Boston University Essay Example: Breakdown + Analysis

Boston University is a top research university in the heart of the city. With an 18.5% acceptance rate, admissions is pretty selective, and writing strong essays is essential to standing out.

 

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.

 

In this post, we’ll break down a BU essay prompt, and explain what admissions officers are looking for. We’ll then go over an example essay from a real applicant, analyzing what they did well, and what could be improved.

 

BU Supplemental Essay Prompt

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

Like many other schools, Boston University has a “Why This College?” prompt that asks you to consider what draws you to their particular institution. 

 

BU receives copious applications, and admissions officers know that not all students are equally likely to attend the school if accepted. For this reason, this supplemental essay provides more insight into how invested you are in attending BU, and how BU can help you achive your goals. Admissions officers want to see that you’ve reflected on your potential role in the BU community.

 

It’s important to research BU, so you’re able to cite specific resources that support your academic, extracurricular, and professional development. You want to get truly granular and mention specific courses, internships, clubs, or research opportunities. Avoid mentioning general aspects that could apply to many schools, like the “prime location in Boston” (there are tons of colleges in Boston!) or the “strong math department.”

 

And while academics should be the focus of your essay, be sure to mention at least one extracurricular aspect. After all, college is not only about studying; it’s also about engaging with the campus community.

 

Boston University Essay Example

 

Let’s look at a potential response to this prompt: 

I am most excited by Boston University’s Societal Engineer vision. As an aspiring engineer with a strong interest in government, I love that BU encourages engineering majors to strengthen their communication skills and global awareness. 

 

Academically speaking, I would explore political science courses through BU Hub requirements like Historical Consciousness and Ethical Reasoning. In addition, I would explore the world through the semester-abroad programs offered by BU for engineering majors. If admitted, I would love to study in Grenoble (and brush up on my French!) as a sophomore.

 

Beyond academics, BU’s student groups also align with the Social Engineer vision. BU’s Engineers Without Borders mission spans both engineering and communication, as their project in Zambia involved both in developing sanitation systems and presenting posters on these systems to the community. Given my strong desire to help others through engineering, I would devote my time and energy to EWB’s projects at BU. 

 

I am also intrigued by BU’s political student groups, and I appreciate that BU’s student government offers students from all colleges leadership as Senators. I work closely with my high school’s administration as the vice president of our honor society and the overseer of student elections, and I would enjoy doing something similar at BU.

 

At BU, I can see myself tinkering with Autodesk Inventor late into the night and petitioning legislatures to fix gerrymandered districts. Because BU’s Societal Engineer vision would encourage both my STEM and humanities interests, I am very excited about being a student at BU. 

Breaking Down This BU Essay Example

 

This essay is a strong response that adequately conveys what the student hopes to obtain from an education from Boston University. The applicant begins with a straightforward statement that expresses their interests in engineering and government.

 

I am most excited by Boston University’s Societal Engineer vision. As an aspiring engineer with a strong interest in government, I love that BU encourages engineering majors to strengthen their communication skills and global awareness. 

 

Establishing this cross-disciplinary interest immediately sets the candidate apart from other engineering majors and makes their response more unique. By mentioning the intersection of engineering and government, the candidate hits upon a rare niche that demonstrates a willingness to bridge two seemingly disparate subjects. 

 

This essay could be strengthened in that the candidate does not necessarily establish a personal connection to this topic. To improve this, they could briefly elaborate on what drew them to this academic intersection. Perhaps volunteering at a homeless shelter opened their eyes to housing inequalities, which stem from issues with both finding cheap building materials and their city’s budget. Or, perhaps their interest in creating sustainable plastic substitutes drew them to explore both materials engineering and environmental policy. This personal connection would strengthen the overall authenticity of this essay and provide a flow for admissions officers to follow. 

 

However, the current, brief albeit straightforward approach does a good job of establishing the applicants goals without mincing words. It sets up the rest of the essay content under a cohesive theme.

 

The next portion of this response centers on BU’s academic opportunities:

 

Academically speaking, I would explore political science courses through BU Hub requirements like Historical Consciousness and Ethical Reasoning. In addition, I would explore the world through the semester-abroad programs offered by BU for engineering majors. If admitted, I would love to study in Grenoble (and brush up on my French!) as a sophomore.

 

The applicant demonstrates that they have researched their major and mention a specific requirement. This is a good start; however, they should elaborate more on why they chose to mention this specific category. They can talk about how they hope to learn more about specific courses within this category. 

 

For instance, maybe they want to learn about security in America to inform their sense of national politics, or delve into the representation of the Holocaust in film, as they feel current policies on religious diversity should consider this topic. This further elaboration will round out this portion of the response rather than leaving it underdeveloped.

 

The student also mentions a study abroad opportunity specific for those within their major. They mention a specific study abroad destination, which further underscores their interest in this offering. The inclusion about brushing up on their French establishes a personal connection to their location choice, which also strengthens this portion of the response.

 

Next, the applicant discusses BU’s relevant extracurricular opportunities:

 

Beyond academics, BU’s student groups also align with the Social Engineer vision. BU’s Engineers Without Borders mission spans both engineering and communication, as their project in Zambia involved both in developing sanitation systems and presenting posters on these systems to the community. Given my strong desire to help others through engineering, I would devote my time and energy to EWB’s projects at BU. 

 

This inclusion is a good example of taking a BU-specific offering and expanding on what specific project the author intends to work on. They do a good job of connecting an engineering-related club to their humanities-related passions. 

 

I am also intrigued by BU’s political student groups, and I appreciate that BU’s student government offers students from all colleges leadership as Senators. I work closely with my high school’s administration as the vice president of our honor society and the overseer of student elections, and I would enjoy doing something similar at BU.

 

This portion of the essay caters to the applicant’s interest in government and reaffirms their desire to pursue this alongside their major in engineering. The opportunity also connects with the applicant’s previous experience. For “Why This College” essays, a good way to establish authenticity is by mentioning your current relevant extracurriculars. This creates a credible trajectory that demonstrates to admissions officers that you are already pursuing the interest in question and are likely to continue to engage with it on BU’s campus.

 

The applicant then concludes with the following: 

 

At BU, I can see myself tinkering with Autodesk Inventor late into the night and petitioning legislatures to fix gerrymandered districts. Because BU’s Societal Engineer vision would encourage both my STEM and humanities interests, I am very excited about being a student at BU. 

 

These final sentences to a nice job of wrapping up the response in a way that allows the essay to flow smoothly until the end. The mentions of Autodesk Inventor and petitions provide readers with specific details that corroborates the points made earlier in the response. The applicant ends with a forward-facing sentence that solidifies their desire to attend BU. Similarly, you should aim to wrap up your response with a final statement that encapsulates your essay thus far and also points ahead to your future at the university.

 

Need more information on how to approach your Boston University essay? Check out CollegeVine’s breakdown of how to respond to the supplemental essays for more tips and examples.

 

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