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Bowdoin v. Yale

tothefullesttothefullest 49 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
edited August 2013 in Bowdoin College
Hi everyone!
I've been struggling back and forth for weeks with this decision. I am a junior in high school, and for most of this year have thought that I was going to apply early decision to Bowdoin (located in Maine, 16% acceptance rate). Recently, however, I got my SAT scores back and did really, really well. Even though I'm at the top of my class and a straight-A honors student, varsity athlete, and musician, it never occurred to me to even look into Ivy League schools. I always thought that they were too out of reach, and that I wasn't good enough.

I have a personal story about my background that I can guarantee only a handful of people in the entire world have, which would make for a compelling and unique essay that would hopefully grab attention. I really think I do have a shot at getting into a school like Yale (I know it's a stretch, but isn't it for everyone?).

I have dreams of pursuing dental school in the future, and even though Bowdoin has around an 87% acceptance rate to med/dental school, do you think it would be worth applying early action to Yale instead? If I ended up having to choose between the two, is Yale's name recognition and prestige to good to pass up? I'm so conflicted! Both are phenomenal schools, and I really fell in love with everything about Bowdoin. I'd also worry about feeling inferior to the other students at Yale...ahhh!

Thanks for reading my rant, any advice would be much appreciated :)
edited August 2013
20 replies
Post edited by tothefullest on
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Replies to: Bowdoin v. Yale

  • PsychoDad10PsychoDad10 1188 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You should go wherever you fit in the best. Don't go to a school for its prestige factor unless you know you would thrive there- not everyone would thrive at a school like Bowdoin, but then again Yale isn't for everyone either. Your essay may really hit home, but I will let you know that my son was in a similar situation- he has an exceedingly rare medical condition that only he could tell in an essay- didn't go into the Ivies but got into some pretty awesome schools regardless. He settled on WUSTL and couldn't be happier because he feels that he will thrive at the school. Good luck.
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  • TheEarlyBirdTheEarlyBird 322 replies19 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think you should only apply ED if you would be absolutely content with that school should you get in. However, with that being said, I found that even though I was pretty much set on my #1 school, I also applied to some other colleges for the sake of applying. I saw the college admissions process as a one-time experience so I applied so that I would not have to go through life with the "what if" thoughts plaguing my mind.

    And to answer the Bowdoin vs Yale track, I would echo what PsychoDad said: don't choose a college based on prestige. The name of the university may seem to be very important now (especially for those wanting bragging rights), but since you are looking at dental school in the future, you absolutely need to pick a place you love so that you can thrive. Dental school admissions don't favor applicants who come from a more prestigious undergrad college. It's not about the name of the school; it's what you DO there that makes you stand out.

    Even though Bowdoin may not have the "wow factor" nationally or among average joes, they will still prepare you tremendously for med/dental school. They are among the best colleges for Biochemistry and the small class sizes there could really help you get to know your professors better for LORs later on. They also have their own Biochemistry center off the coast of Maine that you can do undergraduate research at.
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  • pb2002pb2002 367 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    do you want to go to yale? it seems so different from bowdoin. or is it just that yale has unsurpassed name recognition? this all seems silly, now. apply to both and get back to us if you're lucky enough to get into either. if you're not passionate enough about either one to know, you shouldn't apply ed, but you may as well apply ea to yale if it's non-binding.
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  • perseverenceperseverence 65 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Yale EA is not binding, Bowdoin ED is. So if you are asking yourself these questions now, I think you should not limit yourself to an ED application.

    ED's are beneficial to colleges, because they can start constituting their freshman class early on. I don't think candidates improve their chances by applying ED. If you are absolutely positively sure you will never ever regret not trying other colleges, and if you are absolutely positively sure that Bowdoin is the only school you want to go to, then it makes sense to forget about the rest and apply ED to Bowdoin.

    In any other case, apply to more than one college. Bowdoin, Yale, and more. If you are qualified to get into Bowdoin ED, I bet you will get in Regular Decision as well. Plus, you will possibly have other options. Like Yale. Why not? Go for it! Even if you end up choosing Bowdoin in the end.
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  • alum88alum88 127 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    As an FYI, Bowdoin's class will also be filled with straight 'A' students with really high SAT scores who were varisty athletes and musicians. In fact, many (perhaps thousands) with such credentials get rejected. The regular decision admit rate this year was around 12%. So, I wouldn't necessarily assume that getting in is assured, or that you'll be "inferior" at Yale, yet run circles around your Bowdoin classmates academically.

    I can tell you, however, that Bowdoin (and other "elite" liberal arts colleges) will be highly focused on your success and helping you to achieve and grow intellectually. I had the good fortune of going to Bowdoin, and then one of the Ivies for law school, and I can tell you that, from what I witnessed, the undergrad education at Bowdoin was vastly more personal and in many ways superior.

    Also, if you are set on grad school, you should know that Bowdoin is a top feeder to the top grad schools. Wall Street Journal College Rankings: The Full List and Rating Criteria If you do reasonably well there you will have no problem getting into a top dental program.

    All that said, Yale is Yale, and to some, the more widely recognizable name value is hard to resist. The question is whether it is worth giving up a chance to ED at Bowdoin where statistics show that the odds of getting in are substantially better than for RD candidates.
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  • tothefullesttothefullest 49 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I don't assume that I'm going to get in by any stretch, but I know that ED can be beneficial and I want to be able to utilize it. If I were lucky enough to get in ED, I wouldn't even have Yale as an option. That was my dilemma, but thanks to everyone here I think I'm going to go with ED to Bowdoin :) Thanks!
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  • nina22nina22 17 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    You are in an excellent position, as you still have the summer to look at schools and leisurely mull over what you really want out of a college. There is no harm in applying ED to a reach school; and, in fact, it can only help your chances of getting in. So if you have looked at or plan to look at Yale (or any other Ivy, for that matter) and fall in love with it, my recommendation would be to apply ED. It sounds like your grades, scores and athletics already put you in the running for very selective schools; your unique essay could be the extra hook that offers you an advantage in this process (as well as in any regular decision applications you may submit). I think you are very wise to want to utilize the advantages of ED to your maximum benefit. The trick is to match that advantage to the school you most want to attend.
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  • GvaMomGvaMom 226 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Good luck as you move forward with the process. Just make sure you always keep theEarlyBird's comment in mind for graduate school, 'it's what you do there that makes you stand out!' Choose a school where you know that all is in place to help you thrive.
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  • deeza123deeza123 22 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    When I look at friends who have gone to Ivy League schools and friends who have gone to non-Ivy schools, I see that we are all in about the same position in life now (20 years later). In the end, college should be a fun place where you learn about yourself and find your passion.
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  • theoristtheorist 76 replies14 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    It sounds like a tough decision. I encourage you to not rush yourself into it.

    E.D. is great for colleges. They don't need to accept as many students to fill their freshman class, lowering their acceptance rate and raising their yield rate, making them look more selective and more desirable for college guides and rankings.

    Furthermore, unless your family is very wealthy with no reasonable likelihood of need-based aid or very working class, and unlikely to pay much of anything, Early Decision is very likely to make college more expensive for you and your family. Economists have verified this empirically. It actually makes perfect sense. It's like going to a car dealer and agreeing to buy a car before you know the price they'll charge you. By applying Early Decision you are giving that college monopoly power. Sure you can say you can't afford it, then apply elsewhere, but you can never compare financial aid offers between that Early Decision school and other schools.

    Ultimately the biggest issue you've already identified is that it's an important and tough decision. Fortunately you have until May 1, 2014 to make this decision if you do not apply early decision. Who knows, you might even find another school you like more than either Bowdoin or Yale before then.

    Of course Bowdoin and many other colleges would prefer that you apply to them ED, for the sake of their admission rate, yield rate, rankings, and financial aid budget. Fortunately for you, this is your choice.
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  • pmyenpmyen 484 replies55 threadsRegistered User Member
    If you are not sure, then apply RD to both, wait and see whether you are admitted to either or both, and then make your decision. It also seems that you do not lose anything if you apply to Yale EA since it is not binding. However, it could turn out that after visiting both schools and careful deliberation, you may decide Bowdoin is where you prefer to go. I was accepted by Yale and a peer LAC of Bowdoin, and decided after visiting both that I wanted a LAC experience rather than a university experience.

    Two of my children also chose selective LACs (one of them attended Bowdoin), and the other two chose mid- and large-size universities. All of them enjoyed their college education and life experiences there, most likely because they all have very different personalities and interests. The important issue is to know where you will fluourish academically and grow as an individual.

    Having said that, based upon my own and my children's experience, I do believe that the sense of community that one has with fellow students and faculty is much closer at a LAC than at a university. This was the major factor for me when I had to decide between the two schools. On the other hand, it is possible that some students may prefer to be in a more anonymous enviroment. Yale does have a college system that tries to create some community within a university so it might be possible for some students to have both types of experiences.

    I also agree with some of other posters that going to a LAC does not put you at any disadvantage for dental/medical or graduate school admissions or in the job market. Most of my classmates were able to go to top medical, law, or graduate programs if they put serious effort into their academic work. My Bowdoin son who graduated recently and two of his roomates all found interesting and well-paying jobs before graduation which I find remarkable in the current economy. His other roommate was accepted by Harvard, Yale, and UC Berkeley for graduate school. I was fortunate enough to attend a top medical school after college and I don't think my career path would have been much different had I gone to Yale. In most professional fields, your professional degree sets your early career trajectory-not your undergraduate degree. I also felt that I received a fuller and more well-rounded education than many of my medical school classmates and my later colleagues. College is the best, and for many people the only time perhaps until retirement, when you can make serious and sustained explorations down different intellectual paths. It can shape the way you think the rest of your life.
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  • momcincomomcinco 1047 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You have rec'd some great responses, OP. If you can visit Yale you will fall in love with it (trust me, we visited last week). This said, Bowdoin sounds like you are already in love with it. Giving up ED at Bowdoin for an even slimmer chance at Yale might be a foolish step, as you seem to think. I am in a similar situation with my S who loves Yale and a couple LACs where he would have a much much better chance at an ED admit. Can't speak to fin aid at Bowdoin, sorry, but it is need-based from what I remember.
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  • am61517am61517 219 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    The Bowdoin ED admit rate was 28.6% and the overall rate was 14.5% for the Class of 2017 while Yale's numbers were 14.4% and 6.7%, respectively. The RD process has become very unreliable with schools making judgement calls on who may or may not accept an offer of admittance to try to improve their yields. Unless the ability to compare financial aid packages is a driving factor, applying ED/EA is the best way of ensuring admission at an academically elite school (Bowdoin and Yale are both eminently qualified as such). Assuming you are as qualified as you suggest, ED at Bowdoin would lock you into a school you appear passionate about. Going the EA route at Yale which benefits athletes, legacies and other special situations to a great extent, is highly risky. You will not get the huge incremental advantage you would at Bowdoin (which needs to lock in a large portion of their class through ED to keep their yield numbers respectable), and if you are not admitted (which is the case for a huge number of the most qualified students in the the US), you throw yourself into RD lottery with all of the inherent risks associated with that process. Only you can decide how happy you would be at Bowdoin, how risk adverse you are, and if you would be willing to live with the consequences of either not trying for Yale, or, if you don't get into Yale possibly ending up somewhere that you would not enjoy as much as Bowdoin.
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  • pmyenpmyen 484 replies55 threadsRegistered User Member
    You may want to apply to Yale EA and if you are not accepted, apply to Bowdoin EDII. Not sure what the difference in admission rates are for EDI vs. EDII but it has to be higher than RA.
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  • glidoglido 5975 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Do you need FA? If so, you should not apply ED.
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  • doonerakdoonerak 180 replies8 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Financial aid is a reason to go RD but only if you have a range of schools you'd be happy to attend and aren't deterred by the possibility of multiple rejections, since the OP will likely be applying to very competitive schools. This argument seems less compelling in this situation. Bowdoin's FA program is strong (no loans) and I suspect Yale is just as good. It is such a crapshoot getting into these schools- way too much competition for too few slots, so if you have your heart set on either of these schools I'd apply early. The main thing is to go visit each school. My daughter hated Yale, loved Bowdoin. You might feel the opposite way- they are very different schools. I'd agree with '88s comment about a personalized education at Bowdoin.
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  • decilliondecillion 537 replies49 threadsRegistered User Member
    Consider Princeton EA too!
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  • lr4550lr4550 952 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited August 2014
    Does anyone have a more realistic assessment of the ED admit rate when you set aside the admissions of strongly hooked applicants in the ED pool? In other words, ED admission rates appear to be significantly more generous than RD admission rates but isn't the ED rate skewed by acceptances from a hooked pool of applicants? From what I understand, if a recruited athlete is a good fit for the school academically, the athlete is practically guaranteed a spot (if the coach wants him/her) as long as the athlete applies/commits ED. Also, I would think legacies who are strong applicants would have a significant advantage going ED vs RD by committing to the binding ED contract. So, does anyone know (is it even possible to know) roughly what the ED admission rate is for non hooked applicants after you account for the high number of applicants that have special standing?
    edited August 2014
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  • absentionsabsentions 253 replies29 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I would suggest SCEAing to Yale.

    Not sure if this has already been said, but I think you should aim higher if you've got the stats. Obviously, applying early to Yale is taking a massive risk, whereas you will have a MUCH higher chance of getting accepted EDing to Bowdoin. But I feel like even if you were rejected by Yale, you still have a very high chance of getting accepted to Bowdoin and possibly other Ivies RD (assuming your stats are good and your situation really is as unique as you say). So the way I see it, you have much more to gain by applying early action Yale.
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  • alum88alum88 127 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    This thread is over a year old and it appears the OP decided to go south, and chose between Emory and Wake Forrest.
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