Washington University in St. Louis vs Bowdoin: Which School is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A woman typing in her table.

Washington University in St. Louis vs Bowdoin: Which School is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing a college, there are many factors to consider. Two popular institutions that often crop up in conversations about top colleges are Washington University in St. Louis and Bowdoin. Both are highly esteemed for their academic rigor, facilities, and extracurricular activities, but they also differ in several significant respects. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast Washington University in St. Louis vs Bowdoin, examining different factors to conclude which college is the best fit for you.

Academic Programs at Washington University in St. Louis vs Bowdoin: How do they differ?

Washington University in St. Louis is renowned for its strong science and engineering programs. The university has a robust research program, with over 11 research facilities and centers, where students are encouraged to participate in research projects and work alongside professors. The university offers over 90 undergraduate majors and 19 graduate programs, among which are top-ranked programs in medicine, law, and business. Bowdoin, on the other hand, doesn’t have engineering programs, but it offers a more traditional liberal arts education. Students are encouraged to take courses in a range of subjects and have access to small class sizes and personalized attention from professors. Bowdoin offers 39 majors and 15 interdisciplinary programs, many with a focus on the humanities and sciences.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

Despite their differences, both universities offer unique opportunities for students to pursue their academic interests. At Washington University, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge research, which can lead to exciting discoveries and breakthroughs. Meanwhile, Bowdoin’s liberal arts education provides students with a well-rounded education that emphasizes critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills, which are highly valued by employers.

Another key difference between the two universities is their approach to education. At Washington University, students are encouraged to specialize in a particular field and pursue advanced research in that area. In contrast, Bowdoin emphasizes interdisciplinary learning, where students are encouraged to explore different subjects and make connections between them. This approach can lead to a more holistic understanding of the world and can help students develop a broader range of skills.

Location: Which college is situated in a better location?

Washington University in St. Louis is located in the Midwest, in an urban setting, while Bowdoin is situated in Brunswick, Maine, a small, rural town. Washington University’s location is more convenient for those who wish to explore St. Louis and all it has to offer, including art museums, music venues, more opportunities for internships, diverse cuisine, and entertainment options in the city. In contrast, Bowdoin’s scenic coastal location provides an excellent setting for outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, and kayaking. The coastal location, however, is not as convenient for those who prefer an urban lifestyle.

Additionally, Washington University’s location provides easy access to other major cities in the Midwest, such as Chicago and Kansas City, which can be reached by car or train. This makes it an ideal location for students who want to explore beyond the immediate area. On the other hand, Bowdoin’s location is more isolated, with Portland being the closest major city, about 30 miles away. However, this also means that students can enjoy a quieter, more peaceful environment, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Campus Facilities: A detailed comparison of the two universities

Both institutions have exceptional campus facilities, but Washington University in St. Louis has more buildings and resources. The university has 10 different schools, including a business school, an engineering school, and a law school. Additionally, the university has a strong research emphasis, with many state-of-the-art laboratories. Bowdoin College, in comparison, has a much smaller campus, with less emphasis on research facilities. The quaint campus, however, is a beautiful setting with a well-manicured quad, several dining halls, and a library that has won national awards.

Despite the smaller size of Bowdoin College’s campus, the college has invested heavily in sustainability initiatives. The campus has a LEED-certified student center, and all new construction projects are required to meet LEED Silver standards. The college also has a robust composting program and sources much of its food locally. Bowdoin’s commitment to sustainability has earned it recognition as one of the greenest colleges in the country.

Student Life: The social scene at Washington University vs Bowdoin

Student life at Washington University in St. Louis is dynamic and diverse. There are over 300 student organizations, including service groups, multicultural organizations, professional development groups, and interest groups. Additionally, the university has a thriving Greek life scene, with over 20 fraternities and sororities. Bowdoin, in comparison, has a smaller but close-knit community, with several student-run groups, local service organizations, and the Peucinian Society, one of the oldest literary societies in the country, offering students a more intimate and personalized experience.

Group of students smiling and talking to each other.

However, despite the differences in size and structure, both universities offer a rich social scene for students. At Washington University, students can attend concerts, comedy shows, and other events at the Edison Theatre, while Bowdoin students can enjoy performances at the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Both universities also have a variety of sports teams and intramural leagues for students to participate in, as well as outdoor recreation opportunities such as hiking and skiing. Overall, while the social scenes at Washington University and Bowdoin may differ in some ways, both offer a vibrant and engaging experience for students.

Admissions Processes: What you need to know before applying

The admissions process at both institutions is highly competitive, with Washington University in St. Louis receiving over 30,000 applications each year and Bowdoin receiving over 10,000 applications. Both schools require standardized test scores, essays, transcripts, and teacher recommendations, but that’s where the similarities end. Washington University in St. Louis offers two admissions cycles, Early Decision, and Regular Decision, while Bowdoin only has one cycle. Washington University also uses a holistic admissions approach, considering extracurricular activities, essays, interviews with representatives, and demonstrated interest in the school, while Bowdoin places more emphasis on intellectual curiosity and demonstrated academic success throughout high school.

It is important to note that both schools have different acceptance rates. Washington University in St. Louis has an acceptance rate of around 15%, while Bowdoin has an acceptance rate of around 10%. This means that the admissions process is even more competitive than it may seem at first glance. It is crucial for applicants to carefully review the admissions requirements and deadlines for each school and to put their best foot forward in their application materials.

Campus Safety at Washington University in St. Louis vs Bowdoin: Which campus is safer?

Campus safety measures are taken seriously at both institutions. Washington University in St. Louis has a 24-hour police department with foot patrols and a campus-wide Blue Light system for emergencies. Bowdoin, in comparison, has a small police force but has won accolades from students and parents alike for its safety measures. Overall, both schools have low crime rates, but Washington University in St. Louis has a larger campus and urban setting, so the security measures may be more visible.

It is important to note that campus safety is not just about the presence of security measures, but also about the campus culture and community. Both Washington University in St. Louis and Bowdoin have active student groups and initiatives focused on promoting safety and preventing sexual assault. Additionally, both schools offer resources such as counseling services and coordinators to support students who may experience harassment or violence. It is crucial for students to be aware of these resources and to actively participate in creating a safe and inclusive campus environment.

Cost of Attendance: How much does each school cost?

Tuition and fees at both institutions are high, but Washington University in St. Louis is more costly, with tuition and fees amounting to almost $60,000 per year. With room and board, the total annual cost of attendance at Washington University can exceed $80,000. In comparison, Bowdoin College’s tuition and fees amount to approximately $60,000 per year. Room and board costs bring the total annual cost of attendance close to $78,000. However, both schools offer generous financial aid packages, including need-based grants, merit scholarships, and loans.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance at both schools may vary depending on a student’s circumstances. For example, students who choose to live off-campus may be able to save money on room and board costs. Additionally, students who receive scholarships or grants may have a lower total cost of attendance than those who do not.

Another factor to consider when comparing the cost of attendance at these schools is the location. Washington University in St. Louis is located in a large city, which may result in higher living expenses for students. In contrast, Bowdoin College is located in a small town, which may offer more affordable housing options and a lower cost of living.

Student Diversity at Washington University in St. Louis vs Bowdoin: A Look at the student body demographics

Diversity is a critical factor to consider when selecting a college. Washington University in St. Louis has a more diverse student body than Bowdoin, with 25% of students identifying as Asian, Black, Hispanic, or multiracial. Bowdoin has a less diverse student body, with only 20% of students identifying as a minority.

It is important to note that both universities have made efforts to increase diversity on their campuses. Washington University in St. Louis has implemented programs to recruit and retain underrepresented students, while Bowdoin has established partnerships with organizations that support minority students. Despite these efforts, there is still work to be done to create a truly inclusive and diverse environment for all students.

Faculty & Staff: How are the professors and faculty members different?

The faculty members at both institutions are highly accomplished, with extensive educational and professional backgrounds. However, the faculty structure at each institution is different. Washington University in St. Louis has a higher ratio of graduate students to undergraduate students, which enables students to work alongside graduate students on research projects. Bowdoin employs only undergraduate professors, ensuring the students have access to tenured faculty members who are dedicated to teaching at the undergraduate level. Additionally, Bowdoin professors are known for their close relationships with students and personalized attention.

Another difference between the faculty members at these institutions is their research focus. Washington University in St. Louis is a research-intensive institution, with faculty members who are actively engaged in cutting-edge research in their respective fields. Bowdoin, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on undergraduate teaching and mentorship, with faculty members who prioritize teaching and guiding students through their academic journey. This difference in research focus can impact the types of opportunities available to students, with Washington University offering more research opportunities and Bowdoin offering more personalized attention and guidance.

Athletics Programs at Washington University in St. Louis vs Bowdoin: A Comparison of the sports programs offered

Both institutions fall within different NCAA divisions, with Washington University in St. Louis classified as Division III and Bowdoin College as Division III. Washington University has a strong athletic program, with 19 diverse sports teams competing in the University Athletic Association Conference. Bowdoin College also has a strong sports program, winning championships in football, ice hockey, and sailing. Bowdoin, in particular, has one of the most successful NCAA DI programs in the country.

sports equipment

Alumni Network & Career Opportunities: Which college offers better career prospects?

Both institutions have extensive networking opportunities for graduates. Washington University in St. Louis has one of the oldest and largest alumni networks in the country, with over 150,000 alumni globally. The university also offers career centers and mentorship opportunities for students and graduates. Bowdoin College, in contrast, has a small alumni network, but its graduates often go on to graduate school or work in high-profile positions due to the college’s strong liberal arts education.

Additionally, Washington University in St. Louis has partnerships with numerous companies and organizations, providing students with internship and job opportunities. The university also hosts career fairs and workshops to help students prepare for their future careers. On the other hand, Bowdoin College has a unique program called the Bowdoin Career Planning Program, which offers personalized career counseling and job search support to students and alumni. The program also connects students with alumni who work in their desired fields, providing valuable networking opportunities.

Campus Tour Comparison: What to Expect on a campus tour at both colleges?

A campus tour is an essential part of selecting a college. Washington University in St. Louis and Bowdoin College offers campus tours with enthusiastic student guides. Tours of Washington University in St. Louis offer prospective students a firsthand look at the university’s outstanding facilities, including cutting-edge research labs, athletic facilities, and innovative classrooms. Bowdoin College tours take place in smaller groups, allowing for more personalized attention. Tours cover the college’s beautiful campus and academic programs, showcasing the college’s emphasis on personalized attention and close relationships with professors.

Four students walking next to a building.

Aside from the campus facilities and academic programs, both Washington University in St. Louis and Bowdoin College offer unique experiences during their campus tours. At Washington University in St. Louis, prospective students can attend a class or meet with a professor in their desired field of study. This provides an opportunity for students to get a feel for the academic rigor and teaching style of the university. On the other hand, Bowdoin College offers a chance for students to meet with current students and learn about their experiences at the college. This allows prospective students to gain insight into the student culture and community at Bowdoin College.

Additionally, both colleges offer virtual campus tours for those who are unable to visit in person. Washington University in St. Louis provides a 360-degree virtual tour of its campus, allowing prospective students to explore the facilities and campus from the comfort of their own homes. Bowdoin College offers a virtual tour with a student guide, providing a personalized experience similar to an in-person tour. These virtual tours are a great option for students who are unable to travel to the college or want to get a preview before visiting in person.

Conclusion: Which college is the best fit for you?

It’s important to note that while academic programs and campus culture are important factors to consider, it’s also crucial to think about the overall student experience. This includes extracurricular activities, student organizations, and campus resources such as career services and mental health support. It’s worth researching and visiting each institution to get a better sense of the student experience and determine which college will provide the best opportunities for personal and academic growth.

In conclusion, both Washington University in St. Louis and Bowdoin College are excellent schools, and which institution you choose depends on your interests, goals, and preferences. When considering academic programs, research opportunities, campus location, campus culture, cost, and alumni networks, it’s essential to choose the institution that’s the best fit for your specific needs. Ultimately, the best college for you is the one that aligns with your individual goals and aspirations for higher education.



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