In desperate need of help- Trinity or Bates????


I am an international student deciding between Trinity College (CT) and Bates College (Maine).
I have seen lots of really horrible negative remarks about Trinity’s social life (I am one of the ‘care-about-the-world’ ‘partying-is-not-everything’ kind of person) but the location and Community gateway programme sound great, plus getting in as a Global Scholar is a perk apparently. I’ve also heard that the Career Counseling Department isn’t really good.
I have seen comments about the ‘horrible’ location of Bates College and that there is a divide between the low-income and high income students and the international vs. the American ones. The sustainability and food sound great. Apparently, Lewiston is also not very safe.

I want to study something along the lines of Global Politics, International Studies/relations, etc.
Both colleges give me a similar financial aid package.

I have no idea which one to choose! Please help me, I need to make a decision very soon.
The social life (in terms of motivated people, if not great now, then at least with a potential to make change) and the academics (especially the political science departments) and the relationships with the professors matter a lot.

Thank you in advance.

A very confused, anxious and distressed student!

Bates has great academic programs and the students seem to love it there despite the crappy location.


With respect to Trinity, a strong case can be made for their political science offerings, particularly those in American government and politics. I’d note as well that, in terms of campus aesthetics, Long Walk makes for a nice feature.

However, the somewhat more selective Bates may offer you more of the overall intellectual atmosphere you are seeking, and could be a good choice as well. Actually, from the way you describe yourself, Bates would seem to be your better fit.

Both will provide excellent educations, active class discussions in small classes, and close relationships with professors.

Lewiston would not be considered less safe than Hartford. It is a town with some poor areas and Hartford is a city with some poor areas.

Trinity: heavy fraternity culture, in civilization in a mid sized city with NYC nearby, Hartford famous for local government and insurance industry opportunities. Preppy feel.

Bates: no fraternities, inclusive environment, surrounded by rural Maine with nice outdoor activities. More of a mixed culture on campus-- preppy athletes mix with more artsy/granola kids; the second category exists at Trinity but is a smaller percentage than at Bates.

Based on your stated interests, you can help local Somali refugees and avoid frat culture at Bates.

I never heard about the social divisions you described at Bates. Let’s appeal to @Lindagaf and other people who know Bates well to weigh in.

Two great choices! Congratulations and good luck.

Both great schools and choices my son was considered. Having made several visits to each, but not having been a student at either, here was our take.

Bates is effectively a rural school in the town of Lewiston/Auburn. While it is a bit of a population center in Maine, it is not much. Trinity is a beautiful enclave in the large state capital city of Hartford. If you want lots of internship and volunteer opportunities, Hartford wins hands down. The part of Hartford where Trinity is is not the nicer part. You can see that as negative or the opportunities as positive. Trinity works hard to make it a positive for students who have that outlook. If you want to enjoy the outdoors (and Maine is a vacation destination for a reason! ), Bates wins. The settings are really different. At both schools, there will be lots to do on campus, so you will not be dependent on the local area. Visit the areas with Google maps.
For your interests, Trinity is more of a fit, I think.

Bates works hard to create one community. Things like one dining hall help. Trinity has had frats for some time and although most students don’t belong, they play a role in the social life. Both schools are working hard to diversify. Traditionally, Trinity was the jockier, preppier one and Bates was the crunchier, artsy one. Over the last decade, both have moved toward each other but to me, the vibe of each is still influenced by where it is coming from. Both schools have plenty of parties and plenty of people to hang out with if that’s not your thing.

Trinity alumni are well placed and helpful to students, and readily available internships (including government ) in Hartford might give this school the edge in job placement for certain industries (particularly finance and insurance.) All the Maine schools have to work a little harder to launch their students from farther away. The innovative programs Bates has reflect this effort.

Bates has a short term at the end of the year. I am a fan – it’s a great way to explore or do something that might otherwise be impossible to schedule.

I know kids at both who are really happy (including ones who did not "fit the usual profile ") The teaching is great at both. FWIW, my son strongly preferred rural schools (so Maine was a draw), but felt that Trinity made a compelling case for being more in the heart of civilization. He felt like he was more of a Bates type but would have been happy at Trinity too.

I vote Bates. Sounds like the social environment is more like what you are looking for.

Lewiston isn’t dangerous. Parts are a little run down. Like many New England former mill towns, it’s seen better days but it isn’t a horrible place and I’d argue it is safer/nicer than Hartford. Additionally, Portland is about 40 minutes away and is a great smaller American city with great music venues and a wonderful dining scene. Bates also allows for easy access to both the ocean and mountains for outdoors pursuits.

I admit to a bias. I know quite a few students at both places. Without a fault, every student I personally know at Bates is a really good, kind young person. I really can’t say the same for Trinity at all.

One person close to me is a current student at Bates whose 2 best friends are international students. I’ve never heard of a divide on campus between domestic and international students.

Lewiston is a working class town and not at all dangerous. I am frankly a little shocked that such a perception exists. Since when did not rich mean the same as unsafe?

@TheGreyKing gives a good assessment. I am biased, but if you are a more intellectual person, Bates should be your choice. Bates is certainly a better blend of students, IMO. There is a noticeable contingent of outdoorsy hippy types and in fact, there’s an eco-justice residence on campus. Trinity has more jocks and preppy kids. Bates has a great career center and the purposeful work initiative is getting good results.

I am also really unsure what reviews you have read about international kids versus American kids. That’s simply not true. My D is american. Her best friends are from Morocco, Kazakhstan and the Phillipines. One of her American friends is dating a Vietnamese guy. In fact Bates is known for being friendly and the international kids host very popular parties.

There will be rich kids at both schools, easily. I wouldn’t say one will have more than the other, and I dont know Trinity well enough, but I don’t think it’s hurting for cash. I can tell you that, at least last year, about 8% of the incoming class were first generation to college, and Bates makes an effort to bring such students to campus.

No idea about partying at Trinity, but with frats, it would be normal to assume there are parties. There are parties at Bates, and at every school. My D and her friends are not partiers. There is no pressure to party. Studying is,taken seriously. Bates is number 5 in producing Fulbright Scholars so there are plenty of serious students and the professors are excellent. You will get an excellent education.

@Dontskipthemoose @merc81 @Chembiodad @TheGreyKing @gardenstategal @doschicos @Lindagaf

Thank you so very much for your helpful and well informed answers.
A little update- After some research and some talk with the colleges, I have found that at Trinity, after student employment, my family’s contribution will be close to nothing. At Bates however, even after working for about 10 hours a week there will be comparatively a significant family contribution.
This is something that really matters, but I am now all panicky and anxious and never having visited the US, it doesn’t make things any better…

Do you have any thoughts on this ??

Go with what is most affordable. At either school you can get a great education, find friends and have a happy 4 years. The differences between the two aren’t significant enough in my opinion to warrant financial pressure on your family. Go to Trinity if it save you $$$.

Both are excellent schools and you will get a great education at either.
A couple points I’ll throw out there. Trinity has a beautiful campus, with Gothic architecture that make it look like the picture perfect New England college campus. The area directly surrounding the school is not a good area, but the school works very hard to maintain safety on campus. But other areas of Hartford are very nice and give students opportunities for internships, cultural activities, art, dining, shopping etc. The schools incorporates Hartford as an extension of the classroom with service and learning opportunities. Hartford is the capital of CT. Trinity has a newish president - the first African American woman to head the college and is working hard to increase diversity in both the student population and the programming. She came from Tufts. People seem to like her very much. Yes - Trinity has a ‘social’ reputation, but frats do not dominate. They do have a fair amount of kids who come from ‘prep’ schools. But the academic experience is very strong.
Regarding Bates - I agree with the other posters who say Lewiston is safe. It is not the most beautiful town, it is perhaps economically depressed, but it is not a high crime town. You can easily walk from campus to shops/restaurants etc. It is fairly close to Portland and Freeport, two towns with lots going on. Lots of outdoor activities and you will find lots of kids who enjoy the outdoors, skiing hiking etc. You will also find smart. focused kids and a strong community feel. Bates is a bit more highly regarded than Trinity for academics, but you will get a strong education at either.
Biggest difference is the locale.

Yes, I agree with doschicos. Not worth going into debt for either.

How lucky - the difficult decision has been made for you!! To get that quality of an education for next to nothing is a blessing!

Bates College '16 Graduate here…

I would hands down go with Bates. Although I am definitely very biased, it seems to be the best option given your interests. During my time there, I never witnessed the divisions you are speaking of between international and non-international students. Bates is one of the most welcoming and supportive communities I have ever been a part of. Bates Campus is absolutely beautiful and the surrounding community is very vibrant and diverse. In fact, Bates being not one of the most affluent communities actually draws students for the level of community engagement that it offers. Roughly 50% of classes have a community engagement component, and each year students contribute. In terms of job prospects, people have been very enthusiastic about me having gone to Bates College - a school that is very sound in its values and teaches the individual to think critically, analytically, and to challenge assumption more than anything else. Yes, I may not have a degree that points me in the direction of a specific career, but the level of intellectual development I’ve undergone during my time at Bates arguably lends itself better to any career than a specific degree does.

In terms of my relationships with professors, they have been amazing. I still talk to my thesis advisor today, which is another way for you to form strong relationships with your professors. They are super supportive and welcome any opportunity to meet academically or personally to help you reach your goals both inside and outside of schools. Many of my professors I referred to on a first-name basis.

Also, both schools obviously have parties, but Trinity’s party culture seems to be more of one an individual like you would like to stray away from.

Sorry for my whole blurb, I used to work in admissions.

Removing any consideration of cost, I’d opt for Bates. I have no vested interest in either Trinity or Bates. Some posters don’t like the town of Lewiston, but keep in mind that the City of Hartford is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.

@aneranh , have you contacted Bates Financial Aid office? They might be willing to give you a little more aid if you ask. Let them know what Trinity if offering, maybe then you could afford Bates more easily. In your shoes, if it was only a little more expesnive, I think it might be woth it to go to Bates, in terms of both future prospects and being in a place you might find more to your liking. But debt isn’t good. Good luck!

@aneranh Congratulations on your acceptances! That’s great!

I graduated from Bates in the 80s. My son will be a freshman there in the fall! I can’t speak to Trinity as I don’t know anything about it. Check out other threads like Bates vs. Hamilton and Bates vs. Middlebury for more on Bates. (You probably already have!)

Re Lewiston… I had to comment to defend Lewiston! There’s a soft spot in my heart for this city. I agree with everyone else - Lewiston won’t win many beauty contests, but it is definitely safe and interesting. You can easily walk to shops, restaurants, etc. The Basilica is beautiful and there is a Franco-American cultural center. The Somali community is revitalizing the town and Bates is reaching out to the community which is great. It is relatively easy to get to some absolutely gorgeous countryside, seacoast, and Portland from Lewiston. The river has been cleaned up and the college has just built a new boat house on the river for the crew team. (Boy did the Androscoggin smell bad in the 80s! But it’s nice now!) The Outing Club is great and Bates has Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation area on the coast.

@Nickar Excellent description of the Bates culture. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am still in touch with my professors (including my thesis advisor) 30 years later! The community is warm, inclusive and supportive - like a big extended family, even after graduation.

One thing to consider is winter… One of my roommates was from Jamaica and she loved Bates but she had a hard time with the snow and cold! The campus is small and compact however, and really no longer than a 10 minute walk from one end to the other. The weather in Hartford is not as cold but really not dramatically so.

Good luck with your choice! I’m sure you’ll do great whichever you choose.

Ooops! I meant @Nickaroo22 … Sorry @Nickar!

@Lindagaf you think it’s alright to ask them for more because Trinity is giving me more? I hope it doesn’t put them off!

They won’t be put off. These requests are normal. They will either have the money or not. I would email the FA office and tell them what Trinity’s offer is. Explain that you would like to attend Bates and ask if they will reconsider your FA package. It really is a matter of finances. They may or may not have the money to give you. You might even have to wat for them to see who else deposits, but if you really think you would prefer Bates, there is no harm asking. They won’t rescind your offer.