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Boston College is looking for more than just a summary of your favorite book. Admissions wants to know about the art that is meaningful to you and how it aligns with your life and values. As with all supplemental essays, your goal should be to use this prompt as an opportunity to tell a personal story — in this case, about your relationship to a particular piece of art. Do you read “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou before every debate competition to give yourself a refill of confidence and motivation? Did Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood completely change the way you look at crime and punishment? Does “Life is a Highway” by Rascall Flatts always put you in a great mood? You should be careful to avoid self-aggrandizing or pandering choices. Don’t write about Crime and Punishment unless you genuinely picked it up of your own accord, read it from start to finish, and loved every second of it. Think not just of the most recent books you’ve read and songs you’ve listened to, but also of the old classics you can’t help rereading (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) or songs that never get old (“Wannabe” by the Spice Girls). When you give admissions insight into the art that makes you stop and think, gives you solace, or lifts your spirits, you can also reveal something new about your childhood, upbringing, or life experience.
This question closely resembles prompt 1 on the Common Application, which means it’s as close as you’ll get to a “topic of your choice” option on the BC supplement. This could be the perfect prompt for those of you who already have a few concepts in mind (a runner up personal statement topic, perhaps). Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person, and how has that made your perspective unique? What you focus on here can be cultural, familial, or even one sole experience that you feel has made a profound impact on the person you are today and will be on campus. What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at Boston College? Admissions is looking to add diverse perspectives to the melting pot that is their student body. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, cuisine, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? What distinguishes your story from those of others? It also can’t hurt to explore why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting. How will it help inspire and/or inform others? If you can find a meeting place for all of those threads, this prompt may be for you.
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.
Jesuits! Values! What is this, the Spanish Inquisition? Actually, it’s just a why essay. This prompt is a great option for applicants who have really specific reasons for their interest in BC — philosophical, academic, and beyond! It asks you to connect your interest in the school with your own personal beliefs or values. Maybe religion is a part of it: You have already benefited from a Jesuit high school education and you want to continue; or maybe you come from another tradition and want to connect more directly with a framework that connects faith and intellect. On the other (secular) hand, you could see moving to Boston as an opportunity to grow. Whether you already know exactly how your values connect with a BC education or need help fleshing it out, research will help. Spend some time on the school website and dig to the nitty gritty of the programs, offices, and traditions that interest you. At the end of the day, your goal is to cram your essay with as many specific details as possible. In doing so, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to the school AND paint a vivid picture that allows your reader to imagine exactly who you’ll be on campus.