Interest is growing quickly for the Bowdoin Advising Program to Support Academic Excellence (BASE), which provides 30 first-year students from unique backgrounds with intensive advising. Admissions has helped to advertise the program, causing an increase in interest since the program’s founding in 2010.

“We are now seeing students who are reaching out to us even before we send out the application,” said Dean of First-Year Students Janet Lohmann, who finds this interest indicative of the program’s success. 

BASE has been successful in its effort to show students, for whom coming Bowdoin is a big transition, the resources that are available to them in their first year. 

“We are seeing that these students are more actively using their advisers, are more actively using resources and are finding the kinds of experiences we want for every student here,” said Lohmann.

“I think it was a big navigation piece for me and that’s really what I needed, a plug into campus,” said Kevin Hernandez ’18, a first-generation college student who had a BASE adviser. 

 Due to the cost limitations, the program is selective. Initially, a group of about 70 students are invited to apply to BASE because they are likely to benefit from the program. From those who choose to apply, 30 are selected. 

“There is a cost associated with the program and so that has to get factored in and so right now we are limited to ten new faculty,” Lohmann said. 

According to Anna-Bradley Webb ’16, the BASE student liaison, the selectivity of the program is important to its mission.

 “We want students to participate who are really going to use it and are going to take advantage of all the resources it has to offer so by making it an application process, that gets people who are really interested,” Bradley-Webb said.

The program’s increased interest indicates that many students could benefit from BASE. Steps are being taken to provide more students with this opportunity. 

“We are working with the Dean for Academic Affairs Jen Scanlon right now to create ways that we could expand it without increasing the cost too much,” said Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Sarah Dickey, the faculty liaison for advising. 

When the program was founded in 2010, the diversity of the student body was increasing geographically, socially, economically and ethnically and the student body included many first-generation students. BASE aims to help a cohort of these first-year students adjust to Bowdoin each year.

“There were certain students who were really feeling challenged here academically, through no fault of their own,” Lohmann said. “For some students the learning curve is just longer.”

According to Dickey, there is a difference between recruiting a diverse student body and helping them be successful through providing necessary resources once they are on campus. 

“That’s what BASE aims to do, to retain students because we can make them successful once they get here,” Dickey said. 

These students are selected carefully over the summer. 

“Using everything we know about them already plus their application to BASE, we choose those who we think are most likely to both need and get something out of the program,” said Dickey of the selection process. 

These first-years are typically first-generation students, students from states that are very different from New England or students who may have had a disruptive family experience in high school that could have caused an unusual distraction from the classroom. 

BASE advisers meet with their advisees on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Conversations go beyond what classes a student will take and stem to their dorm experience, leadership opportunities and other aspects of student life. 

This year, group activities are being encouraged to foster a connection between BASE students. 

“Some years BASE students have a sense of being a cohort together and some years they don’t, so we’re trying to do things as a group,” said Dickey. 

Each year, a new group of 10 faculty members serve as BASE advisers after going through extensive training. 

The rotation of BASE advisers each year is intentional in order to change advising as a whole in the long run. So far, over 50 faculty members have been trained and worked as BASE advisers. 
The work of BASE has indirectly benefited the rest of the student body as well. 

“Part of BASE is to sort of redefine how advisers do advising, not just with what we call BASE students but with other students as well,” said Lohmann.

Students often stay in touch with their BASE adviser after their first year.

“During the summer I was on campus and I met up with [my adviser] a couple of times. I met up with her a couple of times this semester just to check in,” said Hernandez in a phone interview with the Orient.

“[BASE] really gives students an opportunity to know an adviser more closely that you might otherwise,” said Bradley-Webb. “It’s not designed to be a four-year program but I think that sometimes from what I’ve heard it can end up being something that extends beyond the first year.”