Getting To Know: Boston College (MA)
Boston College (BC) was the first school that I visited over a five-day trip to Boston. One of 27 Jesuit universities in the US, Boston College has much to like in terms of academics, connections and location. The campus is very nice and well maintained, Catholicism is not pushed “in your face” when you walk the grounds and tour campus buildings. I am not Catholic and I felt that I would be welcome here, if admitted and committed to enroll.
I made a Pinterest page to show you the campus and community. The look of the campus reminds me of Princeton, though I felt that Boston College tried too hard to repeat the Gothic theme in newer buildings where a modern and unique design would have worked just fine. I am also grateful to the graduate student who showed me how to take a parking garage elevator to avoid climbing the “Million Dollar Stairs.”
Let’s start with some demographics and comps in reviewing Boston College.
Boston College is not really a “college” in the same manner as a liberal arts school like Amherst or Williams.
- It is a research university with over 9,500 undergrads, only 500 fewer than the University of Pennsylvania, which most who visit this site would consider to be a research university.
- Boston College’s enrollment numbers match up closely with Notre Dame (9,000 undergraduates, 4,200 graduate and professional students)
- BC is a large Jesuit university, but it is not the largest one. That honor goes to Georgetown, which has fewer undergrads (7,600), but has over 13,000 graduate and professional students. Loyola-Chicago has the largest number of undergraduates (nearly 12,000) among Jesuit schools..
What school is most comparable to Boston College?
BC is considered vs. other exceptionally selective religiously affiliated schools such as Notre Dame and Villanova, but those universities also have their own engineering schools. Boston College is relatively new to engineering education. The college welcomed its first class of engineering students this fall. Based within the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, the engineering program is generalist versus a specialization such as electrical or mechanical engineering. Boston College is also considered versus many other selective public and private schools.
I’m going out on a limb to state the most comparable school that I’ve covered–it’s the College of William & Mary (VA)
Both schools align the academic programs in similar ways, emphasizing a rigorous liberal arts education. Both offer generalist engineering as well as schools of business, education and law. These schools have maintained respect for their history on their campuses, and they have inescapable commitments to athletics.
Boston College is not really in Boston–but that might be a good thing
The school is located in Chestnut Hill, a well-to-do suburb of the Hub City. To me, the location is a plus because you can easily get into Boston on the Green Line, but you don’t have to live with the noise and traffic of city life on a daily basis. Freshmen will live on either the main campus or the Newton campus about a mile and a half away..
However, if you get into Boston College you might be offered three years of guaranteed housing on campus instead of four. The main campus is only 116 acres, according to the college’s latest Fact Book. There’s literally no room to build more residence halls or apartments and little land to acquire.. However, the area’s housing market is one of the most expensive in the nation. Students can easily pay more than $1,000/month to share an off-campus apartment or a house.
It was suggested during the information session I attended that Boston College students do their junior year abroad if they got only three years of guaranteed housing, then live on campus for senior year. That might work well for a liberal arts or business major, but seems less practical for a future nurse or teacher who needs to have clinical or student teaching experience. However, Boston College also offers study abroad for education and nursing students. That’s tough to find at other schools.
What does it take to get in?
Boston College accepted 32 percent of applicants for the Class of 2021, but only 17 percent of those who wanted to be in the Class of 2026. The applicant pool grew from 28,500 to 40,500 over five years. However, the yield rate, the percentage of admitted students who deposited and enrolled, rose from 26 to 35 percent! That’s quite high for a relative selective private research institution with an estimated total cost of attendance that exceeds $80,000. It also shows me that Boston College needed to accept fewer people to fill a freshman class. That says something positive about the ability to attract and aid the students who want to come.
Boston College has made a commitment to test optional admissions in pandemic times.
But check out the profile for the Class of 2026 for the half that submitted scores. Chances are that a school with a 17 percent acceptance rate will know that if you did not submit scores, you scored below the mid-range for the class. If you’re applying for this cycle and have attained academic excellence in a rigorous curriculum, but scored less than a 1480 on the SAT or less than a 33 ACT, don’t bother submitting scores and do a good job on the essays.
Boston College appears to do a thorough job of retaining and graduating a class.
Freshman retention is an excellent 95 percent. The most recent four-year grad rate that I could find was 88 percent, equal to MIT, but better than Harvard (86%)! Boston College will also meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need. Last year, the average aid package was close to $50,000. The average indebtedness among 2021 graduates who took out loans was just over $23,000. That’s less than these graduates would have owed at Home State U in many states. .Forbes recently gave BC an A for financial stability. Good financial management must be helping to make generous aid possible, even while managing an ambitious athletic program.
Be careful making academic choices.
Boston College has undergraduate schools in business, education and nursing as well as the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences. About two-thirds of all undergraduates are enrolled in Morrissey. A quarter are enrolled in the Carroll School of Management. It’s fairly easy to transfer from Morrissey into the Lynch School of Education, but you need a 3.4+ GPA to transfer onto Carroll. I went to the FAQs page for Carroll and found this:
The Carroll School accepts a very small number of internal transfer students via a lottery process. No more than 10 students will be accepted in any class year. Students must meet all of the eligibility requirements below
If you have an inking about business, apply directly to Carroll, and start there if you get in. There’s always the option of transferring to Morrissey and declaring one of six business minors.
I have also heard the same phrase at Jesuit school that I have visited: Cura Personalis.
The idea is to educate the whole person, mainly in a liberal arts context, even within a pre-professional academic degree program. Jesuit schools have distribution requirements much like any other liberal arts school. You must take courses in English, Quantitative subjects (Math, Statistics), Natural and Physical Sciences and demonstrate foreign language proficiency. Courses in philosophy and religion are also required.
Boston College does not require courses in Catholicism. I recommend that incoming freshmen take the courses in Complex Problems & Enduring Questions. These team-taught courses in timely topics will help to fill the two core requirements in philosophy and religion over the first two semesters.
It’s fair to state that that freshmen will have sone big classes, especially in introductory courses such as Economics or Psychology. However, I also learned that Boston College hires undergraduates to be teaching assistants in computer science courses during the information session. I was not happy when I learned that a senior was my TA for a freshman computer science class at Rutgers, a state school that has always been far less expensive than Boston College. It would be realistic to expect Boston College students to hope that their classes and lab sections were taught by professors or at least doctoral candidates who were finishing their dissertation.
Like most selective schools, Boston College has a strong alumni network
There are nearly 47,000 Boston College alumni registered in LInkedIn.com based in or near Boston, so it should be easy to make connections for internships or full-time jobs if you want to remain in the area. The alumni communities in/around New York City, Washington DC, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago are large enough to make good connections, check out alumni club events or organize watch parties.
Boston College is one school where athletic excellence might help an academically strong student in admissions, presuming a coach is in your corner.
Boston College competes in 31 NCAA D-1 varsity sports, including spirit groups that have their own competitions. That’s more than any rival in the Atlantic Coast Conference–and more than Notre Dame! Among the most selective private research universities that award athletic scholarships only Stanford competes in more varsity sports.
Boston College is also the only Jesuit university and one of only five religiously affiliated schools (along with Baylor, Notre Dame, Texas Christian and Wake Forest) that play football at the highest level.
Alumni Stadium, home to the Eagles, seats fewer than 45,000 fans. It’s one of the smallest venues in major college football. The Eagles averaged 34,000 fans per home game in 2019. However, Boston College has played football since 1892. Quarterback Doug Flutie led the Eagles to a 10-2 record, a Cotton Bowl win and top-five end-of-season poll rankings in 1984 while winning the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in America. Flutie as much a legend in Boston as Ted Williams is to Red Sox fans. There’s even a statue of Flutie outside Alumni Stadium! The Eagles have had some football success since Flutie graduated, winning the Atlantic Division of the conference in 2007 and 2008. They have played in or qualified for 13 bowl games since joining the conference in 2005. But it’s been nothing like it was when Flutie played.
My perception after being on campus is that students and alumni will keep supporting their football team. The chances of the Eagles returning to the lofty heights of the Flutie Era are remote, but tailgates are fun and no one who has fun ever loses. If you like college football, do not get too upset over losses, and can get admitted to Boston College, you might really like this school. If you’re a men’s hockey fan you might love it. Boston College has won The Beanpot, the annual tournament vs. Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern, nine times since 2000. The skating Eagles have also won four National Championships since then. Last season, the men’s hockey team racked 14th nationally in attendance per home game. And, if you like to see Boston Marathoners in the spring, they will run right by you on Commonwealth Avenue, the main street through campus.
Boston College offers all that it promises academically, socially and financially. But I also wondered why the school has to compete in 31 sports if it lacks the resources and athletic traditions of schools like Duke, Notre Dame or Stanford. I understand the reasoning behind the housing policy; those who have the greatest financial or physical needs to live on campus get priority and athletes need to maintain their abilities and health. However, I had to ask myself: would more juniors receive on-campus housing if Boston College played fewer sports?
Report Card: Boston College
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A
- Freshman Retention: A
- Costs: A
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: B
- Connections: A
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!
Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
Sharing is caring!