of these prompts is to be specific. You don't need to talk about all of your academic interests here—in fact, it's probably better to just discuss one or two that are really important to you. Whatever interest you choose to write about, you should make sure that you highlight how you would continue to explore that interest at Boston University, and Kilachand specifically. Whether you choose Option A or B, make sure to discuss both your own personal interests/goals as well as how they relate to the values of Kilachand and the opportunities it offers.

Please select one of the questions below and respond with an essay explaining your perspective. (600 words)

  • Option A: Howard Thurman, who was the dean of BU’s Marsh Chapel from 1953-1965, once wrote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Can you describe a particular experience you have had or an activity that you participate in that makes you come alive? How would you try to integrate that experience or activity into your time at BU?

Students who are applying for the Boston University Trustees Scholarships must answer an additional essay of 600 words.

The Trustees Scholarship asks you to pick between two prompts. Both are geared towards helping the admission committee learn more about your interests and values.

If you choose Option A, you'll discuss your passions...which can be pretty fun! Think of something in your life where you light up with excitement or joy. That's what you need to focus on for this essay prompt. The key to this answer will be twofold: you need to be sincere, but you also need to be able to explain how that passion will make you a good member of the BU community.

Maybe the thing that makes you feel most alive is mountain biking. You love the physical challenge, but you also love the way the wind whips over you while you're doing a massive downhill trail. When you get to BU, you want to join the Boston University mountain bike team! You're hoping to make friends (and win national championships!) while at BU. 

Option B wants to know how you react when you're outside of your comfort zone. It can be easy to be confident, respectful, and thoughtful when you're in a place you feel comfortable in, but once you leave that place and don't feel as valued or secure as you should, what are you like?

College is all about expanding your comfort zone, and BU wants to make sure you can handle these changes gracefully. In your response, briefly describe the situation when you felt outside your comfort zone and how it made you feel, then spend the bulk of your response explaining your reaction and what you took away from the experience. Maybe you learned to listen more than you speak or now always look out for people who seem to be overlooked in a situation because you understand how it feels. Above all, BU is looking for students who use challenges as an opportunity for growth and remain open-minded even when a situation is tough. 

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Key Tips for Writing an Amazing Boston University Supplement Essay

Ready to write an amazing Boston University supplement essay? Follow these key tips to do so!

#1: Use Your Own Voice

The point of a college essay is for the admissions committee to have the chance to get to know you beyond your test scores, grades, and honors. Your admissions essays are your opportunity to make yourself come alive for the essay readers and to present yourself as a fully fleshed out person.

You should, then, make sure that the person you're presenting in your college essays is yourself. Don't try to emulate what you think the committee wants to hear or try to act like someone you're not.

If you lie or exaggerate, your essay will come across as insincere, which will diminish its effectiveness. Stick to telling real stories about the person you really are, not who you think Boston University wants you to be.

#2: Avoid Clichés and Overused Phrases

When writing your Boston University essays, try to avoid using clichés or overused quotes or phrases. These include quotations that have been quoted to death and phrases or idioms that are overused in daily life. The college admissions committee has probably seen numerous essays that state, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Strive for originality. Similarly, avoid using clichés, which take away from the strength and sincerity of your work.

Boston University's admissions committee will see thousands of essays that talk about how much the applicant loves Boston. Saying that you want to study in the world's greatest college town is trite and overdone. If you are excited about going to school in Boston, make sure that you have a really specific reason that also ties to Boston University's opportunities.

#3: Check Your Work

It should almost go without saying, but make sure your Boston University essays are the strongest example of your work possible. Before you turn in your Boston University application, make sure to edit and proofread your essays.

Your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Make sure to run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before you submit.

It's a good idea to have someone else read your Boston University essays, too. You can seek a second opinion on your work from a parent, teacher, or friend. Ask them whether your work represents you as a student and person. Have them check and make sure you haven't missed any small writing errors. Having a second opinion will help your work be the best it possibly can be.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of which program you're applying to at Boston University, you want to make sure that your Boston University essays are a great example of who you are as a student and a person and why Boston University should accept you.

Your essay should:

  • Be personal
  • Be specific
  • Be free of spelling and grammar errors

Your essay should not:

  • Be focused on Boston, not Boston University

The more effort you put into your essays, the better chance you have of getting accepted to Boston University!

What's Next?

Do you want to learn more about the Why Boston essay? We created an in-depth guide to help you ace this essay. Check it out here!

Starting your essay is often the hardest part. If you're unsure where to begin, check out this guide to starting a college essay perfectly , so you're ready to ace that introduction!

A good essay is just one part of a successful Boston University application . If you want to really wow the admissions office, be sure your grades and test scores are up to snuff, too!

boston university application essay prompts

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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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Prompt's How-to Guide for BU's Supplemental Essays

Boston university's supplemental essay prompts, (including why bu), and how to nail them..

BU’s essay supplements are mercifully reasonable. Still, there’s still a lot hinging on them. So we have an in-depth guide that we wrote for you at Prompt , from our long experience helping applicants succeed.

And if you’re only going to take one piece of advice from us let it be this: get feedback. There are people who love you and know you well. They want to help you succeed. Ask them for feedback now. And if you like the idea of personalized guidance from people who’ve done this thousands of times, get started here .

BU application essay questions 2020-2021

Required: What about being a student at Boston University most excites you? (250 words)

Optional Additional Information: Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.

  • Our tip: Only answer this if you have something compelling to say.

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Boston University Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

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Do you need help writing your Boston University supplemental essays? Then this Boston University supplemental essay guide is for you.

First, we’ll look at each of the Boston University essay prompts to help you figure out how to write strong Boston University supplemental essays. Then, we’ll also describe how the Boston University supplemental essays fit into the overall Boston University admissions process. 

But first, before we dive into how to write the Boston University essay, let’s learn more about Boston University. 

Boston University

Boston University (BU) is a private university located in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1839, Boston University has a total undergraduate enrollment of just over 18,000 students. Also, Boston University is ranked #41 in National Universities according to U.S. News. Lastly, the Boston University acceptance rate is 14% , making Boston University a highly competitive school. 

If you’re wondering how to get into Boston University, we can help. The key to standing out in the Boston University admissions process is writing strong Boston University supplemental essays. 

So, ready to learn more about the Boston University essay prompts for the Boston University supplemental essays? In this Boston University essay guide, we’ll explore a key component of the Boston University application – the Boston University supplemental essay. 

Boston University Essay: Quick Facts

  • Boston University Acceptance Rate: U.S. News ranks BU as a most selective school. The Boston University acceptance rate is 14%. 
  • 1 (~250 word) essay
  • Additional information, materials, or writing samples (Optional)
  • Boston University Application: Applicants must submit their Boston University application on the Common App website. Be sure that your Boston University supplemental essays are ready before you apply. 
  • Early Decision I: November 1
  • Early Decision II: January 4
  • Regular Decision: January 4
  • Boston University Essay Tip: With only one required Boston University supplemental essay, we recommend answering the Boston University essay thoroughly and thoughtfully. 

How many essays are required for Boston University? 

There are two Boston University essays that are required for admission. The first required essay is the Common App essay, and the second required Boston University essay is their version of the “Why this College” essay. We’ll provide the prompt for this Boston University supplemental essay in the next section of this guide. 

In addition to the two required Boston University essays, there is one optional Boston University supplemental essay listed on the Boston University application. This Boston University essay is optional, but it can be useful to provide further context for your application. We’ll list the prompt for this optional essay in the next section of this guide. Later, we’ll discuss what to include in this additional essay if you choose to submit it along with your Boston application. 

What are the Boston University Essay Prompts? 

You can find the prompts for the first Boston University essay on the Common App website . We will also include them later in this essay guide.  

Below are the Boston University essay prompts for the required and optional Boston University supplemental essays: 

We’ll examine the Boston University essay prompts in more detail later. First, let’s explore the Boston University essay: “Why this College” essay. 

Boston University Essay: Why This College Essay

This Boston University supplemental is their version of the “Why this College” essay. The purpose of this Boston University supplemental is to highlight what excites you the most about Boston University. So, this means you’ll have to include specific details in your response. We’ll explain how to write this Boston University supplemental in more detail later in this guide. 

Let’s take another look at this Boston University essay prompt: 

Before you start writing this Boston University supplemental, you first need to identify what interests you the most about becoming a Boston University student. Perhaps you want to live and learn in one of the best college towns , major in the liberal arts , or study architecture at Boston Architectural College . 

Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to use this Boston University essay to describe what excites you the most about Boston University. Also, bonus points if you can incorporate how attending Boston University will help you reach your goals in your Boston University supplemental. 

You might wonder how doing research can help you write your Boston University supplemental essays. The Why School essay shouldn’t just be about you. It should also explain why, out of all the colleges and universities you could possibly attend, you’re a fit at this specific university. 

Do your research

That means you’ll need to reference something specific about Boston University in your Boston University supplemental essays. To do this well, you’ll want to spend some time researching what interests you about Boston University. 

So, grab your computer or cell phone. Your next tip for writing the Why Boston University essay is to do your research. If you don’t already know a lot about Boston University, don’t worry. Spend some time on the Boston University website to learn more. Check out the pages on admissions , student life , and the mission of Boston University. 

As you research, look for things about BU that pique your interest. Then, incorporate those features into your BU essay. What is it about Boston University that has you excited about joining the campus community? When you picture yourself at Boston University, what are you doing? Who are you learning from? Finally, how are you involved on campus? 

Many colleges and universities have a “Why this College” essay prompt. However, you shouldn’t recycle your “Why this College” essay response for the Boston University supplemental essay. 

Remember, Boston University admissions officers are looking for applicants who want to attend Boston University. Moreover, they want to find students who would be a great addition to the campus community. So, you should use your response to this Boston University essay to show exactly that! 

Self-reflection

Additionally, self-reflection is a vital part of writing standout BU essays. Think about the story your application tells. What kind of person would you be on BU’s campus? Moreover, why should BU want you to join their community?

This self-reflection aspect is key to making your Boston University supplemental essays as strong as possible. In order to show who you are to the Boston University admissions office, you need to know who you are. 

This is where self-reflection comes in. So, think about yourself—your personal background, identity, and interests. What do you want the admissions office to know about you? What makes you unique? Finally, what can you bring to the table that no one else can? 

We’ll go over more tips for writing the Why School essay in the rest of this guide. 

Boston University Essay: Additional Information

Next, let’s look at the second of the BU supplemental essay prompts:

This BU supplemental essay is truly optional. However, it does give you a great opportunity to share any more details with BU to help them understand your application.

If there are any discrepancies in your grades, transcript, GPA, test scores (if applicable), or disciplinary history, you’ll want to use this additional information essay to address them. This is also your opportunity to explain how a lower-than-average GPA or lack of extracurricular activities doesn’t accurately represent who you are as a student or future college student. So, if you have any concerns about your application, use the second of the BU essay prompts to assuage BU’s hesitations.

You could also use this additional information essay to submit a portfolio of writing. Additionally, you can use this space to highlight information that is not otherwise listed in your Boston University application. However, you should only do so if it will meaningfully enrich the rest of your candidate profile.

Finally, keep in mind the preferred format for the second BU supplemental essay. If you have something to include for this Boston University essay, make sure that you upload it as a PDF that does not exceed 2000 KB. 

How do I write an essay for Boston University?

Boston University Supplemental Essays

With two required Boston University supplemental essays and one optional essay as part of the Boston application, you might be wondering where to start . How you write an essay for Boston University depends on which of the Boston University supplemental essays you want to begin with. Next, we’ll break down how to write your Boston University supplemental essays.

First, let’s look at the Common App personal statement. 

The Common App essay : 

The Common Application personal statement essay is the first required essay that is a part of the Boston University application. Out of all the Boston University supplemental essays, the Common App essay is the longest essay at 650 words. 

There are a total of seven essay prompts that you can choose from for your Common App personal statement.

Common App Essay Prompts 2022-2023

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If it sounds like you, then please share your story. 
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you? 
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. 

All of the Common App essay prompts are open-ended, which allows you to fill in the blanks by telling your story. It also lets you highlight what makes you a unique applicant.

Acing your Common App essay is especially important, as it will be sent to every college you apply to through the Common Application portal. 

Choosing an essay prompt

If you are having a hard time choosing between the Common App essay prompts, you should start with a writing exercise. First, select 1-2 (no more than 3) essay prompts that interest you. Then, set a timer on your watch for 10 minutes and begin writing. Write down everything you can that comes to mind. Then, repeat the process for each essay prompt you selected. 

When you are finished with this writing exercise, review what you have created. Compare what you’ve written for each of the essay prompts you selected. Were you able to write a lot about one specific topic? Additionally, can you connect your response to your overall application narrative ? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then that is the Common App essay prompt for you.

Above all, you’ll want to select the prompt that makes the most sense for you . So, don’t try to force it. Instead, choose the prompt that best allows you to highlight what makes you unique. 

Now let’s turn our attention to Boston University’s Why School essay —the main supplemental essay requirement for the Boston University application. 

The Why School essay:

Boston University Supplemental Essays

As we previously stated, the Why School essay prompt is fairly common and used by many colleges and universities. However, while multiple schools may ask for the same essay, you still should not recycle your responses. It’s easy to tell the difference between a well-crafted essay and one that you copied and pasted from a different application. 

The purpose of this essay is to show who you are and what interests you. Additionally, you’ll also want to describe how you will be a great fit for the Boston University campus in this essay. Writing a strong response to the Why School essay might sound hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the advice in this guide to help you build a strong Why School essay for BU.

Additional Information essay: 

Out of all the Boston University supplemental essays, the additional information essay is optional. However, you should not skip this Boston University essay if you have something in your personal or academic history that you might want to explain. 

Still, this BU essay is truly optional. If you don’t have anything to include, don’t use this space to repeat information contained elsewhere in your application. You won’t be penalized for not completing the second of the BU supplemental essays.

More tips for writing the Why Boston University essay

Need more tips for writing the Why Boston University supplemental? Let’s start from the beginning. 

boston university supplemental essays

Getting Started

As we mentioned above, the purpose of the Boston University supplemental essay is to showcase who you are, what matters to you, what your goals are, and how Boston University will help you get there. Next, we’ll offer more tips to make your Boston University supplemental essay as strong as possible. 

Before you start the writing process, it’s important to solidify your overall application narrative. Like a candidate profile, your application narrative should be one to two sentences that emphasize why you are a unique applicant. You can think of your application narrative, or candidate profile, as the theme of your application. 

One way to identify the theme of your application is to focus on what you are passionate about. So, let’s look at how you can highlight your passions in your college applications.

Determine Your Passions

If someone were to ask you what you are passionate about, could you easily answer that question? No? Well, now is the perfect time to pinpoint your passions! 

You might wonder how identifying your interests could help you write the Boston University supplemental essays. So, think back to the “Why School” essay prompt. The Boston University supplemental essay prompt asks you to write about two things: what excites you and how that connects to becoming a Boston University student. 

Let’s focus on the first part of that prompt – what excites you? Perhaps you’re a whiz at analyzing data and you’ve been interning in a government office to prepare for majoring in economics in college. Or, maybe your personal background influenced you to volunteer with refugee organizations. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to reflect on your interests and passions. That way, you can talk about them with ease in your Boston University supplemental essays. 

Make A List

You’ve have reflected on your application narrative and identified your passions. Next, it’s time to make a list of what you have discovered about yourself. Write down 5-10 items that connect your interests and passions to your overall application narrative. 

With only 250 words, you won’t be able to talk about everything on your list in your Boston University supplemental essay. But that’s okay! You’ll use what is on this list to eventually narrow down what you do plan to include in your Boston University supplemental essay. 

Learn More About Boston University 

As we’ve discussed, research is a key part of writing strong Boston University essays. However, this research doesn’t have to feel daunting.

You don’t have to know everything about Boston University to write an effective Boston University essay. Instead, set aside 30 minutes to an hour to look over the Boston University website. While you research, make a second list of what intrigues you the most about Boston University. 

You’ll want to focus on specific details for this second list because you will need to reference them by name in your Boston University supplemental essays. Are there any particular courses, programs, or professors you can see yourself interacting with or learning from? Focus on the aspects of Boston University that make it a great fit for you. Then, write them down and use them in your BU essays.

Make Connections

Okay, so you’ve determined your passions, learned more about what Boston University has to offer, and have two lists to reference before you start your Boston University supplemental essays. Now what? 

This is arguably the most important tip for writing the Why Boston University essay. When you put the two parts of the Boston University essay prompt together, your response needs to address what excites you and why Boston University is the only place to help you reach your goals. 

To do this, you’ll need to make connections. So, think about how attending Boston University will help support you as you choose a major and pursue your passions. Then, reference the lists you’ve made and how you can connect the two in your essay. 

If you’re thinking about skipping this step – don’t. Lots of students will only focus on themselves in this Boston University essay. Instead, make sure that you show who you are, what you are interested in, and how Boston University will help you cultivate those interests. 

More Boston University essays to look out for 

Boston University Supplemental Essays

Besides the two required Boston University essays, there are more Boston University essays to keep an eye out for. For example, when prospective students are submitting their applications, they can chose to apply for merit-based Boston University scholarships . These include the Trustee Scholarship or Presidential Scholarship, both of which require an essay. So, make sure you include these essays in your BU application strategy.

Out of all the Boston University scholarships, the Trustee Scholarship is the most prestigious. Next, let’s explore some of the requirements and essays you’ll need to tackle if you choose to apply. 

Trustee Scholarship requires applicants to: 

  • Submit the Common App and all required materials by December 1.
  • Complete a 600-word essay response to one of two essay prompts.

When you submit your Boston University application by the priority deadline, you will also need to writer a long essay responding to one of two prompts. The two prompts from which you will choose are listed below.

Boston University Trustee Scholarship essay prompts:

  • Nobel laureate and BU professor Elie Wiesel once said: “There is divine beauty in learning…To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers, and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests.” Is there a book, film, podcast, or life-experience that has made you feel more connected to your personal history/identity, and what is the most important thing you learned from it?
  • Describe a time when you felt out of your comfort zone or marginalized in a situation. How did you respond to that moment and how has it informed your actions moving forward? 

Need additional Boston University essay tips for these Boston University scholarships? Our Boston University Scholarship guide can help. In it, you’ll find additional Boston University essay tips to help you write your Boston University essays. 

How to win Boston University Scholarships

Does Boston University care about essays? 

Boston University Supplemental Essays

Yes. The Boston University supplemental essays are an important part of your application because they give you the ability to tell your story to the Boston University admissions office. 

Boston University admissions receives thousands of applications each year, which is why the Boston University acceptance rate is so competitive. So, to stand out in the Boston University application process, you’ll need to write compelling Boston University supplemental essays. 

Writing strong responses to the Boston University supplemental essays will help you ace your “how to get into Boston University” strategy. 

Now that we know more about the Boston University essays, let’s explore the connection between the Boston University supplemental essays and the admissions process. 

Boston University Supplemental Essays & the Admissions Process

boston university supplemental essays

The Boston University supplemental essays are an important part of the admissions process. As we noted above, there are two required Boston University essays including the Common App essay. There is also one optional Boston University essay in the Boston University application. 

You’ll want to use the Boston University supplemental essays to highlight why you are a perfect addition to the Boston University community. We’ll go over some final tips on writing the Boston University essay in the next section of this guide. 

Aside from the required Boston University supplemental essays, there are other materials you’ll need to gather for your Boston University application. Your Boston University application requires you to include the following items : 

Boston University Application Requirements

  • Common App or QuestBridge Application 
  • High School Transcript
  • Senior Year Grades
  • Counselor Recommendation and School Report Form 
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • Standardized Tests ( Test-Optional for Fall 2023/Spring 2024)

If you apply to the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, you’ll also need to include several additional application requirements. These include portfolios, auditions, and interviews with the College of Fine Arts admissions team. 

Holistic review

Once you submit your Boston University application, the Boston University admissions office will begin the holistic review process. This means that they will take your entire application narrative into account by reviewing your academic achievements, background, and life experiences within the context of your environment. 

It’ll take much more than just good SAT scores or a stellar GPA to get into Boston University. Because the Boston University acceptance rate is so competitive, you can expect the admissions process to be just as competitive. The key to standing out in the admissions process is making your Boston University supplemental essays shine. 

Boston University is looking for students that are highly motivated and intellectually curious. They also want to recruit students who will positively contribute to the larger Boston University community. So, your Boston University supplemental essays are the perfect way for you to address how you match these requests. 

To learn more about how to get into Boston University, visit the admissions overview page . 

Top 3 Tips for Writing the Boston University Essay 

1. start early.

The Boston University essays are a crucial part of your overall Boston application. This means you’ll want to spend as much time as possible getting the Boston University essays right. Make sure you start the writing process early, well in advance of the Boston University application deadline, so that you can craft the strongest Boston University supplemental essays imaginable. 

2. Do your research

The purpose of the Boston University supplemental is to learn more about you and how committed you are to attending Boston University. So, you’ll want to have an answer for both parts of the Boston University essay prompt, which means you’ll need to do your research. Start by looking at the school’s website and jot down what excites you the most about becoming a BU student. Even if you don’t get to use everything on your list in your Boston University supplemental essays, that’s okay. The more research you do, the better your responses will be to the Boston University supplemental essays. 

3. Be specific

This tip goes hand in hand with the one above. After you’ve done your research about what to highlight in your Boston University supplemental, you’ll want to include specific details in your Boston University essay to support your claims. You can mention courses, professors, programs or clubs/organizations at BU by name.  You only have 250 words to get your point across, so make sure you are as specific as possible in your Boston University supplemental essays. 

CollegeAdvisor resources on Boston University 

Looking for more resources on how to get into Boston University or how to write the Boston University supplemental essays? We’ve got you covered.

To review Boston University admissions requirements, the Boston University application, the Boston University acceptance rate, and more, read our “How to Get into Boston University” guide . 

How to Get Into Boston University (BU) Guide

As you prepare your own Boston University supplemental essays, we suggest reviewing past essay guides to get more ideas about how to write your college essays. Check out our 2021-2022 Boston University essay guide or 39 essay tips from admissions experts for more essay writing inspiration. 

Boston University Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

Finally, to get ideas on how to answer the “Why School” essay, watch our Boston Schools panel. 

Boston University & Boston College Panel

Boston University Supplemental Essays – Final Thoughts 

As we mentioned above, including well-crafted Boston University supplemental essays in your Boston University application will help you stand out in the admissions process. Writing a thoughtful response to the Boston University supplemental prompt takes time, so be sure to start the process early. You’ll want to give yourself enough time to write, edit, and revise your Boston University essay before the application deadline. You can also let someone else read your Boston University supplemental essays to give you feedback and ideas on how to make them stronger. 

We hope this guide gave you a better understanding of what to include in your Boston University supplemental essays. Remember, Boston University is looking for applicants that are smart, ambitious, innovative, and proactively seek out new experiences. Try to incorporate these values and make connections in your Boston University supplemental essays to show how BU will help you reach your goals as well as how you will be a great addition to the BU community. 

We’re here to help

So, if you are still struggling to write your Boston University supplemental essays, we can help. Register with CollegeAdvisor.com today to get personalized guidance on your entire college application process, including the Boston University supplemental essays.

boston university supplemental essays

This article was written by Claire Babbs . Looking for more admissions support? Click  here  to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how  CollegeAdvisor.com  can support you in the college application process.

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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Boston University Supplemental Essay Prompts

boston university application essay prompts

For many students, supplemental essays can be one of the most intimidating portions of a college application. But they are not so bad! The Boston University supplemental essays invite you to elaborate on the experiences and perspectives you bring to the table. Plus, they are your chance to show admissions why their school is your ideal place to study. 

Boston University has two supplemental essay prompts to choose from.  If you are applying to multiple schools, these may be shorter questions than you are used to. However, the prompt’s simplicity makes it especially important to come up with a thoughtful, fresh answer. 

We will walk you through both prompts and provide questions to begin asking yourself. These thought starters will help you generate ideas and find the story you’d most like to share. 

Related: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

“ Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it? (300 words)”

This prompt is perfectly setting you up to tell a narrative about something you are passionate about! This issue can be as big or as small as you want it to be, what matters most is that you are animated about this topic and have some prior experience and knowledge on this issue. To begin, you should brainstorm a time in your life in which you’ve solved a problem. For example, perhaps you noticed that there were no recycling cans in your high school so you discussed with the student council how to add recycling cans to your school. Another example could be something even smaller such as posting a news article on your social media pages in order to spread awareness about the cause. 

Whatever your story, tell it! Describe it in detail by listing your emotions, actions, and lessons learned from helping raise awareness about an issue you are passionate about! This prompt can be easy to get lost in by writing all about the issue and not enough about you. Remember, you are the one who wants to be accepted to Boston University – not your issue! Additionally, you should finish your response by detailing a lesson you learned or how advocating for an issue made you feel. 

Questions to consider: 

  • What issues most matter to you? What gets you fired up? 
  • If you could have an unlimited budget to donate to a charity, which one would you select? 
  • Have you ever volunteered somewhere you were passionate about? What impact did you have and what did you learn from this experience? 

“What about being a student at Boston University most excites you? (300 words)”

To ace this prompt, you need to do some research. There are tons of exciting aspects about college, from living in a dorm to picking a major to cheering on your school’s athletic teams. But what is it about BU specifically that makes it your dream? Explore BU’s website , look at the course catalog, and check out its social media pages. Take notes on anything about the school that genuinely intrigues you! Another way to approach this essay is to think of what you are currently involved with in high school, or any passions you have. Look into what BU offers that might allow you to channel those interests. How does BU fulfill what you desire out of your college experience more than any other school? When you back up that claim with examples, it signals you have done your homework.

  • Do you have any personal connections to Boston University? Such as family members whose pride for their school is something you admire and wish to have yourself? 
  • Does BU have any clubs you can see yourself belonging to? Or something that energizes you academically, like a unique study abroad program?  
  • When you look at the school’s values, mission statements, etc., how do those matchup with your own character? 

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Final thoughts.

After reading the above tips, you should be well on your way to writing stellar Boston University supplemental essays! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to write and revise. 300 words is not “a lot” for most students who are applying to a college like Boston University. However, it is all the more challenging (and fun!) to allow “you” to come through with such a limited word limit. Best of luck with your supplemental essays!

Also see: How to choose a college

Additional resources

Make sure to check out our guides on writing both 250 word and 500 word essays . Our guide to responding to the Common App prompts might also come in handy, so take a look. When you are done writing your application essays, make sure to take the time to apply for scholarships.  Our free scholarship search tool is the perfect platform to custom-match you to vetted scholarships. Our easy to navigate platform will keep you on target, as it automatically updates when new opportunities are available (and reminds you about deadlines of all!). Good luck on your academic journey! 

Related: How to write an essay about yourself

Keep reading…

  • How to write a 250 word essay
  • College essay primer: Show, don’t tell
  • How many schools should I apply to?
  • When Should I Apply to College?

Other colleges to consider

  • Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA)
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
  • New York University (New York, NY)

Frequently asked questions about the Boston University supplemental essay prompts

How long should my boston university supplemental essays be, can i reuse my common app personal statement for one of the supplemental essays, when are the application deadlines for boston university, can i get creative with my boston university supplemental essay answers, scholarships360 recommended.

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Boston University Supplemental Essay Examples

Boston University Supplemental Essay Examples

Perusing some Boston University supplemental essay examples will be a great foundational step to writing your own college application essays for Boston University. Excellent essays are one option for making your college application stand out.

Why look at example essays at all? Even knowing how to start a college essay can be a tricky prospect; looking over sample essays is a great first step, because you will see how other people kicked their own essay off. Or, maybe you’ve been working on your essay for a long time, and even though you’ve studied expert college essay tips , you don’t know how to apply them to refine your essay.

In this article, we will look at the two required essays for a Boston University application, the common application essay – a personal statement – and the supplemental essay. Then, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to write any kind of essay generally and supply you with specific information you need to write your Boston University essays.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 8 min read

The boston university supplemental essays.

Boston University requires students to complete two essays, a BU-specific essay and a Common Application personal statement.

Each of these essays fulfill a specific purpose in the Boston University application process, and you should take those purposes into consideration.

Boston University-specific Essay

Prompt: “What about being a Boston University student most excites you?”

Length: 250 words

This question, “Why Boston University?” is a common question asked by most universities and colleges of their prospective students. What they want to know here is why you fit perfectly with their school, and how you will mutually benefit each other.

First, you need to know about the school. What is so special about Boston University? Look up the programs they have but dive deep. A lot of schools teach math or have English lit courses. What does Boston University do that no other school is doing? Consider research that is being conducted or find out about any unique programs they have that excite you.

Of course, most of this you’ve already found out; it’s what inspired you to put Boston University on your list of top-choice schools, after all. All you need to do is pick your favorite reason – maybe two of them – and talk about them in the essay.

You can mention things like the beauty of the campus, but don’t focus on those aspects. You’re applying based on something deeper than the lovely buildings. The best subjects to talk about are academics and values.

Display not only why you would be excited to attend the school, but also why you will fit well with the school’s mission statement and their directives. This isn’t just about why you want to attend their institution. After all, they know their school is great – they love it. They want to check compatibility, like an academic dating app. Give them every reason to swipe right.

Prompt: “Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.”

Length: None specified; aim for about a page or 600 words.

A personal statement is meant to introduce yourself and answer the question of who you are as a unique applicant. Therefore, you need to think about something you can say about yourself that is unique and shows off your perspectives, experiences, and accomplishments to any member of the admissions committee who is reading your statement.

What sorts of things might you include? You should think beyond your resume. Your transcript has your “stats,” so give them something extra. Give your reader insight into how you think. For example, you might take something you’ve done – a particular laboratory class, for instance – and speak to how you changed your thought processes, or what you learned about lab work. Your CV says you did the lab and got this-or-that grade, but if you talk about how this experience changed you, you give a far greater understanding of yourself to the committee.

With those samples in mind, you should have a pretty good idea of how to go about creating your own, perfect essay.

Some general tips and advice on how to write a college essay won’t hurt, so read on for a little extra information.

Let’s start off with format. The format you’re going to follow is a standard essay writing format, with an introduction paragraph, a body, and a conclusion.

Your college essay introduction should be a paragraph that sets up the rest of the essay, or story, that you’re relating to the admissions committee. Think of this as a way to set up expectations, but also to grab attention. You want to “hook” your reader in with a great opener. Do this with enough panache that they would want to read the whole essay whether they were on the admissions committee or not.

The other main thing your opening paragraph does is tell your reader what they have to look forward to. Maybe you’re going to emphasize a particular mentor, a skill you’ve developed, or academic performance and growth, but whatever your focus is, set that up in the opener.

That brings us neatly to the body of the essay. This is where your college essay topic is unpacked, expanded on, and explored. You should cover two or three main points – don’t overstuff this section. Whatever you set up in the opener becomes the bulk of your material. Do showcase at least two major elements of yourself here – give the impression of being well-rounded and having many qualities, even though you’re only touching on a couple of them.

Finally, conclude your essay by fulfilling the expectations of the opening paragraph. Your goal here is to conclude in such a way that the admissions committee wants to hear more, which means they will invite you to the next step in the admissions process, and then you just have to worry about how to prepare for a college interview .

Working on your Common App essay or personal statement too? Check out this video for tips:

Take note of how the BU-specific essay referenced Boston University’s GCIL initiative and the Hub. Those are unique learning opportunities at BU. The writer also shows why those particular aspects of BU are important to them, demonstrating why they would “gel” with the school.

Both essays focus on the uniqueness of the writer, so any admissions committee members will want to see more from this person, increasing their chances of an invitation.

Boston University gives no firm word count limits but be sure to check before applying; that might change from year to year. Read carefully over your prompts and instructions before working on your essays.

That is a wealth of information, both in examples and advice, which will serve you well in your essay-writing and application-filling days ahead. If you need more, go in search of other college essay examples to further boost your confidence and technique.

Remember to refine your essay, giving it all the care and attention it deserves – which is a lot. Your application depends on all aspects allowing you to shine through. Give yourself the best personal introduction you can.

We recommend that you dedicate time every week for three to four weeks to work on your essays; you don’t have to work full-time on them, but you do need to give yourself the time to brainstorm, write, review, edit, and polish your work.

The first is about 250 words, but the second is unspecified. Be careful not to go overboard. A page is plenty, and we recommend that you try to keep your work to no more than 600 words. There is no need to pad your essays; just answer the prompts.

Common App, or Common Application, is a centralized service used by post-secondary institutions all over the world. It allows students to create one application and send it in to multiple colleges or universities.

In complete congruity with its name, the Common App is widely used. A list of which schools use Common App is a long list: literally hundreds.

There are several factors to consider here. Different schools might weigh these two documents differently, so check with the school. Some schools have cutoffs, which means that a poor grade average on your transcript might eliminate you from having your essays read at all.

The best way to approach your application is to assume that all aspects are extremely important. Why chance anything? Why do less than your best?

Yes. Boston University accepts applicants from out of the state and out of the country. In fact, in a recent year, Boston University’s international students made up 24% of the student body.

The acceptance rate was 14% in a recent year.

The Common App allows for this, yes; you can change your essays after submission.

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boston university application essay prompts

How to Write the Boston University Supplemental Essay: Examples + Guide 2023/2024

boston university application essay prompts

Want to geek out on stats and data and make more informed choices about college? Read Boston University’s Common Data Set, for an extensive, by-the-numbers look at its offerings, from enrollment and tuition statistics to student life and financial aid information.

To find out why and get some key phrases that you can use to make your essays amazing, read its strategic plan . Reading through this will give you the inside scoop on what Boston University values and what changes will shape the university in the future.

BUT, please don’t just copy and paste chunks of the plan into your essay because a) that’s plagiarism and it's basically an academic crime, and b) anyone could do that.  

Think about this: What aspects of BU’s plan speak to you? Does it matter to you that the student-to-faculty ratio has dropped? Think about what this signals and whether that resonates with you (does more face-to-face time with professors appeal to you?). What about a new career planning center? This might be exciting if you’re planning on getting internships and taking advantage of help finding a job after college. Are you interested in global studies? Would you be excited to take classes at “one of the country’s largest schools of global and regional studies”? Keep reading to connect the dots. 

How to Write the Boston University Supplemental Essays TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • What are the Boston University supplemental essay prompts?
  • How to write each supplemental essay prompt for Boston University
  • Prompt 1: “Community”/”Social Awareness” essay
  • Prompt 2: “Why Us” essay
  • How to write the Kilachand Honors College essay
  • Prompt 1: “Why us” essay
  • Prompt 2: “Creating a new course” essay
  • How to write the Trustee Scholarship Essay
  • Prompt 1: "Personal history/identity" essay
  • Prompt 2: "Comfort zone or marginalized" essay

What is the Boston University supplemental essay prompt?

Boston university supplemental essay prompt #1.

Boston University is dedicated to our founding principles: “that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community—local and international. These principles endure in the University’s insistence on the value of diversity in its tradition and standards of excellence and its dynamic engagement with the City of Boston and the world.” With this mission in mind, please respond to one of the following two questions in 300 words or less: Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it? (300 words) What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community? (300 words)

Boston University Kilachand Honors College Essay

The mission of Kilachand Honors College is to offer a challenging liberal arts education grounded in critical and creative thinking, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and the real-world application of knowledge. Please see https://www.bu.edu/khc/about/ for more details about our program, and then respond to one of the following questions in an essay of 600 words or less: What about the Kilachand Honors College resonates with you, and how would Kilachand's curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals? (600 words) If you could create a new Kilachand course, what would it be? How would your imagined course align with the core values of Kilachand? (600 words)

Boston University Trustee Scholarship Essay

Please write an essay of 600 words or less in response to one of the following two topics: Nobel laureate and BU professor Elie Wiesel once said: “There is divine beauty in learning... To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests." Is there a book, film, podcast or life-experience that has made you feel more connected to your personal history/identity, and what is the most important thing you learned from it? (600 words) Describe a time when you felt out of your comfort zone or marginalized in a situation. How did you respond to that moment and how has it informed your actions moving forward? (600 words)

How to Write Each Supplemental Essay Prompt for Boston University

Boston University is dedicated to our founding principles: “that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community—local and international. These principles endure in the University’s insistence on the value of diversity in its tradition and standards of excellence and its dynamic engagement with the City of Boston and the world.” With this mission in mind, please respond to one of the following two questions in 300 words or less:

  • Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it? (300 words)

What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community? (300 words)

No matter which option you choose for this essay, notice that BU went to the trouble of inserting some of the college’s founding principles directly into the prompt! So there are big clues here about the subjects you’re being asked to write about: educational access for all, service to the community (local and international), diversity, and/or dynamic engagement in Boston and the world. As you plan your essay, consider how your experiences connect with one or more of these themes.

Essay option 1

Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it? (300 words)  

When choosing a topic for this prompt, explore these questions:  

What issue(s) matter most to you? 

What gets you fired up? 

What local or global situation do you find yourself thinking and talking about? 

And most importantly, how have you dedicated your time and energy to doing something about some of your answers to the questions above? 

Your activities list is a great place to look for a topic. Your social media feeds might also offer some useful clues—what social or community issues repeat in the accounts you follow? And keep in mind that you might already be writing an essay about one of your activities for another school that could double for this prompt. If so, it may be a candidate for a Super Essay .

Next, brainstorm your content by answering these questions:

What’s the issue that resonates with you? 

Why? Where do you see this issue playing out? Who or what is affected? 

What have you done about it? Be specific about your role and actions taken.

What impact did you have, and what did you learn?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you can dive into drafting. And the 1-4 order above can work for structuring your essay (Issue, Stakes, Actions, Impact + Insight). 

Because this is a new prompt for BU this year, we don’t have an example that was written specifically for it, but the examples below, written for other schools’ similar prompts (with a different word count), would work well.

In 2020, various racially motivated hate crimes such as the slew of disturbing police killings and spread of Asian hate caused me to reflect on racial injustice in America. While such injustices can take many different forms and be overt or subtle, all are equally capable of creating racial inequality. A societal issue significantly impacting minorities is educational injustice between private and public schools since students of color account for more than 75% of public-school enrollment. The pandemic exacerbated this problem as some private institutions (like my school), not impeded by a lack of financial resources or bureaucracy, could return to in-person instruction, while many public institutions stayed closed for the majority of the 2020-21 school year, their students’ educational experience less optimal as a result. The values of service instilled through my Sacred Heart education prompted me to act in response to this injustice and do my part to propagate educational equality across races in the Bay Area. My interest in tutoring began in middle school when I volunteered in my school’s peer tutoring program. In high school, I created a tutoring club, giving my peers the opportunity to help younger elementary students on financial aid with their homework. With the club being sidetracked by COVID-19, I joined 826 Valencia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting under-resourced students in the Bay Area. This experience prompted me to transition my old club to a remote format, adapting to restrictions posed by the pandemic. I worked with my friend to rebrand the club, naming it TutorDigital, registering it as a non-profit, and designing a website, efforts which expanded our reach to include local public schools. Through our efforts, we’ve helped provide tutoring services to 32 underprivileged Bay Area students, while also identifying other opportunities to support public schools, such as donating upwards of 60 iPads and creating a book donation program.  While educational injustice is an issue that unfortunately will not be solved overnight, it’s an issue that must be aggressively addressed, now more than ever given the massive impacts from the pandemic. I look forward to continuing this work at Boston College. But for now, I gain comfort from each thank you note from a parent or good grade achieved by a student, knowing my efforts have potentially improved the academic trajectory of these children and helped to address racial injustice in America. (393 words) — — —

Tips & Advice:

Use the problem/solution structure from your brainstorming. This student starts the essay by naming how racially motivated hate crimes raised their awareness of racial inequity and then identifying the specific context that concerns them, educational injustice. Once they flesh out the problem in the second paragraph, they launch into a description of the steps they took to address it. The structural approach used here can also work well in other essays you may be writing about volunteer or community service.

Be specific about your role and activities. The bulk of this essay—the third paragraph—clearly lays out this student’s actions on the issue: started a tutoring club, joined a nonprofit, rebranded the club, registered it as a non-profit, etc. Using clear, active verbs with this kind of detail helps you highlight your skills and achievements for your admissions reader.

Show your impact. Thank you notes and good grades let this student know how they might have improved their students’ academic trajectory and achieved their goal of addressing racial injustice. And offer tangible evidence when possible: 32 students, 60 iPads, book donations. What has happened because of your efforts? What outcomes can you report? Whom have you affected and how?

Looking ahead… at BU. This author points out that there’s still much to do and that they plan to continue their work at BU. You could go further by suggesting one or two specific things you plan to do on campus on your issue, building on what you’ve already done. For ideas, do a little “Why Us” research and link back to those founding BU principles: educational access, diversity, community service, and local and global engagement.

Read on for another example essay that would work well for this prompt:

In the 1930s, 36 members of my family were lost to the Holocaust, and that fact has since led me to carry on the memory of my ancestors through tradition—preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, observing Jewish holidays, and going to synagogue for Rosh Hashana. Additionally, it has driven me to teach others about the Holocaust. At my first-year Entry, I would share my involvement within the Jewish community, and how it has led me to become a more engaged member of society. During this past school year, I became an educator on the Student Leadership Board of the Seattle-based Holocaust Center for Humanity. Meeting biweekly, we discussed historical anti-Semitism as well as modern-day discrimination toward oppressed groups of people. Before joining the board, I had felt disconnected from Jewish activism and lacked a community of fellow Jewish activists. My year on the board solved that. Each week, I added my ideas and learned from fellow students during group discussion. Additionally, I built an interactive website to share the story of a Holocaust survivor.  Even though we weren’t all Jewish, this group’s drive for educating others and spreading peace brought us closer. It was a community where we could talk about serious current events, but also where we could share a laugh. At Williams, I hope to discover that same kind of community. I’ll join the Williams College Jewish Association, where I can carry on what I loved about the Holocaust Center’s board, participating in discussions, leading service projects, and making impactful art to share stories. Even outside that group, I’ll bring to Williams my Jewish values and enthusiasm for meeting people from different backgrounds, spreading a greater message of peace and kindness. (282 words) — — —

Esaay option 2

This prompt is a version of the “Why us?” essay, with an invitation to say specifically how you plan to contribute to the BU community. As such, we recommend checking out this complete guide on how to write the “Why us?” essay and paying close attention to the “Why Cornell” and “Why Penn” examples, which are our favorites.

Here’s the short version of how to write the “Why us?” essay:

Spend 1 hr+ researching 10+ reasons why Boston University might be a great fit for you (ideally 3-5 of the reasons will be unique to Boston U and connect back to you).

Make a copy of this chart to map out your college research.

Come up with at least three ways you plan to contribute to life on campus, whether in an academic context, extracurricular activities, student leadership, or in other ways.

Create an outline for your essays based on either Approach 1, 2 (recommended), or 3 in the full guide above. Either conclude with your planned contributions, or weave them into the rest of the essay. 

Write a first draft!

As you write, try to avoid these common mistakes: 

Six Common Mistakes Students Make on “Why Us?” Essays

Mistake #1: Writing about the school's size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking.

Mistake #2: Simply using emotional language to demonstrate fit.

Mistake #3: Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors, or names of any important people or places on campus.

Mistake #4: Parroting the brochures or website language.

Mistake #5: Describing traditions the school is well-known for.

Mistake #6: Thinking of this as only a "Why them" essay.

Here’s a great sample essay for the BU supplemental essay. 

If plotted on a three-dimensional graph, BU stands as the intersection between science (X=1), humanities (Y=1), and a global education (Z=1). At point (1, 0, 0) you will find “CAS BI 206: Genetics,” while “CAS XL 342: Travel Writing and the Muslim World” will likely be found closer to (0, 0.75, 0.50). Classes involving travel or fieldwork all lie along the plane Z=1. In our three-dimensional world, BU prepares the next generation of students to see beyond X and Y. As a budding geneticist and physician, I am often told that I will have to sacrifice fundamental pieces of who I am in order to pursue a career in science. But as a (1, 0.5, 0.25), as an avid researcher but also an activist, volunteer, and community advocate, I know that I have to find a college that allows me to grow in all directions. I know that BU is exactly that. And because an entire college experience can never be broken down into numbers alone, I hope to work in the lab with Dr. Ho, as her research builds off of the work I am currently involved in at Columbia University to study genomes for disease-causing mutations. Additionally, the International Affairs Association combines both my passions for Model UN and service through BarMUN and Global Civics. Fun and exploration, awareness and advocacy find a home at Boston University, and I hope that I will as well.  — — —

Tips + Analysis

Find your hook. With the three-dimensional graph framing of this essay, this student reveals their math mind and scientific expertise without even saying it. What’s your 3d graph? As in, what do you know a lot about, or what’s something that you uniquely identify with? One of these elements can help you lead in an engaging and revelatory way.

Consider referencing specific classes and professors: Knowing that Boston University has classes such as “CAS BI 206: Genetics” and “CAS XL 342: Travel Writing and the Muslim World” shows the reader that this student dove deep into the academic offerings available. Bonus: These classes are pretty uncommon, especially the second one. Try to avoid referencing generic classes that every college will have such as Intro to Physics. Connect the classes to your specific interests (the more narrow, the better) and demonstrate what kind of student you’ll be. 

Speak to BU’s founding principles: This student’s use of the phrase “as an avid researcher but also an activist, volunteer, and community advocate,” nods to BU’s position that “research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community.” (Pro tip: Try not to do this more than once in the essay; it’ll feel like you’re just telling BU what it wants to hear.) You can also take a look at your Values List and see how yours align with what excites you about BU. 

Brag, humbly: Instead of just stating that she hopes to “work in the lab with Dr. Ho” (a BU professor), this student connects her future plans at BU to college-level research she’s currently doing “at Columbia University to study genomes for disease-causing mutations.” This is what we call a subtle brag: Show off that you’re conducting college-level research as a high school student without sounding like a jerk or randomly dropping it in. Because it directly connects to this student’s values and future goals, it works. But if you haven’t done Ivy League-level research as a high school student, that’s okay. Almost no one has, and they still get accepted to great schools. Just think about what you have accomplished so far and see if you can connect some of those experiences to your future plans. Tutored your cousin in math? Awesome. You can use that. 

Articulate your planned contributions. This student wrote her essay before BU added the piece about contributing to community, but she headed that way by saying how she plans to participate in the International Affairs Association as an extension of her previous ModelUN and service activities. Go further in that direction with additional specific ways you’ll get involved on campus.

From first looking at countries’ GDPs without knowing what they meant, to exploring Keynes and Marx and neo-classical theory, I love that Economics challenges me to think about conflicts in aspects like religion, culture, and ethics that have significant impact on our lives. At Boston University, I want to explore how these important issues can be analyzed through Economics.  I am interested in both Behavioural Economics and Developmental Economics. Even though I have not studied them in school, books like The Undercover Economist  and TED talks have made me curious about different branches in Economics. Boston University Professor Raymond Fisman’s research paper, “Experience of Communal Conflicts and Intergroup lending” explores the connection between religion-based communal violence and lending, a connection I find interesting as religion is one of the factors that has enabled the economic development of my father’s hometown in India. To explore more about how religion connects with economics, I researched and wrote a 4,000 word essay on the contribution of religious pilgrimage and tourism of Ujjain for my IB extended essay.  Apart from Economics courses, Boston University’s community interests me because of things like India Club and Debate Club. India Club will help me to feel at home. And I really like debating, which has made me open to and aware of different beliefs and values and has connected me to people with different opinions. I’m also interested in the Boston University magazine, which helps generate conversation and connection among people.  — — —

Tips + Analysis:

Consider describing research you’ve already done (if you’ve done some). This student starts off with his interest in Economics. Then, he describes how he’s already furthered this interest. By reading “books like The Undercover Economist” and listening to TED talks, this student shows the reader what he’s done so far (although he could get a bit more specific here and list which TED talks were most memorable). These details give him the opportunity to connect professors, classes, and opportunities at BU to his interests in a specific way. He also mentions his IB Extended Essay, “a 4,000 word essay on the contribution of religious pilgrimage and tourism of Ujjain,” which shows he is capable of specific, high-level academic research and writing in his chosen field. If you’re an IB student, mentioning your essay topic in your supplemental prompts is a great way to demonstrate your academic readiness for college. If you’re not an IB student, think about other advanced work you’ve done and maybe find a way to work it in. 

Show how you’ll engage with BU inside and outside the classroom: This prompt asks what excites you about BU and how you’ll contribute to the community, which implies that it’s expecting you to go beyond just academics. The more detailed, the better. Really imagine yourself on campus. Where will you live? What will you do on the weekend, in the evenings? Who will your friends be? How will you meet them? What clubs or activities will you join or start? What communities might you become a part of, and what will you uniquely bring to them? This student mentions his excitement to join the India Club and the Debate Club, painting a picture of how he’ll fit into the wider student community at BU and getting a chance to further highlight his culture. 

Make personal connections: This student connects a BU professor’s research paper, “Experience of Communal Conflicts and Intergroup lending,” to the economic development of his father’s hometown in India, demonstrating that a) he’s read a college-level research paper and done a deep dive into BU’s Econ department, and b) this research has personal significance to him. Once you’ve found some good research about the college, remember to connect it back to your why (why are you interested in this subject, professor, paper, topic, etc.?). The more specific you are, the better your odds are of standing out. 

How to Write the Kilachand Honors College Essay

Kilachand Honors College Essay The mission of Kilachand Honors College is to offer a challenging liberal arts education grounded in critical and creative thinking, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and the real-world application of knowledge. Please see https://www.bu.edu/khc/about/ for more details about our program, and then respond to one of the following questions in an essay of 600 words or less:

What about the Kilachand Honors College resonates with you, and how would Kilachand's curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals? (600 words)

If you could create a new Kilachand course, what would it be? How would your imagined course align with the core values of Kilachand? (600 words)

Essay Option 1

Kilachand’s first option is a “Why Us?” essay, so you can follow the same advice and method for Option 2 above, focusing on the unique elements of the Kilachand program. Since you’re vying for a more limited number of spots, it’s even more critical to make a solid match between you and the honors college’s offerings. Here, you’re asked to say specifically how you’ll use the Kilachand curriculum to further your goals (academic, creative, intellectual and/or professional). Given Kilachand’s mission, yours will likely involve how you intend to benefit your community with the expertise you gain in the program.

Please note that we don’t have sample essays written specifically for the Kilachand Honors program, but the example below can illustrate the direction you’ll want to head in.

Art and medicine may seem like opposites, but for me, they’re symbiotic. At WashU, I’d be equipped with the resources to one day use both to nurture healthier lives.   I'm especially hungry to understand the intricacies of mental health by learning how physicians coordinate care for depression patients at the Charles F. Knight Hospital with Med Prep 2. Or learning about treating certain disorders by regularly attending therapy sessions with an autistic child in the Practicum in Applied Behavior course, then applying it to contribute to frequent lesson adaptations for autistic children’s therapies with the non-profit Giant Steps of St. Louis. After reading Because Tomorrow Needs Her’s heartbreaking stories on high maternal mortality rates around the world, I’m inspired to research how to train Ghana physicians to more effectively treat surgical infections resulting from C-sections with Dr. Denise Willers, and connect survivors of sexual assault with free counseling with the CHIPS Health & Wellness Center. I also want to use my minor in Creative Practice for Social Change to make an impact on women’s health with art. Could I choreograph a Bharatnatyam dance that showcases how pregnant women worldwide lack transportation to life-saving medical care? Only at WashU. (197 words) — — —

Name your niche. The courses and opportunities this student chose to highlight precisely articulate her interest in treatments related to depression, autism, c-sections, and sexual assault. In just 200 words, the author gives us a crystal clear snapshot of what matters to her and where she plans to direct her attention. And you have 600 words to play with. As you dig deep into the Kilachand program, hone in on those offerings that reveal your unique areas of interest, which will allow you to stand out from other applicants. To get there…

Do your research. This student obviously went deep to identify things that spoke directly to her desires. Find out about the special courses and professors that make up this program. Read up on Kilachand’s website, news articles and social media about Kilachand initiatives, research, community programs and more. Find a former alumni and ask to talk with them about their experiences. As you learn about the specifics of the curriculum, prepare to share how your experiences and intentions align directly with them.

See yourself there. Unique features of the Kilachand program are the Keystone Project you’ll complete in your senior year and the emphasis on experiential learning. Although you may not yet know what you’ll want to research, you can propose one or two possibilities that build on research or other work you’ve already done. Or throw out an idea or two for how you’ll learn by doing with Kilachand’s support (a particular internship, study abroad project, etc.)

Surprise! At the end of the essay, the author depicts an unforgettable image: choreographing an Indian traditional dance about global inequities in access to pregnancy care! That idea could spring only from the head (and heart) of this one individual. What’s one of your wild goals that no one else has thought of? Leave the reader with a look into your future.

Essay Option 2

This is your chance to be creative and really speak to the values that draw you to Kilachand. You’ve probably spent a lot of your high school career taking standard required courses. Now you get to dive into a truly engaging college curriculum tailored to your interests. And with this prompt, you get to design the one class you’d most like to take! Some pointers to get you started:

Tip #1: Think about what really gets you excited intellectually. Is there a course or academic extracurricular activity that you’d like to explore further? Something you’re constantly wondering, reading and watching youtube videos about? A subject you wish was offered at your high school? Scroll your news feed… what grabs your attention? Choose a narrow piece of one of those and develop your course around it.

Tip #2: If you’re looking for ideas, think about what you love and what you know and where there’s a nexus between them. Maybe you adore food and you’re curious about migration… What about “Refuge and Recipes: How Food Transports Culture”? Also consider any aspects of yourself that haven’t come through elsewhere in your application. If you’ve already communicated your academic prowess and contributions to your local community, wouldn’t it also be valuable to reveal your madness for bungee jumping or native geckos?

Tip #3: In order to answer the second part of the prompt, you’ll need to connect your invention with the school’s intentions. If you don’t already know what Kilachand’s core values are, you can start with its Mission & Objectives . Kilachand is looking for creative thinkers who will develop new solutions to global problems, so take this chance to show how you direct your innovative mind to real-world issues.

Please note that we don’t have sample essays written specifically for the Kilachand Honors program, but the example below, written for an older Pomona prompt, can illustrate the direction you’ll want to head in.

Example essay:  

The Exalted Power of Music: How Our Ears Inspire Our Eyes Course Description: Music dominates our society–pop songs and singers such as Drake are hugely popular and influential in today’s time. But where else in our lives does the enchanting power of music hold influence? As we investigate and unravel the techniques of modern artists through a diverse slate of plays, cartoons, and films, we will discover the vital role of music in enhancing benchmark works of visual fiction. Simultaneously, through philosophical readings of Walton and Nietzsche, we will analyze the emotional and physiological effects of music, examining the dynamic interplay of visual and auditory elements. Finally, students will synthesize their research to create a short film or multimedia piece that displays their knowledge of visual aspects, music's attributes, and their combined impact on a universal audience.  Sample lectures:   How To Enjoy Murder: Alternating Major and Minor Chords in Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15 Required Reading/Viewing/Listening:   The Evolution of Music in Film and its Psychological Impact on Audiences - Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D. Crimes and Misdemeanors - Woody Allen Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15 Why We Love Saturday Morning Cartoons: Two Mechanisms of Fictional Immersion   Required Reading/Viewing/Listening:   Fearing Fictions - Kendall L. Walton The Birth of Tragedy, Section 7, 24, 25 - F. Nietzsche Tom and Jerry, Episode 33 - William Hanna and Joseph Barbera Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 How Movies Possess Our Bodies: A Physiological Analysis   Required Reading/Viewing/Listening:   Quantitative and Visual Analysis of the Impact of Music on Perceived Emotion of Film - Rob Parke, Elaine Chew, Chris Kyriakakis The Invisible Art of Film Music, Section 7 - Lawrence E. MacDonald Jaws - Steven Spielberg Why Fiction Feels So Real: Analyzing Silence Required Reading/Viewing/Listening:   Silence and Slow Time: Studies in Musical Narrative - Martin Boykan Life Is a Dream - Pedro Calderón de la Barca “4’33”” - John Cage In a society propelled by media and entertainment, the study of music’s influence on our lives not only can allow us to better produce captivating works, but understand our emotional responses and discover the profundity of human expression. (347 words) — — —

Tips + Advice:  

Hook your reader with your course title. A clever title will not only engage your reader’s curiosity, but further flex your ingenuity. 

Geek out. This is the perfect place to show off specialized knowledge of your pet subject with insider jargon or super specific examples. Here, the writer proves their range with titles spanning music, research publications, literature and more. 

Style matters. This essay reads like an actual college course description. While you’re perusing the course catalog for your “Why Us?” essay(s), take a look at one as a model to cultivate this style of writing.

Do it your way. This student would require a short film or multimedia project as the final exam. If you’ve figured out inventive learning methods that work for you, bring them in here. Especially with Kilachand’s lean toward beyond-the-classroom study, dream into what would be the most fun and engaging for you… Museum visits? Author interviews? Podcast creation? Any such thing would be a welcome demonstration of how you think outside the box. 

How to write the Boston University Trustee Scholarship Essay

Please write an essay of 600 words or less in response to one of the following two topics:

Nobel laureate and BU professor Elie Wiesel once said: “There is divine beauty in learning... To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests." Is there a book, film, podcast or life- experience that has made you feel more connected to your personal history/identity, and what is the most important thing you learned from it? (600 words)

Describe a time when you felt out of your comfort zone or marginalized in a situation. How did you respond to that moment and how has it informed your actions moving forward? (600 words)

How to approach this prompt:

With Wiesel’s quote in the prompt, BU is signaling its belief that learning involves drawing on the expertise gained by our personal and collective forebears, that history matters, and that a scholar should acknowledge the shoulders of the giants they stand on. As you reflect on a topic for this essay, consider what aspects of your personal history or identity have had the greatest impact on you. Is there a particular event in your family line, a geography, a people, a cultural element or association that has strongly defined who you are? Then consider what book, film, podcast or life experience has let you feel closest to that.

Since BU awards only about 20 of these scholarships, your aim is to write a standout response. One way to do that is to choose a book, film, podcast or life experience so singular and captivating that your reader will ruminate on it after they set down their applications for the day. Another is to reach for unexpected and uncommon insights to answer the second part of the prompt—what you learned. Take the item or anecdote you’re sharing and consider the cliché takeaways that someone else might write about it, e.g, “I learned that family is the most important thing.” Then circular file those (as in, throw them away) and strive for illuminating insights that reveal perspective only you could hold.

For college, I left the burgeoning tech suburbs where I grew up and dropped into a large, diverse state institution teeming with thrilling new people and experiences. One of my fave memories from freshman year was wandering into my normally staid poli sci lecture hall packed out the door for a Black fraternity step show. While I fretted about being the only white person there—my mind wracked with self-doubt about acting right and not offending anyone—no one seemed to notice or care. Once those shows and the people I met there became a regular part of my life, I realized that what I gained from that experience—the exposure to different histories, language, perspective and expression I wouldn't have known existed if I’d stayed in my circle—far outweighed my small personal discomfort that first time. 

Since then, I’ve continually leaned into opportunities to learn more about this world by connecting with people different from me, respectfully and without fear. Most recently, I lived in various countries around the Mediterranean, staying with local Muslim families in order to learn about Islam and facilitate close and peaceful relations between Muslims and Jews. 

That’s one story. Yours is another. Whether you choose to write about a time you felt out of your comfort zone or a situation in which you felt marginalized, you’re invited here to tell the truth about your experience. Describe both the context and how you felt. Use descriptive detail so that the reader can imagine themselves in your shoes. Let your essay speak to the underlying personal, political, or social issues that were at play in the situation.

Bear in mind that the most important part of the prompt is the second piece: how you responded in the moment and how the experience affected your actions going forward. In other words, what can you demonstrate about the person you are when faced with such a situation, and how did you grow as a result of it? What you write about that will enlighten the scholarship grantors about your personal qualities, values and worldview. 

Check the Values List and discern which ones were strengthened. Share anecdotes or examples after the event that highlight your altered way of thinking and engaging in the world.

Want advice on dozens of other supplemental essays? Click here.

Special thanks to Shira for writing this blog post.

boston university application essay prompts

Shira Harris is an alternative educator, amateur ambassador, former civil rights attorney and queer activist, who received her BA from UC Berkeley and law degree from New York University. Currently, she studies Arabic, Hebrew, migration and mediation in the Mediterranean; upon completion of the masters program, she intends to work for peace in Israel Palestine. Shira loves hiking, camping, traveling, learning, cooking with friends, the CEG community and fourth-grader jokes.

Top Values: Integrity/ Curiosity / Love

boston university application essay prompts

Start the year off right: 94% of our students were accepted to their top choice schools over the last five years!

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Command Education Guide

How to write boston university essays, updated for 2023-2024.

Boston University is dedicated to our founding principles: “that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community—local and international. These principles endure in the University’s insistence on the value of diversity in its tradition and standards of excellence and its dynamic engagement with the City of Boston and the world.” With this mission in mind, please respond to one of the following two questions in 300 words or less: (Required)

1. Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it?

2. What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community?*

Whether you choose to answer question 1 or question 2, your overarching goal should be to highlight the ways in which your values overlap with those of BU as they are explained in the first part of the prompt. This is your chance to show the admissions officers that you’re a good fit for their campus community, and, likewise, that their school is a good fit for you.

Option 1 Explanation:

If you choose Option 1, you should view it as an opportunity to both brag about one of your extracurricular accomplishments or passion project, and shed some light on what you value as a citizen of your local, national and international community.

Note that there are two parts to this prompt:

  • Why the issue is important to you
  • How you’ve been involved and addressing/raising awareness of it

Make sure to address both parts.

Work backwards as you brainstorm your essay. Start by thinking of ways you have addressed or raised awareness about a social or community issue. Have you raised money for a cause, held an event educating community members or your peers, distributed informational pamphlets, founded a club, hosted an event, or volunteered for an organization or institution? Be sure to write about something that you have actively accomplished—avoid writing about an issue that you care about but haven’t addressed.

Discussing the way(s) you have addressed the issue you care about is an excellent opportunity to provide more detail about an activity on your Common App Activities List. If you can, substantiate your accomplishment with quantitative numbers—“raised X amount of dollars,” “donated X pounds of canned food,” etc.

Then, write about why this issue is important to you. Much like your personal statement, you want to write an essay only you can write, so avoid writing something generic about an issue most people care about . Resist the temptation to focus on an overly political or partisan subject, especially one that’s discussed nationally. If you feel like you can offer a nuanced, interesting answer, go for it, but don’t be afraid to write about a more local issue. It doesn’t have to have national importance—the prompt asks why the issue is important to you as an individual. Describing a personal connection to the issue can be a good way of illustrating why it is important to you; perhaps it’s affecting your city, state or a friend or a family member.

If nothing unique comes to mind, opt for the second prompt.

Keep in mind that BU emphasizes accessibility, service of the local and international community, diversity, and excellence. When you write why the issue is important to you, be sure to tie your discussion back to one (or more) of the BU values to emphasize that you hold values in common with the school.

For most of my childhood, the only computer I had was a boxy, early 2000s PC my mom used once a week to browse Facebook. I didn’t realize that my technological skills were far behind my classmates’ until middle school, when we were expected to know how to Google reliable sources, use Word, and run different software programs.

With effort and dedication, I slowly developed the digital skills to match my peers’ throughout middle and high school. Now, I am passionate about increasing access to technology and closing the gap in digital literacy for students like me.

Comparing my own experience with that of my fellow students helped me to recognize the need to level the playing field. I founded a school club, Students for Digital Access, which aims to donate laptops to underprivileged students. I partnered with my library to host a technology drive, encouraging community members to donate their old laptops and tablets, and then worked with the local tech store to refurbish and donate the laptops to members of my school community. I successfully provided forty-seven laptops to students in need. This initiative enabled students to engage in online learning and explore digital resources, and underscored the significance of community collaboration in driving positive change.

Advocacy has been central to my efforts. Collaborating with other student organizations, I have organized a panel discussion on the impact of the digital divide and potential solutions. I also wrote an article for my local paper, highlighting the intersection of technology access, education, and social equity.

Ultimately, by cultivating digital literacy, I contribute to a more inclusive and interconnected community. I especially resonate with BU’s value of service, as I work towards a future where every individual has equal opportunities to harness the power of technology for personal and communal advancement.

Option 2 Explanation:

Again, note that there are two parts to this prompt:

  • What excites you about being a student at BU
  • How you hope to contribute to the campus community.

A strong answer to this question will connect the two together.

Root your answer to the first part in opportunities/qualities that are unique to BU and BU alone. For instance, there are many colleges in Boston, so avoid writing about opportunities specific to Boston and write about opportunities specific to BU. Offer detailed examples when writing about majors, programs, clubs, exact locations, living environments, etc. You can find a lot of this on BU’s website—they even publish a full list of clubs that you can explore. In addition, searching for interesting lectures by BU professors or BU professors researching areas you’re passionate about is another strong way to show this interest. In general, don’t overstuff an answer with this content, but three to four references work well in most cases.

Think of this as an “ask not what BU can do for you, ask what you can do for BU” question. Be sure to tie in your answer to the first question to your unique skills and perspective (that should be visible on other parts of the application) when discussing how you’ll contribute to the campus community.

Be thorough – Essays are evaluated both for their content and for their grammar, so make sure that you take the time to read your essay out loud, meticulously proofread it at least twice, and even have a trusted, experienced adult (like an English teacher) review your essay before you click submit. Don’t lose points because of basic grammar mistakes .

Be thoughtful and original – Think deeply about each topic you write about. Avoid writing platitudes. Strive to find ideas that feel new and don’t fall into typical high school tropes. Show off your personality and what makes you unique!

Be mature – Aim to be self-aware with everything you write, and avoid coming across as overconfident, entitled, or too pessimistic.

From first looking at countries’ GDPs without knowing what they meant to exploring neo-classical theory, the study of economics has harnessed my intellectual curiosity. Exploring the discipline has challenged me to think about conflicts in religion, culture, and ethics that have significant impact on our day-to-day lives: a research interest I would love to continue studying as an Economics major and Religion minor at BU.

My independent engagement with books like The Undercover Economist and Richard Thaler’s Misbehaving have piqued my curiosity about Behavioral and Development economics. I would be eager to work with Boston University Professor Raymond Fisman, whose research explores the connection between religion-based communities and lending. My own interest in this connection resulted from researching the contribution of religious pilgrimage and tourism in Mecca for my IB Extended Essay over the past year. Additionally, minoring in religion at BU will enable me to understand the values and foundations of economic and organizational practices around the world.

After serving as chief editor of my school’s student newspaper for two years, I aspire to join magazines like BU’s International Relations Review and the Daily Free Press. I view storytelling as a powerful tool for fostering empathy and understanding, and I would love to use my writing to promote dialogue on challenging issues like religion and economic inequality. BU’s founding principle that research and scholarship should be conducted in service of the wider community resonates with my own belief that education can breed tolerance; a goal I hope to work towards through my studies and involvement at BU.

Additional Information (optional): Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.

Explanation:

This section is 100% optional, but it can be a good place to share a short piece of writing you’re especially proud of or briefly write more thoroughly about an area you feel like you didn’t have enough space to discuss in the rest of the application (maybe your passion project, or a specific work experience, etc.) The key here is to keep it succinct and only write about something that’s very important to you or unique.

boston university application essay prompts

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Boston University Admissions 233 Bay State Road, Boston MA 02215

boston university application essay prompts

Trustee Scholarship

Every year, BU welcomes approximately 20 outstanding students to the Trustee Scholars Program. Many of our current Scholars had perfect 4.0 grade point averages in high school and ranked in the top of their class.

In addition to exceptional academic credentials, Trustee Scholars are intellectually and creatively adventurous and demonstrate viewpoints, experiences, or achievements beyond the usual. They are, in other words, not just top students, but extraordinarily well-rounded individuals. At BU, Trustee Scholars become part of a unique campus community that offers many intellectual, cultural, and social opportunities.

A Trustee Scholarship covers full undergraduate tuition plus mandatory undergraduate student fees, and is renewable for four years if certain criteria are met.

HOW TO APPLY

To be considered for a trustee scholarship:.

  • Submit the Common Application and all required materials for admission to one of the undergraduate degree programs at BU  by December 1 .
  • Complete the Trustee Scholarship essay on the Common Application as part of your application to BU.

The Trustee Scholarship Essay:

Please choose from one of the two prompts below and submit one essay, in 600 words or less, as part of your application through the Common Application.

  • Nobel laureate and BU professor Elie Wiesel once said: “There is divine beauty in learning… To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests.” Is there a book, film, podcast or life- experience that has made you feel more connected to your personal history/identity, and what is the most important thing you learned from it?
  • Describe a time when you felt out of your comfort zone or marginalized in a situation. How did you respond to that moment and how has it informed your actions moving forward?

For more information, please contact us at 617-353-2320.

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boston university application essay prompts

How to Write the Boston College Essays 2023-2024

Boston College only requires applicants to write one essay, but you may choose from four different prompt options. If you are applying to BC’s Human-Centered Engineering major though, you won’t have the luxury of choosing a prompt and will be required to answer a HCE specific question.

With BC receiving thousands of qualified applicants each year, all with strong test scores and extracurriculars, you will need your essay to stand out and tell a compelling story about yourself in order to impress admissions officers. No matter which prompt you choose, we’ll explain how you can write a great essay to get into Boston College.

Read these Boston College essay examples to inspire your writing.

Boston College Supplemental Essay Prompts

We would like to get a better sense of you. Please respond to one of the following prompts (400 word limit). Applicants to the Human-Centered Engineering major will select the fifth prompt.

Option 1 (all applicants): Each year at University Convocation, our incoming class engages in reflective dialogue with the author of a common text. What book by a living author would you recommend for your incoming class to read and why would this be an important shared text?

Option 2 (all applicants): At Boston College, we draw upon the Jesuit tradition of finding worthwhile conversation partners. Some support our viewpoints while others challenge them. Who fulfills this role in your life? Please cite a specific conversation you had where this conversation partner challenged your perspective or you challenged theirs.

Option 3 (all applicants): In her November 2019 Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi warned viewers against assigning people a “single story” through assumptions about their nationality, appearance, or background. Discuss a time when someone defined you by a single story. What challenges did this present and how did you overcome them?

Option 4 (all applicants): Boston College’s founding in 1863 was in response to society’s call. That call came from an immigrant community in Boston seeking a Jesuit education to foster social mobility. Still today, the University empowers its students to use their education to address society’s greatest needs. Which of today’s local or global issues is of particular concern to you and how might you use your Boston College education to address it?

Option 5 (Human-Centered Engineering applicants): One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College integrates technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. What societal problems are important to you and how will you use your HCE education to solve them?

Each year at University Convocation, our incoming class engages in reflective dialogue with the author of a common text. What book by a living author would you recommend for your incoming class to read and why would this be an important shared text? (400 words)

Readers, this one’s for you! This prompt wants to know about the material you consume outside of class to learn more about the topics you find interesting and relevant. The key to making this essay successful is picking the right book, so here are a few things to consider when choosing your selection:

  • Who’s the author: It says it right in the prompt: “book by a living author ”. As much as you might find one of Dickens’ novels fundamental to the human experience or Nelson Mandela’s autobiography to be a critical lesson on empathy, you can’t choose authors who are no longer alive.
  • How familiar you are with the book: Pick a book you’ve either read recently or that was so impactful you can recall the plot and the deeper meaning of it. You’ll need to be confident about what you are writing, so it’s far better to pick a book that seems less “impressive” or “academic” on the surface that you know and love than a book you picked up last week for the purpose of writing this essay.
  • Don’t be basic: There are many impactful books by talented authors in the cultural zeitgeist that will be popular choices for many students. You don’t want your essay to be the tenth one on The Handmaid’s Tale that admissions officers read that day. Try and pick something you wouldn’t be assigned in English class or that you wouldn’t find on New York Times bestseller lists.
  • Make it align to you: The most important task when choosing a book is to make sure it relates to you in a way that you can highlight your interests or characteristics in the essay. Although the prompt might seem like it’s about a book, in reality, this essay is still about you. If you love politics, you might choose a politician’s autobiography or a book examining the state of democracy. A student interested in psychology could choose a dystopian novel and explore the psychological mechanisms at play in the society. 
  • Does it have a broad appeal?: Yes, your choice should relate to you, but it will also theoretically be read by the entire class, so it needs to have a broader appeal. Does your book highlight societal issues or have inspiring characters that everyone could learn a lesson from? Make sure you are able to demonstrate why this is a book everyone should read, not just people interested in the topic.
  • Be judicious: Don’t pick the first book that comes to mind. Take your time in figuring out a list of 10 or so books you think could be good choices and then narrow it down from there. For each book, ask yourself questions like, “What is the core theme of this book?”, “How is society reflected in the ideas of this book?”, “How does this topic relate to me?”, and “Why do I find this author influential?”. Not only will this help you figure out which book speaks to you the most, it will also provide you with a solid basis to start planning out your essay once you choose a book.

Once you’ve picked a book, it’s time to start writing. There are two main points you need to cover in your essay: why this book is meaningful to you and why it would be meaningful for your peers. Your essay needs to be centered around answering these two questions and convincing admissions officers, who might have never even heard of your book, that it has an impactful message.

A natural way to approach your essay would be to open with a hook—maybe a quote from the book, an image of you snuggled up in your reading nook enjoying it for the first time, or a description of the frayed and browning edges and faded cover with a cracked spine from rereading it over and over—then discuss why this book is important to you, and finish with why other people should read it.

Of course, you can change up the structure (creative formats are always welcome when it comes to college essays), but we will go into more detail based on the more traditional approach.

Why Is It Meaningful to You?

As we said above when picking a book, you need to have a personal connection to your novel of choice. Whether you see aspects of your personality in the main character, the subject matter influenced your independent research project, or the author’s depiction of the challenges they have overcome have inspired you to face adversity, you need to show admissions officers why this book is important to you.

Let’s look at an example of how a student might demonstrate their connection to a book:

“ I can’t shoot an arrow. I’m terrible at braiding my hair. I’ll be the first to admit I’d last maybe two hours tops in the Hunger Games, and yet, I am Katniss Everdeen. In a world full of injustice, corruption, violence, and abandoned hope for the future, someone has to take a stand. We might not be fighting for our lives in an arena, but we were fighting for our lives on the streets of Washington, demanding reproductive freedom. I wrote letters to members of Congress, and nothing happened. I posted on social media over and over again, and nothing happened. I cried myself to sleep, terrified of my future resting in the hands of male politicians, and nothing happened. So I spread my wings, took to the streets, and decided to make something happen. Standing side by side with the girls from my Human Rights club, my throat satisfyingly sore from the hours of chanting, I became the Mockingjay. ”

Notice how the focus in this paragraph is on the student and her experience related to the book, rather than on The Hunger Games on its own. If you choose this essay, it’s crucial to remember it still has to achieve the goal of any other college essay: showing admissions officers who you are. 

You don’t just have to write about how you are related to a character to show the admissions committee your interests and personality. A student interested in cell biology might write about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and how they never thought about the origin of cancer cells when they were conducting research. In this example, the student could explain their research and delve into the ethics behind medical research that reading the book opened their eyes to.

Why Is It Meaningful to Society?

The last step in this essay is to pull back from your experience and connection to the book and explain why it would appeal to your peers. A great way to go about this is to find social commentary or critical lessons within the book that would resonate with people your age. 

Maybe a student picked John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down because he admired the way it handles difficult conversations about mental health. Because he’s passionate about mental health, he knows that many teenagers are suffering and could use a healthy depiction of mental health to start conversations and foster community, therefore reading this book would be beneficial.

Another student who suggested Michelle Obama’s Becoming could write about the pressure everyone her age feels as they experience huge life changes and enter a new uncertain time in their life. She might feel that the book’s message that growth is continuous and you shouldn’t be confined by society would resonate with her peers just as much as it did with her.

As long as you are able to connect the ideas in the book to something bigger than yourself, you will be able to demonstrate why it’s important for other people your age to also read it.

At Boston College, we draw upon the Jesuit tradition of finding worthwhile conversation partners. Some support our viewpoints while others challenge them. Who fulfills this role in your life? Please cite a specific conversation you had where this conversation partner challenged your perspective or you challenged theirs. (400 words)

This prompt provides you with an opportunity to try your hand at storytelling. Paint a picture for the reader: who are you talking to, how often do you talk, where are you located, was this a unique conversation or an example of a typical debate between you two? The more your essay reads like a page out of a novel, the better.

You’ll definitely want to include lines of dialogue in this essay, but don’t let the entire thing read like a text message chain. Include supplemental details like you and your partners’ inflections, your body language as you were talking, and what was happening around you. For example, this isn’t revealing much to the admissions committee:

“Yes honey?”

“I got another C.”

Versus this:

“Mom?” A timid voice squeaked out the back of my throat, hoping to go undetected. My mom didn’t even bother to look up from the pile of papers sprawled out in front of her.

“Yes honey?” 

She sounds busy—this can wait. I’ll just tell her tomorrow (or never). But something got the better of me and I sheepishly admitted the truth:

Beyond just the structure, it’s important to consider whom you will pick as your conversation partner. Remember, the prompt is looking for a particular conversation that challenged someone’s perspective, so don’t pick someone you always agree with. It should be someone you know well enough to recreate their side of the conversation—since you likely won’t remember what both of you said word for word.

The conversation you choose can be as serious as challenging a family member’s prejudiced ways or as lighthearted as convincing your friends why Star Wars is better than Star Trek. For this essay, the topic is not as important as how you present the conversation. But how should you present it? 

A basic essay might rehash the language of the prompt, such as: 

“My favorite conversation partner is my dad, because he and I love music. Sometimes, we stay up late talking about different songs of his youth–old songs that I have never heard before. Oftentimes, he will reveal a hidden meaning behind the lyrics.”

While this is answering the prompt, the response is formulaic and could be way more dynamic. Get creative! You could begin with a bold claim about your conversation partner, such as: 

“My father is a good but complicated man who, as of late, seems to only appear at night.”

You could begin with a summary of what you talk about: 

“When I hear the opening power chords of the Eagles’ “The Last Resort,” I hear the voice of my father. It is important to note that my father is not Don Henley, merely a fan, yet his baritone voice narrates the hidden meaning of the lyrics, underscored by Schmit’s bass guitar.”

Or with a strong statement:

“It’s become an unspoken rule–a silent law–to never attempt to initiate a conversation with my father while he is listening to his music. We talk after an album or after a song ends. Monolithic grunts are the only acceptable verbal form of acknowledgement while listening, accompanied by a thumbs up, a fist pump through the silent air, or a mere upward curl of the lips, as if to say, ‘I like this one.’”

After one of these strong beginnings, move into some dialogue and get to a point of conflict. We don’t mean physical conflict, rather where a disagreement in ideas is revealed that shows competing perspectives:

“‘ I don’t know Dad. The Eagles are fine but they’re no Led Zeppelin.’ Uh oh, wrong move. My dad’s head swiveled like an owl eyeing its prey. I braced myself for the onslaught of song titles, Grammy nominations, and band drama headed my way.

‘You’re entitled to an opinion. Just not the wrong one.’ The dangerous glint in his eye should’ve frightened me, but it only egged me on.

‘Seriously?! Stairway to Heaven is the ultimate rock song of the 70s.’

‘Ever heard of something called Hotel California?’ His hands flailed in the air, extenuating his point.”

Notice the effect of realistic dialogue and descriptions? The reader feels like they are standing on that porch watching this argument unfold. You want to draw the reader in with a conversation that feels natural and fitting for the people involved and the topic being discussed.

The admissions committee don’t just want to see conflict, they want to see the way you handle new ideas and approach difficult conversations. This is where you have to demonstrate how either your perspective changed or you changed the other perspective. 

“ After rounds of back and forth, shouting lyrics and Billboard chart numbers at each other, I came up with a better solution. 

‘Ok dad, how about this: We’ll listen to Stairway to Heaven and Hotel California back to back and each pick something good from both songs.’ 

As the opening guitar chords started, I was transported. Except it wasn’t the intro to Stairway to Heaven I know and loved—it was Hotel California! Soon, my head was bopping along to the drum kicks and I found myself singing at the top of my lungs.

‘Welcome to the Hotel California!’ We sang in unison.”

A nice conclusion to this essay should address you or your partner’s new perspective. Maybe you learned a lesson from how you handled disagreement. Or maybe you are looking forward to your next conversation where you can prove your point once again.

In her November 2019 Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi warned viewers against assigning people a “single story” through assumptions about their nationality, appearance, or background. Discuss a time when someone defined you by a single story. What challenges did this present and how did you overcome them? (400 words)

This prompt option is similar to a “ Diversity ” prompt, but you aren’t limited to just discussing racial and ethnic diversity. Anyone who has been stereotyped or judged for something outside of their control before could write a compelling essay to answer this question.

Here are a few ideas of possible essays students could write about in response to the prompt:

  • A student faced microaggressions because of the color of his skin
  • People assumed a student was LGBTQ+ because they were part of the theater club at their school
  • A girl who was called a dumb blonde felt discouraged to answer questions in her math class
  • A boy’s teachers assumed he would excel because his older brother was at the top of his class
  • A student was subjected to harmful stereotypes because of their religion

As you can see, there are many different avenues to take when answering this prompt. The important thing is to describe how you were defined by a single story, show the impact that had on you, and demonstrate how you overcame or fought back against your single story.

The best way to start this essay is with an anecdote. Place the reader in your shoes so we can understand what you went through. The key is to show the reader with vivid imagery:

“ ‘Adios mama.’ I hung up and slipped my phone back into my bag, only to be greeted by three sneering faces when I looked up again. ‘Hablasss inglesss?’ Their American accents and teasing tone drew out the words so they were barely recognizable to a native Spanish speaker. ‘Tu estás en los Estados Unidos.’ Another boy chimed in over his friends’ snickers.”

Once you’ve established the discrimination you’ve experienced, explain the impact that had on you. Did it mess with your performance in school because you were afraid to be criticized for your accent when you answered a question? Did you feel insecure about your looks and that made you try new hairstyles and outfits until you barely recognized yourself anymore? Did you stop participating in an activity you loved and feel unfulfilled?

It’s really important to go a step beyond the comments and treatments you received from others and explore how you were emotionally and mentally impacted by being siloed into a single story. This is where the depth of your essay will come from and what will distinguish it as either strong or weak.

While this essay does handle challenging topics, it’s not meant to be a depressing recount of discrimination you’ve faced; it’s meant to demonstrate your resilience and ability to overcome a difficult situation. Save at least half of your essay to tell the story of how you fought back and overcame the challenges of being assigned a single story. 

Be as detailed as possible when discussing how you overcame your single story. The admissions committee is curious to see your methods (did you ignore and rise above the comments or talk back and deny them) and your thought processes (what was your motivation behind standing up for yourself, was there a final straw that pushed you over the edge, did you turn to others for advice, etc).

Finally, it’s a good idea to include self-reflection in this type of essay. Consider some of these questions to guide your reflection: How is your unique background an asset? How has your personality been shaped by your experiences? Are you still fighting being assigned a single story? How can you prevent this from happening in the future?

By reflecting on your diversity, you will demonstrate your ability to think critically and show the admissions committee the unique perspective you’ll bring to the school.

Boston College’s founding in 1863 was in response to society’s call. That call came from an immigrant community in Boston seeking a Jesuit education to foster social mobility. Still today, the University empowers its students to use their education to address society’s greatest needs. Which of today’s local or global issues is of particular concern to you and how might you use your Boston College education to address it? (400 words)

This prompt is a combination of the “ Global Issues ” and “ Why This College? ” essay archetypes. You need to both address a societal issue that is important to you and discuss how the tools and resources at BC will help you solve it. But don’t fret—you can get it all done in 400 words.

You’ll likely want to pick this option if you are civically minded, have experience volunteering or participating in political extracurriculars, or if you are interested in pursuing something in the realm of politics. Here are the steps we recommend to help you write this essay.

Pick an Issue 

The first place to start when brainstorming for this topic is to pick an issue that is near and dear to you. Ideally, this should be something you either have prior experience with from an extracurricular or volunteer work, or it should be a topic that affects you or your community that you can speak extensively about.

Avoid choosing an issue as broad as climate change or world hunger. Instead, narrow these down into more manageable issues like rising sea levels or food deserts in rural communities. By staying focused on a sub-issue, you can really delve into the causes and solutions for that particular topic—resulting in a more cohesive and engaging essay.

Explain Your Connection to the Issue

This part of the essay is incredibly important; it’s basically the “so what?” for why you care about this topic and others should too. It’s a good idea to include an anecdote to demonstrate how you have experienced this issue in your life.

For example, a student who is writing about high incarceration rates in the U.S.might write about friends and community members who have been incarcerated and how angry that made them feel. Another student might choose to write about the issue of deforestation and how he’s been volunteering to plant trees since he was 12 to try and combat the issue.

Whatever your connection is to the topic, make sure that your response covers the personal impact the issue has on you. In the case of the student writing about incarceration, they should definitely describe how members of their community have been affected, but this is their college essay, so we want to know how they have been affected. How do they feel knowing their community is being ravaged by this issue? What did it feel like to lose a friend to the justice system for a crime they didn’t commit? By highlighting the personal effects, you will make your essay stand out.

How Have You Addressed This Issue Already

Since you are picking a local or global issue that is in some way relevant to your life, chances are you’ve probably already taken some action to try and find solutions. Show the admissions committee that you are a driven individual who’s committed to doing good through your past actions.

Include how you collect old computer parts and repurpose them in your repair business to cut down on technological waste. Explain how you organized donation drives at your school and church to collect essentials for Ukrainian refugees. Demonstrate your commitment to improving female literacy through your work as a volunteer tutor at a local children’s center.

Discuss BC Resources

This is where the “Why This College” part of the essay comes into play, and since BC doesn’t give you another opportunity to explain what specific programs and resources appeal to you, make sure to highlight that in this essay.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when discussing college-specific resources

  • Do your research: It only takes a bit of your time to look up the special programs, classes, professors, and clubs offered at a school, but it makes a world of difference in making your essay stand out. Demonstrate your interest to the admissions committee by including details you could only find on a specific webpage or by attending an info session.
  • Don’t namedrop: Saying you want to work with X Professor or take these three classes is meaningless if we don’t know why. When you are including the names of school-specific opportunities, back it up with details. 
  • Connect the resources back to you: How does this professor’s research relate to your interests? How will working in this lab help you get closer to your goals? Make sure that every school opportunity you discuss is tied back to you in some way.
  • Less is more: It’s far more effective to find three or four resources at the school that align perfectly with your interests and you can thoroughly explain rather than squeezing five or more in without giving any explanation to their importance.

The resources that you pick should align in some way to the issue you discussed. For instance, if the topic you want ot address is the Black Lives Matter movement, it would be a good idea to say something like, “ The Comparative Social Movements class will help me understand the tactics past movements used to succeed, while helping Professor McGuffey with his research on race, gender, and sex will help me better understand the ways intersectionality defines the Black experience. ”

Wrapping It Up

For an essay about addressing a societal issue, you’ll want to end on a positive note. Show admissions officers that you are forward-thinking and know exactly how you can solve a pressing issue with the resources BC has to offer. 

Option 5: (Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) Applicants)

One goal of a jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the common good. human-centered engineering at boston college integrates technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. what societal problems are important to you and how will you use your hce education to solve them (400 words).

In this essay, your primary goal is to explain how you will use Boston College’s engineering education to “serve the Common Good” (i.e. address issues in society). In essence, this prompt is a variation on the “Why This College/Program?” essay.

One important piece of advice is to remember that this essay is about you and the program. Don’t just name aspects of the program you’re excited about; make sure you tie them into your story, values, aspirations, or other qualities.

There’s a lot to consider in this essay, but don’t be intimidated! Dedicating a healthy amount of time to brainstorming and planning will make your essay much stronger. Before you begin to tackle this multifaceted prompt, remember that the structure of your essay doesn’t have to mirror the order in which you brainstorm. 

Start by familiarizing yourself with the goals and requirements of the program. Boston College’s Human-Centered Engineering program is a brand-new, interdisciplinary program that gives students a strong foundation in the liberal arts and rigorously prepares them to engineer solutions to global problems. It requires 120 credits, two-thirds of which must be STEM-focused, and one-third of which must be in the liberal arts and humanities. You can read more about the program on the BC website . 

During the brainstorming stage, pick several specific features of the program that catch your interest: perhaps the idea of working with stakeholder groups on design solutions appeals to your creative quest to solve real-world problems. Or, maybe the idea of a weekly reflection on the ethics of engineering strikes you as an important practice for keeping yourself accountable to a humanistic perspective. You’ll come back to these components of the program once you’ve identified a central problem around which to base your essay.

Next, think about your goals in conjunction with engineering–this is the first stage of framing that central problem for your essay. Why are you interested in engineering, from a human-impact perspective? What broad human issues do you find most urgent? Although the prompt doesn’t ask you to pick just one societal challenge or opportunity to address in your essay, we advise you to choose one central theme around which to base your essay. Boston College’s Human-Centered Engineering program aims to put human concerns at the center of its training. 

To get a better understanding of the program’s objectives, it can help to consider what this program strives not to be (and, by extension, what you should focus on avoiding or going beyond in your essay). One page on the Human-Centered Engineering website highlights a couple of contrasting concepts on engineering’s objectives: 

  • “The engineers of the future will be asked to do more than build bridges. We’re educating innovative thinkers whose broad knowledge and passion for helping others will set them apart in whatever career they pursue.” Boston College’s engineering program strives to get at issues that have a greater human impact than functional design.
  • “This is not engineering for engineering’s sake—this is engineering for impact.” As a graduate of the program, you’re not just inheriting engineering endeavors passed down for generations. You’re innovating and creating solutions to problems that today’s engineers might not yet know how to approach–hence the emphasis on creativity and humanistic perspective.

At this point, you should identify a pressing global or community-based human problem you’d like to address. This should be the focus of your brainstorming efforts. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a problem to discuss:

  • Personal impact. Your essay will be much more cohesive and strong if you choose a topic that has affected you or a community you’re part of. For example, if your family owned a farm in Texas, where droughts are a recurring issue, you might be passionate about finding engineering solutions to the issue of water conservation. By framing the global issue of water shortage around your family’s experience, you can more effectively argue for the human impact of the issue. 
  • Breadth. You should choose an example that is broad enough to fall into the category of “societal challenge,” but not too broad. If you choose an example that is too broad or vague, like “world peace,” you will come across as out of touch with the goals of the program. If your first thought was world peace, or some other broad human problem, don’t despair! Focus on finding a more specific concern within that broad context. In the case of world peace, think about a concrete problem that causes wars and disputes between human communities. Maybe it’s access to the internet. Then you can frame this issue as worldwide connectivity and access to technology. You don’t need to know all the details of your solution’s mechanism–that’s the purpose of your education–but your central problem should lend itself to an interdisciplinary, engineering-based solution.
  • Current Global Crises. The Human-Centered Engineering website gives you a few ideas for relevant human problems: environment (their example being access to clean water), health (with exposure to air pollution as an example), and energy (exemplified by a shift to renewable energy). It would be a good idea to choose a more specific concern within one of these sectors, but if you have a great idea that isn’t related to any of these ideas, that’s okay! The more creative and specific your idea, the better.

Once you’ve chosen a central problem, go back to the concrete aspects of the Boston College’s program that you found most noteworthy. How can these features support your goals? 

You will probably need to go back to the program website and find some more specific resources that will help you achieve your goals. 

Let’s take access to technology and connectivity as our example. You might point out that the liberal arts core will help you gain empathy and perspective on the issue; there is an abundance of literature and psychological studies on the ways in which being left behind technologically creates tensions and war. 

You might also argue that the weekly ethical reflections will help you consider the human needs that you can address within the issue of access to technology–why should we endeavor to bring up-to-date technology across the globe? 

Lastly, the design-thinking modules with stakeholders will help you learn to work with affected parties to create reliable solutions, and this ability to work with stakeholders means you can customize access to technology based on location and connectivity needs. 

Note that the prompt mentions how the program “strives to develop people who will integrate technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective” to societal problems. Make sure you address how the program will help you develop each of these qualities when it comes to addressing the societal problem you’ve chosen.

Where to Get Your BC Essay Edited 

Do you want feedback on your BC essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools.  Find the right advisor for you  to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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Boston University 2018-19 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

Thank your lucky stars you chose to apply to Boston University! This application supplement is a gift: two of the most straightforward prompts you could ask for, and only one of them is required. But beware, a simple supplement is no reason to ignore a school or save it until the last minute. In fact, it means you have no excuse not to nail your essay, so pay attention and do your work!

The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words; 1 optional essay

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why , Additional Info

Boston University 2018-19 Application Essay Question Explanations

What about being a student at boston university most excites you (250 words).

You’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again: the classic why essay. The point of this sort of prompt is twofold: to learn what makes you tick and to gauge your commitment to the school. So, the more time you spend researching the school, the better you’ll be able to demonstrate both. This is, essentially, the only question BU is asking you, so you have no excuse not to buckle down and spend some quality time poring over the school website. Take notes on anything and everything that appeals to you across all aspects of student life: classes, professors, labs, clubs, speakers — literally everything! The point is to paint a picture for admissions that clues them into your passions and demonstrates how BU will help you cultivate them. Once you’ve completed your preliminary research, narrow the list to your top five or so items to focus on. Remember, this essay is only supposed to be 250 words.

Additional Information (optional): Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.

Typically, when a school includes an optional “additional info” essay, admissions is giving applicants a chance to address any red flags in their academic or disciplinary history. It’s your chance to show admissions that a few bad grades or lapses in judgement don’t define you. That being said, Boston University has cast a wider net with its additional info prompt. Still, this essay isn’t for everyone. We recommend this prompt for students who would like to address specific blips in their past or applicants with truly outstanding portfolio pieces. The point is, your response to this prompt shouldn’t be an afterthought; it should shed new light on who you are as a person or student.

Who fits into the first group? Maybe you were coping with an illness that slowed you down during your sophomore year and prevented you from taking a more rigorous course load. Maybe a rough introduction to calculus only motivated you to study harder and overcome your difficulties in future years. Or perhaps you were juggling an array of family responsibilities that distracted you from your school work. Whatever the case may be, yours should be a story of resilience and tenacity. Describe what you learned and how you have grown as a result of these challenging experiences.

What about the second group? Are you an award-winning author or scientist? If you choose to submit additional materials, you should be sending in show-stopping work that proves you are ready to pursue your interests at the college level.

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  1. Boston University (BU) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    With this prompt, BU is marrying two classics: the Why Essay and the Community Essay. The point of this sort of prompt is twofold: to learn what makes you tick and to gauge your commitment to the school. So, the more time you spend researching the school and their unique offerings, the better you'll be able to demonstrate both.

  2. Boston University Freshmen Applicant Information

    Essays: You must submit two essays in the space provided on the Common Application. This is an important part of your application because it gives you the chance to tell us your story as an applicant. Admission to your selected program:

  3. How to Write the Boston University Essays 2023-2024

    All Applicants, Required Prompt 1: Boston University is dedicated to our founding principles: "that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community—local and international.

  4. Boston University

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  5. Boston University Supplemental Essay 2023-24 Prompts and Advice

    Below are the Boston University supplemental prompt options for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address them: 2023-2024 Boston University Supplemental Essays. Boston University is dedicated to our founding principles: "that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation ...

  6. How to Apply to Boston University

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  7. Boston University Essay

    Early Decision I: November 1 st Early Decision II and Regular Decision: January 4 th Boston University Essay Tip: Aim to write about 250-300 words for your supplemental essay. It's important to maximize your impact by using all the space available to you.

  8. 3 Expert Tips for the Boston University Supplement Essays

    There are a number of different Boston University essay prompts, depending on what program you are applying to and whether or not you decide to apply for a scholarship. All students must answer the "Why Boston University" essay. You can also choose to submit additional work in the "Extra Space" part of the application.

  9. 3 Strong Boston University Essay Examples

    BU requires one essay for all applicants, and has an additional information prompt that is optional. Applicants to the Accelerated Program in Liberal Arts and Medicine have another essay, and Honors College applicants have two additional essays.

  10. Prompt's How-to Guide for BU's Supplemental Essays

    Boston University's supplemental essay prompts, (including Why BU), and how to nail them. BU's essay supplements are mercifully reasonable. Still, there's still a lot hinging on them. So we have an in-depth guide that we wrote for you at Prompt, from our long experience helping applicants succeed.

  11. Boston University Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

    Good luck! This 2021-2022 essay guide on Boston University was written by Juliana Furigay, Columbia '23. If you need help crafting your BU supplemental essays, visit app.collegeadvisor.com to create your free account or schedule a no-cost advising consultation by calling (844) 719-4984.

  12. Boston University Supplemental Essays

    Claire Babbs Boston University Boston University Supplemental Essays 2022-2023 Do you need help writing your Boston University supplemental essays? Then this Boston University supplemental essay guide is for you.

  13. How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Boston University Supplemental Essay

    Boston University has two supplemental essay prompts to choose from. If you are applying to multiple schools, these may be shorter questions than you are used to. However, the prompt's simplicity makes it especially important to come up with a thoughtful, fresh answer.

  14. Boston University Supplemental Essay Examples

    Blog College Application Boston University Supplemental Essay Examples Updated: Jan 01, 2024 Perusing some Boston University supplemental essay examples will be a great foundational step to writing your own college application essays for Boston University. Excellent essays are one option for making your college application stand out.

  15. Boston University 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    Are you an award-winning author or scientist? If you choose to submit additional materials, you should be sending in show-stopping work that proves you are ready to pursue your interests at the college level. Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts.

  16. How to Write the Boston University Supplemental Essay

    Prompt 1: "Community"/"Social Awareness" essay Prompt 2: "Why Us" essay How to write the Kilachand Honors College essay Prompt 1: "Why us" essay Prompt 2: "Creating a new course" essay How to write the Trustee Scholarship Essay Prompt 1: "Personal history/identity" essay Prompt 2: "Comfort zone or marginalized" essay

  17. Boston University Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    By AdmissionSight Boston University Supplemental Essays 2023-2024 Boston University's supplemental essays for 2023-2024 offer a unique platform to showcase your intellectual prowess. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of these essays, aiming to equip you with insights and strategies to articulate your thoughts compellingly.

  18. How to Write Boston University Essays

    Boston University is asking all applicants to write and submit just one supplemental essay for the 2023-2024 application cycle. The school offers students the option to pick between two prompts: one is a classic 'why this school?' while the other asks students to write more about their service work or social activism. Bear in mind that the admissions officers have no preference between ...

  19. How to Write the Boston University Supplemental Essays 2018-2019

    Prompt 1: Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider. (2000 KB PDF file) Because of the sheer volume of applications college admissions officer comb through, you don't want to burden them with even more writing unless it is absolutely necessary.

  20. Trustee Scholarship

    Please choose from one of the two prompts below and submit one essay, in 600 words or less, as part of your application through the Common Application. ... Located In the Heart of Boston. Boston University Admissions 233 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215. Domestic. 617-353-2300; [email protected]; International. 617-353-4492; [email protected];

  21. How to Write the Boston College Essays 2023-2024

    Boston College Supplemental Essay Prompts. We would like to get a better sense of you. Please respond to one of the following prompts (400 word limit). Applicants to the Human-Centered Engineering major will select the fifth prompt. Option 1 (all applicants): Each year at University Convocation, our incoming class engages in reflective dialogue ...

  22. 7 Common App Essay Prompts for 2023-2024 Application Cycle

    7 Common App Essay Prompts for 2023-2024. Explore the 2023-2024 Common App essay options and get expert tips to write a powerful personal statement (250-650 words) that impresses admissions officers. Common App Essay Prompt #1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful that they believe their ...

  23. 2023-24 Boston College Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

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