Bowdoin College Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


If I could go back to talk to my high school senior self I would tell myself to take a year off before going off to college. College is so much harder than high school, and with the grades I had back then, unlike now, I could have been accepted to most programs that I applied to. I would have advised my high school self that through the gap year you would learn more about yourself and others than ever. I could have figuered out that I wanted to become a physical therapist and thus looked for a school that had a program to go directly to getting my doctorate in PT which I did not know existed. I aso didn't have any role models to guide me through the college process, and by traveling I could have met people that would have given me real tips, not superficial ones, in what to except of college. I love the school I am in at the moment, but I wish I could have expanded my experiences before deciding.


Don't be afraid and don't worry so much. Everything always works out in the end, even papers when they seem like they won't get finished at two o'clock in the morning the night before they're due (although that has only happened once!). I would tell myself to be courageous and to be a "yes-man," or rather "yes-woman" in my case. So many of the opportunities that present themselves to you in college will only present themselves once, and you'll never again be in a place that is as mentally scintillating and where the people are as actively enthusiatic about everything in the world as college is, or a place where there are as many "free" opportunites as there are at college. Don't let opportunites slip away from you. Go to the guest lectures; go to the poetry jams; go to the concerts; go and have coffee with a professor; go to your fellow peers' preformances, and whatever you do, make SURE you go to every acapella concert that you can. As far as you know for certain, you only have one chance to live, make sure you truly live it.


I would tell myself as a high school senior that college is the place where you grow up. It is four wonderful years of being pushed further than you ever thought was possible. High school was pretty easy for me. I did well academically and had really great friends and supportive parents. When I got accepted to Bowdoin I knew it was going to be challenging, but I had no idea what that meant. Between the time you graduate from high school and the time you graduate from college you become an adult. People expect more from you, and you better give it to them or you’re going to fall behind. The way you deal with people changes: roommates and friends, professors, parents, employers. The things that are asked of you are completely different than the things you dealt with in high school. In a way I’m glad I didn’t know that in high school because I’m not sure I would have been so excited about college if I had. But that was a really important lesson to learn and I’m glad I was able to leave college feeling like I had grown up.


Sure, choosing a college is important, and preparing for college by taking rigorous courses in high school is important. But don't let the college selection process freak you out too much. Chances are, you will end up picking the college that fits you best, but don't be second guessing your decisions each step of the way. The real truth is that is matters less where you are going to college than what you are doing there. As long as you are committed to learning and creating opportunities that further your development as a student and as a human being, you are on the right track. Wherever you are, you are in control of how you handle whatever comes your way. Keep a positve mindset and focus on maintaining balance of academic, work, social, and financial aspects of attending college. Take advantages of new opportunities and enrich your life with new experiences.


As much as I wanted it to be there, there was no soundtrack playing in the background of my days and I did not have an omniscient voice intermittently narrating my actions and thoughts. I lived in the real world, not a movie, which is something I seemed to forget a lot of the time in high school. Throughout most of my high school career, I mistakenly thought there was a real meaning and look to the word ?normal?. Now, I do not want to turn this into a sentimental rant missing only the quiet violin in the background. What I do want to do, though, is urge my high school self to realize that only I have to power to make myself feel good about who I am. Be proud of the A?s, flaunt that curly, frizzy mess called hair (I mean, models tease their hair, right?), and sing those show tunes loud and clear. The key to success is not only knowing yourself, but also accepting yourself. I love pop music but, the advice I would give myself would be to make high school ten times less dramatic as those songs make life out to be.


There is no one right way to adjust to college. Part of college is discovering who you are, and growing as a person. I would not claim that college made me a different person, but it did make me more of myself. The only advice I could offer is to approach college with an open mind. While sometimes having solid plans to follow can add a sense of security, the new opportunities available in college require a willingness to try new things and a push to go beyond what was offered in high school. Try classes that you have never heard of before. Maybe that theory of knowledge class or the study of biodiversity will spark your interest, and turn out to be your undiscovered passion. Experimentation is a way of finding what is right for you and what is not. There is no need to stress about the transition to college. Have fun, remember to study, and do not limit yourself. College exists to help you find your potential, and right now, there is no limit.


Do not go to college to find yourself, go to college to become a better version of yourself. There are so many influences in a new environment that it's tempting to want to become someone you're not. Do not change to suit anyone but yourself. Don't change for a boy, or your roommate, or the crowd because at the end of the day you are the person who has to live with yourself. Shine unabashedly and don't appologize if your values deviate from those around you. All the right people will be drawn to you for who you truly are and not for a facade. With that said step out of your box and comfort zone. Take risks, try new things, you will not be punished in fact you just might find a new passion. Do not forget who you are, admissions wanted you for a reason- there is a role on campus that only you can fill so just BE YOURSELF and amazing adventures will fall into place.


Listen to your instincts and your heart. Other people can give you advice, but you need to choose what's best for you and what fits you. It may not be the college your parents went to or the one you've thought you wanted to go to your whole life, but when it's the right one, you'll know. Get out there and really explore schools. Actually stepping foot on a campus is one of most important things you can do. A school that didn't look great on paper can turn out to be your first choice simply based on this indescribable feeling that you'll get when you go there. Be open to everything and most important of all, don't stress. As much as it may not seem like it at times, everything WILL work out. You'll get in somewhere and even if it isn't the right place, you'll be in college having the time of your life. Good luck!




To find the right college, students must put their own aspirations for the future above all else. Students must disregard pressure from parents and others to go to certain schools and pick where they feel most comfortable. When deciding on a school, I thought it was very helpful to actually visit the school and stay overnight with a student. When you stay there on your own you get a feel for what it is like to be a student there and can see if it is a place you can see yourself living for four years. I think getting involved is the best way to make the most of the college experience. This year I tried new clubs and sports that I never imagined I would try. I left my comfort zone, took risks, and tried new activities that I was nervous to try, such as diving. It is also important to utilize the resources on campus, such as professor's office hours and study groups. To make the most of the college experience, students need to learn how to balance academics and extracurriculars and just have fun meeting new people and forming new friendships.


If you're able to visit college campuses, vist as many as you can. When you climb out of the car and take your first glimpse of campus, how do you feel? Take note. Spend a few hours strolling around campus and grab a coffee or soda at a local student hot-spot. Can you see yourself frequenting these concrete walkways? This cafe? Eavesdrop on some students' conversations. Observe their dress, their speech, their habits. Be sure to consider several students, not just a handful that look a lot or absolutely nothing like you. If you can, sit in on a class. Listen carefully. Watch the students' faces. Are they engaged? Are you? Walk slowly back to your car, taking note of the buildings, students, trees, quads, etc. Think about all you've witnessed during your visit. Close your eyes and listen. Could you call this place a home? Listen to your gut.


Spend time on campus with current students and see if you feel comfortable in the area and with the other students. Yes, the education is important, but it's likely that you will get a good education whereever you go so it's important that you are happy at college. It really is the best four years of your life. It's also important to remember that there isn't just ONE perfect school for every student. If you don't get into your first choice, you can still have an amazing experience at another school. Also, don't really look at rankings. Yes, it's important, but those rankings are based on hundreds of factors, and most are likely irrelevant to you.


The best advice I can give parents and students about finding the right college is to visit the schools that you are applying to. Being in the environment of the school definitely helped me know right away which school just felt right. I recommend doing a campus stay overnight with a current student and seeing what life is like for a typical student and also to see what is offered at the school (classes, extra-curriculars, food, entertainment) as well as the city or town that the school is in. In terms of making the most of the college experience... do as much as possible without overburdening yourself. Take risks like joining intramural sports teams for a sport you've never played before, or take an acting class if you've never done that. College is definitely a time where you can explore new areas of interests, academically and socially.


I would tell students that they should visit the campus and try to get a feel for how people treat each other. Sit in on a class that is representative of one you might take. Your gut instinct is probably going to be pretty accurate - if you get a vibe about the school that you don't like when you're on a tour, the problem you're anticipating probably will still exist when you attend. There are amazing opportunities available at colleges, from the networking possibilities to the incredible knowledge of professors. Ultimately you only get out what you put in though; it's very easy to be complacent and do the minimum necessary to graduate. Don't. You'll be depriving yourself of most of the value of going to school.


The truth is that Mom and Dad should have some input. Parents are there as they have been throughout a child's adolescense, to guide them into making informed decisions. Parents should be there to remind a student that just because he or she likes the facilities, there are other factors to consider or that just because they had a good time during their stay at a particular college, students should remember that there is more to a college than just the social scene. That said there is a very important aspect to finding the right college that is 100% in the hands of the student. After making a list of schools that meet the academic, athletic, aesthetic, and career oriented criteria, the school must feel like home to the student. When I chose Bowdoin it was because I went there and felt that I had a real connection t the school; I could envision myslelf going there. So Parents I advise you to help your children make an appropriate list for themselves and after that take them to each school and let them decide what feels right.


As a student and a parent, it is important to understand what you would like a school to provide to you and your son / daughter as a student. Depending on your interests and personality, there are certain schools that would be best for you. For instance, a small school can offer unparalleled research and advanced study options, but may not support a large traffic load of companies recruiting for internships and jobs. Try to imagine yourself at that school: would you miss football games or find the ocean invigorating? Do you want to be close to home or have the ability to walk into your professor's office to ask a question on a specific problem? There are so many factors to juggle, having a solid understanding of what will make you happy and what are the most important factors to you will help narrow down your choices. Once you find that perfect college, take a step back and understand all it has to offer - do you want to go abroad, join JV tennis, hike on the weekends with the outing club or start a debate group? The opportunities are limitless and your passion will carry you forward.


Don't worry about rankings or what others think of your choice. Identify what is important to you and focus on choosing the school that is the best fit. Talk to current students at your potential schools. They have the insider information and will give you the real scoop. If you have concerns, bring them up early. Spending four years at a college is a big decision and you want as much information as possible in order to make it. At the same time, step outside of your comfort zone. College is a time to try new things and have experiences you may never have again. Take a class in an unfamilar field and take courses based on the reputation of the professor. Get involved in a lot of activities early and figure out what you are passionate about as time goes on. Don't get overwhelmed and don't feel like you have to have it all figured out. Academics are imporant but much of the learning happens outside the classroom. You are not just paying for a piece of paper to hang on the wall, you are paying for the opportunity for self discovery. Take advantage of it.


The right college is often not the first one you choose. Sometimes it needs to find you. The most important quality that will lead you to the perfect college is an open mind. We often have a college in mind that we think is the ideal, but college is a time of change and growth. Choosing the right college is the first step in that path of change. Keeping an openmind will allow you to accept new academic structures and methods. They might lead you from New York City to small town Brunswick, Me as it did me. I chose the college that was right for me even though, on paper, it seemed to be completely wrong for me. Searching for the right college is a journey unto itself and your choice will help shape the person you become. Keeping an openmind is the key to finding the right attributes for your college career.


The right college for you is the one where you can imagine yourself living and learning for four years. This can be challenging, considering that most people change dramatically during their college years. When it comes down to it, though, I believe that the best colleges offer a broad enough range of activities and academic fields to accomodate such growth. Of course, food, housing, security, and countless other topics will play into your decision as well. But remember that what really matters in the end is what you will have gained by the time you graduate. Although the party scene may seem essential to you now, will it be as important to you by the time you're a senior as the possibility of doing one-on-one research with a professor? So my main advice is to use your imagination. Imagine yourself in the library, on the quad, in the student union, off campus, on campus. Would you be comfortable there? Happy there? Learning there? Trust your imagination. Because pretty soon, that imagined future will become reality. And that reality really is the best four years of your life!


The most valuable advice I could offer to a student making college choices is to pick a college that is a good fit, rather than striving to gain admittance to the so called "top tier" schools. One thing I've valued in my own college experience is finding peers who are passionate for academia; peers who aren't afraid to admit that they love what they are studying. I also think it's important to go to a school and meet people with diverse backgrounds, since one can learn much from befriending "different" people. Finally, finding a school with passionate professors is important. My advisor has really been my mentor at school, and not only have I learned more about biology through working with her, I feel that she knows me well enough to advise me as I leave college. Having professors who know you and know your work well can help you learn and help you make decisions about your future.


It's not always the most enjoyable part of the search, but I strongly recommend taking a good look at the academics that are offered at the school and meeting with the professors and administrators at the school. Even if the school has a great reputation for academics, it's important to make sure that the school offers the things that you are interested in. Also, it was very helpful for me to make a list ranking everything that I was looking for in a school such as extracurriculars, academics, financial aid, study abroad opportunities, etc. There are enough schools out there that there is going to be one that offers everything that you need without having to make compromises. It's your education. Not only did you earn it by being accepted, but you'll also have to pay for it, so you shouldn't have to compromise.


Even after ample research through the internet, guide books, and visits to colleges, it is quite impossible to know whether a specific college will be the right fit. I never got the hunch that my school was "it", but based on what I wanted from a school ranging from class sizes to financial aid, I made my decision and have never regretted it. Most people are adapatable to their environments if they tried, so ultimately, it is the attitude you use to approach attending that chosen school that is the most important - a school may seem perfect during the visit, but may not be exactly so once the student is immersed in the academic and social environment. Yet, it is how the student seeks and strives for what they want in their college experience, and how they make the best out of their college experience that makes the biggest difference and becomes the most memorable.


First impressions are often correct, but they aren't necessarily the best way to judge something. The day I visited Bowdoin, it was raining hard, it was cold, and I don't remember anything particularly exciting happening. That may in fact be the best way to describe the entire experience as well. However, I would never go back in time to choose a different school. Bowdoin is slow paced, and far enough away from a city to feel connected to nature, while still being a day trip away from some of the East Coast's biggest cities. So, don't weigh your first impressions of a college too heavily. At the same time, first impressions are powerful, and if there is one thing that I can say without a doubt made my college experience the best that it could be, it was this, "ignoring the general education requirements". A liberal arts education is about finding out who you want to be, and learning how to remake yourself should you end up being something different. Explore your interests first, and you'll be surprised how many of the general education requirements get done while you are doing so.


Go with what seems best. It usually is.


An openness to the "experience" of college divorced from specific expectations of that experience.


The "right" college is not about applying to the highest-ranked or toughest-to-get-in to school. It is about looking at everything, from the academics, to the food, to the sports and other things that you will spend time doing on campus. You might find that the cultural groups on campus, or the library facilities, or the food are among your most important priorities. I would remind students that you can be happy at almost any school, and finding the "right" school is about finding yourself and understanding will make you a happy student for the next four years of your life. Parents, if you are helping your child pay for school, then your job is to find out how compatible your son or daughters top choices are with your financial situation. Getting into the school is only half the battle, and make it clear to your son or daughter that you will do the best that you can in helping them attend the school if their choice, but that they may need to keep their minds open to make this decision the best one for the whole family. Good luck and don't stess.


Speak with professors and students because they make up the heart of the school. There are innumerable opportunities if you seak them out.


Visit colleges and attend college that feels right for you.


Relax. The idea of a "right" college is stupid. There is no way that you will know what college will be right until you go. The process is stupid and not worth getting worked up over.


If you or your child can cut it academically at a school, then don't worry about the finances. The price tag of that degree may be high but it's priceless; moreover, you may qualify for a substantial amount of financial aid. Many expensive schools have great financial aid packages and paying for that prestigious education might be easier than you thought. College ought to change how you think and view the world. You might not know it right off, but a good college should not only engage students academically, but challenge them to think about social, ethical, and environmental problems and prepare them to contribute to the outside world. Good education means the lessons of the classroom being more than facts and lasting long after a lecture or discussion has ended and beyond the final exam. You are not gaining just qualification from getting a degree; you are learning how to construct your own world view.


You will get into colleges that are a better match for you. The admissions people seem to actually know their stuff, and will weed out people they think won't like the school. I never though of it that way until college, but it's definitely true.


Many prospective college students and their parents approach the college search process in the wrong way. They believe that there is only one "perfect" school for them, they worry more about reputation than fit, and they allow the opinons of those around them to greatly influence their college choice. Choosing a college should be about finding a school that FEELS right, not one that sounds right. Stay overnight with a student you have never met before, and, as you meet their friends and dorm-mates, ask yourself if you could be friends with these people. Because in all honesty, your college experience and future identity are influenced 100 times more by the people you meet and spend time with than the academics you pursue.


Whatever you do, do not choose a school solely on its prestiege. Pick the school that you feel the most comfortable at. Visit the schools you are thinking about. Spend a night at the school and if possible try not to set up the overnight with the admissions office because they will set you up with someone who they feel is a great person and is trained in what to tell you. Stay instead with a someone you know will tell you the dirty little secrets of the school. If you are going for a sport, be sure to go to a practice and meet more of the team than just the model student-athleets that the coach wants you to meet. In general dig under the display the admissions office is putting on, and ask the questions that they dont want to answer.


Finding the right college is hard, but you have to go with your first instinct. Visit every school you apply to and dont attend one merely because you like its basketball team, or it has a prestegious name. Stay overnight in the dorms, visit the campus, and attend some school year events and classes. I think the most important thing to do is to make sure you communicate with current students, the admissions office will sugar-coat everything, but the students have nothing to lose! It is also important to join clubs and teams as a first year student once you have been enrolled. the more you put yourself out there the more friends you will make and opportunites you willl find.


I would tell them to visit the college and, if possible, stay for a day or two. The surrounding area of the college can take some getting used to, but if you dismiss a place on its initial appearance or judge it from the start, then you may skip over a place that you would have enjoyed. I came from a conservative family and a high school of jocks, and landed in an extremely liberal campus where academics are the main focus. This happened mainly because I decided to stay at the school with people I knew and get a good feel of how I would fit in. It turns out that I have made my best friends here and would never change my decision. Each individual is different, so I would encourage parents to have as little say in the college decision as possible. My parents helped me to research colleges and brought me anywhere that I showed a significant amount of interest in. Other than that, I made the decision on my own and I couldn't be happier.


In the end, it is not the college, but rather, the student, that makes the experience successful. Difficult as it is, it is important to put aside the name of the school, and the GPA/SAT scores of its students. Instead, try to think about what is really the best match for you. A school can have a fantastic reputation, but this doesn't mean it will be the best fit for every student. In the end, a person will be successful if he/she feels connected to the college and its community. Further, regardless of whether or not a student is enrolling in his/her first choice school, or a "safety school," it is absolutely crucial to go in with a good attitude. The student's first year, and even the first few weeks, can make a big impact on the overall experience. Even if you feel that the "college process" has treated you unfairly, once the time comes to enroll, try to put the past aside and take charge of your college experience. It's up to you, and every single college and university can provide a top-notch educational and social experience if you seek it out.


Make sure to visit every school and apply to enough "safeties." Give yourself as many options (size, atmosphere, etc.) as possible, as you may find what you thought you liked at the beginning of senior is not at all what you'll like, come acceptance time.

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