How to Write the Boston College Supplemental Essays + Examples

Downtown Boston skyscrapers
Updated:
November 8, 2023
8 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/8/23

Getting ready to write your Boston College supplemental essays? Read on to learn how to make your essays stand out!Hey, future Eagles!

Feeling stuck on your Boston College supplemental essays? Unsure of where to start or what to share? This guide has got you covered! We’ll go over each Boston College supplemental essay, break down how to approach them, and provide you with winning examples to use as your muse!

Boston College Supplemental Essay Prompts 2023-2024

Male student reading papers

Let’s begin with the basics: how many supplemental essays do you need for Boston College? Fortunately, you’ll only need to answer one of the BC supplemental essays. You’ll be given the following five prompts to choose from:

Prompt #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?”

Prompt #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.”

Speech bubbles on pink background

Prompt #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?”

Prompt #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?”

Male student speaking into megaphone with fist raised

Prompt #5 - HCE Applicants

“Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) 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?”

These questions aim to get personal, which means you could probably ramble on and on about each of them if you had the chance. But here's the kicker: you have to keep your response to a maximum of 400 words! So, stay on point, keep it snappy, and get to the heart of what matters most. No room for rambling here!

How to Write Each Essay Prompt for Boston College

If you’re intimidated by these prompts and wondering how to write a fantastic college essay, you’re in the right place. Here’s how to ensure all of your BC supplemental essays are concise, compelling, and captivating! 

How to Write Boston College Supplemental Essay #1 + Analysis and Tips

Female student sitting on floor with computer and books

Analysis of prompt #1: This prompt is focused on the importance of a shared text and how it fosters a sense of unity and understanding among incoming students. Boston College wants to see what kind of literature you consider good for fostering unity. 

This prompt also allows the admissions committee to learn more about your interests. The book you choose will say a lot about you! 

Follow these suggestions if you choose to respond to the first prompt:

  • Tip #1: Choose the Right Book: Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to discuss a highly complex book to impress the admissions committee. Select a book that you truly believe would be a valuable shared text. Mention some themes or messages that you think could spark meaningful discussions. 
  • Tip #2: Share Your Personal Connections to the Book: Show the admissions committee how this book has influenced your perspective. Why does this book resonate with you more than others? You might consider even starting your essay with one of your favorite lines in the book. 
  • Tip #3: Connect to the University Convocation: End your essay by explaining how this book would contribute to a meaningful and engaging University Convocation experience. How would it inspire reflective dialogue among your incoming class? 

How to Write Boston College Supplemental Essay #2 + Analysis and Tips

Female student talking to man

Analysis of prompt #2: BC asks this prompt because they want to see a willingness to grow and to learn from other perspectives. A mark of a great student is a sense of humility and openness to listening to what others have to say. 

If you’ve had a few notable experiences where your beliefs were challenged, this could be a great prompt for you to respond to! Here are some tips to get you started: 

  • Tip #1: Identify a Strong Conversation Partner: Think about a conversation that truly had an impact on you, not just someone disagreeing with your top horror movie choice. Who is someone in your life who has really challenged your perspective or brought fresh insights to the table?
  • Tip #2: Be Vulnerable and Specific: Include details of your conversation with this person, including the thoughts and emotions you experienced. Don't shy away from discussing how this conversation challenged you. Were you initially resistant to their ideas? Did it force you to reevaluate your beliefs?
  • Tip #3: Share Your Insights: Show the reader how this conversation impacted you. Did it open your mind to new possibilities? Did you gain a deeper understanding of yourself or the world around you? Be authentic and express the lessons you learned from this experience.

How to Write Boston College Supplemental Essay #3 + Analysis and Tips

Male student listening to two people talking

Analysis of prompt #3: This prompt deals with the impact of making assumptions. This essay asks you to get personal and describe an instance where you faced prejudice of some kind. By asking this, BC wants to see how you have overcome obstacles as well as how you align with their values of diversity. 

If this prompt interests you, here are some tips on how to answer it: 

  • Tip #1: Consider Watching the TED Talk: While you don’t have to watch the TED Talk referenced in this essay prompt, doing so can inspire you and help you brainstorm. You may even want to quote the speaker within your own essay to show you went above and beyond by watching the TED Talk. 
  • Tip #2: Stay Humble: Feel free to share in detail about the prejudice you faced and how it affected you, as well as how you broke free from the single narrative. However, be sure not to display arrogance or a superiority complex. Focus on your own growth and the importance of diversity instead.
  • Tip #3: Connect to BC: Connect your story to Boston College's values of embracing diversity and fostering inclusivity. Express your eagerness to continue these conversations at BC and learn from a community that values every person's unique narrative.

How to Write Boston College Supplemental Essay #4 + Analysis and Tips

"fight today for a better tomorrow" protest sign

Analysis of prompt #4: This prompt integrates the history of Boston College with the issues facing the world today. BC wants to see that you are committed to the same values as they are; namely, fighting for social issues and using education to address needs that are prevalent in the world. 

Let’s tackle how to respond to this fourth prompt:

  • Tip #1: Choose an Issue Close to Your Heart: If you choose an issue that you’re genuinely passionate about, it will be far easier to write this essay! Admissions committees can always tell when applicants are being authentic, so if you choose a topic you truly care about, your passion will shine through.
  • Tip #2: Connect to BC’s Founding Values: This prompt specifically asks you to connect back to BC’s roots. Show how BC's founding mission resonates with your desire to make a difference in the world and emphasize how your BC education will enable you to continue this legacy.
  • Tip #3: Demonstrate Your Commitment: Discuss why this issue is so important to you and share your specific vision of how you'll engage with the issue both on and off campus. Highlight any volunteer work, advocacy, or initiatives you've been involved in related to the issue to demonstrate your dedication to change. 

How to Write Boston College Supplemental Essay #5 + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of prompt #5: This prompt is somewhat similar to prompt #4, as it asks students to analyze. However, as this prompt is specific to HCE applicants, that means that Boston College is looking for specific responses regarding the HCE program. BC wants to see your passion and why you truly want to study HCE. 

Here are some tips to tackle this prompt: 

  • Tip #1: Pinpoint Your Passion: Identify the specific societal problems that ignite your passion. Considering this is a question for engineering, the issue you choose should be related to this field. Explain why these issues are meaningful to you and share any personal experiences or encounters with them. 
  • Tip #2: Be Specific: Highlight how Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College perfectly aligns with your goals. Share any relevant projects or initiatives you’ve been a part of, especially leadership experiences, related to your chosen issue. Describe innovative engineering approaches you envision tackling at BC. 
  • Tip #3: Tie It to the Common Good: Connect your solutions to the Jesuit value of serving the Common Good. Explain how your Human-Centered Engineering education will empower you to serve society and create a positive impact.

Examples of Boston College Supplemental Essays That Worked

Female student writing in notebook in front of computer

There’s no better way to grasp how to write the Boston College supplemental essays than to learn by example! Here are some sample essays written by admitted students at Boston College. 

Sample Essay #1

Prompt: “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?”

Take a look at this example essay responding to prompt #1: 

"‘A boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand up for anything.’ This compelling quote from ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini serves as a poignant reminder of the valuable lesson this book imparts to students.
As students, we often encounter challenges, both academically and personally. This book can remind us of the powerful significance of advocating for our beliefs and values. By learning to assert ourselves and confront our fears, we cultivate the confidence and resilience necessary to address societal issues and make positive contributions to our communities.
Consequently, for our incoming class at University Convocation, I wholeheartedly recommend ‘The Kite Runner’ as our shared text. This novel takes readers on an emotional journey of self-discovery, forgiveness, and redemption. Through Amir's experiences, we learn the importance of standing up for ourselves and others, even in the face of adversity.
‘The Kite Runner’ not only inspires self-reflection but also fosters empathy and understanding. The novel delves into cultural complexities, providing a window into Afghanistan's history and the impact of personal choices on individuals and society. As we engage in reflective dialogue during University Convocation, this shared text will encourage open discussions about diverse perspectives, nurturing a more inclusive and compassionate community.
Moreover, Khaled Hosseini's masterful storytelling captivated me, evoking emotions and allowing me to build connections with the characters. This shared experience can unite our class, forging a shared bond that extends beyond the pages of the book.
As we embark on our exciting academic journey, ‘The Kite Runner’ will serve as a timeless reminder of the value of empathy, resilience, and the power of standing up for what we believe in. It will inspire us to be active participants in shaping a more just and compassionate world, embodying the Jesuit values that Boston College holds dear.”
Books on library shelf

Why Essay #1 Works

This BC supplemental essay response works for several reasons. It begins with a compelling hook - a powerful quote from "The Kite Runner" - that immediately captures the reader's attention and sets the tone for the essay's central theme. 

The student then demonstrates a genuine and personal connection to the book by discussing academic and personal challenges. The essay highlights the importance of advocating for beliefs and values and explicitly connects the book's lessons to Boston College’s Jesuit values, showing their alignment with the university's mission.

Sample Essay #2

Prompt: “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.”

Take a look at this sample essay for some inspiration: 

“‘It’s murder—plain and simple,’ my best friend Emily proclaimed with unwavering conviction. 
With a fiery passion for justice and a fierce dedication to her beliefs, Emily is never afraid to challenge the status quo and speak her mind. As such, we’ve always had lively discussions on various topics, but one particular conversation stands out vividly in my memory. 
In our sophomore year, we were discussing a news article detailing the story of a terminally ill patient who had opted for medical assistance to end their life peacefully. As a staunch advocate for individual autonomy and the right to make end-of-life decisions, I expressed my support for medical-assisted dying, believing that it offers compassionate choices for those facing unbearable suffering.
However, Emily's bold statement gave me pause. I respected her deeply-held beliefs, but I felt the need to question her stance and challenge her perspective and the broader implications of prohibiting medical-assisted dying altogether. I highlighted the anguish that some terminally ill patients might experience when they are denied the choice to control the manner and timing of their death. I also stressed the importance of compassionate end-of-life care, including palliative options, to ensure that individuals facing terminal illnesses have the support they need to make informed decisions.
As our conversation evolved, Emily's arguments made me pause and reflect on the complexity of the issue. While I still valued individual autonomy and compassion, her viewpoints challenged me to consider the potential unintended consequences of medical-assisted dying and the importance of striking a delicate balance between individual choice and societal well-being.
Throughout this conversation, Emily and I maintained a deep respect for each other's beliefs and approached the topic with an openness to learn from one another. The experience taught me the value of engaging in conversations with worthwhile partners who challenge my views, as it broadens my understanding of complex issues and helps me become a more empathetic and well-informed individual.
As I embark on my new journey at Boston College, I will embrace my role as a conversation partner, and support and challenge myself to have a more profound understanding of the world around me. Keeping with the Jesuit tradition Boston College embodies, I look forward to conversing with all intellectual partners I’ll meet at BC, as we collectively strive to enhance our empathy, wisdom, and social consciousness.” 
Woman holding elderly person's hand

Why Essay #2 Works

The essay shares a specific and vivid memory of a conversation between the student and Emily during their sophomore year, adding depth and authenticity to the essay. It delves into a complex and controversial issue, demonstrating the student's ability to engage in thoughtful discussions on important societal matters.

This essay also showcases the student's willingness to consider alternative viewpoints, highlighting their intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness. The student then explicitly connects their essay to the BC’s Jesuit tradition, emphasizing the importance of engaging in meaningful conversations to enhance empathy and wisdom. 

Sample Essay #3

Prompt: “In her November 2019 Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 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?”

Here is a great example of an essay responding to Adichie’s Ted Talk: 

“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Ted Talk on ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ struck a chord with me, as I've personally experienced being defined by a single narrative. During my high school years, I relocated to a new town, and my accent immediately labeled me as ‘the foreign kid.’ People assumed I couldn't speak English fluently and knew nothing about their culture, reducing my identity to a mere stereotype.
This presented several challenges. I felt the constant need to prove myself, academically and socially, and struggled to fit in and be accepted. The isolation and misunderstanding affected my confidence and made it difficult to connect with others.
However, I was determined not to be confined by that single narrative. I actively immersed myself in clubs and extracurricular activities, striving to showcase my multifaceted self. By participating and engaging in conversations, I revealed my diverse experiences, perspectives, and passions. Gradually, I noticed a change in how people perceived me. They began to see beyond the initial assumptions and recognize my individuality. 
Overcoming these challenges required time and resilience. I learned the value of asserting my voice and sharing my authentic stories, which allowed others to understand me beyond the surface level. Breaking free from the constraints of the single story empowered me to build better connections and find like-minded individuals who appreciated me for my true self.
My experience of being defined by a single story during my high school years has had a lasting impact on my outlook and values, which align closely with the principles upheld by Boston College. Boston College's commitment to a Jesuit education, founded on the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, resonates with my journey of breaking free from stereotypes and embracing diverse narratives.
Adichie's Ted Talk holds even greater significance now, as I'm reminded of the importance of avoiding simplistic judgments about others based on appearances or backgrounds. I understand the power of embracing diverse narratives and perspectives, fostering empathy, and recognizing the richness that each individual brings to the table.”
Two male students pointing at female student

Why Essay #3 Works

The student first demonstrates a connection to the Ted Talk and then shares a vulnerable personal experience of being defined by a single narrative during their high school years, making the essay authentic and compelling. The essay demonstrates the author’s resilience by describing how they overcame various challenges.

The essay also effectively connects the student’s experience to Boston College’s principles, emphasizing the alignment with the university’s commitment to a Jesuit education. The student reflects on the lasting impact of their experience, showing depth of thought and self-awareness and how it aligns with Boston College's values.

Sample Essay #4

Prompt: “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?”

Take a look at this sample essay discussing the issue of climate change: 

“The magnitude of climate change requires comprehensive and collaborative efforts from individuals, communities, and institutions. As a student at Boston College, I aspire to leverage my education to address this critical global issue and contribute to sustainable solutions.
While I already volunteer at my local recycling facility, participate in beach clean-up events, and am an executive member of my school’s environmental club, I plan on doing even more at Boston College and beyond. First, I intend to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies, combining scientific knowledge with social and policy perspectives. Through interdisciplinary coursework, research opportunities, and engagement with faculty, I aim to develop a deep understanding of the complexities of climate change and its multifaceted implications.
Beyond the academic realm, Boston College's commitment to fostering a caring and inclusive community aligns perfectly with my vision of creating positive change. By actively participating in student-led environmental organizations and joining forces with like-minded peers, I hope to cultivate a vibrant campus environment that values sustainability and collective action.
Moreover, I will have access to valuable internships and networking opportunities that will enable me to collaborate with organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and advocacy. By interning with environmental NGOs and participating in climate-related policy discussions, I hope to contribute to impactful projects and support the creation of policies that drive positive change.
Climate change, as a global issue, requires collaboration and engagement on an international scale. Boston College's global perspective will offer me the chance to connect with students from diverse backgrounds, enriching my understanding of environmental challenges across different regions and cultures. By embracing this multicultural environment, I can foster a broader perspective and contribute to innovative solutions that transcend borders.
By pursuing an education in Environmental Studies, actively engaging in student-led initiatives, advocating for sustainable policies, and embracing Boston College's inclusive community, I hope to make a meaningful contribution to addressing climate change and shaping a more sustainable and resilient future for all. With the support and resources provided by Boston College, I am confident in my ability to make a lasting impact in the fight against climate change and fulfill my commitment to addressing society's greatest needs.”
Woman holding two plants

Why Essay #4 Works

In this essay, this student gets very specific, providing concrete examples of their current involvement in environmental initiatives and outlining their plan to continue making a difference at BC, adding credibility to their commitment. The student also demonstrates confidence and ambition in their commitment to addressing society’s needs.

With a strong emphasis on collaboration and collective action, the student shows an understanding of the need for comprehensive efforts to tackle climate change. They also convey a strong passion for making a positive impact, leaving an impression as a driven, socially conscious, and ambitious individual.

Sample Essay #5

Prompt: “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?” 

Here is an example you can use to get started on your HCE essay: 

“In a world that faces ever-evolving societal challenges, I am deeply drawn to the field of Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) for its potential to enact positive change and serve the common good. As a prospective HCE student at Boston College, I am committed to using my education to address two critical societal problems that are of utmost importance to me: healthcare accessibility and sustainable infrastructure development.
First and foremost, healthcare accessibility remains a pressing concern globally. Many communities, particularly in underserved regions, lack adequate access to essential healthcare services. I am determined to use my HCE education to bridge this gap and improve healthcare delivery systems for vulnerable populations.
Drawing on the technical knowledge and humanistic perspective emphasized in the HCE program, I aspire to design and implement innovative healthcare solutions. By collaborating with healthcare professionals and community members, I aim to develop technologies and systems that are tailored to the specific needs and challenges faced by these communities. Whether it be telemedicine solutions to reach remote areas or the development of affordable medical devices, I envision contributing to the improvement of healthcare accessibility and making a tangible impact on people's lives.
Integrating the principles of sustainability and creativity into my engineering solutions, I seek to minimize the ecological footprint of infrastructure projects. I plan to advocate for the adoption of renewable energy sources and the implementation of green building practices. By prioritizing environmentally friendly technologies and materials, I aim to contribute to the creation of resilient and sustainable urban environments that harmonize with nature rather than deplete it.
Boston College's emphasis on serving the common good aligns perfectly with my vision for using HCE to tackle these societal problems. Additionally, the Jesuit values of social responsibility and ethical leadership will guide me in my professional journey.
I am eager to take advantage of Boston College's resources and engage in service-oriented initiatives to implement real-world solutions and make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.”
Dentist chair and tools

Why Essay #5 Works

This essay appropriately focuses strongly on the HCE program and demonstrates the student’s passion for the possibilities found in HCE. The student provides concrete examples of how they plan to use their HCE education to make a difference and demonstrates a well-rounded awareness of global issues. 

The applicant also references the Jesuit values that BC holds and articulates how Boston College's resources and service-oriented initiatives will support the student in implementing real-world solutions. This emphasizes a strong fit between the student's aspirations and the university's offerings.

Get More Sample Essays Here! 

If reading these essays was helpful for you, good news! You can get inspired by tons of sample supplemental essays using our extensive essay database down below. 

FAQs: Boston College Essays

You can find the answers to any remaining questions about the Boston College supplemental essays below:

1. How Many Supplemental Essays Do I Need for Boston College?

You only need to write one Boston College supplemental essay, but you will be given five prompts to choose from.

2. How Long Should Boston College Essays Be?

Your BC supplemental essay should not exceed 400 words. Having said that, you also do not need to meet this maximum. Aim for quality over quantity. Ensure you answer the prompt completely, but do not add any fluff to make your response longer, as it will only reduce the efficacy of your writing.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the Boston College supplemental essays provide an opportunity to showcase your unique qualities and aspirations. Share meaningful insights, experiences, and how your goals align with Boston College's values. 

Make a strong impression, take your time, edit diligently, and let your passion and intellect shine through!

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