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How to Write the Boston College Supplement Essays

School Supplements

    Boston College, a very selective private Jesuit university located just outside Boston, doesn’t use admissions interviews, so the Boston College supplement essay is a great opportunity to show admissions readers who you are as a person. Most students will choose one out of four Boston College essay prompts to answer.  Please note: for the 2020-21 application season, a fifth prompt has been added for those applying to the Human-Centered Engineering program.

    Let’s look at how to pick the best prompt for you and how to make your personality shine through in your response!


    Great art evokes a sense of wonder. It nourishes the mind and spirit. Is there a particular song, poem, speech, or novel from which you have drawn insight or inspiration?

    Pick this prompt if: there’s a work of art that has been instrumental in making you who you are today. It might be something you go back to on a regular basis (for example, that song you just can’t go to sleep without listening to), or it might be something you read/heard/watched once that had a lasting effect on you (that mind-bending Doctor Who episode that changed your life three years ago). Try to convey a unique, surprising way that you’ve engaged with this work.


    When you choose a college, you will join a new community of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories. What is it about your background, your experiences, or your story, that will enrich Boston College’s community?

    Pick this prompt if: you have a formative experience or “life story” that you love to tell people about, especially if it highlights your interactions with others. Think about how these experiences have led to passions, interests, or skills of yours that you might share with others at BC.


    Boston College strives to provide an undergraduate learning experience emphasizing the liberal arts, quality teaching, personal formation, and engagement of critical issues. If you had the opportunity to create your own college course, what enduring question or contemporary problem would you address and why?

    Pick this prompt if: you’re someone who enjoys pondering big questions about modern society or human existence. Whether it’s something you’ve had personal experience with, or just something that captivates you, you’ll want to show clearly what the topic of your course says about you as a person. Don’t worry if it doesn’t sound super intellectual; if it fascinates you, it’s sure to fascinate others too! Brainstorm some creative course titles and pick the one you would want to take if you saw it in the BC catalog.


    Jesuit education considers the liberal arts a pathway to intellectual growth and character formation. What beliefs and values inform your decisions and actions today, and how will Boston College assist you in becoming a person who thinks and acts for the common good?

    Pick this prompt if: you have strongly held ethical ideas that guide your choices, or if you have a personal connection to the Catholic and/or Jesuit tradition. Rather than just stating your beliefs, show specific ways you’ve demonstrated these ideals. Then discuss specific aspects of BC (resources, courses, approaches) that will allow you to pursue these ideals even further. It always helps to research a school you’re writing an essay for, and this is especially true for this prompt!


    Student applying to the Human-Centered Engineering program, however, don't have to choose! They are required to answer the following prompt:

    For Human-Centered Engineering major applicants only: One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College strives to develop people who will integrate technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. How would a Boston College engineering education enable you to contribute towards these goals? 

    For tips, check out our guide to the Boston College engineering essay.


    Since you’ll submit your Boston College supplement essay in addition to your Common App personal statement, think about covering some different ground between the two essays. If you’ve concentrated on STEM subjects in the rest of your application, maybe go for a work of art here if there’s one that fits the bill. Or design a class that explores a non-STEM subject, or that connects a STEM topic to some interesting philosophical ideas or societal issues.

    Be clear, honest, and concise, so that you make the best use of these 400 words to showcase your character and personality! 

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