Exploring Excellence: Bowdoin College

August 9, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Exploring Excellence: Bowdoin College

The private institution Bowdoin College was founded in 1794. It has a total enrollment of 1,951 undergraduates (fall 2021), a suburban setting, and a campus size of 215 acres. A semester-based academic calendar is utilized. The said college is ranked sixth among National Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2022-2023 edition of Best Colleges. Tuition and fees amount to $61,528.

Bowdoin was an all-male institution until 1971 when it admitted its first female students. In 1969, it was the first institution to make the SAT and ACT optional on its application. More than fifty percent of Bowdoin students spend a semester abroad through more than one hundred affiliated academic programs.

Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, author Nathaniel Hawthorne, educator and activist Geoffrey Canada, former U.S. president Franklin Pierce, and NBC News investigative correspondent Cynthia McFadden are notable alumni.

What is Bowdoin College known for?

What is Bowdoin College known for? We have gathered information, and these are the things Bowdoin students have to say:

a building in Bowdoin College


The faculty at Bowdoin College, a small college in Brunswick, Maine, are “passionate about their research and distributing their knowledge to hardworking students.  Professors here “are absolutely fantastic” and “teach every class with no teaching assistants.” They are “brilliant at leading discussions and pushing students to think deeper and, delightfully, stranger [in order] to consider new possibilities off of well-worn paths.”

Undergraduates also appreciate the “small class sizes and level of intimacy” they have with faculty. This school is not for slackers. One student says: “I soon learned that in order to do well here, you must give all your time and effort.” “There is no grade inflation at this institution.” Academics are described by students as “highly demanding but also highly rewarding.”

Instructors at Bowdoin take advantage of the college’s coastal location to offer numerous hands-on opportunities, particularly in environmental science. Simulations of the United Nations and the Supreme Court are two other immersive courses described by some as “engaging and challenging in the best possible way.” Although students “like to keep themselves busy,” they are never bored.

Student Body

Bowdoin attracts “students who are excited to learn, challenge themselves and others, and engage beyond what is expected.” The college “offers 31 varsity sports teams,” which “leads to a large percentage of the student body consisting of athletes” and “an increased sense of camaraderie between athletes and a large number of students who attend sporting events.”

The stereotypical divide between so-called nerds and jocks does not exist here: “Those same athletes might later converse about quantum physics and Russian literature in the dining hall.” Academically, athletically, and socially, Bowdoin students are well-rounded.

“The student body is thoughtful, outgoing, and dedicated, achieving a balance between life and work,” says one student. Students characterize their classmates as “often genuinely humble and friendly” “preppy,” and “brilliant.” Many are attracted to this college because of the natural beauty of Maine, and nature has a significant impact on campus culture and student extracurricular activities.

Campus Life

You could be excused for mistaking the cafeterias in the areas for Parisian cafés. “Every meal…is a [planned] social event,” and “it’s not abnormal for a two-hour meal to last because you’re in deep conversation with someone.” And then there’s the food: “Meals in the dining hall tend to be the centerpiece of social life during the week; it’s fun to camp out [there].”

Another student emphasizes that “every meal is important because students socialize, expand their communities, and interact with other students.” They also spend the majority of their time on schoolwork; however, mealtimes provide a buffer against the rigors of their studies. On weekends, Acadia National Park is teeming with “outdoorsy people kayaking, hiking, and camping.” A portion of the quad is transformed into a makeshift ice rink during the winter.

Where is Bowdoin located?

Where is Bowdoin located? Bowdoin College is located in Brunswick, Maine, on the coast of New England. The Bowdoin Polar Bears compete in 30 varsity sports in the New England Small College Athletic Conference of NCAA Division III. More than 100 student organizations exist at Bowdoin. The Outing Club is one of the largest and most active organizations, offering approximately 150 excursions per year.

The Peucinian Society, founded in 1805, is one of the country’s oldest literary and intellectual societies, with notable alumni such as the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1997 marked the end of fraternities at Bowdoin, which were replaced by a system of college-owned social houses. Freshmen are required to live on campus and are assigned to a college house that provides social activities for residents.

How to get into Bowdoin

How do I get into Bowdoin? It is one of the most prestigious and selective liberal arts colleges in the United States, along with Amherst, Swarthmore, and Claremont McKenna.

These schools may lack the global brand recognition of Ivy League universities (at least among the general public), but make no mistake: institutions like Bowdoin College have single-digit acceptance rates and pose a formidable admissions challenge even for students who graduated at the top of their high school class and earned nearly perfect SAT/ACT scores.

Young woman holding her books on a school campus.

If you intend to apply to Bowdoin College during the next admissions cycle, you should be aware of the following:

  • If this school is your top choice, you should strongly consider submitting an ED I application or an ED II application.
  • The college does recommend that applicants participate in an admissions interview.
  • The importance of your counselor and teacher recommendations cannot be overstated. Visit our blog for advice on requesting high school recommendation letters.
  • The college does not take “demonstrated interest” into account, so you will not be evaluated based on whether or not you visited the campus, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
  • You may submit an application via the Common Application or Coalition Application.
  • Keep your grades up throughout your senior year of high school, as you will be required to submit a Mid-Year Report in late February.
  • Ensure you devote sufficient time and effort to the Bowdoin College supplemental essay prompts. To find out what these questions are, check out this blog.

Bowdoin acceptance rate

With a 9% acceptance rate, Bowdoin College admissions are the most selective. Half of the accepted students at Bowdoin College have SAT scores between 1320 and 1520 or ACT scores between 31 and 34. However, one-fourth of admitted applicants scored above and below these ranges, respectively. At Bowdoin College, the application fee is $65.

Officials at Bowdoin College consider a student’s GPA to be a crucial academic factor. Bowdoin College admissions officials place an emphasis on the applicant’s high school class rank, if available, as well as letters of recommendation.

Consider getting a college admissions counselor. At AdmissionSight, we have more than a decade of experience, and we have a high success rate of 75%.

We are willing to support students who are driven and hard-working. Together, we can get you into any college you aspire to study in. Book a free consultation today.



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