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3 Expert Tips for the Boston University Supplement Essays

Posted by Hayley Milliman | Jan 15, 2019 3:00:00 PM

College Essays

 

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If you’re applying to Boston University this year, you’ll have to respond to at least two Boston University essay prompts.

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 its applicants to respond to at least two Boston University essays as part of its admissions requirements. You may also have to respond to a third, additional essay, depending on what school or program you’re applying to.

Boston University uses the Common Application for admission, so the Boston University essays are all submitted through the Common App’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 and can submit extra work as part of the “Extra Space” prompt. 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":

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

 

"Extra Space" prompt:

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

 

For Accelerated Program in Liberal Arts and Medicine applicants:

  • 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)

 

For Kilachand Honors College applicants:

  • Kilachand Honors College offers a challenging liberal arts education grounded in critical and creative thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving. What do you think this approach means? Reflect on what has been missing in your education to date, giving at least one concrete example to support your response. How would Kilachand’s interdisciplinary curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals? (600 words)

 

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

  • Option A: The list of works banned throughout history is long and sometimes surprising. Examples include the Bible, King Lear, The Origin of Species, Mein Kampf, Lolita, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Isaac Asimov wrote: “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” Do you agree? Is such censorship ever justified? If so, who or what should determine which books are read and which are forbidden?  
  • Option B: Economists describe a “moral hazard” as individuals’ tendency to take greater risks when they believe that they will not bear the full cost of their actions. Some may be less careful driving, for instance, if they know that their insurance provider will cover potential accidents, while the uninsured will drive with more caution. A recent study similarly suggests a correlation between greater access to Narcan, the drug used to reverse potentially fatal opioid overdoses, and a rise in the use of opioids. In your opinion, should the concept of moral hazard affect public policy? If so, what are the relevant factors policymakers should consider in assessing questions of public safety and individual responsibility?
  • Option C: “The perfect search engine,” Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin has said, “would be like the mind of God.” In your opinion, will science and technology eventually allow us to know all things knowable? Are there limits to what the perfect search engine will reveal, or might it indeed become like the mind of God?

 

For all Trustees Scholarship applicants: 

  • Please submit a short essay to the following statement: “Something that’s not on the resume.” Give us a glimpse of a passion, dream, or mental pursuit that absorbs and delights you. (300 words)

 

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 first 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 this essay prompt, visit our article on the subject! (Coming soon) 

 

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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)

The second Boston University supplement essay prompt may seem intimidating - what should you upload? You should use this essay prompt 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, you could skip this question altogether.

 

For Accelerated Program in Liberal Arts and Medicine applicants:

 

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.

 

For Kilachand Honors College applicants:

 

Kilachand Honors College offers a challenging liberal arts education grounded in critical and creative thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving. What do you think this approach means? Reflect on what has been missing in your education to date, giving at least one concrete example to support your response. How would Kilachand’s interdisciplinary curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals? (600 words)

Students who are applying to Boston University’s Kilachand Honors College must answer an additional 600 word prompt. This Boston University supplement essay prompt is all about academics - what interests you and how Boston University can help you fulfill 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 this prompt 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.

 

For Trustees Scholarship applicants:

 

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

  • Option A: The list of works banned throughout history is long and sometimes surprising. Examples include the Bible, King Lear, The Origin of Species, Mein Kampf, Lolita, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Isaac Asimov wrote: “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” Do you agree? Is such censorship ever justified? If so, who or what should determine which books are read and which are forbidden?
  • Option B: Economists describe a “moral hazard” as individuals’ tendency to take greater risks when they believe that they will not bear the full cost of their actions. Some may be less careful driving, for instance, if they know that their insurance provider will cover potential accidents, while the uninsured will drive with more caution. A recent study similarly suggests a correlation between greater access to Narcan, the drug used to reverse potentially fatal opioid overdoses, and a rise in the use of opioids. In your opinion, should the concept of moral hazard affect public policy? If so, what are the relevant factors policymakers should consider in assessing questions of public safety and individual responsibility?
  • Option C: “The perfect search engine,” Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin has said, “would be like the mind of God.” In your opinion, will science and technology eventually allow us to know all things knowable? Are there limits to what the perfect search engine will reveal, or might it indeed become like the mind of God?

Please submit a short essay to the following statement: “Something that’s not on the resume.” Give us a glimpse of a passion, dream, or mental pursuit that absorbs and delights you. (300 words)

Students who are applying for the Boston University Trustees Scholarships must answer not one, but two, additional essays. The first essay is 600 words and the second is 300 words.

The longer Trustees Scholarship prompt asks you to pick between three questions to answer. The three options are all fairly academic, focusing on banned books, moral responsibility, and search engines. Which prompt you pick doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you answer it. Your answer should have a strong, persuasive argument with specific reasons as evidence.

The final prompt gives you the opportunity to talk about non-academic interests. This essay is the place to talk about your passion for handcrafting popup cards or your delight in finishing the NY Times crossword puzzle every day. You can pick something seemingly trivial - go with whatever makes you happy!

 

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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 Cliches and Overused Phrases

When writing your Boston University essays, try to avoid using cliches 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 cliches, which take away from the strength and sincerity of your work.

Boston University’s admissions committee will see hundreds, if not 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 generic
  • 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!

 


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Hayley Milliman
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