How to Write the Boston University Supplement 2019-2020

Boston University (BU) is a private university known for its long-standing reputation in research. Located along the Charles River near the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, its diverse variety of study abroad programs, scientific advancements, school spirit, and deep culture of BU Terrier pride—rooted from nationally awarded sports teams—are all highlights of the university.  

Its most popular majors are in the realm of social sciences, business management, marketing, social services, biological/biomedical sciences, and computer sciences. With over 60,000 applicants in 2019, the current acceptance rate stands at just under 20 percent.

BU’s major pride point is that they champion themselves on admitting outstanding students in the top 7 percent of their high school who took challenging AP, IB courses with top-tier grades and test scores. But beyond academic talent, they want a group of students who are real “doers”—volunteers, artists, entrepreneurs, community leaders.

Boston University’s supplemental essay prompt asks a very straightforward question to its applicants:

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

BU is asking its prospective students what they are going to contribute in their own way. They are looking for an essay that will tell them what kind of student you will be inside and outside of the classroom, both in an academic capacity and as a contributor to their campus community. Using only 250 words, this essay is your very concise way of telling them how BU fits with you and your academic background fit. In other words, make it sound like you were meant to go to school at BU, and that your admission will make a lasting impact.  

When writing about academics, you need to choose a major they offer and look into programs that would be a continuation of courses you were passionate about in high school. Also go a step further and take a peak at classes offered in the major(s) you’re considering. Look at prior syllabuses of courses that interest you. This isn’t the place to talk about being undecided/undeclared, even if that’s what you plan to do. The more specific you are, the better your essay will be—name specific classes, programs, or even professors you want to take classes with. Think of it this way: You can take classes at any college in the world, why BU?

The better understanding you have of the school’s offerings, the more prepared you will be for this essay. When writing about campus involvements outside of class, look into things like clubs you’d love to join and choose the one(s) that make the most sense with your high school extracurriculars. This doesn’t mean you’re going to jam-pack your excitement and make a list of as many clubs as possible, you want to tailor your essay to show that you’re eager to contribute to this organization because it is a perfect fit with your background. If you’re someone with loads of travel experiences under their belt, look into writing about why BU’s study abroad program in over 100 countries excites you most. Or if you’re someone with a strong biology background, taking part in a research opportunity would be a seamless fit with BU’s extensive research opportunities.

Some important things to remember:  

  1. Avoid sounding like bullet-pointed résumé. The goal is to reveal certain pieces about yourself in a way that is thoughtful, but straight to the point—given the limited character restriction. 

  2. Keep your essay fun and even funny, if possible. Don’t mention being undecided/undeclared if you’re not sure about what major you’ll be going into, just focus on something you know you’re definitely going to want to do. 

  3. You don’t have to make it sound like you are a standout extrovert if it’s not your thing or not true to who you are, try to dazzle them with your curiosity, uniqueness, and insight. 

  4. Remember to keep it light, this isn’t a chance for you to write a sad story. If you have something that you’d like to write about that is, talk about it in the “Additional Information” section of your Common App. 

BU also provides an optional additional information section:

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

Use this section only if you feel really pressed to submit something unique, but don’t feel pressured to submit something— especially if it’s redundant or similar to something else in your app. This section should only be used if there is an important piece of writing or artwork that says something about you that you weren’t able to include anywhere else. 


If you’re still feeling lost about Boston University’s supplement, send us a note here so we can help you find a starting point.