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How to Ace Boston University’s Supplemental Essay | Guide & Examples, 2022-2023

School Supplements
Brad Schiller
Brad Schiller
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Well, hello there! If you’re hanging out in this corner of the Internet, we’re going to assume you’d like to go to BU. (If that’s not true, umm … maybe head over to our Writing Center and check out our guide to a college you are interested in!)

Now, if you do want to go to BU, bad news: you’ve got to bottle up that desire (to be at BU) and sell it in 250 words. 

On the other hand, good news: we can guide you through exactly how to do that. Here’s BU’s prompt:

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

In addition, BU asks an “additional information” prompt that we’ll show you how to approach as well:

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

(For help with all aspects of your college application, head to our College Essay Help Center.)

Put lots of BU specifics in your “Why BU” essay, while showing off your intellectual curiosity;“Why BU” — Example;“Additional Info” — follow our advice on whether to write this answer and how to do it well;Helpful info on all the “other” stuff you’ll consider as you apply to BU (and other schools);
Put lots of BU specifics in your “Why BU” essay, while showing off your intellectual curiosity;“Why BU” — Example;“Additional Info” — follow our advice on whether to write this answer and how to do it well;Helpful info on all the “other” stuff you’ll consider as you apply to BU (and other schools);

    Put lots of BU specifics in your “Why BU” essay, while showing off your intellectual curiosity

    The question is:

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

    Step 1 — Understand why BU is asking “Why Us” 

    We’ve written specific guidance on “Why Us?” essays, which you should review. It’s the background that will show you what admissions officers are looking for when they read a Why Us essay. 

    Oh. You just want the gist? Fine:

    Admissions readers want to know (1) if you’ll be a good fit at BU and (2) if you’re likely to attend if admitted. This means you should write about two things:

    1. your college-related interests + 
    2. The ways in which BU matches those interests.

    Step 2 — Choose your best academic/extracurricular experiences

    You want to start by knowing what material you’ll be aiming to show off. 

    • If you won a prize for an Economic research paper on how families decide between your local public school and the charter school alternative → head over to BU’s Economic Department website to find things that excite you there. 
    • But maybe you’ve worked at a Performing Arts nonprofit every summer since freshman year → you need to go to BU’s Performing Arts pages in that case. 
    • Or have you always loved math and even been part of your state’s Math Olympiad team? → Hie thee to the Math Department!

    You get the idea — the prompt asks what “most” excites you, so you need to focus on one big thing that really matters to you. In other words, your essay needs to show off what you can do. 

    Therefore, you start with what’s strongest on your academic/extracurricular resume. Then find stuff at BU that matches it.

    Note that if you’re great at math but can’t wait to ditch it (or if you’re so, so, so *done* with Performing Arts), that’s fine. You can do whatever you want once you’re admitted. For now, this is the best way to show the admissions team that, whatever you set your mind to, you’ll do it well.  

    Step 3 — Research to support your experiences

    Alright. Now you can see that this “research” piece isn’t overwhelming — you don’t need to sift through every page of every course catalog. Just get to know the places that would likely most appeal to you anyway. 

    By the way, though we’re steering you in a traditional academic/extracurricular direction (which is the easiest and “safest” - that is, tends to be most appealing to admission officers), you can be looser than that. You can find great material for this essay in:

    • Your campus visit (and people you spoke with)
    • How you first learned about/got excited about BU
    • A news story in their student paper or published by the school
    • And anything else that is specific to the college and shows why you want to go there.

    Step 4 — Write it: succinctly, focusing on your actions, your achievements, and your excitement about BU

    Spend exactly zero minutes on style. You’re not being graded on style, trust us. 

    “Why BU” — Example

    Warning: at Prompt, we do not believe in modeling your essays on what anyone else has done. We’re just inventing this example to give you a rough idea of what this answer could look like. Please don’t take this made-up example too seriously. 

    Why BU example:

    When I visited BU, I had an amazing chat with a sophomore who was hoping to get Departmental Honors in Economics. I couldn’t believe that she was already working toward a thesis that she would defend in her senior year. I loved the challenge that she accepted and the responsibility that BU was affording her to pursue this level of research.

    Since I won a high school Economics prize for my research paper comparing how families decide between our local public school and the charter school alternative, I’ve only wanted to solve more problems using Economic analysis. I was drawn to that problem because of how students talked about the decision as being very “political” — Democrat/Republican. But when I analyzed why families actually made the choice, political thinking wasn’t a factor at all: instead race, educational outcomes, and word of mouth were the biggest factors convincing families to apply to the charter lottery. At BU, I know I’d want to major in Economics and take classes like “The Economics of Education” and “The Economics of the Public Sector” and learn more about how those institutions operate.  

    I’m excited about many aspects of being a BU student. That includes being able to pursue tennis, which I love, at a high level and living in an exciting city like Boston. But refining my skill and technique in Economics is definitely what most excites me right now. 

    Notes:

    • This essay is 235 words.
    • While the question asks what “most” excites you, it’s fine to add in a few “extra” things that you like about BU. Be sure to give them a little specificity, but without taking the spotlight away from your big “main” idea. 
    • Note that the student spends a lot of time talking about their actions in this essay. While much of the word count will naturally go toward BU itself, it’s good to share that spotlight, showing tangible things that you did (including the fact that you might have had a conversation with a student about majoring in Economics!).
    • Note: you don’t need to link to BU resources in your essay! We just did that to show you where we found some of the BU-related info. 

    “Additional Info” — follow our advice on whether to write this answer and how to do it well

    The question is:

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

    In the Common App, the Additional Info section can be an enormous asset. But it’s also highly anxiety-producing to many. BU’s own “Additional Info” question here is extremely similar to the Common App one. 

    That’s why we recommend you learn all about the admissions-boosting possibilities of the “Additional Info” space — as well as its real pitfalls — before deciding how to tackle this question in your own application.

    Bottom line: most students should probably leave this question blank, though it can be a huge boon if you’re one of the students who have a way to make use of it. 

    Helpful info on all the “other” stuff you’ll consider as you apply to BU (and other schools)

    A few helpful resources for the non-supplement parts of your application:

    BTW, here’s our guidance for approaching any college supplement + here’s where you can find our guides for almost every college’s supplements

    Feeling inspired? A great place to start is at our College Essay Help Center

    More articles on Prompt.com’s admissions-boosting methods:

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