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Should I ED to Bowdoin or Brown?

sunflowahsunflowah 1 replies2 threads New Member
T minus one month until the deadline for a binding Early Decision application and I don't know where to apply.

About me:
- I'll be going into college undecided, but I'm interested in trying many disciplines out for size (currently I'm considering environmental studies, education, neuroscience/technology in modern culture/other approaches to researching the impact of tech, something revolving around social justice. I know I want to study abroad and I'm hoping to become fluent in Spanish. I also love art and would like to go to a school where a) I'd have access to art classes and b) the arts are a core part of the curriculum/student life.

The details:
- I visited Bowdoin pre-COVID and LOVED it. Something about being there just felt right, and I could picture myself on campus as a student.
- Both my parents went to Brown for undergrad. Until I started my college process, Brown was the only school on my mind.
- In the months since visiting Bowdoin, I've toured more places (both irl and virtually) and finalized my list of schools.
- For both schools, chance of acceptance is ~15% higher if one EDs.

My worries:
- If I'm accepted ED and become locked into the school, I might question my decision.
- My wonderful experience at Bowdoin 7 months ago may not be an accurate reflection of the actual college.
- Bowdoin's small student body may feel limiting. I go to a high school with 1,600 kids and some days feel like there's not enough ppl and other days I'm shocked at how little I know the ppl around me.
- What if I'm only considering Brown bc my parents went there? It seems like that's the "expected path" for me (no pressure is coming from my parents, it more feels like my peers and other family friends). I'm not sure how to separate my own perceptions and wants from those of ppl around me.
- This might be true of both places, but I don't want everyone to think the same. If a school and student body talks the talk of "we're accepting of all views," I'd like to see them practice healthy discourse and be okay with people thinking other things, not just use their motto of complete inclusivity to apply to white liberals.

My thoughts:
- Brown is an Ivy.
- Bowdoin is an amazing school.
- When I toured Bowdoin, my gut feeling said "this is the place."
- I haven't had the opportunity to tour Brown.
- I don't want to choose Brown because of its widely-known prestige, but I don't want to take it off the table for the same reason either.
24 replies
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Replies to: Should I ED to Bowdoin or Brown?

  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 1064 replies21 threads Senior Member
    I can't help you really except to tell you that when I toured schools, 150 years ago, I stepped out of the car at one school and felt "this is the place!" I ED'd and went and was happy. At some point you need to trust your gut. If you can get into those two schools you are already impressive enough! You don't need to go to Brown to be "more impressive" because it's an Ivy. I live in the area and everyone jokes that Brown is the easy Ivy anyway. My point is, don't choose because of public perception becuase that is going to vary depending on the public..

    Maybe pretend you have decided to go to Brown, how do you feel? Pretend you have decided to go to Bowdoin, how do you feel?

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  • happy1happy1 24594 replies2489 threads Super Moderator
    I would only apply ED if you have a definitive top choice. Doesn't sound like that is the case.
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  • merc81merc81 12180 replies207 threads Senior Member
    I also love art and would like to go to a school where a) I'd have access to art classes and b) the arts are a core part of the curriculum/student life.

    You can use IPEDS to research the popularity of art as a major at these schools:

    https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=Brown&s=all&id=217156#programs

    https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=Bowdoin&s=all&of=0&od=1&id=161004#programs
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  • PublisherPublisher 12149 replies164 threads Senior Member
    Brown University because you already have expressed concerns about the size of the student body at Bowdoin College.
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  • ArtsyKidDadArtsyKidDad 225 replies21 threads Junior Member
    1. USNWR: While taking all rankings with a grain of salt, isn't it impressive to see Brown as #1 in the important "Best Undergraduate Teaching" category?
    2. Inside Higher Ed: "Brown University is among the institutions that considers legacy status, and recent articles have drawn attention to other advantages that legacy applicants (...) have had or continue to enjoy." Unless your accomplishments make you practically sure of acceptance into these extremely selective institution, why throw away the clear advantage of your double legacy status?
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 784 replies3 threads Member
    edited September 30
    Brown and Bowdoin are two very different schools. Brown's a large research university in a medium-sized city, while Bowdoin's a much smaller liberal arts school near a small town. If you're from a large city, you might come to hate Bowdoin's location over time, and vice-versa---think deeply about your choice as you're not just attending college but living there for the next four years.

    Now I'm obviously biased because I go to Brown, but the freedom of the Open Curriculum's perfect for students who want to explore multiple interests. Regardless of what field you go into, you'll have the support and resources of a top research university, and while Bowdoin's amazing, it just can't match the research being done over all disciplines at Brown or any larger university.


    ED acceptance rates tend to be skewed by legacy and recruited athletes, however, as @ArtsyKidDad says, when you have a double legacy to Brown, your chances of that legacy status meaning the most is when you apply ED----other Ivies, such as Cornell and Penn, have said as much to their legacy applicants.

    Furthermore, if you truly like both schools, you could always apply ED to Brown and ED2 (is that still an option?) to Bowdoin. However, if you feel like you would regret your choice down the road if you went to Brown, then IMO apply to Bowdoin ED and take your chances with Brown RD, as long as all of the following are true:

    1. You LOVE Bowdoin and would 110% attend if admitted.

    2. You're extremely confident you can present a well thought out and crafted application by the ED deadline, which is November 1st.

    3. You and your family can afford Bowdoin if admitted (run the financial aid calculators if applicable.)

    Update: Just saw your latest post, and wanted to address some of the points made.

    Transferring to Brown is not a guarantee, nor do I know if legacy status is considered at the same level (probably not because there's no ED-equivalent when it comes to transferring.) Brown is currently need-AWARE for transfer students, so your level of financial need WILL be taken into account in the transfer admissions process, though idk to what extent. While this year was an anomaly when it comes to admissions, the acceptance rate was about 3-4%, while it usually hovers around 7-8%, which is about the same as the RD acceptance rate.

    If you want to study abroad, the Open Curriculum would make it much easier to fit in a semester or two because you only have to juggle major requirements, not a general ed curriculum as well like Bowdoin (although it is a distribution requirement system, meaning you'll have some choice when it comes to choosing courses in each distribution area.)

    Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!
    edited September 30
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  • sunflowahsunflowah 1 replies2 threads New Member
    UPDATED with more thoughts/info... T minus one month until the deadline for a binding Early Decision application and I don't know where to apply.

    About me:
    - I'll be going into college with an undecided major, but I'm interested in trying many disciplines out for size (currently I'm considering environmental studies, education, neuroscience/technology in modern culture/other approaches to researching the impact of tech, something revolving around social justice).
    - I know I want to study abroad and I'm hoping to become fluent in Spanish.
    - I also love art and would like to go to a school where a) I'd have access to art classes and b) the arts are a core part of the curriculum/student life.
    - I've grown up in New England and recently decided to stay closer to home in the midst of all this craziness. However, I want college to be an adventure and not feel like more of the same just because I'm staying in the northeast. I'd probably be more seriously considering schools all around the country if it we're for COVID and natural disasters.

    The details:
    - I visited Bowdoin pre-COVID and LOVED it. Something about being there just felt right, and I could picture myself on campus as a student.
    - Both my parents went to Brown for undergrad. Until I started my college process, Brown was the only school on my mind. I've been to many reunions there, drove there this summer, and like the campus. But I haven't taken the initiative to picture myself there.
    - In the months since visiting Bowdoin, I've toured more places (both irl and virtually) and finalized my list of schools.
    - For both schools, chance of acceptance is ~15% higher if one EDs. So, since I think I'd be happy at either, it makes sense to apply early.

    My worries:
    - If I'm accepted ED and become locked into the school, I might question my decision. I guess this happens at any point in the college-deciding process, but it feels a little crazy to decide on a school in October of my senior year.
    - My memory of my wonderful experience at Bowdoin 7 months ago may not be an accurate reflection of how I'd experience the college as an actual student.
    - Bowdoin's small student body may feel limiting. I go to a high school with 1,600 kids and some days feel like there's not enough ppl and other days I'm shocked at how little I know the ppl around me.
    - What if I'm only considering Brown bc my parents went there? It seems like that's the "expected path" for me (no pressure is coming from my parents, it more feels like my peers and other family friends). I'm not sure how to separate my own perceptions and wants from those of ppl around me. Am I just totally in my own head about this?
    - This might be true of both places, but I don't want everyone to think the same. If a school and student body talks the talk of "we're accepting of all views," I'd like to see them practice healthy discourse and be okay with people thinking other things, not just use their motto of complete inclusivity to apply to white liberals. My dad told me of a Dean at Brown who said "50 yrs ago, our students all looked the same but thought differently. Now, they all look different but think the same." I want difference in looks AND thinking.

    My thoughts:
    - Brown is an Ivy. It also seems like a pretty dope school w/ cool students. And I could take classes at RISD.
    - Bowdoin is an amazing school.
    - When I toured Bowdoin, my gut feeling said "this is the place."
    - I haven't had the opportunity to tour Brown.
    - I don't want to choose Brown because of its widely-known prestige, but I don't want to take it off the table for the same reason either.
    - My parents have continually reminded me that I can transfer. That notion is keeping me sane(-ish).
    - Bowdoin is only undergrads. I could go to Brown for grad school.
    - After writing this whole thing, it seems like I'm pointing much more towards Bowdoin. But I still feel like I just don't know. AHHHHHHHHHH!

    The question:
    - Should I ED to Bowdoin or Brown?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 11073 replies137 threads Senior Member
    If you don't know, don't ED. There is no rule that says you have to ED anywhere.
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  • blossomblossom 10636 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Tens of thousands of kids make a decision about where to go to college in March. You can be one of them.
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 4281 replies189 threads Senior Member
    Sounds like you need to get the Ivy bug out of your system. Please don't go to a NESCAC college with the thought that you are going to transfer out eventually to attend a university with better name recognition. It's not fair to your classmates who will have to listen to your second-thoughts; it's not fair to the person who might have been admitted in your stead. And, it's not fair to you - who needs all that anxiety consuming their first year of college!
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2944 replies15 threads Senior Member
    If you’re not absolutely certain/committed, don’t ED.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12149 replies164 threads Senior Member
    Don't waste your legacy status at Brown.
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 784 replies3 threads Member
    Publisher wrote: »
    Don't waste your legacy status at Brown.

    @Publisher I wouldn't say "don't waste," but it's highly, highly unadvised, at least in my opinion, because a double legacy COULD mean the difference between acceptance and rejection ED, especially if you're a borderline applicant

    @sunflowah Given that the size of the student body at Bowdoin is a worry for you, I'd argue that it's easier to carve out a small friend group at a medium-sized private school like Brown with people from all over than at a smaller LAC like Bowdoin (which is still amazing, but has no where close to the amount of people and diversity of majors, backgrounds etc. due to its small size.) The other advantage is the freedom of the Open Curriculum coupled with the resources of a top research university: while Bowdoin is again, amazing, it's not going to have the same resources and research opportunities across every field that you'll find at larger schools.)

    However, at the end of the day, the final decision is yours. If you're truly undecided, there's no shame in deciding to apply RD to both---just make sure you're applying widely (safeties, matches, and reaches,) and hope for the best! :smile:

    Hope that helps!
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35946 replies404 threads Senior Member
    College is different than high school in that it's a new body of students. The sort of boredom after knowing fellow students for so many years is often no issue at all. You'll likely spend much of the first two years learning your way around and the last two much more immersed in what you choose to major in, plus now established friendships. Nothing says a larger pool of kids means some broader and brighter adventure.

    And Bowdoin, for heaven's sake, is a T10 LAC. If you're already a Northeasterner, you likely know the Maine mystique. It has both laid back and sophisticated elements. Bowdoin, like Brown, attracts kids from all over the country, different viewpoints, experiences.

    Why not go with courses available, support structures, take a hard look at campus activities, etc? Nearly every college allows for study abroad, either programs they offer or they allow you to use an outside program. (You might want to see how costs work for outside programs. Some colleges make you pay a placeholder fee for the time you are gone.)

    The question is where you will feel empowered and grow. Yes, this requires knowing enough about yourself. It is NOT simply a matter of perceived prestige.

    You have to make this bigger and deeper dive into what each college actually offers, no assumptions about size.

    Double legacy guarantees nothing, unless you match- fully, holistically. Much is made of "borderline," but that's too simplistic. So while you're exploring what each actually offers, try to get a read on what they value in their class, what *they* want.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12149 replies164 threads Senior Member
    Brown University does consider legacy status in the admissions process.

    While I like the above post, unlikely that it will take one more than a semester to learn your way around campus at an LAC.
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2944 replies15 threads Senior Member
    Turn the legacy question around. Say you apply to brown ED and you *don’t* get an admit - are you now annoyed that you didn’t apply for Bowdoin, or “just” that you didn’t get into Brown?
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  • merc81merc81 12180 replies207 threads Senior Member
    edited October 1
    Publisher wrote: »
    While I like the above post, unlikely that it will take one more than a semester to learn your way around campus at an LAC.

    With respect to spatial attributes, however, the OP may want to consider that Bowdoin resides on a campus 61 acres larger than that of Brown.
    edited October 1
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35946 replies404 threads Senior Member
    edited October 1
    Legacy doesn't guarantee. It gets an extra consideration (so what's that, an extra minute?) The natural advantage a legacy holds is he or she presumably knows the U better than a typical cold applicant, who misses, say, something big like the Open Curriculum. Or is very generic in other ways (any top college will do it for many kids. Or they get side tracked.)

    My point isn't that it takes a full two years to acclimate. Rather, the first two years are more exploring- which OP wants to do. Hence, the point to the courses available, what's there to explore and the match. If if feels too limited, fine, pick a bigger U. OTOH, there are only so many courses one can take, per semester.

    Yes, the lead specialist in one of D1's subfields focused on different interests than hers. (But he did lead her to a hands-on, pretty marvelous, research opp, abroad.) But she had these collateral interests, as OP does, and was able to dig further into those, quite enthusiastically. (Not Bowdoin.)

    It takes some digging well past reputation, size, and proximity to a large city to understand the right match for you. After that. go ahead and light up the fires.
    edited October 1
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 2627 replies35 threads Senior Member
    My two cents about legacy is that unless your parents have regularly contributed (financially giving money and/or volunteering a considerable amount of their time) at Brown since they graduated, the legacy bump may be negligible.

    It sounds like you really love Bowdoin but the fact that Brown is an ivy and your parents are legacy, it's making your decision a tough one. I get it...

    I would really decide what type of college you want for 4 years? A small, fairly isolated Maine LAC of 1,800 is not going to be the same experience as a mid-sized research university of 6,800, only an hour from Boston.

    If you were my D, I would encourage you to apply early to Brown and if you did not get in, you still would have a shot at Bowdoin (and other colleges) with RD spring acceptances. At the end of the day, you can't go wrong attending either one of these great colleges.

    Keep us posted...
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 784 replies3 threads Member
    @socaldad2002 Bowdoin has ED2, so OP could always ED to Brown and ED2 if necessary. BUT, I totally understand that even if OP's parents loved the school, not everyone does, and that's fine too.

    @sunflowah I was in your shoes last year (except for the legacy,) when it came to deciding to ED and something I found helpful to do was to create pros and cons lists. Barring prestige, are there facets of the Open Curriculum vs. Bowdoin's distribution requirements that you really admire? Are there specific faculty members, courses, alumni-sponsored internships etc. that you're interested in? Do you like RI vs. Maine more?

    Hope that helps!
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