Archive for the ‘Admissions Advice’ Category

November 26

Six Tips for Meeting College Application Deadlines

By Stacey Milton

Tips for Meeting College Admissions Deadlines

It’s hard to believe, but we are now in the midst of application season. We are busy reading Early Decision applications for the Class of 2017, and will soon move on to scholarship applications in early December. As you’ve probably discovered, this is a very deadline-driven process, and we know that it can be daunting. Many schools have multiple deadlines for scholarships and financial assistance, not to mention the application itself, and most students are applying to more than one school. For seniors, there will be a lot to keep track of during the next few months.

So how can you make this process a little easier on yourself? Here are a few tips.

  1. Create a master schedule for all of the deadlines that apply to you. This includes deadlines for applications (Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision), financial aid (they may be different for each school) and scholarships. And don’t just make note of the dates. Are there additional essays or other requirements? Multiple forms that are required? This schedule can take any form you want. Create an excel sheet, buy a calendar, or put pen to paper and make a chart. You can even try to have a little fun with it—color coding and stickers allowed.
  2. Note how much preparation will need to go into each deadline and requirement. Do you need to write an additional essay? Are there special forms required? Do standardized test scores need to be submitted by the official testing agency? Are other people involved? Just knowing the deadlines isn’t necessarily enough. Make some notes regarding the amount of time you’ll need to put into the different parts of the application process. The more you plan and prepare, the better. For example, our Trustee Scholarship has a December 1 deadline—you don’t want to be scrambling on November 30 to write an essay that could put you in the running for a full-tuition scholarship. Also, give other people enough time to help you. If you need a teacher’s recommendation, don’t wait until the last minute to ask for it. You don’t want to annoy or frustrate your teacher before asking them to write a positive letter about you.
  3. Prioritize. You can only apply to college as a freshman once (in most cases). It is important that you put in the time and effort to ensure that you are presenting yourself in the best light. If you are like most seniors, you are probably juggling classes and homework, extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, friends and your social life…maybe even more. Help yourself through this process by setting aside time to devote to completing applications. This means filling out forms, writing essays, and proofreading.
  4. Proofread, proofread, proofread. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: you should re-read and review every section of your application. This includes your list of extra-curricular activities, short answers, essays – even your academic course listings. We read everything closely; so should you. It does not inspire confidence to see that a student interested in studying psychology is taking AP “Pyscholgy” in their senior year. Or that they are interested in the “Collage” of Arts and Sciences. Proofread. You may not notice it, but we will. And while we know students are applying to multiple institutions, remember that we don’t need to know why you want to attend Boston College, Georgetown, or NYU. Make sure you’re sending the right credentials to the right places.
  5. Monitor your application once submitted. We will send you a confirmation email once you’ve submitted your application. This will go to the email address that you included on your Common Application form. First, be sure that your email account is set to accept emails from This email will also include instructions regarding how to set up the Web Account you will use to monitor your application status. If we are missing anything from you, we will let you know through this account. If your application is complete, we’ll let you know that, too. Eventually, we will send your decision electronically through this account. Check it often and make sure that you’ve sent everything in that is required. Many students are denied every year because they don’t complete their application. Don’t let that happen to you!
  6. Ask questions. Unclear about a requirement or deadline? We are here to help you, so be in touch if you have questions. With that said, remember that all deadlines and requirements are posted on our website, so it’s best to check there first. If you are still unsure about something, it’s always better to double check than to miss out on an opportunity, so feel free to email or call us.


October 25

How to Make the Most Out of College Visits to Your High School

By Stacey Milton

Boston University pennants at a high school visit

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been visiting high schools in my region to meet with students who are interested in learning more about Boston University. My colleagues are doing the same thing around the country, and around the globe. We generally spend 30 minutes to an hour meeting with students and counselors, explaining the application process, discussing academic programs and answering questions. Despite the hectic days of navigating traffic in semi-unfamiliar places, frequent stops at Starbucks and the perpetual challenge of finding a school’s main entrance, I truly enjoy this process and look forward to meeting students in their element. I know my colleagues feel the same way.

As I am in my sixth year visiting students in my region, I’ve noticed some trends in the questions that are asked, as well as the way students approach college visits in general. Some trends are good, some are not so good. So, I thought I’d provide a little insight—and advice—regarding how to make the most out of college visits to your high schools. These tips can also be applied to other forums where you might be meeting with college representatives.

Ask questions. While I absolutely love to hear myself talk, meeting with students who are interested in BU tends to be much more engaging for everyone if the students I meet with actually seem interested. This is your opportunity to get some face time with me and, believe it or not, I remember the students who are most alert, attentive, and engaged during my visits. Additionally, I have a hard time believing that there isn’t at least one thing you’d like to know more about. Most likely, your peers have similar questions. Be brave and speak up!

Ask relevant questions. There are no stupid questions. Some questions, however, are better than others. Questions like “How is your psychology program?” or one of my favorites, “What can you tell me about BU?” (do you have three hours to listen to that answer?), are too broad and aren’t going to help you learn much more about a place. Think about what matters to you with regard to your college experience. Is it access to undergraduate research? Internship opportunities? Unique electives or interdisciplinary majors? Ask targeted questions related to the topics most important to you to help you better understand the University.

Come with a pen (or pencil). Sound kind of basic? I think so, too. Still, bring a writing utensil to a college visit. Most college reps will ask you to complete an information card and, in most cases, doing this allows a college or university to track that you took the time to come and meet with them—a good thing, since it demonstrates interest. Interested students are interesting to us.

Refrain from telling a college rep that their school is your “safety.” I recently had a student tell me that BU was her “safety” school, and that she knew she could get in. She then went on to tell me everything she knew about BU (not all of which was accurate). Needless to say, this is not the best way to make a strong first impression with a university. And who knows, you might need that “safety” after all!

Be an active listener and pay attention. If I’ve spent five minutes talking about study abroad, and a student asks me if we have study abroad opportunities, I’m a little befuddled. It’s one thing to ask for a clarification—“you talked about the ways students can double major, but I’m unclear about exactly how that works”—as this is different from asking about something I’ve already gone into great detail about. Plus, your peers might snicker at you, because they were paying attention and heard it the first time.

October 16

Applying Early Decision

By Gordon Ryan

Jon Korhonen

Greetings prospective BU Students!

My name is Jon Korhonen, and I am the Associate Director for Early Decision at Boston University. My colleagues and I have met many of you already during our travels this year. It is always exciting to learn that BU is a #1 choice for so many seniors!

If you have decided that Boston University is your top choice, I would like to encourage you to consider being an Early Decision candidate for admission. Last year we received more than 44,000 applications for admission. The competition for a place in our incoming class of 3,800 students is increasing. By applying to BU as an early decision applicant, you have a unique opportunity to stand out and highlight your candidacy for admission within a smaller applicant pool. We value a student’s demonstrated interest in BU, and Early Decision is certainly the best way to show that you are really excited about being a Terrier!

If you are applying Early Decision, please remember that both the application and the CSS Profile (if you are applying for need-based financial aid) are due on November 1. Additionally, we give the same percentage of merit scholarships to our admitted Early Decision class as we do to our Regular Decision class. All Early Decision students will receive a decision letter and financial aid award by December 15. Since Early Decision is a binding process, we do require you to submit your enrollment deposit is by January 15.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Also, be sure to check out our “Top Five Reasons to Apply Early Decision” and some insight into the Early Decision experience from current ED students in the video below. Best of luck to all of you, and I look forward to seeing your Early Decision application in a few weeks!

March 26

Congratulations to BU’s Class of 2016!

By Stacey Milton

You may have noticed that our blog has been a little quiet for the past few weeks. BU Admissions received a record number of applications this year – nearly 44,000 – and our staff was kept quite busy reviewing and selecting the students who have now been offered a place in BU’s Class of 2016. We are thrilled that the news is out and we can finally welcome all of you as future BU Terriers!

As you may have heard, this was the most competitive year to be applying to Boston University. We saw an increase in the number of applications, as well as an increase in the overall competition of the applicant pool. To add to this, we are also enrolling a slightly smaller freshman class. This made our job especially challenging, and for those of you offered a place in the class, we hope that you are as proud of yourselves as we are.

You are also a very interesting group! I know I can safely speak for my colleagues when I say that some of your extra-curricular activities and schedules are simply mind-boggling. I hope you spend some time on our Admitted Student site to learn some interesting facts about your future classmates. I am so impressed, and frankly a little exhausted, by all that you have done over the past four years.

We have truly enjoyed meeting and getting to know you over the past year or so – it’s hard to believe that we met some of you as sophomores! My colleagues and I look forward to seeing you in the weeks and months ahead as we embark on events both on and off-campus. If you can join us on campus for an Open House program, please do – it can be a wonderful opportunity to revisit why you decided to apply to BU in the first place. If you cannot come back to campus, we hope to see you at one of our many off-campus events, where you can meet with current students, faculty, and alumni.

Finally, as a very proud alumna of BU, I want to welcome you to the BU family. By accepting your place in BU’s Class of 2016, you will be joining a community of over 30,000 current students and more than 250,000 alumni. I  know that the tradition of academic excellence, intellectual curiosity and global engagement will continue with each and every one of you. You have an amazing ride ahead of you, and we are so excited that we get to share it with you.

Welcome to BU.

February 3

Financial Aid Deadline – February 15

By jckeller


Yes, the admissions deadline has passed, but you aren’t done yet! We encourage all applicants to apply for financial aid. The only way to find out how much aid you will get is to apply.

Boston University requires both the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You must apply by February 15, 2012 to be considered for financial aid from BU.

Step 1: Complete your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and your FAFSA.

Step 2: CSS/PROFILE and FAFSA will each send you an email acknowledging that they received your application. Read these emails carefully.  Additional steps may be required to complete your applications.

Questions? Contact BU Financial Assistance at 617-353-2965 or

January 10

The life-cycle of a BU application

By Stacey Milton

Although campus is still relatively quiet, and classes won’t begin for another week, there is a lot of activity happening here in the BU Admissions office. Over the next couple months, our staff will read and review over 40,000 applications for the Class of 2016. So how do we do it?

Well, there is a lot of coffee involved (and luckily, a Starbucks and a Panera across the street). This time of year, we spend most every day reading applications, sometimes in the office; sometimes at home (which makes my cat very happy). In fact, there’s a pretty good chance your application could be initially reviewed by someone sitting at home in their pajamas!

When we receive an application from the Common App, it is  uploaded into our system, where it is then matched with all other required forms – recommendation letters, transcripts, school reports – and any test scores that we may have received. Eventually, these are all matched together with a student’s name, and a University ID is issued to the file.

Once a file is complete, it enters our online reading system so that we can begin the review process. As you may already know, BU Admissions reads regionally, and so we each tend to focus on our own state, or states, initially. I work specifically with PA and DE, and I’m thrilled to see the names of students that I remember meeting this past fall while visiting high schools in my region. We also read for all nine undergraduate schools and colleges.

After an initial review has been completed, a few things can happen. A decision may be recommended and the file will be looked at in committee, where several members of the board of admissions will discuss the applicant and come to a final decision. Or, if an applicant is clearly a strong candidate for admission, we may be able to make a final decision and move along to the next. With each file we review, we also may be considering an applicant for a scholarship or our highly selective Kilachand Honors College. Applicants to our College of Fine Arts receive an initial academic review and are also discussed in committee once an artistic evaluation (based on a portfolio or audition) is completed.

The process of reviewing applications is often referred to as an “art, rather than a science.” This is especially true for BU Admissions, where our applicant pool is predominantly made up of academically impressive students. Thus, we are attempting to build a class of individuals who will not only thrive as BU students, but who will truly enjoy their experience, and who really want to be here. We are thinking, “Would this student contribute to the classroom discussion?” or “Would they get involved with an a cappella group, the Community Service Center, or take advantage of research opportunities?” and one of my favorites, “Would you want this student as your roommate?

Believe it or not, it’s also a lot of fun, which makes the long days and slight eye twitch bearable. My colleagues and I look forward to reading many, many more applications over the next couple months as we complete the class. And we all look forward to April, when we get to leave our offices, rejoin the world and meet all of the wonderful students who have been offered a place in BU’s Class of 2016!

December 21

Admissions Tip #8: Poofread

By Jonathan

Proofread everything you send us. (Did I really write “poofread”?)

It’s not a text message, it’s not Facebook chat, it is your college application. Or, in some cases, it’s simply an e-mail to an admissions counselor – who might be helping to make a decision on your application. As a member of the Board of Admissions, I read hundreds of applications and e-mails and am always amazed at the frequency with which I find careless errors.  This week, I read an application and the very first word of the student’s essay was misspelled.  If you want to grab our attention with a great opening sentence, it’s best to at least get the spelling right.

This fall, I was traveling in California visiting high schools and attending college fairs when I stopped at a store for a quick shopping trip.  Towards the back, I found this sign:


This is a great metaphor for common pitfalls in the application.  Telling us about your involvement with the National Honors Society is great; but that organization doesn’t exist (did you catch it? It’s the National Honor Society).  You were trying to convey your academic achievements, and instead the error implies that you didn’t spend much time proofreading your application.  In the case of this store, trying to express the quality of merchandise without the letter “l” sends a more negative message about quality than if the sign wasn’t even on the wall.

Before clicking “submit,” take a few more minutes for the final proofread. You’ll feel better about your application, and the committee will be better able to focus on you, not careless mistakes and typos.

December 15

Admissions Tip #7: Remember that “please” and “thank you” can go a long way

By Stacey Milton

Guidance counselors and admissions staff members are often friends. We may even have had dinner together. Don’t forget to thank your guidance counselor and references for their help.

If you’re feeling the stress of college application season, take a minute to think about what your college counselors are feeling. They are often writing hundreds of recommendation letters while making sure that transcripts, teacher recs and other materials are being sent to the right places, at the right time. The same goes with teachers — they are writing letters in addition to teaching classes and grading assignments, and not every student remembers to request letters early. And because this all culminates right around the end of a high school term, you can bet they are not lacking fairly long to-do lists at the moment!

The voices of these individuals really do matter in the application review process. It is from your teachers and counselors that can learn more about the type of student you are, in terms of academic performance and your personal character. As admissions counselors, we appreciate when a counselor is candid and forthcoming in their descriptions of students and these accounts are based on their interactions with you and observations of your interactions with others. Make sure that you are providing them with positive things to say about you, and not the other way around.

Bottom line, the “please” and “thank-yous” make a difference, especially this time of year. So, next time you pop into your counselor’s office, take a moment to let them know how much you appreciate the time and effort they are putting into helping you with this process.

December 13

Admissions Tip#6: Don’t wait until the last minute to hit submit

By Stacey Milton

Online applications can hit glitches. Make sure you have enough time to fill them out, check them, and fix them. Starting on them the day before a deadline is a don’t.

Over 95% of Boston University applications are submitted online, and many of those come through during the last week of December.

If you wait until December 31st to submit your application, you may find yourself flirting with disaster: not only will many other students be submitting applications through the Common Application (lots of online traffic!) but the BU Admissions Office will be closed until January 3rd, so you won’t be able to contact anyone right away if you encounter problems. Keep in mind that this won’t hurt you with regard to application consideration, but it will add some unnecessary stress to your holiday break!

If you are ready to submit your application — your essays have been proofed, you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s — then take a deep breath and send it our way! Then you can take that great sigh of relief in knowing that it’s out of your hands for a few months.

December 8

Admissions Tip #5: Create a plan to manage college correspondence

By Stacey Milton

Separate correspondence from your friends and family from the college process. Designate an email account for college stuff only so you don’t miss a message between Aunt Betty and spam.

I don’t know about you, but I get way more emails a day than I could possibly read. Between work messages, Facebook updates and notifications of holiday sales, it’s a mess in there. One remedy is to clear out the unnecessary clutter with a designated email account that you can use exclusively for college applications. Many colleges, including BU, will be in touch primarily through email, so it’s important to be sure that you are getting those important messages.

In addition, BU applicants can check their application status through their Web Account, so it’s also good to get into a habit of checking it pretty regularly to see if we are requesting anything. But, if you forget to check your Web Account, we will most likely email you to let you know if we are missing anything for your file. Even more importantly, we’ll be sending you an email when your decision is available online later in the spring, and you won’t want to miss that!

(Plus, as an added benefit, there’s nothing potentially questionable about compared to some of the other email addresses we’ve seen!)