Boston College’s Jesuit roots date back as early as the 1820s. However, it took the school more than three decades for its charter to be be officially approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
As reported by Madeline Kelty ’08: “In 1863, members of the Society of Jesus started Boston College with three teachers and twenty-two students. Now with over 9,000 undergraduates, Boston College has never lost sight of its Jesuit and liberal arts roots.”
BC was originally placed in Boston’s South End; however, in the early part of the 20th century, Boston College’s president, Thomas I. Gasson, decided to relocate the college to Chestnut Hill, six miles outside of Boston. The project put the school in debt for decades until J. Donald Monan took the title of president in 1972. Today the university has an endowment of more than $1 billion and its campus is still expanding.
Boston College’s Gothic architecture resembles that of Oxford University. Its 175-acre campus sits atop a hill and is affectionately known as “the Heights.” Aside from boasting more than 100 buildings, the campus has three gardens and numerous fields in which students can partake in leisure activities.
For most students at Boston College, there’s no debate as to where to get together to chat with a friend. Located at the bottom of the ‘Million Dollar Stairs,’ Hillside Café provides the perfect atmosphere for a casual conversation. One of the café’s most appealing features is its Starbucks coffee bar. Hillside also offers freshly-pressed gourmet panini sandwiches. Its location on Lower Campus makes it a frequent destination for upperclassmen and a place to which underclassmen are willing to travel. A similar gathering area is Eagles’ Nest on Middle Campus. Known for its specialty sandwiches, Eagles’ Nest offers an escape from the average dining hall food. Because of its location, Eagles’ Nest is a favorite among underclassmen.
BC undergrads also speak highly of the second floor of the lower dining hall, officially known as Corcoran Commons. While most students there are ‘attempting’ to do work, it is often a place for socializing. What may start as a group project most often turns into a prolonged gathering. Offering a large number of tables and booths, it has a lot of space but provides more privacy than a regular dining hall.
At the beginning and end of the school year, when the weather is pleasant, you’ll find a large number of students gathered in the quad, located at the heart of middle campus in between the four main academic buildings. Almost every student will pass through the quad at some point during the day, many of whom will stop to chat or rest on one of the many benches. But for most undergrads, these locations are just a pit stop on the way to the spot where they’ll spend most of their time: their common rooms. After freshman year, most students have the privilege of sharing a common area in a suite. With this comes the freedom to have friends over without the awkward ‘where to sit’ moment. Common rooms become libraries, dance floors, counseling rooms, and just plain TV rooms. Most students discover sophomore year what a difference a common makes in campus life at Boston College.
For most prospective students, BC’s Boston backdrop is one of the school’s most irresistible draws.
BC really is in a prime location. Students are just a short subway or trolley ride away from all that the city of Boston has to offer. The campus itself is spread out over parts of Brighton, which caters to college students, and Newton, an upscale community that has been recognized as one of the safest places to live in the country. Because of BC’s Jesuit roots, many students are involved in community service activities throughout Boston. From homeless shelters to children’s after school programs, students have an unlimited number of opportunities to make a difference. And for nightlife and culture, bars located between BC and Boston University are a popular choice. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Theater District also serve as great cultural destinations for the creative soul.
Owing to Boston’s abundance of colleges, students are able to get that college town feel in a metropolitan area. There are a plethora of bars for the over-21 crowd, and from the Prudential Center to Faneuil Hall there are tons of shopping opportunities for students in Beantown.
Boston College’s traditions range from the fanatical to the obscene, as reported by Stacey Small ’08:
“Every time BC football plays Notre Dame in South Bend, it’s customary for seniors to pack their bags, squish into an overcrowded RV, and road trip it to Indiana for the big day. Despite the 16-hour drive each way, this is perhaps one of the oldest standing traditions at BC.
There is one modular apartment on campus that has been designated ‘the strip mod.’ If you are a resident of this six-person facility, it is your unwritten duty to perform for the student body during finals week each semester. Somehow, this mod typically accommodates males who willingly choose to live there during the housing selection process. They almost always live up to the tradition, dazzling the crowd with some choreographed moves at midnight. And yes, ‘Full Monty’ sightings have occurred.
One of the things that distinguishes BC from some other schools is that its dining halls tend to stay open late. On the weekends, students can often be found grabbing ‘late night.’ This usually consists of some form of fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, and/or French fries. Also popular: Che Che’s, a little one-man sausage stand that pops up in the campus parking lots, happily serving students who may not care to know what type of meat is actually in that bun.”
Doug Flutie (1985) played quarterback in the NFL and the CFL and won the 1984 Heisman Trophy.
Joseph L. Gormley (1937, MS 1939) is known as father of modern forensic science.
Elisabeth Filarski Hasselbeck (1999) is co-host of The View on ABC.
Matt Hasselbeck (1997) is an NFL quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.
John Kerry (J.D. 1976) is a US Senator and 2004 Democratic candidate for president.
Brian Leetch (attended) was twice awarded the Norris Trophy after being voted the league’s best defenseman.
John McLaughlin (M.A. 1961) is the host of The McLaughlin Group on PBS.
Leonard Nimoy (1952) is an actor and photographer best known for his role as Spock on the original Start Trek television series.
William Henry Cardinal O'Connell (1881) was the first leader of the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Boston to be named a Cardinal.
Chris O'Donnell (1992) is an actor who has appeared in films including Batman & Robin and Kinsey.
Tip O’Neill (1936) was Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1977 to 1987.
Amy Poehler (1993) is an actress, comedian, and Saturday Night Live cast member.
Bob Ryan (1968) is a longtime sports columnist for the Boston Globe.
Matt Ryan (2008) is an NFL quarterback.
Aleksandar Totic (1988) is a cofounder and former partner of Netscape.
Boston College’s Division I athletic programs and fanatical fans are known nationwide, and its football and men’s hockey squads are consistently among the best in the nation.
The men’s hockey team won the NCAA National Championship in 2008, defeating Notre Dame to take home the title. The school’s rich hockey history includes former NHL All-Star defenseman Brian Leetch and current All-Star and Olympian Brian Gionta.
On the gridiron the Eagles are often ranked at the top of the pack. BC students and alumni gather before home games to tailgate and cheer their team on to victory. In 1984, quarterback Doug Flutie completed a last-minute, game-winning Hail Mary pass against the national champion Miami Hurricanes, a play that is now known as one of the greatest moments in college football history.
BC’s men’s basketball team has also been a standout in recent years. The team reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2006 and is perennially in the hunt for the top spot in the Big East.
Check out these articles to learn more about athletics at BC:
The Ultimate Club Sport at BC
BC Sports: Ten things freshmen should know
We Are BC: A look at BC Football
The Boston College fight song ‘For Boston’ has been remade and recorded by Boston locals the Dropkick Murphys.
Many celebrities who run the Boston Marathon often stop at BC to high-five fans and students.
Boston College has more than 30 dormitories, and as is the case at any college, some dorms are much more luxurious than others.
At BC, the dormitories are split into three separate locations: Upper Campus, Lower Campus, and the Newton Campus. Students are divided by class year. Newton Campus is located just a short bus ride away from Main Campus, offering six residence halls, a dining hall, chapel, workout facility, library, post office, and varsity soccer field. Newton Campus is a residential area for freshmen only (the only classes on Newton are for Boston College Law School). This campus is known for the strong sense of community fostered among its residents, who amount to 40% of the freshman class (around 800 students). Many incoming freshmen find it easier to meet new people on Newton. Freshman dorms on Newton Campus are slightly larger than those found on Upper, the other residential area for freshmen.
The other 60% of freshmen at BC live on Upper Campus. With nearly twice as many students as Newton, Upper Campus is often preferred by freshmen because the location is generally more convenient – students don’t need to take a bus to class, so they have more freedom to go back to their dorms in between classes. Upper Campus is also home to housing for the Shaw Leadership Program and some Honors students. Rising sophomores who receive a low pick in the lottery may find themselves living on Upper Campus.
Students who survive their first year at BC are usually rewarded with a much nicer living arrangement. Lower Campus is home to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Typically, sophomores live in Walsh Hall in eight-person suites. Edmonds houses sophomores, juniors, and seniors, typically in four-person suites. Gabelli and Voute are usually reserved for seniors, and offer both Romance language floors and quieter arrangements in suites of four. Rubenstein and Ignacio also hold seniors in suites of six. ‘The Gate’ is one of BC’s newest residence halls, housing both juniors and seniors in extremely clean, almost lavish accommodations. Most seniors, though, go for the ‘Mods,’ seventies-style modular apartments that were built to be temporary structures over thirty years ago. The Mods are their own little gated community at the heart of Lower Campus, and each apartment has a downstairs living area, dining room, and kitchen, with three double bedrooms up top. During football season, students are usually found tailgating on the lawns, which have barbeques and ample room for tossing around a ball.