Arthur Christory / Gavel Media

Turning the Tables: Evaluating Niche.com's BC Rankings

Co-written by Devyn Casey and Molly Caballero 

During a time of virtual college tours, first-year applicants and transfer students are seeking every online resource possible to learn about potential college and university options. Niche.com, a website that assigns colleges a grade based on 12 criteria, is one of these widely used resources. Boston College’s grade reflects many incoming high school student's transcripts: A+. While some of Niche.com’s assessments are less disputable, such as an A+ for academics and athletics and an A for location and professors, others are more arguable, such as diversity, safety, dorms, and student life. 

Diversity, Niche grades A, we grade B-

When reflecting on student body diversity, BC falls short in terms of racial diversity. When polling 10 BC freshmen, this population viewed racial diversity as "inadequate," and "lacking." The diversity statistics for minority groups are provided in the BC 2020-2021 Factbook. The lack of racial diversity is reflected in the proportion of students who identify as white: 65.7%. While just over half of the students may not seem like a drastic white majority, the significance is more apparent when compared to the 4.7% of the student body who identify as Black.    

BC’s diversity also lacks within the individual schools, particularly regarding gender ratios. While the gender makeup of students in MCAS is relatively equal regarding students who identify as male or female, LSOEHD and CSOM consist of an unbalanced gender ratio. Of the 580 total undergraduate students in LSOEHD, 497 students identify as female, and 83 identify as male. The gender trend is reversed for CSOM students, with 1,527 students who identify as male and 744 who identify as female. This male majority impacts the experience of female students. Jasmine Zhang, CSOM '24, talks about the “glass ceiling,” a metaphor used to describe the difficulties minorities and women face to succeed in an area of work dominated by a majority group. Jasmine states, “there are stereotypes against women in CSOM, where they are expected to have secretary roles rather than higher-up positions. I feel that people may make assumptions about my future profession without knowing my capabilities, just because of my identity.” The Factbook neglects to mention students with gender identities other than male or female. 

Despite BC’s lack of racial and gender diversity, their diversity grade does not fall below a B- due to the range of areas across the country students come from and the measures Boston College is taking to increase diversity. In BC’s class of 2022 and 2023, 45 states were represented. Despite the pandemic causing more students to take a gap year,  and, this number remained fairly consistent for the class of 2024, with 44 states represented by the student body. Additionally, BC is making efforts to increase the socioeconomic diversity of students, as seen in their acceptance of the invitation to join Questbridge, “a highly respected non-profit that helps high-achieving, low-income students gain admission and scholarships to top-ranked colleges and universities.” This has brought more low-income students from across the country to BC, with 50 students joining the class of 2025 during the ED process. 

Safety, Niche grades B+, we grade B-:

While the Boston College website states, “Boston College is a very safe and secure campus and community,” not everyone has the luxury of feeling safe on campus. We have low fire and burglary rates, yet students of minority groups speak out about racist incidents that have made them feel as though “the heights were never our home” on the @BlackatBostonCollege Instagram. Boston College Annual Campus Security & Fire Safety Report documents one hate crime in 2016 and five in 2017. As racist acts continue year after year with little repercussions for perpetrators, more action is necessary; until more students feel safe on campus, BC’s safety grade is not deserving of a B+.

Dorms, Niche grades C+, we grade A-:

Unlike the majority of universities, Boston College has a housing setup that allows students to experience many different types of living styles. As a freshman, you are in traditional housing with hall bathrooms and in singles to quads. As a sophomore however, you have the choice to live in rooms with up to 9 people in suites or remain in traditional housing. As a junior, many students live off campus, either due to having only three years of guaranteed housing or just wanting to, in either houses or apartments. As a senior, over 90% of students choose to come back and live in apartment style housing on-campus or in the ever-coveted Mods. 

This variety of housing allows students to experience a wide variety of living styles and ensures that they never get bored (unless you move from Newton to CoRo). The primary drawback to housing at Boston College is that due to the variety of housing styles, some groups will be left scrambling to put together groups at the last minute when they don't, for example, get the eight-man they planned for. This aspect of housing tends to create unnecessary divides between friend groups and leaves some members behind to fend for themselves. Housing is also needlessly complicated and often requires large jumps or reductions in housing groups which can be hard to figure out. 

For these reasons, BC housing earns an A-, as despite the tumultuous housing process, the dorms themselves have nice facilities and have enough variety that allows for just about everyone to thrive. 

Student Life, Niche grades A+, we grade B+:

Student life is an essential consideration when picking a university, the only problem is that this concept isn’t something that a grade can adequately describe or something that would be the same for everyone. The satisfaction that students have with the student life here varies vastly between people's own experiences. Some considerations that fall under student life however are clubs and activities, student-centered organizations and the competitive/collaborative nature. 

One thing Boston College excels at is fostering a great number of clubs and having lots of events, the majority of which are organized by CAB, UGBC or the AHANA Intercultural Center, for students to have fun at and not have to worry about money. Some events that students can attend are lunches (often focused on a specific nation or region) hosted by the BAIC and paint nights or outdoor activities hosted by CAB. These activities have been especially important this year as social outlets have been severely limited due to COVID-19. 

Clubs at BC are a sort of double-edged sword. While there are over 300 student organizations that range from cultural organizations to service to performing arts, a large number of these clubs require auditions or applications and reject a sizable number of applicants. Despite the selectivity of some clubs, it is very possible for everyone to be involved as there are many clubs that don't require an application and clubs that match virtually any set of interests. Campus Recreation also has opportunities for students to socialize and stay active through the intramural sports program (which has around 40 sports in total, both in-person and e-sports). These intramurals are incredibly fun and winning the tournament gets you a big mug and a t-shirt (and most importantly bragging rights).

Along with activities and clubs, there are many organizations on campus that help to support and welcome students. Campus resources such as Montserrat, the AHANA and Intercultural Center, and the many types of retreats offered by campus ministry or student organizations enrich campus life greatly. The Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center hosts conferences, dinners and has support groups to help the students of color that come to BC. This center also is a great resource for AHANA+ students to find job, internship and volunteer opportunities. The Montserrat program serves those at BC who have the “highest level of financial need.” This program provides reduced or free charges for sports games and certain activities on campus and in Boston. It also provides assistance to students who cannot afford jackets or books by having a textbook service and doing jacket shopping trips for students from warmer climates. Boston College boasts lots of retreats catered to groups on campus such as first year students, LGBTQ+ students and women. These retreats are great for making new friends, reflecting on your identity, and getting in touch with your spirituality (if applicable).

Another consideration when it comes to student life is the competitive nature of the students. This factor varies greatly by what major and school you attend. CSOM is notorious for having a toxic competitive nature about grades. Isabella Decurtis, CSOM ‘24, explains, “CSOM has less competition between peoples grades, but is really competitive about jobs and internships.” Isabella also said that in her experience, “Everyone pretends that they have their life figured out, but in reality no one really does.” This sentiment extends beyond the business school at BC. Just like most universities, BC has competitive students, but this is countered by many classes that have group work, reflections, and discussion sections that are focused on social impact and collaboration rather than grades.

While student life is a highly subjective category, a B+ seems fitting as the clubs and student organizations span just about every interest. The main drawbacks in this category are the lack of a full LGBTQ+ resource center and the somewhat toxic competitive culture apparent in certain communities on campus. 

What one word or phrase best describes the typical student at this school?

According to a poll conducted on Niche, 42% of students would describe BC students as “Hardworking, Beautiful, Fit, Preppy, Driven.” Many students feel this statement aligns with their views on the typical BC student, however, not all students view BC students with completely positive adjectives. One student, CSOM ‘24, would describe a typical BC student as “hardworking, privileged, daddy's money, well rounded, and motivated.”  While the words “hardworking'' and “motivated” align with Niches pollsters' views, the ones portraying "privileged" view BC students from a different lens. 

Another student, Jasmine Zhang, CSOM ‘24, describes the typical BC student as “work hard play hard.” Jasmine states “To get here, BC students have to have managed a lot of academic vigor. However, BC students value life beyond work, and most have fun on the weekends.” Jasmine’s statement is similar to some of the student testimonies on Niche, which describe students as hardworking. 

The A+ given to Boston College on Niche's website adequately reflects the stellar academic culture and driven students. However, some of the categories need revision to best reflect BC’s environment. In determining a grade for each category on the website, Niche uses up-to-date information produced by BC. Students can act to inform potential BC applicants by leaving comments on the Boston College Niche website. Check it out here

 

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