Brandeis vs Bowdoin

Hi people of the internet. So I have to choose my school in a few days and I have been torturing myself over this decision. I have narrowed down my top picks to Brandeis and Bowdoin. I have family ties to Bowdoin and everyone thinks that it is the “better” school, but the problem is that I have a lot of mental health issues and I am not sure I can handle going off to Maine. Brandeis is super close (driving distance) and would allow me to keep my support system while in college. People in my life think turning down Bowdoin is a mistake and would dampen my future prospects. I don’t want to ruin my life but I also don’t want to put myself in bad situation. I don’t want to give details about my health but I will admit that I have daily challenges. Is Brandeis reputable, or would I be a fool for choosing it over Bowdoin? Going to a good school is important to me; I just don’t know how risky I am willing to be. I am extremely fortunate to say that finances are not a current factor in this choice, so don’t weigh financial aid too heavily in any advice. I would appreciate any thoughts so please help me decide. Thank you in advance and enjoy your day.

I think most people would agree that Bowdoin has a stronger reputation than Brandeis. But I also think most people would agree that the gap is relatively small. If you feel that Brandeis offers a better situation for your mental health and a stronger support system, I think you’d be crazy NOT to pick Brandeis, personally.

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Bowdoin is 2 hours and 15 minutes from Brandeis, and, presumably your home. Certainly drivable, though perhaps difficult to keep your support systems.

What does your current therapist think? They know you best in real life, and would have better advice than internet strangers.

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Brandeis is an excellent school with a good reputation and no one will think less of you if you choose it. I will suggest though that your primary reason for wanting Brandeis doesn’t seem in your best interest.

My main worry is that by being so very close to home with Brandeis, you are going to greatly hinder your chances of being fully immersed in your college experience. 2.5 hours drive time (is that about right?) is no time at all, and is certainly close enough to home for you to see your family if you need it, but also for enough away that you will be able to gain some independence and be immersed in college. Think about what you were doing just two or three hours ago.

Think about what you want out of college too. Are you planning to enjoy living on campus, meeting people, becoming involved in on-campus activities, and making new friends? Or is your main idea that you want a better academic experience than the local state Uni can give you?

To me, if having the whole package is important to you, I think you should strongly consider Bowdoin. I get a strong sense that the main appeal of Brandeis is that you can escape if you need to. That’s not the best reason to choose a college. Maybe it will be good for you to be close to home, but not so close that you aren’t able to invest yourself in the experience.

You, your family and your therapist should have an honest conversation about how you’ll manage your mental health while at college. Call both colleges too and ask what mental health services they offer on campus. Wherever you end up, sign up for counseling right away. These services are popular and book up quickly.


I see you posted last year asking about living at home and attending college. You said last year that this possibility is very important to you.

What steps have you taken over the last year to address whatever issues you have? Do you have a therapist and have you discussed how to address your issues when you start college? Do you feel that you are ready for college in August?

In your shoes, I would ask Bowdoin if you can have a car on campus, and provide documentation as to why you need one, if necessary. I’d also have your parents take out extra insurance so that if you decide you can’t handle being at college, they won’t take a total financial hit should you withdraw.

I think it’s very important not to choose a college based on the mindset that you can escape if things are tough. The whole point of being at a residential LAC is that you become part of a community. Long time users see posts regularly in the college life forum from kids who spent the entire first semester going home every weekend because they felt homesick. Then, they think they chose the wrong school because everyone else has friends and is part of the community. Students get to know one another by living on campus, eating together, joining organizations, hanging out at the weekends, and yes, having discussions with other students and professors.

I hope this doesn’t come across as being harsh, but you can’t be part of a community when you are busy escaping. It’s not reasonable to assume that students will make an effort to get to know someone who goes home all the time. This is the main reason why I think you should attend Bowdoin. I fear that if you choose Brandeis, you are not going to enjoy your college experience, but more than that, I fear that you are doing yourself a disservice. Students learn best when they are happy in their environment. You clearly are worried that Brandeis won’t be as good as Bowdoin, but your fear of the unknown is making you doubt your gut instinct. That’s how it seems to me, at any rate. Again, how much time is 2 hours, and what were you doing two hours ago?

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Brandeis is also a great school. I think you need to choose the school at which you feel you have the greatest chance at success. If you’re afraid you’ll be too stressed by the distance, go to Brandeis.


No question that Brandeis University is the wiser choice for you as one’s mental health is much more important than attending a slightly more prestigious school.

Have you explored the mental health offerings and warmth of each school? I don’t know much about Brandeis, but Bowdoin is a small, collaborative student and faculty community. Your professors want to see you succeed and are known to have students over for dinner, form friendships with them. You will find great mentors at Bowdoin if you embrace what it has to offer.