Bowdoin vs. Carleton?

Hi – I’m trying to decide between Bowdoin and Carleton for next year. I’m having a struggle deciding, I think in part because the two seem so similar (on paper). I was wondering if anyone might have some insight into any potential differences in the experience of the two. Though, I understand in the end this decision will have to be my own. Thanks in advance.

The decision may really be made by the admissions offices of Bowdoin and Carleton.

Tentative academic interests?

I’m interested in STEM-related fields, probably will be a Math or Physics or Bio major… Not sure what I want to do after college. Saw both campuses and really liked them both, so not sure where to go

Consider trimester at Carleton vs. semester at Bowdoin, consider ease of travel for you to each location. While I didn’t look specifically at geographic breakdown for students at each school, I’m guessing – and someone can correct me – that Carleton still pulls more students from the midwest while Bowdoin pulls more from the east coast. Take a look at info on outcomes and locations – I’m guessing that there may be a greater weight of Carleton students who stay in the Midwest, either Twin Cities or Chicago, while Bowdoin may send kids more to northeast corridor. If you have a strong preference for one locale over the other, post-grad, that may be worth considering. Consider curricular requirements – what are the distribution requirements at each school.

Both superb schools with talented, motivated, engaged students. Both have cold winters . . .

Are you asking about where to apply ED?

Honestly, this as tight a “race” as it gets. Both will be excellent for what you want to study. I think Carleton is a little more quirky. Bowdoin will have a more traditional New England LAC vibe. Both will have cold winters, great profs, excellent academics, serious students, and fun activities and traditions.

If it helps at all, my D applied to Carleton a few years ago, and never considered Bowdoin. She ended up attending Bates, which might be a nice cross between the two in terms of vibe.

She liked Carleton because she felt that as a somewhat nerdy “cool kid”, she would fit in. She preferred Carleton to Bowdoin, which she thought was a bit creepy and too much like a cemetery. (To be fair, we visited Bowdoin on a rainy day and were actually there to visit the museum.) Totally ridiculous, but that was how she felt aged 16. She has since been back to Bowdoin and doesn’t know what she was thinking, but she still preferred Carleton’s campus.

I agree with post #4. The trimester system, for many kids, is pretty intense. And where kids go after college might be affected by the geographic location of each school. Try reading some reviews of each on Niche, which might help you get a better feel for the students.

Agree that if you find both equally attractive, then consider whether you would prefer a trimester academic calendar or semesters.

Trimester schools offer students the opportunity to experience a greater number of courses, but create a more intense academic environment.

@homerdog , any thoughts on these two schools?

My daughter was accepted to both Carleton and Bowdoin. She chose Bowdoin mostly because she was able to visit the campus and the vibe there really resonated with her. She knew a lot about Carleton even though she didn’t visit because her college counselor was a Carleton grad. They are both excellent schools but it is a tad easier to get into Carleton (20% acceptance rate for 2020) vs Bowdoin’s 8.9% rate. Both are strong in Bio but I would give the edge to Bowdoin for Marine Biology because they have a dedicated separate small campus right on the coast about 30 minutes south from the main campus in Brunswick, ME.

I echo what others have said about trimester (Carleton) vs semester (Bowdoin) in terms of how you prefer to learn. Do you prefer fewer classes in a more intense format or do you prefer to space things out and take 4 classes. I will say, my daughter had to get special permission from her advisor to take 5 classes in one semester. They really prefer freshman stick to 4 classes per semester so the transition to college load isn’t too overwhelming. She attended a rigorous prep school so handling 5 classes was manageable.

Since you visited both campuses, it really comes down to which vibe felt better to you and which geographic location was more appealing. I would say Bowdoin’s location offers more variation with mountains and skiing not too far north of campus as well as coastal ocean 30 minutes south and temperate forest all around for hiking. The outdoor club at Bowdoin is very active with activities almost every weekend. If you’re a lobster/seafood fan, Bowdoin’s location is a plus for sure. Portland is 30 minutes west and Boston is a 3 hr train ride.

Carleton is about an hour from Minneapolis but other than that it’s pretty rural.