Bowdoin is great!
I love Bowdoin.
Just because Bowdoin has a great reputation and costs a lot of money, does NOT mean it isn't a party school. General rule, especially for all freshman who are finally let out of the house on the weekend, is : Monday thru Wednesday- reading,studying, activities around campus Thursday- drink Friday and Saturday- drink and party Sunday- cram for tests and pull all nighters finishing papers, or come back from an Outing Club trip and cram. There is balance though. It takes less persuading here than I think at other, larger schools, to tell your friends that you need to spend a night in on the weekend. Most people understand and will relax the pressure to go out almost immediately, leaving you to possibly get ahead on next week's work.
I would advise a prospective student to be realistic about what college is going to be like. It's not going to be perfect, anywhere, no matter what admissions officers tell you (they're probably exaggerating). However, college can also be amazing. My feelings about Bowdoin are very mixed - if someone asks me how I feel about it, I tell them I really like it (more so sophomore year than freshman year). But I also have a lot of criticisms and things I would like to see improve. I'm not sure if there was a better college for me out there or not. I do know that I've had some wonderful experiences at Bowdoin so far, and I look forward to many more, especially going abroad to China next spring.
If I could do it all over again, I would absolutely NOT come to Bowdoin. Bowdoin is best suited to intellectually gifted students from New England eager to underachieve, and then drink excessively every weekend to celebrate that privilege. Maybe that's just what college students do. But if that's true, than I wish I hadn't come all the way across the continent to find it out. Ultimately, my Bowdoin degree will signify four wasted years of putting up with slackers. If I learned anything here, it's that I never want to compromise with weakness again.
Bowdoin can be very bureaucratic and almost stony when its academic programs or policies are criticized. It is not a diverse place, and thus minorities tend to stick together. It can be a wonderful place for a certain type of person, but if you're not that kind of person you're going to have to try really hard to make the place work for you. They also don't tell you just how much the weather affects you - be prepared for it to get dark at 4 pm and be prepared to feel it psychologically.
Overall I have not been a fan of Bowdoin. It is more school than college. It was too soft, the administration it really seems does not care a ton about the students and having fun. It's all about making sure everyone feels good and also like proving themselves. Teachers and administration seem to make things harder for students. It is hard to elaborate there is so much that has happened in four years but this place isnt that fun and its not the kids its the school.
I think college in general is not what I expected, and that's to say nothing against Bowdoin. I think Bowdoin is great, but there's a trend of relativism spreading around colleges and its a bit sad to see Bowdoin as a victim. I am enjoying my time here and I would recommend this school to any of my friends. My college experience thus far has been full of a growth both academic and personal that I have Bowdoin to thank for.