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 19

Is it really cold in Boston?

By Lisa H.

I’m always surprised when I get this question on the road, especially because I primarily travel to the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, where the weather isn’t very different from here in Boston (and  I’m pretty sure that they’ve gotten more snow than us for the past two years). I understand it a bit more when I travel back to my hometown of Richmond, VA where even rumors of snow lead to hoarding of canned goods and a day off of school for 2 inches of snowfall.

So, to dispel any mysteries surrounding winters in Boston for those of you in warmer climates, I provide you with (in my opinion) the two most important characteristics of the coldest season of the year:

Winters here are long, rather than frigid. While we’ll likely have a few days that get particularly cold (think Minnesota, with temps regularly well below zero), winters here are much more temperate (we’re talking like 10-35 degrees) but the cold will start as early as October – like this year when we got our first snow Halloween weekend – and will go right on up until April.

Winters are unpredictable. One year we’ll get very little snow, and the next we’ll get this:


The snow here is one of the things that make Boston the charming city that it is in the winter, and I love watching the whole city turn white — this is the view from our office window looking out onto Commonwealth Ave last year:


But as much as I love the snow and winters here in Boston (I do love my seasons), I’m very grateful this holiday season for the days I get to enjoy the snow from the comfort of my own living room while working from home, and the week I’ll be spending in California before the worst of the winter really hits. But for when the snow does come, my best advice is to ignore all fashion and invest in a heavy winter coat and some waterproof snow boots.

Happy holidays, and stay warm!

December 15

What movie are we going to see this weekend?

By Stacey Milton

Coolidge Corner Theatre, located just off campus in nearby Brookline

Some of my favorite memories of being a student a BU include weekend outings to the movies with friends. Living in Myles Standish Hall, we were a ten minute walk from the theatre at Fenway. I couldn’t tell you how many weekends were spent corralling a group of five or more to see the new Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter (there was a new film in either series for each year I was a BU student — it was awesome).

As a high school student, I worked in a small, five-screen movie theatre in my hometown. I loved working behind the scenes as a projectionist, but often lamented that many of the films that I wanted to check out – mostly indie or foreign films – never made it to our little town. I was like a kid in a candy store when I found that in Boston I could see every film that I wanted to check out. I think I saw Amélie three times at the theatre in Copley. Alas, this particular theatre is now a Barneys.

I have no doubt that current students are still enjoying this movie-going tradition on the weekends. In fact, I was thrilled to come across this post from BU Culture Shock, the blog of BU’s Howard Thurman Center. Their recent post, “CULTS, CLASSICS AND REAL BUTTER” is a great guide to the many independent theatres in the Boston area. Film buffs, take notice. You’ll want to check these out for sure.

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

What did you do this year?

By Stacey Milton

Annual Report 2011

We’ve had a busy year. Check out BU’s Annual Report to learn all about it!

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 12

So much cheer, so few pants…

By Stacey Milton

Hundreds gathered in Boston for the 12th annual Santa Speedo Run on Saturday, Dec. 10. Runners, running enthusiasts, and fans of the quirky tradition took part in the roughly one-mile race down Boylston Street and Newbury Street. Proceeds benefit the Play Ball Foundation.

Runners in the Santa Speedo Run 2011. Photo courtesy of

Like many of my fellow Bostonians, I found myself downtown doing a little Christmas shopping this weekend. I actually enjoy the frenzied bustle of Boylston Street during the holidays, provided I have a nice warm beverage in hand. As with much of the East Coast, here in Boston we’ve had an unseasonably warm winter thus far, but this Saturday the temperature had dropped to a brisk 38 degrees. So, you’ll probably understand why I found it a little peculiar to see a girl standing outside the Apple Store wearing a perfectly weather-appropriate parka and….no pants. No pants! It was freezing outside, and she was in what appeared to be a bathing suit bottom.

Now, I know why: This Saturday was the 12th Annual Santa Speedo Run! Though less established than the Boston Marathon, this fundraising event has spread to other cities throughout the US, and the name pretty much says it — excited runners take to the streets of Boston in their skivvies, decked out in bright red and green to raise money for the Play Ball Foundation “which provides Boston middle school students with a chance to play and build friendships and character through the lessons of sport.” It’s a great cause, and a wonderfully amusing event to stumble upon while out doing a little holiday shopping. People-watching in Boston doesn’t get any more interesting than that!

You can check out more great photos from the event on

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!)

December 7

Admissions Tip #4: Staying on top of all those deadlines!

By Stacey Milton

Get organized. Buy a calendar and put college deadlines on it.

We are headed toward mid-December, with many college deadlines, including BU’s, quickly approaching. This, combined with the end of the semester, final exams and papers, is a wonderful combination for stress! So, give yourself a break and map out what you are going to need to do over the next month. Using a calendar, planner, or even an Excel sheet, can make it much easier to stay on top of upcoming deadlines. You can also make notes for yourself. Notes like “Essay written, need to proofread” or “Need to check website for audition dates” can help you to see what is, and still needs to be, completed.

Once you have everything organized and on one page, use it! Check it weekly to remind yourself of what is coming up soon and then prioritize. And don’t forget that the brochures you collected over the spring and fall from college fairs, visits at your high school, and other events probably have all of the info you are looking for — or, just go online! Most colleges have a page on their website with a consolidated list of all application requirements and deadlines. This time of year you’ll probably find the answer more quickly by checking the website than calling the office. And make sure you check off the items you have completed or submitted! There’s a real sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are that much closer to being completely done.

And if, lo and behold, you do miss a deadline, get in touch with the admissions office quickly, and by phone. We are happy to help if we can and trust us, yours probably won’t be the first or only panicked call we receive!

Happy planning!

November 30

BU hosts Global Urban Health Summit on campus

By Stacey Milton

We’ve met many students during our admissions travels who are interested in the areas of medicine and public health. Here is an interesting story from BU Today about a new global health initiative that is being led by Boston University:

“The future of public health is urban health. That was the consensus among researchers at the Global Urban Health Summit hosted by BU’s Center for Global Health & Development (CGHD) October 28. Public health experts from universities in the United States and abroad explored strategies to meet the overwhelming health challenges of the urban poor, from New York City to the slums of New Delhi and Nairobi. The meeting, held at the Hotel Commonwealth, also marked the launch of BU’s Global Urban Health program, which will add new talent and an expanded research agenda to the center.”

You can check out the rest Susan Seligson’s article here.