College Road Trip to Boston: Boston College

Founded by the Jesuits in 1863, Boston College wears its religious affiliation and mission of serving others and promoting social justice with pride, immersing students in the Catholic intellectual tradition through service programs, retreats and interdisciplinary classes.

“Wherever you come from, you’re going to be challenged in some way, whether that be academically, spiritually or emotionally,” says Armani Mitchell, a junior applied psychology and human development major from the Bronx, New York, who as a sophomore spent 12 hours a week mentoring middle school students from low-income backgrounds. The experience was part of a popular two-semester joint philosophy and theology program called PULSE in which students combat social injustice by working with marginalized populations.

[Read: How Politics, Religion and Race Influence Campus Culture.]

While about 70% of BC’s undergrads identify as Catholic, students say professors don’t care what you believe, but they will expect you to think about why you believe what you do. More than 80% of students participate in service, and some classes include a service component.

The combination of a “do-good” mission, about 60 undergraduate majors and academic programs, and the opportunity to cheer on Division I sports teams creates a well-balanced place to spend four years, students say.

BC’s medium size ensures you’ll see plenty of familiar faces, while it’s still possible to “be anonymous” when you want to be, says Helen Fagan, a senior applied psychology and human development major from Wilmette, Illinois. She joined the McGillycuddy-Logue Fellows Program to pursue an interest in international social justice.

[READ: What Student Activism Means for College Admissions.]

Plus, you get a best-of-both-worlds location. BC’s campus is self-contained, full of green space and Gothic-style architecture, but it sits just six miles from the city center. Students often Uber or take the subway downtown for food, concerts or service work.

Everyone across all four undergraduate schools — arts and sciences, management, education and human development, and nursing — takes the same core curriculum, which requires two classes each in theology and philosophy along with courses in writing, natural and social sciences, history, cultural diversity, literature, arts and math.

A handful of popular team-taught classes offer first-years the chance to fulfill two core classes at once while exploring complex contemporary issues. Mitchell took a course on the rise of both the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements.

Distinctive interdisciplinary programs like Managing for Social Impact and the Public Good illustrate the school’s focus on teaching students to make the world a better place–an aspect that sold senior Nicole Kearney on pursuing business at BC. “I needed somewhere that was going to broaden my horizons,” says the Redding, Connecticut, native, who is pursuing majors in both marketing and the social impact option.

A variety of programs and grants offer undergraduates the opportunity to pursue research with faculty. Jian Zabalerio, a 2020 operations management grad from Morristown, New Jersey, participated in research into operational efficiency at Boston Children’s Hospital. She also held two summer internships at GE Healthcare. Nearly 90% of BC students complete an internship during school.

[Read Why Undergraduate Research Matters in College.]

BC has no Greek life, but students tend to get involved in clubs that they’re really passionate about, Fagan says. There are about 300 clubs and organizations on campus, including pre-professional groups and just-for-fun options like the slam poetry club.

Sports are a big draw. The Eagles compete in 31 Division I sports, and on football game days “the campus comes alive,” Kearney says. Hockey games are popular, too.

One favorite tradition: “packing the T,” where BC students fill the train cars en route to The Beanpot, an annual ice hockey tournament at TD Garden — about 45 minutes from campus by train — so that fans from Boston University and Northeastern University farther down the line can’t get on.

More From the College Road Trip to Boston:

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This story is excerpted from the U.S. News “Best Colleges 2021” guidebook, which features in-depth articles, rankings and data.

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