boston university essay

Boston University Essay 2023-2024

As admission to Boston University becomes more competitive, the Boston University essay continues to be incredibly important. Although essays are often the most time-consuming part of the application process, strong essays can make a huge difference. The Boston University essays give you the opportunity to elaborate on and strengthen your application. And, although your grades might be comparable to other applicants, your essays help make your application one of a kind.

For students researching how to get into Boston University, the Boston University essay prompts also provide valuable insight into the admissions process. The 2023-2024 Boston University essay prompts are slightly different compared to the Why BU essay of years past. However, that’s a good thing! The Boston University supplemental essays let students communicate with admissions officers, showcasing their unique personalities and experiences. 

In this guide, we’ll do a deep dive into the Boston University essay prompts and tips for tackling them. We’ll also offer advice for writing Boston University supplemental essays for The Trustee Scholarship and Kilachand Honors College.

If you want to learn more about how to write a Boston University essay, keep reading! Before we look at the essay prompts, let’s start with some quick facts about Boston University Admissions. 

BU Essay: Quick Facts

Boston University Admissions: Quick Facts

  • Boston University Acceptance Rate: 14% – U.S News ranks Boston University as a more selective school.
  • Boston University Essay Requirements: 
    • Common App essay
    • 1 (~ 300 word) supplemental essay
  • Boston University Application: Students can apply via the Common Application or the QuestBridge Application. A full list of Boston University application requirements can be found on BU’s website
  • Boston University Application Deadlines
    • Early Decision I: November 1st 
    • Early Decision II and Regular Decision: January 4th 
  • Boston University Essay Tip: Aim to write about 250-300 words for your supplemental essay. It’s important to maximize your impact by using all the space available to you. If your Boston University essay is far below the word limit, you likely need to elaborate more on your ideas. 

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website.

How many essays are required for Boston University?

boston university essay

All first-year applicants must write two essays to satisfy the Boston University essay requirements. In total, you’ll need to complete the Common App essay (650 word maximum) and one school-specific supplemental essay (300 word maximum). You also may have other Boston University essays to complete if you apply for certain scholarships or to BU’s Honors College. We will discuss these additional Boston University supplemental essays later in this guide. 

Students can choose from two Boston University essay prompts for their supplemental essay. Remember, your Boston University essays are extremely important. Your response helps admissions officers gain a deeper understanding of who you are and why you’re interested in BU. So, be sure to think carefully about which prompt best aligns with the story you want to share with Admissions.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Boston University essay prompts!

What are the Boston University Essay Prompts?

boston university essay

The Boston University essays are designed to help admissions officers gain a deeper understanding of you and your passions. So, if you understand the main theme of the prompt and the questions it asks, you’ll be prpepared to write a strong essay. However, always remember to read the prompt carefully. You don’t want to find yourself writing an entire draft only to realize you actually missed the mark.

As previously stated, students can choose between two separate prompts. Here are this year’s Boston University essay prompts:

Boston University Essay Prompts

1. 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?

2. What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community?

Both prompts have a specific focus, each unique from the other. These prompts are a bit different than they have been in previous years. So, next, we’ll talk a little bit about this change. Then, we’ll discuss how to pick the best prompt for your BU essay.

Does Boston University have a Why BU Essay?

While the second Boston University essay prompt shares similarities with a Why BU Essay, the focus is a little different. You need to do more than tell admissions what BU is going to offer you. You also need to share why you would be a valuable addition to BU. In this way, BU does not have a clear-cut Why BU essay. 

In years past, the Boston University supplemental essays included only one prompt – a Why BU essay. This is why many of our Boston University essay examples read like a Why School essay. Even so, these Boston University essays can still serve as great examples and sources of inspiration. (Be on the lookout for links to our past essay guides later on when we highlight some great CollegeAdvisor resources!)

However, if you want to categorize the second prompt as a Why School prompt, you’re not wrong. Still, it’s important that your BU essay captures more than what a typical Why School essay might cover. We’ll detail how to write your BU essay later in this guide. 

Choosing a Boston University essay prompt

boston university essay

Choosing between these Boston University essay prompts is an important decision. The BU essay is a great chance to elaborate on experiences or perspectives not captured elsewhere in your application. Moreover, the prompt you choose to respond to will help determine the topic and details discussed in your essay.

So, take your time and think carefully about which Boston University essay to write. It can make a big difference to your application! 

Prompt #1

Boston University Essay Prompt #1

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?

This is a great BU essay for students who have a deep passion for a specific social or community issue. So, think about what you care about and how you’ve worked to address it. Maybe you’re part of an organization dedicated to social justice, helping your community, or raising awareness around important issues. If this sounds like you, this may be a great Boston University essay for you to write. Students with volunteer experience may also consider responding to this essay. Any action you’ve taken in your community or on a larger scale could make for a great topic! 

If you haven’t had direct experience, such as volunteering or leading a club, don’t be discouraged by this prompt. Maybe you’ve talked with your friends and family about the issues that matter to you. Alternatively, maybe you’ve even debated with classmates about a social issue. Even though it’s on a more personal scale, you can still use these experiences for your BU essay. Overall, you should choose this prompt if you are passionate about an issue that impacts our society or your community. 

Boston University Essay Prompt #2

What about being a student at BU most excites you? How do you hope to contribute to our campus community?

Students picking this essay likely have a specific reason for applying to BU. Are there classes, programs, or extracurricular activities at BU that excite you? Or perhaps you’re inspired by BU’s values and the way they’ve structured their curriculum. This prompt is a great fit for students with a dedicated interest in BU. Although this prompt is close to a Why School essay, it’s important to dedicate equal writing space to both of the prompt’s questions. 

This Boston University essay prompt also asks how you’ll contribute to the overall campus community. Consider what perspectives you might contribute both in and outside of the classroom. How is your presence on campus going to enrich the larger BU community? Be sure to look through BU’s Student Activities website to see what clubs and extracurricular activities you may want to join. If you have the opportunity to visit BU’s campus, it may be a good idea to do so before writing this essay. Overall, if you have a clear vision of how you’ll engage with BU’s campus, consider picking this Boston University essay!

How do I write the Boston University essay?

boston university essay

Once you’ve picked between the two Boston University essay prompts, the next step is: to start writing. If you’re feeling stuck drafting your Boston University supplemental essays, here are some tips for each prompt.

Writing the Boston University Essay: Prompt #1

Try using a specific anecdote or memory as an anchor for this Boston University essay. Think of specific events, like attending a protest or having an intense debate with a friend or family member. Or, try recalling the first time your passion for this issue was sparked. This can provide context as to why you care about a particular issue. Whatever it is, try to incorporate this memory into your essay, then show how you’ve translated your passion into action. 

Once you set the stage, focus on your specific involvement. Have you organized educational meetings? Passed out pamphlets or literature? Have you become part of any larger organizations or movements? Even if you haven’t had the chance to take any major actions, consider how you’ve discussed the issue. Have you changed anyone’s mind on a particular topic? Have you had any difficult conversations with friends or family that you want to share? 

Overall, Admissions wants to get a sense of your role as an engaged citizen. Although this prompt doesn’t specifically mention BU, your reader is still getting a sense of what you might contribute to campus. Avoid writing about an issue you think admissions will find impressive—instead, always be authentic and true to your beliefs.

Writing the Boston University Essay: Prompt #2

This Boston University essay prompt allows students to share exactly why they’re excited about applying to BU. This essay prompt requires you to do some research into BU’s specific programs and opportunities. Out of the two Boston University essay prompts, this one focuses more on BU specifically. So, it’s important to showcase the research you’ve done. Begin by exploring BU’s website—the Why BU page is a great place to start. You can also watch our webinar on Boston University and Boston College here

Try not to list out a million things in your Boston University essay. Detail what most excites you, and why. Are you looking to continue a field of study or extracurricular program you started in high school? Are you excited to explore something new that BU offers? The more detail, the better! 

Now it’s time to tell Boston University Admissions how you plan to contribute to BU’s community. Do you see yourself as a student leader? Conducting important research within your major? Moreover, what do you think you’ll bring to the BU campus? Try to connect this part of your essay to your first section. Describe what excites you about BU, and then explain how you’ll get involved. This will help your essay feel like a cohesive narrative. 

In short, this Boston University essay helps admissions officers understand why you’re interested in BU. It’s important your essay is a genuine representation of why you want to go to BU. (Instead of a list of generic facts).

General Tips for your Writing Process

No matter which essay prompt you select, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for a complete writing process. That means:

Brainstorm your ideas

Set a timer and write down as many ideas as you can. See what ignites your passion, or the topic you can’t stop writing about, and then go from there.

Write a first draft

Your first draft isn’t going to be perfect, nor should it! Your first draft is just a starting point, so go with your gut and don’t worry about getting it absolutely right.

Edit and revise

Work on clarity, organization, and tone. Are there details you’re missing or extraneous ones you need to cut out? This is where the magic happens—taking the time to edit through a second or third draft can transform a first draft into a final.

Get an outside reader

Once you are fairly happy with your essay, get a second pair of eyes on it. Another perspective might bring up questions you need to answer or spot errors you’ve missed.

Do a final proofread

No final draft is complete without a comprehensive proofread. Make sure your essay is free of any spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes. That way, your reader will be free to focus on your ideas and storytelling.

Follow through on your writing process and you’ll be sure to have a polished essay for your application. (You can also use these tips if you end up writing additional BU essays!)

Other Boston University essays to look out for

Students applying to merit based scholarships or the Kilachand Honors College might have additional Boston University essays to write. Note that these Boston University supplemental essays are not required for general admission, so they are not mandatory. Students planning to apply to either of these opportunities will want to set aside additional time to complete their application. 

While there are many Boston University scholarships, only one requires an additional essay – the Trustee Scholarship. The Trustee Scholarship covers full tuition and undergraduate mandatory fees. So, it’s not surprising it’s considered one of the more competitive Boston University scholarships. We will detail the Boston University essay prompts for the Trustee Scholarship later in this guide. 

The Kilachand Honors College also requires an additional Boston University essay. The honors college offers an integrated, four-year curriculum that helps students engage in a number of different areas of study. Students work to complete a Keystone Project and also have multiple opportunities for collaboration within the program.

Next, let’s review the Boston University essay prompts for the Kilachand Honors College.

Boston University Kilachand Honors College Essay

boston university essay

The Boston University essay prompts for the Kilachand Honors College allow students to showcase their interest in the program, and demonstrate their ability to think critically and creatively. Students can pick one of the following prompts: 

Boston University Kilachand Honors College Essay Prompts

1. What about the Kilachand Honors College resonates with you, and how would Kilachand’s curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals?

2. If you could create a new Kilachand course, what would it be? How would your imagined course align with the core values of Kilachand?

The Kilachand Honors College essay has a 600-word limit. So, students should take advantage of the additional space, thinking carefully through the prompt they select. Both of these Boston University essay prompts aim to capture if a student would be a good fit for the Kilachand Honors College. So, it’s important that you research the program thoroughly.

Think through your academic goals and how Kilachand can help you realize them. Mapping out your goals and connecting them with Kilachand resources and classes can help in your essay planning. To help your Boston University essay stand out, use as many specific details as possible. Additionally, make sure your essay captures your passion.

Boston University Trustee Scholarship Essay

boston university essay

As one of the more prestigious Boston University scholarships, the application for the Trustee Scholarship is competitive. Students have the choice between two Boston University essay prompts for the Trustee Scholarship.

Boston University Trustee Scholarship Essay Prompts

1. Nobel laureate and BU professor Elie Wiesel once said: “There is divine beauty in learning… To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests.” Is there a book, film, podcast or life- experience that has made you feel more connected to your personal history/identity, and what is the most important thing you learned from it?

2. Describe a time when you felt out of your comfort zone or marginalized in a situation. How did you respond to that moment and how has it informed your actions moving forward?

The Trustee Scholarship essay prompts are designed to help the admissions committee learn more about you. Specifically, the type of art you connect with or your experiences stepping out of your comfort zone. These Boston University essays are illuminating and personal, so it’s important to take your time when crafting your response.

Just as with the Honors College essay, both these prompts have a 600-word limit. Be sure to take advantage of the extra space to clearly and effectively connect your ideas!

Does Boston University care about essays?

boston university essay

Yes, the Boston University Admissions committee cares about your essays. It’s hard to define exactly how the Boston University supplemental essays factor into the admissions process. However, the Boston University essay prompts showcase what the Boston University admissions office is looking for. They’re interested in students who are passionate about issues in their communities and who are excited to attend BU. In your essay, you can communicate directly with BU Admissions, telling them exactly who you are in your own words.

If you’re wondering how to get into Boston University, focus on your Boston University supplemental essays! With the competitive Boston University acceptance rate, it’s important to take every opportunity to connect with Admissions. No matter which Boston University supplemental essays you end up writing, spend ample time crafting your responses. The Boston University supplemental essays are a great way to showcase your personality and creativity and help your application shine! 

CollegeAdvisor resources on Boston University

The Boston University supplemental essays are only part of the larger BU application. With the competitive Boston University acceptance rate, it’s important to research BU thoroughly. CollegeAdvisor has several different resources to help you with all aspects of your application, not just the Boston University supplemental essays. You can read our articles on Boston University Majors and the Boston University Ranking. Also be sure to take a look at our comprehensive BU guide: How to Get into Boston University. We also have guides on the different scholarships at BU, other colleges in Boston, as well as the Questbridge Scholarship

If you’re still feeling stuck on the Boston University supplemental essays, read our past Boston University Essay guides. We have Boston University essay guides from the 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023 application cycles for you to review. No matter what you need, CollegeAdvisor has the resources to help you with your Boston University application. 

Boston University Essays – Final Thoughts

For students wondering how to get into Boston University, the Boston University essay is crucial. With the Boston University acceptance rate at 14%, BU essays are your best opportunity to stand out from the crowd. A great Boston University essay shows how you align with BU’s values and why you’re an ideal candidate.

Overall, the Boston University supplemental essays allow you to expand on your experiences and background. And, they can be a great place to highlight the things you’re most proud of. It’s important to think through your response and to submit the best version of your Boston University essay as possible. Dedicating enough time and effort to your Boston University essay will help you put your best foot forward. Consult with your family, friends, and mentors to help polish your Boston University essays.

The Boston University supplemental essays can help propel your application forward, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity!

boston university essay

This essay guide was written by senior advisor, Jess Klein. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.