The Ivy Scholars guide to Boston College’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.
Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Mascot: Baldwin the Eagle
Type: Private Research Institution
Population: 14,600 (9,400 undergrads)
Founded as a Jesuit school, Boston College is the oldest Catholic university in the Boston area. While it has become a prestigious research university, it has kept its original name, to remember its liberal arts roots (and to avoid further confusion with Boston University). The school was founded by Jesuits, and still holds close to those values, but is open to students of all religious backgrounds.
Year Founded: 1863
4 Year Graduation Rate: 89%
Gender Distribution: 54% female, 46% male
Acceptance Rate: 28%
Residency: 25% in state, 64% out of state, 11% international
Location Type: Suburban
Schedule System: Semesters
Student/Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Average Class Size: 20
Demographics: 60% Caucasian, 10% Asian, 10% Hispanic, 4% Black, 16% Other
US News Rankings:
Average Applicant Pool: 28,400
Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 9,200
Average Number Enrolled: 2,400
Application Systems: Common App
Subject Test Requirements: Subject Tests are no longer required, but still recommended.
Demonstrated Interest: Boston College does not consider demonstrated interest.
Recommendation Letter Policies: One counselor letter is required. Two letters from teachers are required, they suggest both come from core academic subjects (English, social studies, math, science, or foreign language)
Boston College Essay Prompts for 2020:
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Courses of Study:
AP Credit Policies:
The most important factors BC considers are: GPA, standardized test scores, and essays (both the personal statement and BC’s supplementals).
Factors considered important are: Course rigor, legacy status, recommendations, class rank, religious affiliation, and extracurriculars.
Boston College is a Jesuit-affiliated university, and they take students’ religious affiliation into account while making admissions decisions. While they admit and welcome students from all religious traditions, they do consider affiliation, and the majority of the student body is Catholic.
Recruited athletes must meet the academic criteria, but athletes specifically recruited by coaches will have an admissions advantage. Athletes coaches consider walk-ons will have no advantage.
What is Boston College Looking For?
They want students who are academically prepared for the rigor of courses on campus, and who will share in and enrich the campus community. Academic preparation is judged through grades, class rank, and test scores, and students should aim for at or above the average of an accepted student. Students are judged holistically, but academic performance is an important benchmark to hit.
How a student will contribute to the campus is determined through extracurriculars, essays, and recommendations. BC is looking for students who will actively engage with and attempt to better their community.
The school recently announced the Institute for Integrated Science and Society, which will focus on using science to address societal concerns, and interdisciplinary research. Students with interdisciplinary interests or who display a desire to use advancements in science to better society will help them fulfill their strategic plan’s goals.
Finally, the school has announced a commitment to both diversity, and to staying true to their original Jesuit nature, as expressed through the school’s traditions and culture. This will be reflected in recruiting efforts, and in how students’ essays are evaluated.
While BC does not take demonstrated interest into account, they did introduce Early Decision I and II in 2019, and those have higher acceptance rates than the Regular Decision round of admissions. While admissions criteria is the same, there are fewer overall applicants, increasing acceptance rates. The admission rates for ED II are lower than those for ED I, but applying this way is a good choice if you weren’t ready by the ED I deadline.
The essays are the most important part of the application within your immediate control, and should be your main focus if your academics are in a good place. The school is looking for students who can express themselves fluidly, and who will positively contribute to the school’s campus and culture. They use the essays to evaluate how well students will fit in with the school’s system and ethos.
As the school values standardized test scores so highly, studying for and doing well on the tests is a good use of time. Don’t go mad for a 10 point increase, but deliberate effort will pay off, as BC weights scores more than many other elite schools.
While BC does consider religious affiliation, they also have a commitment to both diversity, and the traditions of the school. While religious affiliation may play a part in the decision, it is difficult to say what precisely the role is. Regardless, do not lie about your religious affiliation or lack thereof on your application. You should, however, take the school’s religious character into account while you are applying. The school is majority Catholic, and this is due to self-selection. If you would not be comfortable attending a school with this kind of religious character, consider applying elsewhere.
Applications are judged by school, and it is difficult to change between schools once admitted. Always apply to the school that contains the major you wish to study, rather than gambling on being able to change schools after acceptance.
Career advising is also offered.
Computer Science Options:
Additional Specialty Programs:
Programs for High Schoolers:
School Motto: Ever to excel
Mission and Values:
BC’s House System:
Most students have 3 years of guaranteed on-campus housing, some scholarship students and student athletes have 4 years of guaranteed housing. Some dorms are set aside for freshmen. Students have the option to reside in Living Learning Communities, which group students based on shared academic or social interests into a single building or floor. The majority of students live in off-campus apartments junior year, with over 90% returning to on-campus housing for senior year.
Campus & Surrounding Area:
Greek organizations are not seen as compatible with the university’s Jesuit mission, so none are recognized officially by the school There are still 10 fraternities and 11 sororities at the school.
Yearly Cost of Attendance:
Boston College is need-blind in admissions, and commits to meeting all demonstrated financial need. All financial aid awarded by the school is need-based. Students are required to fill out the CSS Profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for aid. Loan counseling and on-campus employment opportunities are also available.
The Presidential Scholarship is the only academic-based merit scholarship awarded by the school. It is awarded to 15 students each year, and covers the full cost of tuition for four years. Applications must be submitted by November 1st to be considered, but both ED and RD students are eligible for the scholarship.