Boston College vs Grinnell: A Look at Their Differences and Similarities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a father helping her daughter to make recommendation letter

Boston College vs Grinnell: A Look at Their Differences and Similarities

Are you a high school senior trying to decide between Boston College and Grinnell? In this article, we’ll compare Boston College vs Grinnell based on various criteria to help you make an informed decision as to which is right for you.

Location and Campus Setting: Boston College vs Grinnell

The first consideration when choosing a college is often its location. Boston College is located in Chestnut Hill, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Grinnell College, on the other hand, is situated in Grinnell, Iowa, a small town in the Midwestern United States. Boston College’s location offers easy access to a major city, with all the benefits that come with it, while Grinnell’s location offers a more peaceful, rural setting.

As for the campuses, Boston College features a mixture of Gothic and contemporary buildings spread over 338 acres of land while Grinnell’s campus occupies 120 acres featuring 60 major buildings. Both colleges offer stunning campuses, with Boston College’s boasting more traditional architecture and Grinnell’s featuring more modern structures.

Boston College signage hanging off a pole

Another factor to consider when comparing Boston College and Grinnell College is the climate. Boston College experiences all four seasons, with hot summers and cold winters, while Grinnell College has a more temperate climate with mild summers and winters. This may be an important consideration for students who have a preference for certain weather conditions.

Additionally, both colleges offer a variety of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in. Boston College has over 200 student organizations, including clubs for sports, music, and community service. Grinnell College also has a diverse range of student organizations, with a focus on social justice and activism. Both colleges offer opportunities for students to explore their interests and passions outside of the classroom.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Boston College and Grinnell College both offer a wide range of academic programs and majors. Boston College provides undergraduate programs in both Arts and Science. The latter has divisions in Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities.

Grinnell College has more than 30 majors, including popular programs such as Economics, English, and Psychology, ranging from the fine arts to the natural sciences. Whether you are interested in humanities fields, social sciences, STEM, or pre-professional programs, both colleges offer a wide range of academic programs.

Aside from the traditional academic programs, Boston College also offers interdisciplinary programs such as Environmental Studies, Islamic Civilization and Societies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. These programs allow students to explore different fields of study and gain a broader perspective on various issues.

On the other hand, Grinnell College has a unique program called the Individualized Major Program, which allows students to design their own major based on their interests and career goals. This program provides students with the flexibility to create a personalized curriculum that aligns with their passions and aspirations.

Admission Process and Acceptance Rates: Boston College vs Grinnell

The admissions process can be a stressful one, and one of the essential factors to consider when choosing between Boston College and Grinnell is the acceptance rate. Boston College admits about 19 percent of its applicants, while Grinnell admits 11 percent of its applicants, making both colleges highly selective. When applying to either college, it is essential to present your best self, demonstrating academic merit, extracurricular activities, and more.

unidentified person filling out a scholarship form

However, it is important to note that acceptance rates are not the only factor to consider when choosing a college. Other factors such as location, campus culture, available majors, and financial aid options should also be taken into account. It is recommended that you visit both campuses, speak with current students and faculty, and research thoroughly before making a decision.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities: Boston College vs Grinnell

Student life and extracurricular activities are just as important as academics when it comes to college life. Both Boston College and Grinnell College offer an array of social and extracurricular activities to their students. Boston College is home to more than 300 student organizations that cater to a range of interests, including service organizations, professional clubs, and political groups. Grinnell College, similarly, offers its students more than 150 student organizations as well as varsity and intramural sports programs.

Participating in extracurricular activities can have a positive impact on a student’s overall college experience. These activities provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills, make new friends, and explore their interests outside of the classroom.

At Boston College, students can join the Student Government Association, which allows them to have a voice in campus decision-making and plan events for the student body. Grinnell College offers a unique program called the Social Justice Action Group, which focuses on promoting social justice and activism on campus and in the community.

Additionally, both Boston College and Grinnell College offer study-abroad programs that allow students to gain international experience and broaden their cultural horizons. Boston College has partnerships with universities in over 30 countries, while Grinnell College offers its own study-abroad programs in locations such as China, Ghana, and Spain. These programs provide students with the opportunity to learn about different cultures, improve their language skills, and gain a global perspective that can be valuable in their future careers.

Faculty and Student Ratio: Which School Offers More Personal Attention?

The faculty-student ratio is an essential factor to consider when selecting a college. The lower the ratio, the more attention you are likely to get from your professors. Boston College’s faculty-student ratio is 1:10, while Grinnell’s ratio is 1:9. Both ratios are low enough to afford a high level of personal attention to students, but Grinnell does have a more personal touch which is quite appealing to many students.

However, it is important to note that the faculty-student ratio is not the only factor that determines the level of personal attention you receive at a college. The teaching style and approach of the professors also play a significant role. At Boston College, professors are known for their rigorous and challenging teaching style, which may not suit every student. On the other hand, Grinnell professors are known for their more collaborative and interactive approach, which many students find more engaging.

Another factor to consider is the size of the classes. While both Boston College and Grinnell have low faculty-student ratios, Boston College has a larger student body, which means that classes may be larger and less intimate. Grinnell, on the other hand, has a smaller student body, which allows for smaller classes and more opportunities for one-on-one interactions with professors.

Campus Diversity and Inclusivity: Boston College vs Grinnell

Diversity and inclusion are critical issues in today’s world, and choosing a college that values these ideals is essential. Boston College is a predominantly white institution, with about 8 percent of students identifying as African American or Hispanic. Grinnell College takes a different approach, with an approach to increase its diversity actively. Grinnell College has a student body that is nearly 50% domestic students of color.

Group of students working together and talking.

Furthermore, Grinnell College has implemented various initiatives to promote inclusivity on campus. One such initiative is the Social Justice Action Fund, which provides funding for student-led projects that address issues of social justice and equity. Additionally, the college has a Bias Response Team that works to address incidents of bias and discrimination on campus. These efforts demonstrate Grinnell’s commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid: Boston College vs Grinnell

Cost of attendance and financial aid are crucial considerations when selecting a college. The average cost of attending Boston College for the 2022–2023 academic year is $64,176, which includes tuition, room and board, books, and fees. Grinnell, on the other hand, has an average cost of attendance of $61,480.

Financial aid is available in both colleges for those who need it, including merit-based scholarships, student employment, and federal, and state grants. It’s important to consider each individual’s situation when estimating the actual costs that need to be applied.

When it comes to financial aid, Boston College offers a need-based aid program that covers up to 100% of demonstrated needs. Grinnell, on the other hand, offers a no-loan policy, which means that students who qualify for financial aid will not have to take out loans to cover their expenses. This can be a significant advantage for students who may be burdened by student loan debt after graduation.

It’s also important to note that the cost of attendance and financial aid packages can vary greatly depending on the student’s major and program of study. For example, some majors may require additional fees for equipment or materials, while others may offer more scholarship opportunities. It’s important for students to research and compare the costs and financial aid options for their specific program of interest before making a final decision on which college to attend.

Career Opportunities and Alumni Network: Which School has a Better Track Record?

Another crucial consideration when selecting a college is what kind of career opportunities the school provides and the value of the alumni network. Boston College has an alumni network of more than 184,000 members, with alumni working in a wide range of fields, including finance, consulting, and education.

Grinnell College, while a much smaller college than Boston College, has more than 20,000 alumni, with graduates working in fields ranging from the arts to the sciences. Both colleges have strong alumni networks that can offer support and help students develop and pursue their careers post-college.

However, it is important to note that the size of the alumni network is not the only factor to consider. The quality of the network and the level of engagement from alumni can also make a significant difference. At Boston College, the alumni network is known for its active involvement in mentoring and networking events, providing valuable connections and resources for students and recent graduates.

Grinnell College also has a strong alumni network, with many graduates returning to campus to speak with current students and offer career advice. Ultimately, when considering career opportunities and alumni networks, it is important to research and compare the specific offerings and engagement of each school’s network.

Sports Teams and Athletic Facilities: A Look at the Athletic Programs at Boston College vs Grinnell

For many students, athletics is an essential part of college life. Boston College has 31 Division I athletic teams and strong teams in sports like football and basketball. Grinnell, in comparison, is an NCAA Division III college that does not offer athletic scholarships but offers a wide variety of sports programs ranging from typical sports like football, soccer, and basketball to more unique programs like Ultimate Frisbee and Roller Derby.

Despite the differences in athletic programs, both Boston College and Grinnell offer state-of-the-art athletic facilities for their students. Boston College’s Conte Forum is an 8,606-seat multi-purpose arena that hosts basketball and ice hockey games, as well as concerts and other events. Grinnell’s athletic facilities include a 50-meter swimming pool, a fitness center, and a fieldhouse with a 200-meter track and a turf field.

Additionally, both colleges prioritize the well-being of their student-athletes. Boston College has a full-time sports medicine staff that provides medical care and rehabilitation services to its athletes. Grinnell has a similar program, with a team of certified athletic trainers who work with student-athletes to prevent and treat injuries.

The Social Scene and Nightlife in Boston College vs Grinnell

College life is incomplete without forming new friendships and having fun with your peers. Boston College offers a vibrant social scene, with a wide range of student activities, dining choices, and nightlife options. Grinnell College has a different social life, and while it has a smaller student body, this offers a closer-knit and friendlier social environment for students. Both offer a unique social setting; the choice depends on personal preferences.

Three caucasian students talking to each other.

At Boston College, students can enjoy a variety of social events, such as concerts, comedy shows, and sports games. The campus also has several student-run clubs and organizations, catering to different interests and hobbies. Additionally, Boston College is located in a bustling city, providing students with access to a diverse range of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.

On the other hand, Grinnell College’s social scene is more intimate, with a focus on building strong relationships between students. The college has a tradition of hosting small, informal gatherings, such as potlucks and game nights, where students can bond over shared interests. Grinnell also has a strong emphasis on community service, providing students with opportunities to engage with the local community and make a positive impact.

The Future of Education at Boston College vs Grinnell: A Look Ahead

Finally, let’s take a look at the future of education at Boston College and Grinnell. Boston College has planned a multi-million-dollar renovation of its science buildings and the expansion of its computing and data sciences program. Grinnell College plans to add more majors and research initiatives that align with the institution’s strengths and purpose.

Additionally, Boston College is also exploring the possibility of offering more online courses and programs to meet the growing demand for flexible and accessible education. On the other hand, Grinnell College is focusing on enhancing its experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, research projects, and community-based learning, to provide students with hands-on experiences and real-world skills.

Comparing the Rankings of Boston College vs Grinnell on Various Educational Platforms.

When looking at any educational establishments it’s always interesting to evaluate the rankings of each of them. Boston College appears consistently higher on the rankings when compared to Grinnell College in various college ranking publications.

In the 2022-2023 edition of the best national universities of US News & World Report, Boston College is at #37, while Grinnell College ranks #14 among national liberal arts colleges. Still, they both have reputable and ranked programs within their respective fields of study.

One factor that may contribute to the difference in rankings between Boston College and Grinnell College is the size of the institutions. Boston College has a larger student body and more resources, which may give it an advantage in certain areas such as research funding and faculty expertise. However, Grinnell College’s smaller size allows for a more personalized and intimate learning experience for students.

Another aspect to consider when comparing the rankings of these two colleges is their location. Boston College is located in a major city, which provides students with access to a wide range of cultural and professional opportunities. On the other hand, Grinnell College is situated in a small town, which may offer a more peaceful and focused environment for students to study and learn.


Choosing a college is an important decision, which requires careful research and consideration of the options available. Hopefully, this in-depth guide has provided you with the necessary information you need to evaluate Boston College and Grinnell College and determine which one best suits your needs. Remember that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to making this choice, and the factors that matter most to you should be your ultimate guide in selecting a college.

Want to learn more about getting into College? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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