Educational and Teen Advice

Many readers have requested a second column regarding college application essay questions. The following are exact questions used by Boston College on the 2012 application.

• St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, encouraged his followers to live their lives in the service of others. How do you plan to serve others in your future endeavors?

• From David McCullough’s recent commencement address at BC: “Facts alone are never enough. Facts rarely if ever have any soul. In writing or trying to understand history, one may have all manner of ‘data’ and miss the point. One can have all the facts and miss the truth. It can be like the old piano teacher’s lament to her student, “I hear all the notes, but I hear no music.” Tell us about a time you had all of the facts but missed the meaning.

• In his novel Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann writes: “We seldom know what we’re hearing when we hear something for the first time. But one thing is certain, we hear it as we will never hear it again. We return to the moment to experience it, I suppose, but we can never really find it, only its memory, the faintest imprint of what it really was, what it meant.”

Tell us about something you heard or experienced for the first time and how the years since have affected your perception of that moment.

• Boston College has a first-year convocation program that includes the reading and discussion of a common book that explores Jesuit ideals, community service and learning. If you were to select the book for your convocation, what would you choose and why?

I’m sure you will find these questions almost impossible to answer. Let me assure you that Boston College’s questions are typical of any good college. Perhaps now you can understand why I say every college application, including the essay, takes 10-25 hours.

Toby Rose is president of Toby Rose’s College Prep. She is an independent college counselor, was a Dade County Outstanding Teacher and served as chairperson of the Dade County School Board Academic Advisory Committee.

Rose may be contacted by calling 305-238-7737, by email at or via the Internet at

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