During a walk through campus, Zoom calls with Boston University field hockey coaches, a BU hockey game, a BU student’s YouTube video, an emotional car ride on Commonwealth Avenue and a scroll through the BU International Relations webpage, respectively, six new Terriers felt that aha moment: BU was the place for them.
Virtual confetti rained on their computers just over a week ago, when 1,285 applicants were accepted to BU in the first Early Decision round. These students make up 40 percent of BU’s Class of 2025, BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email.
In this year’s ED one, 2,942 prospective students applied — an 11.7 percent increase from last year, Riley wrote. Of the accepted applicants, international students made up 25 percent, and 19.4 percent of students are from “underrepresented groups,” Riley wrote.
All ED one decisions were released by Dec. 15, and ED two decisions will be out Feb. 15.
Restricted from official in-person visits, tours and information sessions for the last nine months, prospective Terriers wrote essays and submitted applications without much contact with the BU community.
Emma Saccone, who was accepted into the College of Arts and Sciences, said the pandemic prevented her from touring other colleges. Nevertheless, Saccone had visited BU three times during high school and said she felt she was “meant to go here.”
Though she fell in love with BU before this year, Saccone said BU’s COVID-19 testing and quarantine system reinforced her decision to apply. As a member of her town’s volunteer first aid squad, Saccone said its health commitment was very important to her.
“It’s a big concern for me because … I know this pandemic is still going to be very real when I’m going to school,” Saccone said. “It’s good to know the University is taking the steps they need to take in order to make sure their student body is safe.”
Michelle Prario, a fellow future CAS student, received her early acceptance in April after committing to BU for field hockey — just shortly after the nationwide lockdown. Because of the pandemic, Prario said there was much uncertainty surrounding the future of her collegiate sports career.
“I had no idea what was going to happen,” Prario said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play a sport in college.”
Instead of meeting scouting coaches in person, Prario sent them game film and they spoke on Zoom. Despite these inconveniences, BU stuck out among the crowd.
“When I started talking to the coaches, I knew right away that’s where I wanted to go,” Prario said. “It just felt right.”
For future College of Communication student Kai Farr, the spirit and camaraderie at a BU hockey game last year solidified his decision to apply.
“I was decked out in full BU garb, so I had the sweatshirt and the Terrier shirt on and everything,” Farr said. “I really felt like a college student. I felt like one of them, and I felt like a part of the community.”
Farr, who has friends and a sister currently enrolled at BU, said he was impressed with how the University has balanced safety precautions and the student experience.
“[My friends] were still able to have a good time, and they were still able to learn,” he said. “That was really reassuring to me that I didn’t have to take a gap year. I could potentially have a pretty normal experience at this school despite the pandemic.”
For Joyce Ke, who was accepted into the Questrom School of Business, deciding to attend BU was a more gradual process — Ke researched on-campus groups she could join, including Chinese student organizations, BU Marketing Club and the Questrom Honors Program.
After finding a BU student’s YouTube videos about the University, Ke got a clear and honest picture of dorm life and the general student experience — something BU’s own promotional videos did not showcase, she said.
“Student channels on YouTube were more helpful, where they’re able to be more blank with you,” Ke said. “On the BU website, all the students have had to praise BU, and although I do love to know what’s great about BU, it’s nice to know some of the not-as-great aspects.”
Soon-to-be CAS student Naomi Cohen said YouTube videos inspired her BU commitment as well, but the pandemic wasn’t a big factor in her decision process.
“I’m staying very optimistic, and I’m really hoping that I’m going to have as much of a normal, COVID-free experience as possible,” Cohen said. “I want to leave this all in the past once it’s over.”
Once Cohen visited campus, her mind was made up — BU was the one for her.
“When I was in the car on the way home from my little, unofficial visit to BU, I got actually really emotional,” she said. “I realized that this is the place I wanted to be so badly, and that it was my clear number one.”
Andrew Alonzo was accepted into the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. For him, it was the international relations program, networking opportunities and the University’s emphasis on diversity that made him confident about BU.
“Coming from a city where lots of the secondary schools are predominantly white, I would like to be in an environment where diversity’s encouraged and it’s applauded,” Alonzo said. “That is what drove me to click ‘early decision’ on my Common App, and I don’t regret it.”