Impressions Of
Bowdoin College

Academic Experience

Female Anthropology Major C/O 2020

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Bowdoin has not been competitive for me, which is great. Bowdoin people don’t mention what grades you get on an assignment. My friends are more than willing to read over essays and will offer before you ask to read over my essays. Even classmates who I’m not friends with will offer to read essays and work together.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Definitely. Professors do a good job of playing devil’s advocate. They also bring in multiple sources from different time periods and are careful to acknowledge where sources are coming from and who is writing it. They dig into why certain authors develop their theories and what their background is. I like that they do a really good job of bringing in diverse sources.

Female Africana Studies and Education Double Major C/O 2020

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
A lot of the admissions people talk about Bowdoin being a humble place which I didn’t believe until I got here. It’s the first environment where I don’t share my grades except with my closest friends. It’s definitely not okay to share your grades in class, and people are more competitive with themselves instead of with each other. I know there are differences in majors, and I’ve heard about some competition in the STEM and pre-med tracks. In general, I was impressed with how non-competitive it is even though it’s a rigorous university.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I’d say the best professors do a good job at facilitating conversations. A lot of the time Bowdoin leans toward being liberal and progressive, so there is a learning curve when you get here regarding what is right or wrong to say, and what is politically correct. It’s been a good holistic learning environment for me to understand my political views, but a few students who are conservative feel that they aren’t allowed to [express their opinions] on campus. I personally don’t find it to be a problem.

Female Undeclared on Major C/O 2022

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s a really collaborative place and not competitive. People don’t talk about grades with each other and all my friends have edited my papers. It is encouraged to help people do their best, and ask them what their study schedules are and if they’re okay. People check in and support one another.

Is there anything you feel Bowdoin has done especially well or especially poorly so far in your first year?
They’re really good at facilitating social interactions. There are orientation trips before you start freshman year which is a good way to meet people and there’s also a College House System for sophomores. Freshmen have sophomore “buddies” that are in an assigned College House, and you can rely on that relationship as much or as little as you want. The College Houses host parties that are open to the whole campus, so as a freshman you always have an option on the weekends. The houses also host lectures and other types of events.

Social Opportunities

Male Government Major C/O 2017

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I tend to go out Friday and Saturday night. Where you go varies as you get older. Freshman and sophomore year people go to college houses, or if you’re on a sports team your team’s house. As you get older, you go to off-campuses depending on what club or sports team you’re on, or where your friends live, so maybe upperclassmen housing. Bowdoin is all house parties. There are a couple of bars but people tend to go there on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

College House parties can register kegs. The college gives you a budget that you can spend on food and other things that you need to throw a party, campus safety comes and checks whatever amount of beer you registered, and then you won’t get in trouble if you have a party.

Female Anthropology Major C/O 2020

What is the impact of the College House system on nightlife?
It definitely gives a space for first-years and sophomores to party in safe and regulated environments. A lot of people really love them. It’s more for people who are not in the athletic scene, but that’s not to say that athletes don’t go to those parties. Athletes tend to go to off-campus parties at team houses.

How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it. There are definitely quieter weekends and crazier weekends with multiple things going on. I’m thankful for the quieter weekends because it allows me to catch up on work and rest. I like that things aren’t constantly going on here.

Female Undeclared on Major C/O 2022

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Bowdoin?
I like doing a lot of things, like hanging out with friends, cooking dinners, and going to parties. There are campus-wide parties through the College House System, off-campus house parties, and some dorm parties, and I attend all of those.

How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy. I like to go out, but I don’t like crazy giant parties, so Bowdoin fits what I like perfectly. If someone came in looking for crazy frat parties that would be harder to find. Although there are other party subcultures that I’m not a part of, like the athletic scene, so I can’t really speak to that.

Campus Culture

Female Anthropology and Education Double Major C/O 2020

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
At Bowdoin, people of different sexual orientations mix pretty frequently. Our campus doesn’t have too many reservations about that, it’s a pretty liberal campus. In terms of race, it depends. Most of my friends are people of color but that doesn’t mean all. I think because my identity involves being queer and of color, I tend to merge toward similar people.

How strong is the Black community on campus?
It’s interesting because I’ve seen a change since my freshman year. The trend is becoming more accepting of students of color, especially Black kids. Right now, it’s pretty strong, but not as strong as it was my first year and I think that goes to losing a lot of good leadership that graduated. [About 6.5% of students are Black students.]

Female Anthropology Major C/O 2020

How would you describe the student body?
People are pretty dedicated to whatever their passion is. I’ve never been somewhere where people are all so invested in something personally, like personal projects and personal interests. They’re so excited to learn about what they’re doing too. People are mutually supportive and driven, which is really energizing.

How do you like the size of Bowdoin? How has that influenced your social experience?
I love how small it is. I like that it’s a small community and I see similar faces all the time. At the same time, I can also go somewhere where I don’t know a lot of people and people don’t know me. I also came from a very small high school, so Bowdoin seems big to me.

How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
I’d say it’s pretty strong. We have OUTPeers and OUTAllies who you can reach out to for support or get meals with. The Office of Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence hosts events and wellness things that are space spaces for the LGBTQ community. I haven’t utilized them much, but I know people who have and those spaces have made a difference for them.

Female Africana Studies and Education Double Major C/O 2020

How did you meet your closest friends?
I made a lot of friends on my freshman floor which is a normal thing to happen. My activities are the other way I made friends, and I’m close with people in the improv groups, and my mentor group.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Bowdoin?
It’s pretty distinctly split between the athletes and non-athletes, especially once you get older. People love to dance, and there are a few dominating social forces. The Frisbee Team is a big source of parties for the non-athletes, and men sports houses dominate the athlete party scene. Also, the social houses are a massive force in the freshman and sophomore social scene.

How would you describe the student body?
The majority of people are pretty outdoorsy, academically driven, and often political. People are super into school in a nerdy, passionate way, which is nice. The normal student is overcommitted and is doing as much as they can academically and in extracurricular activities. I’d say most people are openly friendly, and open to becoming friends with anyone.

Brunswick, ME

Pros of

  • “Brunswick has a lot of opportunities to help or integrate into the community through Bowdoin. It’s a very welcoming community.”
  • “The campus is very close to shops and restaurants. It’s really nice that you don’t have to drive anywhere if you don’t want to.”
  • “It’s beautiful. You’re surrounded by nature. Maine is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, so I really love that aspect of it.”
  • “There’s a really strong outdoors culture where people are always skiing, hiking, and kayaking. This is a place that encourages you to take care of yourself physically and mentally in terms of outdoors.”

Cons of

  • “It’s a very white area. If you’re not used to that, it can be difficult.” [90% of the population of Brunswick is White.]
  • “Sometimes you can get claustrophobic. The bubble is very real.”
  • “If you like museums, going to the movies, and that kind of thing, those are not as easily accessed in Brunswick.”
  • “It can be hard for people to get home if you have to fly through Boston. I’m always debating if I should drive, fly, or take a train home.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Anthropology Major C/O 2020

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Drive down to Bailey’s or Orr’s Island, or go to the Coastal Studies Center to see the coast of Maine. Go down at any time of the year. The Coastal Studies Center highlights the college’s connection to Brunswick and Maine

Female Africana Studies and Education Double Major C/O 2020

What is something you wish you knew about your school before you entered as a freshman?
I didn’t consider the location or nature. The Bowdoin Outing Club is an organization that gets so much money from Bowdoin. You get a free trip as a freshman, but usually, you pay $50 for student and professional led trips to go do things like rafting and canoeing. It’s a good place to meet people because you can show up for a trip by yourself, and find people to become friends with.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go check out Simpson’s Point. Someone on my tour suggested I visit it, and it sealed the deal for me wanting to go Bowdoin. It’s a beautiful lookout point where you can swim during the summer.

Female Undeclared on Major C/O 2022

What is something that you learned from your friends at Bowdoin that made you want to go?
The relationships with professors are pretty incredible and pretty unique. I also think being in the really small community is a very defining experience. The dining halls very much function as the center of campus, and it’s a common thing to meet people at a party and say, “Oh, we should grab a meal together.” It’s also really common to ask people who you don’t really know to grab a meal as a way to get to know them better. I really like that people are always looking for new friends and because it’s a small school there are a lot of intergrade friendships.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Bowdoin College

To Attend

  • “The academics are really fantastic. I bonded with so many professors and felt that I got a really great education.”
  • “It can be really great to be in Main if you like hiking, kayaking, skiing, etc.”
  • “It’s a really high quality of life. There are nice dorms, good food, and small things that you might not notice at first but pile up, like free printing.”
  • “There are some of the nicest and most intelligent people here.”

To Not Attend

  • “If you want a school that has a strong pre-professional culture or a pre-professional major, that doesn’t exist here.”
  • “It’s very cold and there is lots of snow. If you think you would have a hard time putting up with that from October to April it’s not the place for you.”
  • “It’s very small. It can feel claustrophobic at times.” [There are about 1,800 students.]
  • “If you’re someone who cares a lot about having a vibrant social scene with lots of different parties to go to and gatherings to attend, it’s not the place for you. There are parties, but it’s not the most vibrant social scene.”
Notice: Bowdoin College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Bowdoin College.

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