Pros and Cons of Hamilton?

What do you love? What do you hate?

Con: The Great Names Series of speakers

Pros - Just came back from Fall Family Weekend and there is a lot to love! In the classes I attended, the professors knew everyone’s name and there was a lot of interaction and discussion. The campus itself is stunning and appears well kept. The President gave a State of the School talk that instilled confidence and trust in his leadership. In addition to financial matters and admissions info, he talked about their efforts to address the wellness needs of students and also to foster civil discourse and debate. Everywhere we went, we ran into my son’s friends and they were uniformly friendly, warm, and polite. I really feel like my student is in a place where he is challenged and supported.
Cons - Not much to do in the surrounding community, although Fall is really beautiful there.

Pros - Hamilton is known for its strong academics across a wide range. For a small Liberal Arts college it is strong in Math and Sciences, Economics and English/Writing, among others. It has an open curriculum and allows students the freedom to design some of their own majors/concentrations. The campus is fairly large for a small school and is well maintained with beautiful grounds. There is an open and friendly vibe to the student population. They have a strong endowment and one of the top 4 year graduation rates in the nation. The school has numerous activities, sports and clubs to get involved with.

Cons - It is a small school in a rural setting for those that need more of a busy, city setting. Some of the older dorms aren’t as nice. It is not overly diverse, however the school has been working on that and the trends are changing. There is no merit money so any financial aid is needs based only. The health center is not open on the weekends.

Is it common for health care centers to be closed on weekends ? Seems like most accidents & emergencies / excessive consumption would occur during weekends.

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Regarding health center hours - Not sure about “common” but at least 2 peer schools (Middlebury and Bates) also only open on weekdays. I assume there are emergency and urgent care options available.

Another con related to location - not many good restaurants accessible to students. Nola’s and Utica Coffee seemed like the best to me.

Bowdoin health center is only open on the weekdays as well, although there is a walk-in clinic 0.5 miles from campus with daily hours, including weekends.
When visiting Hamilton, our tour guide specifically mentioned how great the health center is.

Agree with others main downside is remoteness, although there is quite a bit of retail/restaurants/bars a relatively quick uber ride (5-15 mins) away. I didn’t get the sense the drinking culture was greater than that of other peer schools.

Bates has a special arrangement with Central Maine Medical Center. CMMC staffs the Bates Health Center during the week; on the weekends or for specialty care students are seen at CMMC. CMMC is about a 10 minute walk from campus but there’s also a Bobcat shuttle that runs between the two. It’s regularly scheduled during the week and by request on weekends. Prescriptions can be picked up directly at the Health Center.

There’s also an urgent care clinic at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, one block off campus.

I have actually heard (anecdotally) that the drinking and pot smoking at Hamilton is actually “worse” than most other NESCACs. I know two students from our town who say it’s really bad and hard to fit in if you don’f find these types of parties fun. I don’t know if Hamilton has enough other options on weekend nights for kids who don’t want to be in that scene.

Obviously, I’m just a poster on CC - anonymous with just anecdotal info. But I would make sure to have your student spend the night so they can see what they see.

As the mom of a current Hamilton junior who doesn’t drink or partake in any drugs (and no this isn’t wishful thinking on my part, it’s actually true), I have to say that my kid is having a dynamite time at Hamilton and has found many like-minded peers. There are of course plenty of kids who do drink and partake in recreational substances (my D is friends with some) but there are plenty who do not, who are not interested, and my D has never felt pressured.

I’m not sure why this keeps coming up as an issue with Hamilton and is talked about on this forum as though it’s a bigger issue than it is at other schools, but as the parent of a self-identified straight arrow with tons of friends and activities (she was home for a grand total of 4 days this summer because of on-campus research projects etc.) I can say with a pretty high level of confidence that kids who are not drinkers/partiers can have a completely wonderful experience at this school.

The source of Hamilton’s essential distinction resides in its history. As Hamilton and other all-male institutions were arising from their single-sex pasts, Hamilton chose the imaginative direction of creating a coordinate college with a complementary curriculum as well as a generally different educational emphasis. If the current Hamilton appears academically and architecturally more diverse and interesting than its enrollment would indicate, this is at least partly due to this aspect of its history. As described in a recently published book,


(*Coordinate Colleges for American Women: A Convergence of Interests, 1947-78/i.)

I echo what @thermom said above. I have a current student at Hamilton as well. He’s my youngest (I have three sons) and the drinking is no more pronounced at Hamilton than it was at my other sons’ schools. It’s there if you want it, but if you don’t, you won’t feel left out.

In the context of student surveys on alcohol use, Connecticut College, Wesleyan, Colby and Bowdoin, but not Hamilton, represent the NESCACs in the two Princeton Review categories pertaining to high consumption. By available press accounts, Bowdoin in particular from this group has received unwelcome notice:

This should serve as excellent advice.

@merc81 Right. S19 is at Bowdoin. I assume you know that. But this is why I always say not to listen to people on CC about parties, etc., since there are parties and drinking at all schools. That story above is what it is. And, yes, the police in Brunswick handled a situation in a certain way that I believe was not the way the college would have liked. Another recent story has some 21 year olds getting tickets for having a party (at a house off but near campus) because there were minors there. The minors just got warnings. So the lesson is this - if you are 21 and have a party at an off campus house, do not serve under aged kids alcohol.

Again, every school has drinking but some schools are better at having other options for the kids on weekend nights so that they can have fun otherwise. Bowdoin has choices for kids.

Before S19 decided on Bowdoin, we talked to kids in our neighborhood who are there. They told us that kids who choose not to drink will have plenty of other socializing options. But, like I said in my above post, the kids we know at Hamilton thought it was harder to be social without drinking. I said it was anecdotal and it seems other posters above have kids at Hamilton and believe this is not the case. I’m glad to hear that.

@homerdog: You compared Hamilton, basically unfavorably, to other NESCACs, a group of which Bowdoin is a member. I tend to post with sources that others can verify. Beyond surveys and press accounts (the Bowdoin example simply being the only recent one with which I am familiar), I’m not even sure how I could begin to coherently present the stories I’ve heard from across various college campuses.

@merc81 right. But one situation that makes it into the local paper is also just one event. It doesn’t tell the whole story…just like any one student’s opinion isn’t the whole story either.

Back to the original question- I found the studio art program and student artwork on display to be impressive.

Though my child is ultimately not applying to Hamilton, we really liked this school. In addition to the open curriculum, the Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts is a big draw. Really gorgeous!

I would also echo as a current parent that there are plenty of students who do not partake and that certain dorms are known to be quiet and chill and others to be for partiers. From what I have heard the dark side is quiet except for the suites. Possibly more partying on the light side. But this is just anecdotal. My student is not interested in the greek scene or party scene, but has tons of friends and a happy social life (despite the location).

How do you think the college would have liked the Brunswick PD to handle the situation? I have lived in Brunswick for 23 years; the cops here are reasonable and are generaly not out looking for Bowdoin students who may be breaking alcohol laws. When illegal student activity is found off campus, among the regular folks, the police will be more stringent. Having obnoxious college students as neighbors when you are a permanent resident is not a fun situation.

I have a daughter who recently garduated from Hamilton. I know both Bowdoin and Hamilton pretty well. It’s difficult to make an objective comparison between schools about substance use/abuse. And when that might be possible, it will change for the next year, and the year after that, etc., as school policies and programs change and 1/4 of the student population departs and a new class matriculates.