How to Write the Boston University Essays 2023-2024
Boston University has one required prompt for all of its applicants. Applicants must choose one of two possible topics—the first asks you to reflect on a social or community issue, and the second asks how you hope to contribute to the BU campus community.
Since BU receives thousands of applications from academically strong students, your essays are your chance to stand out. In this post, we’ll discuss how to craft an engaging response to each of these options.
Read these Boston University essay examples to inspire your writing.
Boston University Supplemental Essay Prompts
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. 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:
Option A: 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)
Option B: What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community? (300 words)
Prompt 1, Option A
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 sort of a combination of the community service prompt and the global issues prompt. Schools that use this kind prompt want to know about your level of engagement with the people and environments around you. BU especially emphasizes taking the knowledge you learn in the classroom and applying it to the service of the wider community, so definitely respond to this prompt if you feel like this is you.
Your response should illustrate your personal values through the lens of your perspectives on and interactions with your community. Keep in mind that often, the best way to respond to a prompt like this is with an anecdote. This prompt is not an invitation to list all your achievements in community service like you might on your resume—instead, you should share your experiences in a short illustrative anecdote. With the 300-word limit, it’s important that you convey relevant details from your story as effectively and concisely as possible.
This question is twofold. The admissions committee wants to learn about an issue in society or your community that deeply resonates with you, and that has motivated you to perform civic engagement and service. The prompt also asks you to reflect on how you’ve actively approached these issues and advocated for their resolution (or even attempted to solve them!).
To help you brainstorm about ongoing societal or community issues, ask yourself:
- What existing problems in my immediate community do I find personally and particularly frustrating?
- What issues have I taken a lead role in engaging with? How have I served my community?
- Have I been involved in any advocacy programs or campaigns in my community?
Additionally, there are a few other tips you can follow to stand out in this essay. Focus on one particular interest or concern if you can. Share responsibilities and accomplishments you had in your role. Highlight what you learned and how you’ll use those lessons moving forward. Don’t be afraid to call out different clubs, classes, programs, or initiatives on BU’s campus that connect with your particular interests and intersect with the types of service you do.
With only 300 words to spare, less is more—focusing on one key experience or aspect of your identity with an important relevant issue will demonstrate more thought and effort than just listing several experiences from your resume.
Prompt 1, Option B
What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community? (300 words)
The key to this “Why This College?” prompt is to first lay out the specific aspects of the University that excite you, and then to supplement these aspects with the ways in which your personal traits and qualities will make you an excellent fit at the school’s community. Most importantly, you want to thoroughly research the aspects of BU that really resonate with you.
Remember to discuss both academic and extracurricular aspects, as college is about what happens both inside and outside the classroom! Note, the second half of this prompt is new this year—it asks how you plan to contribute to the BU campus community. Be sure to address this half of the prompt by explaining how your personal values and interests align with BU. Discuss how you hope to showcase these values and interests in BU’s lively community.
Here are some possible avenues:
- If you have a particular interest in conducting research, you might use this essay to dote on BU’s extensive undergraduate research opportunities. Maybe you’ve always been interested in studying mental illness, as it’s something you’ve both witnessed and had to reckon with personally for your entire life. You could talk about BU’s Approach Motivation and Participation (AMP) Lab, where you would have ample opportunity to interact with participants dealing with things like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
- If you want to study business and are applying to the Questrom School of Business, you might talk about wanting to join the Questrom Honors Program, where you would be given unique opportunities to attend seminars on niche business topics of your interest, like green technology and intellectual property, and participate in networking events with alumni. Remember to talk about your own experiences in business, whether that was through DECA or through starting your own business. Be sure to also mention why Questrom would be a perfect avenue to continue pursuing your current passions.
- Maybe you’re an aspiring English major with a love for theatre. The Shakespeare Society would be a great place to combine your passions, as the group puts on 2-4 Shakespeare productions per year.
If you’ve visited the campus or have attended a summer program at the University, you should definitely note that in the essay. Include sensory details and specific moments, whether it was visiting the halls that Dr. Martin Luther King once studied in, lying down on “BU Beach” and catching the breeze, or simply sitting outside of Marsh Chapel and observing the great diversity on campus as people walked along Commonwealth Avenue.
That being said, don’t make the focus of your essay anecdotal; you want to be sure to include details about concrete resources at BU that would help you achieve your goals.
One final piece of advice is that you should avoid mentioning generic aspects of BU that could apply to many other schools, such as its location in Boston or low student-to-faculty ratio. You want to show the admissions committee that you’ve seriously reflected on how well you’ll fit at BU, and you can do that by mentioning specific, unique BU resources that support your aspirations.
Where to Get Your Boston University Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your BU 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!