What are the academics like at your school?
It's true: professors will get to know your name (for the most part). Of course, not all professors think about teaching in the same way, and some don't value names as much as others. The truth is that the small size of classes provides both student and Professor with a situation in which they are more inclined to know each other, and to examine academic material more intimately and more rigorously. Bowdoin is committed to keeping classes small, and I feel completely taken care of by an administration that is clearly tireless in their efforts to improve and add value to my education.
Competitiveness in Bowdoin's academic setting is almost unheard of. Instead, students are more often encouraged to work in groups and support one another. In every course that I've enrolled in that has problem sets, every professor has encouraged me to work with others. This to me, reflects Bowdoin's unique view on diversity of learning styles - which the admissions office maintains through not requiring applicants to submit SAT scores. This is something I absolutely love about this school.
The most unique class that I've taken was called "Globalization and Social Change," A Sociology and Latin American Studies course. It was one of the most demanding course loads I could have possibly imagined, but it was also one of the most influential courses of my life. It fundamentally changed the way that I think about the future and the nature of the economy. It has inspired me to act as a force for positive social change.
Professors want to be your friend. Many department offices are contained in converted houses on the edges of campus where professors hold office hours and hang out with one another and talk academics. They love meeting with students and being academic and personal resources. They are more than willing to guide students in their independent studies, and they all need ladders to access all of the books in their bookshelves.
I would say, unequivocally, that a Bowdoin education is about learning for its own sake. Academic requirements are a wonderful incentive for students to explore new disciplines and to try thinking in different ways instead of staying too comfortable with one field of study or major.
Having said that, Bowdoin also has a fantastic Career Planning Center, which can hook you up with landing a good job, and one that can change the world.