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: (Required)
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?*
Whether you choose to answer question 1 or question 2, your overarching goal should be to highlight the ways in which your values overlap with those of BU as they are explained in the first part of the prompt. This is your chance to show the admissions officers that you’re a good fit for their campus community, and, likewise, that their school is a good fit for you.
Option 1 Explanation:
If you choose Option 1, you should view it as an opportunity to both brag about one of your extracurricular accomplishments or passion project, and shed some light on what you value as a citizen of your local, national and international community.
Note that there are two parts to this prompt:
- Why the issue is important to you
- How you’ve been involved and addressing/raising awareness of it
Make sure to address both parts.
Work backwards as you brainstorm your essay. Start by thinking of ways you have addressed or raised awareness about a social or community issue. Have you raised money for a cause, held an event educating community members or your peers, distributed informational pamphlets, founded a club, hosted an event, or volunteered for an organization or institution? Be sure to write about something that you have actively accomplished—avoid writing about an issue that you care about but haven’t addressed.
Discussing the way(s) you have addressed the issue you care about is an excellent opportunity to provide more detail about an activity on your Common App Activities List. If you can, substantiate your accomplishment with quantitative numbers—“raised X amount of dollars,” “donated X pounds of canned food,” etc.
Then, write about why this issue is important to you. Much like your personal statement, you want to write an essay only you can write, so avoid writing something generic about an issue most people care about. Resist the temptation to focus on an overly political or partisan subject, especially one that’s discussed nationally. If you feel like you can offer a nuanced, interesting answer, go for it, but don’t be afraid to write about a more local issue. It doesn’t have to have national importance—the prompt asks why the issue is important to you as an individual. Describing a personal connection to the issue can be a good way of illustrating why it is important to you; perhaps it’s affecting your city, state or a friend or a family member.
If nothing unique comes to mind, opt for the second prompt.
Keep in mind that BU emphasizes accessibility, service of the local and international community, diversity, and excellence. When you write why the issue is important to you, be sure to tie your discussion back to one (or more) of the BU values to emphasize that you hold values in common with the school.
For most of my childhood, the only computer I had was a boxy, early 2000s PC my mom used once a week to browse Facebook. I didn’t realize that my technological skills were far behind my classmates’ until middle school, when we were expected to know how to Google reliable sources, use Word, and run different software programs.
With effort and dedication, I slowly developed the digital skills to match my peers’ throughout middle and high school. Now, I am passionate about increasing access to technology and closing the gap in digital literacy for students like me.
Comparing my own experience with that of my fellow students helped me to recognize the need to level the playing field. I founded a school club, Students for Digital Access, which aims to donate laptops to underprivileged students. I partnered with my library to host a technology drive, encouraging community members to donate their old laptops and tablets, and then worked with the local tech store to refurbish and donate the laptops to members of my school community. I successfully provided forty-seven laptops to students in need. This initiative enabled students to engage in online learning and explore digital resources, and underscored the significance of community collaboration in driving positive change.
Advocacy has been central to my efforts. Collaborating with other student organizations, I have organized a panel discussion on the impact of the digital divide and potential solutions. I also wrote an article for my local paper, highlighting the intersection of technology access, education, and social equity.
Ultimately, by cultivating digital literacy, I contribute to a more inclusive and interconnected community. I especially resonate with BU’s value of service, as I work towards a future where every individual has equal opportunities to harness the power of technology for personal and communal advancement.
Option 2 Explanation:
Again, note that there are two parts to this prompt:
- What excites you about being a student at BU
- How you hope to contribute to the campus community.
A strong answer to this question will connect the two together.
Root your answer to the first part in opportunities/qualities that are unique to BU and BU alone. For instance, there are many colleges in Boston, so avoid writing about opportunities specific to Boston and write about opportunities specific to BU. Offer detailed examples when writing about majors, programs, clubs, exact locations, living environments, etc. You can find a lot of this on BU’s website—they even publish a full list of clubs that you can explore. In addition, searching for interesting lectures by BU professors or BU professors researching areas you’re passionate about is another strong way to show this interest. In general, don’t overstuff an answer with this content, but three to four references work well in most cases.
Think of this as an “ask not what BU can do for you, ask what you can do for BU” question. Be sure to tie in your answer to the first question to your unique skills and perspective (that should be visible on other parts of the application) when discussing how you’ll contribute to the campus community.
Be thorough – Essays are evaluated both for their content and for their grammar, so make sure that you take the time to read your essay out loud, meticulously proofread it at least twice, and even have a trusted, experienced adult (like an English teacher) review your essay before you click submit. Don’t lose points because of basic grammar mistakes.
Be thoughtful and original – Think deeply about each topic you write about. Avoid writing platitudes. Strive to find ideas that feel new and don’t fall into typical high school tropes. Show off your personality and what makes you unique!
Be mature – Aim to be self-aware with everything you write, and avoid coming across as overconfident, entitled, or too pessimistic.
From first looking at countries’ GDPs without knowing what they meant to exploring neo-classical theory, the study of economics has harnessed my intellectual curiosity. Exploring the discipline has challenged me to think about conflicts in religion, culture, and ethics that have significant impact on our day-to-day lives: a research interest I would love to continue studying as an Economics major and Religion minor at BU.
My independent engagement with books like The Undercover Economist and Richard Thaler’s Misbehaving have piqued my curiosity about Behavioral and Development economics. I would be eager to work with Boston University Professor Raymond Fisman, whose research explores the connection between religion-based communities and lending. My own interest in this connection resulted from researching the contribution of religious pilgrimage and tourism in Mecca for my IB Extended Essay over the past year. Additionally, minoring in religion at BU will enable me to understand the values and foundations of economic and organizational practices around the world.
After serving as chief editor of my school’s student newspaper for two years, I aspire to join magazines like BU’s International Relations Review and the Daily Free Press. I view storytelling as a powerful tool for fostering empathy and understanding, and I would love to use my writing to promote dialogue on challenging issues like religion and economic inequality. BU’s founding principle that research and scholarship should be conducted in service of the wider community resonates with my own belief that education can breed tolerance; a goal I hope to work towards through my studies and involvement at BU.
Additional Information (optional): Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.
This section is 100% optional, but it can be a good place to share a short piece of writing you’re especially proud of or briefly write more thoroughly about an area you feel like you didn’t have enough space to discuss in the rest of the application (maybe your passion project, or a specific work experience, etc.) The key here is to keep it succinct and only write about something that’s very important to you or unique.