The arrival of the 492 students in the Class of 2016 on August 21 marked the first time in recent memory when new students were allowed a simple privilege—they got to unpack.
All members of the first year class were expected to participate in Orientation Trips this year. As such, administrators saw no harm in letting them move into their new rooms before leaving campus.
“Everybody was here, so students were allowed to make their beds and hang their posters and meet their proctors and roommates face to face,” said Janet Lohmann, dean of first year students.
“That really set a very different tone, at least from my perspective, for what happened during the trips and what happened when students got back on campus,” she said. “Everyone just felt a little happier, a little more settled, a little more social.”
Lohmann ruled the newly-required orientation trips a success; all but eight first years participated, and the trips themselves passed with no incidents, with the exception of one minor injury requiring stitches.
“The fact that everyone was on a trip meant that people were able to break out of those siloed existences that can happen for certain groups here,” said Lohmann.
The Office of Admissions received a record-breaking 6,716 applications for the Class of 2016, and selected “an incredibly talented group” of 492—just one short of their target goal of 493, according to Scott Meiklejohn, dean of admissions and financial aid.
“We have a group of really talented Mainers, and a significant portion of the class is made up of first generation students,” he said. “We’re providing a lot of opportunity in a way that the College should.”
Admissions saw notable increases in students from outside the Northeast, particularly from the South and Southwest. Meiklejohn called this trend “a good thing for Bowdoin” and noted that increasing the geographic diversity of the student population has been a long-time goal.
The reported test scores of entering students jumped this year. The median SAT score is 1420, compared to 1401 last year. The median ACT score also increased one point to 32.
The College has yet to conduct official surveys gathering feedback on this year’s Orientation, but Lohmann said that on-campus programming did not stray too far from what was offered last year. As a highlight, she cited a student performance based on personal stories of this first year class, culled from their college essays and responses to a survey titled “Who we are” that the College sent out over the summer.
“The entire class got to realize that there are all these stories that make up who this community is,” said Lohmann. “It got a standing ovation.”