4 Tips for Writing a Stellar Boston College Essay

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Ranked among the top 40 colleges nationwide, Boston College is an excellent college choice, especially if you’re hoping to attend a Jesuit institution. As part of the application process, you’ll need to submit a Boston College essay. So what should you write about in your essay to raise your chances of getting admitted here?

In this guide, we closely analyze all Boston College essay prompts, providing you with our best tips and advice. We’ll also take a look at real Boston College essay examples to give you an idea of what a successful Boston College essay can look like.

So let’s get started!

 

What Is the Boston College Essay?

In addition to the Common Application essay prompts, Boston College requires all first-year applicants to submit a separate essay as part of the Boston College Supplement (which you can find in the Common App under the heading “Writing Supplement”).

With this writing supplement, you have six possible essay prompts to choose from:

#1: Students at Boston College are encouraged to consider critical questions as they pursue lives of meaning and purpose. What is a question that matters to you and how do you hope Boston College will help you answer it?

#2: In 2020, we faced a national reckoning on racial injustice in America – a reckoning that continues today. Discuss how this has affected you, what you have learned, or how you have been inspired to be a change agent around this important issue.

#3: At Boston College, we hope to draw on the Jesuit tradition of finding conversation partners to discuss issues and problems facing society. Who is your favorite conversation partner? What do you discuss with that person?

#4: Socrates stated that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Discuss a time when reflection, prayer, or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.

#5: Each year at University Convocation, the incoming class engages in reflective dialogue around a common text. What book would you recommend for your class to read and explore together – and why?

#6: [Open to Human-Centered Engineering Applicants only] One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College integrates technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. What societal problems are important to you and how will you use your HCE education to solve them?

Each essay prompt expects you to give specific details and a unique, compelling story of who you are, how you came to be this way, and what you hope to do with your education at Boston College.

Regardless of the essay prompt you choose, your Boston College essay must be no longer than 400 words, making it a little shorter than a typical application college essay, which is 500-600 words long.

The good news is you only have to answer one of the prompts listed above. But how can you choose the best essay prompt for you? Read on as we examine all the Boston College essay prompts, one by one.

 

All Boston College Essay Prompts, Analyzed

In order to submit a great Boston College essay, you’ll need to know what each prompt is asking you to do and which one will work best based on your personality, experiences, and/or interests. Below, we offer a close analysis of all four Boston College essay prompts.

 

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Boston College Essay Prompt 1

Students at Boston College are encouraged to consider critical questions as they pursue lives of meaning and purpose. What is a question that matters to you and how do you hope Boston College will help you answer it?

 

This first Boston College essay prompt looks a little inscrutable at first: you’re being asked to provide not an answer, but a question. However, what Boston College is asking from you here is to talk about academic fields or social issues you’re interested in, and why Boston College is the place to explore them.

This essay is a great opportunity for you to delve into a specific idea or problem you want to learn more about in college. The topic you choose for your essay can be pretty much anything, from an ancient philosophical theory to how smart phones impact American culture.

In short, what excites, interests, or captivates you intellectually? And why?

Before tackling this question, take time to consider what you’re passionate about. That can be an academic field you want to study, a challenging problem in your future career field, or a contemporary social issue.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

Most applicants have some idea of what they want to study in college. So if there’s a particular field you’re interested in, you can use this as a jumping-off point. Narrow your topic so you’ll be discussing a very specific question. For example, if you plan to major in psychology, you might frame your essay around the question, “How is our increased reliance on social media changing our behaviors?” 

You can also approach this prompt from a social perspective. Are there any problems in contemporary society that you want to study further? For example, perhaps you’re concerned about wealth inequality in the United States. You could create a question that asks how wealth inequality has changed over the past fifty years, and what we might do to counter it.

With this topic, the sky’s pretty much the limit. Here are some other potential topics you could create questions around:

  • Environmental issues or climate change
  • Political/economic instability or other problems in a country/area
  • Discrimination, stigmas, or other issues relating to inequality
  • Potential challenges facing technology, science, the arts, specific industries, etc.

The main thing here is that you do not need to answer your question! Instead, you’ll devote a significant part of your essay to saying why Boston College is the best place for you to find answers to your question. Here’s your chance to show that you’ve done your research: bring up relevant departments, faculty members, current research projects, individual courses, and campus groups that will help you with your goal. Clearly show how Boston College will help you answer your question.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Explain why you are so invested in your question. Do you have direct experience with the issue you’re focusing on? How did (or does) it make you feel? This is a place to show off your intellectual curiosity, and that you’re interested in the Big Questions.
  • Connect your question to Boston College as specifically as possible. Boston College admissions counselors want to know that your application is purposeful. You don’t, and shouldn’t, have an answer to your question, but you should have a very clear idea on why Boston College is the best place to find answers.

 

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Boston College Essay Prompt 2

In 2020, we faced a national reckoning on racial injustice in America – a reckoning that continues today. Discuss how this has affected you, what you have learned, or how you have been inspired to be a change agent around this important issue.

 

This second Boston College essay prompt is very specific, and asks you to do some pretty serious reflecting. You have options: you could discuss your personal experience with racial injustice or what you’ve seen in your community. Perhaps you’ve been personally affected, or perhaps your loved ones have. Maybe something happened in your town that forced you to confront racial injustice on a much more personal level than you expected.

Note, too, that the prompt asks what you have learned and how you’ve been inspired to be a change agent—in other words, if you haven’t yet been able to act on your desire to challenge racial injustice on a larger level, you should still consider this prompt. Ultimately, Boston College wants you to reflect on yourself and your relationship to larger concepts of societal injustice. It’s a tall order, and you’ll need to stay as personal, honest, and specific as possible.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

There are, unfortunately, many ways to write about racial injustice in America right now. Here are some examples:

  • Your personal experience with racial injustice
  • A loved one’s experience with racial injustice
  • Specific examples of racial injustice in your community
  • The first (or the most vivid) time you recognized racial injustice

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Be as specific as possible. Boston College doesn’t want to just know your opinion on racial injustice—they want to see you, and how you work with difficult, systemic issues. Use concrete examples, and show your innermost self (or as much of it as you’re comfortable sharing).
  • Relate your experience to your college career. Boston College clearly cares about racial justice. Their Campus Ministry page on racial justice links to many campus resources to combat racial injustice. Mention specific programs and groups that you want to engage with while you’re in college, and show that Boston College is the best place for you to continue to learn about and fight racial injustice.

 

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Boston College Essay Prompt 3

At Boston College, we hope to draw on the Jesuit tradition of finding conversation partners to discuss issues and problems facing society. Who is your favorite conversation partner? What do you discuss with that person?

 

This prompt is another great way to show Boston College who you are and what you value. They’re also reminding you pretty clearly here that Boston College is a Jesuit school that values intellectual growth, character formation, and dedication to positive social change. In short, this isn’t the place to talk about the Star Wars fan theories you share with your dad (no matter how cool they are).

Instead, think about the person you have deep conversations with. Maybe it’s your best friend, your partner, or a family member. Maybe you’ve bonded with one of your teachers, and you meet up to talk about saving the world, one conversation at a time.

This prompt is in two parts: describe your conversation partner, and describe what you discuss. Make sure to paint a clear picture of your conversation partner—why they’re your favorite person to talk to, and what they bring to the table—but also leave room not only for what you talk about, but why you talk about it.

Finally, find a way to relate your conversations to your future studies at Boston College. Maybe you bonded with a youth minister and still routinely talk about social change; connect this to similar campus organizations and programs.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

This prompt is a great way for you to show Boston College who you are, what you value, and how you connect with others. 

Consider writing about someone you routinely discuss related values with, like:

  • Morality/ethics
  • Empathy/compassion for others
  • Societal issues
  • The “big questions” in life

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose an appropriate conversation partner. It doesn’t have to be someone you know in real life—pen pals can be just as influential as the people we talk to! But you should make sure that the person you’re writing about is someone that you engage in deep, meaningful conversation with.
  • Explain your discussion topics and their importance in detail. This is your chance to share your passion for service, big ideas, and community! Make sure to share why you talk about these subjects with your partner, and why they’re important to you.

 

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Boston College Essay Prompt 4

Socrates stated that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Discuss a time when reflection, prayer, or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.

 

Boston College is a highly ranked Jesuit institution, so it’s not surprising that the school is curious about applicants’ values. The purpose of this prompt is to help Boston College understand how your own values will fit with and further promote the Jesuit principles of ethics and community service.

This essay prompt can be broken down into two basic questions:

  • What issues are most important to you?
  • How do you approach big subjects in your inner world?

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you’re the introspective type, this is an excellent prompt for you. As a prominent Jesuit institution, Boston College highly values service, reflection, and morality. This is the perfect prompt to show them that you do, too.

Some topics you could write about in your essay include the following:

  • Changing your mind about a subject you’re passionate about
  • Realizing your values have changed
  • Realizing your beliefs no longer match up with your family’s
  • Your thought process after a major event/life change

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Focus on one specific issue. For instance, you might talk about your complicated feelings about eating meat, and factory farming, and the decisions you made regarding what you are and are not willing to eat and why.
  • Make sure the issue is important, and aligns with Boston College’s values. In other words, this isn’t the place to write about how you agonized over changing your starter word in Wordle. Show Boston College your deepest thoughts. They want to see them!

 

Boston College Essay Prompt 5

Each year at University Convocation, the incoming class engages in reflective dialogue around a common text. What book would you recommend for your class to read and explore together – and why?

 

This is a prompt you may have seen from other schools as well—Boston College is asking you to discuss a book that you care about. However, this is not about your favorite book. Instead, they want to know which book you think is so important that the entire first-year class at BC reads and discusses it. That means you need to choose a book for more than just how much pleasure it brings you. It also needs to have some intellectual heft to it. That is, pick a book that makes you think, and, ideally, has changed you as a person.

Maybe you read a novel in sophomore English that hit you so hard it restructured your DNA. Or maybe you found a book through a podcast (or BookTok!) that you’d never heard of, and opened your eyes to a new way of seeing the world. You have a lot of options here—just make sure you pick something that you care about that aligns with Boston College’s values. Don’t forget to check their list of previous University Convocation books to get a good idea of what they want.

This prompt is asking you to do two things:

  • Choose a book for convocation
  • Say why you chose it

Should You Choose This Prompt?

This is a great prompt to show off your exquisite taste in books as well as your knowledge and understanding of Boston College’s values.

Consider books that:

  • Introduced you to a new culture, subculture, or nationality
  • Made you reevaluate the way you see your world
  • Told a powerful story, fiction or nonfiction

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose an appropriate book. Remember: Boston College doesn’t want to know your favorite book. They want you to talk about a book that affected you so profoundly that you want to share it with the entire incoming class.
  • State explicitly why you chose it. Make sure that your text aligns with Boston College’s values. Show that you know what Boston College wants by recommending a book that’s perfect for them!

 

Boston College Essay Prompt 6

For Human-Centered Engineering major applicants only: One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College integrates technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. What societal problems are important to you and how will you use your HCE education to solve them?

 

First off, you should only choose this prompt if you’re majoring in Human-Centered Engineering. If you are, read on! Otherwise, you’re all done!

Human-Centered Engineering is one of BC’s newest programs, which combines engineering with liberal arts. This prompt is asking you to show that you’re an excellent fit through:

  • Choosing an appropriately-sized problem (or problems)
  • Saying why they’re important to you
  • Saying how you want to solve them
  • Showing Boston College that the HCE program is necessary to your solution

No problem, right? You got this! Now’s your chance to show Boston College that you can dream a little bigger, and that your values align with theirs. Because Boston College is a Jesuit school that values service to the community, you should think about societal issues that appeal specifically to them. For example, you may be interested in studying racial discrimination in housing developments or interstate highway projects; you could absolutely mention Boston College’s Racial Justice program and how it will be integral to your future work.

Remember: this is a highly-specialized engineering program that requires connection to the liberal arts and to service. Show that you care about all three in your answer!

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you’re applying to the HCE program, you have no choice—you’re required to choose this one! But it’s a pretty neat prompt that allows you to specifically tell Boston College why you’re a perfect fit for one another. Consider choosing a problem that:

  • Has a large impact on your community, or a community you care about
  • Has been historically underserved
  • Is solvable, and specific

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose a specific problem that you care about. The trick here is to describe a problem that you can feasibly help end. This means you need to be as specific as you can. For example, “world hunger,” while a significant problem, is too broad of a subject; instead, you could look at food deserts in your community.
  • State explicitly why the HCE program is the only one that will help you solve it. This is the “Why Boston College” essay—it’s your time to show that you’ve done your homework and know the HCE program inside and out.That means you should specifically mention professors, projects, and courses that you think will help you achieve your goal

 

Boston College Essay Examples

Now, let’s take a look at two real Boston College essay examples written by admitted applicants.

Note that since the Boston College essay prompts change frequently, so these essays might not correspond directly to one of the four prompts listed above. But you’ll still get a sense for what makes a good Boston College essay and what admissions counselors are looking for. 

 

Boston College Essay Example 1

This first Boston College essay we’ll look at could have easily been written for the second prompt described above (the diversity essay prompt) as it focuses on the applicant’s unique multicultural background.

Note that this sample essay is more than 550 words, whereas the current Boston College essay requirements state that essays may not exceed 400 words.

Here is the essay:

“Happy birthday!” “Feliz cumpleanos!” “Kol sana wa enta tayyab!” After my family sings me happy birthday in English, Spanish, and Arabic, I blow out the candles on my cake amidst thunderous cheers that reverberate throughout the five boroughs of New York City. My birthday celebrations, likened by my friends to United Nations assemblies, feature my one, cohesive, yet ever so dissimilar, family, stepping out of their respective Ecuadorian and Egyptian roles to further thrust upon me their expectations. Some would fold under this pressure, but I embrace this trust. While they have not always been able to put me in optimal positions, it has all congregated to a driving force in my cultured and diverse mind.

My never ending quest to achieve success for my family began at a young age, through my trips to Ecuador and Egypt. I not only grew fond of their eloquent languages, but of their modest values. On my first trip to Ecuador as a toddler, my Uncle Guillermo was found dead in an alley one morning, no cause, no explanation. Instead of shielding me from the forlorn passing of one of my heroes, my relatives used this as an opportunity to develop my value for awareness. They told me that Guillermo’s death was linked to his severe alcoholism. He had been afflicted for decades, all while selling away the family’s possessions to fuel his addiction. He, like many from the impoverished, drug ridden country, knew no better. Some would view a traumatizing event like this as an excuse to end up along a similar path, but it immediately ingrained in me the farsighted principles that I maintain to this day. There are no excuses for me to approach education halfheartedly, for I have witnessed the malevolent effects of ignorance.

When my grandma, Anisa Saad, told me that she views my future with the same reverence that she views the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, I finally realized how delicate my actions are. I knew that making something out of myself meant just as much to my family as it did to me. The Egyptian Revolution was the first time since 1981 that Egyptians had a voice. As they overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, they created an irrevocable identity. They proved that regardless what comprises your past or your background, your impact on the world is only what you make of it. My grandma told me that all she could think about as she cast her vote in the first ever democratic election was that she was changing the world. She said that if a 78-year-old widow living with three of her children and a bad back could change the world, a prioritized pupil with a keen understanding of different societies has boundless potential.

In New York City, the quintessential hub of culture, I found it easier to expand on my expectations and values. I am most people’s culturally passionate friend rather than the kid whose ethnicity is indeterminable. I am a New Yorker’s idea of a New Yorker; an assiduous product of the “melting pot.” No idea is too farfetched to believe, no goal too unattainable. With my grandma’s words in mind, I face any problem that the Concrete Jungle throws at me. I seek to make sure the Salazar’s of Ecuador and the Badran’s of Egypt finally have significant names in the world. I want to blow out my birthday candles with a family proud that I made it, not hoping that I do.

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Here’s what makes this Boston College essay work:

  • It has a compelling hook. The first few sentences about the applicant’s multicultural and multilingual family immediately draw us in. It makes you want to learn more about why this applicant gets told happy birthday in three languages, and how their experience shapes their values.
  • It’s highly specific and detailed. We’re given people’s actual names, from Uncle Guillermo to Anisa Saad. These concrete details ground us readers in the story while highlighting clear connections between the applicant’s life experiences and values.

 

body_dandelion_detailedZoom in on the details for your Boston College essay.

 

Boston College Essay Example 2

This next real Boston College essay example is less focused on diversity and more on community service, a major Jesuit value that Boston College would be more than happy to read about in your essay!

At just under 400 words, this essay should help give you an idea of about how long your Boston College essay can be.

“Can you teach me how to tie my shoes?” I looked down. There was Miguel. He pointed at his untied shoelaces. “Come sit down over here,” I said as I pulled over a chair. “Just remember this: Loop, Swoop, and Pull.” I tied his shoelace. “Now you try on the other.” He bent down. “Loop … Swoop, and … Pull.” He completed a perfect bow.

Later on in that day, Thomas came over to me. “Can you help me tie my sneaker?” Miguel was next to me. I was helping him learn the letters of the alphabet. “I think Miguel can help you.” I looked down at him and he nodded. He brought Thomas to the side. “Just remember, Loop, Swoop, and Pull.”

In-between studying for the SATs and preparing for my varsity basketball season, I volunteered in a local preschool for Head Start and Special Needs Children in the summer before my junior year. I worked with students who were attending their first year of the school during that year. I was invited back to volunteer again the next summer. I was with the second-year students and Miguel and Thomas were again in my class.

“Do you want to see me write my name?” Miguel asked the first day of my second summer at the school. He used a purple marker and a blank piece of white paper and clearly wrote “Miguel.” Thomas approached me. “Look, I can tie my shoes now.” He bent down. “Loop, Swoop, and Pull,” he whispered as he completed a perfect bow. “It’s great to see you guys again. I’ll be here the whole summer.”

The goal of the program is to prepare the students for success in kindergarten. The best thing about going to the school for two years was to see the progress Miguel, Thomas, and the other kids made. I saw the children walk on the stage at the graduation ceremony at the end of the summer term. I know they will be able to excel in kindergarten.

I began to visualize Thomas and Miguel being at the top of their class in kindergarten next year. I am proud of the work the school does for the children and the progress the children make in the school. I look forward to returning to volunteer next summer.

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Here’s what makes this Boston College essay work:

  • It tells a detailed, interesting story. Many students have volunteered at schools or helped out younger children, but this Boston College essay lets readers really see the uniqueness of the applicant’s experience. We learn about two children, Thomas and Miguel, and how the process of helping them fundamentally shaped the applicant.
  • It’s highly focused. No part of this essay feels extraneous or as if it doesn’t belong. It uses a well-organized structure that’s easy to follow. We also learn through small details that the applicant successfully maintains other commitments, too, such as varsity basketball. So not only is this person caring, they’re also a great multitasker!
  • It focuses on a key Jesuit value: giving back to others. If you plan to respond to Prompt 4, this is a great essay to look to for tips. It’s all about helping the common good and highlights the applicant’s desire to continue helping the community.

 

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How to Write a Great Boston College Essay: 4 Tips

Before we wrap up, here are four general tips to help you write a great Boston College essay.

 

#1: Be Clear and Specific

Your Boston College essay should be clear and have specific, concrete details that tell a compelling narrative about you and what you value. Your essay will have more personal impact if you can incorporate critical details, such as the names of people, your reactions/emotions to events or actions, etc.

In addition, make sure your story is focused and doesn’t meander onto less relevant, less interesting, or less significant topics.

For instance, if you’re writing about how you enjoy volunteering at retirement homes, there’s no point in elaborating on other values you have or other service projects you’re involved in since doing so will take away from the main focus of your essay.

 

#2: Speak Honestly About Embracing Jesuit Values

As with any college essay, be authentic. Exaggerations and lies are pretty easy for admissions committees to detect, so don’t bother trying to make a particular experience in your life seem more significant than it really was.

Be honest with yourself: what’s important to you? What do you believe Boston College must know about you? And what do you feel defines who you are and what you want to do?

Remember that Boston College is a Jesuit school that strongly values specific qualities, including morality, honesty, and community service. If you have a strong passion for any Jesuit values and often exercise them in your life, make sure you’re talking about them to emphasize how Boston College is an ideal fit for you.

 

#3: Don’t Repeat What You Wrote for the Common App Essay

All Boston College applicants must write a separate personal statement that responds to one of the Common App prompts. Since many of the Common App prompts are similar to the Boston College essay prompts listed above, it’s critical that you do not repeat any major themes or topics in your two essays.

Each essay is meant to showcase a different side of you, and if you’re simply repeating yourself, you won’t be revealing new and interesting aspects of your personality—which will not impress the Boston College admissions committee!

 

#4: Edit and Proofread Multiple Times

You’ll want to spend a good amount of time editing and proofreading your Boston College essay.

The best way to do this is to write a rough draft and then put it away for a few days. After some time has passed, take out your essay so you can look it over with a fresh perspective. Note any areas that are irrelevant, awkward, or grammatically incorrect.

Once you’ve done this a few times, give your essay to someone else to read, such as a teacher, parent, or older sibling. Ask for feedback on what you can improve in terms of flow, organization, and overall story.

Now should now have an excellent Boston College essay ready to submit!

 

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What’s Next?

If you’re applying to Boston College, you’re likely applying to other colleges on the East Coast, too. Check out our expert guides to the Duke essay, the Tufts essays, and the Harvard essay.

Need help writing your Common App essay? Our tips will show you how to write a Common App essay guaranteed to make you stand out from other applicants!

To learn more about Boston College, including what GPA and SAT/ACT scores you’ll need to get in, check out our Boston College admission requirements page.

 

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