Boston College

Despite the name, Boston College is not actually in Boston. When you step off the train at the very last stop of the Boston local rail system, you find yourself across the street from BC which is is surrounded by the sleepy town of Chestnut Hill, a far-flung suburb of Boston. While students still have access to all the opportunities of the city via a 30 minute transit ride, they also get to enjoy the relatively calm community that envelops Boston College. Because the college is further away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it has been better able to develop and maintain a distinct campus culture, rooted in the Jesuit tradition, and relevant to the students of today. This blend of city and small town appeals to many people and is one of the many reasons why BC is so popular.


Another reason BC is so highly sought after is the Jesuit style of education that is its bread and butter. This educational focus has led the college to its status as a tier one research institute even while class sizes are kept small; an average class has around 20 students. BC has around 9400 undergrad students and a large population of graduate students. All students are required to complete core education credits which they can select from a large pool of options and, while they are required to enter into a specific school, they can hold off declaring a major within that school until the end of their sophomore year. BC does a good job of ensuring that students get through their required course work with 89% of students graduating in 4 years.

At Boston College you can expect many of the same educational opportunities that many colleges have including research, study abroad, and internships which all work together to help students graduate with the connections they need to secure employment.

Campus Life

Freshman year at Boston College is a bit different than some might expect. Despite the historic and charming campus being outside of Boston, BC struggles with having enough space to house all the students who choose to live on campus. Consequently, the freshman class is split with forty percent living on a secondary campus a few miles away. A continuous bus services runs during most of the day to allow for ease of access in both directions. Despite the split, students report good experiences on both campuses, and campus spirit is strong, but students should know that they might not end up living “on campus” their freshman year. The secondary campus is not part of the tour.

The culture at BC is strengthened by faith. Students at BC mostly share a Roman Catholic heritage with 70% claiming a Catholic background and 30% active in their Catholic faith. Students who are not Catholic or even Christian, however, report that they feel accepted and that they appreciate the educational focus that comes with being on a Jesuit campus.

The overall community culture is also strengthened by the complete lack of social Greek life. This forces students to make a wide range of friends across campus. Students who are looking for a traditional Greek experience should consider other colleges.


Boston College, like most other schools, boasts a “holistic admissions process”. They are currently test optional for the high school class of 2023, but they have not made decisions beyond that. Admissions representatives stress that students who score in the 33+ range on the ACT (or the equivalent SAT) should absolutely submit their test scores. BC is a fairly selective college, admitting only about one quarter of applicants. As with most schools that have early decision, applying early decision improves a student’s chance at acceptance and, since BC meets 100% of demonstrated need, can be a good choice. As always, students must be completely sure that BC is their number one choice before applying early decision.

If you have any questions about college admissions or about my trip to BC please let me know! I am always happy to help.

Michal Strawn

Co-Op? Internship? Work Study? What’s the Difference?

Many students plan on working in some capacity while they attend college. There are a number of different ways to make this work out: work study, co-ops, internships, off campus jobs. What is the benefit to working while in college, and what are the differences between all these different opportunities? Broadly, a co-op or internship is part of the student’s learning experience. It will be in their chosen field and will be part of their education. This is different from off campus or work study jobs which are ways that students can make money to help support themselves while in college. Let’s take a closer look at all four.

Off Campus Jobs:

These are the simplest to understand. An off-campus job is just that: a job. The employer is not affiliated with the college or university and the work does not count as part of the student’s education. This would be a normal full or part time job that a student finds for themselves to supplement their income. Many college students work in retail or in food service as well as in other industries. These jobs can have good pay rates, but because they are unaffiliated with the college or university, however, it can be difficult to find one that will work around the often hectic schedule of a student.

Work Study and On Campus Jobs:

Work study is a type of on campus job. Students can work in many capacities for the university at a set pay rate. The difference between work study and a regular on-campus job is simply where the funding comes from to pay the student. Work study funds are part of a student’s financial aid package and come from governmental institutions whereas a regular on campus job would see the student paid from a department’s budget or other pool of money on campus. These jobs will essentially look the same to the student- they just be careful if they aren’t approved for work study not to apply for jobs that are advertised as work study: there might not be funds to pay them!

On campus and work study jobs can be very varied. They might include working as a teaching assistant, manning a front desk, making copies, selling concessions, taking tickets at sporting events, helping the grounds crew, and a myriad of other opportunities. In the opinion of this author, the best jobs are the ones that are simple enough that a student can complete homework at work (working a desk), or in an area that can help a student build connections (working for a professor) but they all pay, so if a student needs supplemental income, any will do in a pinch.


Internships are generally off-campus “jobs” that are set up in conjunction with the college or university in order to help the student get real life work experience. Many (if not most) internships are unpaid, so students who need financial support should ensure that they are working at paid internships prior to starting. The primary goal of an internship is educational, not financial. An internship is a part time job in addition to a regular class load and is often actually part of a class. If a student is interested in an internship he or she should talk to a professor or career services about finding one. Internships can be a good way to get a foot in the door with a possible future employer.


A co-op is also a learning opportunity. Unlike internships, however, co-ops take the place of classes on campus for anywhere from a summer to a semester to a full year. Co-ops are full time work and as such should be paid opportunities. Different colleges may handle co-ops differently. Make sure you ask about tuition policies while in a co-op: some colleges will waive tuition for a co-op while others might not! Co-ops are great opportunities for hands on learning and financial support, however, because they take the places of classes, students need to make sure that a co-op will work with their graduation timeline. Academic advisors are great and assisting with such questions!

Regardless of which option they pick, students should plan to work in some capacity in college. Upon graduation, students who will be applying for jobs will find that any kind of work experience on their resume will give them an advantage of students who have no work experience at all.

If you have any questions please get in touch! We’re happy to help you better understand college working options.

Michal Strawn

Visiting Boston University

Located in Boston Massachusetts, just a few subway stops from the historic North End, and across the river from MIT, Boston University is well positioned for an involved urban experience. Boston University is a large, private, teaching and research university. Admission to BU is highly sought after by students from all over the nation, and application is simple with the common app, so their admission rate hovers around 20%.


Boston University does its best to have a flexible approach to academics. Students who apply undecided into one of BU’s ten schools will have two years to declare a major. BU focuses on hands on learning, with 40% of their student body studying abroad at some point and many more students taking part in internships and completing research during their time at BU. BU has a program which they describe as “our take on the liberal arts” in which students can pick from over 1000 classes to build what the university sees as six life skills. Outside of those classes and classes for their major, students are free to fill their electives however they choose.

BU does a decent job of getting students to graduation with 80-85% of students completing their degree in four years. BU has a 10:1 student to faculty ration and their average class size is about 27 students.

Campus Life:

Like most city colleges, BU lacks the charm of the traditional green quad and wide open spaces. It is a fairly compact campus that often appears to be just part of the neighborhood around it. This would appeal to students who want to live in a major city and still be on a college campus. The campus has a mix of historic and modern buildings which makes for an interesting campus feel. Students are required to live on campus for only their freshman year and many take the opportunity to move into the surrounding neighborhoods with friends once their first year is over.  There is a decent amount of Greek Life on campus with 20% of students taking part in Fraternities and Sororities, but students say there are plenty of social opportunities outside of the Greek system.


Applying to BU is fairly simple because BU uses the common app. While there are later deadlines for regular admission, admissions counselors at BU stress that students should have their applications done by December 1st for merit scholarship consideration. BU is test optional for at least one more year, so if you feel that your test scores do not reflect you, you can apply without them. In addition, BU will superscore any tests that you do submit. The best piece of advice given by the admissions officers is this “be specific when answering the essay question ‘why BU’”. Take your time on that supplemental essay. Don’t give a generic answer, don’t apply just for the relative prestige BU can offer. Have a good and specific reason why you want to be at BU in the fall.

Let us know if we can help you with that essay or with any part of your college application process- good luck!

Michal Strawn

I Got into Multiple Colleges: Now What?

It is that time of year again. College admission decisions are flying in and students are trying to figure out where they’ll be moving in the fall. Many students find themselves with several acceptances and struggle to make that final, crucial, decision. Even students who got into their dream college should sit down and think through their options prior to saying “yes”. We’ve compiled a list of some things for students to consider as they ponder their choices.

  1. Wait for financial aid packets:
    When students find out they’ve been accepted to the top school on their application list, the temptation is often to confirm attendance as quickly as possible. This is generally a poor decision. Students have until May 1st to respond and they should be patient and wait until they’ve heard from all their applicant schools and received financial aid info before committing to any one institution. It’s always a bad idea to buy something without looking at the price tag. Comparing the final out-of-pocket price and the amount of debt that students will incur for each college is a vital part of the decision process. Students should also remember that loans are real money. Just because you don’t have to pay right this minute, doesn’t mean that that particular school is a good deal! Financial aid awards can be drastically different at different institutions, so crunch the numbers.
  2. Consider plans after college:
    Students often see college as the end goal. They’ve been working toward college for so long that they tend to forget that college is just a stepping stone to a career. Many of those careers require additional schooling in the form of graduate programs. When selecting a college students should consider how the colleges may set them up for success in grad school or in a career. Financials are especially important for a student who is looking at an additional few years of schooling after college. If a student hopes to attend law school or med school, they should be careful not to deplete any cash resources they have just to get through undergrad. In addition, students might look for the school that has the best track record for helping its graduates gain admission into the grad program they are hoping to complete.
  3. Weigh program strengths and weaknesses:
    Students often choose their campus based on gut feeling or on a ranking list. The higher rank on the national list must be the best choice, right? Not always. The same college might be great for one student and terrible for another. Students need to consider which school will give them the best education. After all, that’s the reason they’re paying for college. While a school might be high up on a national ranking list, that doesn’t mean all of their majors are high ranking in and of themselves. Every school has programs that are stronger and others that are weaker. Consider program strength, not just overall college ranking. A school might be highly nationally ranked because they have world-class humanities programs which dominates the school, but if a student is studying chemistry, the humanities department is rather irrelevant.
  4. Imagine life on campus:
    This is number four for a reason. It’s the last thing that students should consider, but it should be considered nonetheless. Occasionally a college just isn’t right for a student. Students should be careful not to make the decision based on any minor issues: every college will have one or two minor issues. However, large issues that would lead a student to being uncomfortable or miserable for four years should eliminate that college from contention. Maybe they applied to the local large university as a backup, when really they would feel lost on the giant campus. Maybe they applied to a foreign school for fun when they can’t see themselves moving overseas. These are important considerations beyond just “the campus isn’t as pretty as I want” and should be taken seriously.

While there are other factors to consider, these big four will set you up to make the best decision you can. If you’re still struggling, ask for help from parents, or a college counselor. If you’d like to chat with one of our counselors about your options, we’d be happy to help!

Happy College Decision Season!

Michal Strawn

Ohio Wesleyan University

Ohio Wesleyan University 12-14-2021 Next on our college tour of Ohio is Ohio Wesleyan University. Located in the heart of Delaware, OWU has small town charm and, with Columbus right down the road, big city accessibility. Ohio has a lot of small, seemingly generic liberal arts universities, but, if you pay attention, each one has a slightly different flavor that can make it stand out from the crowd and be a good fit for some students.

Ohio Wesleyan University has a few things that give it its unique flavor. Academically, the standout feature is the OWU Connection which encourages students to think big, go global, and get real. Through this program, which is available to all students, students can get research funded, study abroad, and locate internships in their desired areas of study. The OWU connection works to take learning out of the classroom and actively engage students, which leads to success. OWU is also known for their business/management major as well as their biology program.

Campus Life
Beyond academics, OWUs campus life has a strong Greek life presence and Greek or interest specific housing. Many smaller universities are not able to offer Greek houses or interest specific housing to students, making OWU stand out from the crowd. OWU also has a strong showing of student athletes.

Students who want to make OWU their home for four years do need to put in some work. While the acceptance rate is 68 percent, students are expected to submit letters of recommendation along with their transcript and essay. Students with at least a B average in high school have the best chance at admission. OWU offers early admission. OWU is test optional, but of those who submit test scores, fifty percent are between 23 and 29.

Denison University: Close Community, Great Education

I had the pleasure of visiting Denison University during their finals week in December of 2021. My tour guide was a wonderful young lady named Daisy who showed me around campus and answered my endless questions about the University and the students there. Based on my conversations with Daisy and the information session prior to my tour, I feel that students who are high achieving go-getters looking for a tight community would be very comfortable at Denison.


Denison splits its academic requirements into thirds. One third of a student’s classes will be in liberal arts instruction. One third will be in their major. The final third are electives. This allows Denison’s students to create highly personalized curriculum. Each student takes a different path to graduation and can focus on what interests them the most. This is part of Denison’s commitment to focus on the individual student, not the aggregate. Students are encouraged to take control of their education and focus as much on experiential learning as on book work.

Campus and Community:

The campus has a strong community. All of the students live on campus for four years, making Denison quite close knit. The campus is nestled in the small town of Granville, Ohio, so students who want to escape the hustle and bustle of cities and suburbs will find it to be a pleasant retreat. Granville is only 30 minutes from downtown Columbus, and students are allowed to have cars on campus all four years, so should a student want to leave campus for food, shopping, or entertainment, they absolutely can. Mostly, though, the campus and Granville are self-contained, which strengthens the community feeling.  

In addition, Granville encourages students to find mentorship and promotes diversity. Most students on campus find a mentor in their time at Denison and participate in international experiences. These both bolster the in-class education received at Denison and contribute to the community feel.

The campus itself is very beautiful. Located on “the hill” the University owns far more land than it could ever use: somewhere in the area of 850 acres. A small portion of the campus holds the buildings and sports fields that I toured and that around 3,000 students call home. The rest is a nature preserve with walking paths and scientific research stations. Given that the campus is on a hill, students will get lots of exercise walking up and down the copious hilly sidewalks and abundant staircases that connect all the buildings.


Those students interested in Denison will want to make sure their application is in tip top shape. Denison only accepts around thirty percent of students who apply. The school is test optional and only about half of the students who are accepted submit test scores. The average ACT score of those students is around 30. Once accepted, the university does meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for their students, meaning Denison can be an affordable option. Applying students should get in touch with the financial aid office to discuss the particulars of their situation.

-Michal Strawn

College Consultant

Coming soon:

Ohio has over 60 colleges and universities which can make choosing where to apply an overwhelming decision. In an effort to provide the most up to date and reliable information to our students, members of the BWS team will soon be touring many Ohio colleges. We will be asking questions like, “what kind of student would succeed here?” and “what makes this institution stand out from those around it?” Those questions and more will be answered in our upcoming blog posts. Check back regularly as you create your college list to read about colleges and institutions that you might not have otherwise thought of. As always, if you need help with any part of the process, get in touch: we’re happy to help.

Thinking Strategically about Early Applications to College

Many students believe that when you apply early to a university, you must limit your application to a single college. When, you look more closely at the application requirements, you will find that you can apply more strategically. Highly selective schools in the United States–like Harvard, MIT, and Yale–have restrictive early action. For example, Harvard describes its Early Action program like this:

“If you apply to Harvard under our Restrictive Early Action program, you may also apply early to non-binding public or foreign colleges/universities (no Early Decision programs), but you may not apply early (in any form) to U.S. private colleges/universities.”

Note that the restriction applies only to U.S. private universities. So, where else could an ambitious student apply?

International Universities. Schools in Canada, like the University of Toronto or McGill, would be excellent candidates. Schools in the United Kingdom, like Oxford and Cambridge, could also be great possibilities. Given the weight that international schools put on academic qualifications, these schools could be good options for students whose academic qualifications are stellar but whose extracurricular qualifications are not as comparatively strong.

Elite State Universities in the United States. Schools like the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin would allow early applications that are non-binding.

So, instead of simply applying to one selective private school with an early application, you may want to also apply early to an international university or a couple of state universities. Doing so will likely ensure that you have more options for college admissions come December instead of having all of your eggs in one basket with a single elite private university.

Mini Blog FAQ: Why Do I Have to Take the ACT?

The ACT is a test that is currently used by colleges and universities across the United States to judge students’ college readiness. It is one of many criteria used by admissions officers to decide who will be admitted. It is also a graduation requirement in some states and school districts. The SAT is a similar test that is used in a similar way. Colleges and universities that require an admissions test will accept either the ACT or the SAT so students can choose which one is the better fit for their skills.

Read more on figuring out which test is a better fit for you.