Written by: Alex Leventhal
While in Boston for my grad school reunion, I decided to visit Boston College, which is six miles west of downtown Boston in the gorgeous, safe neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. BC is a Jesuit university amidst colorful trees and hills that make you feel very removed from urban Boston.
Boston College is a private school with 9,500 undergrads, strong academics, and a rich tradition of caring for the whole person. 90% of students do some type of service work and there is a minor theology requirement in their core curriculum. The mostly clean-cut BC students walk briskly with a sense of purpose, and there is a clear athletic spirit on campus. I saw many student athletes off to their Division 1 training, and the school’s storied Alumni Stadium is right on their main campus for all to walk to and cheer.
Most undergraduates study within Arts and Sciences, and there is a required core curriculum comprised of 15 courses. There is flexibility to complete the core—for example, the Theology requirement of two courses can be fulfilled by taking more secular offerings in philosophy and social responsibility. For liberal arts students, there are 38 majors, and you will be paired with a Pre-Major Advisor first year. Academic exploration is encouraged and then students get a Major advisor once you declare one sophomore year. All students are required to take Business Ethics, and the student panel said it was a true highlight of the BC experience as it adds to the shared feeling of a purpose driven community.
BC is also well known for its selective Carroll School of Management business program, which is about 20% of the first-year class. Our tour guide shared that Caroll alumni networking calls are very easy to set up and facilitate great internship and employment outcomes. BC also offers a small cohort nursing program with only 100 spots, and their school of education and human development is also strong. There is also a well regarded pre-Med track which gets visits from many top medical school admissions officers and has great access to the area’s two famous medical centers, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Our tour guide and the student panel volunteers talked about class sizes getting down to 19 with great access to professors. Boston College is a Tier 1 research university and has over 35 research centers and institutes. You can feel the academic intensity all over campus, both in the main libraries and numerous study nooks in the academic buildings and eating areas. The Bapst library is one of the most memorable I have ever seen on a college campus, and the European high ceilings create an inspiring place to study.
Boston College is a sporty school with a top Division 1 football program and other competitive athletic programs. Students show up and support their BC Eagles. Even for those who don’t play on a Division 1 team, club sports and intramurals are very popular. Our tour guide communicated that the strong school spirit seen at BC games is also displayed for the arts. Undergrads show up for all student cultural events and performances. And the school has no Greek Life, so this also adds to the feeling of one community.
BC undergrad students live on either the Chestnut Hill campus or the Newton campus, which is one mile away. Buses are provided for easy access. 95% of seniors come back to live on campus, which speaks to the strong community that BC fosters. The main Chestnut Hill campus is very hilly, and at times lacks accessibility, with steep stairs and a lack of short cuts to get around. Despite these challenges, the campus is pristine in terms of maintenance and building upkeep. You may feel that you have entered a European university.
There are many student clubs, but our tour guide indicated that they are by application only. This makes club participation capped, and some students would like to see this changed so there are no limitations to this aspect of the social life. A large percentage of students also participate in faith-based clubs and are active, practicing Catholics. To balance that out, many students also enjoy a work hard/play hard lifestyle.
The BC student body is 54% female and 46% male, with 7% international students. I did hear a few Irish accents on campus, and the school has a well-known Irish Studies program. The school reports that 38% of their recent class is AHANA (African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American), however the student panel and tour attendees were mostly white—our tour guide, a male nursing student, said that school is pushing more to increase diversity in all aspects of the school. He was active in the school’s diversity center that supports LGBTQ+ students, and he shared that he felt very comfortable and supported as a minority but he would like to see even more diversity on campus. He described Boston College students as happy, proactive, well-spoken, career oriented, and service driven. Undergrads feel safe on and around campus.
There are 35 colleges and universities in the Boston area, and the city has so much to offer in terms of the arts and great restaurants. There is a convenient T stop right by campus, so you will not need a car to explore the many neighborhoods. Parking is also quite expensive in Boston.
Boston is home to many companies in the financial services, life sciences, and tech industries. This makes for ample internship and career opportunities during and after college, and BC has a very strong career center with great alumni participation.
Admissions and Financial Aid
BC offers Early Decision due November 1, and then Early Decision 2 and Regular Decision in early January. The school reports a 28% acceptance rate for Early Decision applicants and a 13% acceptance rate for regular decision. Those who want to be considered for merit scholarship need to apply by November 1. The admissions officer who led our introduction shared that they really spend time understanding the high schools, their level of course rigor, and what they share about applicants.
Only 30% of applicants submit test scores resulting in higher overall reported scores. For the class of 2027, their average SAT was 1480 and average ACT was 34.
Around 94% of the class was in the top 10% of their high school class, and the school’s acceptance rate has dropped over time from 32% six years ago to 15% for the class of 2027 (their historical low).
Boston College is committed to meeting full demonstrated need for all domestic students and provides a limited number of merit scholarships and participates in Questbridge.
Boston College is a great choice for those looking for a medium-sized school with a strong core liberal arts curriculum tucked away in a major city. Add in school spirit around football, hockey and other competitive sports, and a tradition of community service inspired by Jesuit values. You will hear the constant ringing of bells around Gothic architecture, and this European style is beautifully maintained even as the school adds and updates buildings.