Colgate vs Bowdoin: A Comprehensive Look at Two Top Universities

November 29, 2023
By AdmissionSight
View of students lounging in the campus.

Colgate vs Bowdoin: A Comprehensive Look at Two Top Universities

In this article, we will take a deep dive into two top universities in the United States: Colgate University and Bowdoin College. We will provide a comprehensive comparison of the two institutions across a range of factors, including histories, academics, student life, campus safety, athletics, career services, alumni network strengths, financial aid, and future outlook. In this article, you’ll have a greater understanding of both Colgate vs Bowdoin and be better equipped to consider one for your education.

Introduction: Why Compare Colgate vs. Bowdoin

Both Colgate University and Bowdoin College are highly regarded, selective liberal arts institutions that have been educating students for over 200 years. They are both located in small towns with picturesque surroundings, and they offer rigorous academic programs. However, there are some significant differences between the two colleges that we will explore in this article.

a building in Bowdoin College

One major difference between Colgate and Bowdoin is their location. While both are situated in small towns, Colgate is located in Hamilton, New York, which is a rural area with limited access to major cities. In contrast, Bowdoin is located in Brunswick, Maine, which is a small town but is only a short drive away from Portland, a larger city with more opportunities for entertainment and internships. This difference in location may be a deciding factor for some students when choosing between the two colleges.

A Brief History of Colgate University

Colgate University was founded in 1819 in Hamilton, New York, by 13 men with a desire to start a Baptist seminary that would “provide for a respectable and useful education in a distinct and religious course of instruction.” Over time, the institution expanded its offerings to include a broad range of academic programs, while still maintaining its commitment to a strong foundation in the liberal arts. Today, Colgate has a student population of just over 3,100 and is known for its close-knit community, challenging academics, and Division I athletics.

Throughout its history, Colgate University has been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion on its campus. In 1968, the university established the Afro-American Studies Program, which was one of the first of its kind in the country. In recent years, Colgate has continued to prioritize diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the creation of the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of LGBTQ Initiatives. These efforts have helped to create a welcoming and inclusive community for all students, faculty, and staff at Colgate.

A Brief History of Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, Maine, was established in 1794 by James Bowdoin III, a prominent politician and philanthropist. Bowdoin was one of the first colleges in the United States to focus on the liberal arts and sciences, and it has maintained this focus throughout its history. Today, Bowdoin has a student population of around 1,800 and is known for its academic excellence, commitment to diversity, and strong Division III athletic programs.

Over the years, Bowdoin College has produced many notable alumni, including former U.S. President, author, and poet. The college has also been recognized for its commitment to sustainability, with a number of environmentally-friendly initiatives and programs in place. In recent years, Bowdoin has continued to expand its academic offerings and has become a leader in fields such as digital and computational studies, environmental studies, and neuroscience.

Campus Life at Colgate vs Bowdoin College

Colgate University is known for its close-knit community, with a small student body and a large number of residential options. Students live in a variety of housing options, from traditional dormitories to fraternity and sorority houses. The university offers over 200 student organizations, including clubs, sports teams, and performance groups, allowing students to pursue their passions and develop new interests. Additionally, Colgate’s location in the rural village of Hamilton offers a peaceful and safe environment for students to live and learn.

One unique aspect of campus life at Colgate University is the emphasis on sustainability. The university has implemented numerous initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including a composting program, energy-efficient buildings, and a bike-sharing program. Students can also get involved in sustainability efforts through organizations like the Environmental Club and the Community Garden.

Another important aspect of campus life at Colgate is the strong sense of community service. The university encourages students to give back through programs like the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE), which connects students with local organizations and community service projects. Many students also participate in alternative break trips, where they travel to different parts of the country or world to engage in service projects during school breaks.

Group of diverse students working as a team.

Bowdoin College also boasts a welcoming and supportive community with a range of student activities and organizations. The college has a diverse student body with a variety of cultural backgrounds, and students live in a mix of dormitories, theme houses, and apartments. Bowdoin offers over 100 student organizations, including clubs focused on community service, athletics, and the arts. Brunswick is a small town, but it offers a variety of opportunities for students to explore beyond the campus.

One of the unique aspects of campus life at Bowdoin College is the emphasis on sustainability and environmental stewardship. The college has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including a comprehensive recycling program, energy-efficient buildings, and a commitment to locally sourced food in the dining halls. Students can get involved in sustainability efforts through clubs and organizations like the Bowdoin Organic Garden Association and the Environmental Studies program. The college also hosts a number of events and lectures focused on environmental issues, providing opportunities for students to engage with these important topics.

Student Body at Colgate vs. Bowdoin: Demographics and Diversity

Colgate University is a selective institution, with an acceptance rate in the low teens. It has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 U.S. states and over 60 countries. The university is committed to maintaining a community that reflects diversity in all its forms, and it offers resources for students from underrepresented groups. In terms of gender, Colgate has a slightly higher proportion of female than male students.

Colgate University’s student body is also diverse in terms of socioeconomic background. The university offers need-based financial aid to students who demonstrate financial need, and it is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated need for all admitted students. Additionally, Colgate has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at supporting first-generation college students.

a large group of students taking an exam

Another notable aspect of Colgate’s student body is its academic achievements. The university attracts high-achieving students, with an average SAT score of 1440 and an average ACT score of 33. Colgate students are also active in research and scholarship, with opportunities to work with faculty on research projects and present their findings at academic conferences.

Bowdoin College is similarly selective, with an acceptance rate in the mid-teens. The college is also dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion, and it has a variety of programs and resources to support students from different backgrounds. Bowdoin has a fairly even split of male and female students, with a mix of students from all 50 U.S. states and several countries around the world.

One of the unique aspects of Bowdoin’s student body is its socioeconomic diversity. The college has a need-blind admissions policy, meaning that a student’s ability to pay for tuition is not taken into consideration during the admissions process. As a result, Bowdoin has a significant number of students from low-income backgrounds, and the college provides generous financial aid packages to ensure that all students can afford to attend.

Bowdoin also has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, and this is reflected in the student body. Many students are passionate about environmental issues and are involved in sustainability initiatives on campus, such as the Bowdoin Organic Garden and the Outing Club’s Leave No Trace program. The college has also made significant investments in renewable energy and has set ambitious goals for reducing its carbon footprint in the coming years.

Academic Programs Offered at Colgate vs. Bowdoin College

Colgate University offers 56 academic majors and a variety of interdisciplinary programs, including international relations, neuroscience, and film and media studies. The university also encourages students to pursue research opportunities, whether through independent study projects or with faculty members. There are also a number of study abroad programs offered through the university, allowing students to continue their studies while exploring different cultures and environments.

In addition to the academic programs offered, Colgate University also provides a range of resources to support student success. The university has a writing and speaking center, a math and science center, and a career services office, all of which offer individualized support to students. Additionally, the university has a strong commitment to community service and offers numerous opportunities for students to engage in service projects both locally and globally. These resources and opportunities help students develop the skills and experiences necessary for success both during and after their time at Colgate.

Bowdoin College offers 44 academic majors, including interdisciplinary options like environmental studies and digital and computational studies. The college’s approach to education is highly analytical and research-based, with an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Like Colgate, Bowdoin also offers a variety of study abroad programs, allowing students to gain new perspectives and broaden their experiences.

In addition to its undergraduate programs, Bowdoin College also offers graduate programs in a variety of fields, including education, marine science, and Arctic studies. These programs provide students with the opportunity to continue their education and specialize in their chosen field.

Bowdoin College is also known for its strong commitment to community service and social responsibility. The McKeen Center for the Common Good offers a variety of programs and initiatives that allow students to engage with the local community and address social issues. This emphasis on service and social responsibility is reflected in the college’s mission statement and is a core value of the Bowdoin community.

Admissions Process at Colgate vs. Bowdoin College

Colgate University has a highly selective admissions process, with an acceptance rate of around 12%. The university looks for students who have demonstrated academic achievement, personal integrity, and leadership potential. Colgate also seeks to enroll students who will contribute to the campus community in meaningful ways, whether through their involvement in clubs and organizations, athletics, or volunteer work. Standardized test scores, high school transcripts, essays, and recommendations are all part of the application process.

Additionally, Colgate University offers an Early Decision option for students who have identified Colgate as their top choice. This option allows students to apply early in their senior year and receive an admissions decision by mid-December. However, it is important to note that Early Decision is binding, meaning that if a student is accepted, they must withdraw all other college applications and commit to attending Colgate. This option is ideal for students who are confident in their desire to attend Colgate and want to increase their chances of acceptance.

Bowdoin College is similarly selective, with an acceptance rate of around 9%. The college looks for students who are intellectually curious, engaged with their communities, and willing to take on challenging coursework. Bowdoin also values diversity and seeks to admit students from a range of backgrounds. The application process includes interviews, essays, standardized test scores, and recommendations.

Close up view of a woman writing an essay

One unique aspect of the admissions process at Bowdoin College is the option for students to submit a creative supplement. This can include artwork, music recordings, or creative writing pieces. The supplement is not required, but it can provide an opportunity for students to showcase their talents and interests beyond academics.

Additionally, Bowdoin College practices need-blind admissions, meaning that a student’s financial need is not taken into consideration during the admissions process. This allows the college to admit students based solely on their academic and personal achievements, rather than their ability to pay for tuition.

Athletics at Colgate University: Division I Teams and Championships

Colgate University is a Division I school with over 25 varsity sports teams. The university has won several national championships, including in men’s ice hockey and football. Colgate athletes are known for their skill, dedication, and sportsmanship, and the university encourages all students to engage in athletics in some way, whether through varsity teams, intramurals, or other recreational options.

In addition to the national championships, Colgate University has also won numerous conference championships in various sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, lacrosse, and soccer. The university’s athletic facilities are top-notch, with a recently renovated football stadium, a state-of-the-art hockey arena, and a brand-new indoor athletic facility.

Colgate’s commitment to athletics extends beyond just winning games and championships. The university emphasizes the importance of academic success for its student-athletes, with a dedicated academic support staff and resources to help athletes balance their academic and athletic responsibilities. Colgate also prioritizes community service and outreach, with many of its teams participating in volunteer work and fundraising efforts for local organizations.

Athletics at Bowdoin College: Division III Teams and Championships

Bowdoin College is a Division III school with over 30 varsity sports teams. Despite its smaller size and lack of athletic scholarships, Bowdoin has been very successful in many sports, winning multiple national championships in men’s and women’s ice hockey. Additionally, Bowdoin encourages all students to lead active, healthy lifestyles and offers a range of fitness and recreational opportunities on campus.

One of the most popular sports at Bowdoin is sailing. The college has a long history of success in sailing, with both the men’s and women’s teams consistently ranked among the top in the country. The sailing team practices and competes on Casco Bay, which is just a short distance from campus.

Bowdoin also has a strong tradition in track and field. The college has produced several All-Americans in recent years, and the team regularly competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championships. The college’s indoor track and field facility, the Farley Field House, is one of the largest and most impressive in the region.

Career Services and Networking Opportunities at Colgate University

Colgate University has a strong focus on helping students transition into successful careers post-graduation. The university offers career counseling services, job fairs, and networking events to help students connect with alumni and potential employers. Additionally, Colgate has a robust alumni network that can provide mentorship, internships, and job opportunities to recent graduates.

One unique aspect of Colgate’s career services is the Career Services Advisory Board, which is made up of alumni and parents who work in various industries. This board provides valuable insights and advice to the university’s career services team, ensuring that the services offered are relevant and effective.

Furthermore, Colgate’s Career Services Office partners with various organizations and companies to provide students with exclusive internships and job opportunities. These partnerships include companies such as Goldman Sachs, Google, and Teach for America, among others. This allows students to gain real-world experience and make valuable connections in their desired fields.

Career Services and Networking Opportunities at Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College also values career preparation and provides a variety of resources to students looking to enter the workforce. These include career counseling, resume workshops, and job search workshops. Bowdoin also has a strong alumni network, with many graduates working in a range of fields who are eager to offer help and support to current students.

In addition to the resources mentioned above, Bowdoin College also offers internship opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in their desired field. The Career Planning Center helps students find and apply for internships, and many students have secured internships at top companies and organizations. These internships not only provide valuable experience but also often lead to job offers after graduation.

Campus Safety and Security Measures: Colgate vs Bowdoin

Both Colgate University and Bowdoin College take campus safety very seriously and have implemented a range of measures to ensure that all students feel comfortable and secure. This includes a 24/7 campus security presence, emergency alert systems, and safety escorts for students who need to travel around campus at night. Campus crime rates are low at both institutions, and they have robust policies in place to deal with any incidents that do occur.

24/7 Emergency service in campus

In addition to these measures, Colgate University has also implemented a bystander intervention program that trains students to recognize and respond to potentially dangerous situations. The program has been successful in reducing incidents of sexual assault and other forms of violence on campus. Colgate also has a well-equipped health center that provides medical and mental health services to students.

Bowdoin College, on the other hand, has a unique program called the “Safe Ride” program, which provides free transportation to students who need to travel off-campus at night. The program is run by student volunteers and has been praised for its effectiveness in ensuring the safety of students. Bowdoin also has a strong focus on community building and has implemented programs that promote inclusivity and respect among students.

Alumni Network Strengths and Opportunities for Graduates: Colgate vs Bowdoin

Both Colgate University and Bowdoin College have strong and active alumni networks that offer a range of benefits to recent graduates. These networks can provide mentorship, networking opportunities, and job leads to those just starting out in their careers. Alumni from both institutions are often eager to help out their fellow graduates and stay connected to the institutions that helped shape them.

Financial Aid Options: Colgate vs Bowdoin

Both Colgate University and Bowdoin College are committed to making their education accessible to students from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. They both offer need-based financial aid to those who qualify, and they also have a range of merit-based scholarships available. Neither institution offers merit-based athletic scholarships. However, it’s important to note that both colleges have relatively high tuition costs, so families should carefully consider their financial situation before applying.

Future Outlook for Colgate vs. Bowdoin

Both Colgate University and Bowdoin College have long histories of success and are well-known for their commitment to academic excellence, student engagement, and community involvement. Looking to the future, both institutions are poised to continue their tradition of providing students with an exceptional education and preparing them for successful lives and careers. It’s clear that anyone who chooses to attend either institution will be a part of a vibrant and supportive community that will provide them with the tools they need to achieve their goals.


Overall, Colgate University and Bowdoin College are both excellent choices for students looking for a rigorous, challenging, and rewarding college experience. Whether you’re interested in Division I athletics, a close-knit community, or a strong alumni network, both institutions have a lot to offer. However, they are different in important ways, so students should consider their own personal preferences and goals when making a decision. Hopefully, this article has provided you with the information you need to make an informed choice.

College Admissions

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.