'Reviews' on Explore Bowdoin Sept. 2013?

<p>honeybee wrote, on another thread, “D is going to attend a 4 day diversity program at Bowdoin this week. I will have her post her observations on his thread when she gets back.”</p>

<p>Well?? Honeybee and others how was the program? What are your (or your child’s) thoughts on Bowdoin??</p>


<p>Well, I didn’t attend obviously but I can report that my D really truly loved the experience. I’ll share her observations about Bowdoin in general and then re: the diversity issue.
Bowdoin itself is a beautiful campus, mostly red brick and stone buildings, thickly planted with trees, a gorgeous art museum, all the old fraternity buildings have been repurposed (Admissions, student unions etc.) and the dorms are all around the periphery of the campus. The two dining halls have what is generally acknowledged to be some of the absolute best food on any college campus. My vegan daughter raved about the food and she ate mostly in Thorne, (also there is a gelato place in town called Gelato Fiasco which has apparently world class gelato which has mentioned about 100x :)). </p>

<p>She was there from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon, and they really packed in the activities, from sitting in on classes, to films and faculty discussions, a Latin tea, barbecue with professors and administrators, party at the African American house, admissions and FA workshops, a meeting with Pres Barry Mills, a trip to Bowdoin’s coastal studies institute, an Outing Club adventure, a day of community service and more. My D enjoyed the various outdoors stuff the most I think, although she liked everything and everyone. She said that people were SO friendly, in a really genuine way, so much that she jokingly wondered if it was a cult :D.</p>

<p>There were just under 50 HS seniors visiting from all over the US - Cali, Seattle, the midwest, Texas, Nashville, FLA, rural Kentucky, Chicago area, and more…they all loved the Bowdoin experience and agreed that it was an incredibly warm, welcoming and nurturing campus. Also the college was trying for a sub free weekend while the prospies were there so maybe they didn’t see whatever regular drinking and partying goes on. From what D heard, there is the usual college drinking scene but no pressure and there’s more than enough to do if you’re not into alcohol and whatever else they’re doing these days lol. I get the feeling that no one would fall through any cracks at Bowdoin (very different from Cornell where I work now and students often don’t meet with their advisors until sophomore year). There is a facebook group for the Explore Bowdoin kids and they are still posting pictures and saying how much they miss Bowdoin!
A few students did say that although they enjoyed the program, they would prefer a bigger school, so that was a great learning experience for them. </p>

<p>re: Diversity, the report was that Bowdoin is diverse in the best and broadest sense. They don’t label a/o categorize students by race, religion, socio-economic status, but recognize that each individual has his or her story and background, and they try to really assemble a group of diverse individuals. So, e.g., my D’s host (who had attended the program last year)was first gen middle eastern background, but socioeconomically upper class, from a well known Connecticut suburb (hopefully I’m giving helpful info without violating anyone’s anonymity, if that’s an issue here). So it isn’t like racial diversity and low income are lumped together as can be the case. There was a group of kids at Bowdoin who had been at a Middlebury program earlier and they unanimously reported that Middlebury was much less diverse, very upper class, white and preppy and “colder” - not just in terms of temperature. I think “uncomfortably preppy” was the phrase I heard. My D attends a small private school which like most of its peers tries hard to create a diverse student body, and like most of its peers has a large contingent of “preppy” kids, the offspring of the local business and merchant aristocracy :wink: – D felt that Bowdoin was much more diverse, interesting and overall had a more open feel than the school she attends now. (She also got so much feedback about Middlebury that she may be striking it from her college list - but we’ll see after a visit, as she is a strong foreign language student…).</p>

<p>So the overall impression was a happy, friendly, healthy campus, dedicated faculty, and a student centered administration. Lots of research opportunities and opportunities in general, and fantastic food. The only negatives were the cold ( although it was gorgeous warm fall days the nights were colder than where we are and apparently get very cold during the winter ) and D didn’t love the college president. SHe desn’t know why and I don’t know if it matters but there was something about Barry Mills ( who is very beloved at Bowdoin) that didn’t click with her. But that was the only negative she could come up with. And although she had a fantastic experience at Bowdoin, she is keeping an open mind because over the next 6 weeks she will do similar programs at Williams, Amherst, Carleton and Pomona.</p>

<p>So if you have any specific questions feel free to ask, and I’ll get an answer or get D to post here when she has a minute ( senior year, 6 AP’s, varsity sport, too many EC’s, you know the drill ;)…) Hope this was helpful.</p>

<p>I wanted to add this. When we were looking at pictures of the whole Explore Bowdoin group, there were only about 3 white faces (when I pointed to one, my D said, no she’s half hispanic lol) so although the program didn’t specify only racial minorities (first gen and low income too) it was definitely a brown skinned group :slight_smile: but my D never for one minute felt like they didn’t fit in on campus or a stuck out like group of token minorities. I think, though, that Bowdoin is definitely not urban at all and the Maine culture may feel new and different to some students. Claudia Marroquin who runs Explore Bowdoin attended the program before she matriculated at Bowdoin and stayed on in Admissions to grow the diversity of the student body. It seems like they are doing a really good job.</p>

<p>Thanks for this ‘review’! Very positive information.

<p>i didn’t mean that last section to sound like reverse racism (yikes) – I just wanted to make sure I addressed the question about diversity and segregation that was raised on the other thread. Hopefully it came across the right way and no one feels offended!</p>

<p>It was a great review honeybee…no apologies necessary! I’m glad your daughter had such a positive experience. I appreciate your daughter’s response to Barry Mills. He popped in for a bit at an event they had for parents at drop off last month and I couldn’t get a full hold on whether his comments were crossing from sincere to smarmy. But seemingly he does know a whole lot of the kids by name and interacts well with them, so I’m gonna give him the benny of the doubt for now ;)</p>



<p>That’s surprising, considering that the students bodies are nearly identical:</p>

<p>Bowdoin: 497 entering first-years:
65% from outside of New England
30% students of color
7% from outside the US
9% Maine residents
12% first generation to attend college
Cost of attending: $57,834
Percent of student body receiving financial aid: 44%
Average award: $39,900</p>

<p>Middlebury: 690 entering firsts-years (600 September, 90 February):
69% from outside New England
26% students of color
11% from outside the US
6% Vermont residents
13% first generation to attend college
Cost of attending: $57,075
Percent of student body receiving financial aid: 42%
Average award: $38,314</p>

<p>@honeybee63, thanks for posting. Very interesting to read about the Middlebury/Bowdoin comparisons. </p>

<p>@arcadia, yes those stats show the schools are quite similiar on paper.</p>

<p>@JoBenny, I was at that same reception with Barry Mills! He seemed nice enough, but I found it tough to get a read on him. He did give a wonderful Convocation Address on Arrival Day.</p>

<p>Go U Bears!</p>

<p>@arcadia, the stats are very similar for many of the small selective LAC’s not just these two schools. On paper they do look similar but once you spend time on campus (sometimes not very much time) the differences can be pretty dramatic. The quality of the education is surely consistent across all these selective schools but the campus culture is something that can’t be captured in numbers. Swarthmore and Pomona, for example, have student bodies and financial aid that varies only by a few percentage points in each category. Yet the experience on each campus is very very different. These are ineffable qualities influenced by school traditions and many other non quantitative variables. I’m sure you know all this :). Every time we actually visit a college the list gets re-ordered again…</p>

<p>I’ve spent a considerable amount of time at both Middlebury and Bowdoin and know many graduates of both institutions. To be honest, I see relatively no difference in the composition or attitudes of the respective student bodies. If you took 10 Middlebury and 10 Bowdoin students and put them in a room together, I’d bet you money that you wouldn’t be able to tell who was who (logo-emblazoned sweatshirts aside). Same goes for Williams and Amherst. Middlebury students aren’t any preppier than Bowdoin students–they all buy their clothes from the same LL Bean and Patagonia catalogs.</p>

<p>We visited Bowdoin last year and my daughter would not even apply because she found the student body to be “uncomfortably preppy” and a bit “uptight.” She is now at Midd and finds that the student body comforms with her original impression: warm, welcoming and friendly. And the campus is breathtaking.</p>

<p>My point is only that you really can’t take any of these observations too literally, it’s in the eye of the beholder. You need to visit and form your own impressions.</p>

<p>@trekslxchck my post was based on observations of a 4 day visit my D made to Bowdoin as part of a diversity program. I think it’s a wonderful thing that all the LAC’s have subtle (or not so subtle) differences causing students to feel more comfortable on one campus or the other. It would be terrible if everyone preferred the same school.</p>

<p>@arcadia, trekslxchcik reinforces the point that many students do find there to be quite extreme differences between the campus culture at different small LAC’s, in this case Bowdoin and Midd. Her daughter found Bowdoin to be preppy and preferred Midd. The group of minority students who recently visited both campuses had the opposite impression. Since people are always seeing through the unique lens of their life experience, it would be sillier than silly to argue about who’s right in this case. No one is right, human beings perceive things differently.</p>

<p>My point in this post was not to engage in the deplorable CC game of “my college is better than yours”. I don’t have a dog in this fight, nor a child an either of these campuses. I was responding to another parent who asked my D to share her impressions of a diversity weekend at Bowdoin, and that’s what I did.
Right now two of my D’s have both Middlebury and Bowdoin on their short lists.</p>

<p>‘Uncomfortably preppy and uptight’ makes me laugh because it couldn’t be further from the truth, but kids have their impressions and one has to respect that. These opinions often change as they evolve throughout their four years, however, and as arcadia says the student body are remarkably similar. I do think Bowdoin has a broader socioeconomic range and more Pell Grants attending. My midwestern kid found the school incredibly laid back and friendly and connected to the larger community. The students were bright, unique, and accepting and the culture was far from uptight and competitive. His circle of friends expanded each year as did his experiences and over his four years he developed friendships with many throughout the NESCAC. Both Midd and Bowdoin have a different ‘feel’ whatever that means…The scale and layout of the schools are different, the towns are different and I’m always surprised at the range of impressions, at least of my kids, when we visited so, so, many schools throughout the country including most of the NESCACs. Wherever the OP chooses will, hopefully, challenge, enrich, and open their lives to surprising opportunities. Simply put, these are good schools who use their resources for the benefit of the students and trusting whatever ‘vibe’ one feels is at least a starting point towards making an ultimate decision.</p>

<p>I sometimes wonder if all our impressions are set not by the student body in general but by the one or two students we meet as tour guides? Get a bad one, or one who is not what you are looking for in a college, and your impression of the whole place is thrown off. I’ve certainly been thrown off by some tour guides and more than one or two admissions officers giving the info session, and I try to pay attention to what they say, not who they are and how they act. It’s why we returned to D’s top picks for return visits, to make sure we weren’t fooled by a slick marketing pitch. We weren’t, but those bad pitches never got a second chance.</p>

<p>I wonder if colleges pay close attention to who they have as public contacts? They certainly should, as I’m sure it makes a difference.</p>

<p>@honeybee: With both Middlebury and Bowdoin on the short list, your Ds can’t go wrong!</p>

<p>My point was only that others shouldn’t take any of these written cc comparisons as the gospel. Their own impressions may differ after a visit of their own.</p>

<p>MrMom, you are so right. We’ve had that experience with a couple schools (but only a couple happily). The Rice rep for our area is just unfriendly and incompetent and sadly is our only liaison with the school since a trip to Texas from NY wasn’t likely prior to admission. My kids loved Haverford on paper but then were pretty turned off by both the student who did the info session and the student interviewer. Hard to tell if that was an unfortunate personality clash or a little window into the student body.</p>

<p>To wrap up the Bowdoin impressions: my D came in after school and read this thread - she was incredulous that anyone could find Bowdoin ‘uptight’. After spending 4 days and night on campus (sleeping in the room of a current student, who, incidentally was probably one of the more ‘preppy’ students according my D, if preppy means clothes, and also was incredibly warm and effusive, hugging my D when she met her and when she left, loaning her a sleeping bag etc etc ). She said everyone she met was really super nice and interesting and intellectual and the hugging was not unusual (!). People went out of their way to invite her along for whatever they were doing, including a walk to town to get gelato (her fave). There were all kinds of spontaneous gatherings in dorm rooms, late night chats with the proctor etc., a girl who worked in the library gave her an impromptu tour of the ‘amazing’ library. When she locked herself out of the room barefoot at night, two students rescued her and walked her to admissions to find help. D just now re-iterated that Bowdoin was an incredibly ‘nice’ school, just ‘nice’. She said if ‘preppy’ means some people wearing boat shoes, they were there but so were equal numbers of every other kind of attire and person. I should add that my D is a really scholarly kind of girl, who reads The Aeneid in Latin for fun, so if she found the school open, accepting and warm, it probably really is. On the other hand, as MrMom pointed out, it’s possible to have a bad experience anywhere with the wrong tour guide or school contact.</p>

<p>Ok I may have exhausted my reporting on Bowdoin, but taben1112, I hope it’s been helpful for you and other prospectives families. Next week Williams lol :)</p>

<p>@trek, just to reinforce that I don’t intend any positive reporting on Bowdoin to be taken as a point of comparison w Midd or any other college! We haven’t had an official visit to Midd yet, just saw the beautiful campus during the summer. We did meet an admissions rep from Midd at Cornell 2 summers ago and he was very warm and engaged in a long discussion w my D’s about their academic interests. He also candidly shared the experiences of his own daughters, two of whom had attended women’s colleges. He was very impressive and likable.</p>

<p>You are doing a real service by posting these impressions. They will be helpful for others considering Bowdoin.</p>

<p>I liked Bowdoin and Williams very much when we visited, and thought my daughter did too. But she fell in love with Middlebury and her second choice actually turned out to be Bates! Somehow the vibe at Bates and Middlebury seemed more alike (to both of us.) In fact, I think of Middlebury as “Bates on steroids.” On the other hand, Williams and Bowdoin seemed more similiar to each other. I think it’s just a matter of fit and that intangible “feeling” that a kid gets about whether they feel comfortable there.</p>

<p>One reason she preferred Middlebury was the size - about 2500 versus 1800 at the others discussed here (Colby as well.) In these very campus-focused SLACs, I think she felt that there was a bit more room to grow, more people to meet, etc. at Middlebury.</p>

<p>Can someone shed some light on the partying at Bowdoin? The prospective Students were there from Thurs-Sun which can get pretty crazy on campuses.
Did students attend any parties or were they prohibited from doing so?</p>