Boston College Essay Examples: Breakdown + Analysis

What’s Covered:

 

 

Boston College is a private, Jesuit research university in the greater Boston area known for its outstanding academics and beautiful Gothic architecture. This R1 research university was founded as a small liberal arts college in 1863 and pays homage to its roots by keeping the word “college” in its name.

 

Admissions at Boston College are most selective so if you want to become a BC Eagle, it’s important to write strong essays that show admissions counselors your personality and potential. In this post, we will go over essays that have been previously submitted to Boston College. Walking through the strengths and weaknesses of these essays should help you when perfecting your Boston College Application!

 

Want to know your chances at Boston College before getting started? Calculate your chances for free!

 

Prompt: When you choose a college, you will join a new community of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories. What is it about your background, your experiences, or your story, that will enrich Boston College’s community? (400 words) 

 

 

Essay Example 1

 

 

I used to face two paths: one flocked with taxis and frantic people, staccato shouts, and the smell of pizza. The other was a road of motorcycles rolling over wet cement, laced with cicada symphonies and the aroma of beef noodle soup. It always felt easier to walk the streets of Taiwan, where everyone looks like me, speaks meekly as I have been taught to, and steers away from confrontation. However, I was also raised in the thick of New York, where people argue, think, and exist fearlessly. PBS created a documentary in 1988 titled Tug of War: The Story of Taiwan, and I grew to believe that I embodied the little potato island as my teetering balance between two worlds initiated a “Tug of War” within myself. Although I am proud to be Taiwanese, New York has cultivated an unbridled emotion and passion within me that encourages me, against my inherent modesty, to be a bold author, a shameless poet, and a strong-willed advocate for Asian-American youth. I am excited by the vibrant discussions and meshed ideas I might find at a place as diverse as Boston College: perhaps at the Diversity Summit or with Professor Min Hyoung Song about the integration of Asian American writers and literature in an alienating culture. I see incredible opportunities to become part of a community that supports students struggling with their own “Tug of Wars” by sharing my story through the Taiwanese Cultural Organization and delving into the stories of others by curating pieces written by my peers for The Stylus. 

 

Growing up in a pentecostal home also taught me the strength of conviction in faith and community. The Holy Ghost Faith Church is a family that has become a constant foundation in my life, and a world that grounds me in my beliefs despite the cultural identities I struggled with. Through religion, I find connection with many people molded uniquely by their personal experiences. At Boston College, I will seek the same enriched human bonds with my peers and professors by sharing my testimonies while learning from theirs. I can see myself striking up a conversation about religious influences in literature and poetry with Professor James Najarian or joining a multi-faith program and attending local church services with friends on Sunday mornings. While Jesuit education will strengthen my religious values, it will also enlighten me to the beliefs of my peers.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

The main strength of this essay is the balance that the student strikes between discussing themself and discussing Boston College. This prompt is an odd mix of a personal statement and the classic “Why This College” essay. For the “Why This College” essay, it is expected that students will do internet research and it is not abnormal or necessarily “bad” for “Why This College” essays to feel structured or formulaic. The added personal element that this prompt asks for makes writing a bit more complicated. This writer tackles the challenge by appearing authentically interested in and excited by BC’s programs and relating the programs to their cultural and religious background.

 

An example of this can be seen through the student’s creative integration of the “Tug of War” metaphor. Early in the essay, the student creates an interesting image of themself caught in a “Tug of War” between two cultures. Then, when they start discussing BC, they reuse this already-personalized metaphor—“I see incredible opportunities to become part of a community that supports students struggling with their own “Tug of Wars” by sharing my story through the Taiwanese Cultural Organization and delving into the stories of others by curating pieces written by my peers for The Stylus.” Because they already established a personal connection with the “Tug of War” idea earlier, this section doesn’t feel like the student is simply name-dropping university programs and instead feels like they are authentically drawn to university programs.

 

With regards to organization, this student effectively divides their essay into two paragraphs that answer the prompt in two different ways. While this is not always the best strategy and cohesiveness is important for college essays, it works for this student because their second topic is faith. Simply put, using more words to discuss their cultural background and interests would have become repetitive and writing an entire essay about religion is typically unadvisable. However, by supplementing their discussion of culture with a discussion of faith, this student appears multidimensional.

 

Note: For most schools, focusing on faith in your essay is not recommended, but because Boston College is religiously affiliated, this student’s “cherry on top” discussion on faith works well.

 

Finally, throughout this essay, the student provides vivid images for readers that keep us engaged in the writing. These include:

 

  • I used to face two paths: one flocked with taxis and frantic people, staccato shouts, and the smell of pizza. The other was a road of motorcycles rolling over wet cement, laced with cicada symphonies and the aroma of beef noodle soup.
  • PBS created a documentary in 1988 titled Tug of War: The Story of Taiwan, and I grew to believe that I embodied the little potato island as my teetering balance between two worlds initiated a “Tug of War” within myself.
  • New York has cultivated an unbridled emotion and passion within me that encourages me, against my inherent modesty, to be a bold author, a shameless poet, and a strong-willed advocate for Asian-American youth.

 

This essay makes readers feel like the student is genuine, interesting, and genuinely interested in contributing to the community at Boston College.

 

 

What Could Be Improved

 

One major improvement this essay needs is clarity on why/when the student was in Taiwan and why/when the student was in New York. While readers learn that the student “used to face two paths” and that they were “raised in the thick of New York,” we never learn the full story. Did they travel back and forth between Taiwan and New York as a kid? Did they move to Taiwan for high school or were they born there? Did they move to New York for high school or were they born there? We don’t know, and that’s distracting, particularly when they mention a specific church they attended. A simple adjustment, like changing the sentence “However, I was also raised in the thick of New York, where people argue, think, and exist fearlessly” to “It was startling when, in the middle of my emotionally loaded adolescence, I moved to the thick of New York, where people argue, think, and exist fearlessly” would avoid this confusion.

 

Additionally, the second paragraph of this essay (the paragraph that discusses faith) could be improved through more engaging writing. While the student’s integration of information about BC feels natural when they are discussing culture, it feels inorganic when they discuss religion. The essay ends with the following sentences:

 

Through religion, I find connection with many people molded uniquely by their personal experiences. At Boston College, I will seek the same enriched human bonds with my peers and professors by sharing my testimonies while learning from theirs. I can see myself striking up a conversation about religious influences in literature and poetry with Professor James Najarian or joining a multi-faith program and attending local church services with friends on Sunday mornings. While Jesuit education will strengthen my religious values, it will also enlighten me to the beliefs of my peers.

 

These sentences are a prime example of a time where a student should have tried to show readers their desires, instead of telling us. The student’s bland descriptions are not engaging and the inclusion of a professor’s name does very little here. Instead, the student could have created an image of their life at BC and reminded the reader of their vivid images from earlier. Improvement could look something like this:

 

Now, when I think about community, I imagine myself in the dining hall. Through some series of unexpected events, I find myself in an intense intellectual discussion about the influence of religious propaganda on the Wife of Bath’s Tale. Sometime during our back-and-forth, I start to enjoy and respect my impromptu debate opponent. I picture us (after emerging from the heat of our debate) chatting and deciding to check out a local church service together on Sunday morning. It feels like a dream—like another scary path, without taxis or motorcycles, but dotted with intimidating social situations and an infinity of uncertainties. But it also feels like the most promising opportunity of my life.

 

Prompt: When you choose a college, you will join a new community of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories. What is it about your background, your experiences, or your story, that will enrich Boston College’s community? (400 words) 

 

Essay Example 2

 

I gazed at my Beyer book and the monochromatic piano keys. Notes swirled in my head as I struggled to decipher the crochet on the page. Taking my chances, I pressed the D key, positive that I was right. Alas, my tutor’s sigh indicated that l got the note wrong again. 

 

Growing up, I often faced such mishaps during piano lessons. My grandma is an avid singer and my grandpa, a violinist. My cousins are also guitarists. From being brought up around my family’s deeply rooted musical inclinations, to constantly struggling during practice sessions, I often felt like a fish out of water and wanted to quit. Music was a chore, something I felt obligated to pursue only to uphold my family’s tradition. However, one fateful session completely changed my view. 

 

Back then, I had spent hours glued atop the piano stool practicing for a recital, and I felt completely drained. Needing a break, I grabbed my phone and turned on some pop music. As Rihanna’s “Diamonds” blasted away, I couldn’t help but notice how similar it sounded to several musical scales I had learned. Curiously, I attempted to match some notes to the song, and before I knew, I was playing the entire chorus! It dawned on me that those scales and arpeggios I found irritating formed the basis for an endless array of songs when combined strategically and originally. 

 

From then on, I started to see music as my favorite creative challenge rather than a nuisance. My new perspective eventually led me to embrace every struggle I faced during practice and instead view them as opportunities to improve. As I came to love every step of my musical journey, I ultimately learned to persevere through any setbacks, like dealing with unfamiliar pieces or memorizing notes on end. 

 

Music has become something more than a family tradition, shaping who I am today. Thinking creatively and overcoming struggles with determination are now values I carry when tackling everyday roadblocks. Going forward, I plan to bring these values to BC. I’m determined to use creativity to help solve communal problems, like finding innovative ways to implement healthcare in underserved communities through Timmy Global Health. I also hope to contribute musically to the Symphony Orchestra and be part of a nurturing community where I can work alongside other musicians. I’m excited to see what the future holds when I become an Eagle!

 

What the Essay Did Well

This essay answers the prompt very clearly. When asked “What about your experiences will enrich Boston College’s community?” the student’s essay, as a whole, responds “As a musician, I have learned to persevere through setbacks and that will enrich the Boston College community.” 

 

Additionally, the student organizes their essay in a way that makes it easy to follow. They start by discussing their upbringing, then a major transition, and then they use the final paragraph to reflect. In the final paragraph, they also refer back to their upbringing—“Music has become something more than a family tradition, shaping who I am today”—effectively bringing things full circle. This makes the essay feel cohesive and tied up.

 

What Could Be Improved 

 

While this student’s essay is cohesive, it also feels a bit too cohesive or too easy. Because the writer never draws the reader in emotionally, the journey from struggle to passion feels disingenuous and simplistic. The student even points to the simplicity, writing “However, one fateful session completely changed my view.” This shows a lack of narrative skill and weakness in creative storytelling abilities. Admissions officers are looking for narrative skill and creative storytelling!

 

It is difficult to point to a simple instance where this writer could have added an emotional appeal because it is an overarching issue in this essay. Here are some sentences that have potential for greatness but would need significant rewriting for this student to engage readers:

 

  • As Rihanna’s “Diamonds” blasted away, I couldn’t help but notice how similar it sounded to several musical scales I had learned. Curiously, I attempted to match some notes to the song, and before I knew, I was playing the entire chorus!
  • From then on, I started to see music as my favorite creative challenge rather than a nuisance. My new perspective eventually led me to embrace every struggle I faced during practice and instead view them as opportunities to improve. 
  • As I came to love every step of my musical journey, I ultimately learned to persevere through any setbacks, like dealing with unfamiliar pieces or memorizing notes on end. 

 

Additionally, the student’s anecdote about music feels loosely connected to their argument that they have learned to overcome setbacks. The student asserts that music helps them tackle roadblocks and that relates to their desire to join Timmy Global Health. This feels like a major stretch. If the student’s essay were engaging and emotionally appealing, they might be able to get away with this weak connection, but with this essay in its current state, it’s just not very convincing. 

 

Lastly, this student has notable weaknesses with regards to grammar and control of language that make the essay feel unpolished. They use simple transitions that feel forced. For example, their body paragraphs begin with “Growing up,” “Back then,” and “From then on,” These boring transitions are not engaging and seem elementary.

 

They also have multiple poorly-written sentences including “Thinking creatively and overcoming struggles with determination are now values I carry when tackling everyday roadblocks.” The overuse of gerunds here distracts from what the writer is trying to say. 

 

A final example of this essay feeling unpolished is the student’s improper use of the from-to construction with the sentence “From being brought up around my family’s deeply rooted musical inclinations, to constantly struggling during practice sessions, I often felt like a fish out of water and wanted to quit.” The from-to construction should outline two extremes that independently exemplify the independent clause that they are connected to.

 

Instead, the student could have written “From crying late at night about missed notes to struggling through practice sessions, I constantly felt like a fish out of water in my musically-gifted family” or “Because my whole family possessed deeply-rooted musical inclinations, constantly struggling through practice sessions made me feel like a fish out of water. All I wanted was to quit.” Small but noticeable language errors like this one illustrate the importance of having others edit your drafts!

 

Where To Get Your Essay Edited for Free

 

It’s important that you submit the best essay you can to Boston College, both for your peace of mind and your admissions chances. To make your essay stand out, you will want other people to give you feedback and to suggest areas for improvement. CollegeVine’s peer essay review tool can help. Other students will edit your essay for free, and you can edit your peers’ essays to help you improve your writing skills!

 

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Brooke Elkjer
Blog Writer

Short Bio
Brooke is going into her senior year at the University of Southern California and is originally from Dallas, Texas. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. Brooke is the associate literary producer for the intersectional feminist production company on campus, ART/EMIS. She also is a Resident Assistant (RA) and a student worker for the Thematic Option Honors GE Program. In her free time, Brooke enjoys reading, writing, and watching Gilmore Girls.

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