How to Write the Boston College Supplemental Essays 2018-2019
Boston College, often referred to as BC, is a private Jesuit Catholic research university located just outside Boston in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Adorned with historic gothic architecture, the campus boasts a certain beauty that can’t be found on other college campuses.
Being situated in a quaint village, BC offers students the benefit of having a small college town feeling while also giving students access to metropolitan Boston just 6 miles away. Ranked at #38 by U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 ranking with a 27% acceptance rate for the class of 2022, admission to Boston College is quite competitive.
Boston College requires you to complete several additional essays, which may seem daunting at first. However, CollegeVine is here to help by offering our guide on how to tackle Boston College’s 2018-2019 application!
“Please respond to one of the following prompts. (400 words)
For this first essay, you have a choice between 4 prompts. Keep in mind the word count and evaluate which topic you think will provide Boston College with the greatest insight into your personality and passion. With that being said, let’s analyze each of these prompts with more depth.
A great way to start brainstorming for this prompt is to go through all the songs, books, and poems that you have read or listened to in previous years and evaluate whether or not they have been significant to you. Was there a song/book/poem that sticks out to you? Was there a title that changed your perspective on something? If so, how did it impact you?
You want to choose something that sparked a change in you or something that perhaps motivated you to act in a way that you may not have previously acted. Perhaps you are passionate about writing and drew inspiration from Toni Morrison’s Beloved through her use of dark themes and magic realism. You could discuss how her style inspired you to pursue similar themes in your own work and helped you unearth your own personal voice.
If you choose a speech, you want to avoid choosing speeches such as the “Gettysburg Address” or Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream.” While these are powerful speeches, they are quite cliche and will not make your application stand out. If you often watch Ted Talks, you could absolutely use one of these speeches if any of them have had a significant impact on you. Or perhaps you were inspired by Halsey’s moving speech addressing abuse and struggle during the Women’s March. If you faced similar struggles as those mentioned in this speech or any speech regarding struggle, you could create a powerful personal narrative by connecting your own personal experiences to those discussed in the speech.
Similarly, for songs, you want to avoid cliche themes such as in Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger. These topics are often overdone and you are better off choosing a different medium (book, poem, etc) or a different prompt. However, a way to approach this would be to evaluate whether any songs have allowed you to overcome a difficult period in your life. Many people derive comfort from music, so if there was a particular lyric that stood out to you or a particular melody, here would be a great place to discuss that.
Whichever topic you choose to analyze, make sure you discuss the personal impact. Your chosen title must have inspired you in some way, whether it be introducing you to a new perspective or emotionally empowering you in a significant way.
Many students immediately jump to stories about their family’s immigration experiences, but these have become a little cliche, as many students write about this. Instead, think of more unique aspects of your background or experiences, such as any defining moments in your life.
An exception to narratives about ethnicity, however, could be if you are of a mixed race background. For instance, if you’re of Korean and Italian descent, you could write an essay detailing any struggles you may have had with your identity. Perhaps you found it initially difficult to belong to either one of these ethnic communities but eventually learned to love your unique heritage. You could then show the ways in which this would enrich Boston College’s community, such as by providing an understanding of cultural fusion.
If you have lived in multiple countries, you could write an essay discussing the unique perspective you gained from immersing yourself in various environments, something that can’t be gained from ordinary traveling. If you have a particular story about an experience living in any one of these places, here would be a great place to highlight its significance. An example of this could be an interaction you had with a local that modified or inspired you in some way. Make sure, however, to connect any stories to Boston College’s greater community.
Outside of culture, you could also about something that you’re passionate about whether it be music, art, athletics, or academic. For instance, if you’re a female in a predominantly male activity or vice versa, you can discuss any stories or experiences you have surrounding this issues. If you’re a male figure skater, you can discuss your desire to remove any stigmas regarding masculinity and your hopes to share this passion with Boston College’s community while also changing any negative, predisposed perceptions people may have.
This is a very introspective and allows you to be somewhat creative. Consider some of what you perceive to be the world’s greatest problems and any issues that you’re passionate about. This could be climate change, discrimination, poverty, or any other contemporary issue that stands out to you.
If you’ve had experience tackling the issues, such as by adopting greener living habits, you should definitely include this in the description. At the same time, however, don’t shy away from discussing issues that you may not have had any personal involvement. The key here is to simply discuss why you chose this issue and how you would tackle it.
An example could be a course discussing the negativity surrounding discussions of mental health. Perhaps you’ve observed that that members of your community shy away from discussing topics of anxiety or depression out of shame or fear. As a result of this, however, you’ve found that people have become unaware and uninformed, causing people to misunderstand those who do suffer from mental health complications. Perhaps you chose this because you, or someone close to you, has personally experienced this shame, making it exponentially more difficult to communicate these issues effectively. You design this class to spread awareness and teach students a more effective way to approach and support those who suffer from these challenges. You title this class “Mental Health: Why the Conversation Matters.”
Another example could be the persistence of plastic straws in the environment. An often overlooked issue, you want to analyze the complications that these plastics have on our wildlife, as plastic straws are widely discarded. The class would discuss the implications of continuing these habits and the ways in which it can be solved. In order to add a little creativity, you title this course “Why We Need to Stop Sucking.”
In order to further jumpstart your brainstorming, other course titles could include:
- The Environmental Reason Behind California’s Growing Wildfires
- Poverty in the United States: An Economic Analysis
- Women in the Workforce: An Analysis on Maternity Leave
The key words in this prompt are “character formation,” “values,” and “common good.” With Boston College being a Jesuit institution, personal values and beliefs are highly significant in the school’s community. You want to connect your personal values to BC’s higher values by demonstrating how an education at the university will strengthen your goals in such a way that will contribute to the common good.
For instance, if you’re passionate about medicine, you can discuss how BC’s courses in ethics will allow you to approach medicine more holistically. Rather than simply focusing on the science behind practicing medicine, you want to use Boston College’s resources to develop a more patient-driven approach, allowing you to be more compassionate and sympathetic to your future patients. You believe that this will contribute to the common good by allowing you to put others before you, enabling you to practice with a more humanistic attitude.
If you have had to make a difficult moral decision in the past, you could also discuss this. However, make sure that your topic is appropriate, meaning that it does not involve anything illegal or anything that could cause you trouble at Boston College. An example of this could be if you’re the captain of an academic team and had to dismiss a teammate due to cheating allegations during a competition. Perhaps you plan to take these values with you the Boston College by practicing unbiased and fair leadership.
Regardless of the topic you choose, you want to make sure that your narrative highlights strong personal values such as, but not limited to, selflessness, empathy, or community. You must draw the connection between the values that have shaped your life today and the ways in which you will strengthen and apply these values at BC. Remember, the prompt asks for how Boston College will assist you in promoting the common good, so make sure to address that.
Students applying to the James A. Woods, S.J. College of Advancing Studies are required to submit additional essays as follows:
“Select two of the three prompts and write responses. The essays should be typewritten, double-spaced and must be uploaded as part of your online application. (500-750 words) *This is only required for James A. Woods, S.J. College of Advancing Studies applicants*
To those applying, let’s look at the following 3 options with a little more depth.
The is essentially the “why do you want to go to this school” question. You want to be very specific for this essay; overly broad reasons of why you want to attend the school should be avoided, as these could be applicable to any other school.
Perhaps you were drawn to the program because it will allow you to gain a liberal arts education while also belonging to the greater Boston College community. If so, why does this liberal arts education appeal to you? What makes it more suitable for you in comparison to an education offered by a larger campus? You want to be as specific as possible by providing the reasons why the school fits your personal needs.
You also want to note that the Woods College of Advancing Studies is often aimed towards students who have other responsibilities during the day whether it be working full time or part-time. Since classes are mostly offered from 6 to 10 P.M on weekdays, the schedule is perfect for those unavailable in the morning or afternoon. For instance, if you work a full-time job in order to support your family, you may not be able to attend a college that generally offers classes during working hours. Since the Woods College offers a solution to this, you were perhaps drawn to the program. When discussing this, you can cite the school’s unique flexibility and affordability, allowing you to earn your degree without sacrificing your personal obligations.
Another way to add specificity is to include any courses that you’re interested in taking. Don’t be afraid to list names of classes if they appeal to you; however, make sure to explain why you’re interested and how you plan to take advantage of them.
Here, you want to discuss what you hope to achieve academically at Woods College and how these goals will translate into your career goals. Your academic goals should be personally tailored to you, so your answer could range from a variety of possibilities.
An example could be if your academic goal is to develop a stronger foundation in the biological sciences in order to create the framework for a future career in cell research. Perhaps you are drawn to Woods College’s biology major because you feel that studying this subject will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of life’s organisms. To be more specific, perhaps you can discuss your goal of conducting cell research at the college to give you a more hands-on experience.
If your life goal is to have the opportunity to travel the world and document your experiences, perhaps a program in journalism is more appealing. You could analyze the ways in which studying journalism will aid you to not only advance your written skills but also afford you the opportunity to achieve this life goal. Perhaps you want to supplement this with courses in history, allowing you to become more knowledgeable about the world and giving you the foundation to create your own historical interpretations.
Your end goal here is to draw the connection between your academic goal and life goal. There is no superior answer here, as your response will be specifically tailored to your personal desires.
As noted in the prompt, your experience must be life-changing and significant. This could a health complication, a physical injury, moving cities, or something as simple as learning how to be a big sibling. The key for this essay is to show the admissions committee what you learned from this experience and how this has shaped your life today.
For instance, if you moved from a large, urban city to a small, rural town, perhaps you began to notice your heavy consumerism and the impacts this had on the greater environment. Maybe you noticed the stark comparison between a big city lifestyle and the more economical, rural environment. This could have a personal impact on you by allowing you to change your previously destructive habits and be more conscious of your impact on the surrounding environment.
You could also connect your response back to Boston College’s Jesuit values. For instance, if you volunteered at a homeless shelter and interacted with those you assisted, you could discuss the values of selflessness and community that you learned. Perhaps this experience was personally significant because although you too came from a lower socioeconomic background, it allowed you to understand the privileges you still had.
If this applies to you, simply document your artistic endeavors in the “Additional Information” section on the Common Application. You could discuss any projects that you’ve participated in or describe any works of art that you’ve completed.
We hope this guide was helpful and will allow you to approach Boston College’s 2018-2019 application with the utmost confidence. Happy writing!
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