ROAD TRIP! Second Stop – The City of Boston, the Greatest College Town of Them All

Tuesday was a travel day — from Schenectady to Boston – which is two hours by car if Jill’s driving, or about 2-1/2 hours for everyone else. Boston is truly the standard by which all other college towns are to be measured. And though I’m admittedly a tad biased (city of my birth, my own college town and where I met my wife), it’s hard to debate the city’s collegiate creds. During the school year you’ll find yourself surrounded by more than 250,000 students from dozens of schools, living, studying and hanging out in this historic, dynamic and cosmopolitan city. It is almost impossible to get bored in Boston, and if you are a college student, you will feel right in your element. And if you’re the parent of one, you’ll be in yours as well.

During our stay we visited extensively with three colleges — Boston College, Brandeis University and Tufts University. All three are located within a few miles of the ‘city’ in bucolic, suburban settings.

First up was Boston College. BC is beautiful and brimming with activity, and the Admissions office was jammed packed with visitors all day long, and from all over the country. Summertime construction can be seen and heard throughout the campus, which is a gorgeous collection of gothic buildings, colorful stained glass, scenic quads with lush, grassy fields, and state-of-the-art athletic facilities, all within 15 minutes from downtown Boston. Our first assumption, which was confirmed in our meeting with Sr. Asst. Director of Admissions Danielle Wells, is that there is no geographical advantage in applying to BC as there might be at Union College. BC is equally competitive from everywhere.

BC is among the more popular collegiate destinations combining reputable academics with nationally recognized athletics. Our hosts were quite proud of their recent NCAA Division I Frozen Four Championship, their 3rd in the past five years. If you’re not a hockey fan as an entering freshman, you will be by the time the season begins late in the fall term. Athletics remain an important part of the BC campus culture, either as spectator or participant (50% of BC students participate in either intramural or club sports).

While BC is a proud Jesuit institution, being Catholic is certainly not a requirement for admission and people of all faiths are welcome there. Case in point: we met with Alan Lipchin, a Jewish student who is also a tour guide, who gave us great insight on what it’s like being Jewish on a predominantly Catholic campus. BC has a thriving Hillel, serving the cultural and spiritual needs of the school’s 200 Jewish students.

Financially-speaking, parents should not be deterred by the school’s sticker price. BC’s admission process is 100% need-blind, and the school offers very generous financial aid packages to accepted applicants with demonstrated need. And although the school’s primary discounting instrument is through need-based financial aid. BC does offer full-tuition merit scholarships to a very select group of its incoming freshmen (about 15 total). You can’t apply for it, but you can be invited by the school to interview for this prestigious and valuable award. And if you are truly an exceptional candidate with ‘Ivy League’ grades and scores, or you’ve started your own nonprofit or discovered a planet — you just might qualify.

BC is a highly prestigious institution, and if you’re the type of student who always dreamed of big football Saturdays and still want the benefit of personal attention and small classes, and you have the grades/scores to qualify, this could be a very affordable option, perhaps less expensive than a state university, with so much more to offer.

I was going to discuss Brandeis and Tufts in this column as well, but this is probably too long already, so I’ll save those schools for next week. By the way, if you’re confused about how a private university like BC with a $50,000 price tag school can cost you the same or less than a public school with a much smaller price tag, I’ll be explaining exactly how the economic laws of collegiate supply and demand work to create this type of price elasticity at my workshop later this month. In the interim, if you have questions, please feel free to reply to this email with them and I’ll do my best to reply in a timely fashion… I’m still on the road (heading West today – and Jill will most definitely NOT be driving).

Dedicated to Making Your Child’s College Dreams AFFORDABLE,

Peter

P.S. Please feel free to share this blog to anyone with college-bound kids. They’ll thank you for it.

P.P.S. Many thanks to Chris M, a BC Junior (and College Pete alum) and Meryl S., a Brandeis grad (and big sister to a Brandeis senior and College Pete alum) for the ‘good-eats’ recommendations!

P.P.P.S. The local folk in Boston are a bit peeved about Ray Allen taking his talents to South Beach. I’m wearing my Miami Heat t-shirt today just to be a bother.

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