A Visit to Bowdoin College

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Bowdoin College is a small, liberal arts college known for academic rigor and is one of the impressive and highly selective NESCAC colleges. (The New England Small College Athletic Conference.) Bowdoin has a diverse student body, made up of approximately 1,800 students from all over the world, 189 full-time faculty members, and a 9:1 student/faculty ratio.

Bowdoin campus


Nestled in the picturesque small New England town of Brunswick, Maine, is Bowdoin College. An easy 2-hour drive from Boston, and a mere 45-minutes from Portland, Maine, Bowdoin boasts a challenging curriculum designed to encourage students to learn, contribute and explore. The beautiful outdoor areas in and around Brunswick are not taken for granted by the active and curious students at Bowdoin.


At the core of Bowdoin College, is the idea that a student’s education should be focused on working toward a “common good.” Bowdoin College challenges its students to make an impact, in any number of ways, to benefit the “common good.” They view education is a privilege, and with that privilege comes responsibility. During my information session at Bowdoin, I had the strong sense that each and every person is valued and respected as a member of the Bowdoin community.

“Our focus is on the education of the whole person, so Bowdoin graduates can ‘be at home in all lands and all ages.’” Says Dean Tim Foster, quoting a passage from “The Offer of the College” – a 100-year-old philosophy still relevant to today’s students. Students applying to Bowdoin should read “The Offer,” and think about which aspect of the statement they relate to or agree with most.

Walker Art Building

Students seeking a liberal education at Bowdoin prepare for a life of purpose through appreciation of cultural and societal differences in our globally connected world, where everyone has value, and deserves respect.

Bowdoin offers more than 40 majors, as well as undergraduate fellowship opportunities for research. As part of the curriculum, students complete at least one full-credit course in each of five distribution areas along with a first-year seminar in their first two years of study, declaring a major in spring of the sophomore year. The flexible nature of the distribution requirements and ample support from student advisors, make it easy for students to come in as “undecided” and discover a career path that fits their individual interests. For graduation, students complete a minimum of thirty-two courses, leaving ample room for exploration in the curriculum.

As an integral part of Brunswick, Bowdoin opens its doors to the community by offering the unique opportunity for residents to audit classes.

Student Life

Wish & Pickard Theaters

Students participate in any number of clubs and organizations on campus and in the community. During my visit, our student-speaker recommended students join three things, and get involved. He joined curling, outing club, glee club and a satirical newspaper.

  • Clubs and organizations are open to ALL students.
  • Social events and parties
  • No Greek life
  • Thanksgiving and Sunday dinners through Bowdoin’s Host family program for International and out-of-state students


All first year students will live in one of eight first year residence halls, also known as “bricks,” on the central campus.

After first year, upperclass students can choose one of several options:

  • Participate in an annual “housing lottery” to choose from a variety of on-campus room and apartment configurations
  • Apply to live in one of our eight College Houses
  • Enter the off-campus housing lottery for approval to live off campus during their junior or senior year

Admissions Consideration

Bowdoin is considered to be a “little Ivy” and is very selective with under a 15% acceptance rate. Bowdoin is looking for students who will make a difference in the world.

Bowdoin mascot - polar bear

Common application or Coalition application required

  • Holistic view of applications
  • Test Optional
  • High School transcript/level of academic challenge
  • Letters of recommendation
  • School and community involvement
  • Essay required, but keep it sweet and simple
  • Interviews are offered on and off campus

Hint: contact Bowdoin rep early to set up

Financial Aid

  • Bowdoin meets 100% of Demonstrated Need
  • Need blind
  • Bowdoin is a “no loan” school
  • Net price calculator available on website/ student aids will walk you through the process and answer questions
  • Outside scholarships (from home state) accepted
  • For international, wait-list, and transfer students, Bowdoin may be “need aware” during the admission process, and a family’s finances may be a factor in the final admission decision

Who would be happy here

  • Bowdoin is perfect for students who are looking for a smaller, collaborative college experience, and a strong sense of community and family-type atmosphere.
  • The relaxed and friendly vibe at Bowdoin, along with top-notch academics and student advising, widely-available internships, and unique research opportunities make Bowdoin my personal favorite of the NESCAC colleges.

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