Boston College 2017-2018 Application Essay Question Explanations
The Requirements: Choose one out of four prompts. 400 words max.
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Oddball, Community
The writing supplement topics for Fall 2018 first-year applicants are: We would like to get a better sense of you. Please respond to one of the following prompts. (400 word limit)
1. Human beings have a creative side that tends to shine most when we are truly invested in the world around us. Describe a situation when you responded effectively to a particular need and found yourself at your creative best.
What motivates you? Why do you get up in the morning? What do you look forward to day-to-day? And how do these things truly inspire you? Did your out-of-the-box thinking help solidify a solution for a problem at your summer internship? Maybe you were so touched by someone’s account of a natural disaster that you wrote a poem that was featured in your local newspaper, educating hundreds of people and encouraging them to donate to the cause. Ultimately, this question is asking you to reflect on your passions and drive. The admissions department at BC wants to see what gets your creative juices flowing and how those activities link up to your commitments.
2. Experience teaches us the importance of being reflective when making major decisions. Share an example from a recent event when a leader or an average person faced a difficult choice. What were the consequences of the decision? Would you have done the same?
Everyone loves a good problem solver and definitive choice-maker. And there will be a lot of those applying to BC this application season. But HOW you approach your decision making — especially with a difficult choice in front of you — can set you apart from the pack. When thinking about the example you want to reflect on here, you can choose anyone from a public figure to someone in your personal life. Just make sure you reveal your logic and give admissions a window into your values. Maybe your best friend was promised, and then denied, the team captain position on the soccer team and had to decide whether to approach her coach to make her case or keep quiet so as not to ruffle any feathers. What did she do? What would you have done? Or maybe you live in Alaska and your senator, Lisa Murkowski, voted against a major bill which resulted in backlash from her political party. Would you have done the same? What admissions is looking for here isn’t a right or wrong answer, but rather a thoughtful and measure perspective on decision making when it isn’t easy.
3. Boston College strives to provide an undergraduate learning experience emphasizing the liberal arts, quality teaching, personal formation, and engagement of critical issues. If you had the opportunity to create your own college course, what enduring question or contemporary problem would you address and why?
Are you an engaged citizen of the world? Are you aware of what’s going on around you, and do you have the drive to effect change? How would you take other people on this journey with you? These are just some of the things BC is hinting at with this prompt. Maybe you want to the history of concussions in sports to address the role of sports culture in the modern healthcare system. Or history and literature to dive deeper into modern gender politics. Once you decide on the issue you want to address, make sure you structure your essay around the creation of a course and get creative. Think beyond “Social Media 101” and show admissions you have the ability to package your creation with style.
4. Jesuit education stresses the importance of the liberal arts and sciences, character formation, commitment to the common good, and living a meaningful life. How do you think your personal goals and academic interests will help you grow both intellectually and personally during college?
This is a short version of the Why essay, and you should treat it as such. Boston College wants to make sure you are gearing up for the full college experience — to THEIR school — and specificity helps. Talk about your academic and professional goals — how will the offerings at BC help you achieve them. What unexpected subjects might you want to pursue in addition to the topics that line up with courses you have pursued in the past? How will you push yourself? Don’t forget to include details about personal growth. What about the BC experience will enrich your life overall? What extracurricular activities and organizations will you take advantage of? What about the BC culture inspires you? Almost anyone who has attended college will attest that the next four years will be a time for personal growth and development — so if you’re having trouble answering this question, ask your older siblings, parents, and cousins what college did for them. We bet you’ll hear a thing or two that makes you say, “Yes! I want to achieve that by 2022!”
In this prompt, admissions officers are looking to both demystify what a Jesuit education is as well as allow you to advocate on behalf of your own values, fitting your personal and academic goals into these Jesuit tenants. “Personal goals and academic interests” are relatively easy topics to approach (just talk about yourself), but fitting that into the Jesuit ideals will be the challenge. The objective of this essay is to move your goals and interests forward into the years you will spend in, possibly, a Jesuit college like BC.
The prompt lists four different subsections, so feel free to touch on one of them or all of them. However, just be wary that if you choose to tackle a multitude of these ideas, your substance and depth may take a sharp hit.
With “the importance of the liberal arts and sciences,” admissions officers want to see a passion for the wide gamut of learning as not just a career preparatory tool, but a rigorous process to tackle the great problems our world faces. If you want to be a chemist and study chemistry, but also want to fully take advantage of a liberal arts curriculum and a more humanistic approach to chemistry, talk about how you are also passionate about classes like Roman Religion and Introduction to African Diaspora Studies, both of which BC offers.
With “character formation,” you could talk about a test of character that you’ve faced or a difficult circumstance you’ve had to overcome. Talk about how that trial influenced your personal goals and academic interests, and how it will continue to do so in college. Maybe you want to major in biology at Boston College because of a close family member that passed away from cancer — you want to fight for not only people like her, but also low income patients in rural areas who may not have access to a state-of-the-art medical facility.
With a “commitment to the common good,” you can easily slide in work that you’ve done to benefit those around you, whether it is through a volunteering organization, a personal project, or an experience away from home. This could then tie into what you want to study and how you want to grow in college to keep pursuing a similar line of work. If you are passionate about education, you could talk about how you want to pursue activities at Boston College like the school’s branch of Project Sunshine, in which you work with kids suffering from medical challenges.
With “living a meaningful life,” think about the values you want to live by. Are they the values espoused by your religion, a personal role model, or your own identity? For example, if you are active in a mosque, talk about how you will join Boston College’s Muslim Student Association to further involve yourself with the Muslim community. Feel free to mention what you want to study and what you want to do after college, as long as you supplement these thoughts with why you want to do them, and what motivated you to do them. Fit these values into the mission of Boston College, and you will be good to go!