What Admissions Officers REALLY Look For (Ft. Boston College Admissions Officer)


Olivia Kaspari

Sites on the Boston College Campus

Olivia Kaspari

September through January is always a tough time for seniors. Trying to balance completing school work, participating in extracurriculars, college applications, and other things like jobs make having the time to see friends and family very difficult. In order to simplify things for seniors, let’s need to take a look at what really matters in an admissions officers eyes while reviewing applications. 

After interviewing Christopher O’Brien, the college admissions officer for Boston College, I found that every college varies in what they look for in applicants, but there is a continuous emphasis on the importance of grades, school involvement, and application essays. 

 I asked Christopher whether grades really mattered in correlation with extracurriculars, and he stated that while grades show academic strengths, his school equally looks at extracurriculars to get a glimpse into who applicants really are as a person. “We’re looking for lifelong learners, students that model representation and students that are engaged and active in high school”. I asked him to elaborate on this, and he gave me the example of participation in school events; showing up to football games dressed up to the theme, and dressing up during spirit week– those are the kinds of students that schools avidly look for. 

Boston College specifically looks for students who are able to excel inside and outside of the classroom; so while having a 4.0 is nice, colleges would rather take someone with a 3.6 that’s very involved in their community over someone who isn’t involved yet, has a perfect transcript. 

However, grades and extracurriculars aren’t the only things a part of the college application process, college essays are also a huge decision factor that can show the admissions officer if you’re the right fit for their school. I asked Christopher what the most memorable college essay he had read was, and it was a lot more simple than students typically think college essays have to be. He said “keep your essays simple”, as the most memorable essay he had read was about a boy who became a soccer referee. While the concept of this essay was simple, the thing that made it memorable was the boy’s ability to write about how this experience changed him. 

High school students may think they have to write about some big, traumatic event that completely changed the course of their life, but having a simple idea and turning it into something more abstract that relates to either change or growth in a student’s life is what makes essays memorable to admissions officers. 

Inside of the Boston College Bapst Library (Olivia Kaspari)

Christopher had also said that schools don’t pit it against you or look at you differently if you decide not to submit your test scores, which is good for those who have test anxiety or believe they didn’t perform well on the SAT or ACT. Schools are starting to believe that the ACT and SAT aren’t a good representation of the type of student you are, so they will likely continue to be test optional unless proven otherwise in the future. 

Overall, college applications are stressful, but make sure to take the time to review your college application essay and ask for a peer, teacher, or family member to look it over for you. Make sure to maintain or attempt to improve your grades to reflect how you are academically, and also make sure to focus on your involvement in school activities and also within your community as well. Good luck in the application process seniors!