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Opinion: Amherst vs Bowdoin

btks215btks215 0 replies3 threads New Member
Hi all,
I am very fortunate to have been admitted to both Amherst and Bowdoin, but I'm having a really hard time deciding between the two. I know there are several existing threads about this, but I'd love some thoughts about my specific situation.

I really like both colleges. For Amherst, I love the diversity, the five-college consortium, and the open curriculum. I've talked with several current students over the phone and all of them have enthused about Amherst and the people. When I visited on admitted students day, however, I didn't have the most amazing experience - it seemed as if all of the prospective students I talked to were already set on going elsewhere. I also got the vibe that people seemed a little stressed out... but maybe that's because finals are so close? I've also read online that the social life/community at Amherst is not very strong.

Bowdoin, on the other hand, is a little more uncertain. The last time I visited was almost two years ago, and it was the first college I looked at. I wasn't completely in love with it, but that may have been just because it was my first college visit. Also, I have family that live in Brunswick, so I've been going up to that area every summer for the last ten years. That is a big concern for me - I think I want to go to college somewhere new and unexplored. From what I've read online, however, Bowdoin students seem more chill, activist-y, and outdoorsy - all of which are things I definitely want in a college.

I'm not quite sure what I want to study yet, but as of now I'm thinking either physics or international relations. I also really love languages, history, and art.

Any thoughts? Anything I got wrong in my assumptions of each college?

Thanks in advance.
4 replies
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Replies to: Opinion: Amherst vs Bowdoin

  • EconomathematicsEconomathematics 49 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @btks215 Can you see yourself at Amherst for the next 4 years? If you can't, you have your decision.

    Otherwise, you do make some good points. Amherst very much so has a "work hard play hard" atmosphere, and there is certainly a segment of the population here that practices the former much more than the latter. Finals are 2.5 weeks away, so people shouldn't be too stressed right now, but many people also had midterms last week, so it could be that. I can't speak to Bowdoin, but people do tend to work very hard here. There is certainly the opportunity to "skate through" per se, but many here value hard-work, and naturally that leads to higher stress levels. The whole "social life" thing is pretty widely contested among people here on CC, but it speaks to the fact that if there really weren't any problems, then why does it keep coming up? IMO there's a void at Amherst that needs to be filled. If you are looking for activism, I will say, there is a deluge of that here, so you won't be missing out. We have a pretty good physics department, but no IR. Our poly sci is very good though, and lots of those classes have to do with IR type of stuff. Our languages aren't anything that special, though the Russian department is quite good. History and art are pretty average/good, from my experience.

    I'd say go with your gut: both are amazing schools.
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  • PasadenadadPasadenadad 12 replies2 threads New Member
    I'm a parent, not a college student. I think the marketing of colleges has made us overthink the experience, especially when one has two fabulous choices as you do. If you decide you're going to make the best of your time at either Bowdoin or Amherst, you'll have a wonderful experience. Pick one and commit to having a great experience. You will. Don't think about the other school once you've decided, just enjoy where you are.
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  • AsleepAtTheWheelAsleepAtTheWheel 1231 replies45 threads Senior Member
    One piece is easy to compare. The dining hall food at Bowdoin is very good. The dining hall food at Amherst is very bad.

    -- An Amherst parent
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13238 replies247 threads Senior Member
    I like the food at Amherst so now I obviously need to get to Bowdoin to try theirs :D

    OP, it would be good to try to get to Bowdoin again if you can.

    I am probably one of the people who says on CC that the social life is very good, because my kid has a good one (and she isn't an athlete). She also works hard, though this year she got the hang of pacing herself and is far less stressed than last year- she's mostly done with work for the day by 5 now, and moves on to clubs and social stuff in the evenings.

    She also had a just so-so admitted students weekend, FWIW. Her host kind of took off and she was on her own.
    I love the diversity, the five-college consortium, and the open curriculum. I've talked with several current students over the phone and all of them have enthused about Amherst and the people. When I visited on admitted students day, however, I didn't have the most amazing experience - it seemed as if all of the prospective students I talked to were already set on going elsewhere.

    These are good reasons, though of course the negative kids who are set on going elsewhere won't be there in the fall. Your class would be full of kids who chose to be there, so that's not a factor you'd deal with.
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