Posts Tagged ‘Application Process’

October 22

Why Early Decision Was The Right Decision For Me

By Alessandra Forero

Hello! My name is Ali Forero and I am currently a junior studying public relations in the College of Communication. Only three years ago, I was a high school student, trying to figure out what my path to college was going to be. I spent my nights—as many of you probably do—studying for SATs, researching universities, and working on my Common Application essay. I eventually decided that I was going to apply Early Decision to BU. Here’s the story of my college application process and my decision to apply ED.

Cambridge, MA. April 2010, 9 p.m.: Hotel room

I stood staring out the hotel window, looking over the Charles River at the glistening Boston skyline. Even I, a born and raised New York Yankees fan, couldn’t deny it was a truly amazing sight.

“Do we have to go on the rest of those tours tomorrow?” I asked my mom.

I was shocked as the words came out of my mouth, considering my mom practically had to drag me to Boston. “There are so many schools in Boston! It’s a great college town!” She told me, “Come on Ali, at least look.”

First stop: Boston University. They say you’ll just know when you find the right school for you. That never made sense to me until I visited BU.

We drove down Bay State Road and parked in front of the Admissions Reception Center. Who knew such a beautiful and peaceful street could be found in the heart of Boston?

As the tour guide led us around a corner onto busy Commonwealth Ave, my heart leapt with excitement. It couldn’t be more perfect, a city school that still felt like a campus! It was its own little city in a way. She told us all the fun facts about BU as we walked by Warren Towers, the George Sherman Union (GSU), and the BU beach.

What if I came to Boston?

If you had a similar reaction when you first visited BU, Early Decision may be right for you. Haven’t visited yet? Give yourself the chance to experience the excitement and give BU the opportunity to meet you.

Boston, MA. July 2010, 10 a.m.: Warren Towers

They say you should show your favorite schools how interested you really are. The more they see your name, the better. So, I applied to BU Summer Challenge, a two week program for high school juniors and seniors. I spent those two weeks living in Warren Towers, taking classes with BU professors, and exploring the city of Boston. If I wasn’t 100% sure about BU when I visited in the spring, then I certainly was now.

I highly recommend this program to any high school student who thinks they might be interested in BU. Actually, I recommend it to any high school student, because it really was so much fun!

Upstate, NY. September 2010, 12 p.m.: Guidance Office

“I want to go to BU!” I told my guidance councilor, with a smile and a nod.

BU was a reach school for me. My GPA and SAT scores were a few points short of BU’s average, according to College Board. But I knew I wanted BU. My guidance counselor told me I should consider applying early decision. This meant two recommendations, an essay, and an early decision agreement, all within the next few months. It was time to get to work.

Number 1: Common Application Essay

500 words. I had 500 words to make Boston University as excited about me as I was about them. My topic changed probably three or four times along the way. Once I finally decided, I went through countless drafts before finally uploading that 500 word essay.

Three things: Start your essay early, have 5 million drafts, and have 6 million people read it. The sooner your Common Application essay is done, the sooner you can click apply. That doesn’t mean rush through it; it means start now and take your time. Think about what you want to write about and then figure out the best way to do so, with the help of as many people as possible. In my case, that meant three teachers, a counselor, my parents, and two neighbors. Most importantly, draft and proofread, and draft and proofread some more.

Number 2: Recommendations

They say it’s important to maintain a good relationship with teachers, visit them during their office hours, stay after class to chat, whatever it takes. I’m not a quiet person, but I was never good at this. I had two teachers whom I had built solid relationships with throughout my four years of high school. First, was my Latin teacher. I got good grades in his class and he knew me well enough after four years, so he seemed like an obvious candidate. Second, was my chemistry teacher. Science was never my strongest subject; that being said, I spent a whole lot of time with that teacher. He knew my personality and he knew how much time and effort I put into that course.

BU requires two recommendations, both of which need to be submitted with your Common Application. Get it done now. Talk to the teachers who know you well; they are the ones who will give you the best recommendations.

Number 3: Early Decision Agreement

I applied to seven or eight schools, some safety schools and a few reach schools, just for fun. None of that mattered anyway, because if I could get into BU that was where I wanted to go. This meant that I was ready to commit right then and there. I also wanted to show BU how excited I was, and I figured that applying early decision was the best way to do so. I signed the Early Decision Agreement and committed to BU, if they wanted me.

There are two general options when applying to BU. Regular decision (application due January 1) and early decision (application due November 1). If you are 100% sure you want to attend BU, then I say early decision is the way to go. Just remember, you can only apply early decision to one college and you can’t back out once you hit apply.

Upstate, NY. October 31, 2010, 7 p.m.: Kitchen Table

My essay was done, recommendations were in, and my application was complete. All I had to do was click submit. I had read it over a million times, but still I checked it just once more. I even had my parents take a glance, just to make sure everything was right. I wasn’t about to mess this up just because I misspelled my last name somewhere on the application.

Check it over. You’ve spent four years working toward college and now so many months on your application. Take another ten minutes to read it over one more time.

Upstate, NY. December 2010 4 p.m.: Yearbook Office

The yearbook doesn’t come out until a few weeks before graduation, but for the yearbook staff December means countless hours of editing to meet deadlines on time. So, naturally, I ignored my mom’s first call and, naturally, she called again. “Decision emails are out! Check and see if you got in!”

I calmly hung up the phone and logged into my Applicant Link account. I didn’t want to have to tell anyone around me if I didn’t get in.

There it was. I took a deep breath before reading my decision… “Welcome to the Class of 2015!”

When you receive your first college acceptance, scream and dance around, call everyone you know and post to every social media platform out there. You have worked so hard and you deserve a little bragging time!

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.


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.

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 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!)

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 28

Admissions Tip #3: How can I write an essay that will stand out?

By Lisa H.

Be yourself. When writing an essay, stay true to who you are. Don’t try to come off as someone you’re not. Admissions directors have read thousands of essays. And the ones that consistently stand out are the ones that are written from the heart, not the thesaurus.

After two months on the road meeting with interested students, I’ve heard all kinds of questions — everything from “What are your most popular majors?” and “How is your psychology program?” to more surprising and unique questions like, “Do students decorate their rooms for the holidays?”

Overall, I’d say one of the most common and difficult questions I am asked is, “What can I write in my essay that will make me stand out?

While I (and my colleagues) completely understand where this question is coming from, the inherent issue here is really about how to best approach writing your college essay. In most cases, it’s not about “what” you write but “how” you write it.

Our office received over 42,000 applications last year and each staff member will potentially read over 2,000 applications by the end of application season. Quite simply, we aren’t given the luxury of being able to interview our applicants. So, the essay plays a huge role  in allowing us a glimpse of who you are  — outside of everything else we learn about you from your application. It’s not about surprising us or making us laugh (or cry, as the case may be) but really just letting your voice come through and enabling us get to know you better.

So, while I cannot tell you what to write or how to make your essay stand out, I can offer some advice on what not to do and how to prevent your essay from standing out in the wrong way:

Avoid repetition. There is a big difference between highlighting your leadership role in a club, difficulties you’ve faced within that position and how you addressed them in an essay and writing 2-3 sentences about the six different activities that I already know you are involved with from the extra-curricular section of the application. Take advantage of the open space to give us new insight.

Answer the question that was asked of you! If you are given a specific prompt, it’s for a reason. You could write the best essay ever, but if it doesn’t answer the provided question it won’t really help us get to the information we were looking for.

Don’t focus on being unique. Write about what’s true to you and do it well. Relationships with family members, injuries that impacted you, or exciting and life changing travel stories are all popular topics, but that doesn’t mean you should stay away from them if that is what is true to you. One of my favorite essays was about a student’s relationship with her mother.

A popular saying in our office: If you’re creative, be creative. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re not especially funny, now is not the time to attempt a satirical or humorous essay.

Don’t wait until the last minute. This is a pretty important part of the application, and procrastination can lead to sloppy writing and weaker, unformed ideas. Give yourself the time to write a rough draft, set it aside, and come back to it. Have friends and family read it not just for edits, but for more critical feedback. Ask them, “Does this sound like me?” If so, great! If not, then maybe it needs some reworking.

PROOFREAD! You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, and yet we still see essays rife with silly mistakes. Keep in mind, however, that while you should have others help you edit and proofread your essays, you should never let someone edit your writing so much that it is no longer your own voice. This would defeat the whole purpose!

October 23

Applying Early Decision: A current BU freshman looks back on his application process

By Stacey Milton

John-Michael (left) & friends

John-Michael Sedor (COM'15), left, and friends

Hi there!

My name is John-Michael Sedor and I am from Philadelphia, PA. About a year ago, I started my senior year at the Westtown School and began the process of applying to college —  I had three schools in mind and BU was one of them. A friend of mine was at BU and this was one  reason I decided to apply. I’ve been interested in working in radio since I was a kid, and my friend happened to work at WTBU, Boston University’s radio station. I visited him early in the year and was able to take a tour of the school and the radio station. I loved everything about BU and Boston! Everyone I met was extremely nice and I felt very comfortable. After that visit I decided to apply Early Decision.

The main reasons I decided to go ED was because I loved the school, and a representative from BU mentioned that my chances of admission could be higher under ED (there are only about a thousand applicants, versus 39,000!). Applying ED meant that I would be one of the first students to hear where I might have a place for the fall. By mid-December I was notified that I had been admitted into BU’s College of Communication. I was thrilled, and it was a great feeling to know where I was going so early! This was also great for my senior year because I was finished with the stressful college process early, and did not have to balance that with all of my school work. It also felt awesome to know where I was headed while most of my friends were still wondering whether or not they would be admitted to their first-choice colleges.

Hanging out at Fenway Park

Hanging out at Fenway Park

Now I am a quarter of the way through my freshmen year and I am having an awesome time. I love my classes and there is so much to do in the city. To be honest, I was a little nervous about BU seemingly not having an “actual campus,” but I quickly found that’s not the case. Plus, all of the academic buildings (and classes) are on one main street: Commonwealth Avenue. BU does a great job of enabling new students to immediately become immersed in extra-curricular activities. I work with two radio shows at WTBU and am also a part of BUTV. Already as a freshman I have controlled a radio show and helped film an episode of Terrier Nation, a Boston University college sports show. I never imagined that I would be this involved so early. Also, Boston is an amazing city; it has so much to offer and it’s easy to get around.

Freshman John-Michael Sedor with Rhett, BU's mascot

With Rhett, BU's mascot

I am really glad that I applied to BU early decision and I am excited about my future here as a Terrier!