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Boston College

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Date: Aug 09 2004
Major: English (This Major's Salary over time)
I am a graduate student at Georgetown University living in Henle Village and enrolled in joint degree studies at Walsh School of Foreign Service and Georgetown Law.

My undergraduate years at Boston College went extremely fast (graduated in three years). Now that I'm in grad school, I only wish I had enjoyed and appreciated the tremendous physical surroundings of Boston College and taken greater advantage of a truly remarkable historic city. I rushed through my experience and was focused primarily on acceptance to grad school from day one. With a year's distance from my undergrad days, I regret not taking full advantage of what was right there at my fingertips.

Boston College is supremely beautiful in comparison to Georgetown (on so many levels great and small). One being the peace and serenity of Chestnut Hill—a New England gem of a place. Georgetown is dead center in an extremely busy, heavily trafficked, and densely populated area of D.C.. And, at times, a none too safe area to boot.

Georgetown is perfectly suited for my line of studies—foreign service—but is sub-par to Boston College in liberal arts studies. I've taken several electives outside of my core requirements at Georgetown and felt the classes were solid but not outstanding. I feel the English Department at Boston College was excellent; as were my many classes in History and Ancient Studies. BC, in my opinion, has a stronger liberal arts program. BC, overall, leans in the direction and feel of a liberal arts college in opposition to Georgetown's feel of a political machine. If you want politics, I highly recommend attending Georgetown. For the sciences and math, business, and liberal arts, ovrerall I highly recommend BC. The Carroll School of Management at BC is an excellent (and underrated) undergrad business school. Several of my friends from BC (who were bio majors) are excellent, top-ranked students at Georgetown Med. BC's also a great feeder school for the med school at Georgetown.

My advice to potential applicants to BC is to take a long day of simply lolling and putzing around the campus during an academic session. I was fortunate to spend several weekdays at BC when I was in high school. My time there sold me on the campus. And campus can be enormously important if you're, like me, influenced by environment. There's nothing like strolling across campus, books in hand, when the New England foliage is out in full and the air is crisp and wintery. Beautifully collegiate. An experience exclusively found at New England-based schools.

The only other school I would have considered over BC was Dartmouth. Dartmouth is an academic powerhouse with excellent concentration on undergrad development. I definitely had the stats to get in but I did not consider applying because of its location in New Hampshire. I wanted to be close enough to take advantage of a major city (while not being dead center in the city, like Georgetown or Columbia). That's not a strong enough reason in my mind now to choose BC over Dartmouth but at the time the extremely removed rural atmosphere of Dartmouth was daunting. It was so easy to fly into Boston or to take the train from New York (where I hail from).

I came to BC from a prestigious prep school in New York and though I was raised Catholic I am of a spiritual (Buddhist-influenced) nature rather than of a religious mindset. BC was in no way overly religious. It does not have the same Catholic influence of a Notre Dame. In fact, Jesuit perspective adds an air of academic intrigue to the BC curriculum but in no means permeates or overwhelms the atmosphere. BC is a secular university in many regards and fashion, in the same way Georgetown, another Jesuit university, has evolved. The two schools are similiar in that regard.

A note on Boston College and Boston University: There is absolutely no comparison on any level between these two universities save for the fact that both reside in the Boston area and both maintain outstanding college hockey teams. End of discussion. Some of the blogs I've read are absolutely ridiculous and unfair to high school students seeking to make an informed decision. And that's what these sites are for—for all of you who need some assistance in making an informed decision. Not a place to air school contests and rivalries. Don't take my word on this topic—research it. The information is out there and available. Boston University has absolutely no campus to speak of and within academic circles (such as the ones I'm involved in at Georgetown at Walsh and the Law Center) the disparity between the two universities on an academic scale is glaring. Boston College is now nationally reknowned for academics in many key departments of study. This helps for graduate school acceptance. If there is any confusion as to campus offerings, visit the schools. BU has no centralized campus, no place for students to congregate in a collegial atmosphere. And isn't that a great deal of what the college experience is all about? The students who attend Boston College are of a much higher academic standing and caliber than those of BU. And this makes a great difference both in the classroom and in the dormroom—possibly the two most important places where learning is shared at any given university. No knock on BU. There are great students there. But overall, Boston College students are of a more pronounced and distinguished academic caliber. Probably because the BC student body is mostly comprised of highly competitive students rejected by the top Ivies. And as much as BC students/alumni would bristle at the mention of rejection by Ivy League institutions there's truth in this statement.

I'm not a drinker; not by any means. And I was not a huge sports fan. But BC's diverse offerings for spectator sports made for great evenings. I had many of my friends from Harvard and BU over to BC for Hockey games at Conte Forum. And, likewise, I attended games at their universities. I think that's one of the many things that makes BC a great university—it's close proximity to other academically prestigious universities and the offerings of shared research resources. To be able to take credited courses at Harvard is definitely a boon. At the very least, you have a great opportunity to extend your circle of friends outside of your own university.

I'm super academically oriented and by the end of my first semester found my own niche at BC. There were a solid number of excellent, highly-driven students. The atmosphere at Georgetown is very similiar in the sense of academic competition. But, at Georgetown, there seems to be a not acutely friendly or benevolently spirited edge to the competition. Competition's more individualistic; a bit more catty. The undergrads I'm friends with at Georgetown are much more stand alone and approach success with a politician-type drive. More "politco" in manner and drive and less academically inquisitive (in the way the students I associated with at BC were) in their approach to learning. But I'm no longer an undergrad, so I'm limited in my opinion of Georgetown undergrads.

The grass can always be greener. I had a good friend at Harvard who envied the social life and comraderie I had at BC and lamented his lack of social life at Harvard. I, on the other hand, envied the Harvard history and pedigree of academic circles he had complete access to as a member of the university. So, each to their own.

You can have a great experience anywhere in life. It's all about attitude. If you enjoy beautiful surroundings and excellent professors, BC is a clear winner. Few, if any, schools offer the diversity of the university (prime location; academic excellence; undergraduate-focused professors; liberal arts college feel; outstanding research resources; sports and alumni connectivity). Boston College does not enjoy the same stature and academic pedigree as many of the Ivies. But it is a unique and outstanding university in its own right, one all its own, and it can be pretty terrific from any angle.

Best to all! Great success! Cheers!

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