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    How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Boston College Supplemental Essay Prompts

    By Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: October 16th, 2023
    How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Boston College Supplemental Essay Prompts

    Boston College is a Jesuit private research university located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Boston College is located a short distance from Downtown Boston which makes it an extremely desirable place to learn. Therefore, BC’s acceptance rate is around 19%, meaning your application will really need to stand out! In order to apply, students must complete one of the five prompt options for the BC supplemental essays. 

    Here’s our guide for how to ace the Boston College supplemental essay questions!

    Also see: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

    Before answering the BC supplemental essays

    All Boston College applicants, should respond to one of the following four prompts except for those applying for the Human-Centered Engineering major. Those applying for the Human-Centered Engineering major will need to reply to ONLY the fifth Boston College essay question. 

    All of the Boston College supplemental essay questions have a 400 word limit. 400 words may sound like a lot but once you start writing you will realize that getting your personality on the page will take a few more words than 400. Do not stress! This just means you will have to be precise and direct with your answers. Do not drag on or use filler words! Just remember to be yourself in your response. 

    Don’t miss: How to respond to the Common App essay prompts

    Essay option #1

    “Each year at University Convocation, our incoming class engages in reflective dialogue with the author of a common text. What book by a living author would you recommend for your incoming class to read, and why would this be an important shared text?”

    If you are a bookworm this is the prompt for you! This prompt is an opportunity to be creative in your response. 

    Before answering this prompt – brainstorm! What book has impacted your life to this day? You should try to choose a work of literature that has sparked something inside of you. Meaning, choose a book that has given you valuable insight or changed your outlook on life. I know the second you read this prompt you had a book in mind so don’t hesitate to write about it! 

    However, since this prompt is allowing for creative freedom try to choose a unique book. Refrain from choosing a novel such as Harry Potter since it is extremely popular and will probably be written about a lot by applicants. (Even though the Harry Potter series is one of my favorites.) 

    Although, if you are dying to choose an extremely popular book or a classic make sure to then write from a new and different perspective or take. Once you have selected a book, go into detail about how it has impacted your life. This should go without saying but choose a book you have read and are familiar with! Emphasize why it would be a good fit for your class to read. What will your fellow peers learn from this novel? 

    Questions to consider

    • What is your favorite book? 
    • How would Boston College benefit from reading this book? 
    • How has this book influenced your outlooks? 

    Don’t miss: Top 10 books to read before college

    Essay option #2

    “At Boston College, we draw upon the Jesuit tradition of finding worthwhile conversation partners. Some support our viewpoints while others challenge them. Who fulfills this role in your life? Please cite a specific conversation you had where this conversation partner challenged your perspective or you challenged theirs.”

    I know once you read this prompt you immediately thought of someone. So who was it? Who do you talk to about anything? 

    Once you have identified your favorite conversation partner, write a brief few sentences about them. How do you know them? Are they related to you? 

    Now, you should reflect on past conversations you have had with this person. What do you usually talk about?

    To stand out from other responses, do not simply list everything you and this person have ever talked about. Rather, find a common theme in your conversations. Maybe you always talk about music with them or maybe they act as your therapist when you are having relationship issues. 

    Be sure to reflect on this person and your conversations. What have you learned from them? Emphasize how crucial conversations are. Stress how finding that right person to have a conversation with is so important. 

    Questions to consider

    • Who do you have the best conversations with? 
    • What do you learn from your conversations with this person? 
    • How are conversations important for fixing problems in society? 

    Don’t miss: What to include on college applications

    Essay option #3

    “In her November 2019 Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi warned viewers against assigning people a “single story” through assumptions about their nationality, appearance, or background. Discuss a time when someone defined you by a single story. What challenges did this present and how did you overcome them?” 

    To begin this prompt, brainstorm things someone may assume about you. Although being stereotyped or discussing racial or ethnic diversity is a great thing to do here, you can also discuss other aspects of your appearance or background. Some examples could include being labeled a dumb blonde or being assumed you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community due to a pin on your backpack. Detail this challenge in a story format to allow the admissions committee to truly understand how this experience made you feel. 

    Whatever your challenge is, the most important thing in this response is that you describe how you have overcome them. Focus most of your response on this part of the prompt. Be sure to focus on how you were emotionally and mentally impacted by this challenge to demonstrate your resilience and ability to overcome a difficult situation. Remember to be as detailed as possible! The admissions committee wants to see what you did and most importantly why you did.

    Lastly, for some brownie points, finish your response by connecting what you have learned back to Boston College! Describe what you have learned from this experience and what you hope to take with you on your next academic journey. In fact, try to describe specific aspects of Boston College that you will take advantage of. For example, perhaps there’s a BC club for minorities similar to you and you know you want to be a part of people who understand the challenges you’ve been through because of your minority status. 

    Ultimately, make sure your response comes full circle! This will show the admissions committee your train of thought and see what you will bring to the BC community. 

    Questions to consider

    • What is an assumption someone has made about you? 
    • How do you overcome tough challenges? 
    • How has your personality been shaped by your experiences? 

    Don’t miss: How to write an essay about yourself

    Essay option #4

    “Boston College’s founding in 1863 was in response to society’s call. That call came from an immigrant community in Boston seeking a Jesuit education to foster social mobility. Still today, the University empowers its students to use their education to address society’s greatest needs. Which of today’s local or global issues is of particular concern to you and how might you use your Boston College education to address it?”

    If you are an activist, this is the prompt for you! Think about a local or global issue that you are extremely passionate about. This could be anything from recycling to a more controversial opinion. Make sure you are picking a topic you truly are interested and passionate about – it does not have to be a world-changing issue, all that matters is that your passion is there! However, try to avoid choosing a broad topic such as world hunger rather you should narrow it down. 

    Next, you should describe your connection to the issue. Why is this issue important to you? What have you done to support this cause? Whatever your connection to the issue, make sure that you are highlighting your passion and concern for the cause as well as why you are passionate about this issue. 

    Lastly, connect back to BC! Research and describe aspects of BC that align in some way to the issue you were discussing. Try and name specific professors, classes, clubs, etc that you are excited to interact with and why. Make sure you are describing how BC will better your fight for justice and how you will better your BC community. 

    Tips for responding to this prompt

    • Avoid triggering responses such as detailing extreme violence.
    • Do not write about anything incriminating to yourself.
    • Be specific! Write about specific protests attended or organizations you supported.
    • Remember even the smallest change you were a part of can have big impacts.
    • Do not write about stereotypes. (unless you are discussing overcoming them) 
    • Exercise best judgment when using certain language. 

    Related: How to write a 500 word essay

    Essay option #5 (For 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?”

    This essay prompt is essentially asking you to explain how you will use an engineering degree from Boston College to serve the “Common Good.” 

    To begin, research the Human-Centered Engineering program at Boston College. What programs and aspects of the program stick out to you? 

    After familiarizing yourself with their program, now brainstorm a societal problem facing us right now. Try to narrow it down to one issue.

    Focus on an issue that has a personal impact. For example, maybe solar electricity is not used widely in your community and you would like to see that transition. By using your own experiences, you can make your response stronger and reveal pieces of your personality. 

    If you are struggling to pick a problem, the Human-Centered Engineering website has some examples you can choose from. 

    Throughout this essay, make sure to tie back to how the programs at Boston College can help you solve this main problem. Be sure to include specifics about the program that can only be found at Boston College. 

    Questions to consider

    • Why are you interested in engineering? 
    • What issues do you find most important? 
    • How can engineering aid these issues? 

    Also see: Top Massachusetts scholarships

    What makes Boston College unique?

    When applying to any school, it’s a good idea to learn about what makes them unique before you start writing your supplemental essays. Once you find the unique characteristics about a school, you can describe the ones that interest you the most and explain why you will find success at a school that offers these features. This demonstrates your interest in and commitment to the school as well as your potential to perform well if admitted. Here are a couple of unique characteristics about Boston College that can help you write your best essays possible.


    Being located in the Boston area is a major factor in the experience of students at BC. Boston is a huge city which is home to a wide range of prestigious universities. So, you’ll be in a bustling city full of other people your age receiving great college educations. You can write about how you are prepared to take advantage of this resource by visiting museums, utilizing city libraries, applying for internships, and more.

    The Disney Class

    One of Boston College’s most famous courses is the Disney Class. This course, officially titled, Studies in Children’s Literature, goes in-depth on the stories behind major Disney films throughout the history of the company, including how they changed popular fairy tales to create marketable movies. Professor Bonnie Rudner teaches the class, and adamant Disney fans and critics will both find something interesting from the course and learn to contextualize these canonical movies in a whole new light.

    Impressive philosophy department

    Boston College is especially renowned for its philosophy department, known for pushing barriers and including extensive coursework in the field of continental philosophy. Several faculty members at the college are well-known around the world, including prominent Heidegger scholar William J Richardson.

    Next steps after applying to Boston College

    So that’s what you should know about the BC supplemental essays! Now that the hard part is over and your application is flawless and submitted – take a deep breath! Congratulations, you did it! The hard part is now over! 

    Continue to show demonstrated interest in Boston College so they know you are committed and prioritizing their school (even if you have a few other top choices.) 

    This can be done by:

    Essentially, showing interest and staying connected will allow you to get that extra foot in the door and make your name known. Exploring your interest in Boston College will also help solidify if it is the best university for you. 

    Additional resources

    As a student working on college applications, you’ve got a lot on your plate. There are many decisions to make along every step of the way – fortunately, we can help you through them. Check out our guides on how many schools to apply to and how to find safety, reach, and match schools.

    If you’re wondering whether to send test scores to test-optional schools, we’ve got a guide for that as well. And once you start hearing back, we can help you create a college comparison spreadsheet to make your college choice. Finally, check out our free scholarship search tool to help fund your education and keep all of your college options open. Good luck!

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