How to Tackle the Boston College Supplement Essays For 2014-15
Officially located in the village of Chestnut Hill, Boston College is a private Jesuit research university. Few colleges across the United States can claim to possess a campus as beautiful and historic as Boston College’s. Additionally, Boston College students enjoy the benefits of a fantastic location—because the school is situated just minutes away from the heart of Cambridge and Boston, BC attendees can take advantage of events occurring on the campuses of other schools such as Harvard, MIT, Tufts, BU, etc., thereby increasing their networking opportunities and gaining exposure to other unique campus cultures. Finally, Boston College consistently finds itself ranked as approximately the 30th best school in the nation, which is reason enough for Baldwin the Eagle, BC’s mascot, to be proud.
Given these perks, it’s no wonder why every year over 24,000 students apply to Boston College. But since its acceptance rate is around 32%, applicants who are unsure about their chances for acceptance should work to ensure their essays are strong. BC provides four potential essay topics to choose from; applicants need only write 400 words or less in response to one question. Here are some tips from Admissions Hero on how to tackle the Boston College supplement; we’ll examine each prompt one by one.
1. What contemporary issue or trend relating to politics, culture, and society, or foreign policy particularly concerns you and why?
At the crux of this question, the admissions committee is merely trying to determine whether you are passionate about something happening in the world right now. Because not every teenager in the United States is extremely well versed in current events, this question can actually be difficult for some students. If you can empathize with someone who doesn’t really know what’s happening at the moment, then it is recommended that you do not attempt to answer this prompt, as you can showcase your strengths better in a different question. (That being said, going forward you should probably read up on current events, since doing so will help you not just in your college interviews that are around the corner, but also in becoming a more responsible individual.)
However, if you do happen to be a student who is interested in politics, culture, society, or foreign policy, then here is your chance to shine. You should attempt to demonstrate both your knowledge on the topic and your motivation for why you are so interested. Indeed, remember that the question asks why the topic “particularly concerns you.” As such, you should structure your essay in such a way that you show exactly why you would choose to write about this issue specifically.
2. Many human beings throughout history have found inspiration and joy in literature and works of art. Is there a book, play, poem, movie, painting, music selection, or photograph that has been especially meaningful to you?
For students who have been touched by a work of art or literature, this prompt is right up their alley. It is recommended that you choose a subject that has had a greater impact on you than merely “it was awesome to read/watch/hear.” Indeed, the admissions officers are trying to learn about what kind of person you are, so your selection will need a deeper meaning unless you can speak so passionately about the work such that what you want to convey is actually just the pure passion you have. So for example, unless you can talk about Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology” solo with such vigor and interest such that it is quite apparent to the admissions officers that you are in love with jazz saxophone, it is best to approach the essay from a more easily explainable standpoint. Instead, you might talk about your fascination with John Knowles A Separate Peace because, like the book’s main character Gene, you are also constantly comparing yourself to a close friend of yours; from there, you could examine how coming to terms with the fact that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses has made you a more mature individual.
3. Contemporary higher education reflects a tension between preparing for a meaningful life and preparing for a career. What are you looking for in your undergraduate education? Which emphasis is more important to you at this time and why?
This question is a tricky one to answer because it requires a high degree of introspection and thinking about the future. Essentially, the prompt asks you to think about what you want out of your college experience. For high school seniors who aren’t even sure what they got out of high school yet, this level of reflection can be quite daunting. Here are some questions to help guide your thinking:
- Since both “a meaningful life” and “a career” are important according to “contemporary higher education,” one effective strategy is to address both in your response. Perhaps, in your opinion, preparing for a meaningful life will result in preparing for a more focused and successful career? Or maybe the reverse—readying yourself for a career will provide you with a more meaningful life—is true?
- What does it mean to have a “meaningful life?” The answer is different for everybody; what’s yours?
- What career are you interested in pursuing? How would a BC education help you accomplish that? If you are unsure about what you want to do in the future, how would BC’s resources help you discover that? Remember to tie your prompt back to why BC is a good fit for you.
In the end, there are no right or wrong answers, so your best bet is to write from the heart. However, one last piece of advice—even though the question asks “which emphasis is more important to you at this time,” when answering this portion of the prompt, be sure not to speak badly about whatever you deem to be less important. As a general rule for the college process as a whole, when comparing two choices focus on the pros of the greater rather than the cons of the lesser.
4. “Magis,” a Latin word meaning “more,” is often cited in reference to goals of Jesuit education, which seeks to help students become better, do more, and have as much impact on society as possible. How do you hope to achieve the Magis in your life?
This prompt serves as a reminder to students that Boston College is indeed a private Jesuit school. At its core, the question asks how you plan to maximize your success in life. One effective strategy in answering this essay prompt is to talk about your life goal and how going to Boston College will help you achieve that goal. Just make sure that your life goal is “meaningful”—in other words, your goal should attempt to help as many people as possible. For example, if your dream is to become a world-class doctor to heal as many people as possible, then talk about how studying pre-med at BC will help you do just that.