Bowdoin College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Maddie

Rigorous and challenging. There is lots of support from TAs (who don't teach the classes, they only hold study sessions or time to come in with questions), Professors, peers, and much more.

Zag

Good professors

Ryan

I have never been in a class where the professor has not known my name, and that includes my gigantic organic chemistry class as well (which, though I considered it gigantic was really only maybe 50-60 people max). Students study an average amount. There are definitely a number of students who are incredibly smart and are rarely seen doing work but get great grades. There are also those who lock themselves in the library for hours. Most people do work all day long all week long, Monday through Thursday, but dinners during the week are usually long and generally people hang out at night before everyone goes to bed. Students are not overly competitive, at least not against each other. Almost every student I have encountered is willing to explain a concept or help a classmate out, even if technically within the class, the students are competing against eachother for the higher grade. This is a great environment for learning because the only competition that people feel is generally with themselves, trying to improve their own grades, and not comparing themselves to anyone else's acheivements. As a chemistry major, since the department is tiny, there is a lot of contact between students and faculty, and you really get to know everyone in the department. The classes are challenging but the professors are great and very helpful. It is definitely possible to start helping a professor out in his/her lab even as a freshman, simply by asking. The chemistry department as really tried to increase their contact with the students by holding weekly lunches at Thorne dining hall, so that students and faculty have a chance to see eachother in a non-classroom setting. The requirements at Bowdoin are not bad, and most are fulfilled without even realizing it, especially as a freshman when students typically explore a little by taking classes outside one particular field.

Jerry

professors are wonderful. don't limit yourself--take a hodgepodge of classes and when you connect with a professor, get to know her/him! you'll find your passions in the most unexpected places at bowdoin. professors are truly dedicated to the students, so take advantage of it! (find the art department and gender studies department) the atmosphere is not competitive between students at bowdoin. students seem to be more competitive with themselves (remember, learning is a privelege and fun- even when you're swamped, try to gain perspective!) while it may not happen until junior year, it is true-- professors have you over for dinner to their houses. i've been at least five times. there's nothing better than escaping campus for an evening to have a homecooked meal and experience the family side of the professor you've come to know so well, intellectually.

Charlie

Academics here at Bowdoin are great. I feel that Bowdoin is a very academic driven school. Your whole life surrounds around academics. When I watch TV, I always feel guilty, because I know that I can be finishing that paper or reading a chapter of Marx or Foucault. My least favorite class was Computer Science 101 and Bio 76. I felt that Comp Sci was taught as if it were higher than an introductory course. Bio 76 is sooooo boring. Students study at Bowdoin all the time. There are even some losers who are in the library on the weekend when the sun is out...I've been one of them in the past. Class participation is usually common. There are always those times when the professor asks a question and no one responds. But in smaller classes, there is always discussion. The most unique class I took was Visual Arts 165. No reading!! But we had a different project due every week. The professors here are usually good. I have developed good relationships with some professors, while others I did not like them at all. One professor was ignorant to such a common fact. One professor I had was too outspoken.

Alex

Professors know your name and are very open to getting to know YOU outside of class and helping you with assignments. Students study alot and library is never empty. Class participation is very common, hardly ever an awkward silence. Bowdoin students have intellectual passions and often follow them outside of campus taking on multiple independent studies and pursuits. Students are not competative with each other but with themselves. Most unique class on Film Noir a freshman seminar also an class entitled Art & Life where a small group of students single-handedly curated an entire exhibition in the Bowdoin Museum. Art history department very popular and very accessible. Challenging and interesting, always reinventing new classes. Pyschology department one of the hardest on campu along with natural sciences. Great professors, respected in their field and always challenge students. Professors are always open to officehours and hours outside of that. Want to help you in life, will willingly write recommendations and encourage you. Bowdoin is very academically challenging and demanding, must put in effort to get good grades. Education is not geared toward getting jobs, no Business or Marketing offered.

Lorie

Bowdoin is hard and you have to work hard. For the most part I have been extremely happy with the quality of the professors. Bowdoin students are not overtly competetive with each other--it is more like one is competetive with oneself. Everyone is extremely self-motivated and hard working. The professors in my major (Art History) are incredible. My advisor within the major is truly my champion and she inspires and challenges me, all the while being kind and supportive. Professors are always willing to see you outside of class. Education is geared for learning for its own sake, but having a Bowdoin education does open many doors in terms of getting a good job.

Dylan

Academics at Bowdoin are difficult, but the professors do everything they can to make it easier on us. The bonds formed between professors and students are something I've never would have expected. All classes don't call for participation, but teachers do encourage asking questions. Outside of the classes there are "intellectual conversations", and there are also some non-intellectua converstations. The students here are very competitive and take bad grades harsly. I'm a major in the Geology department, and the professors are awesome. I can talk to anyone of them and receive help any time I need it. The great thing about living in Maine is the beautiful landscape. As a geology major, I often make fieldtrips that bring me closer to the beautiful area.

Grace

Small classes. You develop great relationships with professors. They have you to their house for dinner, they ask you about your sports games. They love Bowdoin as much as the students.

Sarah

There are so many interesting classes and great professors at Bowdoin that I wish that I could take classes for my whole life.

Eric

professors are amazingly dedicated and accessible. classes are challenging. everyone works really hard. lots of studying. small classes and lots of discussion, especially in higher-level courses. students willing to help one another, not competitive with one another. professors have lunch with students, invite classes over for dinner. liberal arts education focuses on learning how to think creatively and present one's thoughts intelligently.

Charlie

Most professors know your name and do take note of whether or not you come to class, even in classes of 35 or more and even if they don't take attendance. I've found that intellectual discussions outside of class and the library aren't very common; mostly it revolves around talking about your life, how much work you have, or other people. The minimal academic requirements are a definite plus about Bowdoin. As a freshman, make sure you get your 101 classes out of the way but DON'T only take 101's freshman year, especially during your first semester, because you will most likely become very disillusioned with the academic scene, and you don't want that to happen your first semester.

Tristan

I address each professor in my major by their first name. Students really have the common good of the class in mind instead of competing for grades.

Christian

Academics here are phenomenal. Lots of classes to take with awesome professors. Class sizes are generally small, so lots of opportunity for student-professor interaction. Students aren't very competitive here. We all want to succeed, but we don't really worry about what grades other students are getting.

Dawson

Classes are really small so professors know you by face and name. Classes are generally very hard in comparison to other schools but if you get in you'll be able to handle them. Students talk intellectually outside of classrooms - sometimes too much (hence the stereotype). Bowdoin requires you to talk certain general education courses which are definitely broaden your horizons but are sometimes a pain.

Molly

The academics at Bowdoin are great. You can chose from a wide variety of course topics and the classes are usually taught very well. The professors who I have had are very approachable and always willing to help you with any academic issue you may have. Classes range anywhere from 12 students to 35 students, but even in these larger classes the professors have made an effort to remember my name. The students are really engaged in class discussions, and it makes it really interesting to hear the opinions of your classmates. Although the classes are really interesting be prepared to do lots of reading, and writing, because most of the classes here are not easy.

John

The professor knows EVERYONE in the class! The downside of this is that they know when you are not there. My least favorite class I have had was psychology. In my opinion psychology is a "weed out" class to determine the people who really want to major in psychology or neuroscience. My roommate studies ALL the time! Studying is something you have to do and there is no such thing as an easy class. The amount of material and outside reading for each individual class varies. Finding a balance between studying and social life can be done while keeping a decent gpa.

nicole

I love my classes at Bowdoin! The professors are really nice and easy to talk to. Professors at Bowdoin are all leaders in their fields and since there are no graduate student, all the research positions in faculty labs go to undergrads. This is something that just doesn't happen at large universities. I chose Bowdoin over Princeton and Duke because I really thought Bowdoin offered a better undergraduate education. After a year at Bowdoin, I am more sure of this decision than ever.

Alex

You will know most of the people in your classes, and the professors will know you by you name. That is just the way it is at Bowdoin, I have never had a class over 50 students. The average class size is probably around 35 students.

Sally

Academics are really good here at bowdoin - a product of being a top ten liberal arts college I suppose. The teachers are good, but you have to throw yourself out there to get to know them. That is no surprise. The workload is hard, but that's what you get for coming to a very good school, again no surprise. People make academics a priority, so going out every night is not really a Bowdoin thing. Why are we here? To learn. If you want a party school go to ASU or something, cause Bowdoin is all about the education.

Ainsley

Classes are 50 kids at the largest. Most classes are around 25 people this is a good number. Bowdoin offers a wonderfully diverse liberal arts education. Bowdoin, however, does not prepare students enough for life after college. It does not encourage internships, or provide enough funding for people pursuing internships. I think this is a mistake, as students are not provided with enough experience to get good jobs out of college.

Meggie

Overall I’ve had great classes and great professors. The material is interesting an the professors engaging. I like having small classes that limit the amount of lecture time (discussion is the norm in most of my classes). My professors know my name (sounds trivial, but it’s really helpful) and it’s easy to cultivate relationships with them. The workload varies by class, professor and how much effort you intend to put into it. It’s certainly not easy. I do spend a significant amount of time studying, researching, writing, and doing labs etc but not to the exclusion of other activities. It's all about learning; it's all about discussion; it's all about enriching your mind with students and professors alike, inside and outside of class. It's a lot of work, but for the most part we enjoy it.

Kelly

-Academics are rigorous, but with efforts anyone can succeed. Students are very consciencious about their future and work hard to achieve a goal. Still got time for parties. During finals and exams, everyone is too damn worried so it's not as pleasant of an environment.

Alex

Professors are typically sadists who love assign ridiculous amounts of readings. But they all know your name, and they are typically really intelligent.

Cameron

Academics at Bowdoin are challenging but generally very good. Sometimes you are going to get a crappy professor who is not clear or who is himself not very interested in the topic: like my general chem class. Honestly, my experience with intro and general classes in the science department have not been that great: the classes are big, the teachers are uninterested, and the material I pretty much have to teach myself. BUT there are some great classes too. Every art class I've taken here has been awesome; the art department is my favorite (to be fair, also the department I've had the most contact with), they're all approachable and awesome. I am a Visual arts and Neuroscience double major, which normally raises some eyebrows. The Neuroscience department is not really a solid entity- its kindof stretched between bio and psych, but the classes are fantastic. Right now I'm in a class called Behavioral Neuroscience, where we are doing behavioral and anatomical experiments with goldfish. We design the experiments as a group, and the subject matter is what our professor actually does his research on. Class size on the whole is pretty small, about 15 I think, and how much you work for them varies A LOT. There are some classes I don't think I EVER work for and some that have me working on things every night. Professors, though, are always really willing to help, they always have office hours, can meet up, check their email excessively and are pretty flexible.

Jordan

The academics here have been absolutely fantastic for me. I've had professors here and there that I haven't really liked, but overall Bowdoin has been a perfect fit for me academically. I'm a Classics major and the department is really small, so my classes have never been more than about 15 kids, and my professors are all really passionate about what they teach and extremely helpful outside of class. I also have to say that one of the best things about Bowdoin is that students really aren't competitive. I came from a big high school where kids were practically cut-throat competitive with each other; it was all about grades and people would do anything to do well. At Bowdoin it's uncool to talk about grades; people tend to be intrinsically motivated, setting (often very high) goals for themselves. And no one cheats. Bowdoin has a zero tolerance policy with cheating (the first offense pretty much guarantees suspension for a semester). It's so nice to be in an honest environment, where everyone has to work just as hard as everyone else to do well. And for the first time in my life, I'm not obsessed with grades. I actually enjoy learning.

Kelly

My favorite class has been with Professor Morgan in Constitutional Law. He has amazing credentials and expertise in this area of law. In class he is quite entertaining and efficient in his lectures. I never thought I could be this interested in law until this class. I study every night for hours; Bowdoin keeps me academically challenged at all times. The thing that most surprised me was the lack of intellectual conversations outside of the classroom. I believe that this is a result of students being too strenuous on ‘political correctness’, and too damn liberal to be interested in getting another perspective. I myself am a moderate and I feel ostracized for it, I cannot imagine how conservatives must feel. Sadly, there’s even a lack of dialogue within the classrooms. I just joined a club, the Peucinian Society, and this has been the first time that I have encountered genuine intellectual discourse amongst my peers. Students are not competitive here which is great. There's a bunch of peer support and motivation that comes from within instead of pressured by peers. I am a double major in Government and Economics with a minor in Asian Studies. Government is Bowdoin's most pursued major and is full of outstanding professors. The economics department desperately needs more professors because the student demand is overwhelming, or at least has been during my time here. The Japanese curriculum is unbelievable here; there are so many venues of support stretching from weekly Japanese Table dinners and movie showings, to an annual fair with bates and Colby and Conversation Clinics. The academic requirements are very reflective of Bowdoin’s values. Students generally complete them without knowing it; this goes to show how easy they are to fulfill.

Brittney

The small size at Bowdoin allows for small classes. The largest classes on campus are generally introductory courses of 50 students, and even in these classes, most professors will make an effort to learn the names of all the students. Professors are also generally very accessible outside of class. The government department is very strong at Bowdoin. It is also one of the most popular majors. The professors are very intelligent and helpful outside of class.

Susie

The academics are great at Bowdoin. I'm double majoring with one major in a very large department and one major in a very small department, so the size of my classes has ranged from 4 to 100. Both classes were good experiences for the me, though the smaller the class the more individual attention each student gets. Students are very intellectually curious and tend to be academically driven, but I wouldn't say that there is much competition among the students themselves. Grades aren't shared openly. The introductory classes are good, but the best classes are once to get up to the 200 and 300 level classes and professors teach in their are of study. Professors are so welcoming. I go to a language table every week and have developing relationships with all of the professors in my department of study. They are also open to enabling students to do what they want to do.

Reese

The academics at Bowdoin are rigorous and time management is a must, but overall its great. For the most part, classes are small so knowing your professors is almost guaranteed. Outside of the classroom setting, information learned in class is usually carried out in normal conversation.

Tristan

As a liberal arts college Bowdoin provides a great range of subjects with professors that are always well qualified. Seminar courses have been my favorites over the past few years in terms of gaining a deep understanding of the material and forming friendships with all of my classes. Bowdoin prepares students for more than getting a job by helping to form an intelligent way of viewing the world and life.

Kelly

Of the sixteen classes I have taken or am taking, ten have been in the 12 or fewer seminar size range, and many have been even smaller than that, and when the professors are as amazing (as in approachable, awesome human beings) as they are at Bowdoin, this makes for a pretty sweet academic experience.

Mary

When I tell my friends at other colleges that I drop in my professors' office hours just to say hello and have a conversation, they usually can't relate. Almost every student has at least one professor that they have a personal relationship with (and in many cases, consider a hero of sorts). Professors are brilliant and engaging in class, and they seem to be excited to help students on a one-on-one basis outside of class as well. They challenge you on an individual level, which makes you take a bit more pride in your work.

Alison

Most of my professors have been incredible! They always know everyone's name, even in a 50 person class, which has been my largest so far. Students for the most part are interested and engaged in class. I like that we can take classes on obscure topics (I took "Religiosities of South Asia" my freshman year and loved it). Students are competitive with themselves (always striving to get good grades), but not usually with each other, which I really appreciate.

Harper

Academics here are definitly challenging. We have a lot of work and everyone here is definitly intelligent. At the same time, it appears that many of the Bowdoin students were once overacheivers in highschool but now want a little more time to figure things out in college. Professors are generally amazing and the small class sizes really allow you to get to know them and seek and help that you may need.

Classes are great here. Class sizes are very small most of the time. As a freshman, my intro science courses have had between 30-50 students, but other than that, the majority of my classes have been smaller than 20 students. Freshman seminars are required and I highly recommend taking more than just one. They are incredibly small, with a maximum of 16 students, and highly engaging with an emphasis on participation. The only thing I wish is that Bowdoin would minimize its emphasis on fulfilling division/distribution requirements, or at least make them less difficult to complete before graduation.

elizabeth

most of the classes are really small (30 students or less) so the teachers, for the most part, know your name and something about you, which is really nice. plus, most teachers remember you in following semesters, and will say hi to you on campus, in the dining halls, or in town when you cross paths. the teachers are very willing to help you outside of class, and working/studying in groups is the norm. while most students have high standards for themselves, they are mostly competitive with themselves and are very willing to help others out. class participation is usually required, and generally students ask a lot of questions. because the school is so small, there are not too many cool, weird, random classes offered each semester. also- it can be difficult to plan your schedule because most classes are only offered in one time slot (i.e. only monday/wednesday at 11:30 and not at all on tuesday/thursday) so you may just not be able to take classes that you are interested in taking because they don't fit in your schedule, which can be really frustrating.

Abbie

Professors will always know your name at Bowdoin if you participate in class or if you go to them for extra help outside of class. Even in larger lecture classes, most Professors make an effort to learn names.

Jess

I know and have liked most of my professors. Class participation is definitely encouraged, although intellectual conversations outside of class are few. Students are competitive, not necessarily because of the atmosphere here, but I think just in a self-selecting way. I really like my "Modernism/Modernity" class. The academic requirements are far too rigid in some departments, such as history or government. It's all about learning for it's own sake, though.

dennis

I feel that professors are great here, because they're easy to talk to and get along with.

Margot

Professors are for the most part amazing. I am finishing my second year here and I have only had two professors who I really disliked. The rest have been great and two have been particularly priceless additions to my education and life. Getting to know your professors is a huge perk of a small school and even in larger lecture classes (35 or 40 students) most professors still know who you are. I am a visual arts major and I only recently decided that. I came to the College thinking I would major in English, but after having a remarkable experience in Photography I and getting to know some of the art professors I knew I wanted to spend as much time in the art department as possible. The art major actually requires two drawing classes, two painting, and two art history, but the other five (plus) are up to you. I can't say enough about the visual art program here. On every college tour I took the tour guide said that everyone always has a meal with a professor outside of class at least once. From my friends at other NESCAC schools this is not true. I have on a few occasions been invited with a few other students over to professor's homes for end of the year BBQs or even just a quiet dinner as a thank you for our hard work during the semester. Getting to know professors as people and friends is a unique experience. I also know a few professors who require a discussion hour for their classes, but hold them weekly in their own homes over a home-cooked meal.

Raya

Most professors take the time to get to learn people's names, and really try to make themselves available to all their students. Very difficult academically, a lot of work. Lots of intellectual conversations going on outside of class-though it depends on your group of friends. In general a very smart, academically strong place and student body.

Nick

Academics are great here, though I hated a lot of intro level classes that I took freshman year. The course catalogue made them seem so interesting, and I didn't have a good sense of what I wanted to study when I got here. But there were some really awful ones. Sociology 101 comes to mind.

Terry

All of my professors know my name and things from my personal life. This semester my favorite class it English 282: Literary and Cultural theory. Essentially we read and apply theory to literature that we have read and to contemporary culture. My least favorite class is Organic Chemistry. Never before have I put forth so much time and energy into a class and received such shoddy results. Yes--some of my most intellectual conversations happen outside of the classroom and in my social house. There is healthy competition at Bowdoin. The most unique class I've taken is English 107. Essentially we examined the relationship between the picture and text. We read and analyzed comic books, Dante's Inferno, and children's books. The English department is full of amazing professors. Thus far, I have had no problems with anyone in this major. The professors are always willing to help, discuss or just chat after class. The professors are also very informed--I never feel like I am being bullshitted. Yes--I have met with all of my professors outside of class. The distribution requirements seem like a pain but really they are ensuring that students get the most out of the liberal arts education. I would argue that what Bowdoin is geared towards depends on the student. One can learn for the sake of learning or learn with a profession in mind. Certainly professor's teach so that we enjoy what we are learning. What we do with our knowledge (should we attain any) is up to us.

Kendall

Most professors know students names and taken time to know them beyond the classroom. Bowdoin is academic challenging and it is often easy to get overwhelmed but most professors are approachable and are willing to help you out a little if possible. In courses above intro level particpation is highly valued and a crucial part of your grade especially for humanities majors. At Bowdoin clases are geared for learning sake.

Bevan

Bowdoin students are not academically competitive with each other, just ourselves. We all know that we're all smart kids. Learning here is about self-satisfaction.

Andy

The academics are very rigorous. The teachers are great though and they know their stuff! It is a lot of work, but for the most part, is pretty interesting. I love the seminar classes. Mine only has 11 people and it is a discussion based class that helps us learn how to make the transition from high school to college classes. I like the idea of the requirements because it forces students to be exposed to new topics, and potentially uncover a hidden passion.

Anna

Bowdoin is tough, even for the brightest kids. You can't come here and expect not to work hard. But in general people seem to be very interested in learning. I was really intimidated by the professors at first but they are really accommodating and willing to help. Bowdoin does have some requirements but they are pretty easy to fill. The one thing that is kinda of iffy is the freshmen seminar which tend to be either really bad or really good. And though the permanent staff at Bowdoin is sensational some visiting professors leave some thing to be desired.

Cristina

Professors know you well. There's a lot of work but if you manage your time well there's plenty of time to be involved in other activities and to spend time with your friends. Classes are interesting and participation is expected. Don't come here if you're not planning on showing up for class. Students are competitive but they compete more with themselves than with each other. Bowdoin allows you to experiment with different subject areas and to learn how different disciplines interact with each other. Bowdoin offers outstanding academic opportunities, regardless of whether study science, the arts or government or foreign languages.

katherine

Intense. Classes are small and professors make the effort to get to know the students and want students to do well. Sometimes it's hard to get into classes for your major which is frusrating

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